Article Originally Published August 8th, 2019 in Sun Day News by Stew Cohen
Four months after voters in the Huntley Area Public Library District of McHenry and Kane Counties approved the April 2 library remodel and expansion referendum, the team behind the project has moved closer to the actual construction phase. Frank Novak has worked as a library director for 25 years and has been through multiple building projects in the past, though this is his first in Huntley. “You win a referendum and people ask the next day if you are going to start digging tomorrow.” Novak points out the team has moved past the schematic phase and is now in the middle of design development through August, “so there won’t be any moving of dirt or anything like that for quite a while.”
Once construction starts, the library staff will try hard to minimize the impact on its patrons. Leigh Ann Porsch, head of Marketing and Public Relations, admitted it could be quite a task because three trailers are scheduled for removal. “We are going to transition everything from the trailers back into this building so the trailers can be removed, then they’ll construct the addition and move everything from this building to the additions. This will allow for renovations in the library building.” Porsch indicated the library “may close for a week here and a week there” to move things around. “You can imagine moving hundreds and hundreds of books.”
Sitting down at his desk, Novak was working on documents that might bog some people down, but all the paperwork did not seem to bother him. “It just takes time to “do construction documents, bid documents, and get the bonds sold.” The plan approved by voters allows the Huntley Area Library District to borrow more than $12 million dollars.A summary of the April referendum showed that voters were asked to approve $12.9 million in remodeling, an addition, equipment, and library materials.
The library staff in their preplanning of the referendum wanted to engage the public and held community meetings and library open house events over the expansion project. “Our children’s space has accommodated a fire code capacity of 12. It’s pretty apparent that we needed some space. So that was really the big driving force. We also haven’t really grown since the Huntley community exploded,” Porsch said. “We did a community survey and developed a message that included the fact the library was built before Sun City, Huntley,” he said. With the Sun City construction in 1999, the library’s shortcomings became evident over time in its collection space, seating, and computers.
As representatives of Huntley Area Public Library, Porsch and Novak want the community to know they are very appreciative of the referendum’s outcome and to those who stood behind the library and sought to get this done. “We are very excited about this project and that we’re able to reopen and have everything the community wants and can offer even better services and spaces to use,” Porsch said.
You can follow along with the progress of the various phases of expansion through the library’s official newsletter, The Whole Story, published every other month and mailed to all residents in the district. People can also keep in touch with what’s going on by reading updates on the library website, www.huntleylibrary.org. “You’ll learn what phase we are in, any news with the expansion and renovations. We are on social media as well,” Porsch said. In comments for the open house and community meetings, Porsch noticed that many people conveyed the same concern about the aesthetics of the building. If you are concerned the renovation work on the library will change its comfortable look, Leigh Ann assures you of this, “We are maintaining the integrity of the building with the ceiling and beautiful fireplace, the openness of it, a real homey comfy feel.”