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Renovations at Flossmoor Public Library have brought a 
number of improvements for patrons, including opening 
up space where newspaper displays used to be.

(Photos by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle)

Flossmoor Public Library staffers, looking for ways to improve the 10-year-old facility, put their heads together and came up with a plan.

Recently completed renovations at the library are a result of that collaborative effort.

  Megan Millen

When 10 weeks of interior work ended in February, the library had added several features, and a distinctive new look.

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The first floor service desk has been rebuilt and now includes an overhead “sound cloud” designed to cut down on noise. A fifth study room has opened. There’s a consolidated business center with machines for copying, scanning and faxing. New first-floor computer desks offer greater privacy. A wall is reserved for an ongoing book sale by the Friends of the Library.

And it looks different.

“We wanted a more open, airy feeling,” said Administrative Librarian Megan Millen. “We also wanted better sight lines for staff.”

Those goals, she said, resulted in a shifting of space that formerly might have seemed cluttered. It’s best seen in the first floor magazine and newspaper area, located at the library’s southeast corner. The newspaper rack is now pushed back toward the wall and the space is roomier and friendlier as a reading area. Some study carrels in that area have also been removed.

Millen said library officials and staff started discussing possible renovations early in 2014, a full decade after the building first opened.

Initially, proposed renovations centered around replacing the library’s carpeting, which Millen said had been a constant problem since the building opened.

“We thought that if we were going to replace the carpet, it gave us an opportunity to make some other changes,” she said.

About half the project’s budget ultimately went for the new carpeting. Instead of a rolled carpet – in place since 2004 – the library opted for carpet squares, which are easier to replace.

A design committee started fielding ideas on which improvements would be best for the library.

“We met for months,” Millen said. “We looked at drawings and started picking colors and fabrics.”

In the summer of 2014, she said, every staff member from the library’s three areas – children’s services, adult services and patron services – was interviewed about possible improvements. By October of that year, the library was ready to hire an architect for the project.

It took nearly a full year for the work to begin. Last September, the upstairs children’s area was closed for two days so that the new carpet could be installed.

The rest of the project, all on the first floor, started in November. Portions of the first floor were not accessible from time to time but there was no reduction in services during the renovations, Millen said.

“There were only two days when you could not use the downstairs at all,” she said. The library never shut down as a result of the renovations.

In the end, the project came in under budget, Millen said, adding that money for the work was set aside over the years and had no impact on day-to-day fiscal operations.

Also, she said, the library saved money during the renovations by re-upholstering existing chairs rather than buying new furniture.

Work took longer than anticipated, Millen said, but that was probably because some of it took place during the holiday season.

With the project completed, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

“Our patrons really like it,” Millen said. “We’ve gotten lots of comments about how open the library looks. It’s good to hear.”

The main patron services desk at Flossmoor Public 
Library is completely new after a recently completed 
renovation project.

 

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