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updated: 10/9/2011 7:54 AM

Renovated, expanded library about to reopen in Gurnee

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  • Children's program specialist Patty Sawin reads "If You Give the Cat a Cupcake" during story time for prekindergarten children hosted by Warren-Newport Public Library at a Panera Bread in Gurnee last month. It was part of the Library On The Town program necessitated by closure of the building since Sept. 12 to accommodate final construction work.

       Children's program specialist Patty Sawin reads "If You Give the Cat a Cupcake" during story time for prekindergarten children hosted by Warren-Newport Public Library at a Panera Bread in Gurnee last month. It was part of the Library On The Town program necessitated by closure of the building since Sept. 12 to accommodate final construction work.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee is almost ready to reopen. It's been closed since Sept. 12 for the last leg of expansion and renovation.

      Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee is almost ready to reopen. It's been closed since Sept. 12 for the last leg of expansion and renovation.

  • Warren-Newport Public Library Director Stephen Bero discusses a new main entrance as construction winds down. The library will reopen Oct. 17.

       Warren-Newport Public Library Director Stephen Bero discusses a new main entrance as construction winds down. The library will reopen Oct. 17.
    photos by Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Warren-Newport Public Library Director Stephen Bero shows off a remodeled children's story time room.

       Warren-Newport Public Library Director Stephen Bero shows off a remodeled children's story time room.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee is about a week away from opening its doors to the future.

Closed since Sept. 12 for a final construction phase, workers have been going at full speed to finish the $8.5 million project that'll include more meeting space, a dedicated room for teenagers, upgraded computers, larger restrooms and extra study rooms.

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Library Director Stephen Bero said greater building efficiencies should benefit patrons and staff when the facility reopens at 9 a.m. Oct. 17. The library last had a major makeover in 1997.

"We are anticipating we are going to get inundated with business once we reopen," Bero said while on a recent sneak-peek library tour.

Visitors will be struck by a new main entrance toward the library's west side featuring a rain garden that'll soak water runoff from the roof. A Friends of the Library store and an expansive circulation desk will be near the entrance.

Teenagers should be satisfied with the new-look library, because officials have tried to specifically accommodate them.

Library spokeswoman Jan Marsh said the teen area will be named The Vault, which was the winning entry from a contest. Other entries included The Cave and The Vortex.

Gaming consoles, better technology and more comfortable seating are among The Vault's highlights.

"We want to give the teens their own space," Bero said. "We welcome them here, but we realize they have some special needs and we want to accommodate them."

Debbie Hoffman, a reader's advisory and reference librarian, said a new community room that will open could lure more visitors to Warren-Newport's programs.

Warren-Newport has been a frequent stop for well-known authors shuttling between book appearances in Chicago and Milwaukee. The community room will have a stage to allow better viewing of the authors or popular cooking demonstrations.

"Now that we're going to have this gorgeous new space, I think it's going to really highlight even more," Hoffman said.

Russell Banks, a best-selling author whose latest effort is "Lost Memory of Skin," will be in the new community room when the library reopens Oct. 17. He's scheduled to appear at 7 p.m.

About 4,500 square feet will be added onto Warren-Newport, which was last expanded 14 years ago. Internet access and a welcoming wall with four large-screen televisions were part of that $5.6 million modernization.

"Last time we reopened in '97, you think you're going to peak with (patron attendance) and level off, but we peaked and we stayed up there," Marsh recalled. "And I think that's going to happen again. People are really going to rush in here and stay here and continue to visit in bigger numbers and really enjoy the added amenities that we put in for the community."

Warren-Newport has been on the road with its services since Sept. 12. The bookmobile ventured to different locations such as a supermarket and church parking lots in Gurnee, along with a weekly farmers market in the village.

Many new cardholders were signed up, Marsh said, so officials are contemplating ways to continue with the "Library on the Town" concept that was born out of necessity.

"We've just got so many ideas," she said.

Serving about 60,000 residents, the library district encompasses all or most of Warren and Newport townships, including Gurnee, Wadsworth, Park City, Wildwood, Grandwood Park, Old Mill Creek and Grayslake.

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