Multnomah County Library breaks ground on Operations Center in East County

Friday, July 01, 2022

Building is first of the bond projects, will serve as beating heart for library services

PORTLAND, Ore––Multnomah County Library is breaking ground on the first of its bond projects: the Operations Center in East Portland, located at the southwest corner of 122nd Ave. and Glisan St. on the site of a former Safeway grocery store (221 NE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97230). 

What: Operations Center groundbreaking ceremony as part of Multnomah County Library Capital Bond Projects, brief remarks and photo opportunity

When: Wednesday, July 6 at 10-10:30 am

Where: Operations Center (221 NE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97230)

The ceremonial groundbreaking represents exciting progress for the bond. As the first real estate acquisition and project, the Operations Center is the beating heart of many library services, where new books and materials come into the library system, where many items placed on hold are sorted and transferred and where specialized materials and services for outreach to new immigrant communities, schools, retirement communities, shelters and other settings are centered.  The building will also house Automated Materials Handling (AMH) technology, getting library items to patrons efficiently while ultimately making staff available for more public-facing customer service. Additionally, the centralized location provides an opportunity to better serve the community through the library’s outreach programs in schools, child care centers, shelter and transitional housing and other settings.  

While most of the building will not be public-facing, Friends of the Library will run a year-round public retail space which will sell donated books and retired library materials. This is an exciting opportunity to provide a new, affordable retail amenity for East Portland in an accessible location in coordination with Friends of the Library. 

Chair Deborah Kafoury and Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson will join the groundbreaking celebration along with Multnomah County Library Director Vailey Oehlke, Department of County Assets Director and Public Information Officer Tracey Massey and Whitney Jacobson, Friends of the Library Board President. 

“It’s the perfect start to all of these exciting projects, beginning with what will be the beating heart of the library system as our first groundbreaking event,” said Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries. “The people of Multnomah County will notice the positive impact of the Operations Center, from receiving their materials more quickly to a centralized location for the outreach services that mean so much to so many. This building will be central to everything the library does and everyone we reach.” 

“As the first project, the Operations Center sets the stage for the vital work being done by the library alongside the community,” said Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. “And it’s clear that, with the support of our community, this bond is on an important path to developing spaces that help people thrive.”

With Hennebery Eddy Architects leading the design of the Operations Center, and Fortis Construction as the General Contractor, the building will provide a pathway to greater efficiency with sustainability at the core of the work. With plans for approximately 600 photovoltaic panels on the building’s rooftop which convert sunlight into electricity, the goal is to make this a net-zero energy building in addition to attaining LEED Gold certification, one of the highest levels of energy efficiency awarded to buildings.  

The library looks forward to the new building as an opportunity to build great libraries and services for great communities in Multnomah County. 

CONTACT: Liz Sauer, Multnomah County Library Capital Bond Projects Communications Manager, 971.350.8733,