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updated: 11/17/2011 5:39 PM

New Aurora library plans taking shape

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  • Schematic designs are almost complete for the new Aurora Public Library building set to be constructed in the next several years at the southwest corner of River and Benton streets.

      Schematic designs are almost complete for the new Aurora Public Library building set to be constructed in the next several years at the southwest corner of River and Benton streets.
    Daily Herald file photo


Spaces that can be used for different purposes over time will be central to the design of the new main library planned to be built in the next several years in downtown Aurora library officials say.

A schematic design by Cordogan, Clark & Associates is almost finished for what will be a three-story building at the southwest corner of River and Benton streets, library Director Eva Luckinbill said.

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"From the very beginning, one of the primary, overriding words that we've used is flexibility," Luckinbill said.

Library officials want the building to be "open and flexible so that we can easily adapt to whatever the community deems should be coming from the library," she said.

Fundraising is under way to help offset the project's $30 million cost, said Amy Roth, library spokeswoman.

A late-October fundraiser for the children's areas at all three Aurora libraries -- the main branch, Eola Road branch and West branch -- netted $20,500, Roth said.

The majority of library construction likely will be funded with bonds issued through the city.

The library has not yet put an official request for a bond issuance before the city council, so the city has not committed to making bond funding available, said Carie Anne Ergo, Aurora's chief management officer.

If bonds are issued, they will be repaid with revenue from the library's portion of Aurora residents' property tax bills, Ergo said.

The next step toward getting the new facility built is city council approval of the library's 2012 budget, which indicates $11.3 million will go toward library construction. The city also notes the amount in its preliminary 2012 budget.

"We're reporting on the request the library has put to us and acknowledging it in our budgeting process," Ergo said.

The city council will begin discussing the budget in December and must approve it by the end of the year.

The library also is meeting with aldermen and community groups to get their input, bring them up to speed about new building plans and hopefully gain their support, Luckinbill said.

Alderman Rick Lawrence, whose ward includes the site of the future main library, said he's not convinced its design uses enough technology or partnerships with other community groups such as Aurora University or Waubonsee Community College.

"It's an old concept that's outdated and not even useful," Lawrence said. "It should be all technology."

While the role of libraries may be changing from providing books for pleasure reading to serving as a technology hub, Luckinbill said she and her staff are ready to adjust to those changes.

"Bookshelves and that sort of traditional library space is likely to decrease," Luckinbill said. "And we just want to be prepared to use that space in whatever way makes sense for our community at the time."

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