Belmont Library Renovation Update

Did you know that the Multnomah County library system is the fourth busiest in the nation? Or that the Belmont Library has more items on hold than any other branch in the county (3,000 at any one time)? I didn’t. We learned this and more at our November General meeting. Katie O’Dell, Multnomah County Library’s Capital Bond Deputy Director, gave us the big picture on the 2020 bond, which will both modernize the existing library system and help renovate libraries like our beloved Belmont branch. The updates include a centralized sorting center, a technology system called Automated Materials Handling (AMH), and access to more than 1.6 million items. The renovation of the Belmont Branch–which will happen in fall of 2024–will more than double the current library’s size. (There will be a second floor, but the building’s footprint will also get slightly bigger.) The expansion will allow for an increase in the number of materials—in both English and Spanish—and will add additional spaces for people including a teen lounge, an upstairs reading room, more flexible program space and possibly an outdoor terrace. Jeanie Lai, one of the architects from Bora Architects, shared the current sketches (the design is still being hammered out) and said that they are taking cues from the neighborhood, keeping the library at a residential scale. There will be a new entrance (still on the Cesar Chavez Boulevard side of the street, but further north), more bike parking (closer to the building), and a more generous 15-foot right-of-way—with a wider sidewalk and trees planted close to the curb. The community was asked to fill out a survey (812 people responded), and there have been three interactive workshops for the community so far. Check for updates including future public meeting dates.

Hannah Wallace