Brookfield Library eyes hiring space planner

Brookfield library

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By BOB UPHUES

With an eye to the future of the Brookfield Public Library and the services it's able to deliver, members of the library's Board of Trustees on Oct. 26 discussed the possibility of hiring a professional space planner to analyze the configuration of the library and evaluate the space needs for the library.

According to library Director Kimberly Litland, by spring of 2006, the board would like to engage Frederick Schlipf, the director of the Urbana Free Library in downstate Urbana to "analyze the current space and recommend where the library needs to be headed."

At the same time, Litland said the library board is still wrestling with how much to spend and how to address the library's chronically leaky clerestory windows. In 2003, the library spent well over $100,000 to repair the library's roof, but the window leaks are still a problem.

Litland said she expected the board to make a decision about the windows and about fixing unrelated carpeting problems by the end of the year.

At the same time, Litland said, the board doesn't want to overspend on those projects without knowing the results of the future space analysis.

"The board is being very mindful of space issues, and is being cautious with spending as we explore possible avenues available to us."

Asked if that meant the board might consider a major building project in the future, Litland was non-committal.

"We know the building is not perfect for our needs, and we'll be discussing on an ongoing basis the best way to maintain and repair things," Litland said. "Only time will tell with the report from [Schlipf]."

The library was built in 1985, but it wasn't long before a lack of space became an issue. In 1998, the library underwent a major interior remodeling, that included creating meeting space in the basement. Less than a decade after that project, lack of space is still a source of frustration.

Litland said that, according to Illinois State Library standards, there should be 2 square feet of space per capita. Brookfield has 19,000 residents, but the library has just 13,500 square feet of space.

"We're cramming a lot of service into a building that's small," Litland said.

Margaret Blasage, president of the library's Board of Trustees, said her personal opinion was that a building study could open up options from seeking a new structure to acquiring property and expanding the current facility.

"It's up to us to figure out how to get there and figure out what we want to do with that information," Blasage said.

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