MORE THAN BOOKS AND BUILDINGS
The library we need
Multnomah County Library is one of the nation's busiest library systems. It also happens to be one of the smallest library systems serving a metro area. Our library ranks 4th in circulation, but is 102nd in square footage among libraries in the U.S. Our entire library system, all 19 locations, would fit into Seattle's Central Library with room to spare. Even before social distancing restrictions, librarians were forced to turn children, families, and job seekers away from programs due to a lack of space in overcrowded buildings.
Most of our 19 library locations were designed decades ago. Today, thousands of families, students, job seekers, seniors, and those living with disabilities depend on the library for a wide range of essential services and technology we could not have imagined just 20 years ago. Unfortunately, space constraints and outdated infrastructure limit the library's ability to meet these needs.
Our community has changed dramatically over the past two decades. Multnomah County's population has grown by nearly 30% since we last voted to expand library facilities. It's predicted to grow another 30% by 2040. The need for library services is especially urgent for lower-income neighborhoods in East County, where one in four children live in poverty — the highest rate in the state of Oregon.
This fall, voters will have the opportunity to expand and improve library services for those who need them most. A bond measure to revitalize outdated library buildings, systems, and technology will be on the November 2020 ballot. If passed, eight of our smallest or most outdated libraries will be rebuilt, renovated, or expanded.
Developed with community input over a four-year period, this plan will create the library system our community needs — by expanding services in underserved neighborhoods, increasing access to technology, improving access for those with disabilities, and offering children's programs designed to reach every child in the county.