Portland October 02, 2017
The Amazing Portland Library Just Waiting to Be Explored
When the weather cools and rains pour down in Portland, we begin looking for different forms of entertainment that involve being indoors. One location that may go overlooked in the quest stay dry and amused in the winter is the good old public library. While most long-time Portlanders will have spent some time at the main library branch, newer residents may overlook this historical library that is sure to excite book lovers citywide. Don’t sleep on the Central Library and get there this fall or winter to explore its rich history, books and art.
The Central Library is located on SW 10th Avenue, between Yamhill and Taylor.
At the time of its opening, in 1913, this location was considered to be on the outer edge of downtown Portland.
Designed in Georgian style, the building was one of the first libraries in the country to have an open floor plan.
Taking up 1 acre of land, the library has a capacity for a whopping 725,000 books.
The building underwent extensive renovations and restoration in the 90s and reopened in 1997 after being closed for more than 2 years.
The Central Library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and has been in operation for over a century.
While the exterior has remained largely the same, the interior has undergone some extensive changes.
With the remodel of the library, the building's structural and technological issues were addressed, and it was updated with several contemporary art features.
With plenty of open space, quiet corners and books for days, the library is a lovely escape from daily life.
Be sure to check out its updated flourishes such as the tree in the Children's Library and the massive Solar Wreath light fixture on the second floor while you are there.
The library packs a lot of knowledge into its shelves. It is reported that the collection of books housed here weigh over 875 tons.
Additionally, the books take up an amazing 17 miles of shelf space.
The main staircase of the library is comprised of 92 steps. Split between three levels, there is plenty of room to explore.
Most of the interior features of the 125,000-square-foot library are made of marble and wood.
The library features many special rooms, such as the Beverly Cleary Children's Library, an homage to Oregon's most celebrated and famed children's author.
Other special rooms include the Henry Failing Art and Music Library, Sterling Room for Writers, Collins Gallery, and John Wilson Room.
While the library stays busy throughout the day, you can always find a quiet corner to read.
From the library's first librarian, Mary Frances Isom, to today's librarians, there is always someone to help you find what you need at this expansive library.
Part of the renovations in the 90s updated the technology of the library.
Today there are over 130 computer terminals in the library that are available for public use.
If you want to explore this amazing library, it is open daily for your enjoyment. Spend a couple hours perusing the stacks and just enjoying this wonderful public place.
The library is located at 801 SW 10th Avenue.
Do you have memories of the Central Library? Let us know in the comments below.
Or perhaps you are more interested in a bookstore. Check out this feature on
Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore in the country.