Crystal Lake Public Library Shoehorning Finished

When Crystal Lake Kiwanis Club member and Crystal Lake Public Library Board President Carol Heisler said that the Crystal Lake Library’s remodeling project had come in “on time and under budget,” it caught my attention.

How often does that happen when government in any public construction project?

In this case, Heisler attributed it to hiring construction management firm Featherstone, out of Elgin.

Generally coming in within 5% of a tax district’s budget is considered good enough.

At least, that’s what the Huntley School District 158’s forensic auditor Mike Nowark told its school board.

Heisler, manager of the Crystal Lake branch of Amcore Bank, said there was even enough money left over to fix problems in the parking lot.

To see what had been accomplished in such a project, I decided to go over and take some pictures.

It wasn’t the grand opening, which will be held Sunday afternoon at 1:30. Fancy speeches by legislators, probably the mayor and other notables.

And, “behind-the-scenes” tours beginning at 2.

The public (or maybe it is seniors, now that I look at the bottom of the announcement) is also invited for a guided tour on Thursday, May 10th, from 10-1.

How was the renovation financed?

  • $300,000 came from donations and bequests.
  • $1 million came from a loan from the Home State Bank, which banker Heisler said was at “a really good rate.”
  • $1.1 million was taken out of operating funds set aside for facility improvements and equipment upgrades.

Naturally, the bank loan will be repaid from future budgets. The library will be debt-free in 8 years.

The idea for remodeling apparently is a result of Crystal Lake voters rejecting a referendum to build a new library in 2004.

The idea for remodeling apparently is a result of Crystal Lake voters rejecting a referendum to build a new library in 2004. The vote was 4,611 “yes,” 12,459 “no,” almost a 3 to 1 margin.

The plan was developed with advice from a Citizen’s Library Advisory Committee and a Public Opinion Survey, according to to Bobbi Pierce, the library’s Community Relations Coordinator.

The massive re-arrangement of space left the meeting room with 235 fewer square feet and adult services with 3,730 less space.

But, there are 1,500 more linear feet of shelving.

That’s an increase of over 9%.

And there’s a lot more space for the young folks of our community.

There used to be 5,234 square feet.
Now there is 7,526 square feet.

That an increase of a whooping 44%!

And, there’s a new computer lab.

It is designed so that anyone can see the screens of users through glass windows, although the carrels are smaller.

When I walked some of the stacks, I have to say I was reminded of the library at the University of Michigan, where I got my master’s degree in public administration.

The aisles were narrow and the shelves high.

The main difference was that the Crystal Lake Public Library has carpeting, rather than linoleum.

The result is that it is a lot quieter than the University of Michigan’s library.

= = = = =
The adult stacks shown in the top picture run the entire length of the western wall of the library.

The entrance display shown explains where the money for the renovation is coming from.

The downstairs shot of the children’s part of the library was taken from behind a friendly computer named “Francine.”

The next photograph is of the new computer area.

Finally, two men from Sherman Mechanical were doing some last minute adjustments to wiring above the ceiling next to the parking lot entrance.

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