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Interior renovation at Downers Grove Library moves forward

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 2:49 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Renderings provided by architects hired by the Downers Grove Public Library show what some of the new spaces will look like after the $2.4 million interior renovations.
(Photo provided)
The $2.4 million interior renovation project is expected to be completed by October 2014.

DOWNERS GROVE – Contractor bids for the $2.4 million interior renovation of the Downers Grove Public Library go out this week, and officials say the building's meeting rooms will temporarily close beginning in December to prepare for the project.

The library will remain open during construction, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 1.

"It's kind of a complicated Rubik's Cube of moving things from one area and into another area and twisting and turning to make everything fit," Library Director Rick Ashton said. "What the library staff are working on is how we will arrange the parts of the building that are under construction at any particular moment so we can provide something as near to a normal service level as possible."

Library officials say the renovation will modernize the library and attract younger patrons.

It will create several new small-group meeting and study spaces, a new teen center and a revamped café. The new interior will also have a new space for science, technology, engineering and math. A refreshed story-hour room will also improve the children’s services area. Plans also call for renovated restrooms, new carpet, paint, lighting and furnishings in other areas, among other improvements.

While patrons still check out lots of physical media – more than 100,000 items in July alone – technology has changed the way many people use the library, according to spokesperson Melissa Doornbos. The project will reduce the library's physical collection to provide for more collaborative spaces.

"We need less space for storage of things and more space for activities of people," she said in an email.

The plan also consolidates the computer stations and moves the audio-video selection to an adjacent spot, according to drawings presented by Product Architecture + Design to the library board this summer.

Work is expected to be complete in October 2014. The board allocated funds for the renovation from accumulated reserves and current revenues.

"We're very excited about this project, we think it will really produce a positive result for the community," Ashton said. "And we know it will be a period of inconvenience for everyone, but we think it will certainly be worthwhile."

The library opened in 1999. Its mechanical and electrical systems, roof, windows and structure are in good shape, according to Doornbos.

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