Barrington Area Library pondering $5.7 million project
Updated: February 8, 2012 1:57PM
In the next couple of months, the Barrington Area Library Board is expected to vote on a proposed renovation plan that officials have said will be achieved with no additional cost to taxpayers.
The roughly $5.7-million proposed project will mean a shorter distance from the front door to points of service and easier access to the second floor; 24/7 access for picking up materials; a drive-up materials return; redesigned meeting rooms with “smart room” technology; and additional space for children’s programs.
“Choices made now regarding the infrastructure would be very costly to reverse in the future, so this is the ideal opportunity to look at improvements needed throughout the facility,” Board President Donald Minner stated in a press release issued by the library Jan. 2. “Our goal is to reimagine the entire space, making it easily adaptable to new usage and service trends, while providing our patrons with a flexible and welcoming environment. Ultimately, we will transform a 1970s-era building into a public library for the 21st century.”
After 2008 referendum for funding a new library building failed, library trustees began to discuss ways to move forward without passing a referendum. Working with a financial planner, library officials came up with the estimated $5.7 million project, to be paid for using the library’s reserves.
“You have to listen to the voters and face reality and do the best we can and I think there’s a lot we can do,” said Executive Director Detlev Pansch.
Officials said an aging building, increased use and shifting patron needs and expectations have contributed to the renovation plan for the library building that opened its doors in 1978 and had an addition completed in 1992.
Pansch said the board planned to discuss the project at its Jan. 9 meeting and a vote could be scheduled for the regular February meeting. If the board votes for the project, it is expected that design and bidding will take about six months and about nine months for construction, Pansch said. Construction should have minimum impact on the public.
“The project is being planned with the hopes to maintain the Barrington Area Library’s role as a significant community asset,” Pansch said.