Why do we need a new Main Library?

Originally designed as a warehouse, the current Main Library building does not have sufficient space to offer contemporary library programs and services or meet the needs of a growing population:

  • Insufficient space for reading, meetings, and quiet work
  • No space for expanding the library collection or growing new technology initiatives
  • Limited parking

What will the new Main Library include?

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

  • An expanded collection: The new Main Library will add 400,000 to 500,000 items, putting Boise on par with peer cities and providing more materials for the entire library system, including all branch libraries.
  • Space-saving technology: Boise will be the first public library to utilize an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) to expand the collection for generations to come while saving 30k square feet of space for valuable community programming. Please note: even with this new tool, the new Main Library will still have plenty of stacks for casual browsing and discovery. 
  • Maker spaces: 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 River and 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.
  • Three times more parking: Available parking will include 270 spaces at an off-site garage in close proximity and 30 on-site parking spaces for those who need it most.

How will the library handle service during construction?

The Boise Public Library plans to continue to service the public throughout the construction period and will post all changes of services to this site as well as the Boise Public Library website. Details of the construction plan are still in development.


What will the Center for Arts & History include?

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

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


What is the plan for parking at the new Library?

CCDC, the city’s urban renewal agency, is putting together plans to finance a parking garage to serve lower 8th St. The project would be done in cooperation with a mixed-use development at the corner of 8th and River streets. The garage would include approximately 270 spaces. The Main Library site would include approximately 30 parking spots located in the lot NW of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial for greater accessibility for those that need it most. 

What will it cost to park in the new garage?

The city is still working with CCDC on the parking plan, with a goal of offering at least two hours of free parking to patrons.


What will the project cost and how will it be funded?

Library Campus Budget Plan

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 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 million – Cash flow/service maintenance reserve
  • $7 million – Reuse of planned lease-finance payments
  • $6 million – FY 2019 End-of-Year Funds
  • $5 million – Fire Station 5 remodel vs new build
  • $3 million – Capital Fund balance
  • $1.5 million – Delay of Hillcrest Library property purchase

Total: $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.

More information on this plan is available here.

Will the project raise taxes?

No. This project will not require an increase in city taxes. 


A citizen-led initiative recently 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 Council will consider this ordinance at its regularly scheduled evening meeting on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.


Why wasn’t a local architect hired?

The City of Boise cannot limit the pool of candidates to local applicants only. However, the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) published October 3, 2017 required that firms located outside of Idaho team up with a local architecture firm. Safdie Architects was selected as design lead with award-winning local design firm, CSHQA as executive architect.


Won’t all the glass on the south side result in frequent bird strikes/deaths?

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 which focuses on building materiality, construction methodology, and architectural details. We are working in partnership with Intermountain Bird Observatory to ensure our architect and design teams understand the local habitat and will design a space that features and protects this valuable community asset.

Is the building going to be LEED certified (and if so, at what level)?

This project will meet city energy goals, take advantage of existing sustainable features such as geothermal heating, and demonstrate a commitment to the health of our community. Project consultants and global climate engineers Atelier Ten are developing a sustainability strategy that meets the project budget while achieving the highest level of environmental certification we can achieve. Details about the sustainability strategy will be available during the next round of public input.


Has there been community outreach and input?

  • 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

When will the next round of public input be scheduled?

The next round of public input will take place following the schematic design phase and include:

  • Interior renderings
  • Updated exterior renderings
  • Sustainability strategy and environmental impact
  • 8th Street calming methods