As your library undergoes updates to better serve you and the community, we intended to use this page to keep you informed on what improvements are being made.
A Brief History
The current Berkeley Public Library building on Taft Avenue was constructed in 1971 and opened to the public in June, 1972. A few years later, the library's lower level was partially finished to provide limited room for library events and a meeting room for both library programs and public use. In 1986, the library received partial funding from the State of Illinois in order to add an elevator to provide access between the two levels.
Over the summer months of 2019, the BPL surveyed the community about the state of their library: what worked, what didn't, how they used the materials and services, and what they saw as the biggest issues for change. As a result of that survey (along with other data collection), the library prepared and adopted a five-year Strategic Plan. This identifies a wide range of different objectives that the library is currently working hard to achieve.
A portion of that plan was a call to work with a qualified outside agency to assess the current condition of the now 50-year-old library facility and to develop a series of steps to improve the building to better match 21st century library services. The library is happy to have partnered with Williams Architects of Itasca, Illinois for both the condition assessment as well as future planning processes.
Condition Assessment completed August 2020
Preliminary Planning Document completed October 2020
Phase 1 Planning Document completed April 2022
Phase 1 Construction completed October 2022
Drawing illustrating potential modernized Berkeley Public Library including outdoor program area.
October 2022 Phase 1 Construction Completed Main level public restrooms have been completed, inspected, and reopened to the public. Replacement drinking fountains with filtration and bottle fillers have been installed on both levels. Painting has been completed in the main circulation area and front stairwell. Replacement interior 'storefront' (glass and doors) have been installed. Flooring in the vestibule and main public area has been installed. Public service desks anticipated to be delivered in early November!
September 2022 Continued Construction Bathrooms are nearing completion with tiling work completed, radiant heat installed, and fixtures currently being installed. Replacement drinking fountains have been installed on both levels. Painting has begun in main circulation area, in the front stairwell, and on the lower level. Replacement interior 'storefront' (glass and doors) have been installed as of 9/8/2022. Flooring in the vestibule and main public area will begin to be installed the week of 9/12/2022.
August 2022 Construction Various trades have been busy at the library, working primarily in the mornings before we open. Rough plumbing and electrical work has been completed, as has framing for the new bathrooms. Drywall has also been completed, and both painting and tilework is currently in progress.
July 2022 Prep Work/Demolition In preparation for needed abatement, various trades were present throughout the library during the week of July 11th. Work included the removal of fixtures in the restrooms on the main level, removal of drinking fountains, disassembly of existing service desk, relocation of data/phone lines, and removal of kitchen area in the meeting room.
May 2022 Materials Selection, Closure Scheduled The Library has finished working with interior design specialists at Williams Architects to select materials, finishes, and colors for new service desks, doors, and walls. While the Library will be open through much of construction, the Library Board has approved a closure period of July 18th through July 22nd for abatement work to take place.
April 2022 Public Bidding- Asbestos Abatement The Library conducted an additional round of public bidding for the abatement of materials found to have asbestos present during the March 2022 material testing. These materials include caulking around entry doors, joint compound (main floor), and floor tile adhesive (main floor). Abatement will include all areas impacted by the scope of Phase 1, primarily restrooms and center of building from entrance to staff offices.
March/April 2022 Public Bidding- Phase 1 The Library conducted a round of public bidding in support of Phase 1 work. This public bidding process included seeking qualified bids from trades including electrical, plumbing, and flooring.
March 22, 2022 Entrance Lighting Many of the lighting fixtures found throughout the library date back several decades. In order to improve public safety as well as to provide for a welcoming environment, lighting fixtures at the main entrance which illuminate the public sidewalk, entry doors, and vestibule were replaced with modern, daylight-balanced LED fixtures.
March 2022 Material Testing Given the age of the building, the Library contracted with Midwest Environmental Consulting Services for thorough asbestos testing of materials throughout in order to properly inform all phases of work and ensure the facility is safe for many years to come.
December 13, 2021 Construction Management After inviting proposals from qualified construction management firms, the BPL Board of Trustees selected Shales McNutt Construction of Elgin, Illinois to manage construction of Phase 1 of the library's remodel.
November 3, 2021 Feedback Survey A survey inviting feedback from the community was been made available online. The survey included all of the information displayed at the 10/30/2021 Open House. This survey was available for 6 weeks to allow as many residents as possible to provide input.
October 30, 2021 Open House Library staff, board, and Andy Dogan from Williams Architects were on hand to meet with residents, provide information, and answer questions they had about the remodel process.
We will try to keep this area updated periodically to provide updates to the process and changes to library services. Be sure to check back often!
Phase 1 - Accessibility
The first component of the preliminary plan for improvement was to address long-standing accessibility issues. In order to facilitate, the BPL applied for and was fortunate to receive $50,000.00 from the State of Illinois as part of the Live and Learn Construction Grant program. Work to complete Phase 1 is currently being planned for Summer 2022.
Phase 1 Includes:
Replacement and expansion of two public restrooms on the main level in order to allow for accessibility. Improved lighting, heating, and fixtures will be included.
Replacement of public drinking fountains on each level with ADA-compliant models that incorporate a bottle-filling station.
Replacement of inside entry doors/windows.
Removal of both layers of existing flooring in vestibule and center section of main level, replacement with low-maintenance alternative.
The kitchen area in the lower level meeting room will be remodeled to lower work surfaces and sink for ADA compliance.
The library's large public service desk will be removed and replaced with two flexible work stations, with desktop surfaces at a lower level to provide adequate access for everyone.
The front entry and vestibule will be updated.