On November 6, 2018, voters will be asked to approve or reject a $77 million bond to fund construction of 3 new libraries and the renovation of 4 existing libraries.

  • Downtown would be remodeled, recapturing the 1st floor for public use.
  • Shadle would expand to 30,000 sq.ft. so we can meet the needs of the 100,000 people who use it.
  • Indian Trail and South Hill would get makeovers at the current locations so we can modernize library services.
  • A new library would be constructed at Hillyard/Shaw Middle School*
  • A new library would be built at Libby Center in partnership with Spokane Public Schools*
  • A new library would be constructed at Liberty Park to replace East Side, our smallest library
  • 24/7 Library kiosks in more neighborhoods
  • Increased access to information and technology so we can better the community and increase opportunity for citizens.
  • Better partnerships with Spokane Public schools and lifelong learning for all ages across the community.

  • The libraries will continue to operate on an outdated service model that limits access and flexibility
  • The library will be unable to meet current or future demands for programs, technology, collections or services
  • Decisions regarding library offerings will be based on space considerations rather than by use or relevancy
  • No new dedicated areas for small group study or simultaneous programming.
  • Library buildings will continue to age and basic infrastructure and technology will not be updated.
  • The libraries will continue to lack the spaces and resources expected of contemporary libraries and will remain undersized for the number of customers and programs they host.
  • Under-served populations continue to be under-served.


How will this impact my taxes?

The plan wouldn’t raise taxes above what you’re already paying. In fact, your taxes will go down. The plan takes advantage of a change in how the State of Washington funds public education.

In 2019, citizens within the Spokane Public Schools district will see a reduction in property tax of $2.20 per $1,000 of assessed property value (AV) due to the McCleary Decision. We are asking citizens to take advantage of this unique moment in time where they can see a reduction in their taxes while also reinvesting a portion of their tax savings in libraries and schools.

Spokane Public Library and Spokane Public Schools are separately seeking voter approval to finance plans for facility renovations and additions. If both measures are approved, the plans would cost about 98 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value—a total of 19 cents for libraries and 79 cents for schools.

Taxpayers will save about $1.22 per $1,000 AV.

How much will the future library facilities cost me as a homeowner?

For a homeowner with a median home market value of $240,000 the tax rate will cost approximately $3.80 per month ($45.60 annually) to pay off the $77,000,000 general obligation bonds maturing within 25 years from the date of issue. After the loan is paid off the tax will drop off your bill.

Why do we need new libraries?

The need for new and renovated libraries is fully outlined in the Future Study plan that was released in January 2016. It’s available here: http://bit.ly/SPLFutureStudy. Our current buildings are nearing 20-30 years old and are in need of significant capital improvements like new roofs, ADA accessibility, and HVAC replacement. This is an opportunity not only to fix those essential elements but also upgrade the system to deliver contemporary library services.

Why are we spending money on the buildings when we need more books?

Our current buildings are nearing 20-30 years old and are in need of significant capital improvements like new roofs, ADA accessibility, and HVAC replacement. This is an opportunity not only to fix those essential elements but also upgrade the system to deliver contemporary library services. That said, the collection is important and $2 million of the funds would be reserved to improve the digital and physical collection.

How much will this cost?

Spokane-based construction cost management firm Roen Associates, Inc. prepared detailed project-by-project preliminary budgets for the modernization of Spokane Public Library totaling an estimated $77 million.

How will you make up for losing the staff space on the first floor of the Downtown Library?

There will still be staff space allotted in the building footprint, but the space can be used much more effciently.

How are you handling the loss of green space at Shadle (or Liberty Park)?

We love our parks too and don’t want to see them adversely affected by this work. We will partner closely with the Parks Department to enhance the connection to nature between our building and the surrounding park land. We will also work with an arborist to preserve as many trees as possible. We estimate that 70% of the trees can remain or be moved during the work at Shadle. At Liberty Park, the site we’re considering is on the existing, underused tennis courts, thus has minimal impact on green space. The utmost care will be given to preserving trees and green space whenever possible.

