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Article updated: 4/22/2013 10:03 PM

Barrington library to start $8.7 million renovation

By Eric Peterson

Barrington trustees Monday gave the green light to a long-planned, $8.7 million renovation of the Barrington Area Public Library, which is now expected to be completed in about 10 months.

While most of the changes to the 35-year-old, 39,750-square-foot building at 505 N. Northwest Highway will be internal, there also will be a couple of modifications to the exterior.

The most noticeable likely will be the glass-fronted stair tower on the north entrance facade as the stairwell is moved from the center of the building toward the front wall.

As a result of this, the existing walk-up book drop will be replaced by a book drop in the parking lot with a paved lane for vehicles to drive up to it.

The extensive interior renovation of the building will be completed in four major phases, but the library will never cease full operations, Executive Director Detlev Pansch said.

"Everything will be accessible throughout the project," he added.

While construction isn't expected to be invisible, library officials hope contractors will be able to complete the noisiest parts of each day's work during the hours before the library opens.

Though library trustees had settled on the extent of the renovation about a year ago, the cost estimate increased from $5.7 million to $8.7 million during that time as the project was bid, Pansch said.

The renovation will result in a better layout of space as well as rooms adapted to the use of modern devices like tablets and e-book readers.

The project, which is able to be done with existing funding, comes after voters rejected two tax-increase requests -- one for a $28 million expansion in 2004 and another for $34.3 million in 2008.

After those referendums, trustees took a fresh look at what would be required to improve the library in ways that were both affordable and long-lasting, Pansch said.

"It's not a half-measure of any kind," he said. "We're providing a wonderful 21st-century library."

While library trustees planned the project, it required permits under the control of the village board.

The current building originally opened in 1978 and saw one previous addition in 1992.

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