The Completed Renovation Project of the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District

Our Process

During our evaluative process, we thought about community feedback, economies of scale and the future of our buildings. The projects begin as an effort to modernize our main floor meeting space and entrance ways in Winnetka and to address the bathrooms in Northfield.

During the evaluation of plans for the Winnetka building it became clear that there was no better time than now to address the longstanding asbestos issues. The board took the opportunity to use funds reserved for capital improvements to address this issue head-on adding additional scope and scale to the initial project. The entirety of the project has been funded by monies from our general operating and capital reserve funds. The total cost of the project will be just over $2.15 million.


The renovations undertaken were informed by our strategic plan, patron feedback and led by the following guiding principles:

Achieve building compliance, which will allow for future improvements and updates

  • Abatement of asbestos
  • Improvement of accessibility (bathrooms, entryway, future ramps)

Improve the in-library experience: a friendly, relaxed and comfortable community place:

  • Multigenerational, segmented space design (main room, quiet room, mezzanine)
  • Small group/study spaces
  • Comfort (furniture, lighting carpeting)

Strengthen customer service

  • Central customer service desk for a welcoming experience
  • Addition of RFID (Radio-frequency identification) technology
  • Self-service stations in both Adult (while retaining human option) and Youth (for convenience to our busy parents and caregivers.)
  • Automated return for faster turnaround and improved accuracy

Maintain and enhance the original mid-century modern style of the building while adding state-of-the-art improvements

  • Improved and energy efficient lighting throughout
  • New carpeting
  • Updated yet comfortable furniture


Feedback and comments were solicited from the public, through a community survey and through a series of Library open houses. The feedback highlighted the desire and need for new functional work and study spaces, as well as the need for general updates to the conditions of the Winnetka Library.

Study Rooms

We will have 3 study rooms that will be able to be reserved with a WNPLD card and will be outfitted with screens and powered tables for ease in functionality.

RFID Technology

The addition of RFID technology, providing self-check kiosk options in the Lobby and Youth Services areas and an automated return system. We will retain the same great level of service and staffing that you see in the Library every day. Self-checkout is an option in both Adult and Youth departments for those who prefer faster service during busy checkout times.

Bathroom Renovation

Renovation of existing bathrooms in Winnetka to make them ADA accessible

Lighting & General Updates

New LED lighting will provide a consistent level of light throughout the reading room, mezzanine, lobby, Lloyd room and adult areas of the Winnetka Library. A general refresh of the renovated space will include new carpeting, furniture, increased sound absorption and general life safety updates.

Hearing Loop

We are excited to have installed a Hearing Loop in the Lloyd room which will be helpful to our patrons who experience hearing loss. The hearing loop system is hearing aid compatible and inconspicuous for users as it delivers personalized in-the-ear sound which is customized by one’s own hearing aids.

In addition the District took the opportunity to upgrade life safety and security systems, including:

  • Security and Door Access Control System: Installed to protect the assets and the investment into the Library.
  • New Fire Alarm: Our updated fire alarm provides first responders a more accurate idea of where an issue is located and the type of issue happening within the building.

Breakdown of Costs

In May 2017, the board requested that the further investigation of the then proposed Lloyd Room and Lobby renovation be expanded to include the removal of the reading room ceiling that was known to contain asbestos. The investigation yielded approximate costs of $1.7 million with final costs to be calculated as the design phase was approved.

As we garnered community input and discussed further with staff and the architect, we made additional design choices including LED lighting and visually appealing and acoustically absorptive wood ceiling tiles for the reading room. In addition, we identified areas in need of additional lighting, new shelving for materials, additional acoustical materials for better sound absorption, updated furniture, a security system for the building, a highly sought-after addition of a hearing loop audio visual system to the Lloyd Room as well as other small but impactful improvements. In total our final construction budget was $2.1 million — our contractors did a good job of delivering our project right at that number.

The project was funded from reserves. The project cost breakdown can be viewed here.