WINNETKA – The Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District is planning a significant renovation to the Winnetka library, which will honor the mid-century modern style of the original 1958 building.
The library district shared details of the renovation plans at an open house on November 1 hosted by the Library Board of Trustees and Library Director Rebecca Wolf.
Residents had the opportunity to check out renderings by Chicago architects Product Architect + Design, showing the library’s plans for the lobby, Lloyd Room and main reading room of the building. The firm has also worked on other local libraries, including in Niles, Vernon Hills and Arlington Heights.
The library embarked on this project in response to feedback from the community, as well as part of its strategic plan. “We are doing this for the community so this is all based on different expressions of need,” Wolf told DailyNorthShore. A community survey was conduct in the spring of 2015 as part of the library’s strategic plan, as well as a survey in March 2017 about the project design. The library has held open houses along the way, as well as solicited feedback via its website.
Wolf was on hand at the library, answering patrons’ questions and taking notes as they looked at the renovation plans. “It is comforting that people are interested. It tells me we are getting our message out there,” she said. Wolf listened as a patron expressed her concerns about a couch selected for the quiet lounge room, noting that furniture was something they could change in response to feedback.
The renovation includes new ceilings which will improve the noise levels in the library, as well as new acoustic panels in the reading room to absorb sound. New LED lighting and carpeting throughout will give the building an update, which hasn’t seen a refresh since the early 1980’s. The library bathrooms will also be updated — as will the Northfield Library’s bathrooms — which will make them ADA accessible.
The project will also include a redesign of some of the spaces. Three study rooms will be carved out of the new books area, a feature that patrons specifically requested. The glass wall that now separates the reading room from the lobby will come down, and a combined reference/circulation desk will be located in the new open-concept lobby.
Wolf said the centralized circulation and reference desk will make it easier for librarians to help patrons. The addition of self-check kiosks and an automated return system will also make it easier for patrons on the go.
And of course the library will be getting some new comfy seating, in response to residents’ requests. “We have a lot of excitement about the project,” Wolf said. “People wanted it and we are excited about it coming,” she added.
The improvements will be paid for through the library’s capital projects reserved for projects of this nature. “The project will be paid for using our current budget for capital projects and funds reserved for projects of this nature. We expect the total costs to be finalized at the next board meeting on November 20. We anticipate the cost to be just under $2 million,” Wolf said.
The library expects the project to be done by May 2018, with the first phase beginning in February with the abatement of asbestos from the ceiling. The library also hopes to complete a landscaping project in 2018 as well, according to Wolf.
The library is scheduled to be closed for 20 days during the month of February, in which time patrons can visit the Northfield Branch Library, the digital library or go to a neighboring library in Wilmette, Glencoe or Glenview.
For more information about the project go to www.winnetkalibrary.org.