New Main Library

The New Main Library

The New Main Library will serve as a gateway to the city - offering a 21st century library experience that includes the traditional books as well as state-of-the-art technology experiences, programming for all ages and access to training and education programs. Furthermore, the new space will provide:

  • An Expanded Collection: The new Main Library will add 400,000 to 500,000 items - providing more materials for the entire library system, including all branch libraries.
  • Space for Creativity: There will be dedicated space for hands-on learning and creativity providing access to 3-D printers, laser printers and other emerging technologies.
  • Indoor-Outdoor Spaces: Facing the Boise River and the Greenbelt, the new Library will engage two of Boise's most beloved assets with a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces for community gathering, quiet study and reading, as well as collaborative public meeting spaces.
  • More Parking: Available parking will increase by three times, including 270 spaces in an off-site garage and 30 on-site spaces for those who need it most.


Built as a warehouse in 1946, the Main Library building can no longer meet the needs of Boise’s growing population or keep pace with the ever-evolving programming, technology and services of a modern-day library. Despite the addition of five branch locations, over the past five years, the Main Library has seen growth in daily visitors and in program attendance.

Additionally, the Boise City Department of Arts & History does not have adequate space for its services. This new facility would provide:

  • Gallery space
  • Storage and display space for the Boise City Archives
  • Care and conservation lab
Project Updates

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Design Concepts and Architects

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Project Details

Citizen Initiative

A citizen-led initiative gathered sufficient signatures to place two ordinances on the November ballot asking citizens if a vote should be required on any library project costing more than $25 million or any stadium project costing more than $5 million. If successful, these "votes on whether to vote" would require subsequent ballot measures on the Library Campus project and a stadium project, if a stadium proposal is put forward.

On June 25, 2019 the City Council decided to allow both “votes on whether to vote” ordinances to proceed and be placed on the November ballot. The council also approved a motion to bring forward a separate ordinance allowing for a special election that would allow an up-or-down vote on the Library Campus project as soon as this November.

The Aug. 20 Main Library Campus presentation and the public hearing on the special election have been canceled.  The city canceled both meetings after Mayor Dave Bieter announced Friday, Aug. 16 that he is recommending to the Boise City Council that the city pause planning for the Main Library campus and no longer pursue a special election on the project because of two new pieces of information that came to light recently. Learn More

Budget and Funding

The library project is budgeted at $85 million, which includes $15 million for public infrastructure on the site and a separate parking structure at 8th & River streets to serve both the Library Campus and the entire lower-Bodo area. The proposed total funding plan for the Library Campus is as follows:

$52 million - City of Boise 
$18 million – Philanthropy
$15 million – Urban renewal funds for parking and public infrastructure

Self-Financing Plan
The city has identified and approved $22 million of existing budget capacity to support the project. These funds were allocated by the City Council in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. Under the city’s new proposed self-finance plan, the remaining $30 million would come from the following internal sources:

$7.5 millionCash flow/service maintenance reserve
$7 millionReuse of planned lease-finance payments
$6 millionFY 2019 End-of-Year Funds
$5 millionFire Station 5 remodel vs new build
$3 millionCapital Fund balance
$1.5 millionDelay of Hillcrest Library property purchase
$30 million

This strategy will allow the city to generate significant saving when compared to the 20-year lease-financing plan the city previously considered. While no formal structure for the lease financing was in place, it is anticipated that this approach will save a total of approximately $15 million in interest costs over the lease-finance period.

Please note that this plan is preliminary and could be modified in the future as the project advances and additional one-time funds are identified.

This project will not require an increase in city taxes.

More Information on the Self-Financing Plan


Capitol City Development Corp (CCDC), the city's urban renewal agency, is putting together plans to finance a garage on 8th St. that would include approximately 270 spaces. The Library Campus would include approximately 30 parking spots for those that need it most. In all, the amount of parking would triple compared to what is currently available.

While the city and CCDC are still working on the parking plan, the goal is to offer at least two hours of free parking to library patrons.

Public Input

Community outreach and input on this project has included:

  • Public input has been solicited throughout 3 iterations of this project starting in 1996
  • 30 community presentations have been held since January 2017
  • The city held design thinking workshops in spring 2017, gathering valuable feedback from over 200 participants.
  • In July 2018, five open houses were held to gather public input of conceptual design
  • In excess of 1001 participants/comments have been received on the project.
  • Approximately 150 people attended the Feb 26th, 2019 Mayor and Council meeting with 44 people providing public testimony concerning the Log Cabin location
  • 48 people provided public testimony to Mayor and Council at a public hearing held on Jun 25th, 2019 concerning the signature initiatives

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