First glimpse at plans for new Brookfield Library

Three full floors of space; existing library would be razed

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By BOB SKOLNIK

A new two-story library is being planned for the corner of Grand Boulevard and Lincoln Avenue in Brookfield on the site of the Brookfield United Methodist Church building that the Brookfield Public Library has agreed to buy.

Although the deal on the library's $615,000 purchase of the now empty church is not expected to close until July, the library board's ad hoc building committee heard an initial presentation from its architectural firm, PSA-Dewberry, on April 5.

The architects presented the schematic plans for a 35,000- to 39,000-square-foot, two-story building with a full basement. The existing Brookfield Public Library, which is across Lincoln Avenue from the church property, houses about 13,500 square feet.

Preliminary plans call for the current library to be torn down after a new library is built. The old library space would then be used for a 50-car parking lot and green space. Each floor of the new library would be about as large as the existing library.

A preliminary schematic plan presented last week calls for the adult services department to be on the second floor and the children's department in the basement, while the first floor would consist of check out area, meeting rooms, staff offices and a display area.

There would be three study rooms in both the adult and youth services sections. The plans called for one large meeting room that could hold 125 people and could be divided into two rooms as well as another smaller meeting room and a Friends of the Library room, all on the first floor.

The largest meeting room in the existing library holds just 31 people.

"We would be able to have events with larger capacity," said Brookfield Public Library Director Kimberly Litland of the advantages of having a much larger meeting room. Litland noted that other community groups could use the library's meeting rooms.

Library board member Linda Stevanovich said that she thought the library offices and meeting rooms should be in the basement and more books should be on the first floor. But architect Chris Killinger said that it would be impossible to fit the entire children's or adult section on the first floor and still have the circulation desk located there.

"Personally, I'm not happy with the children's department in the basement," Stevanovich said.

But Killinger said the building would be designed to get as much natural light into the basement.

"We're going to make a lot of effort to get natural light down there," Killinger said.

The library board has yet to make any decisions about what kind of exterior design for the new building and planning is still in its initial stages. Killinger showed the committee photos of other libraries his firm has built, with designs ranging from traditional to contemporary.

He said he would like the building to fit in with the neighborhood and he could foresee a more traditional design with some contemporary features. A fair amount of glass would be used on the exterior to make the library a welcoming building.

"It's a work in progress," Killinger said.

One subject that did not come up at last week's committee meeting was how to raise the money to build a new library. After the meeting, library board members and Litland said that they have made no decisions as to how the building of a new library would be financed.

"We're still exploring all options," said Brookfield Library Board member Jennifer Perry. "This is going to be a long process. It's not going to be quick."

A public finance expert is expected to come to the library board's April 25 regular meeting to discuss financing options. Litland would not say if the library would need to pass a referendum in order to raise the money to build a new library.

"He will present different scenarios," said Litland referring to the finance expert. "We're looking at all the possibilities."

A little more than two years ago the library spent about $375,000 refurbishing the existing library after plans to build a new library in the Hollywood section of Brookfield collapsed.

Litland said she had no regrets about refurbishing the current library even though she is now hoping to tear that building down and build a new library.

"We may be using this facility for several more years, and our public deserves a well maintained library," Litland said.

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