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Thomas Ford Library hopes to fund renovations through referendum

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WESTERN SPRINGS – Western Springs residents have been asking the staff at Thomas Ford Memorial Library for more work space in the library, and if a $2 million referendum on the March 2018 ballot is passed, renovations would begin later that year.

The last time the library underwent renovations was in 1996, and library Director Ted Bodewes said the library is overdue for a reconfiguration.

“Things have changed a lot in the past 20 years, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from patrons who want more private, collaborative work space,” he said. “That’s probably our No. 1 request, and we hear it about every day. The new plan would add about six small group work spaces and improve seating availability.”

The population of Western Springs also has changed. About one-third of the residents are younger than 18, and teens and tweens need their own area in the library, Bodewes said. The renovations would give them a dedicated space.

“We’re proposing 850 square feet of space for that age group that will allow for computing, the teen and tween collection and age-appropriate furniture,” he said. “Right now they’re housed in the adult and children’s areas, so this would free up space in both of those sections. We’re also going to add more power outlets because of personal technology use, and we’ll add more seating and tables for personal computers in the adult section.”

Library Board of Trustees President Mary Greska said the library needs to stay up to date and relevant for its patrons and respond to the community’s needs.

“This is in response to what the community has expressed an interest in for several years,” she said.

Greska was quick to note the renovations would only take place on the building’s interior.

“There will be no changes to the exterior or to the beautiful architecture of our building, and we’re trying to do this with minimal impact to the charm of the interior,” she said.

If passed, residents would pay an additional $10.73 per every $100,000 of assessed home value per year. That adds up to just more than $50 a year for a $500,000 home.

Bodewes said he thinks the community will support the measure, and he is very excited for the potential renovations.

“This is a modest request and the need is great, and we are hopeful the community will pass the referendum,” he said. “We worked closely with the village to get it on the ballot, and they were very supportive.”

Greska said the renovations would begin in late 2018 and should be completed by mid-2019.

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