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North Boulder Branch Library

Community Culture and Safety

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NoBo Site Recommendation Report presented to the Library Commission Nov. 7

The Site Recommendation Report was presented to the Library Commission by library staff and Dan Wood (principal architect from WORKac) at their November 7th meeting.  The report summarized a three-month analysis of two potential sites for a new library branch in north Boulder. Library staff partnered with WORKac on initial programming, community engagement, site analysis and test fits to determine the best site and programmatic needs for the new branch library.  Through a lengthy engagement process, architects and library staff connected with over 250 community members. The site recommendation was guided by input collected throughout this first phase of the project.

The site selection process for the new North Boulder Library has concluded and the library will be moving forward with the city-owned parcel on the east side of Broadway at 4540 Broadway Street, Boulder, CO 80304 .  This marks a milestone that will usher in the design phase of the project.  This second phase will be the focus of the next Library Commission meeting on December 5th.


Project Timeline

Preliminary planning began in 2018. Outreach to the community began in August 2018, and more will continue throughout the design phase in 2019. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2020. The new North Boulder Branch Library is expected to open in late 2020 or early 2021.

Project Planning

The 2007 Library Master Plan specifically identified the need to open a full-service library in north Boulder. This is also a priority goal in the updated 2018 Library Master Plan.  Project planning phases include: preliminary planning, architect selection, site selection, community outreach, design,  cost estimation, bidding, and construction.

Phase 1

This project is currently in phase one which consists of site analysis, community engagement, and preliminary planning of what the library spaces and services might include. The final site selection was a decision internal to the city and will be dependent on site selection criteria, economics and long-term interests of the library and the city. It is expected that the decision on site selection will be made by the end of 2018.

Boulder Public Library staff, along with the architect WORKac, recently completed a robust community engagement process to inform the public about the project and to consult with the community on their hopes and needs for this branch library. Library staff were pleased to interact with over 250 community members and stakeholders! Please view the executive summary and full report below under Community Engagement.

Phase 2


The City of Boulder signed a contract with Work Architecture Company (WORKac) on Aug. 1, 2018, for architecture consulting services associated with the first phase of work of a proposed new branch library in north Boulder. The contract with WORKac provides an option to renew for phase two, which will include design and construction of the new library.

WORKac, founded in 2003, was named the number one design firm in the United States in 2017 by Architect Magazine because of their portfolio of projects that are “playful, colorful and well detailed.” Some of their internationally recognized projects include the New Holland Island Cultural Center in St. Petersburg, Russia; the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston, Texas; the Children’s Museum of the Arts in Manhattan, NY; the Edible Schoolyard at P.S. 2016 in Brooklyn, NY; the Kew Gardens Hills Library in Queens, NY; and the Weifang Campus Library in Weifang, China. Principal architect Amale Andraos is the dean of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, and the firm’s partner, Dan Wood, is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and has credentials for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Access and parking

Phase 1 of the project focused on site analysis including anticipated traffic flow to and through both sites being considered and the amount of parking spaces required. The intent was to have a neutral impact on adjacent neighborhood parking availability by encouraging multi-modal transportation to the library and by providing adequate on-site parking. To this end, the city hired Fox Tuttle Hernandez Transportation Group (FTH) to conduct traffic studies at both sites and provide recommendations about the anticipated number of car visits and the number of parking spaces required.

Based on empirical data collected by FTH at the Meadow’s and George Reynolds Branch Libraries and the traffic studies at both north Boulder sites, it is estimated that the new north Boulder branch library will generate a similar amount of automobile traffic and have similar parking needs as the other branch libraries. Consideration was given to surrounding land use density and context. The study estimated 54 vehicles as the peak number accessing either site hourly and a total of 30 parking spaces needed. This estimate aligns with the City of Boulder parking code requirement for a 12,000 sq. ft. building which is 30 parking spaces, as outlined in 801.2.1 Off-Street Parking Schedule of the 2015 International Zoning Code. Accommodation of pedestrian, bike, and public transportation visits are being considered separately.

More information on preliminary site designs including parking plans will be available towards the end of the year.

Community Engagement

As part of the Site Selection and Programming phase for the new branch library in north Boulder, WORKac worked closely with library staff to organize a series of community engagement events. The events were primarily located in north Boulder, encouraging participation from residents who would live near and actively use the new North Boulder Library.

There were three open houses, and four targeted events aimed at specific audiences. At each event, WORKac displayed boards with images of WORKac’s previous work, basic information of each potential NoBo library site, a series of questions, and a general timeline of the project. The architects and library staff were made available during the event to discuss questions or concerns. At each community engagement event, questionnaires were available to fill out either at the event or at home (online submissions were also accepted). These forms, printed in both English and Spanish, encouraged attendees to participate further and provide feedback on several key issues.

Download the Presentation Boards from the Community Engagement Meetings.

The feedback received during the events and through online submissions were carefully reviewed, measured, and analyzed to inform the findings detailed in the full community engagement report. Download the Community Engagement Report.

Feedback received from the public process will be incorporated into the final project design, where feasible.

Additional public meetings and engagement opportunities will be planned as the city seeks to engage stakeholders during the design phase in 2019.

Project background and Funding

The new North Boulder Branch Library, which is largely funded by the 2017 renewal of the Community, Culture and Safety Tax, will be a full-service branch library facility with community meeting space and room for partner organizations.  It will be a place in north Boulder where the community can get books, attend programs, and come together.  Boulder Public Library is also excited to have the opportunity to increase outreach to underserved community members, as the new library will be in close proximity to some of Boulder’s most diverse neighborhoods.

On Nov. 7, 2017, Boulder voters approved two ballot measures to extend the Community, Culture and Safety (CCS) Tax for Capital Improvements. This four-year extension of the 0.3 percent temporary sales tax (originally approved in 2014) will fund several important city facilities and infrastructure projects. It will also provide matching funds for several community nonprofit facilities.

We’re pleased to announce that a new North Boulder Branch Library is one of the projects that will be funded by the 2017 CCS Tax!

Total estimated cost: $6,700,000

Amount funded through CCS Tax: $5,000,000

The remainder of the project will be funded by existing library fund balances limited to capital spending.

Operating cost impacts

Annual operating costs are estimated to start at $350,000 and will require an addition of ongoing funding to the Boulder Public Library operating budget. A request for these operating funds will be made during the 2019 or 2020 City of Boulder budget process.


This project page will be updated as new information becomes available.  If you have questions, please contact Antonia Gaona, project coordinator, at [email protected].