Peoria Public Library Buildings Take Shape

by Mike McKenzie
Peoria Public Library

After nearly 40 years with no changes to its buildings, the Peoria Public Library has become a beehive of building activity in every section of town. The Main Library is currently operating at a limited capacity while a new elevator tower is built and four floors are renovated. A new North Branch will finally bring library service to the northern half of the city, with a 35,000-square-foot building on six acres nestled between Route 6 and Allen Road at 3001 West Grand Parkway. Lincoln Branch, Peoria’s Carnegie Library, was recently given landmark status and will have a 12,000-foot addition that will bring equal library service to the South Side while preserving an architectural gem.

The $28 million project is furnishing economic opportunities to local contractors and businesses while upgrading a basic community service that will provide lifelong learning, public meeting space, literacy services, learning opportunities for young children, and much more. In addition to the physical plants, Peoria Public Library continues to upgrade its “virtual branch” through the many web-based library services available for both research and leisure at peoriapubliclibrary.org.

Peorians will see buildings designed to accommodate the latest in library services, from computer labs to self-check stations in all buildings. While each building will have its own look and style, all will offer amenities such as comfortable reading areas, themed children’s rooms, easy-to-locate materials, accessible staff, computer labs, public meeting rooms, express internet stations and more. The Main Library, located at the corner of Main and Monroe streets, will feature a lounge area, created from the old entrance area, where patrons can relax with a drink or snack, as well as new gallery space for exhibits and a Local History and Genealogy Room. The auditorium will be refurbished and offer the large space so many Peorians depend on for meetings and programs. North Branch will have an outdoor area for reading, walking and events, and will feature an array of natural prairie plants. Lincoln Branch will feature a “living wall” that will visually frame the century-old Carnegie Library, a vitally-needed information commons area and enticing children’s area, as well as spaces where the many vital programs can take place.

Just as there was a series of groundbreakings throughout 2009 and 2010, Peoria can look forward to a series of grand openings in the spring and summer of 2011. When all is said and done, there will be five locations and our Bookmobile to serve Peoria. In addition to the Main Library, Lincoln Branch and North Branch, both Lakeview Branch and McClure Branch will continue to operate and receive some minor alterations to the buildings to incorporate new services.

Peoria will soon be able to point to our state-of-the-art library services with great pride while we reap the rewards of a population that has access to tools for lifelong learning, and an amenity that attracts and retains the best and brightest to our community. iBi

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