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 2016-2017:

  • Multnomah County Library patrons checked out or renewed 18.7 million items. That's an average of 23.7 items per person.
  • Library staff filled nearly 2 million holds.
  • Library staff answered 283,000 reference questions.
  • The library was visited online and in person 8.6 million times — that's more than 24,000 times each day.
  • More than 114,000 children participated in the library's countywide 2016 Summer Reading program.
  • In total, library programming targeted to all age groups, from infants to elders, reached 319,000.
  • Volunteers donated 64,000 hours of their time to the library, the equivalent of more than 8,000 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. 2 in annual circulation of books and other materials, according to the Public Library Association's 2017 Statistical Report (which reflects data from 2016).