Multnomah County Central Library

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Central Library is the flagship branch of the Multnomah County Library system. Located at 801 SW 10th Avenue in Downtown, it takes up an entire city block between SW 10th, 11th, Yamhill, and Taylor.


Monday: 10 am - 8 pm
Tuesday: noon - 8 pm
Wednesday: noon - 8 pm
Thursday: 10 am - 6 pm
Friday: 10 am - 6 pm
Saturday: 10 am - 6 pm
Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm

Meeting Rooms

Central Library's public meeting rooms are available free-of-charge during library hours, on a first-come, first-served basis, for community meetings and events.[1]

Library policy is to limit any organization's access to a public meeting room to twice in one month.

  • U.S. Bank Room
120 person capacity.
Located on main floor near the main entrance on the right just as you enter the building.
  • Room 2B
8 person capacity.
Located on the 2nd floor "behind the stack call desk."


801 S.W. 10th Avenue
Portland, OR 97205


Prior to Central Library

The first library was established in Portland in 1864 by a group of businessmen. It was called The Library Association of Portland and it was located on the second story of Benjamin Stark's building on the corner of First and Start Streets. In the 1880s the association started to make moves toward acquiring a building of its own and in 1893 the Stark Street Library opened to library subscribers. The building was between Broadway and Park Streets and housed the library on the ground floor with the Portland Art Association being on the second. In 1890 a second group got going, opening the Free Reading Room and Library Association, later being renamed the Portland Public Library. The were housed in City Hall for just over 10 years until the merged with the Library Association. [2]
When 1900 rolled around, the Library Association was left the personal collection of Portland businessman John Wilson. The collection consisted of more than 8,000 volumes and came with the stipulation that they were to be available free to the public. In order to acquire the additional space for this collection, he also left the Association $2,500. After negotiating with the city for public support, hiring a Head Librarian, and picking up additional staff, the were able to open the doors of the Stark Street Library in 1902. The early 1900s quickly resulted in the realization that the library would be to small for the growing city. Also, additional funds would be needed as the tax from the city was not proving sufficient. The result was a partnership with Multnomah County and the start of plans for the Central Library. [2]

The Central Library

In 1911 the block between 10th and 11th Avenues and Yamhill and Taylor Streets was purchased as the location for the new library. It was purchased for $342,000 and the architect Albert E. Doyle was hired to design the building. The building was complete by 1913 and opened to the public. In 1979, Central Library was added to the National Register of Historic Places. [2]
A structural analysis of the library in the early 1990s reported serious issued with support partitions and risk of severe damage in the event of a major earthquake. Opting for a complete renovation, a $24.5 million bond issue and private donations were put together to begin the project in 1994. All books were moved to an office building on SW Columbia St between 4th and 5th Avenues. The library was reopened in 1997, having addressed structural and technological issues while preserving the historic architecture. [2]


External Links