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Central Library Main Floor Remodel (2019-2020)

Thanks to capital investments supported by former Mayor Kelli Linville and the City Council in the 2019-2020 biennial budget, the Bellingham Public Library and the Public Works department are teaming up to remodel the main floor of the popular and well-used Central Library.

The Central Library downtown is the largest Bellingham Public Library branch as well as the Library’s administrative and operations center, all housed in a 1950s-era building that saw its last major renovation in 1985. The downtown branch welcomed about 630,000 visits last year with Central Library patrons borrowing 1.2 million items and attending more than 1,000 programs.

The planned work (PDF) is in the building’s interior, on the nearly 20,000 square-foot main floor where adult and teen collections and services are located. Upcoming changes include:

  • providing additional public spaces and a more open concept
  • new carpet, paint, ceiling tiles, and LED lighting
  • incorporating new, more efficient book-handling technologies
  • improvements to the fire alarm panel
  • a rebuild of the passenger elevator
  • adding two public restrooms, and
  • improvements to the library loading dock.

The Library’s curbside pickup services as well as materials returns will continue at the Central Library with minimal disruption during the project.  Library users may see small impacts to parking around the library from construction-related staging and deliveries.

The interior remodel of the main floor is outlined in an assessment of the Central Library completed in 2018 by RMC Architects. Library leaders expect this project to be the first of several sequential improvements to the existing building and site, including examining options to increase library space.

For more information about the project, please contact the Library Administration.


City and library leaders have long recognized Central Library services have outgrown the building’s current space and configuration. Plans more than a decade ago envisioned seeking public support to construct a new Central Library downtown. Since then, community economic realities and commitments to making effective use of existing buildings and properties caused city and library leaders to pursue updating rather than replacing the Central Library. Recent studies have determined that the Central Library building is sound and able to be successfully remodeled and/or expanded. A multi-phase approach is outlined in an assessment completed in 2018 by RMC Architects. Library leaders expect to pursue additional building improvements, and possible expansion, over several budget cycles.