The exterior view of the Barrington Area Library building

343. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… a New Library

Home Newsroom 343. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like… a New Library

It’s been 8 months since the Barrington Area Library began its renovation project – wow! Time doesn’t so much fly as SOAR these days. 🙂

The exterior view of the Barrington Area Library building
The exterior of the Barrington Area Library in December, 2013. Note the windows of our new stair tower – they really make the whole building feel more open and welcoming!

We’ve been very fortunate. Very few mishaps and re-dos, lots of progress. We’re still on course for our May 2014 grand reopening, but you can stop by anytime and see some of the great new spaces we’ve prepared for you – if you don’t mind some hanging plastic and occasional construction noise.

Photo of construction site at the Barrington Area Library..
This morning, concrete was poured to create a floor where there used to be a stairway at the Barrington Area Library.

One of the most rewarding things for me has been seeing people immediately take to the new spaces. If you build it, they really will come! Walk out into the new Adult Services area upstairs and you’ll find businesspeople at work with laptops and mobile phones, tutors walking high school students through tricky chemistry questions, and seniors just relaxing in a quiet corner with something good to read. If I was coming here to work (well, I mean, if I didn’t actually have a job here!), this is probably the spot I’d choose, because of the beautiful views of our garden areas on three sides. It looks beautiful today, with a fresh coat of snow, and in spring and summer, it’s going to be even more amazing!

People sit working at tables in the Barrington Area Library.
Businesspeople, students and tutors love using the new spaces at the Barrington Area Library.

Right now, non-fiction books for adults are upstairs (except for those found in our New Book collection, which is still being temporarily housed in the Meeting Room). So if you’re heading here looking for fabulous holiday cookie ideas or equally as fabulous travel books for escaping the holidays, come upstairs and we know you’ll leave happy and full of ideas.

Travel guides, cookbooks, self-help, diet, history, and art are just some of the sections you'll find in the new adult non-fiction shelving on the second floor.
Travel guides, cookbooks, self-help, diet, history, and art are just some of the sections you’ll find in the new adult non-fiction shelving on the second floor.

There’s no doubt about it – teens like their own, dedicated space, and we’re giving them lots of it in the remodeled library. These cool booths are, and I’m not kidding, always full. Adults use them during the day, but when school gets out, the teens are here in force. It’s like hanging out at a cool diner or coffee shop, but you don’t have to order French fries to stay as long as you want. We’ve got great books for teens and young adults up here, too, so they can browse for something not related to school work.

Photo of study booths, book shelves and work tables in the new teen and young adult area at the Barrington Area Library.
Two views of the new teen and young adult area in the library. I took these during the school day, but after school the area is typically FULL of teens, which is awesome.

And check out the new bleacher-style seating:

New bleacher-style seating in the Reading Commons area of the Barrington Area LIbrary.
Get comfy while you study, read, or hang out with your friends on the library’s new bleacher-style seating.

I’m envisioning that PACKED with students during Finals week, and that vision makes me very, very happy! We may eventually have events up in this space, too, and when construction is complete, it will open up to the library’s beautiful atrium. We really have made a determined effort to give the very best seats in the house to you, our community. Oh, and you don’t have to be a teen to use this fun and functional space – our new Reading Commons is open to everyone.

Two smiling librarians stand at a reference desk.
Lisa and Barbara are waiting to answer your reference questions, help with your e-reader or tablet, and give you a warm welcome at the Barrington Area Library.

Got a reference question or want help your e-reader or tablet? Stop by the new Adult Services desk on the second floor. Since we haven’t moved all of the adult resources upstairs yet, these folks can get lonely! (They’re kind of the Maytag repairmen of the library world right now…) Eventually, all of the adult fiction will be upstairs – and that day is coming soon, since the new Youth Services department on the first floor is due to open in late January 2014. I. Can’t. Wait. I want to save information about that for another post, but let’s just say it’s going to knock your socks off. In a really, really good way!

Oh, the meeting rooms – we know how you miss them and we miss being able to provide them! Since we’re using the two big meeting rooms as temporary office and browsing space, and the Zimmerman Room is attached to the still under construction stair tower, it will be a few more months. Coming soon, however, will be new small group rooms on the second floor. You can catch a sneak peek here…

View of construction site and glassed-in meeting rooms at the library.
We’re not quite ready, but soon these new small group meeting rooms will be available on the library’s second floor. There will be lots of new meeting space on the first floor, too!

The last stop on this virtual tour of what’s new at the Barrington Area Library is our new stair tower and elevator. Even though the stair tower isn’t complete, it’s pretty gorgeous! I love how it reflects the architecture and warmth of the library’s beautiful atrium. Almost daily, I watch as visitors young and old get to the mid-level of the staircase and let out a “WOW” when they see the view. The new stairway also lessens confusion – if you ever came over here and tried to figure out which stairway went to the second floor and which one went to the Zimmerman Room, you know what I mean. The new elevator is modern, safe, and ready for you and your stroller, heavy book bags, etc.

View of the library's new stair tower and the windows facing outside.
The finishing touches are being put on the library’s new stair tower with gorgeous views of Barrington.
Smiling woman stands inside an elevator.
Librarian Aly gives you a cheerful welcome to the new elevator.

We really want to express our gratitude to the community for your patience during these messy, noisy, sometimes chaotic months of construction. We’re nearing the finish line and we can’t wait to welcome you to YOUR newly remodeled, 21st century library. Watch for another post soon on the new Youth Services department, coming in January!


About the Author

Karen McBride is the Public Information Manager for the Barrington Area Library.

She’s also a professional singer, lending her talents to St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington and her rock band of more than 20 years, Synod.

If she’s reading, it’s a glossy magazine or a rock star biography, but she’s just as likely to be walking in Cuba Marsh, watching her beloved Bulls and Cubs, or wasting time on Facebook.

To follow Karen’s library updates on Facebook, visit their page at and to keep up with the very latest on the renovation and other exciting library news, visit their website at

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