North Riverside Public Library Director Natalie Starosta shows off the new Book Sale Room dedicated in honor of the late Kay Subaitis, a longtime, original member of the library district’s board of trustees who died in 2020. | Bob Uphues/Editor

About two dozen family members, friends and colleagues of the late Kay Subaitis gathered at the North Riverside Public Library recently to cut the ribbon on the new Kay’s Book Sale Room honoring her devotion to the library district, which she served as a trustee for 30 years, before retiring in 2015.

Subaitis, who was one of the North Riverside Library District’s founding trustees and whose efforts helped get a new library funded and constructed in 1999, died in October 2020.

The library spent roughly $14,000 – half coming from a grant from the Friends of the North Riverside Public Library – to convert the former storage closet into a permanent book sale room/reading retreat.

Bob Uphues/Editor

A Morris chair and table the library had acquired through an earlier grant from Riverside Township and a decorative fireplace donated by Subaitis’ family give the small room a cozy home library feeling. 

The room’s wood bookshelves, simply labeled for CDs/DVDs, fiction, non-fiction, children and teens, had been saved from the building that housed the old library. The books for sale have either been donated to the library or culled from the collection.

Unless they’re labeled otherwise, everything on the shelves costs $1. Paperbacks are four for $1. Books for sale previously were piled on two tables near the circulation desk. The new room is also an appropriate location, said Library Director Natalie Starosta, because it was also the place where the Friends of the Library would sort books.

“We decided to take that and turn it into a useful space everybody could enjoy,” Starosta said.

Grants for infrastructure, electronic devices and more

In addition to the build-out of Kay’s Book Sale Room, the North Riverside Public Library has been awarded other grants that are helping to pay for other improvements inside and outside the building.

The library just completed laying new concrete sidewalks outside the building’s main entrance courtesy of a $50,000 library construction grant through the state of Illinois. That grant will also fund repaving the library’s 22-year-old asphalt parking lot next spring.

New carpeting for the library’s lower level has been installed with a $25,000 library construction grant obtained through the state and new angled bookshelves will be installed in the library’s adult fiction section after Riverside Township awarded the library a a $4,120 grant last week. 

“The bottom bookshelves in adult fiction will be angled so you can see the [book] spines better and you can actually tell what’s on that lower shelf to make them more accessible to people who might have difficulties reading them down there,” Starosta said.

Finally, the library just received notice it had been awarded an Expanding Digital Inclusion grant for $29,775 from the Illinois State Library that will go toward the purchase of electronic devices that patrons can borrow at no cost.

Starosta said the library intends to purchase 10 tablets including AWE bilingual learning tablets, five laptop computers, four web cameras, four microphones and five new internet hotspots.

“We put our first order in [Nov. 17] for laptops,” said Starosta, who added she may wait until Black Friday to see what kind of deals she can find on other devices, since the grant funds are reimbursed to the library district upon proof of purchase.