Helen Plum library wants to hear from Lombard residents

  • Lombard residents are invited to attend community engagements sessions in January and February to ask questions and provide input on the future of the Helen Plum Library. The library, built in 1962, needs a lot of physical work, including replacement of the roof, HVAC system and original boiler.

    Lombard residents are invited to attend community engagements sessions in January and February to ask questions and provide input on the future of the Helen Plum Library. The library, built in 1962, needs a lot of physical work, including replacement of the roof, HVAC system and original boiler. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • As they prepare to put a referendum question on the ballot next fall, Helen Plum Library officials are inviting Lombard residents to provide their input on the future of the building, which dates back to 1962. Demolishing the current structure and rebuilding the library would cost an estimated $20 million.

    As they prepare to put a referendum question on the ballot next fall, Helen Plum Library officials are inviting Lombard residents to provide their input on the future of the building, which dates back to 1962. Demolishing the current structure and rebuilding the library would cost an estimated $20 million. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/17/2015 7:40 PM

Lombard residents are invited to attend community engagement sessions early next year to ask questions and offer feedback on the future of the Helen Plum Library.

Library officials say the sessions are the next step in preparing to put a referendum question on the ballot next fall.

 

All sessions will take place at the library, 110 W. Maple St. They are scheduled at 2 p.m. on three Saturdays -- Jan. 16, Feb. 13 and Feb. 20 -- and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28; 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23; and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25.

"We'd love to hear from people who are not regular users of the library," said communications manager Sue Wilsey. "If you're not using the library we would love to know why."

The purpose of the sessions is twofold: to inform the public, and to gauge residents' interest in new services and willingness to support work on the building. Library officials say renovating, expanding or replacing the current library building are three options still being considered.

A preliminary assessment of the 52-year-old building's condition done by Frederick Quinn Corp. for $9,500 says no work is needed immediately but nearly $4 million in improvements are required over the next 10 years. It suggested that about $1.4 million of that work be completed in the next two years.

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Some of recommended projects include replacing mechanical equipment that is past its useful life, including the original 1962 boiler and the HVAC system; replacing the original window units and roof; replacing the crumbling masonry on the plaza deck; and installing a sprinkler system.

Meanwhile, a space assessment done by architectural and planning services firm Engberg Anderson for $17,000 compared Helen Plum Library to similar public libraries in the Chicago area and found that it falls behind on most performance measurements, particularly program attendance and visits.

"We feel the community is not reaping the benefits of what a library could provide because of a lack of space," Wilsey said.

Some recommendations from that assessment included providing more options for seating, studying and collaboration, as the library currently has only two small study rooms; reorganizing the collection to provide for handicapped accessibility; adding areas to accommodate larger groups, up to 140 people; improving access to technology; and providing drive-through and pickup service.

It is estimated the library needs to expand from 34,000 to 50,000 square feet, which could be done by using the library's property west of the current building. The cost of an expansion is still being determined, but Wilsey said the architects already think it would make more sense to completely demolish and rebuild the library instead, for about $20 million.

Anyone wishing to provide input before the community engagement sessions can complete the library's "Next Chapter" survey at www.helenplumnextchapter.org. Residents can also check for updates by reading a blog on the Next Chapter website or joining the Helen Plum Library's mailing list, by emailing getinvolved@helenplum.org.

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