How are you collaborating with Spokane Public Schools and Parks?

We are excited to partner with Spokane Public schools and Parks on these projects to make the most of taxpayer money and provide the best facilities for our community. Partnerships include a joint use professional development space at Libby Center and a new library facility on the Shaw Middle School campus as well as a land trade with parks for the new Liberty Park site. Shadle and Liberty Park would also be a site for Spokane Virtual Learning (a Spokane Public Schools program).

How will the Spokane Public Library pay for design, acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and/or modernization of future library facilities?

Through a bond issue which can simply be defined as a loan. The City of Spokane will borrow money by issuing general obligation bonds and pay the money back with interest over a period not to exceed 25 years from the date of issue. The bond payments are funded with a separate levy on taxable real estate in the City of Spokane. The separate levy must be approved by majority of the City of Spokane voters.

What is the estimated cost of the proposed future library facilities?

The following summarizes the estimates based upon information known at this time

Is the Library eligible for any state or federal construction grants?

Currently there are no funds available. The Library will continue to monitor grant opportunities and will apply for those resources should any become available.

What will happen if the proposition allowing for the general obligation bond issuance is not passed? Can we try again?

Yes, but with every passing year the delay in renovation will cost more in the future than it does now. This results in increased dollar amounts being spent on aging infrastructure rather than on library materials and services.

What will the ballot question look like?




The City Council of the City of Spokane passed a resolution approving a plan to finance the acquisition, construction, remodel and equipping of the City’s public library system. Resolution No. 2018-0069 authorizes modernization of the Downtown, South Hill and Indian Trail branches; expansion and modernization of the Shadle branch; remodel or relocation of the Hillyard branch; construction of new Liberty Park and Libby Center branches; installation of library kiosks throughout the City; equipping and outfitting the branches; issuing up to $77,000,000 in general obligation bonds repaid from an annual excess levy on real property, maturing within 25 years from date of issue. Should this proposition be:



Proposed Projects

Voting Timeline

Registration Deadline

October 8: Online/mail

October 29: In person

Ballots Mailed

October 19

Ballots Due

November 6 By mail (no postage necesary) or drop boxes close at 8 p.m.

Voter information can be accessed on the Spokane County Website

Planning Timeline

  • January 2016: Released the Future Study,
    the foundational planning document for this project
  • March – May 2018: Project initiation, discovery, assessment
  • May 2018: Round 1 Community Conversations and Feedback
  • June 2018: Round 2 Community Conversations and Feedback
  • 7/17: Library Board and City Council Review
  • 7/19: Library Board and City Council Joint Session
  • 7/30: City Council Vote
  • 11/6: Citizens will be asked to approve or reject funding for these projects through a measure on the ballot.


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Imagine the Library of the Future

At 15,000 SF, the popular South Hill Library (3324 S. Perry St.) operates at-capacity, with a large collection and the highest circulation in the city. The building is in good condition and has recently been reroofed, however some mechanical equipment is at the end of its service life.

The project concept responded to strong community interest to preserve the South Hill Library location, building, and size, and undergo a “makeover” to renew building systems, finishes, and furnishings, create flexible connections to the program room (allowing either space to serve as overflow during heaviest use of its neighbor) and introduce group study rooms into the existing floorplan. There is also the potential to introduce a drive-up aisle and incorporate a book drop into the staff area of the library building.

Key Features

  • Makeover of current location’s 15,000 square feet
  • Improved children’s discovery area so we can impact early children’s literacy outcomes
  • Improved areas for quiet reading and study
  • Flexible use spaces for large or small meetings
  • Capital improvements including ADA accessibility, HVAC systems, and security upgrades

Imagine the Library of the Future

At 17,800 square feet, the Shadle Library (2111 W. Wellesley Ave.) is undersized for its role serving as a destination library for the north side of Spokane. The site surrounding the library is property of Spokane Parks and Recreation, and granted by agreement to host the library. There is suffcient space immediately surrounding Shadle Library to accommodate an expansion to ~30,000 SF and meet the identifed level of demand for additional and 21st century library spaces and services.

