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Library's 2010 exterior should be maintained : Editorials : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Library's 2010 exterior should be maintained

The Oswego Public Library District Board is poised to move ahead with the expansion of the agency's downtown Oswego Campus Library. It will be just four years ago this May that contractors for the library district completed a much-needed $2.9 million interior and exterior renovation of the building.

As we reported last week, the library district board has contracted with an architectural firm to prepare plans to construct an approximately 11,000 square foot addition on the building. The expansion would include a second story on a portion of the building. Importantly, Vernita Hettrich, library board president, said the library district can use existing revenues to construct the addition and no tax increase will be necessary.

If built, the addition would mark the third time the library has been expanded since it was constructed in 1964. The first addition was completed in 1981 and a second addition in 1997. The second addition consisted of the building's existing east wing, which was designed at that time to accommodate a second floor.

Like the previous two additions, the proposed third expansion has been deemed necessary by library district board members to meet a growing need for space for books, computers and programs. Anyone who visits the library will see the current and obvious need for more space in the building. Though some question the continued viability of public libraries in this age of the Internet and electronic books, the library district continues to report rising circulation figures and increasing patron visits at both its downtown Oswego Campus Library and the Montgomery Campus Library.

The Oswego Campus Library, unquestionably, also serves to attract thousands of people to the village's downtown area each year. Through the first week in December last year more than 180,000 people had visited the library in 2013 alone. We strongly suspect that many of those people also stopped before or after their visit to the library in other downtown restaurants or shops. By adding onto the library once again, the library district will be making a further investment in the village's downtown.

What concerns us about the initial addition plans is the proposed extensive re-design of the building's exterior as shown on the preliminary plans the architects presented to the library district board last month. We believe it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars-spent less than four years ago-to now significantly alter the building's nicely worked-out Prairie-style entrance and other features. Fortunately, board members expressed similar concerns over the drawings. We're hopeful the revised plans will maintain the building's 2010 facade in total and thereby protect the taxpayers' recent prior investment.

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