Algonquin Eastgate Branch Library breaks ground on $6M renovation

The Algonquin Eastgate Branch Library broke ground this week on a $6 million renovation project that will expand its services after years of planning.

The library at 115 Eastgate Drive will get accessible restrooms, a new elevator, a drive-thru window and an outdoor patio. Plans also include adding more study rooms, a multipurpose programming room and a cafe gathering space.

“This day is a long time in the making,” library board President Lindsay Taylor said during a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday. “We aim to provide an updated library branch and community hub.”

The Algonquin Area Public Library District Board of Trustees approved the renovation plans in 2022. The decisions on what to include in the renovations were made to reflect community needs, Taylor said.

Construction is expected to finish by December. The library will stay open and provide regular services during most of the construction, library district Executive Director Sara Murray said.

“Other than noise, residents who come into the library won’t be affected,” she said.

Staff plans to fully close the library for about six to eight weeks while they install the new geothermal system, which is expected to happen sometime in late summer or early fall, Murray said. The geothermal system is a more efficient way to heat and cool the building.

The library will cover the majority of the $6 million costs through the Special Reserve Fund, which is designated for capital improvement projects, according to the Algonquin Area Public Library website. So far, the library has received $500,000 in federal funds with help from Democratic U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and $100,000 in state funds with help from Republican state Sen. Dan McConchie. Library staff are continuously looking and applying for other grants, Murray said.

Library staff and board members have been wanting this renovation for years and were even considering moving to a different location. But the board and staff could not envision what the building would be used for if the library moved out, and the location is ideal for them, Murray said.

“We have to go all in or move out,” Murray said. “It’s a huge financial undertaking, but it is worth it.”

Once renovations are complete, the lower level will be dedicated as the youth area. Murray is most excited about the outdoor patio, which will bring in more natural light. Currently, there are no windows on the lower level.

“Kids will be able to take in the fresh air and have a safe space to play,” she said.

Eastgate opened in 1976 and was the only library in the village until the Harnish Drive location opened in 2001. The Eastgate location was renovated in 2002 and again in 2018, officials said.

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