The Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) needs new, expanded library spaces to serve the existing and future populations of our region.

The population has increased by 300% since the Williamsburg Library branch was constructed in 1973. The library building has not been expanded since 1998. The Williamsburg Library needs to be replaced. Read below to find out more about this issue.

photos of Williamsburg Library issues (leaking ceilings, rusted pipes, outdated electrical system)

WRL is a regional library system.

Williamsburg, James City County, and York County jointly fund the Williamsburg Regional Library system through a regional contract. Under the contract, each jurisdiction pays for the cost of construction for any library building within its borders, and all 3 share the annual operational budget for the library system. The buildings in the system include Williamsburg Library in the City of Williamsburg and the James City County Library in James City County with WRL staff also managing public spaces inside the Stryker Center in Williamsburg.

The funding contribution of each locality is calculated by the number of items checked out by its residents. The library is governed by a Board of Trustees made up of appointees from each jurisdiction.

graphic of 3 buildings

Strong support from its regional partners, the local community, and the Friends of WRL has made this library system one of the top libraries in the country.

By the Numbers

James City County residents account for 70% of the checkouts from the Williamsburg Library building.

By the Numbers

The population that WRL serves has grown by more than 300% since the Williamsburg Library on Scotland Street was constructed in 1973. When it was built, it was a beautiful, state-of-the-art building for its time. The Williamsburg Library has been a much-loved public space by generations of residents for over 50 years and has a place in the hearts of many. Over the years, the population in the area has grown dramatically, and the building has lived beyond its functional life. The library is ready to be recreated into an exciting new space that will fit all the people, collections, and activities of today, so the community can have a new library building to love for future generations. In 2017, WRL’s Board of Trustees recommended that James City County construct a 40,000 sq. ft. library to serve the growing county population.

Also, in 2017, the Board of Trustees engaged an architect to do an assessment of the existing Williamsburg Library facility. In 2018, the option of new, jointly funded facility was suggested to address both jurisdictional needs. In 2022, the Library Board shared its preference that the City of Williamsburg and James City County build a new 55,000 sq. ft. joint facility on the current Williamsburg Library site. This preference is based on the documented need for a new and expanded library space; findings of a 2018 community wide survey expressing strong public support across all 3 jurisdictions for a downtown facility and the need to minimize future operational costs. The decision on how to proceed rests with the jurisdictions.

WRL buildings & population timeline


1970 – JCC: 17,966, WBG: 9,644

1973 – Williamsburg Library (WL) built

1980 – JCC: 22,587, WBG: 10,313

1982 – WL Theatre addition built

1990 – JCC: 35,037, WBG: 11,701

1996 – James City County Library built

1998 – Final WL addition built

2020 – JCC: 76,032, WBG: 15,034

JCC Population Estimates

2030 – 88,216

2040 – 101,769

2050 – 116,845

City of Williamsburg Population Estimates

2030 – 16,541

2040 – 17,986

2050 – 19,699

Work we’ve done so far

WL = Williamsburg Library

JCC = James City County

2018-2022 annual CIP submissions to JCC, WBG

2007 – Original consultant building report


  • Library Board resolution for new JCC Library
  • First JCC library CIP request


  • WL facility assessment report
  • Consultant study on proposed joint library
  • Public survey, focus groups, final consultant report


  • Additional consultant site and conceptual renderings
  • Building included in WRL Strategic Plan 2021-2022
  • City of WBG CIP request


  • Presentation to JCC Board of Supervisors at annual retreat
cozy library with a fireplace


See below for inspirational photos of modern library spaces. WRL’s vision of a new library includes comfortable, spacious, light-filled public areas that can be easily adapted to different uses with the infrastructure to support library services and user needs, as well as well-lit, well-displayed book and media collections set up for browsing and discovery. Also, a wide variety of comfortable seating for different tasks, a living room area with a fireplace and soft seating, modern collaborative workspaces, and a variety of small meeting rooms for the public. There should be spaces for experimental learning and creation like a small recording studio; a large, versatile maker and creation space; a dedicated teen area with space for gaming technology, lounge, and study seating; a homework hub for tutors, families, and students; a big, bright children’s room with learning activities and space for play; an updated theater; expanded outside public spaces; and a teaching kitchen.