Welcome back! Central Library reopens with major 21st century improvements

PORTLAND, Ore. — Feb 21, 2024 — Central Library has reopened after a series of closures to complete major bond-funded and other improvements, offering bright, welcoming spaces and many new features for the community to enjoy. The official opening date is Friday, February 23.

**Members of the media are invited to tour the improvements and gather comments at 2 pm on Thursday, February 22. The press tour will meet in the first floor lobby.**

Built in 1913 and last renovated nearly 30 years ago, Central Library is a beloved historic building. With the new updates, Multnomah County Library has worked diligently to honor and preserve the building's legacy while ushering it into the modern era.

Photo gallery: Central Library improvements

“Central Library—beloved by its community for more than a century—is once again open for everyone to enjoy,” said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. “We have an important job as caretakers of this historic building. These thoughtful improvements honor the past, while meeting the needs of the present and preparing for the future. Welcome back, and thank you for your patience.”

Central Library’s new improvements and amenities will create a more modern, welcoming and functional community library space. This work follows initial phases that built two new outdoor public terraces, a new ADA compliant sloped walkway and emergency exit, and preliminary construction inside the library.

Functional improvements for library users

  • New comfortable and flexible seating 

  • Easy to use wayfinding signage with icons and translations

  • Private space for community resource counselors (social workers) to serve patrons

New and improved spaces

  • A new Friends of the Library store on the first floor

  • New public meeting rooms and refurbished existing meeting space

  • New carpeting for all three public floors

  • Fresh paint in large public spaces

  • A designated teen space with comfortable seating 

Safety and security improvements

  • Reduced shelf heights for increased visibility and safety for patrons and staff

  • Increased visibility into meeting rooms

  • New fire alarms and air quality monitoring equipment

Enhanced and more inclusive restrooms

  • New, 10-stall gender inclusive restrooms

  • Two expanded family restrooms (one is new, located on the first floor)

  • Refreshed second and third floor restrooms with new fixtures, counters, flooring and tile


  • More than 100 additional patron outlets and charging ports (now featuring more than 200 seats with charging) 

  • New high-speed gigabit internet connections

  • Automated materials handling to check in, sort and route books, reducing labor for library workers


  • Newly published, popular, and browsable collections are more accessible

  • 267,000 items in browsable areas; 220,000 items in closed stacks at Central 

Central Library’s refresh project reflects an investment of $13 million of voter-approved bond funds, plus other funds in this phase and the previous phase. As a result of the voter-approved 2020 Library building bond, Multnomah County Library is working to build, expand and renovate library spaces for the public. New libraries are under construction for Albina, Holgate and East County, with major expansions underway at Midland and North Portland, and expansion planning in process at Belmont and St. Johns. A new Northwest Library building awaits renovations. 

Central Library’s operating hours are:

  • Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm

  • Monday: 10 am - 6 pm

  • Tuesday: 12 - 8 pm

  • Wednesday: 10 am - 6 pm

  • Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm

  • Friday: 10 am - 6 pm

  • Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm

See all library hours and construction closures at https://multcolib.org/hours-and-locations.

About Multnomah County Library

A treasured community institution since 1864, Multnomah County Library is one of the nation’s busiest public library systems, providing social, educational and cultural programs, online and throughout its 19 public locations. In addition to being Oregon’s largest provider of free internet access, the library offers millions of print and digital resources, in multiple languages for people of all ages. From kindergarten readiness to job training, computer-assisted design and 3D printing, the library supports all people in their pursuits to connect, learn and create. Learn more at multcolib.org.