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You voted for it...it passed...now here's a look at what the recent Library Bond election may do locally

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - The Holgate Library, at S.E. 79th and Holgate Boulevard, has more space than some other branches, allowing room for modernizing the building, using funds from the County Library Bond that passed in the November 3rd election. On November 3rd, Multnomah County voters approved Measure 26-111, a capital bond for the purpose of expanding and modernizing library spaces. However, since the Sellwood and Woodstock Libraries are relatively new, the measure will not affect their buildings.

Some readers may not be aware of why Sellwood and Woodstock are not included in the bond, and how these two branches have physically changed in the last two decades.

The Sellwood Branch Library was, in fact, the first branch to be opened by the county – aside from the main Central Library – back in 1905, the same year Oaks Park opened, and a year before the birth of THE BEE. Its original name was the "Sellwood Reading Room". It moved between several locations around Sellwood over the years, until a 1996 bond measure was passed for the purpose of renovating or rebuilding a few Branch Libraries.

As a result of that 1996 bond, the current Sellwood Branch opened as a brand new construction in a mixed-use building (with apartments above) on the corner S.E. 13th Avenue and Bidwell Street in February of 2002.

The Woodstock Branch Library, also benefiting from the same 1996 bond measure, was first demolished in January of 1999 due to extensive mold and mildew problems, and then was rebuilt in the same year. The new building opened in March of 2000 at S.E. 49th and Woodstock Boulevard, where it has been for two decades. The branches whose spaces will be expanded and modernized by the new bond are to be the Belmont Library, the Holgate Library, the Midland Library, the Albina Library, the North Portland Library, the Northwest Library, and St. Johns Library.

The only new public structure planned will be a "flagship" library to be built in East Multnomah County in the under-served area east of Interstate 205, which offers only 20% of the county's current library space, but is home to 40% of all Multnomah County residents. The new library will be similar in size to the Central Library in Downtown Portland, and will cost roughly $125.2 million to build, with a projected opening date in early 2025.

Multnomah County Library Director of Communications Shawn Cunningham informs THE BEE that, since 2016, the Multnomah County Library has been analyzing possible sites for that new library – and will be in conversation with the City of Gresham to determine its final location.

A recent memo sent out on November 5th by Vailey Oehlke, the Director of Libraries for Multnomah County Library, states that, "An early priority will be forming a 'community bond oversight committee', to ensure that the library is fully accountable and meeting its fiscal responsibilities throughout these projects." Vailey added in her memo, "Gigabit speed internet at all libraries [will be available], and access to physical library materials [will be] faster and more efficient, thanks to a new materials handling and distribution center."

You can read more about all of these plans, and sign up to receive updates on bond-funded projects, online – http://www.multcolib.org/planning


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