Project: Replace existing branch

The old Ballard Carnegie Free Library employed one of the first African American librarians in Seattle. It still stands on Market Street near the current branch. It is now home to several businesses.  In 1963, a newer branch was constructed nearby, on 24th Ave NW. By 1998 it was clear that this building could not meet the demands of emerging technology, so plans for the current branch were included in the levy proposal that was approved by voters that year.

Ballard Branch 2005 replacement

The previous 7,296-square-foot branch was built in 1963. The new branch has:

  • an updated collection of books and materials
  • more seats
  • expanded reference areas
  • larger areas for children and young adults
  • more computers
  • a meeting room
  • underground parking
  • Ballard Neighborhood Service Center

Quick facts

  • Project type: Replace existing branch
  • Completion date: 2005
  • Budget for capital costs: $10.6 million
  • Total library program area: 15,000 square feet (formerly 7,296 square feet)
  • Computers: 37 (formerly 13)
  • Artists: Donald Fels, Andrew Schloss, Dale Stammen
  • Art budget: $57,672
  • Library Board steward: Linda Larson
  • Architect: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
  • Contractor: PCL Construction Services Inc.


  • May 2005: The new Ballard Branch of The Seattle Public Library and the Ballard Neighborhood Service Center opened at noon Saturday, May 14.
  • April 2005: The old Ballard Branch at 5711 24th Ave. N.W. closed April 10, to allow the Library to move operations to the new branch.
  • February 2004: Construction began on the new branch and the neighborhood service center.
  • December 2003: The Seattle Design Commission commended the Library for design excellence and innovation for the building design.
  • April 2003: The Seattle Design Commission approved design development plans and said the project did not need additional review.
  • March 2003: Residents attended a public meeting to see the building design.
  • October 2002: The Seattle Design Commission approved schematic design plans for the new building.
  • July 2002:S. Bank decided not to participate in a mixed-use project that would have included the new library, the neighborhood service center and a bank branch. Instead, U.S. Bank will move its Ballard branch to a new location.
  • May 2002: Residents attended a public meeting to see the first images of the new library and neighborhood service center. The Seattle Design Commission approved conceptual design plans for the project.
  • September 2001: The Library signed an agreement with U.S. Bank to buy the bank's property at 22nd Avenue Northwest and Northwest 57th Street for the new library and neighborhood service center. The site also will accommodate a U.S. Bank branch.
  • June 2001: Residents attended a "hopes and dreams" meeting to share ideas on design, collections, programs and artwork for the new branch and neighborhood service center.
  • May 2001: The Seattle Public Library board of trustees selected Fall City artist Donald Fels to design artwork for the new branch.
  • April 2001: As an outgrowth of Ballard's municipal center master planning process, residents and business owners, Library staff members and representatives of other city agencies formed the Ballard Library Project Advisory Committee to articulate the community's goals before design begins.
  • September 2000: The Library Board identified a site currently occupied by U.S. Bank at 22nd Avenue Northwest and Northwest 57th Street as its first preference for the site of the new branch. The Library and U.S. Bank are exploring siting the bank, the library and a neighborhood service center on the property.
  • March 2000: The Library Board selected the architectural firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson to design the new branch. Earlier in the month, about 150 community members met architect finalists at a reception.
  • November 1999: The Library Board narrowed to three the list of potential sites for the new branch.
  • October 1999: Residents discussed the opportunities and challenges of six sites at a community meeting to talk about where to build the new branch. The Library added to the list three more sites that residents proposed.

Ballard Branch 2016 Improvements

After 11 years of use, the branch needed to be recarpeted. It is one of the most heavily used branches in the Library system.

We closed the Ballard branch in mid 2016. It closed May 9 and reopened June 20.

Improvements included:

  • new carpet
  • comfortable seating
  • new tables with electrical outlets
  • lower shelving in children's area
  • single staff service desk
  • grouped most of the public computers together
  • self-checkout kiosks
  • laptop bar and stools in teen area
  • low-flow urinals added to men's restroom
  • Painted interior columns and entry wall
  • height limit bar in parking garage ramp

We promised to protect the public's investment in its buildings as part of the 2012 voter-approved Library levy. The Ballard Branch improvements are part of our commitment to keeping Library buildings well-maintained, clean and comfortable for you.