Huntley library officials considering expansion

  • Huntley Area Public Library District officials are considering a future expansion due to a space crunch. The library, which opened in 1999, has a crowded children's area, which can accommodate only 12 people at a time in a trailer.

    Huntley Area Public Library District officials are considering a future expansion due to a space crunch. The library, which opened in 1999, has a crowded children's area, which can accommodate only 12 people at a time in a trailer. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Huntley Area Public Library District officials say room for children's and other programming, and study spaces for high school students is lacking at the library.

    Huntley Area Public Library District officials say room for children's and other programming, and study spaces for high school students is lacking at the library. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Frank Novak, executive director of the Huntley Area Public Library, says a 15,000-square-foot addition is being considered.

    Frank Novak, executive director of the Huntley Area Public Library, says a 15,000-square-foot addition is being considered. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • From its modest beginnings in a red brick house in rural Kane County, the Huntley Area Public Library has grown to serving roughly 40,000 people in 29 years of its existence. A space crunch at the current library building, which opened in 1999, is prompting talk of a future expansion.

    From its modest beginnings in a red brick house in rural Kane County, the Huntley Area Public Library has grown to serving roughly 40,000 people in 29 years of its existence. A space crunch at the current library building, which opened in 1999, is prompting talk of a future expansion. Courtesy of Huntley Area Public Library

 
 
Updated 2/21/2018 4:07 PM

From its modest beginnings in a red brick house in rural Kane County, the Huntley Area Public Library District has grown to serving roughly 40,000 people.

A space crunch at the 15,000-square-foot library -- built in 1999 on roughly 10 acres for $2.4 million -- is prompting talk of a future expansion.

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While space is tight overall, the need particularly is significant for the children's area and for programming currently housed in three outside trailers.

"It was a temporary fix," Executive Director Frank Novak said. "Right now, in our children's area we have a maximum occupancy of 12 people. We've got to be able to do something about it at some point. Really, the entire library we are out of space."

Those trailers -- added in 2010 -- provide the library roughly 2,800 square feet of additional space for programming -- the original program room within the library is stacked full of books.

In fiscal year 2017, the library hosted 1,076 programs in those trailers with 29,853 participants of whom roughly 24,000 were children and their caregivers. The number of participants declined from previous years due to space limitations and registration being capped.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For now, the village has granted a five-year extension on the use of trailers through Jan. 31, 2023. "By that time, we will certainly be at end of life for the structure too," Novak said.

There also are no private computer labs, study rooms or work spaces for students at the main library.

"If you go to the high school, they have collaborative spaces," Novak said. "We get a lot of traffic after school (and) on Saturday. We don't really accommodate it well right now."

When the current library was built nearly 20 years ago, it catered to roughly 4,500 area residents. The library district spans 55 square miles and serves Lake in the Hills, parts of Algonquin and Hampshire, and portions of Grafton, Coral and Rutland townships. In its first year, the library had 127,615 checkouts and 88,387 visitors. Last fiscal year, the library had 746,924 checkouts and 243,198 visitors.

Officials are considering a 15,000-square-foot addition, possibly raising funds and seeking voter approval through referendum in 2019 or 2020 to fund the project.

"It depends on where the (library) board wants to go with the project," said Novak adding, he expects those conversations will occur soon. "I think that being responsible, having a smaller addition would be something our taxpayers would support."

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