Joliet Public Library to Host Grand Reopening Community Event Celebrating the Completion of Project Burnham 

JOLIET — The Joliet Public Library will host a community event to celebrate the completion of Project Burnham, the renovation of the interior of the downtown Joliet Ottawa Street Branch.

Library staff invites people of all ages to the Grand Reopening Community Event on Saturday, September 24 from 10 am to 3 pm, at 150 N Ottawa Street in downtown Joliet. Staff will provide guided tours and refreshments. 

The Grand Reopening will also feature activities for the whole family, including a petting zoo from 10 am-2 pm, a scavenger hunt around the building highlighting new features, mini-golf, photo ops and meet and greets with costumed book characters Elephant and Piggie, Captain Underpants and Esteban the Green Crayon. In the lower level of the library, the Digital Media Studio will host demonstrations featuring 3D printing and technology tours.

Executive Director of the Joliet Public Library, Megan Millen,  said staff and patrons are looking forward to the completion of construction and the Grand Reopening celebration.

“This last year and a half has been filled with activity and anticipation,” Millen said. “Throughout construction, our staff has risen to each challenge that comes with a project of this size and are still able to provide excellent customer service to our community. We really look forward to sharing the upgraded space and its features with everyone.” 

The renovation boasts several upgrades to the Ottawa Street Branch, which has not had any major renovations since 1991:

First Level: 

  • Five individual or group study spaces 
  • Local History room dedicated to Joliet and surrounding area history
  • Cafe stop and seating area
  • Space for museum-like traveling exhibits 
  • Large meeting room for events and public meetings

Second Level:

  • Youth and Teen program rooms for educational programming, crafts, gaming and more
  • Large meeting room for events and public meetings
  • Interactive play spaces for kids and tweens including the light wall and play structure
  • Mother’s room and updated restrooms (updated restrooms are on all levels)

Lower Level: 

  • Art Studio space for local artists with exhibit gallery
  • Industrial lab equipped with 3D printers, poster printer, t-shirt printer
  • Digital Media Studio Common area with computers 
  • Video Recording Studio 
  • 3 Audio Recording booths

“I think people will be really excited about some of the new services we will be offering with our space,” said Millen. “The Digital Media Studio on the lower level of the library has doubled in size to include more  computers, recording booths and an impressive video recording studio. What started as a small office space on the second floor years ago now spans across our lower level and includes technology available to everyone with a Joliet library card.” 

The renovation changed the layout of the first and second levels, moving the Youth Department upstairs and adding interactive spaces to encourage learning and play. 

“What is impressive about this renovation is how much careful thought went into what our patrons need from their library,” said Millen. “We have features to attract teens in our gaming rooms and a cafe stop for college students in the area to grab a quick snack. We can accommodate families who need a Mother’s Room, or a safe space for their infants while the older children find crafts or books to read.”

While Project Burnham will give the Ottawa Street Branch the boost of a modern library, some of the simpler upgrades will even provide a big impact. Adding more outlets, study rooms and play areas, as well as updating the furniture, shelving  and lighting will all make for an improved library experience. 

“We are still proud to serve our community with traditional ways to use the library,” said Millen. “Patrons can still use our computers, make copies, print their resumes or documents and check out books. But because of Project Burnham, we have become a place that opens so many different doors to learning. A place to view local art, dive into new technology, discover local authors and even have a dedicated room for researching genealogy or local history.”

Project Burnham was funded through library reserves and a state grant for a total cost of $10.5 million. No new funding for the library renovation came from Joliet property taxes. 

“We want to welcome you all to the Joliet Public Library 2.0,” said Millen. “Please join us on September 24 for our Grand Reopening Community event and see all that we have to offer.”

The Ottawa Street Branch was built in 1903 and designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. Over the years, Joliet families have enjoyed the building’s marble walls, limestone exterior, and arched windows. In 1991, a 49,000 square foot extension was built to accommodate Joliet’s growing population and complement the design of the original building. The addition was constructed to replicate the original building’s exterior. For more information, visit our website at https://jolietlibraryblog.org/

About the Joliet Public Library

The Joliet Public Library is committed to being a resource for the community to read, explore, ask and discover. For more information, visit jolietlibrary.org or call 815-740-2660.

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