In the mid 1990s, the Multnomah County Central Library in Portland, Oregon began to experience serious structural issues and subsequently underwent extensive renovations. With a complete overhaul of the structure, both inside and out, the 1913 Georgian Revival building was restored to its former glory and re-opened in 1997. Since then, the library has been so well maintained, that, when I visited recently, I thought it had just opened yesterday.
I loved the feel of this library with its beautifully proportioned rooms, arched windows, curving stairs, glass-domed skylight, and wood finishes that gave the library a warm and cozy feel.
I spoke to a librarian who told me that several new things were added during the renovation: a bronze tree in the Beverly Cleary Children’s Library, which kids of all ages love to touch and explore; granite decorations on the main staircase steps that interweave words and symbols about knowledge and learning; and an eco-roof constructed with living plants that absorb rainwater.
The Multnomah County Library system is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year (with the official celebration September 27), and I can see how the Central Library will be at the centre of it all, rightly deserving of its nickname as “Portland’s Crown Jewel.”