When Austin Branch Library, 5615 W. Race Ave., reopens on Nov. 11, it will have more natural lighting and a new circulation desk. The library closed for repairs on Sept. 25. 

According to Patrick Molloy, the Chicago Public Library’s director of government and public affairs, the idea was to fix the roof, make the building more energy-efficient and let more of the natural light in. The library will also get a new circulation desk and a number of minor fixes. 

According to the Chicago Public Library system website, the Austin Branch Library originally opened in 1929. It previously went through major renovations in 1979 and 1981. It is one of the larger branch libraries in Austin, and it boasts the largest meeting room, which takes up much of the building’s second floor. According to the website, the meeting room can hold up to 130 people, and it can be reserved by any resident, business or organization. 

Once the library reopens, the biggest change patrons will see is that the skylight over the circulation desk, which was sealed before the renovations started, will reopen again. Molloy said that it will have “high-performance glass.”

“There will be a lot more light brought in, it will be a much different look,” he said.

In another major, less visible change, the existing gravel roof will be replaced with more energy-efficient materials. 

Molloy said that the circulation desk will be replaced with something more modern, but he didn’t elaborate any further. He also indicated that there will be a number of other, smaller fixes. The windows will be sealed to prevent water from getting in, the exterior wear and tear that accumulated over the years, the interior walls will be repainted and new carpet installed. 

“It’s a total refresh inside, which always makes a branch more welcoming,” Molloy said.

In the weeks before the closing, the library set out to let the patrons know what was coming, posting fliers on the door and leaving fliers on the circulation desk. The flier mentioned that the book drop will not be checked during renovations, so patrons should drop them off at one of the other branches.

It also mentioned that due dates and holds would be extended. Patrons who want to pick up a hold while the library is under renovations can change their preferred hold location by either logging in on the library’s website or speaking to the staff at one of the other branches.

Other branch libraries in Austin include West Chicago Avenue branch, 4856 W. Chicago Ave.; North Austin branch, 5724 W. North Ave.; and the Galewood Montclare Branch, 6871 W. Belden Ave. The exact operating hours vary, so patrons should check the library website to see when they’re open.

CONTACT: igorst3@hotmail.com  

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...