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Central Library in downtown Portland to close for much of 2023

Construction on the Central Library began in 2022 as part of a library building bond. The renovation process is expected to last through most of the year.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Starting March 11, the Central Library in downtown Portland will close to complete a major renovation project. The closure is expected to last through most of 2023.

Construction on the Central Library, located on Southwest 10th Street, began in 2022 as part of a library building bond. The building was closed for three months for the first phase of upgrades and reopened in late October.

During the second phase, crews will finish a number of projects, including building two new outdoor public terraces and meeting spaces, remodeling restrooms and updating furniture.

"Multnomah County Library is hard at work to transform public library spaces to better serve this diverse community," said Vailey Oehlke, the director of libraries, in a news release. "Central Library is known as 'Portland’s Crown Jewel' and we take pride in our obligation to make it a space that is useful, relevant and welcoming in keeping with its historic legacy as our community grows and needs change."

The library will open a new pop-up space on Southwest Washington Street and Southwest 5th Street for people who need access to technology services and internet.

No reopening date has been set, but Multnomah County Library said the Central Library could reopen around November or December.

Voters approved a library building bond in 2020 to significantly expand and modernize five libraries across the system. The Central Library is the largest project to tackle, using about $12 million in bond funds. The Albina and Midland libraries will also close in Spring 2023 for renovations, but the exact closure dates have not been released yet.

Library goers can also expect to see a smaller browsing collection on the shelves. Multnomah County Library is working on a new operations center in East Portland. That way, they can free up more space for their renovations. 

"The library's overall goal here is to use fixed amounts of space like we have at central library and use some of that space for ways other than storing books on high selves. Which is typically and historically how it has been used," said the Director of Communications and Strategic Initiatives at Multnomah County Library, Shawn Cunningham. "The project will give people new ways to use central library that looks very different than the way people were using libraries 30 or 40 years ago."

So yes, you might see fewer books on the shelves once it opens back up, but they're just spread out amongst different library locations, still available online to be put on hold and checked out.

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