March 2021 | XXXIX. Issue 4 »

2020 New Library Buildings

March 1, 2021
Illinois Library Association

2020 was a year like no other for many reasons. Fortunately, library building projects were undeterred! Despite many libraries temporarily closing their doors to in-person public services while continuing to offer robust, and growing, virtual and electronic services, public interest in visiting libraries remains gratifyingly (and deservingly) high. The clamor over the past year for libraries to re-open for book browsing, computer use and assistance, gathering for programs and meetings, using cutting-edge technology such as makerspaces, and conducting regular daily business such as notarizing, faxing, filling out government forms, and all the other myriad of services libraries and library workers help with, is a testament to our vital nature.

The new buildings and renovations showcased here exemplify the best in modern public and academic library services to our patrons and communities. At least one, Wilmington Public Library’s small extension building known as “The Drop,” open 24 hours with self-service stations and secure pick-up lockers, is a direct result of pandemic-related innovation (and was paid for with CARES Act funding) but will offer benefits for years to come. Not noted here but key to libraries’ role in the re-opening of the state, are the countless ones that scrambled to put up Plexiglas shields and other barriers to enable staff and patrons to interact safely, rethought their patterns of flow and moved furniture and shelving to encourage social distancing, and removed computer stations for the same purpose. No one wants libraries fully open to our publics more than librarians ourselves. These projects give us inspiration and hope.

BERWYN PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: George Fisher Construction

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $39,400

Service population: 56,657

Library director: Tammy Sheedy

What people are saying:

"Berwyn Public Library is continuing to do amazing things for the community!"

“This is a children’s department. Just having all those murals up, showing pictures of children reading, interacting with each other, it’s beautiful.”

“The new program room and play area are such a great addition to the library. Kids can come and spend hours browsing through the bins, playing with the Lego® table, the imagination station, or the kitchen. It’s become a destination for the kids.”

BROADVIEW PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT

Architect: Dewberry

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $6,960,000

Service population: 8,000

Library director: Robert Lafferty

What people are saying:

“The study rooms are on a level with those in large universities.”

“The community now has the beautiful library we have always deserved.”

CAROL STREAM PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: product architecture + design

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $5,425,000

Service population: 39,711

Library director: Susan Westgate

What people are saying:

“We were there this weekend and the place looks great. It looks larger than before and all the natural light is great. My daughter’s favorite part was the waterwall. And I love all the seating.”

“I love everything! Look at the forest! This is amazing!”

“I’m very happy with the renovation. I can tell lots of planning went into incorporating all different types of people’s wishes and needs for the space.”

CHENOA PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: Scharnett Associates Architects LLC

Type of project: New Building

Total cost: $1,273,000

Service population: 2,073

Library director: Sheryl Siebert

What people are saying:

“We love this new library!”

“I would love to hang out here for the day. It has so much light!”

“It’s so big.”

CHERRY VALLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT

Architect: Hagney Architects, LLC

Type of project: Expansion

Total cost: $1,400,000

Service population: 16,000

Library director: Jane Lenser

What people are saying: 

“We came for a visit and loved all the new space! Beautiful!!”

“The space is really nice, and this kind of shelf is great for the younger kids to pick out books.”

“The new drive thru is going to be so useful. Great idea!”

CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY, ALTGELD BRANCH LIBRARY

Architect: Koo Architecture, LLC

Type of project: New Building

Total cost: $7,028,750

Service population: 28,000

Library director: Nicholas Saunders

What people are saying: 

“Beautiful building; this is long overdue! We needed this!”

“It’s beautiful, quiet, and so much bigger than I expected.”

“This space is wonderful, and we can’t wait to use the study rooms and makerspace.”

CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY, LEGLER REGIONAL LIBRARY

Architect: RATIO Architects, Inc.

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $9,375,400

Service population: 34,000

Library director: Shilo Jefferson

What people are saying: 

“The library now has more open space, and the lighting upgrade is good.”

“We’re excited to come in to use the computers to play our favorite game!”

“I really like the comfortable new furniture in the children’s area and look forward to visiting with my kids.”

CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY, MERLO BRANCH LIBRARY

Architect: Ross Barney Architects

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $5,800,000

Service population: 71,000

Library director: Michael Conlon

What people are saying: 

“The new facade gives the library a whole new look, fresh and welcoming!”

“The new Merlo is clean, modern, and very family friendly.”

DOMINICAN UNIVERSITY, REBECCA CROWN LIBRARY, RIVER FOREST

Architect: Holabird and Root

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $4,200,000

Service population: 4,000

Library director: Felice E. Maciejewski

What people are saying: 

“Great to have more study rooms—students need a quiet place to study.” 

“The patio turned into a contemplative space is nice because it can be used year-round.”

“The new Innovation Lab has been a tremendous boon as it presents the opportunity to give students experience to use variety of equipment.”

