A 2019 study pointed to an interesting trend. The data provided very compelling insights into America’s libraries. It revealed that, as libraries digitize books, magazines and services, their reach and impact become significantly greater. The number of citizens using library services increases exponentially with digitization and upgraded space. This revelation has created a paradigm shift that can now be measured in large funding allocations for projects to reimagine city, county, and state-funded library facilities. Funding for these types of projects is extremely abundant currently.

The state of Texas invests millions in local library systems annually. A Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a Regional Cooperative Grant Program to fund library projects was announced recently. Disbursements for 2024 projects will be made in the next several months. Another recent NOFO issued by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission announced even more funding for library projects.

Earlier this month, legislators in Montana introduced a bill to increase state funding for libraries annually through 2029. Just weeks ago, West Virginia celebrated Library Day and state and local leaders convened to support increasing state funding for local library projects. That group pointed to a shocking $56 million in building needs that exist at public libraries in West Virginia.

Photo courtesy of the Deschutes Public Library System 300x200 Upcoming library projects are front and center as cities and counties upgrade facilities throughout America

Photo courtesy of the Deschutes Public Library System

A $311 million capital outlay of funding is available for a library project in California that ranks as one of the country’s costliest library projects currently in development. This is one of multiple large library projects that will be launched and supervised by the California State University System (Cal State). Administrators will lead an initiative to seismically retrofit the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library on Cal State’s Los Angeles campus. The facility was built in 1969 and has only undergone one seismic upgrade in the past 25 years. It has been deemed unusable because of building code issues and it requires substantial infrastructure improvements along with modern, digital technologies. Additionally, the project will include upgraded architectural, lighting, electrical, mechanical, telecommunications enhancements and various safety system components.

Planning documents reveal that the same university leaders will also allocate another $90 million to a different library expansion project. Construction of a new Information Technology service center in addition to an existing library on the Cal State-San Bernardino campus will be launched soon. This expansion project will also include a new media center that delivers modernized production technology. Separately contracted elements of the expansion plan include LED retrofitting and long-term renovation for sustainability.

Several new library expansion projects will occur in the state of Oregon. Funding will come from a $209 million Deschutes County bond package. The funding will support construction of new libraries as well as major overhauls of existing ones. Planning is already underway for the construction of a new Stevens Ranch Library. The project will create more than 100,000 square feet of space for indoor and outdoor library services that support community engagement and creative development. The facility will be designed to streamline the digital distribution of library materials. Additionally, another renovation project will be launched at the largest facility in the county’s library system, the Downtown Bend Library. Preliminary planning is underway for that comprehensive remodel, and it will include new public spaces, additional meeting rooms and designated workspace.

In North Carolina, Mecklenburg County officials have partnered with a local non-profit to plan and fund one of the country’s largest library initiatives. The library system, which serves the major urban center of Charlotte, is spearheading a $143 million plan that includes demolition of the existing main library, construction of a new one and acquisition of technology enhancements for the county’s entire library system. The initial demolition stage of this project will begin in 2023.

A massively scaled library project estimated to cost approximately $150 million has become the basis for a regionwide partnership in the Omaha, Neb., area. Officials representing the Omaha Public Library, the city of Omaha, Heritage Omaha, and local non-profit organizations will work together to deliver a new central library. Officials will seek community input into possible design features that could include a garden, café, meeting rooms, workspace and a fireplace for quiet reading.

Municipal leaders in Orleans, Mass., have allocated $20 million to a library expansion project. The funding will support the expansion of Snow Library as a part of the community’s most recent capital improvement plan. The project will address numerous structural and design-related issues. One of the priorities of the project is to double the library’s current size to provide more capacity for users’ needs.

A library project to benefit citizens in Stark County and Canton, Ohio, carries a projected cost of $54 million. Local leaders will oversee the replacement of a facility that was built in 1978 and has not been updated over the last two decades. Preliminary plans outline 70,000 square feet of modernized space and a 15,000-square-foot library operations center that will be sited across the street from the new library. The multi-phased project will also include upgraded technology and additional space across several branches of the county’s library system.

Library projects of all sizes and types are currently in planning stages throughout the country. Current available funding will continue over the next several years…so this trend is one to watch.

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.