15 Sep 2014
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A Renovation for the River Forest Public Library

Plan would bring a sustainable "outdoor living room" to library's entryway.

A Renovation for the River Forest Public Library

The Greeks call it "Plateia," a town square where people can gather and exchange ideas, and it's that concept of a peaceful public space that's become the goal for renovations outside the .

The estimated $240,000 project will dramatically overhaul the space outside the library, which executive director Sophia Anastos described as "dirt in front of the buiding with a few railroad ties holding it up." 

Current plans call for the creation of new entrway to the library, complete with a new foundation of permeable pavers, creative landscaping and the addition of a vegetable garden where kids and adults can try their hand at growing. 

In addition to the planting of ornamental and shade trees, the whole area would be ringed by an seating wall for outdoor classes and performances. Conceptual drawings also show a few tables and chairs on a terrace patio, where patrons could relax and read, possibly surrounded by a free WiFi network. 

It's all been designed with sustainability in mind — the native plantlife will require little water, the benches and seating wil be made of recycled materials and the permeable pavement will absord stormwater. New lighting, designed to brighten up the entryway, will be energy efficient.

Anastos said the project is in line with the library board's overall goals of "promoting literacy, sharing information and upholding the community's values of learning, family, entrepreneurship and service." 

To that end, the board has already set aside about $80,000 to make it happen. Library officials say they're exploring partnerships with community groups and fundraisers to help fund the project. 

Work is expected to begin just after Labor Day and wrap up around Thanksgiving. 

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