“The Learning Commons is modern and inviting. The lighting makes the space appear even larger than it is.”

EVANSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY, ROBERT CROWN BRANCH

Architect: Woodhouse Tinucci Architects

Type of project: New building co-located in a new Community Center

Total cost: $2,656,263

Service population: 74,486

Library director: Karen Danczak Lyons

What people are saying: 

“The library is so beautiful, especially with the large windows and all of the natural lighting.”

“We’re so lucky to have this new library so close to our house, we’ll be walking here regularly.”

“It’s great that the library is within the community center; it seems like a natural fit.”

FOREST PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: Williams Architects

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $1,300,000

Service population: 14,167

Library director: Pilar Shaker

What people are saying: 

“The new furniture and carpet in the basement make the children’s area of the library a fun and inviting place to be! I also love that the teens get their own space away from our littles.”

“The renovated library looks so modern and inviting. We enjoy using the common area upstairs so we can have a snack inside after school before heading to the lower level. My sons appreciate having more computers in the lower level, so they don’t need to go on a waiting list. I like the new seating arrangements for comfortable reading. There are more areas to display special interest books, which is great for finding new reads we might miss in the stacks.”

“The Forest Park Public Library’s renovation created bright open spaces welcoming all to visit.”

GENEVA PUBLIC LIBRARY DISTRICT

Architect: StudioGC architecture + interiors

Type of project: New Building

Total cost: $20,400,000

Service population: 30,505

Library director: Christine Lazaris

What people are saying: 

“Despite having in-person visits limited by the Covid pandemic, our beautiful new library building has already become a community hub and destination. Its open, flexible design allows the amazing staff to offer a much wider array of services than were possible in the old building, like the drive-up window and reservable study rooms. We couldn’t be happier with the new space!”

“STUNNING! So excited to start using it on a regular basis. They have thought of everything. Lovely grounds and landscaping. A true asset to the community.”

“Libraries’ roles in the community have changed and this new library will meet Geneva’s needs for years to come. I am glad to see it and glad that this community that has always embraced its library and the services it offers is able to finally enjoy it.”

“It is amazing. We are very impressed with everything. Very well done! Love the study areas, seating, the tech area, and the children’s area. We are very happy to have this tremendous asset in our community.”

GLENVIEW PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: Dewberry

Type of project: Renovation/expansion

Total cost: $1,457,582

Service population: 47,500

Library director: Lindsey Dorfman

What people are saying: 

“I enjoy the browsing experience in the new ‘Marketplace,’ and I am delighted to find current popular books readily available to check out.”

“I am grateful for the Innovation Center’s Take & Make Do-It-Yourself projects. I recently completed a cross-stitch laser-cut ornament with my mother, who has memory issues. It’s wonderful to have creative things we can do together, especially during the pandemic!”

ILLINOIS PRAIRIE DISTRICT PUBLIC LIBRARY, ROANOKE BRANCH

Architect: Dewberry

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $925,000

Service population: 21,644

Library director: Joel D. Shoemaker

What people are saying:

“The library was workable before, but the renovation is beautiful. I really enjoy going in. It is much brighter and pleasant.”

“It’s beautiful and comfortable, and a friendly atmosphere is always there! The library staff are extremely helpful. It’s a reading paradise!”

ORLAND PARK PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: michael c barnes architect,
pllc and Wight & Company

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $3,400,000

Service population: 56,767

Library director: Mary K. Weimar

What people are saying:

“I love the new open space. The Recycled Reads room is wonderful. I love that large-type books are organized in a section I can browse.”

“I haven’t been in here in a while. Everything is so different. This is the nicest library in the area; it’s so large!”

“It looks just wonderful in here. Not that it was shabby before, not at all, but this is impressive!”

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP DISTRICT LIBRARY

Architect: product architecture + design

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $2,017,727

Service population: 130,000

Library director: Annie Miskewitch

What people are saying:

“I love it! It’s beautiful, open, colorful. I like how it’s laid out.”

“I love the colors and it’s spacious.”

“It looks great. I love it.”

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD, NORRIS L. BROOKENS LIBRARY

Architect: Farnsworth Group

Type of project: Renovation

Total cost: $500,000

Service population: 5,500

Library director: Pattie Piotrowski

What people are saying:

“Without photos it’s hard to remember what the space looked like before the renovation. It is a space so transformed that it bears no resemblance to its past self.”

“I like studying on the main floor of the library because there is ample access to everything (computers, printer, bean bags, etc.) in a very open space. Studying there is very relaxing as there is enough space between desks/computers to be in my own little bubble while not feeling isolated.”

WILMINGTON PUBLIC LIBRARY

Architect: Olivieri Brothers Architects

Type of project: New accessory building

Total cost: $46,509

Service population: 9,345

Library director: Maria Meachum

What people are saying:

“This is so nice!! I love the handicap accessibility!”

“Thank you for such a wonderful addition to Wilmington.”

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