LaGrange library renovates floor

Pilar Valdes, Reporter

The LaGrange library, which was built about 10 years ago, will be renovated this fall. Although the start date is not yet confirmed, construction is expected to last about four months, depending on the construction company chosen, the library’s community engagement coordinator Arcadia McCauley said.

For the past 10 years, the library board of directors has put money in a reserve fund dedicated to facility updates. To plan renovations, the library sent out surveys to the community via mail, phone and email, and held meetings with neighborhood schools and local businesses, McCauley said.

“[We] talked to community members about what was important for them and how they would like to see the library grow,” McCauley said. “Hopefully the public feels like they’ve been asked, and are free to talk to us and give us their input. We are here to listen.”

Additionally, multiple community input sessions were held at the end of August to help the library meet the community’s needs, McCauley said. One of the main focuses was on expanding the library’s Youth Services area.

“This community is already actively using the library,” the library’s youth services department head Rachael Dabkey said. “We need to do better with being a place where [children] can gain the skills that they need, to be ready to read, and our new early learning area will provide more opportunities for this kind of skill development to happen.” 

Currently, the library is planning to expand the first floor by reclaiming the outdoor colonnade area and transforming it into indoor space, McCauley said.

“The lobby will have lots of popular materials so we will have a lot more grab and go, which will be much better suited for all types of library users,” Dabkey said.

The new space will have more room for early learning activity as well as an expanded lobby area, Dabkey said.

The youth services department is trying to put more emphasis on early learning and early literacy programs by adding more space and materials to that area of the library, McCauley said.

“There’s a disparity between some of the lower income families in LaGrange and higher income families in terms of literacy and success in school, and studies had pointed to catching those kids early to help eliminate or mitigate that disparity,” McCauley said. “The library sees that we can be that key partner in the community to help those families and to also work with local schools for how we can help fill some of the gaps that they can’t.”

Danielle Dahill ’19, who volunteers at the library, often found that space was limited while trying to run the library’s summer reading program.

“The library is a really cool place,” Dahill said. “So making it a better place for kids and their parents is important and will help kids stay interested in reading because they’ll associate the library with reading.”