Naper Boulevard Library reopens after five-month renovation with 'fresh' feel

Think of an old-school library, and you're probably picturing quiet, drab spaces and maybe a librarian peering over her spectacles when a patron's voice rises above a whisper.

That's definitely not the new Naper Boulevard Library in Naperville, which reopened Saturday morning after roughly $1 million in renovations. Parents, kids and staff say the library feels brighter, more inviting and convenient.

"It's so colorful now. It feels fresh and new," library Manager Dave Della Terza said. "We're taking into account technology, and we're taking into account the way people are using the library."

The library got new computers, flooring, furniture, lighting, and accessibility improvements to the lower-level restrooms in a project that began in December. The library is still putting the finishing touches on a new, lower-level teen space that will open Monday afternoon, where students can use six computers and a television.

Step into the first-floor children's department, and the most striking difference is the color, Della Terza said. Vibrant reds, yellows and blues accent the new carpeting and furniture, replacing the 23-year-old pieces original to the opening of the library in 1992.

"People wouldn't realize it's a children's department, and now it looks very children's," Della Terza said. "There's bright primary colors everywhere."

Brian O'Dowd, an elementary school teacher and tutor, complimented the Naperville Public Library system on a "great job" on the facelift, especially the new vinyl-covered benches along the first-floor windows, an upgrade he suggested on a comment card.

"I just think it's awesome for the kids to be able to sit and read and enjoy it," said the dad, watching his two daughters play with toys.

The library also specifically chose wide, blue chairs so parents and their kids can sit side-by-side, reading together.

Head downstairs, and patrons will find seating to eat a meal or snack. One of the private rooms got a projector screen and another a television, where businesses or homeowners' associations can hold meetings, Della Terza said.

The library replaced outdated lounge seating, which, "definitely looked like it was from 1992," Della Terza said. Nearby, magazines and newspapers are more prominently displayed.

"It looks really nice," said library regular Robert Furneaux. "New is always better."

Underneath most tables now are electrical outlets to charge computers or smartphones. Service desks also have been consolidated into one each in the center of the first and second floors.

"So if you have a question, you don't have to worry about 'Should I ask it here or there?' Everyone is going to just be right in the middle," Della Terza said.

After a four-day closure Tuesday through Friday to install furniture, the library reopened Saturday at 2035 S. Naper Blvd. It was also closed for most of a week in early March for installation of new tile and floor mats at the entrance, but it otherwise stayed open during the five-month project at the smallest of Naperville Library's three branches.

Officials will take what they learned from the makeover and start planning renovations at the bigger Nichols Library downtown, Della Terza said.

A handful of shelving units, pieces of furniture and computers - 24 in the adult lab - still need to be installed. Then, the library will host a grand reopening event in May.

• Daily Herald staff writer Marie Wilson contributed to this report

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  The Naper Boulevard Library in Naperville reopened Saturday following roughly $1 million of renovations to flooring, furniture, electrical and computer labs. Above, Cheryl Ribaudo of Adult Services, organizes DVDs. Daniel White/
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