Niles Library launches year of renovations
An artist's rendering of what a portion of the Niles Library's second-floor fiction and audiovisual collection will look like once renovations are complete. | Contributed image
Updated: March 18, 2013 1:17AM
NILES — The year will be a busy and significant one at the Niles Public Library which by the end of 2013 is expected to have a new look and offer more amenities that the community desires.
Library officials held a special “wall breaking” ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 10 to officially kick off the year-long renovation project.
The project will cost about $5.58 million and will be paid for from library reserves.
“We have done about 12 years worth of accumulating in the special reserves fund in order to plan for it,” said Niles Library Marketing Director Sue Wilsey.
“The library rehab project is being funded without tax increases or borrowing,” said Library Board Member Morgan Dubiel. “It is already under budget and I hope to keep it that way.”
Library Board Member Dennis O’Donovan said that a couple of years ago he had the idea of making a café-style area to sit, read and have coffee.
That one idea transformed into the major renovation project that is planned, he said.
Wilsey added that the library held focus groups in order to get the community’s input regarding what they wanted to see in a renovated library.
For instance, many patrons wanted to see more meeting spaces and so the library made sure these were included in the renovation plan. Students will be able to find more places to study in a group setting and more open gathering spaces will also be provided.
“We’re just really excited,” said Niles Public Library Director Linda Weiss. “We’re creating more space for the people. We know the nature of the public library is changing. We’re trying to keep up with the changes.”
Some major components of the project include an automated check-in and sorting system for materials; a renovated entrance area; a new café with vending machines; a fireplace and relaxing reading space on the third floor; a new computer-training lab; and a special area for middle-school aged children.
In addition, a new HVAC and boiler system will be installed.
The hope is that the library will be able to continue business as usual, unlike its last renovation in 1998 when materials had to be temporarily relocated to another building.
The library, located at 6960 Oakton St., was built in 1965, but underwent extensive reconstruction in 1998.
Dubiel said he is supportive of the self check-out, but he feels the conveyer belt portion of that project is too costly and would prefer the library to hire a part-time staff member instead.
The total for the equipment and installation of the system is $366,000, explained Wilsey, explaining the system would not make sense without the conveyer belt.
Weiss said the self check-in and check-out system will be very convenient for patrons and help free up library staff members.
Weiss said the renovation will occur from the outside in, beginning with the addition of a new board room and the reading area on third floor.