Land purchase for new Lake Villa District Library complete
Retired computer programmer Joanne Osmond has been visiting the Lake Villa District Library since 1983 and says she's impressed by the way officials have managed space over the years as demands have grown.
But in her role as a volunteer and instructor for the Small Business Development Center at the College of Lake County, the Lake Villa resident and member of the local elementary school district board agrees plans for a new library offering twice the size are welcome.
"I sometimes have a hard time reserving this space and I have to meet with clients in the small study room. It's really hard to do," Osmond said.
Early planning that began three years ago for a new library building moved to the next stage Thursday with the district's purchase of 29 acres along Munn Road in Lindenhurst, not far from the current facility at Grand Avenue and Deep Lake Road. That $2.5 million transaction means the district can make specific plans for how the building will look and function.
"Everything will be enhanced," library Director Andy Lentine said of the new facility.
A larger, more interactive youth area is envisioned, along with more multimedia-equipped meeting space to better provide what people want in a modern library, officials said. The project is expected to cost $25 million and will be funded without a tax increase, officials said.
The Munn Road site is about a half mile from the current library in Lake Villa that was dedicated in 1980. With wetlands and frontage on Crooked Lake, only 12 acres on the new site are buildable, but it was considered the best of four choices because of its setting and flexibility.
The property purchase was the final piece of the first part of a building program. Public meetings and focus groups are planned as the district moves forward with the design of its new space.
Computer labs, meeting spaces and study rooms are particularly popular at Lake Villa. The library, like others elsewhere, isn't the old-fashioned place where patrons who spoke a little too loudly were asked to keep it down.
"You look at our teen area and there isn't one -- it's about the size of my office," Lentine said. "Learning activities are as important as learning how to read. You have to have things for them to make them want to come to the library and use it."
While it still circulates more than 800,000 items, advances in technology have become one of the library district's greatest avenues to connect with the community, according to Nina Kenney, public relations and marketing coordinator. Because libraries offer an array of classes, gatherings, activities and resources, the need now is for more than additional space for another row of books.
"People are using libraries in ways we didn't envision and we're looking to deliver resources and space," Kenney said.
The library district serves about 40,000 residents of Lake Villa, Lindenhurst and parts of Round Lake Heights, Round Lake Beach and Antioch. It opened at its current location with 10,000 square-foot building on five acres.
After two previous failed attempts to convince voters to fund an addition, voters in 1996 approved a tax hike for a 20,000-square-foot addition, which opened in 1998.
But by that time, officials already were thinking ahead. Revenues from a 1989 voter-approved increase in the library's operating fund were set aside in a special reserve for capital improvements.
To date, the district has saved more than $18 million, including $1 million earned in interest. The difference in the project's estimated $25 million cost will be bridged by selling the existing property and borrowing the rest, officials said.
"The new library will be twice the size, yet will be built and operated without a tax increase," board President Tony Gundrum said in a statement announcing the land purchase.
The library district in 2013 hired space planner George Lawson to conduct a needs assessment. The following year, StudioGC Architects was hired to guide the board through building and site evaluations.
The public has been kept informed throughout the process, with articles in its newsletter and on the website and other avenues. Kenny said there haven't been any negative comments or opposition to the project.
"There are a lot of people who have been waiting for this," Osmond said. "We've been wondering where it's going to be."