Now that the building has been restored, residents are eagerly anticipating the last phase of the library's 2010-2013 Strategic Plan. For nearly 85 years, the River Forest Public Library has enhanced the quality of life in River Forest. During that time this venerable institution has maintained a warm and welcoming environment for patrons of all ages.
After years of repairing, restoring and replacing leaky roofs, masonry, chimneys, windows, and a decrepit heating and cooling system, the library's historic home has finally been rescued from the ravages of time and weather. With deferred maintenance issues resolved, the library board and Director Sophia Anastos and her staff are executing the final phase of exterior capital improvements: the evolution of the library's prosaic entryway into a beautiful pocket park/outdoor program space with tables, chairs, a seat wall as well as bicycle racks and a wifi connection.
What excites library users is the prospect of enjoying a new town square: a social space where patrons of varied ages and interests will come together and share diverse cultural activities. An exciting location for music and storytelling programs is envisioned, as well as an expanded space for larger events such as Family Fireside Halloween and Librarypalooza, which last month drew over 400 patrons. They will enjoy these programs in a landscaped outdoor "community living room" that models with "green" sustainability and nourishes with "green" beauty.
Construction will begin after Labor Day and finish by Thanksgiving. The project is expected to cost about $240,000. About $80,000 has already been set aside in the library's current budget. The rest will be raised by fundraising, naming rights, donor wall opportunities and community partnerships. The library is financially secure, with neither debts, nor discussion of a referendum.
Library services will continue during construction, but there will be inconveniences. For example, a north side entry door will necessarily be the main means of entry and egress and there may be some parking issues. However, these disturbances will be a small price to pay for these improvements to one of River Forest's most visited places.