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Algonquin Area Public Library District issues debt to fund $6.7 million expansion, renovation

Image provided
The three-phase project to expand and renovate the Algonquin Area Public Library District, which will add an 8,000-square-foot addition to the main library and renovate the interior of its branch library, is priced about $800,000 under its budget at $6.7 million, Executive Director Stephen Bero said.
Image provided The three-phase project to expand and renovate the Algonquin Area Public Library District, which will add an 8,000-square-foot addition to the main library and renovate the interior of its branch library, is priced about $800,000 under its budget at $6.7 million, Executive Director Stephen Bero said.

ALGONQUIN – The Algonquin Area Public Library District will borrow $2.1 million to help fund the expansion and renovation of its facilities.

The three-phase project, which will add an 8,000-square-foot addition to the main library and renovate the interior of its branch library, is priced about $800,000 under its budget at $6.7 million, Executive Director Stephen Bero said.

The library board authorized the district on Tuesday to begin selling the debt, which will be paid off over the next 10 years. Bero said the district will spend less than $250,000 on its annual debt service.  

The library will spend about $4 million of its reserve funds to pay for the rest of the project, leaving about $100,000 in the fund that has been built up over the past dozen or so years, Bero said.

“We can do all of this without going to referendum and asking for extra money on the part of the taxpayers in our district,” Bero said. “That’s rare, and that’s testimony to the foresight of the previous library boards that started saving money.”

Bero said the district already has paid about $450,000 toward the project out of its 2017 operating budget, covering design and preliminary expenses.

The project will break ground Aug. 7 at the main library, 2600 Harnish Drive, beginning with the construction of the new wing on the northeast side of the building. Bero said that most patron services will be unaffected during the first phase, which is expected to end in February.

The new addition will include quiet reading and group study rooms, a creation zone for the children’s section and a new homework center.

The second phase, which will take place between February and May, will restrict some patron services in order to build three new areas: a teenager area, a computer lab and a “makerspace” designated for personal projects. The children’s area on the lower level also also be expanded. Bero said that the second phase will serve as a “soft unveiling” for the new wing and new services beginning once phase one is complete.

The final phase, which will run from May until the end of July, will include some new furnishings in the center corridor, and brand-new carpeting and lighting throughout the main facility. A restructuring of the front lobby also will move the cafe across from its current location and introduce a new circulation desk that is a hybrid of self-service and a staffed station.

Renovations at the branch at 115 Eastgate Drive are expected to take place for about a month next spring and will cost about $245,000, Bero said. New computer space and a second group study room open to the public will be added in addition to an expanded children’s area and a streamlined version of the desk being built at the main library.

“The Algonquin Area Public Library is now positioned as an industry leader,” Bero said. “Our residents love us, and we want to return the love by improving and enhancing our services and bringing us up to the level of current industry standards.”

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