After years of planning and evaluating options, the O’Fallon Library Board of Trustees unanimously voted to move forward with $856,800 in renovations and repairs to be done to the O’Fallon Public Library.
“It’s such a relief to finally be able to breathe a little easier knowing there’s a plan and a contractor, and we are all comfortable with the choice we’ve made,” said Harriet Baker, O’Fallon library board member.
Michael King, library circulation services manager, said this phase of renovation is being funded with library fund reserves, not the $1.6 million donated by Vernon Ohlendorf, former O’Fallonite and board member who bequeathed the funds upon his death in March 2008.
Ohlendorf stipulated written restriction on the use of funds donated to the library in his will. The funds must be used for capital improvement and-or future expansion or re-build in a new location, according to Library Director Molly Scanlan.
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“Many factors have been considered in the next phase such as growth of O’Fallon, the possibility of becoming a library district with Shiloh and trends of library use,” she said.
In 2011, the library received an additional $100,000 from the Ohlendorf’s funds, increasing the donation to over $1.7 million, King said. “It’s been doing real well (secured) in a high interest (bearing) trust account,” King said.
Over the past 10 years, the library board has been saving money to pay for this renovation project so taxes won’t increase, Scanlan said.
Property tax funding for the library has not increased in the past four years.
“I’m just so glad we can move forward with this project finally. I mean, we needed new windows — yesterday, really,” Scanlan said.
The building is equipped with 26 wood-framed windows that are starting to rot and will be replaced with aluminum windows, according to Scanlan.
The board has been working closely with Nanette Andersson, of Andersson Architect and Design, which has offices in Geneva, Ill., and Chicago., since last summer on plans for designing and renovating the existing building at 120 Civic Plaza in O’Fallon.
“First we hired her on an hourly basis, and then when we decided to go through with the project and had plans we liked (so) we signed a contract with her around the end of last year or beginning of this year,” Scanlan said.
The library has paid Andersson just over $80,000, according to 10 billing invoices dated July 4, 2014, through May 11, 2014, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
“Well, we’re almost done paying (Andersson),” Vice President Linda Kahley said.
The original contract dated Sept. 29, 2014, was for $98,192 with a modification filed on Dec. 9, 2014, for $1,250 to be added, bringing the grand total owed to $99,442.
The renovations are expected to start next month and take about three months to complete over the summer, King said.
There has been a lot of maintenance issues and repairs needed for some time, Scanlan said, but the holdup on making a decision on how to move forward has lasted due to research and cautious decision-making.
Plans for the now 20-year-old building involve the addition of a ‘Teen Room.’
“The library will be reconfigured to make better use of space and provide a more modern and logical layout of services,” Scanlan said. “With the exception of the outdoor reading areas, no space will be added to the library...(to keep) the library viable for the next 10 years. Eventually (it) will need to be expanded or a new (re-build altogether).”
The project was awarded to the lowest out of four bidders — Korte Luitjohan Contractors Inc. in Highland.
“At this time the library facilities must be maintained and updated in order to provide quality service,” Scanlan said, “and not let (it) fall into a state of disrepair that will cost much more in the long run to fix.”
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Expected repairs to be made at O’Fallon Public Library:
▪ All built in desks will be removed and replaced with smaller mobile units for easy reconfiguration
▪ All major services will be located on first floor
▪ The entrance will be elongated to prevent both doors being open at the same time
▪ Circulation area will be moved to the entrance of the library and current self-checkout machines will be updated, with two additions having optical scanners to read library card numbers stored on cell phones
▪ Children’s area will be separated with half-walls and will be have acoustical ‘trees’ for noise control
▪ Children’s program room will be moved to the area currently containing picture books
▪ A glass walled magazine room featuring a bubble wall to be added where the current circulation desk is
▪ Two small study rooms will be added near bubble wall
▪ The middle of the library will feature a ‘market place’ with all DVD’s located on a curved wall separating the area from the children’s department with comfortable seating arranged around a vending area and all new adult materials will be shelved in this area, as well as large print books
▪ The current small conference room and director’s office will be converted into a glass walled young adult room
▪ Computer services will be located in the area that now has adult fiction
▪ All shelving on the lower level will be low for good sight control of the building
▪ Three new offices for the adult services manager, circulation manager and bookkeeper to be added
▪ A print station near the staircase will house the public copier and print kiosk
▪ The first floor will have two fenced in outdoor reading areas — one for adults and one for children
▪ A glassed in quiet room, a small conference room and a help desk will be added
▪ A drive-up book drop will be installed on the far island near the entrance in the parking lot