Learn About the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Renovation

The City of Sacramento plans to renovate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in 2025.
May 14, 2024

The City of Sacramento plans to renovate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in 2025 to better meet the needs of the community. 

Project Background

Originally built in 1970, the 15,100 sf library is a vital and welcoming community resource for information and learning, technology, and gathering. In 2022, the City of Sacramento was awarded a $5.6 million grant from the California State Library to support the substantial renovation of the King Library, including replacement of outdated building systems and accessibility upgrades. This grant plus matching City funds will also support reinvention of the library including enhanced children’s and teen spaces, an expanded community room, and acoustically-designed spaces for both collaboration and quiet study. The city engaged the community in their priorities through surveys, community events and pop ups. Based on community feedback the project design aims to:

  • Reflect and celebrates the community
  • Create a safe, welcoming, and accessible environment
  • New and modern
  • Focus on kids and teens
  • Include play space for families
  • Adaptable and flexible for changing needs
  • Excellent wayfinding and sight lines
  • Provide access to resources, technology, gaming, and computers
  • Include meeting spaces in a variety of sizes
  • Highlight African American collection and resources
  • Durable and easy to maintain
The following preliminary design concepts were presented to Sacramento City Council in May 2024.
Tesign concept for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library renovation features bright high ceilings, and an airy open floor plan. 
This design concept for the children's area in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library renovation features bright airy open space with short bookshelves and bold yellow furniture.
This rendering of a remodeled meeting room in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library features a dramatic light wood ceiling and modern light fixtures.

Library History

During the mid-1960s, the growing communities in the southern part of Sacramento County needed a large library for reference and resource services. At the time, only smaller locations served the area: Southgate Library, Belle Cooledge Library, and bookmobile. The City of Sacramento acquired the property on the southwest corner of the 24th Street Bypass for a new regional library. At 15,000 square feet, the library would be 3 times larger than most locations. The branch was designed to provide students with more reference and research materials than the other locations.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, Sacramento City Council voted to name the location the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library just hours after Dr. King was assassinated. The library, opened to the public on May 18, 1970 and is said to be the first structure to be named after the civil rights leader. The building featured a wood sculpture called “The Offering” by artist Georgianna Else, which was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A black granite sculpture entitled “Africa Emerging” by Meade B. Kibbey was installed at the entrance of the building in 1974. The sculpture standing nearly five feet tall and weighing approximately 5,000 pounds was designed to express African endurance and the ability to overcome oppression. It portrays a clenched fist and forearm emerging from a broken shackle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the timeline for the renovation?
The City will conduct a series of outreach events early in 2024 to better understand the community’s needs. Design plans will be developed later in the year. Construction is expected to start in 2025. The library is expected to reopen to the public early 2026.

How will the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library be funded?
This project will be funded by $5.5 million Building Forward Infrastructure grant from the California State Library.