Through later rounds of engagement including a community round table and Advisory Committee Community, the “lens” expansion scheme was favored. This scheme relocates the library entrance to a tall atrium, lined with clerestory windows and opening simultaneously towards the Aquatics Center and the Shadle shopping center across North Belt Street. An expanded program room and generous children’s zone, along with restrooms and storage, would be located on the opposite side of the lens-atrium, facing Shadle Park. The original building would be preserved, but would include new interior spaces including meetings rooms, Maker/Arts/Partner rooms, and a lobby and café. A 1,000 SF expansion towards the intersection of Wellesley and Belt would increase the presence of Shadle Library along the Wellesley thoroughfare, and accommodate additional Adult/Teen collection space and reading space.

Key Features

  • Expansion of the current locations to 30,000 square feet
  • Improved children’s discovery area so we can impact early children’s literacy outcomes
  • Improved areas for quiet reading and study
  • Flexible use spaces for large or small meetings

Imagine the Library of the Future

Spokane’s main library, the three story, 117,000 square foot Downtown Library (906 W. Main Ave.), has experienced a significant shift in use since it opened twenty-four years ago. As public library use changes and as downtown Spokane becomes an increasingly attractive destination, SPL considers Downtown as a citywide hub of 21st century library services and a central place within the Spokane community.

Much of the building remains unchanged since its original mid-90’s format. Most notably, the first floor – apart from the gallery and community rooms along Main Avenue – is dedicated to staff functions. A reimagined Downtown Library would recapture this space and create a vast range of opportunities for public use from the first floor up. Key “storefront” spaces facing downtown streets and riverside plazas can be transformed into public spaces ranging from maker spaces and creation labs to a dedicated music studio and relocated Level Up center, program rooms, art studio, gallery, and café with stronger indoor-outdoor connections. These spaces would be connected by an open Collaboration Commons, connecting the existing entrance and stairway to a second entrance, art yard, and pedestrian plaza facing Spokane Falls Boulevard and new street level plaza.

Space for library materials would still begin at the second floor, where a robust marketplace would extend the retail experience of River Park Square Mall across the skywalk. A vibrant Children’s Discovery space would overlook the new riverfront plaza. Group meeting spaces would be incorporated along the east and west walls of the second and third floors, maintaining openness and sight lines from staff perches. Apart from additional group study rooms, the third floor would embrace the changes already made by SPL. The relocation of Level Up to the first floor would create more area for the Adult / Teen collection and reading space.

An option for the vertical connection between the second and third floors would be the construction of a social stair including a broad, gradual ascent adjoined by stadium-style lounging and furnishing. New openings would be made in the building’s floor to strengthen connectivity, accommodate the social stair, and introduce a new public stair between floors 1 and 2.

Key Features

  • Recapture the first floor space for public use, currently used for staff only
  • Improved children’s discovery area so we can impact early children’s literacy outcomes
  • Improved areas for quiet reading and study
  • Flexible use spaces for large or small meetings
  • Addition of a café, in partnership with New Leaf Bakery
  • Reinvention of exterior surfaces to strengthen identity
  • Improved Northwest Room experience

Imagine the Library of the Future

The 8,200 SF Hillyard Library (4005 N. Cook St.) is a small and awkward facility, due in part to its diamond orientation and inefficient double-sided entrance from one of its corners. Some mechanical equipment is at the end of its service life and should be scheduled for replacement. Hillyard’s staff room is extremely small, and offers few opportunities for recapture. The parking lot is small and challenging, and the site is insufficient for an effective expansion. Many opportunities exist to make-over Hillyard library, reorganize the interiors and unlock public space within the current footprint. One such strategy is creating a more permeable barrier between the (enlarged) program room and the library, as to create overflow or swing spaces during periods of heavy use.

Opportunities also exist to create an outdoor patio on the southwest side of the building – this location would be within sight of the bus stop on Cook St., and be protected from noise of the community center playground. Such a patio could effectively enlarge library space in periods of good weather.

