Dignitaries tour renovated Cook Memorial Library

For the first time in more than a year, the newly remodeled and expanded Cook Memorial Public Library in downtown Libertyville was open to more than architects and construction workers Friday night.

Current and former library board members, trustees from Libertyville and other area towns, local school board members and other dignitaries were given an early look at the 44,200-square-foot building, which opens to the public at 1 p.m. today.

Their reactions were overwhelmingly glowing.

“My first comment when I walked in here was ‘Wow,'” Cook Memorial board President Bonnie Quirke said. “It is a beautiful building.”

The $7 million project was half of an effort that also saw the construction of a new library in neighboring Vernon Hills. That facility opened this past summer.

If you were a patron of the Libertyville library before the construction work began in June 2009, you'll hardly recognize the new facility.

New checkout and information desks greet patrons at the main lobby.

Farther in, the first floor is filled with new carpeting, light-colored bookshelves, dozens of public computer stations and plenty of comfortable seating areas.

Downstairs, what once was a tightly packed children's area has been replaced by meeting and conference rooms and a large space containing the library's CD collection, young adult books, graphic novels and genealogy-related materials, among others.

The children's department now is on the first floor in a new wing equipped with enormous windows, a kids-only computer lab, pint-size furniture and low shelves designed for young readers.

“You wouldn't really know it's the same building,” former Cook Memorial Trustee Linda Lucke said. “It's lighter. It's airier. It's more open.

“I just love the way it seems to be inviting people in,” Lucke added.

  ChildrenÂ’s librarian Mary Tompson restocks the Young Adults area Wednesday of the Cook Memorial Public Library in Libertyville as it prepares to reopen Saturday after the recent expansion project. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  William Marcus of Computer View, Inc. inspects the new computers Wednesday at Cook Memorial Public Library in Libertyville. It will reopen today after the recent expansion and refurbishing project. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
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