Niles library finishes renovations

Published 10:09 am Friday, June 19, 2015

Leader photo/ANDREW MERICA TOP: A new desk between the children and young adult sections allows library staff to better serve patrons.

Leader photo/ANDREW MERICA
TOP: A new desk between the children and young adult sections allows library staff to better serve patrons.

Thanks to two donations totaling more than $130,000, the Niles District Library has completed some much-needed remodeling.

“We had talked for some time about several pieces we wanted to achieve,” said Niles District Library Director Nancy Studebaker.

So, when the money became available, the staff went to work — starting at the front and working their way through the entire library.

Circulation has grown significantly since the ‘90s, Studebaker said. Because of this, the front desk was pulled out, and new walls were constructed to form a back office area for library staff to work. Before, all of the work had to be done at the desk, but thanks to the new renovation, there is greater space and division, allowing for increased efficiency.

The young adult section was moved from its previous location near the front entrance to a space adjacent to the children’s section. A new desk, installed just Monday, is now located between the two sections, servicing both. Also in the young adult section is a new room called “Patti’s Place,” named after a longtime library staffer who passed away about a year ago. The multipurpose room contains a TV, desks and chairs.

The fiction section took the place of the young adult section near the front enterance, with the large print books placed closest to the door. Studebaker explained that many of the patrons requiring large print books also have mobility issues, so moving the section as close to the door as possible will better service those people.

The wall separating the computer lab and the main hallway of the library was demolished, and the information desk was moved to the location where the wall previously stood. Library staff can now serve both those in the computer lab and those with other questions about the library from the new wrap-around desk.

Just before the entrance of the rotunda, there are now two new study rooms, bearing the names “Walters” and “Strauss.” Gloria Walters and Barbara Strauss are the two donors whose donations funded most of the renovations.

“We needed some space for people to study,” Studebaker said.

Currently, the study rooms are on a first come-first serve basis, and Studebaker is very excited for people to begin using them.

One of the most noticeable changes is in the rotunda, where several shelves have been removed, leaving six shelves of nonfiction, several desks and a wide-open area for the library to hold events.

In order to remove the shelves, many books that were either too old, in poor condition or inaccurate were removed.

Now, the space can hold events like a meet and greet with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Michelangelo that occurred on Saturday, June 13.

The event, which was the first to be posted to the Niles District Library Facebook page, drew over 400 kids—more than Santa Claus drew at Christmastime. Kids and parents wrapped around the circumference of the rotunda, down the main hallway and all the way to the front entrance door.

Had the renovations not been done, Studebaker said that the event might not have been possible.

“I wouldn’t know where to put 400 people,” she said, laughing.

Studebaker explained that there are no specific plans for the new open space but that the library will continue to find many uses for it.

“We’ve got so much more going on here,” she said.

To accomplish all of these renovations, the library closed for a week, and the library staff themselves removed and transported all of the books from all of the shelves to their new locations—saving the library about $5,000.

While most of the renovations are done, Studebaker said that the library is still waiting for a few more furnishings to arrive for the young adult section. Once those arrive, however, the renovation will be complete.

More information, including a calendar of upcoming events, can be found at or at the Niles District Library, located at 620 E. Main Street in Niles.