The Wauconda Area Library board will borrow up to $1.32 million to help fund the construction of a new staircase outside the building's front entrance and other improvements.
A new exterior ramp and walkway are planned, too, as is the widening of the existing ramp, some landscaping and changes to the driveway outside the library, 801 N. Main St.
Officials have budgeted $1.6 million for the entire project, which could occur this fall. Aside from the loan, funding will come from a $125,000 state grant and from savings.
Cost estimates also will be sought for an outdoor path, a reading garden, a butterfly garden and other outdoor elements. Whether the path and gardens are built depends on the eventual bids from construction companies, which are due in early August, library Director Tom Kern said.
Library trustees on Monday approved the parameters of the proposed loan. Officials expect to actually borrow about $1.2 million and will have 10 years to pay it off, Kern said.
Also Monday, representatives from Product Architecture + Design, the Chicago architectural firm overseeing the project, and the Jacobs/Ryan Associates landscape architectural firm of Chicago spoke to the board about the latest designs and foliage choices for the project.
Many of the plants that will be added to the property are species native to Illinois or North America, said Terry Wariner Ryan of Jacobs/Ryan.
Redesigning the approach to the main entrance from the parking lot has been a priority for library officials. In a fall library survey, nearly 55 percent of patrons said improving building access was a high-priority issue.
Patrons have to climb a flight of concrete stairs or walk up a long ramp to reach the library's glass doors. Those stairs were rebuilt in 2007, but many are stained and several have long cracks.
According to plans, the new stairs won't be as steep as the current set and will contain an extra landing. Also, the new walkway and new ramp will provide more direct access for people pushing strollers or using wheelchairs.
Additionally, the driveway in front of the building will be widened to improve traffic flow and the ability to pick up or drop off patrons. New LED lighting fixtures will be installed to brighten the area outside the entrance, too.
A drive-up window for book pickups and drop-offs that initially was part of the construction discussion is being put on hold for now, Kern said.
"Our survey results indicated low interest in that at this point," he said. "Perhaps down the road."