Libraries are critical public assets for communities and a recent study confirmed that most are funded locally. Currently there are hundreds of modernization, expansion, and technology upgrade projects occurring in libraries throughout the country. This is a very defined and strong trend.

In Deschutes County, Oregon, voter-approved bond funding will cover a new Central Library project. The facility is being scoped to include indoor and outdoor meeting space, expanded media collections, flexible working accommodations, youth programming, and public event space. It will be equipped with an Automated Material Handling (AMH) system to compensate for continued workforce shortages. The total cost of the Central Library project is estimated to fall within a range of $99 million to $113 million. Construction is slated to begin in 2023.

In Oregon’s most populous county of Multnomah, which encompasses the city of Portland, funding is allocated to deliver several library projects. Voters approved $387 million expressly for county libraries. Design work for projects involving the Albina and North Portland Libraries has been completed and renovations will launch so that both efforts are completed by the end of summer 2024. Other projects will follow.

“The Geisel Library” by o palsson is licensed under CC.

Multnomah County’s bond funding will also support delivery of an entirely new 95,000 square foot East County Flagship Library. A recent agreement between the county library system and the regional mass transit agency allowed them to jointly select the new site. Construction of the new library will launch in 2024 and it will carry a price tag of approximately $125 million.

In late July, the city of Liberty Lake, Washington agreed to purchase a 14,400 square foot building with the goal of developing a larger Liberty Lake Library. The new facility will be sized for the city’s growing population, which is no longer adequately served by the city’s old 9,000 square foot library. The $2.2 million land purchase now paves the way for more detailed design work on the library expansion. By the time the project wraps up, the expansion initiative will likely offer between 16,500 and 19,500 square feet of new library space. Construction of similarly designed facility expansions generally costs more than $20 million.

In Virginia, the town of Vienna and Fairfax County will partner to replace the outdated Patrick Henry Library. Officials are working together to launch a feasibility study for redeveloping the 13,800 square foot library, which was last renovated in 1995. The study has already emphasized a growing need for public parking in the vicinity of the library. Because of that, local leaders voted in favor of a development agreement that will bring 84 new public parking options along with renovations to the library. A preliminary timeline suggests the construction contract will be bid early in 2023. Construction of the $23 million library renovation, which is backed by bond funding, will begin in 2024.

Local officials in Omaha, Nebraska allocated $20 million in funding for the city’s new library project. Construction on the project is expected to begin in 2023. However, in addition to the city’s funding allocation, a non-profit organization has committed $120 million to the overall project cost, making this project extremely attractive to construction firms.

The Brownsville Library project that will service both New York and New Jersey residents is currently in design stage. Located in the Douglaston/Little Neck community, it is projected to cost approximately $31 million. More details will follow related to construction timelines, as well as project components.

In June, city leaders in Manchester, Connecticut received a briefing on a new library project that will ultimately cost between $35 million and $38 million. This cost will cover demolition of existing structures, design, and construction of the new library. More details will be available when the design phase is completed.

The state of Hawaii has included initial funding for the planning, design, and construction phases of a new library in Keaau. The concept design for the facility includes 8,000 square feet of enclosed space and 1,000 square feet for an indoor-outdoor activity area. Cost of the total project is estimated at $11 million. The Transit administrator for Hawaii County is also planning a new library project in connection with plans for a new regional transit hub. The two will be built next to each other. The site for the new transit hub must be selected by December 2023.

Several significant library improvement projects are on the horizon in New Braunfels, Texas. Local leaders are currently steering two substantial library projects through the community engagement phases. Plans reveal that the city’s Southeast Branch Library is currently scoped to add more than 23,000 square feet of space to the existing library system in an area of the city where the population is growing rapidly. This project will carry a budget cost of approximately $20 million. Concurrently, city leaders are also about to launch a project to expand the city’s main library. This will include reconstructing the library internally and adding new outdoor space to bolster library programming capacity. Overall this effort will have an estimated cost of $42 million.

Other major library projects in Texas are gaining momentum. The city of Houston has announced numerous projects. Houston’s new North Regional Library project will be a full-service library in a neighborhood of Houston that has lacked such resources in the past. That $19.5 million project will go to construction in 2024. Another major library project will center around a facility specifically for a Houston Hispanic Heritage Library. It will offer resources that allow residents to trace their lineage through Houston’s local history. The Hispanic History Research Center will be the first special collections library tailored to Houston’s growing Hispanic community and an estimate of $20 million has been targeted for the project.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.