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Multnomah County Central Library, Portland

4.3
#45 of 179 in Things to do in Portland
Library Traveler Resource
The Central Library is a three-story public library branch in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. Opened in 1913, it serves as the main branch of the Multnomah County Library system. The Georgian style building was added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Central Building, Public Library in 1979 and underwent major renovations in 1997.HistoryThe Library Association of Portland was formed in 1864. After going through several locations during the first half-century of existence, the library board decided on a new large main branch for downtown Portland in 1911. The building was designed by architect A. E. Doyle, and opened on September 6, 1913. It was one of the first libraries in the United States to feature an open plan design of the interior. Construction on the building lasted for two years and cost $480,000 to complete. Librarian Mary Frances Isom provided input on the design.The Central Library was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Central Building, Public Library on June 11, 1979. On July 1, 1990, the private Library Association of Portland officially transferred ownership of the library to Multnomah County. From 1902 until that date, the association owned the collections and buildings, but the operations were paid for by the local governments. From 1994 to 1997, the building was extensively renovated. During the remodel the Fifth Avenue Building, the former State Office Building, housed the library collection.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
269 reviews
Google
4.1
  • I love the old building and walking up the grand staircase to get to the various collections. The writers room is my personal sanctuary.  more »
  • Like a lot of people, I stopped here to use the restroom (which was clean). It's a great old building, with high ceilings, tall windows, a skylight, information desks, computers, WiFi, and, of course,...  more »
  • Check out Portland's homeless problem up close and personal, especially during the winter months. This is a gem of a library - but it is usually crawling with those who have nowhere else to go.  more »
Google
  • I am unsure why we need such a large police presence at the library. I had moved a chair somewhat close to a door. The door was not blocked. Within 30 seconds I was surrounded by police and library workers scolding me on safety measures and telling me I could not sit there. They made me feel as if I was breaking the law and embarrassed me in front of all the people in the area. I was reading in a corner, does that require a police response? Why do we have all this police authority in the library? The library should be a place where people come to learn and use resources they might not be able to afford on their own. I think we could find a much better use for the tax money it takes to police the library.
  • This place smells...20% of the people here are homeless, ok fine, but of that 20% probably half are derelict or mentality unfit. I actually wouldn't be too bothered if it didn't smell like piss and body odor. What can we do about that? They have just as much a right to be a part of a public library as anyone else, unless they only admit members calable of acquiring a library card. It sucks because libraries are almost sacred ground. I wish I had an answer.
  • I don't have a computer so I use the library for that. This is the only place I know of where I can do this. I navigated doing my taxes twice and got invaluable assistence from library staff. They have never turned down a request for help and allways came thru for me. Life changeing. Thank you!!
  • You'd be best carrying a giant can of Raid with you because this too-noisy/understaffed library has a horde of smelly, scummy homeless people who use and abuse this place out the kazoo. They look up porn on the Internet computers, and the staff does nothing. They harass and hit you up for money, and the staff does nothing. They're practically taking baths in the bathrooms and sleeping in the stalls, and the staff does nothing about it. I won't let either of my teenage daughters darken the doors of this place unattended without an adult. I remember when libraries used to be clean and quiet, not a day-room for career-panhandling losers who're too lazy to gets jobs. Ugh.
  • Wow! I go there all the time and I've never ONCE been hit in by a homeless person or witnessed anyone else having issues.i don't snoop and worry about what others are looking at on the internet however, the staff is courteous and helpful and the books and dvds available are wonderful. Go!

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Where to stay in Portland

For easy foot access to Portland's best shopping, dining, and entertainment, stay in or around the downtown area, connected to the rest of the city by light rail. This compact and busy part of Portland contains the highest concentration of hotel rooms in the city, allowing you to explore options ranging from boutique properties to big chains. Thanks to Portland's convenient transportation system, you can also choose a less expensive motel or bed and breakfast in one of the outlying neighborhoods, and still be within minutes of most major tourist attractions.
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