SYCAMORE – Before a ceremonial ribbon was cut Sunday within the vestibule of the Sycamore Public Library, Sarah Tobias told the small crowd the moment represented something fresh and new for the library.
An open house celebration was held Sunday to recognize the remodeling of the library. Tobias, the library’s executive director, said the staff wanted to celebrate five and a half months of change and welcome the public to the renovated space.
Though this project is completed, Tobias said the library will continue to evolve to better serve patrons.
“We’ll never be done. I don’t ever want to be done. You’re always making little improvements,” she said.
The original portion of the library was built in 1905; an addition was completed in 1996.
This year’s remodeling, which included reconfiguration of interior space and some exterior remediation, began April 16 and was completed Sept. 28. Tobias and others put the last books on the shelves at 8:30 p.m. that day, and the renovated library was open to the public the next morning.
Assistant director Katherine Keyes said the library staff had told the public Oct. 1, so “it was great to be done a little bit ahead of schedule, too.”
The entire project is estimated at $731,000 – being paid for through grants, impact fees and a $478,100 loan – though Tobias said she hopes the total cost actually comes in slightly lower than that.
Work was done in phases so the library could remain open for patrons as much as possible, said Steve Swedberg, owner of Swedberg & Associates, the construction manager for the project. The library also worked with architect Lisa Sharp.
Windows were replaced and areas of the roof repaired, which Swedberg said will increase the lifespan of the building. New carpeting was laid and walls were painted. With the bright paint colors in the children’s area, “they know where they’re supposed to be,” he said with a smile.
The square footage of the building didn’t change, but many people said Sunday the renovations made the library feel bigger and more spacious.
Library board President Lois Anderson said the remodel makes use of space the library wasn’t taking full advantage of in the past. The circulation desk was moved from the second to the first floor, which she said is more efficient.
“And when people walk in, there’s somebody there,” Anderson said.
A larger, more colorful children’s area was created by incorporating the old meeting space. The new main meeting room is now to the left when walking into the building.
“I think with the space, it’s nice for the bigger groups of kids to come through,” said Helen Sharp, whose children Torrance, Matthew and Ella had their faces painted Sunday.
The second floor was reorganized, with the creation of alcoves and spaces for reading, the reference desk where the circulation area once was, and the Teen Zone in the old rotunda.
Office areas were changed slightly, and a conference room was created. Swedberg said new drywall, ceilings and lighting were installed in the new board room.
Tobias said it’s important to offer appealing, usable spaces within the library for all ages. The Teen Zone includes the young adult collection as well as space for reading and studying. Teens sometimes stop using libraries because they feel they’re not appreciated, so the staff wanted to address that.
“And so, we really want to be here for your whole life,” Tobias said.
Patron Pete Dennis, who said he uses the library seven days a week, commended Tobias and the library staff on the remodel. He said he hopes the changes will encourage people to come to a place where they’ll get some intellectual stimulation.
Crystal Dalaguete, a Kishwaukee College student, was unaware of the open house and planned to use the library to study Sunday. She commented on the new paint colors, carpeting and greater use of space.
“It’s a nice surprise,” she said.