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New Geneva library gets closer to completion

'We are really looking forward to the new library'

GENEVA – The Geneva Public Library’s new building at 227 S. Seventh St. is getting closer to completion, as construction is expected to wrap up sometime this spring.

“The interior work is going on now,” said library spokeswoman Paula Krapf. “The carpeting is already in, a lot of flooring is in. They’re painting the walls and starting to install cabinets – all kinds of thing are transforming the interior. The lights are on.”

The outside is not completely finished, but is significantly completed, Krapf said, but the parking lot and early landscaping is completed.

In 2017, voters approved spending $21.8 million for a new, 57,000-square-foot building, a modern facility intended to offer services to everyone in the community.

Officials had said the library at 127 James St., with 27,000 square feet, was too small for the community it served.

And construction on the new building has been transforming the site of the former Sixth Street School since its groundbreaking July 27, 2018.

But even as construction is nearing completion, Krapf said the biggest misconception is the idea that once completed, it's “boom, we’re in.”

“We know they are moving along really nicely,” Krapf said. “We still have a ways to go, several steps to go. We have a punch list, inspections, installing furniture and shelving before we actually physically move in.”

The library hired Hallett Movers, a Summit-based commercial moving company that specializes in moving libraries.

Dick Benda, the project manager for the Geneva Library move, said because their company has the niche for library moving, “We go all over the country.”

While he handles the moves in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, Benda said the company has moved libraries in Ireland and Qatar. According to its website,, the company has moved the San Diego Public Library, the library at Tulane University and at the U.S. Naval War College and all of the libraries at the University of Chicago.

The company is frequently hired to lift book stacks out of the way to make way for new flooring or carpeting – an easier way than unpacking all the books and breaking down the shelving, Benda said.

For moving a library’s collection and furniture from an old building to a new one, Benda said they use a color-coded tagging system.

“I measure the collection and then I spread the collection on new shelving, so every shelf has the same number of books – or they get the same empty space on every shelf,” Benda said. “Nobody else really does that.”

When it comes time to move the library’s collection and office materials to the new building, Benda said it would take about 10 days of three trucks constantly moving between the old building and the new one.

“There will be one truck loading, one unloading and one moving round-robin, with a crew of origin and destination drivers moving in between,” Benda said.

For Board president Robert Shiffler, anticipating opening a new downtown library is the realization of a vision.

“It’s exciting. It's been a long project, that’s for sure,” Shiffler said. “We are really looking forward to the new library and everyone is going to appreciate the resources we have and the capabilities they will be able to utilize. … We’re just looking forward to getting it done.”

A full history of the new library's progress is available on the library's website,

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