The Rockford Public Library has been standing for over a century. Now, after years of discussion, the first step is finally complete for the large project that calls for rebuilding a completely new library in its place.
The Rock River water front property in Downtown Rockford is one of the oldest libraries in the state, but it won’t be for much longer. Rockford Public Library President Board of Trustees Paul Logli says the building is going to be torn down.
“We can get a more complete remediation by having the building demolished, remediation [of] all the soil underneath and then building a new library,” said Logli.
He says demolishing the downtown library is the cheapest way to go, as ComEd is footing the $33 million bill. The company will also pay to clean up the contaminated soil. Once it’s all done, Logli says construction on a new library will begin.
“We believe that we can put up a building that will be very open to the river. It’ll be a real asset to downtown,” said Logli. “It’ll be one of the places that people want to go to, It’ll make them feel good.”
The books and equipment inside the old library were moved two blocks west to the new Hart Interim Library. It took about six weeks for staff to move everything over.
“This has been all new to me and its just a lot of work, but well worth it,” said RPL Librarian, Zoe Norwood. “It’s been exciting watching what everybody is doing.”
Despite the hustle and bustle of moving, the staff says all the hard work will pay off once the Church Street location opens. RPL Executive Director Lynn Stainbrook says even library visitors are excited about their new digs.
“There are those that really want to get into their library, which is good.,” said Stainbrook. “We have lots of people knocking on the door. So, that’s been fun, seeing people actually wanting us.”
Zoe Norwood has worked at the Rockford Public Library for 30 years and says she’s glad to essentially be a pioneer as RPL embarks on a new chapter.
“It’ll be very very cool to be apart of the process of planning and watching the construction of a 21st century library for our community,” said Norwood.
The interim library will hold its grand opening Saturday, December 2nd at 9 a.m.