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The Forest Park Public Library recently unveiled rough plans for a redesign of its interior spaces, as a reaction to the changing ways residents are using the library. The renovation will cost up to $1.3 million and take about five months.

“The library is not just a place that houses books but serves as a place for people to study, gather, use resources and technology, and connect with their community,” Pilar Shaker, library director, said in a statement. “This project is in response to community input as well as continuing to meet the library’s mission of providing education, entertainment, and empowerment to Forest Park.”

Library trustees finished hearing pitches from construction firms — Z3 Solutions; W.B. Olson; Frederick Quinn Corporation; Shales McNutt Construction — at a regular board meeting on Nov. 1, and will select the firm to complete construction at the next meeting on Nov. 19. Trustees have already selected for the project the Itasca-based Williams Architects, which also designed the Roos Recreation Center. Once a construction firm is selected, the architect, construction firm and library officials will hold a public hearing to get resident feedback on renovation plans.

“One of our goals is to give the beautiful windows and light back to the public,” Shaker said, noting that under the architect’s rough plans, staff offices were intentionally moved to the lower level, so patrons could enjoy the windows that currently surround them.

Staff spaces would join the youth collection and program room, early literacy play area, meeting room, two quiet study rooms and kitchen on the lower level, under the early plans.

On the upper level would be four study rooms; the teen program area and library; audio visual and new material; a quiet room, near quiet computers and tables; adult services; a vending café; collaborative computer and technology zone; and lounge seating. Shaker also mentioned that the library hopes to add a family bathroom, change its carpet, refresh its staff rooms and more.

“It’s been a long time coming. Most of our interiors are original,” she said, noting that they have remained unchanged over the library’s more than two decades at 7555 Jackson Blvd.

The project will not require any new taxes, debt or change in services. Karen Childs, president of the board of trustees, said the board started saving for renovation five years ago. The proposed project will be funded wholly through existing capital funds. 

“The current building has gotten a lot of use over the past 23 years,” Childs said in a statement. “We are excited about making changes to continue to meet the needs of our community.”

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com