In preparation for referendum, Lombard library hires firms to analyze building

  • Helen Plum Library officials are hoping to put a referendum question on the fall 2016 ballot to ask for the public's help in renovating, expanding or completely replacing the existing building.

    Helen Plum Library officials are hoping to put a referendum question on the fall 2016 ballot to ask for the public's help in renovating, expanding or completely replacing the existing building. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer, 2011

  • Two firms were recently hired to analyze the current space at the Helen Plum Library. Their findings are expected to be presented to the board by the end of the year and shared with the public at community engagement forums early next year.

    Two firms were recently hired to analyze the current space at the Helen Plum Library. Their findings are expected to be presented to the board by the end of the year and shared with the public at community engagement forums early next year. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer, 2010

 
 
Posted9/13/2015 7:10 AM

In preparation for putting a referendum question on the ballot next fall, the Helen Plum Library board has agreed to hire a firm to conduct a "needs and facility effectiveness assessment" and provide a list of options for the building's future.

Library officials say those options will include details about renovating, expanding, or replacing the current library building.

 

"Once the initial reports are compiled and analyzed we'll go to the community and hold a series of community engagement meetings with all the parties involved and get feedback," said Sue Wilsey, the library's communications manager.

By the end of spring, Wilsey said library officials are hoping to have a good idea of "what exactly the plan is going to be going forward." A referendum question will then be formulated and submitted for the November ballot.

Architectural and planning services firm Engberg Anderson is being paid $17,000 to do the needs assessment and provide a list of options. The study is expected to be done by the end of this year.

In addition, Library Director Barb Kruser approved the hiring of construction services provider Frederick Quinn Corp. earlier this year for $9,500 to conduct a "facility condition assessment" by the end of this year. That analysis will include an inspection of the building's current infrastructure and result in a report that lists capital needs in order of priority and costs involved with completing each improvement.

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Kruser said in a statement that the reason the firms were hired is because the facility is "not aging well."

"The list of concerns that we have regarding this building are too numerous to list," she said. "I know it's time to seriously consider some facility and space changes, and we need the experts to help us determine the best way forward that will offer the most value to the community."

Some problems include vastly fluctuating temperatures due to the inefficiency of a 52-year-old boiler and HVAC system; loud noise levels due to the children and adult sections being so close to each other; and aisles that are not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. There is also a demand for meeting spaces, more room for technology training, a dedicated teen area and the addition of new services, such as a media lab.

Wilsey said the community engagement sessions will be used to present the results of the assessments to the public and listen to what the community wants and "what they would be willing to invest in."

While some patrons have been enthusiastic about the possibility of a new library, Wilsey said it will be important to present to residents what each option would cost them, should voters approve a referendum question.

"We feel that getting information out to the community as often and as transparently as possible is the best way for people to make the best decisions about what they want to do," she said.

Anyone interested in learning more about the future of the library is being encouraged to join an email list at getinvolved@helenplum.org, or follow updates on the library's Facebook page and website, helenplum.org.

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