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Elevate Denver Bond Program

In November 2017, Denver voters overwhelmingly approved measure 2E, which provides $69.3 million to renovate the Denver Central Library and 10 branch libraries as part of the Elevate Denver Bond program.

Here you’ll find basic information on the library’s 11 bond-related projects as well as updates on construction and temporary closures. You can also visit the City’s Elevate Denver website for additional information about all Denver projects. 

The first debt issuance for Elevate Denver bonds allows the library to begin four of 11 scheduled projects. Each project has a design team, which includes representatives from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure selected architects and library staff.

News & Project Updates

Central Library facade

Denver Central Library

Designer: Studiotrope Design Collective 
General Contractor: GH Phipps 

The largest of the library projects, construction started at Central in 2020. During the pandemic, Central Library took this opportunity to move into the beginning phase of construction to take advantage of the library being closed to the public during this time. Construction is underway for the floors undergoing renovation - floors one through four which both have sections of the original Central Library built in 1955, and the expansion which took place in 1995 will be getting renovated. The Central Library opened the first floor to the public with limited in-person service starting in summer 2021. Construction will be ongoing through 2022.

birds eye view of north west section of Central Library exterior

computer graphic rendering of reimagined Children's librarycomputer graphic rendering of new even space plan





In Progress:

  • Major construction underway
  • New, modernized elevators
  • Deferred building maintenance


  • An added all-gender restroom on the first floor

  • Grand hall renovation with relocated, centralized service points

  • Construction of additional meeting rooms on the second floor 

  • Large programming space on the first floor with views of Civic Center Park and a more accessible location 


Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library

graphic rendering showing first floor space, with imposed images of people in the room.

Designer: Handprint Architecture

The design phase is complete and is currently closed for renovation with plans to reopen to the public in early 2023. First floor renovation will look to incorporate a new teen space, reimagined children's area, a new first floor staff workroom, a new front book drop and relocation of the circulation desk. There will be new public art installed on the first floor, which will feature the work of a local artist or a collective from the community. 


Athmar Park Branch Library and Pauline-Robinson Branch Library 

Architecture Firm: Anderson Hallas Architects

Community conversations have taken place late 2021 to share the remodel with their respective neighborhood and gather input from community members on what they wanted to see in the remodel. 

Ross-Barnum Branch Library and Schlessman Family Branch Library 

Architecture Firm: Studiotrope Design Collective

Community Input is requested for branch renovations DPL is seeking community input for the upcoming Ross-Barnum Branch Library and Schlessman Family Branch Library renovations. Please visit the branches to provide your input. This remodel will bring necessary updates to our building, along with improved spaces for programs!  Improvements are part of the Elevate Denver Bond Program passed by Denver voters in 2017.

John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. and Smiley Branch Libraries

Designer: Studiotrope Design Collective 
General Contractor: Interlock Construction

The renovations for these over century-year-old Carnegie libraries are nearly complete. Because both of these buildings have similar architectural opportunities and challenges, we tackled their updates together. The library hosted community meetings in the summer of 2019 to gather input from customers and neighbors. Connecting with Denver residents and library users is essential in planning all of our renovations. 

Through these discussions, we found that the John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. location was in need of a space for youth to have access to educational support and activities and thus John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library now has an amazing contemporary teen space. Another highlight of the renovation is the restoration of a stairwell dating back to 1918. The stairwell will surely be one of the many focal points inside this historic Carnegie library.

Smiley’s renovations include upgraded spaces such as an updated community room and a new study room in the basement. Reflecting its Northwest Denver neighborhood’s aesthetic, Smiley features a number of great architectural details, such as exposed brick in the front entrance and study room as well as refinished original built-in wood shelving. The Smiley branch also has a new, more easily accessible exterior book drop.

John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library renovation

Interactive display with buffalo sculpture   New layout and shelving from renvation  Renovated stairs at the branch

Smiley Branch Library renovation

 Wide angle image showing the new bookshelves and space  Brick wall lined newly renovated study space

Elevate Denver Bond Renovations

Athmar Park Branch Library
Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library
John “Thunderbird Man” Emhoolah Jr. Branch Library
Denver Central Library
Eugene Field Branch Library
Pauline Robinson Branch Library
Ross-Barnum Branch Library
Ross-Broadway Branch Library
Ross-University Hills Branch Library
Smiley Branch Library
Schlessman Family Branch Library

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