March 2020 | XXXVIII. Issue 1 »

2019 New Library Buildings

February 24, 2020
Illinois Library Association

We have 14 showplace examples of library renovations and expansions from communities as large as Chicago, with five branch renovations or new buildings; to those with service populations of 6,000–7,000. They are all public libraries; mostly renovations with only five completely new buildings. Some innovative models (of both architecture and library service) are on display, such as a new building that houses the library along with Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) apartments, an open concept based in safety considerations that is also visually attractive, and using the physical layout to enhance staff and patron engagement.

Chicago Public Library, Independence Branch

Architect: John Ronan Architects

Type of project: New building—co-located with Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) apartments

Total cost: $9,349,026

Service population: 95,218

Library director: Andrea Telli

What people are saying:

“Integrating these two public benefits in one place makes sense.”

“The fact that the library is open for everyone—to read, explore, and learn—makes all the difference.”

Chicago Public Library, Little Italy Branch    

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Type of project: New building

Total cost: $7,216,018

Service population: 28,928

Library director: Andrea Telli

What people are saying:

“Love this cool design!”

Chicago Public Library, Northtown Branch

Architect: Perkins&Will

Type of project: New building

Total cost: $10,994,355

Service population: 72,211

Library director: Andrea Telli

What people are saying:

“Wonderful addition to the area! Thank you!”

“My sons love to meet their friends here and hang out while making stickers and 3-D printing.”

Chicago Public Library, West Loop Branch

Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

Type of project: New building

Total cost: $7,358,712

Service population: 28,928

Library director: Andrea Telli

What people are saying:

“What a beautiful library space!”

Chicago Public Library, Whitney M. Young, Jr. Branch

Architect: bKL Architecture

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $11,545,413

Service population: 62,992

Library director: Andrea Telli

What people are saying:

“The new YOUmedia is a place I can hang out where I’m treated with respect. It’s also a place where I have a lot of fun.”

“The library provides the peaceful and supportive space I need to better my talent.”

Cook Memorial Public Library District, Aspen Drive Library, Vernon Hills


Type of project:
Renovation/expansionArchitect: product architecture + design

Total cost: $6.8 million

Service population: 59,842

Library director: David Archer

What people are saying:

“You really did a great job taking the community’s needs to heart.”

“The building is so airy and filled with sunlight.”

“The new enlarged children’s area is so much fun!”

“There are a variety of unique spaces in this building—something for everyone!”

Elmwood Park Public Library

Architect: product architecture + design

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $148,300

Service population: 24,500

Library director: Tiffany Verzani

What people are saying:

“The Imaginarium is beautiful; bravo.”

“The new Imaginarium is so imaginative and fun.”

“The option to have snacks for my kids is really nice.”

“We love the colors and comfortable furniture.”

La Grange Public Library

Architect: StudioGC

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $1,290,232

Service population: 15,500

Library director: Charity Gallardo

What people are saying:

“The renovation has made a big difference. There’s more space in general and there’s more space for each age group in the children’s area. We like how much brighter the department is now and the energy is great. It’s a great spot to come for activities and crafts.”

“I am especially impressed with the additional square footage and reconfiguration of the lobby. The entryway, complete with new windows and sliding glass doors, makes for a much warmer and welcoming entrance. The dedicated area for new materials is located just inside the entryway where there is a coffee kiosk and seating along the windows. You can read a book while enjoying a cup of coffee! Great use of space!”

“The renovated children’s space is really engaging for the kids and it’s such a fun and welcoming environment. It’s also very well utilized by the community.”

Lake Villa Public Library

Architect: StudioGC

Type of project: New building

Total cost: $18,467,483

Service population: 40,276

Library director: Andrea Lentine

What people are saying:

“Congratulations to the library board and staff! I am so impressed and proud to have such a beautiful, modern library in our community.”

“It was so great going in today with my two little ones! Love the new location. My kids cried when they had to leave. We’ll be back again tomorrow!”

“I’m in love with the new library! And I’m so glad I can work ‘from home’ here!”

“Thank you for all your hard work and dedication. You have honored your mission statement by enriching the lives in our community—well done!”

Marshall Public Library

Architect: Farnsworth Group

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $246,000

Service population: 7,847

Library director: Alyson Thompson

What people are saying:

“The library looks fresh and clean...it suddenly feels bigger!”

“I've been coming to the library for many years, and I must say this is the best I have ever seen our library look.”

“The library is meeting our needs in new ways; we love using the new Sonny Daly Room study space.”

“I love the new colors; it brings the library up-to-date while still adhering to the building’s original architectural design.”

“Having the Head Librarian near the Circulation Desk is wonderful! Our workflow and communication are better than ever.”

“Our line of sight is amazing; before we had many ‘blind spots’ in the library but now we can do a quick visual sweep of the entire library.”

“Safety was our number one concern during this renovation. We had many concerns with the library’s previous layout: It offered poor lighting, visibility and workflow. Now, staff and patrons are able to enjoy an open concept environment that is safe, efficient, and conducive to their varying needs."

North Riverside Public Library

Architect: None

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $44,098

Service population: 6,672

Library director: Natalie Starosta

What people are saying:

“I can’t believe that my library has all this.”

“When I think of a library, I never would have thought that I could embroider, learn how to use Photoshop and make my own buttons and I know that there is so much more I haven’t explored yet!”

River Forest Public Library

Architect: Williams Architects

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $415,000

Service population: 11,200

Library director: Sue Quinn

What people are saying:

“I love the new lobby. It is so much brighter and welcoming while still retaining the historic charm of the upstairs reading room. Moving the desk out into the lobby has put the library staff front and center. It is evident that they are there to engage with patrons. I feel so much more connected to them.”

“I love this library and the renovation has made it brighter and more intimate. I feel more connected to the staff. The holds shelf is so convenient now and the new water fountain is fantastic.”

“The children’s room looks twice as big! It’s so bright and welcoming.”

“The new staff area makes much better use of our small space. It is streamlined and more efficient, allowing us to focus more on our patrons.”

“We all were impressed with the look of the library since the renovation. Beautiful.”

Thomas Ford Memorial Library, Western Springs

Architect: product architecture + design

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $2,000,000

Service population: 12,975

Library director: Ted Bodewes

What people are saying:

“It looks amazing! I love the increase in space and openness in the youth department.”

“The new library space is so warm and inviting. There are so many places to sit and work. I especially appreciate all of the new study rooms.”

“The ‘Teen and Tween Room’ is a great idea. Thanks!”

Villa Park Public Library

Architect: Williams Architects

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $10,600,000

Service population: 21,904

Library director: Sandra Hill

What people are saying:

“I love all the quiet spaces and places for people to sit with laptops.”

“The library looks fabulous! The changes in the bathrooms are great, both environmentally and design-wise.”

“I like how it is furnished and modern.”

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