The new Main Library is located on the Fox River north of Kimball Street. It is the third largest public library building in the state.
The architectural style of the building is reminiscent in some respects of the Prairie Style, but it would be a mistake to refer to it as a Prairie Style Building. The structure is clad in buff and terra cotta-colored stone.
At the center of the west side of the building facing the Fox River is a tower-like structure. There is a parallel structure on the opposite side of the building. The two three-story tower-like structures are linked by a single roof running across the width of the building that lends either tower from certain perspectives a resemblance to the prow of a ship.
Frye Gillan Molinaro Architects, Ltd. (FGM) designed the new 139,980-square-foot building. FGM also designed the Riverside Public Library extension (completed in 1986) in Riverside, Illinois; the Sun Prairie Public Library (1999) in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; the Pikes Peak Library District’s Penrose Library (2002/2003) in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the Summit Public Library (2004) in Summit, Illinois; the Doris Van Doren and Mission Valley Branches of the El Paso Public Library in El Paso, Texas; the Stephenson Public Library (2008) in Marinette, Wisconsin; the Poplar Creek Public Library (2009) in Streamwood, Illinois; and the South Wing (2011) of the Detroit Main Library in Detroit, Michigan.
IHC Construction Companies, LLC was the general contractor. Richard E. Thompson was the building consultant. The building was erected at a cost of $29,800,000. In 2006-08, the Main Library alone had a circulation of 1,300,000 items.
The new Main Library has a shelving capacity of 460,000 volumes. There are currently 474,372 items in the collections.
It has a seating capacity of 835. There are three meeting rooms in the Main Library on the first floor.
The site of the Main Library is bounded by the Fox River to the west, Kimball Street to the south, Grove Avenue to the east, and Ann Street to the north. There are trees planted, curbside, at regular intervals along Ann Street and Grove Avenue. There are more tree planters in the parking lots.
The parking lots can accommodate more than 300 motor vehicles. There are three parking lots at the library site, one to the east of the Main Library, accessible from Grove Avenue; one northeast of the library at the intersection of Grove Avenue and Ann Street; and a third due north of the Main Library accessible from Ann Street.
The Main Entrance is the eastern tower. When one enters, one faces the Central Rotunda on the first floor, which opens onto the Youth Department, Computer Center, Audio-Visual Area, New Books, the Check-Out Desk, and library card registration, as well as the staircase and elevators to ascend to the second floor. Standing in the Central Rotunda, facing west, the Community Rooms, Computer Center, and Youth Department are to the left; the Early Learning Center is not quite dead ahead; and Movies, Music & More is to the right. A large part of the first floor in the northern part of the building is closed to the public.
The New Book Areas on the first floor feature comfortable seating so as to allow patrons to browse through the latest acquisitions in fiction, non-fiction, large print, and the Spanish language. Patrons can buy and consume snacks in the Concession Area on the first floor.
The Main Library’s Youth Center and Early Learning Center, both located on the first floor, offer programs as well as books and other materials for preschoolers and schoolchildren. Outdoor programs for children take place in an enclosed patio. The Youth Center is in the southwest corner of the building.
The Main Library has 130 public computers, many of which are in the first floor Computer Center, which has 60 computers. The Computer Center has a classroom with ten computers where patrons can learn about everything from computer basics to the use of the latest software. Advanced registration is required for these classes. One can do so online or by calling the Computer Center at (847) 429-4695. The Computer Center is in the central part of the southern half of the Main Library’s first floor.
The Main Library’s Audiovisual Area, identified on the first floor floor-plan as Movies, Music & More, has CDs, videotapes, DVDs, computer software, video games, audio-books (both books-on-tape and books-on-compact-disc), Playaways, and downloadable media. One may also checkout portable CD players for use within the Main Library.
There is an art gallery in back of Movies, Music & More with framed art prints. One may checkout these framed art prints.
According to the GBPLD, “The focal point of the second floor is the River Room, a spacious area with views of the Fox River.” The GBPLD describes the Main Library’s River Room as “A quiet sanctuary for reading, contemplation, and study.” The River Room is in the second floor of the western tower.
The Adult Study Rooms and Magazines are located to the east of the River Room. That is to say, they are between the rotunda stairs and elevator bank to the east and the River Room to the west. The Information Desk and Job/Career Resources are between Magazines and the rotunda stairs and elevator bank.
The Non-Fiction section takes up a large part of the southern half of the building on the second floor. The Spanish language collection is adjacent to the Non-Fiction section, between the rotunda stairs and elevator bank and the Non-Fiction section. The Fiction section occupies space that looks out on the Fox River like the Non-Fiction section, but is smaller and is on the far side of the River Room, which is to say it is in the northern half of the building on the second floor.
The second floor of the Main Library also has microfilm machines, the adjacent Genealogy Area, and the Large Type section in the northern half of the building on the second floor. They are east of the Fiction Section. The Young Adult Area, which has books, magazines, and seating for teenage readers, is along the eastern wall on the second floor. Frye Gillan Molinaro Architects, Ltd. also designed the Studio 270 Teen Center. Administrative Offices and Reception are in the northwest corner. The second floor has plenty of space to accommodate future growth of the fiction, non-fiction, and large type collections.
The Main Library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. The Drive Thru Window opens an hour earlier than the lobby. The phone number there is (847) 742-2411.