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posted: 4/29/2013 8:49 AM

Aurora's groundbreaking ceremony for new library is May 1

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Submitted by Aurora Public Library

The Aurora Public Library will hold its groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, at the construction site of the new library at the southwest corner of River and Benton streets in downtown Aurora. Parking will be available on-site.

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The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which will kick off the library building construction program. The new library is expected to be open to the public by late 2014 or early 2015. By state law, the city of Aurora has the first right to purchase the current building from the library.

The 92,000-square-foot, $28 million Main Library will be built on a parcel of land that was purchased by the library in 2009. The site was the home of the Beacon-News from April 1953 until March 2008.

Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White visited Aurora Public Library March 4 to present a symbolic check for $10.8 million in grant funds to library and city representatives. The entire grant amount will be applied to the $28 million cost of the new downtown library.

The Public Library Construction Act grant is part of a state program designed to assist libraries undertaking major construction and remodeling projects. The Secretary of State's office will allocate as much as $50 million in grants to libraries around the state, with Aurora Public Library being the first recipient of this new grant.

"The new Aurora Public Library will meet the needs of our community while preparing future generations to become world-class learners and leaders. We are excited to break ground and build a first-class facility that will become a technological and educational epicenter for Aurora," said Mayor Tom Weisner.

The current Main Library opened in 1904 and was built with a $50,000 grant from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. (Carnegie is best known for his gifts of free public library buildings. His first such gift was to his native Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1881, and it was followed by similar gifts to 2,509 communities in the English-speaking world.)

The keywords of the new library are "flexibility" and "technology," according to library Executive Director Eva Luckinbill, who added that "a flexible design will allow the library to grow and adapt to whatever the educational and informational needs of the community are in the years ahead.

"The explosion of technological advances requires nimbleness in library services to meet the needs of a learning community," Luckinbill added. "The library embraces the Aurora Early Literacy Council mission, the SPARK (Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten) program and the recently announced Pathways to Prosperity program. The creation of spaces within the new building to support and enhance these initiatives is of utmost importance."

The new Main Library will feature state-of-the-art materials handling technology, expanded space for programs for children and teens, a dedicated space for experimentation with new technology, and areas for the public to gather. As a LEED-certified building, it has been designed to reduce waste, conserve energy and water and lower operating costs.

"This is going to make a major impact on changing the fabric and character of the downtown," said library Board President John Savage, adding that national statistics show dramatic increases in patron use in the first three years after a library is built.

"We have seen a genesis of a cultural focus in the downtown, and we are excited to be part of that," Savage said.

The architectural firm on the project is Cordogan Clark & Associates. Joining that firm on the project are: R.C. Wegman Construction Company as the construction management firm; Schoppe Design Associates as the landscape architect; KDI Design Interiors as the interior design firm; Outsource Solutions Group, Inc., as the technology design consultant; and Horizon Engineering Associates as the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) commissioning agent. Owner's representative on the project is Barbara Kattermann.

Branch locations on the east and west sides of Aurora also will receive significant upgrades as part of a bond issue approved by the Aurora City Council in April, 2012. A new satellite campus opened in September 2012 at the corner of Church Road and Edison Avenue as part of the library's push to make library services more convenient for patrons around the city.

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