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Library Master Plan


The 2018 Boulder Public Library Master Plan provides policy guidance and outlines investment priorities associated with the expansion of library services to the northern and eastern portions of Boulder, examination of options to activate the north building of the Main Library as a cornerstone of the Civic Area, and maintaining current quality and levels of core programs and services. 

In 2017, the Library and Arts Department engaged thousands of Boulder community members through surveys, activities, interviews, and focus groups to discuss their desired outcomes for library programs and services for the next 10 years. The master plan that is scheduled to be presented to City Council for adoption in the summer of 2018 is a compilation developed from the community’s input.


  • The library continues to experience significant growth year over year in new borrowers, library visits, program attendance, e-book circulation and nearly all other output measures, even as revenues and staffing levels remain relatively flat. 
  • Residential growth in north Boulder and in Gunbarrel over the last 20 years, as well increased levels of economic and ethnic diversity in those communities, has led to increased demand for library services.
  • The library remains an anchor institution in the civic area with nearly 1 million visitors annually. 
  • In addition to increases in new borrowers and program attendance, new partnerships with the Boulder Small Business Development Center, Boulder County Farmers’ Market Seeds Library Café, and The Latino Chamber enabled the library to further activate the north building and bridge of the Main library. 
  • Grant funding from the Boulder Library Foundation enabled the library to launch the first free community makerspace, BLDG 61.  This program further leveraged grants from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Littlefield Foundation to provide an advanced level of maker programs that function as a community incubator.  To date, BLDG 61 has hosted more than 20,000 visitors, submitted multiple patent applications and launched several new businesses.  
  • Library staff continues to implement new and innovative approaches to delivering streamlined core programs and services to meet community and family needs, such as literacy classes for adults, immigrant community members, and children.   

Next Steps

The 2018 Boulder Public Library Master Plan will present:

  • A clear set of financial priorities for the library for the next 5-10 years.
  • Options for ongoing financial sustainability for City Council to consider and provide direction.
  • A model for expansion of the community library model to include:
    • A full-service branch library in north Boulder
    • A “corner” library in Gunbarrel,
    • An outline of potential future expansion at points east,
  • Plans for activation of the Civic Area .
  • Plans for identification of and outreach to underserved community members, e.g.: seniors and Latinos.  

Council Action

  • Fourth quarter 2017: City Council Study Session, update on master plan and discussion of financial sustainability options
  • Third quarter 2018: City Council consideration of adoption of the Boulder Public Library 2018 Master Plan

Staff Contact

David Farnan, Library and Arts director, [email protected], 303-441-3104 

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