When patrons visit the Oak Lawn Public Library after Thursday they’ll feel like they are walking into a fine bookstore rather than a stodgy institution.
The library is closing its doors all day Thursday (April 19) to transform its crowded lobby area and atrium into an open, spacious floor plan. The makeover is part of a plan to reinforce the library’s brand as “Your Discovery Destination” showcasing the library’s wide-ranging collections of books, media and reference materials.
Gone will be the institutional beige and large circulation countertop. Instead, patrons will have plenty of space to move around in as they explore various genres and authors on new face-out shelving, including an expansive new fiction section and centerpiece “feature wall” of changing exhibits from throughout the library.
The new floor plan also offers a more functional, efficient and intimate circulation area allowing for more efficient customer service for checkout of library materials.
“The architecture of the building is such that we don’t have a lot in the lobby,” Mary Williams said, head of patron services for the library. “People can walk in, grab something and not have any idea of the wealth of resources we have in the rest of the building. It’s incredible what we have upstairs.”
Other enhancements include two new display centers in the lobby on the southeast side of the first floor – one for juvenile graphic novels and the other for new audiovisual items. Fliers and programs for upcoming lobby events will also be displayed in a built-in slat wall paneling.
Library officials are counting on the atrium’s fresh visual appeal to lure patrons to other areas of the building and increase use of the collections. The library has already undergone repainting, with curio grays and smoky blues replacing the former canary yellow in the atrium.
“We want to bring the rest of the library down to patrons so they can take it with them,” Williams said. “If you like this go upstairs and get more.”
The library will be closed Thursday. Movers from Library Furniture International are expected to arrive at 7:30 a.m., with new shelving and furniture moved in by noon. The rest of the day and evening will be devoted to moving, books, DVDs and other collections into place.
The Oak Lawn Library will reopen at 9 a.m. Friday.
“We’re reinventing ourselves,” Williams said. “We’re using space that hasn’t been used before.”