Shaw Middle School

An opportunity has presented itself for the Library to collaborate with Spokane Public Schools in developing an expanded, joint public/school library located across the street at Shaw Middle School. Over the course of this project, the Library, School, and design team have discussed strategies and precedents for ensuring access by public and students, while both communities beneft from expanded service offerings. The community outreach process found strong support for this concept. Should it proceed, Hillyard would move into a new building.


Imagine the Library of the Future

At 6,300 SF, East Side Library (524 S. Stone St.) is the smallest branch of Spokane Public Library. The library has very little space to accommodate a collection, computers, and reading seats. The building has no space available for recapture, and its site has no space for expansion. The parking lot, shared with the adjacent East Central Community Center, is frequently full.

During the project’s Discovery phase, the Library and design team entertained several options for relocating East Site to a nearby site with capacity to accommodate a 12,000-15,000 SF facility. Responding to strong community feedback, locations north of Interstate 90 were ruled out. There was, however, considerable support for locating a new East Side Library at Liberty Park, within 1 mile of the current East Side Library. A site option on the east edge of the park presents opportunities for co-location with the Liberty Aquatic Center and would bring the new library even closer to its previous location – a distance of a half mile.

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Imagine the Library of the Future

Completed in 1998, Indian Trail Library (4909 W. Barnes Rd.) is the youngest facility in SPL’s system. The majority of exterior and grounds are well maintained and in very good condition; however, the roof is due for replacement, and some mechanical equipment is at the end of its service life. Public and staff spaces are outdated, and finishes are fit for a refreshment. The facility’s exterior book drop should be incorporated into the building.

The 10,600 SF facility is due to undergo a makeover, refreshing building systems, finishes, and furnishings. A renewed Indian Trail library should incorporate group study rooms, and create a more permeable and flexible entrance to the program room, allowing the room to serve as overflow space for the library, and vice versa. Opportunities also exist to develop an outdoor courtyard or educational garden with a strong connection to a revitalized Children’s Discovery area. With the migration of staff desk to a centralized perch in the marketplace, some back-of-house space could be “recaptured” for an additional group study room.

The library’s site includes plenty of space available for expansion if needed. Given the area’s growth, this concept may be considered at a future date.

Key Features

  • Improved children’s discovery area
  • Incorporate outdoor space
  • Capital maintenance including HVAC, roofing, ADA accessibility
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Imagine the Library of the Future

An opportunity to collaborate with Spokane Public Schools District emerged in the East Sprague Avenue district, at the Libby Center campus (2900 E. First Ave.). Currently, Libby Center offers programs for gifted students and staff development. SPS had intentions to develop a multipurpose teacher training facility on a vacant part of the campus, on the southwest corner of E. Sprague and S. Haven. The Library is exploring an opportunity to complement a new training facility with spaces and services to present an interactive events center and a location for 21st century public library services for East Central and Southern Spokane.

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Imagine the Library of the Future

The 1990 passage of a bond issue allowed for the construction of the Library’s six current facilities. Projects opened between 1992 (Downtown) and 1998 (Indian Trail), totaling more than 103,000 square feet of space throughout town to serve a city population of 185,000. Today the library serves a population of more than 215,000 in facilities that will soon be in continuous use for three decades.

SPL has been making strategic upgrades and improvements where possible within the limited financial resources available for capital projects, but is seeking a way to obtain the funding necessary to fully address the significant capital project needs, and respond to changes in the community and changes in the delivery of contemporary library services.

In 2015, the library began a process of planning the future of their facilities. The Library Board of Trustees approved the 2016 Facilities and Future Service Plan that made recommendations to expand, transform, relocate, or “recapture” public space system wide.

In 2017, the Board directed the Library to move forward with the next step in facilities improvements. In late 2017, the Library hired a design team to develop preliminary designs and project budgets for improvements. This Preliminary Design project refined into detailed project scopes and project budgets that form the basis for seeking new funding totaling an estimated $75 million in a bond election in November 2018.

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