More shelf life: Homer Township Library expansion getting rave reviews
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org July 22, 2013 5:40PM
Robert Pijus, of Lockport, is assisted by reference librarian Heather Colby as he works at the new computer station at the Homer Township Public Library, which reopened July 1. | Susan DeMar Lafferty~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 24, 2013 6:01AM
After being closed for one month for construction, the Homer Township Public Library is seeing volumes of patrons — regulars and new ones — all eager to see what the new addition has to offer.
The 11,600-square-foot addition, which opened July 1, has won accolades from its users, who are finding it to be “awesome,” “amazing” and “enjoyable.”
The goal of library officials was to make this facility a destination point, and apparently they succeeded. The addition nearly doubled the size of the library and will offer lots of new features in a bright, contemporary setting.
Patrons were doing more than just checking out books on a recent day. They were lingering and checking out all that the library now offers, director Sheree Kozel-La Ha said.
Jeannine Shenoha, of Homer Glen, was relaxing in a new chair under modern lighting in an area set aside for newspapers and magazines.
“It is so nice. I am sitting here and just enjoying it,” she said. “The whole library is so pretty.”
One patron told Kozel-La Ha that this area is just like a living room.
“That’s exactly what we had in mind,” the director said.
Shenoha and many other patrons said their favorite new feature is the quiet reading room with a fireplace. It was so quiet inside that Rami Martini, who was there studying for his medical school exams, said he could not hear any noise from the rest of the library.
“It must be soundproof,” he said of the windowed walls. Martini liked that he didn’t feel “closed off” from the rest of the library.
“I really like this room. It’s a great idea,” he said. “It’s way better than the old library.”
Another popular spot was the computer area, now with 24 computer stations, one of which was being used by Robert Pijus, of Lockport.
“It’s awesome. It’s a beautiful library,” he said.
Along the wall is an area Kozel-La Ha called a “community corridor,” a place with tables and chairs for small groups to congregate.
Arturo Perez was working here.
“It’s good to have something like this, where you can meet and have discussions with your friends,” he said. Overall, Perez said the new addition was “amazing.”
“I’m really impressed with the decorations and there’s a nice selection of books,” he said.
Many patrons wandered around trying to find their new niche, Kozel-La Ha said.
“We dealt with such a small space for so long. Everyone is now finding their space where they can get comfy. The library is different things to different people,” she said. “And we’re not done yet.”
The new addition is part of a multiphase, $4.5 million construction project that began with a new parking lot and will be finished in October, when the existing library is renovated as the new children’s department. A grand opening celebration will be held at that time.
Prior to that, the quiet reading room will be dedicated on Aug. 16 to Army Pfc. Michael Olivieri, son of the library’s youth services director, Jody Olivieri. Michael was killed in Baghdad in June 2011.
When completed, the expanded library will have six private rooms, a family activity room, a community room, and three times more adult seating.