Aurora library plans technology, space for new building

Aurora residents this fall may begin to notice visible progress toward the $28 million downtown library that received funding approval in April.

Work on the building’s foundation at River and Benton streets is expected to begin in October or November in hopes of completing construction in May 2014, library board member John Savage said.

With $30 million in bonds to be supported by a city tax increase, the library also is designing changes to the layouts of the Eola Road and West Branch facilities, improving technology and identifying locations for two satellite libraries.

“Our goal this year is not only to break ground on the new building, but to identify the satellite locations and hopefully at least begin to work on the satellites so they can be opened within a year,” Savage said.

Behind-the-scenes work with interior design and technology consultants is helping turn preliminary ideas for the new main library into final plans. Library spokeswoman Amy Roth said Outsource IT Solutions Group of Naperville has been chosen to help the library select the technological upgrades it will include as part of the project.

Placing kiosks for downloading materials at schools and other locations and improving the materials identification system to speed the process of transferring items from one library to another are among technology upgrades highlighted during presentations to the city council this spring.

“We want outside assistance in enhancing the technology of the library to make sure it’s as cutting-edge as possible,” Savage said. “Also, as part of our systemwide improvements, we’ll be reaching out and interconnecting with the schools and the business community.”

Library development officer Laura Stoney is working with philanthropy consultants Jerold Panas Linzy & Partners on a feasibility study about fundraising for the new library and technology upgrades. The study is in its early stages, she said, and is expected to be complete by August. Then, the library can begin seeking donations and partnerships with major donors who could buy naming rights to sections of the building.

The library already has $30 million to work with after the city council approved the issuance of bonds to finance the project. The bond sale results in an average property tax increase of $26 a year for 30 years for a home valued at $180,000.

Roth said that money will provide all the essentials for the new library, but fundraising could allow for extra features.

“Right now we have absolutely everything we need to open a new library,” Roth said. “The philanthropy will let us do more to make it even better.”

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