Almost 16 months to the day a backhoe excavated the first bucketful of earth from the vacant lot at 3541 Park Ave. in Brookfield, the general public will be able to walk through the doors of the new Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library.
While a formal, celebratory ribbon cutting and grand opening is planned for Saturday, July 31, the new library will welcome patrons back on Monday, July 26 at 10 a.m. for its soft opening.
Library staff have been moving the collection over and setting up the new spaces since June 14, but as next week’s grand opening-related events approach, things are falling into place, according to Library Director Kimberly Coughran.
“It’s gone exceptionally well,” Coughran said of the move from the old library across the street at 3609 Grand Blvd. “It takes a long time to move a library. It’s been grueling and tiring, but what a privilege.”
Library officials begin their celebration of the new facility on July 23 and 24 during a pair of “sneak peek” evenings hosted by the Foundation for the Brookfield Library, founded in late 2017 to raise funds for the construction of the new library.
The single largest gift accepted by the foundation was $1 million from local businesswoman Linda Sokol Francis, for whom the new building is named.
The July 23 sneak peek event is an invitation-only for VIPs and donors, who will tour the building and learn about remaining naming opportunities being offered by the foundation. Members of the public ages 21 and older can buy tickets to attend the July 24 sneak peek event, which includes wine, hors d’ouevres and tours of the new building for $35. Tickets can be purchased online at brookfieldlibrary.info or in person at the Brookfield Farmers Market on July 24.
Asked what her favorite aspect of the new library is, Coughran said that for her it was the views from the glass wall of second-floor windows, facing west overlooking Brookfield.
“We knew some of the views would be great, but it turned out to be absolutely stunning,” said Coughran, for whom opening the door of a new library caps a 14-year journey. “As we looked out for the first time, it was breathtaking for all of us. To experience that as we open up out of a pandemic it’s extremely fortunate for us in Brookfield.”
The other, even bigger difference between the old library and the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library is the amount space and the variety of uses, which include a quiet reading room, study rooms, separate areas for children, teens and adults, a maker space and a large public meeting room.
“The other thing that strikes me is how completely different it is in terms of spaces designated for the various constituencies in Brookfield,” Coughran said. “Just having those spaces for our residents will be so wonderful for everyone.”
Library officials welcome everyone to their grand opening celebration on July 31, which begins at 9 a.m. with a ribbon cutting. The library doors will open to the public at 10 a.m., and special events will take place throughout the day.
There will be a STEM challenge, maker studio demonstrations, a fairytale storytime, a scavenger hunt, craft activities and virtual reality trips. There is no cost to attend the grand opening event on July 31. Light refreshments will be served throughout the event, which ends at 2 p.m.