The renovated Indian Trails Public Library is designed for the future, with creative labs, larger community rooms and interactive learning spaces for kids.
The $14.4 million project added about 15,000 square feet and revamped the existing library at 355 Schoenbeck Road in Wheeling. The library was bustling with activity during a sneak peek tour Friday, as construction workers and employees put finishing touches on the renovation before the opening April 10.
Library Director Brian Shepard said the redesign -- which started seven years ago with seeking input from residents -- is intended to make the library a gathering place for the community.
"We wanted it to be less institutional and more hospitality," Shepard said.
The library has labs, study suites and program rooms designed to spur interaction, a departure from the notion that libraries are exclusively quiet spaces.
Visitors can create in the Makerspace, an industrial-style lab that includes 3-D printers, engraving machines, a recording booth and a green screen room for video production.
The second floor has a lab for computer courses and English language learners, which will allow the library to expand these programs. Designed for flexibility, the lab has movable TV screens and computer stations so students can interact.
The youth services area on the first floor has Legos, puzzles, a giant Lite Brite and large touch-screen monitor -- besides a collection of books.
"When you think about early literacy, it's much more than reading," Shepard said. "Other things play a part in building cognitive skills."
The library also gives a nod to the traditional. The second floor is primarily a quiet reading and study space with books and multimedia. Most tables have built-in laptop and phone charging outlets. A reading room -- dedicated to the late Muriel Lischett, who helped start the library district in 1958 -- has comfortable chairs and a fireplace.
And for on-the-go patrons, the library added a drive-through window for visitors to pick up reserved items or return books.
The renovation was funded by $8.4 million reserved from a tax increase voters approved in 2011 and $6 million in bonds. The library has operated from a temporary location in Buffalo Grove during construction.
The renovated building officially opens at 9 a.m. Monday, April 10. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening celebration is May 6.
"What we've built here is a building based on what the community wants, and so we hope they'll take advantage of all the services," Shepard said.