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‘Re-imagined’ with renovations

Barrington library to be overhauled in multimillion dollar project

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Renderings provided)
The Barrington Area Library's main branch will undergo a major renovation this year. Internal mechanical systems will be upgraded, the parking lot resurfaced, and new work areas created. The building is being redesigned to best use available space, according to Don Minner, library board president.

BARRINGTON – Major renovations to the more than three-decades old Barrington Area Public Library building are expected to begin this spring.

The yearlong renovation project is being led by the architecture firm of Engberg Anderson, Inc. of Milwaukee and construction management company Shales McNutt Construction of Elgin. The project has been approved by the library’s Board of Trustees at a cost not to exceed $8.5 million.

Most of the project will be paid for using the district’s budget reserves.

“It gives us a chance to re-imagine the library and look at it as a library for the 21st century,” said Don Minner, president of the library board.

During the renovation, the library will replace its outdated mechanical systems, such as heating, air conditioning, electrical and lighting, plumbing and fire protection services.

Renovations also will take place outside the building. The parking lot will be resurfaced, new lighting will be added, and a drive-up materials drop box will be installed for the convenience of patrons.

Inside the library, renovations will focus on the areas where people congregate. More seating areas will be added near the windows, and areas of the library will receive new paint, carpet and furniture.

The building is not being expanded, just redesigned so the best use is made of the space, Minner said. 

The library will provide more work and meeting space for patrons.

Individuals will be able to enjoy office-away-from-home work pods in a fully equipped business center, while small groups will be able to share technology and conversation in a variety of study and meeting rooms.

The business center area will be located next to an expanded technology center, including a media lab.

“Today, more and more people need work space out in the community,” Executive Director Detlev Pansch said. “They’re not going into the office every day.

“They need access to technology, printers, power outlets and a convenient place to meet and share technology with others. Now, we’ll be able to provide that level of service.”

The youth services department will move to the first floor and feature interactive learning and an imaginative play area, a creation lab, interactive exhibits and lots of technology.

Teens and young adults will find booth-style seating, a media lab and gaming room on the second floor.

Nearby will be the new reading commons, with a variety of seating options to accommodate individuals, groups and small library programs.

Books and reference services for adults will find a new home on the second floor as well.

Library officials view the renovation as an opportunity to look at all aspects of the library, from top to bottom.

“We’re going to take the opportunity to do everything that needs to be done all at once and not stretch it out over multiple years,” Minner said.

During the renovations, services will not stop but may move temporarily.

The library board is set to begin reviewing bids for the project in April.

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