Geneva Library closes on land for new site

  • The Geneva Public Library board closed Thursday on the purchase of the former Sixth Street School site for a possible new library.

      The Geneva Public Library board closed Thursday on the purchase of the former Sixth Street School site for a possible new library. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

  • The Geneva Public Library officials say there is no room to expand at the current site on James Street in a way that would meet the city's zoning and historic preservation regulations.

      The Geneva Public Library officials say there is no room to expand at the current site on James Street in a way that would meet the city's zoning and historic preservation regulations. LAURA STOECKER | Staff Photographer, 2008

 
 
Updated 3/25/2016 5:45 PM

The Geneva Public Library board Thursday closed on its purchase of the former Sixth Street School site, 210 S. Sixth St., moving another step toward building a new library.

They also released highlights of a report by consultants explaining why they think building a new library would be a good idea.

 

The library agreed in January 2015 to buy the site from Kane County. It paid $1.5 million plus $416,000 toward the cost of tearing the building down last fall.

Next up is having Studio GC Inc., the architectural firm that conducted a "needs assessment," develop a preliminary design for a new building, and figure out what it might cost.

"Our goal is to provide a flexible, accessible and efficient facility where the community can gather and that will support lifelong learning in an ever-changing environment," library board president Bob Shiffler said in a news release.

Then the board would have to figure out a way to pay for it. It has long said the library district would have to borrow money, and that would require approval by voters.

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The land purchase was funded by money the district set aside over the years.

Library officials have been talking about a new library since at least 2002. The current one was built in 1908 and expanded three times. Studio GC said, in an October 2015 analysis of the structure, mechanical systems and the roof are due for replacement, that the building is poorly accessible to disabled users, and that its elevator must be replaced with a larger, more wheelchair-friendly one, The report also noted energy inefficiencies, and said the building was poorly insulated.

The current library is about 40,000 square feet. Library officials have said as much as 60,000 square feet is more appropriate for the district's population, which is around 30,505 people. A larger building would allow it to add services and amenities such as "maker spaces," where people could create and edit video and music, produce things with three-dimensional printers, or meet in groups to collaborate on projects, according to Studio GC.

The focus groups of residents Studio GC interviewed also said the library needs parking. The library does not have a parking lot; people park on the street. There is one space designated for use by disabled patrons.

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