The Chicago Ridge Public Library, 10400 Oxford Ave., held a grand re-opening event on Sunday, June 6 showcasing modern renovations and providing fun for the entire family.

Chicago Ridge Library celebrates grand re-opening

By Kelly White

Proud to show off its new interior is the Chicago Ridge Public Library.

The library, 10400 Oxford Ave., Chicago Ridge, held a grand re-opening event on Sunday, June 6, showcasing modern renovations and providing fun for the entire family.

“I’m amazed each day when I go to work at the library with how beautiful it looks,” Irene Ciciora Youth Services Manager at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, said. “The way the sun hits the newly painted colorful walls or the way the meeting room wall opens for a larger space, it’s simply breathtaking. The library is the perfect community hub for socializing, reading, and finding great materials.”

Plans for the renovation process began in 2018, according to Chicago Ridge Public Library Director, Dana Wishnick.

“We reached out to the community of Chicago Ridge to see what they wanted from their library,” Wishnick said. “Using their feedback, the library board and staff worked with our architects to create a welcoming, modern and flexible space to serve our residents into the future. It is so exciting for me to see patrons enter the building for the first time since the renovation and see their reactions and see them using the space.”

Ginger Duter, 2, of Chicago Ridge, and Violet Bogard, 7, of Chicago Ridge, played an oversized game of Connect 4 together at the Chicago Ridge Public Library’s grand opening event on Sunday, June 6, at 10400 Oxford Ave., Chicago Ridge.

The library renovation began in October of 2020 and included a complete update of the outdated public restrooms and large meeting room; the installation of a sliding glass wall separating the meeting room from youth services, which allows staff to open up the space for larger gatherings and after school activities; the addition of two new study rooms (for a total of four study rooms); the enclosure of the adult services department with a glass wall and the relocation of the adult services workroom; the rearrangement of shelving and seating in the circulation, youth services, and adult services areas; new face-out shelving for new books in circulation and picture books in youth; and new finishes, including carpet and paint; and new furnishings throughout the library.

The renovation also addressed some of the ongoing building maintenance issues with the building itself, including repairing the concrete slab floor in youth services, repairing roof drains, replacing emergency lighting throughout the library with LED, and fixing the cracked stucco wall on the north side of the library.

“The renovation has created an inviting and flexible space where patrons can work, play, relax and read,” Wishnick said. “The new furnishings, more study rooms, integrated power, more natural light and better noise control provide a place for our patrons not just to briefly visit but a place to stay and feel comfortable.”

Wishnick said the welcoming light is her favorite part of the renovation.

“I love the light,” she said. “The new floor plan takes great advantage of the library’s windows and the light now fills the space. So many patrons upon entering the building remark that it seems bigger though we didn’t add any square feet. I also love the variety of new seating throughout the library. Patrons now have so many places they can sit and relax or plug into power easily and study.”

The project completed this spring with the total cost of the renovations just under $1.4 million. The project was fully funded from the library’s Special Reserve fund. The library did not borrow money or raise its levy to pay for the project.

The library worked with the architectural firm Product Architecture + Design on the renovation plans and hired IHC Construction Companies as construction manager through a RFQ to oversee the project. The construction project was divided into eight trade contractor packages and publicly bid. The library accepted the lowest responsible bidder for each package.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Sunday to celebrate completion of the library’s renovation.

At the free event, the public was invited to tour the building in groups. There was also a DJ, games, and chalk drawing and giveaways, including new children’s books donated by the Chicago Ridge UPS Store, as well as other swag.

In attendance, along with library staff and local community members were Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar and state Sen. Bill Cunningham.

“We love our patrons and it felt so good to give back in a way that was useful to the community,” Wishnick said. “I can’t wait for everyone to see it and fully enjoy it.”

“I have worked here for the last 10 years and it has been amazing to see how the library has changed over the years. Lori Lysik, Adult Programming Coordinator at the Chicago Ridge Public Library, said. “This change has been my favorite. I love the colors, furniture, and most of all I love how my department changed. It was so neat to be a part of the process and watch the change slowly happen.”

The library continues to follow state COVID guidelines regarding occupancy, cleaning and PPE. For now, the library will continue its mask requirement.

The library is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and closed on Sundays. Staff are planning to re-open on Sundays after Labor Day.

Local area families were able to enjoy outdoor games including this oversized chess match.

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