Library fact sheet

Background

Multnomah County Library is the oldest public library west of the Mississippi, with a history that reaches back to 1864. Today, Central Library and 18 other neighborhood libraries make up a library system that offers more than two million books and other library materials. As Oregon's largest public library, Multnomah County Library serves nearly one-fifth of the state's population.

In 2015-2016:

  • Multnomah County Library patrons checked out or renewed nearly 19.2 million items. That's an average of 24.7 items per person.
  • Library staff filled 2.1 million holds.
  • Library staff answered 359,000 reference questions.
  • The library was visited online and in person 9.4 million times — that's more than 26,000 times each day.
  • More than 111,000 children participated in the library's countywide 2015 Summer Reading program.
  • In total, library programming targeted to all age groups, from infants to elders, reached 336,000.
  • Volunteers donated more than 65,500 hours of their time to the library, the equivalent of 8,189 eight-hour days.

Checkouts of books, e-books, DVDs and other library materials have increased 26 percent over the past 10 years.

National data

Among U.S. libraries serving fewer than 1 million residents, Multnomah County Library ranks No. 1 in annual circulation of books and other materials, according to the Public Library Association's 2016 Statistical Report (which reflects data from 2015).