The Main Library, located at 1102 Tacoma Avenue South in downtown Tacoma, is undergoing a refresh to update the facility and create space for community partner tenants. While construction is underway, Main Library will be closed, with an expected reopening date in spring 2024.
The book drop at Main Library will be closed during construction.
Main Library is making progress towards achieving its vision of reimagined spaces that will better utilize the building to create a downtown community hub. Architecture firm for this project, BuildingWork, opens a new window, has put together renderings of some of these spaces to illustrate what they could look like:
The rendering above shows an adult and family area referred to as Tacoma's Living Room. Here will be a relaxing and modern space for conversations, working and co-working, reading, and relaxing on the ground floor.
The Teen Area, pictured above, will have computer stations and comfortable seating for teens to work on projects, read, create, or just hang out with friends.
The Children's Area will have furniture and learning fixtures sized just right for our youngest patrons, plus comfortable seating for families.
The first and second floor of the library will receive necessary repairs and reopen with a new layout that has space for community partner tenants whose missions align with Tacoma Public Library’s. For example, the Tacoma Tool Library, opens a new window has been operating from the Main Library (via curbside services) since January 2021.
Interior updates will include repairing some of the most noticeable wear and tear: peeling drywall, carpet worn down through to the concrete, and a 30-year-old elevator needing safety upgrades.
Once these repairs and updates are complete, Tacoma Public Library anticipates reopening the Main Library in 2024.
When the library fully reopens, it will welcome visitors with these improvements:
· Improved safety and accessibility
· A refreshed circulating collection
· New paint, carpet, shelves, lighting, and furniture
· A Makerspace with an updated Digital Media Lab space, Memory Lab, and 3D printers
· Dedicated teen and children’s areas
· A living room-style lobby for reading and coworking
· Local nonprofit tenants offering programming on the second floor
· Expanded public meeting rooms
· Updates to the Handforth Gallery
· Study rooms for small groups and collaborative learning
Main’s collection will be inaccessible during the closure. Main patrons are asked to use one of TPL’s seven other libraries for holds pickup, technology access, and other library services.
The Northwest Room will be open by appointment for as long as is feasible. The Digital Media Lab service area will be under construction and therefore unable to offer access for visitors during the closure.
Main Library Construction FAQs
- The Main Library in downtown Tacoma is being upgraded to improve safety, accessibility, and efficiency, creating an overall better visitor experience.
- Upgrades will be made primarily to the modern addition (that is, the building attached to the Carnegie building, last remodeled in 1990); the Olympic and other meeting rooms, as well as the Handforth Gallery in the original 1903 Carnegie Library will also be refreshed.
The Main Library will be closed for construction starting September 1, 2023, and fully reopen in spring 2024.
- The “modern addition” has not been improved in more than 30 years and is not equipped for today’s needs.
- The goal of this project is to make the library a more efficient, safe, and welcoming environment. With 95,000 square feet, there is so much potential for this facility to serve the community in myriad ways. One example is transforming the second floor of the library into operational and programming space for nonprofit partners such as the Tacoma Tool Library.
- In 2020, the City of Tacoma and Tacoma Public Library were hit with a budget shortfall due to the pandemic.
- Usage at the Main library had been in decline over that past two decades. Most people report that lack of parking, unwelcoming/uninspiring spaces, and safety concerns caused them to discontinue visiting Main.
- While libraries were closed and our library director navigated budget challenges, the constraints of operations spurred creative and imaginative problem solving in how to better utilize the space, resources, and number of staff of Main Library to benefit the entire library system.
A combination of City of Tacoma, state, and federal sources are funding this project.
Main will close for construction on Friday, Sept. 1. Thursday, Aug. 31 is the last day that Main will be open for service. We look forward to fully reopening in spring of 2024.