Downtown Library Location Re-design

In February of 2023, the Duluth Library Foundation announced its partnership with the City of Duluth, Duluth Public Library, and Workforce Development to explore a re-design of the Downtown Main Library.

The city-owned downtown Duluth library building is forty years old, and in desperate need of serious infrastructure updates to maintain safety and efficiency; both as a building and as a vital community resource. Additionally, the building is outdated and does not align with modern library services.

Seeking to Rebuild

After extensive evaluation of the state of the building by city and consultant experts across various disciplines, it was concluded that any renovation would require the building to be taken down to its studs. This extensive renovation would be costly, nearly equivalent to starting anew. The City believes that rebuilding from the ground up would be a more efficient and cost-effective way to achieve the necessary updates.


The City and Foundation seek to finance the project in a manner that, if possible, imposes no additional burden on local property taxpayers or, failing that, imposes minimal additional burden. To finance the project, the City is pursuing State bonding to support the vision to rebuild this regionally significant asset, one that currently serves residents from all around Northeastern Minnesota. The City is also seeking all other available funding sources at the State and Federal levels to invest in this project.


Your input is vital in ensuring that the building design is community informed and meets the needs of current and future patrons.

We are excited to share that the first phase of community engagement has officially launched and will focus on programs and services offered by the library and workforce development. This information will be used to inform the design of the building. The second phase of community engagement will focus on reporting the findings from phase one and sharing designs for community response and input.

Community engagement will occur throughout the summer and early fall of 2023 and includes community surveys, open houses, stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and pop-ups at community events.


Through this redesign project, the City of Duluth hopes to expand public trust, grow economic and educational opportunities, and establish a space of belonging through better utilization of this public space. Here the services of public health, workforce development, library, tele-access, education, and childcare support would co-exist in the heart of a former urban renewal zone. This urban renewal zone has outlived its purpose by inadvertently creating a neighborhood of disparities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the city exploring an update to the Downtown Main Library?

In 2023, the forty-year-old building is a resource in desperate need of serious updates. The roof leaks, the mechanics are aging and need expensive repairs due to outdated technology, the elevator frequently has issues, the lack of building insulation creates issues both in the winter and summer, and more. Additionally, library programs and services have drastically changed since the building opened. Not only has technology changed, but the current layout and structure create obstacles for library staff to plan and execute the programming they desire.

Does co-location mean the Library and Workforce Development are going to be one entity?

No, the library and Workforce Development will remain independent programs and departments.
Much like retailers sharing space in a mall, these two departments will share a city building.

Will the location of the Downtown Main Library Change?

No, the Mayor and the City of Duluth are committed to keeping the library at its current location downtown across from The Depot. If the Library needs to temporarily close during construction, the City will be examining temporary space for operations, most likely downtown until operations can commence at the current location.

Why co-locate Workforce Development in an updated building?

A multi-use facility not only creates funding opportunities at the state and federal level but will create additional city efficiencies. City-maintained facilities across all departments are too broad and outdated for the current population and city needs. Not only will city funds be used efficiently, but the library and workforce center could see additional benefits and space increases through shared public spaces like computer labs, meeting rooms, and event spaces. Not to mention, library patrons frequently use the library for workforce needs, leading to a natural partner in serving the community.

Will the Downtown Library's size decrease?

The benefits of a complete teardown and rebuild would be an increase in the overall size of the building. This would provide sufficient space to effectively accommodate both the library and workforce center.


Hear directly from the City of Duluth regarding the project! Project updates, including reports and presentations when they become available, can be found at

Read: Press Updates

Listen: Press Updates

Watch: Press Updates

Almanac North 6/30/23 Episode: COVID Study, Duluth Library Vision, Fireworks

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