Columbia Branch Improvements

The original 6,825-square-foot branch, which opened in 1915, is a Carnegie-funded branch designed by W. Marbury Somervell and Harlan Thomas. It was upgraded in 1986. The branch is in the Columbia City Landmark District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The expanded branch now has:

  • an updated collection capacity of 40,200 books and materials
  • more seating
  • areas serving children, young adults and adults
  • more computer work stations and instructional areas
  • modern electrical, mechanical and ventilation systems
  • more efficient lobby, circulation desk and staff areas
  • better access for people with disabilities.

Quick facts

  • Project type: Expand existing branch
  • Completion date: 2004
  • Budget for capital costs: $3 million
  • Total library program area: 12,420 square feet (formerly 6,825 square feet)
  • Computers: 19 (formerly 14)
  • Artist: Gu Xiong
  • Art budget: $42,777
  • Library Board steward: Linda Larson
  • Architect: Cardwell Architects (formerly Cardwell/Thomas & Associates Architects)
  • Contractor: Graham Contracting Ltd.


  • Aug. 22, 2004: Residents enjoyed activities, music and snacks at the grand opening celebration of the expanded Columbia Branch of The Seattle Public Library.
  • August 2003: Construction began on the branch expansion.
  • July 20, 2003: The Columbia Branch closed to prepare for expansion.
  • June 2003: Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board issued the Certificate of Approval for the branch expansion work.
  • March 2003: Residents visited the branch to see the design for the expansion.
  • October 2002: Residents attended an open house to view designs for the branch expansion.
  • October 2001: Residents attended a "hopes and dreams" meeting to share ideas on design, programs and services, collections, and artwork for the expanded branch.
  • September 2001: The Seattle Public Library board of trustees chose Gu Xiong, a mixed-media artist from Vancouver, B.C., to design artwork for the expansion project.
  • June 2001: The Library Board selected Cardwell/Thomas & Associates Architects to design the branch expansion.
  • December 2000: Twelve architects answered the Library's call to apply to design the branch expansion.
  • November 1998: Seattle voters approved the $196.4 million "Libraries for All" bond measure. The bond money, which could be used only for construction of libraries, funded a new Central Library and new and improved branches.