'A world of difference': Newly expanded Huntley Library to reopen Feb. 7
When the Huntley Area Public Library fully reopens on Feb. 7, patrons will see an entirely different library.
Closed since Dec. 31 to wrap up a two-year building program, the library at 11000 Ruth Road has undergone a $12.9 million expansion and complete renovation. The library originally was set to reopen on Jan. 24, but library board members decided to extend the closure.
Additional time is needed to complete the project, which includes a 21,200-square-foot addition and a 15,300-square-foot renovation to the existing building, officials said.
Once open, patrons will find fresh, new spaces and programs.
"It's a world of difference," said Doug Cataldo, head of marketing and communications for the library. "I can't wait for people to see it. It's almost in many ways unrecognizable, which is really cool. It looks brand new. There are a whole lot of opportunities and services that we've never been able to offer to our community before."
Among the library's additions are a new "music studio and makerspace to support the ever-increasing virtual learning environment," a computer lab and classroom, a drive-up window, more meeting rooms for programming and community events and a larger children's area, library officials said.
Along with the additional space will come new programming.
The effort has resulted in an "engaging hub of learning, creativity and connection," officials said.
"Our new and improved library is the perfect gathering space for the community, and the dedication of the stakeholders involved is reflected in every detail," said Frank Novak, director of the Huntley Area Public Library District. "We look forward to celebrating the building's opening with all who have contributed to the success of this important project."
Extra classroom and computer space will allow patrons to take part in new classes, such as those focused on job searching, résumé creation and other skill-building activities, Cataldo said.
Through an about $50,000 state grant, the library was able to add a new instructor position, he said. The grant also provided six Chromebooks.
Along with programs related to job skills, the instructor will teach classes in the library's new creative studio space, where patrons will find items, such as sewing machines and 3D printers and scanners.
The library's new entrance and drive-up window will allow patrons to conveniently drop off or pick up materials, Cataldo said.
And with the expansion of the children's library, children will be able to "play without using their quiet voices," officials said.
The children's area once had seating for up to 32 people, but now can hold 150 or more in an area that can be divided into three program rooms when needed or used as one large space, Cataldo said.
"It allows us to hold multiple programs at once," he said. "We can have storytime in one of the program rooms and a senior coffee next to it, with both running simultaneously."
Huntley-area history is featured throughout the addition and renovation, as the exterior supports the existing contextual building design and historic features. Inside the library, collections of historical and local artifacts continue to carry on the community's cultural legacy.
Patrons also will find a sort of community hub with more conference space, tutoring tables and teen areas, including a gaming room.
"Pretty much everything we laid out here and went forward with were things that were suggested from the community through surveys and focus groups," Cataldo said. "We did a lot of research and meetings leading up to this whole project. ... [The community] had a fair share of input. We tried to basically touch on a little of everything from all different areas, and hopefully they'll like the results."
Because of the new setup, the library now can offer after-hour programs without having to keep the main library open, he said.
The public will have access to a 10-person conference room for business or group meetings, and another smaller room with a whiteboard will provide space for collaboration among four to six people.
The gaming room in the library's first teen space will feature Nintendo Switch, where patrons can try out games before buying, Cataldo said.