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Article updated: 9/27/2013 5:20 AM

Trustees: Geneva Library options remain open

By Susan Sarkauskas

The Geneva Public Library District board is inclined to go back to the beginning in considering whether to build a new library, remodel the 105-year-old current one or do nothing, judging by a discussion Thursday night.

The special meeting was held nearly a week after the board voted to end its contract to buy the former Cetron factory at Seventh and Richards streets. It would have torn the factory down and built a library there.

"I like this building, you guys. I started coming to this building in 1972. But I also know it is about the library, it is about what we do," said board President Esther Steel, calling a building a tool for serving patrons.

"I don't think this building (at 127 James St.) will work, based on what was reported to me," said Trustee Travis Ketterman. He was referring to discussions more than three years ago, when the board began talking about a new building. But he said the four newer board members haven't heard that information, "so we should be willing to go back to Square One. We need to educate ourselves and the community, not just sway the community."

Trustees directed library director Matt Teske to present a report at the October meeting about the basic operating needs of the library, including the recommended building size for a district the size of Geneva's, as well as current and potential programming that could be offered. Trustee Susan Shivers also stressed the director should present something of a vision for the library in the report.

Trustee Patricia Lord said it's also time the library resurveyed the community.

"It is about what our patrons want, not a site," Lord said.

Steel said the survey was pushed off while the board concentrated on the Cetron purchase.

City officials and owners of downtown businesses would like the library to stay downtown, because it brings residents there.

Patrons complain about a lack of parking, said Trustee Mark Adams. The library does not have a parking lot. Shivers said people are willing to park and walk a long distance, as evidenced by shoppers at the Meijer store in St. Charles. But Trustee Bob Shiffler said there's a difference: At the store, people know there will be a spot available, unlike the streets near the library.

The current Craftsman building opened in 1908; it was built with the help of a donation from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

It was enlarged in 1938, 1986 and 1998. Steel and other library trustees believe it is too small to provide adequate service.

The board made an offer on the Cetron building in September 2010. The factory has been vacant since the mid-1980s.

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