Naperville libraries planning renovations for business incubator, teen space

Naperville Public Library is working with an architect to reshape its three buildings, bearing in mind the reasons residents come to the library. And those reasons don't necessarily include books.

"What we find now is we have people coming to use our space almost as much as anything else," said Julie Rothenfluh, executive director.

The library has contracted PHN Architects of Aurora to help prepare for a round of remodeling at each branch during the next three years. Rothenfluh said the redesigns will help ensure the library is using its space in the best and most efficient way to provide residents with seating, resources and materials for reading, viewing and listening.

While the 95th Street Library recently opened the Idea Lab, a space with digital media and new technology, the next big change could be creation of a business innovation space planned for Nichols Library.

Preliminary designs by PHN Architects should help identify the best spot within the main library for the future business innovation center, which could be called BiblioTek.

"We're putting the last touches on what we want to do with the BiblioTek idea," Rothenfluh said.

The library is working with College of DuPage to bring possible educational seminars for entrepreneurs, and the business innovation center is imagined as an incubator of sorts where people can get their business ideas off the ground before renting their own offices.

Other changes the library is discussing with architects include moving and expanding the teen space at the 95th Street Library and updating the more-than-25-year-old furniture at the Nichols and Naper Boulevard libraries, Rothenfluh said.

Space formerly used by certain types of books now can be revamped to provide more tables, chairs and power outlets for patrons who stop by and want to plug in their laptops, phones or tablets.

"We've reduced particularly the print reference collection at all three of our buildings," Rothenfluh said. "In some of the buildings, it's almost entirely eliminated."

The library is paying PHN $4,783 for preliminary designs of future renovations, which will begin at Naper Boulevard this year. The creation of the business innovation center and other changes at Nichols Library would take place in 2015 and 2016, followed by changes at the 95th Street Library in 2016 and 2017.

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