What is now Multnomah County Library dates its existence from 1864, a time when Portland, Oregon was a frontier town with frame buildings, muddy streets, and few sidewalks. A small group of citizens met to establish a subscription library and reading room, organizing under the name “Library Association of Portland.”
Central Library opened in September 1913. Designed by architect A. E. Doyle, the building took two years to build. The Central Library building, now on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to be the heart of what has become a system of branch libraries that serves library users all over Multnomah County.