Oak Park to showcase new public library redesign this weekend

Students and book lovers can look forward to big things this spring in Oak Park. The city's public library at 14200 Oak Park Blvd is open again after a highly-requested redesign, and will host a celebratory day this weekend.

"This all came about because we started taking note of our residents' comments about the library and what they wish they could see," says library director Kimberly Schaaf.

"A lot of the public feedback we were collecting informally had to do with the layout of the library. We then formally started asking people through paper and online surveys what they would like to see."

The redesign includes a layout with a focus on new youth literacy areas and quiet study zones. Computers and other technology services were moved closer to the resource desk allowing users easier access to technical help.

The first phase of the redesign began on January 29 and resulted in plans for bigger collaborative spaces. It also delivered a highly-requested feature from the survey: A quiet study area within a comfortable distance from high-traffic areas. 

Schaaf describes the process as a collaborative effort between the library, city management and the community.

"People often want to come to the table to make improvements and something the entire community can enjoy. We saved money over many many years in an effort to avoid raising taxes and we did that. The hope is that regardless of what someone is coming to the library for, they're going to feel more welcomed in this space."

The library was closed March 11 to April 1 for the final phase of the project. During that time the library was outfitted with new furniture and a new floor plan. While the building was closed, residents could access curbside service, on site, during library hours. 

Holds and pick up for items can be done online or via phone at (248)691-7480. Other inquiries can be answered by emailing the reference desk at: reference@oakparkmi.gov.

Schaaf says she is proud of the redesign, even though the smaller budget prevented a bigger expansion.

"We do have a finite budget and weren't able to do a complete facelift. But the new layout can help meet the wide needs of our patrons. Whether it be a parent introducing a child to literature, or a teen looking to study, we'll be better able to facilitate those needs now. I still think we want to continue to improve. Our goal, at the end of the day, is to make sure everyone's purpose for being here is accommodated."

On April 7 from 2 pm to 4 pm, the library will hold an open house for the public to celebrate its reopening and new layout. The open house will have light refreshments, piano music by David Rogers, family activities, and remarks from Schaaf at 2:30 pm. 

Residents can also view the library's website for frequently asked questions and additional information during the redesign. 
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Read more articles by Blake Woodruff.

Blake Woodruff is a feature writer based in Southeast Michigan. He believes the best way to impact is to inform.