When the Warren-Newport Public Library opened its doors to the public Monday for the first time in a month, a cluster of patrons was waiting to check out the newly remodeled facility.
Some of the eager customers were there to return books and other materials, library Director Stephen Bero said. Many, however, were longtime regulars looking to sit down with a newspaper or book and enjoy the spruced-up surroundings, even though they're not quite finished.
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"It was very exciting and gratifying," Bero said. "It really made our day to see everyone and greet everyone and to share the good will."
The $8.5 million construction project is bringing more meeting space, a dedicated section for teens, additional study rooms and other improvements to the Gurnee library.
The facility has been open during most of the project, which began in August 2010. It closed Sept. 12 for part of the final phase.
During the closure, patrons could check out books and other materials by visiting the library's traveling bookmobile, which added stops to meet demand, Bero said.
Parking lots at a church near the library and a Gurnee supermarket were among the new spots, and business was brisk, he said.
"We were able to give people pretty much what they wanted," Bero said.
Programs -- a staple of any respectable library -- were held throughout the area, including at a local restaurant.
"We're very grateful to all of the organizations in the community who enthusiastically gave us the use of their space," Bero said. "We're very proud that they gave us a chance to successfully reach out to our patrons."
The off-site events were so well-received, they may continue, Bero said.
"We will build on these and try to do them (again) in some fashion," he said.
Among the library's visitors Monday was lifelong Gurnee resident and college student Debbie Krueger, who was studying contract law in a new study room.
She praised the size of the study rooms and even the bluish color of the carpeting.
"I'm loving this," she said. "I'll be here a lot."
Abbott Laboratories employee Suzanne DeRita stopped in to check out some CDs during her lunch break. She needed help from a pair of employees at a new self-checkout counter but gave the renovations high marks.
"There's a lot of bugs to work out, but I think it's going to be nice," said DeRita, of Barrington.
Not all of the new amenities are completed. The teen section isn't ready yet, for example, and neither is a large reading room.
The work should wrap up by Nov. 30, Bero said.