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Ground broken for new main library in Aurora’s downtown

May 2, 2013
In The News

AURORA — The hope is that the project will be a cornerstone of the rebirth of downtown.

“You take a look at RiverEdge Park, Waubonsee Community College, the Paramount, SciTech — downtown is truly becoming a destination point for culture and entertainment for the entire community and we’re really pleased to be part of that,” Library Board President John Savage said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new downtown main library Wednesday.

Area politicians donned hard hats and shovels to officially kick-off the library’s construction at the site at River and Benton streets Wednesday afternoon. The new library is expected to be open to the public by late 2014 or early 2015.

The 92,000-square-foot, $28 million main library will be built at the former Beacon-News lot, which the library purchased in 2009. The library received a $10.8 million state grant to offset the cost of the facility in March.

Mayor Tom Weisner said the library board has put great emphasis on technology to ensure that the new library will be relevant for the next century or more.

“Whether we’re talking about the cost of a printed book, or we’re talking about technology, hardware, software needed to access the Internet, etc. and the world that it takes you to, not everyone can afford that access,” Weisner said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, a Democrat from Naperville, said that as technology evolves, places that foster human collaboration, like libraries, become all that more important.

“This facility (will) give our students opportunities to collaborate face-to-face, providing new opportunities for exploration and growth,” Foster said.

A new library at the former Beacon-News lot is appropriate, as the community recommits to the value of the written and spoken word, he said.

“The written and spoken word is the thread that connects the generations of our civilization, and it’s importance can not be overemphasized,” Foster said.

Library Executive Director Eva Luckinbill said a 16-year-old Aurora student told her the library should be “a place to ease the mind.”

“(He offered) very innocent wisdom about the need to sometimes disengage from the high-tech, fast-paced world that we live in,”’ Luckinbill said. “We will have a place for that.”

Savage said the entire community came together to make this project possible. The future library at the site will be a center for partnership, technology and collaboration, he said.

“That’s really the goal that we have for this library. The changing needs of this community — we’ll be positioned to address those needs as we change,” he said.

The library will continue to accept essays from kids until June to put in a time capsule at the site. Aurora children should write about what they like about the library now and what they think the library will be like in 50 years.

The new library’s construction management firm is R.C. Wegman Construction and architect is Cordogan, Clark & Associates.

Batavia-based Aliano’s Ristorante, China Hut and Jimmy John’s passed out food and other treats at the groundbreaking event Wednesday afternoon.