Plans unveiled for a new downtown library in Boise

Posted at 3:25 PM, Jun 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 17:25:15-04

The plans for a new library to replace the current library near downtown that was refurbished into a library in 1973 have been unveiled to the city council, the budget calls for spending $69 million this year on the project.

The goal of the new library is to create an iconic gateway into Boise while connecting the community and creating a public gathering space while using an environmentally-friendly facility.

The 150,000 square foot facility will feature a shared event space, a plaza, an atrium and a space for the Boise Department of Arts and History to be able to better serve the public.

"One year ago we listened to ideas from the public on the library," said Kevin Booe the director of the Boise Public Library system. "They had some really good ideas, they were looking for a space that would engage with the river, but also a space where the indoors and the outdoors could merge and mesh."

The new library will also feature an automatic storage retrieval system that will double the library's collection size while utilizing a smaller footprint.

Boise libraries see 1.5 million visitors a year because libraries have evolved over the years to include more than information, but this library will include practical ways to use that information with 3D printers and laser scanners.

"Nowadays you can actually do it," said Booe. "For instance, if I want to learn how to do preserves or canning, I can research that at the library, but if we had kitchen or maker spaces then they could actually do that at the library."

It's also a big deal for the Arts and History Department who has a small space in the corner of City Hall, the new space would make it much easier to connect with artists or historians on projects that encompass the City of Boise.

Safdie Architects is the design firm, they are still working on parking, city officials have a goal of creating 300 spaces, the current library has 102 spaces.

In total the project cost is estimated at $80-85 million which will be split between public funds, long-term financing and philanthropy, the philanthropic goal is set at $18 million.

The library does create some problems and the city said that the Cabin provides services for writers may have to move, but the city will work with the Cabin to preserve the building.

The executive director of the Cabin said that no matter what happens their organization will continue to offer their services that they have worked really hard to preserve, the city owns the building.