Algonquin library board moving forward with $7.5 million expansion plan

  • The Algonquin Area Public Library board has chosen a $7.5 million expansion and renovation plan for its main branch at 2600 Harnish Drive.

    The Algonquin Area Public Library board has chosen a $7.5 million expansion and renovation plan for its main branch at 2600 Harnish Drive. Lauren Rohr | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/15/2016 12:11 PM

After considering six different proposals, the Algonquin Area Public Library board has settled on an expansion and renovation plan.

The $7.5 million project will create roughly 8,000 square feet of new space at the library's 35,000-square-foot main branch. Upgrades include more meeting rooms, a "makerspace" for do-it-yourself projects, a teen area, a computer lab and an enlarged children's area.

 

The concept is similar to an $8 million master plan placed on hold earlier this year after trustees expressed concerns about the cost and scope of the project, Executive Director Stephen Bero said. The staff later presented the library board with six options, ranging from a $1 million plan, which would only make necessary improvements to the roof and HVAC system, to the master plan.

Though cheaper than the master plan, the $7.5 million option offers the same amount of additional space and most of the same improvements to the main library, 2600 Harnish Drive, according to library documents.

The main difference, Bero said, is the master plan included three concentric additions, whereas the chosen plan will give the library an L-shaped layout with one major wing added to the northeast side of the building. One of the biggest disadvantages to that layout is the long distance between the northeast and southwest corners of the building, he said.

"In the grand scope of things, it's not that far," Bero said, "but it will be a change for our regular patrons."

More activity and noise is expected at the southwest side of the building, where the main entrance and reference desk are located, Bero said. When the northeast wing is added, he said, that's where the quiet area and study spaces will be located.

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The plan also includes a $50,000 interior renovation at the branch library, 115 Eastgate Drive.

Staff members and trustees still have a lot of work ahead of them, Bero said, especially if they want to meet their groundbreaking goal of September 2017.

"The devil is in the details," Bero said. "Now, more (design and construction) decisions are going to need to be made over the course of the next year."

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