By Bob Uphues
The North Riverside Public Library will be closed all week, and when it reopens on Sept. 17, well, you might not recognize the place.
Between Sept. 10 and 15, the main floor of the library will undergo something of a transformation. New carpeting is being installed and large sections of the main floor are being reconfigured during the roughly $45,000 interior makeover.
The library will reopen for normal business on Monday, Sept. 17.
"We started working on this several weeks ago, but the vast majority of the work will be done next week," said Library Director Natalie Starosta.
Among the more major changes is that the six computer stations now relegated to a separate room will be moved into the main library space, closer to the circulation desk. According to Starosta, that will provide patrons with quicker assistance if they need help, since people using the computers will be in view of those at the front desk.
The computer room will become a new maker space, although its setup and the equipment used there hasn't been settled yet, said Starosta. Maker spaces are a popular trend in libraries and are used for hands-on projects.
The maker space could be used to implement new programming for children and teens courtesy of a $25,000 Project Next Generation grant from the state of Illinois. Through September 2019 the grant will fund technology-related programs for preteens and early teens such as computer coding, robotics, digital photography and more.
In addition, said Starosta, the library has been awarded a $12,000 senior services grant from Age Options. The library will be using the theme of "memory preservation" to focus programming related to the grant, including classes on how to tell and record personal stories and scan photos to create digital photo books.
Another major change on the main floor will be an expanded area for teens in what is now the reference section just north of the main entrance area. While the reference desk will remain where it is, three shelves that contained reference materials are being removed for tables and chairs that will allow teens to work on projects collaboratively and to accommodate staff-supervised programs.
Outdated reference materials have been culled from the collection and popular reference books, such as the dictionary and thesaurus will be placed near the computers/circulation desk. Other reference materials will be integrated into the regular non-fiction stacks. Magazines will be moved to an area near the fireplace.
To the left of the main entry area, in addition to the computer area and creation of the new maker space room, the shelves housing the fiction and non-fiction titles will be switched, with fiction books moving closer to the front of the library and new titles being placed along the north side of the stacks, closer to the fireplace.
The carpeting being installed will consist of 2-by-2-foot squares of commercial grade carpet that can be replaced more easily as areas wear out or get damaged. The palette will be similar to the existing carpeting, said Starosta, but with a little more color.
"It's more functional and so much better for a public entity like a library, with people going in and out," Starosta said.
The library board has hired Hallett Movers to move fully loaded bookshelves around as carpeting is laid and place them in their new configurations.
The library will host an open house showing off the new configuration on Saturday, Oct. 6 from noon to 5 p.m. Library staff will be scattered at tables throughout the main floor to talk to patrons about the changes and gather input on programming for areas such as the maker space.