Main Library Campus

Boise, ID
A public center for knowledge, culture, and ideas.
115,000 sq. ft.
Arts & History Center
22,000 sq. ft.
Event Space
18,000 sq. ft.


When will the next round of public input be scheduled?

Originally planned for September, the second round of public input will be heard after Schematic Design, late winter / early spring, when solutions or an update to public concerns gathered in July can be addressed, including: 

  • Sustainability strategy (bird strikes / glass / energy costs)
  • Budget (value engineering)
  • Parking


How much will the Library Campus Project cost?

The project budget is $80-85M and will be financed as follows:

  • Philanthropy: $18M
  • CCDC: $15M
  • City of Boise : $15M
  • Lease Financing: $32-37M


Where will parking be? 

To accommodate the design goal of 300 spaces, the City of Boise is working the Wilcomb family, owners of the property at 618 S. 8th Street, to determine feasibility for redeveloping the property as a mixed use facility. The facility would include a public parking garage with approximately 270 spaces. 30-40 on-site parking spots would be located in the lot NW of the Anne Frank Memorial. Cost of this aspect of the project will be addressed during schematic design.

Will we have to pay to park in the garage? 

Planning is still underway, however we will make every effort to offer at least two hours of parking free.


Will the City do an extensive redesign of the library campus to accommodate the Cabin structure? 

Project goals driven by community input received in Spring ‘17 Design Thinking Workshops called for enhanced accessibility with the greenbelt and increased connectivity to the river corridor and natural environment. After considering significant adjustments, the architect design team believed that these connections were important enough to keep the same design concept. If the cabin were to stay they would approach the project with minor design modifications such as adjusting the floor elevations or slight alignment changes.

If the Cabin moves... much would it cost?

The move is estimated to cost approximately $650,000.

...would the Anne Frank Memorial move as well? 

No. The design concept incorporates the Anne Frank Memorial and Marilyn Shuler Classroom for Human Rights into the landscape architecture of the new campus without sacrificing project goal of increased connectivity to the greenbelt and natural environment.  


There is a lot of glass facing the river. What about the birds?

The riparian habitat is part of what makes Boise so great! Bird strikes are a common concern when designing and building with glass. Best practices for mitigating these strikes will be addressed in the schematic design phase of the project (see timeline) which focuses on building materiality, construction methodology, and architectural details.

What type of sustainability rating will this building pursue? 

One of our goals is to develop a sustainable facility that meets city energy goals and demonstrates a commitment to the health of our community. Safdie Architects has teamed up with global climate engineers Atelier Ten to integrate efficiency into the building and take advantage of existing sustainable features, such as geothermal heating. We will have more details as we move into the schematic design phase.  


Why do we need a new Main Library?

Originally intended as a warehouse, the current Main Library building is not well suited to offer 21st century library programs and services or meet the needs of a growing community. In comparison with other major cities, Boise has significantly less library resources per resident and in the past five years, program attendance has increased by 42% and location visits are up almost 12%. Challenges include:

  • Insufficient space for reading, meetings, and quiet work
  • No space for expanding collection
  • No capacity to meet growing technology demands
  • Limited parking

But do we really need more books?

The 21st century library is more than books. It is an essential community service that provides career assistance, small business resources, Wi-Fi and internet access, technology training, free public meeting rooms, and classes and workshops enabling customers to both acquire and apply knowledge. Today's library has also become a community gathering place and point of connection for all.

What will the new Main Library include?

To keep pace with evolving library practice and meet the needs of a growing population, the new Main Library will include:

  • An Automatic Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) will store 400-500k items saving 30,000 sq. ft. while expanding collection.
  • A Maker Lab and smaller Maker “Pods” will offer hands-on learning and access to 3-D printers and emerging technologies.
  • Facing the River and Greenbelt, the Reading Room, or “THE LENS” will be a gathering space that spans all 4 levels
  • More parking!

Learn more at

How will the library handle service during construction?

The Boise Public Library plans to continue to service the public at the Main Library and will post all changes of services to this site as well as the website. A phasing plan is in development.

Why not build in a new location?

The Library and Center for Arts & History play a vital role in the City’s vision of making Boise the most livable city in the country. Investing in the current location with a thoughtful masterplan for linking the city’s cultural, natural/recreational, and educational resources activates cultural vitality and economic development in a downtown core and ensures that we build a lasting civic space for generations to come.


What will the Center for Arts & History include?

A community-based facility that invites residents and visitors to experience local history, art and culture through exhibitions, performances, presentations and workshops.

  • Dedicated Cultural Information Center
  • Gallery Space
  • Boise City Archives
  • Care and Conservation Lab
  • Retail Shop

Learn more at

Why include an event space? 

Through competitive inventory observations conducted by AMS Planning & Research, no one venue has the desired blend of accessibility, sense of occasion, and technical capabilities in Boise. The performing arts sector has great interest in modern technical and acoustic features, but its ability to increase rental fees or other venue costs to upgrade is limited. By the same token, quality user and audience experience is of rising interest, with emphasis on sense of occasion for participants of varying ages, abilities and means. A financially accessible space, accommodating to a variety of disciplines, delivering quality experience and appropriately sized for users has generated the most interest and meets the greatest need.