Multnomah County Library Framework for Future Library Spaces

Multnomah County, OR

The Multnomah County Library is the oldest public library west of the Mississippi River. Today MCL provides service to nearly 800,00 county residents through a network of 18 neighborhood branches that are well-maintained but very small, providing little space for in-library programs, services, or seating. The Central Library in downtown Portland is an architectural jewel, but it largely functions as a collection warehouse for the MCL system due to lack of space in the branches.

MCL commissioned Group 4 to lead the development of a master plan for modernized and expanded facilities. The process involved extensive, multi-method outreach to staff, stakeholders, and thousands of community members over the course of a year.

The shared vision that emerged is of facilities that support rich place-based library services for Multnomah County. The Framework for Future Library Spaces proposes that MCL should more than double its current space overall in order to serve today’s population and future growth, and rebalance the provision of space proportionate to residential development throughout the service geography. The Framework proposes a set of principles for sustainable library development and operations, as well as considerations for project funding, sequencing, and partnerships.


  • Client: Multnomah County Library
  • Scope: Ten-year capital master plan
  • Status: Approved by MCLD Board
  • Photography: Group 4

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