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Exterior rendering of Holgate Library courtesy of Bora Architecture and Nephew
By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 20 June 2024

The new, expanded Holgate Library opens on July 13. It is the first new, permanent library to open in Multnomah County in more than a decade, and the most energy efficient library ever built in Multnomah County. It’s a bright and modern space, built to be open, flexible and sustainable.

Multnomah County Library is transforming library spaces as part of a November 2020 capital bond. As a result, the library has rebuilt and expanded Holgate Library as a brand new two-story building. The new library, which cost approximately $27 million, is triple the size of the previous 6,400 square foot space, expanding to a total of 21,000 square feet — making it one of the largest libraries in Multnomah County.

Celebrating Holgate alongside the community 

Recognizing Holgate’s role as a cornerstone of the diverse community in southeast Portland, the new Holgate Library is the result of extensive community and staff engagement with features for everyone in the community to enjoy.

To celebrate the opening of the new, expanded Holgate, the library is hosting three, fun-filled days of activities for the community from Saturday, July 13 to Monday, July 15. From Indigenous hoop dancers to face painting and more, there will be plenty to do while exploring the new features of Holgate Library. Patrons can stay up-to-date on the library website.

new holgate library medRendering of Holgate Library lobby courtesy of Bora Architecture
New features at Holgate include:

  • Large learning and play space for children and families.
  • Teen room with space for technology, homework and creative expression.
  • Multiple flexible programming and meeting rooms.
  • Updated technology and internet.
  • Automated Materials Handling to increase the efficiency of checking in and sorting books, ensuring materials get to patrons much faster.
  • A new Book Locker for patrons to pick up their material(s) on hold.
  • Modern self checkout stations to provide a better patron experience.
  • Outdoor plaza for community members to relax and connect. 
  • New art that represents the community in partnership with the Regional Arts and Culture Council, including:
    • Interior wall mural connecting the north and south entrances and line work for the routed exterior trim material.
    • Exterior mosaic mural for the site enclosure wall which includes both staff bike parking and trash receptacles. 
  • Solar panels to help offset energy use.

Centering community engagement

Holgate Library supports one of the most culturally diverse areas in the region. To amplify the community’s ideas, the library worked with Colloqate Design to host focus groups, online public meetings, one-on-one meetings with community members and public surveys. The library received over 6,000 comments from more than 40 events. Community members cast nearly 3,000 votes for Holgate’s interior color and exterior colors, with the winning options being soothing green colors inspired by nature.

Additionally, 14 Community Design Advocates (CDAs) were part of a paid program to connect with their communities about how this library can represent them. CDAs represented many communities that are impacted by library projects, including Black and African American communities; Indigenous communities; immigrants and refugees; Asian and Pacific Islander communities; Latino / Hispanic communities; seniors; and many more.

For teen spaces, project teams gathered innovative ideas and feedback through a paid teen program with Your Street, Your Voice, an organization where students learn design as a tool for social and environmental justice.

new holgate library int med fullRendering of Holgate Library teen space courtesy of Bora Architecture

A new teen space

Holgate Library’s new teen space is extra special: not only is it guided by teen input, but it’s the first enclosed teen space to open in the entire Multnomah County Library system. With 570 square feet of space, teens will have access to an area designed for them, where they can study, play games using state-of-the-art video equipment on a 75” screen and just be in community with other teens. Teens have an opportunity to plug-in (or unplug!) in a new space.

Learning and playing in the children’s area

As part of the library’s continued commitment to early learning and development, Holgate Library has a large new dedicated children’s area. This area has unique furniture developed in tandem with the design team and Burgeon Group.

Designed with the themes of woodland transformation, the space is filled with interactive pieces, reading nooks, a woodland car to spark imagination, and seating areas for reading together and child/caregiver interactions. A bench designed on the concept of a nurse log will have a baby crawl-through to stimulate and delight young crawlers

Rendering of Holgate Library lobby courtesy of Bora Architecture 

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