Riverside Public Library

Riverside Public Library officials will press ahead with further capital improvements next year after village trustees on Oct. 6 voted unanimously to allow the library to keep nearly $250,000 left over from a $1.5 million bond issuance used to complete a comprehensive renovation of the building’s lower level.

After voters approved a referendum in 2020, the village oversaw the bond issuance which included an agreement that if there was any money left over when the renovation was complete, the library would return it to the village for early debt repayment.

Village and library officials concluded that the money would be better spent on additional lower-level improvements that would benefit library patrons.

“We realize we were so lucky the referendum passed, and we don’t want to have to go for another referendum for a million years,” said Library Director Janice Foley. “This will allow us to do what we need to get done and it will last for a long time.”

Courtney Greve-Hack, vice president of the Riverside Public Library Board of Trustees, told elected officials on Oct. 6 that the institution benefited from lower-than-expected construction bids and, ironically, from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renovations began in September 2020 and the building didn’t fully reopen to the public until July 2021.

“Being able to have the library closed meant that we were able to do the entire lower-level renovation simultaneously, and we didn’t have to close it down in sections, which would have taken longer,” Greve-Hack said. “Overall, we think that the funds that are remaining should be used to further improve the lower level.”

The renovations came in $248,817 under the $1.5 million budget.

The planned added improvements include the creation of a permanent Maker Space area along the perimeter of one half of the Community Room. According to Foley, the Maker Space will have regular hours for patrons to use the devices it now stores out of view in a nearby closet.

A staff member will be assigned to the Maker Space and the library will bulk up its programming around STEM subjects. Riverside Public Library has two 3D printers, two button makers, a Cricut machine, an embroidery sewing machine, a traditional sewing machine, a mold maker and a Glowforge laser cutter.

Once the equipment is moved from the storage closet to the new Maker Space, the closet will be converted into a Quiet Study Room, which library patrons can reserve.

“We get frequent requests for an individualized study room, a space where people can come and have a closed-off area, quiet and separate from the rest of the learning spaces,” Greve-Hack told trustees.

Foley said there’s also a plan to build a half wall to partition the genealogy area from the entrance to the lower-level bathrooms and install more storage for genealogy materials. They also want to custom build a mobile display unit to match a stationary unit in Children and Youth Services.

“That may seem like a lot of money [for those improvements], but costs have all gone up,” Foley said. “We hope we can get it all done.”

The library’s architect, from StudioGC Architecture and Interiors, is drawing up preliminary plans for those improvements, Foley said. Ideally, work will begin in spring 2023 after obtaining bids and awarding a construction contract.