Central Library closing March 11 for major improvements; Albina Library, Isom Operations Center and North Portland Library next up for transformations


Thursday, March 09, 2023

Albina and Isom to close March 18 for construction; North Portland to follow, closing April 5 for renovations

PORTLAND, Ore. — March 9, 2023

Central Library will close to the public beginning March 11 to complete a series of major bond-funded improvements and other related projects. Albina Library will close to the public beginning March 18 to begin its renovation and expansion. Isom Operations Center will also close on March 18 to begin construction. North Portland Library will follow close behind, closing to the public on April 5. 

Refreshing Central Library 

As the largest library in the system, Central Library will also be the largest refresh project, using about $12 million in bond funds, along with other sources. Central Library began construction during a shorter closure in 2022.

Library patrons will see a number of changes and improvements when Central Library closes on March 11 for construction, including: 

  • Replace carpeting for all three public floors
  • Provide fresh paint in large public spaces
  • Improve shelf height and orientation to create more space for people and better sight lines 
  • Add many more USB and electrical outlets throughout public spaces for personal and library devices
  • Renovate the second and third floor restrooms with new fixtures, counters, flooring and tile
  • Expand and renovate the existing first floor family restroom and add a second family restroom adjacent to the existing one
  • Create a designated teen space with comfortable seating and a future gaming room
  • Add new comfortable and flexible seating 
  • Add a new, large flexible space for programs and public meetings
  • Improve existing meeting spaces
  • Reorganize collections, including moving some material to the Operations Center where it can be more quickly processed
  • Install automated material handling to the increase efficiency of checking in and sorting books, freeing up staff time for other work
  • Introduce scannable bar-coded crates and ergonomic carts and bins for books and materials
  • Repair aging electrical components on movable high density shelving
  • Move the Friends of the Library store into the first floor lobby

Project teams expect the work at Central to last through most of 2023. 

A larger Albina Library

Albina Library, which relocated to its historic location on Northeast Knott Street in 2020, will be renovated and greatly expanded, resulting in a 30,000 square foot library for the surrounding community. The design preserves the historic Carnegie structure on Knott Street, while providing four times the current space, making it one of the largest libraries in Multnomah County. To start on these vital upgrades for the community, Albina Library will close for construction starting on March 18, 2023. Albina is scheduled to reopen in fall 2024. 

Albina Library’s new features will include:

  • Outdoor courtyard for community members to relax and connect.
  • Large community and meeting rooms.
  • A larger, more diverse collection, including a Spanish language collection.
  • Four new study rooms. 
  • Dedicated teen room with space for technology, homework and creative expression.
  • Updated technology and internet.
  • New art that represents the community.

Isom Operations Center

Isom Operations Center is connected to Albina Library and will close on March 18 to make way for the expansion of Albina Library. Isom is home to a number of services that support library operations in branches through outreach operations, and in other ways. 

The library will briefly pause those services as they relocate to other facilities. The duration of service interruptions will vary from days to weeks. The library will focus on minimizing disruptions to patrons with an emphasis on ensuring holds on materials are fulfilled in a timely manner. Functions to be paused include materials receiving, sorting and handling; interlibrary loan; brochures and other printing; and other support services. The library will notify patrons about their specific hold status based on their pick-up location.

When Albina Library reopens in fall of 2024, library administrative offices will return to that space. The other operational workgroups will eventually be housed in the new, efficient Operations Center which is scheduled to be complete in November 2023. 

A renovated and expanded North Portland Library

North Portland Library will be renovated and expanded, adding 1,500 square feet of space that will highlight the diversity and history of the community. North Portland Library will close for construction on April 5. It is scheduled to reopen in summer 2024. 

North Portland’s new, expanded features will include:

  • A Black Cultural Center for connection and a celebration of Blackness.
  • Outdoor space for community members to relax and connect.
  • A diverse collection tailored to the community.
  • Updated technology and internet.
  • New art that represents the community.

"Our community has been clear in telling us they want libraries that meet today’s needs as well as the future’s. With these projects, we are making significant progress toward those aspirations,” said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. “As construction intensifies, the library system will undergo a period of disruption and I want to thank library patrons for their patience and flexibility as we transform their library spaces."

Following Central’s closure, the library will open a new pop-up space, focused on serving patrons who need technology and internet access during Central’s construction. The library will share additional information about Central Library’s reopening schedule and the technology pop-up space as plans and logistics become final. 

Albina and North Portland expect to have some temporary services available in coordination with local community organizations. Information about these services will be on the library website as they are set. For help using the library, please contact us. The library routinely posts closure or schedule change notices at multcolib.org/hours-and-locations.

Nearby libraries for Central during the closure are:

Northwest Library: 2300 NW Thurman Street 
Hillsdale Library: 1525 SW Sunset Boulevard
Belmont Library: 1038 SE César E. Chávez Boulevard 

Nearby libraries for Albina and North Portland are:

Belmont Library: 1038 SE César E. Chávez Blvd.
Hollywood Library: 4040 NE Tillamook St.
Kenton Library: 8226 N Denver Ave.
St. Johns Library: 7510 N Charleston Ave.

The library will share additional updates about services on its construction closures webpage