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Geneva library consultants offer big ideas for change

GENEVA – The Geneva Public Library could revitalize its current location by relocating the entrance back to its original location and eliminating its split-level entrance, library consultants said.

Anthony Oliver and Kirk Albinson of Cordogan, Clark and Associates of Aurora, an architectural firm, presented ideas Thursday for how the library could use its current space at 127 James St.

The company's work was done without cost to the library, trustee Steve Andersson said.

"It was done for free. We are getting a real benefit from this," Andersson said. "Thanks for the opportunity."

Oliver – who also serves on the Sugar Grove Library Board, said taking into consideration the population the district serves and its square footage – "You know you are squeezed here."

Compared to other libraries square footage per population served – at 27,600 square feet – Geneva's is 0.90 per capita of a district population of 30,505, Oliver said.

Of 18 suburban libraries compared, Geneva was fourth from the bottom in terms of space per capita, according to the presentation.

"Your front entrance is dismal," Oliver said. "Because of the shape of the building, you have to have a lot of staff ... Your elevator is really not to code with the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]. You've got problems."

Oliver recommended returning the entrance to its former location and redoing the current entrance to eliminate the upstairs-downstairs split-level feature entirely.

"Libraries are all about flexibility. You have no flexibility here," OLiver said. "If you're new here, you don't know where to go, up or down."

Albinson and Oliver also offered a big what if: Possibly expanding the library's footprint to extend over the the property where Bicycle Heaven, 24 W. State St. is located and creating a three-story building.

It would be done in phases that ultimately would connect with the current structure.

"We could design it like it's always been there," Oliver said.

Library officials made it clear no one had talked to the owners of Bicycle Heaven, and there are no plans to expand beyond the building's current footprint. 

The presentation was simply a brainstorm of ideas, officials said.

Resident Carolyn Zinke said she supported seeing the library stay at its current location, but said the entrance could use a change.

"I don't think the entrance is as welcoming as  it could be," Zinke said. 

Library officials are also considering whether to buy the former Sixth Street School property from Kane County as a site for a new library buildings. 

Oliver and Albinson said building new always is less expensive than remodeling. 

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