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Barrington Area Library Begins Renovation and Revitalization Project

For immediate release
Karen McBride, Public Information Manager
Barrington Area Library
kmcbride@balibrary.org
382-1300 X2100

Barrington Area Library Begins Renovation and Revitalization Project
See a shorter list of renovation highlights.

In 2012, the Barrington Area Library received 400,000 visits from patrons who attended technology and business classes, enjoyed live music and interactive children’s entertainment, expressed their creativity in the Media Lab, studied for finals, and yes, checked out 1.2 million books and movies. For those who thought the Internet and e-readers had made public libraries obsolete, the active, engaging atmosphere at the Barrington Area Library might come as quite a surprise. In April of 2013, the library will begin a year-long renovation project, transforming a 1970s-era building into a 21st century community space. It’s a fitting project for a progressive library that has long been ahead of its time in many other aspects.

The renovation project is being helmed by the architecture firm of Engberg Anderson, Inc. of Milwaukee, WI, and construction management company Shales McNutt of Elgin, IL. Engberg Anderson specializes in libraries and other community-focused organizations and previously worked with the Barrington Area Library on a small renovation project in its Circulation department. Architectural renderings and other documents created by Engberg Anderson for the library can be viewed on a special Web site, at balibrary.org/library-renovation.html.

The project has been approved by the library’s Board of Trustees at a cost not to exceed $8.5 million. Most of the cost for the project will be covered by budget reserves.

The bidding process for the renovation project is now underway. Bids for furnishings will be accepted until 12:00 p.m. on March 25, 2013 (please note this has been changed from the original date of March 21, 2013, 1 p.m. prevailing time), and bids for construction work may be submitted through 1:00 p.m. on March 26, 2013. Bid notices may be viewed on the library’s Web site, balibrary.org/library-renovation.html. The library’s Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Monday, April 15, at 6 p.m. to select the successful bids, with construction beginning as soon as possible after that date.

During renovation, the library will replace outdated mechanical systems, such as heating, air conditioning, electrical and lighting, plumbing and fire protection. Many of these systems date back to the original construction of the building in 1978. “Along with much-needed replacement of mechanical systems, the entire space is being renovated, but the building is not being expanded – it will retain its current footprint,” states Board President Don Minner. “What Engberg Anderson has done is to completely reimagine the interior of the library to make the very best use of the available space.”

Customer service will be available immediately upon entering the library, where guests can also get comfortable in an Internet café environment. In fact, one major improvement will be available before patrons even leave their vehicles – a drive-up materials return box will be placed on the east end of the parking lot, providing convenience and improved safety in the library’s entranceway. Inside, open floor plans will give patrons the best seat in the house, whether by windows with views of surrounding park areas, or in a second floor “reading commons” overlooking the library’s lovely atrium.

The revitalized library will provide more work and meeting space for business persons, students and groups of all kinds. Individuals can enjoy “office away from home” work pods in a fully-equipped business center, while small groups can share technology and conversation in a variety of study/meeting rooms. This business center area will be located right next to an expanded technology center, including a state-of-the-art media lab. “Today, more and more people need work space out in the community. 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,” explains Library Executive Director Detlev Pansch.

Children are some of the most special visitors to the library and the renovation will provide a number of significant changes to the Youth Services department. The entire department is being relocated to the first floor of the library, for a number of reasons. Safety and convenience are primary – parents and caregivers will no longer have to struggle to get small children, strollers and library materials between the first and second floor, and the stairway will no longer present a safety hazard in the Youth department. The move also combines children’s DVDs and music with adult popular materials, so families can enjoy browsing together for this weekend’s entertainment options.

The entire Youth Services area will be redesigned to encourage interactive learning and imaginative play in an environment that is comfortable, colorful and welcoming to children of all ages. A creation lab and interactive exhibits will make the Youth Services department a true destination spot for children and families within the community, especially when combined with the library’s technology classes and excellent programming for children.

Teens and young adults will find a warmer welcome in the renovated library, too, with booth-style seating, a media lab and gaming room on the second floor. Nearby will be the new “reading commons,” with a variety of comfortable seating options that can accommodate individuals, groups and even small library programs. Books and reference services for adults will find a new home on the second floor as well.

Learn more about the library’s renovation plans and keep up-to-date on progress by visiting the Barrington Area Library Web site: balibrary.org -> library renovation.