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Local

Public input sought for new library’s look, function

Architect Michael Mackey speaks to residents at the Geneva Public Library at a June 6 forum about library architecture. This was the first of three scheduled forums to present information about library buildings and to seek public input on what the new Geneva library should look like. (Brenda Schory - bschory@shawmedia.com)
Architect Michael Mackey speaks to residents at the Geneva Public Library at a June 6 forum about library architecture. This was the first of three scheduled forums to present information about library buildings and to seek public input on what the new Geneva library should look like. (Brenda Schory - bschory@shawmedia.com)

GENEVA – What should Geneva’s new library building look like?

Geneva Public Library officials hosted the first of three community workshops June 6 to present information about library architecture, the history of library buildings and to seek input from district residents about what they want to see in their new building.

A successful referendum April 4 allows the district to build a new 57,000-square-foot facility at the site of the former Sixth Street School at 210 S. Sixth St. Voters approved a $21.8 million bond issue for the new facility.

“One point I’d like to make is we are not designing this library for 2019,” library Board President Bob Shiffler said to about 60 people who came to the workshop. “It will still be in use at the end of the century in the 2090s. And it will be a historic structure. … What form should the library take as a future historic building in Geneva?”

Michael Mackey, who spent the last 17 to 18 years designing public libraries in the Chicago area, presented the history of library architecture through the centuries.

He started with Vitruvius, who lived from about 90 to 20 BC, and said a building should meet three standards: commodity, firmness and delight, Mackey said, adding that that translates into does the building work? Is it strong enough? And is it beautiful?

“These are the three components architects will look at while designing a building,” Mackey said.

Library district residents said they wanted a variety of things in their new library, among them that it be pedestrian friendly, so that people can just walk to the library.

Residents also said they wanted have a library – or live in a community – that is well-educated; forward thinking; open and welcoming; stimulates creativity; is accessible to everyone; is flexible enough to become whatever it needs to become; and is a fun place to go.

Other suggestions were for a library that balances activities and quiet time.

A video of the entire presentation is available on the library’s YouTube channel, https://youtu.be/MKeHo2SiAWE.

The June 13 workshop focused on site considerations for the new library.

The third workshop, which will take place at 7 p.m. July 19, at the current building located at 127 James St. in Geneva, will focus on design elements, color and materials, with architects showing three potential exterior elevations and designs for public feedback.

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