Years after first setting plans in motion, the Riverside Public Library Board of Trustees revealed its plan for a $1.3 million renovation of the library’s lower level at the Friends of the Library’s Harvest Bingo event on Oct. 21.

The plan is for the multi-phase renovation to be funded through donations by patrons and community residents, not by issuing bonds or asking for an increase in taxes. And that means it’s probably going to take a while before you see any big changes downstairs.

But the green light has finally been given after years of preparation. 

“I jokingly say that I have about 10 years until I retire and my goal is, before I retire to have this done,” said Library Director Janice Foley. “We’ve wanted this for a long time. The fact the board is so supportive and positive in realizing this is needed is wonderful.”

The full coordinated fundraising campaign has not been worked out yet, but it will be sure to include a proper capital campaign, offer naming rights and include fundraising letters to residents and former donors, as well as fundraising events.

The first official event will be a “Wines between the Lines” wine-tasting event on Saturday, Feb. 3. Library officials are working with Riverside Foods co-owner Peter Boutsikakis on the plans for that fundraiser.

There is a special lower-level renovation fund, but the reserves in that fund stand at about $70,000. Most of that amount comes from a $57,000 donation from the Riverside Elementary Education Foundation (REEF), which proposed a partnership back in 2014 to renovate the Children’s and Youth Services area.

According to plans unveiled on a special renovation web page (, that REEF donation is now earmarked for creating a new Teen Room in the northwest corner of the lower level of the library. The room will include new technology to support school projects and the ability to host virtual meetings.

The beauty of the library’s renovation plans, said library board President Joan Wiaduck, is that they can be phased in as money is raised. She acknowledged it likely will take years, as many as five, or more perhaps, to complete everything.

 “We just don’t know when the money is going to come in,” Wiaduck said.

The creation of the Teen Room is part of a planned phase that would include the northern third of the lower-level. That phase would also include a reconfiguration of the Juvenile/Middle School Area and the main librarian’s desk. Staff office reconfiguration is also part of that phase.

Another phase concentrates on a reconfiguration and renovation of the middle third of the lower level, which will include a new storytime/multipurpose room to accommodate the growing number of children being served by the library.

The new storytime room would be adjacent to the Children’s Services Area, which will house magazines, computer stations and audio-visual materials. The area will have a mobile librarian’s desk, which can be moved around the central staircase, and shelving for juvenile fiction and non-fiction books.

A third phase is focused on the south third of the lower level, which would feature an expanded public meeting room that can be divided into two spaces to accommodate more than one meeting at once.

Plans also call for a new Early Learners Area in the southwest corner, with views overlooking the river.

There’s no set schedule for which phase gets done first. Much of the scheduling will depend on funding. All of the phases call for new carpeting, paint, shelving, lighting and furniture.

While not part of the $1.3 million renovation project, the library will set the stage of the lower-level improvements by completing a project to improve access to the elevator. That project will complete a series of changes that have been taking place on the library’s main floor since last year.

The Friends of the Riverside Public Library was instrumental in raising the $17,000 needed for the elevator access project, which ought to be completed by the end of 2017, Foley said. Library officials are working with the village’s building department staff to obtain permits for the work.

Library officials decided to avoid a bond referendum, despite not asking voters to issue debt since 1984, when funding for a 12,500-square-foot addition was approved.

The only debt the library is carrying right now is a low-interest $220,000 loan from the village of Riverside, which officials approved in January to help pay for a new heating and air-conditioning system that was installed in the spring.

Many of the library’s improvements since the 1984 addition, like the elevator access project and an $85,000 project last year to install new book shelves on the main level were accomplished with the help of fundraisers and private donations.   

Years after first setting plans in motion, the Riverside Public Library Board of Trustees revealed its plan for a $1.3 million renovation of the library’s lower level at the Friends of the Library’s Harvest Bingo event on Oct. 21.

Riverside Public Library: Atrium – Children and Youth Services by wednesdayjournal on Scribd