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Window of opportunity: New changes ahead for Sycamore Public Library

February 2, 2019

SYCAMORE – To see changes at the Sycamore Public Library, you don’t have to venture inside. You only have to stand at the corner of State and Main streets to see the two boarded-up windows.

The windows in the Carnegie section of the library are original to the building, which was built in 1905. The building was made possible with a partial grant from the Carnegie Foundation, which was starting libraries throughout the country at the time.

Earlier this month, the library’s windows were dislodged from their casings and were flapping in the

45 mph winds, shortly after a library board meeting let out.

“We actually just talked about replacing the windows, by June anyway, with a grant from the state,” said library executive director Monica Dombrowski. “The windows are not energy efficient, and there were problems with the seals.”

About $25,000 already has been set aside for the project, which could cost $80,000 to $100,000. A Coins for Carnegie drive has been established, and patrons can donate in jars at the library.

An all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner is planned from 4 to 8 p.m. March 1 at the Sycamore VFW, 121 S. California St., and proceeds will go toward new windows. Tickets for the dinner cost $15 for adults, $8 for ages 6 to 9 and free for ages 5 and younger. Tickets can be bought at the library or the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce office, 407 W. State St., Suite 10.

“Our library building was always a library, built and created with the plan of a library in mind,” Dombrowski said. “The library has changed over the years. For example, it didn’t have air conditioning when it was built. By replacing the windows with the same white sills and look, we will be keeping the building’s historic charm. The library and its building will continue to be a crown jewel of the community.”

Dombrowski also mentioned other projects underway at the library, including bilingual programming; a Book Bike with outreach activities that can help patrons check out books at community events by using a library card and scanner; ChYoga, a new chair-based yoga for adults, seniors or people with mobility challenges; and a new summer reading theme, with ideas and theme suggestions due by March 1.

“The library world is very busy, and the Sycamore Public Library is no exception,” Dombrowski said. “There are a lot of changes underway, changes we’re excited to share with the community.”

The largest change is the Joiner History Room moving from the second floor of the library to its new location, 1730 N. Main St. in Sycamore. The Joiner History Room and the Sycamore History Museum have joined to create the DeKalb County History Center.

The Joiner History Room moved to the library in June 1998 from the basement of the DeKalb County Courthouse. It will begin its move to the DeKalb County History Center in early March and the move likely will be complete by the end of March.

Part of the library’s new strategic plan includes reviewing the library’s overall space to see if it is best utilized for patrons, and to decide what should be done with space occupied by the Joiner History Room.

“One of our concerns is the proximity of the teen and adult space,” Dombrowski said. “Teens are loud and energetic and adults use the library for quiet study and reading. Part of our plan is to look into the positives and negatives of having the teen and adult sections so close together.”

Additional changes already made at the library include repaving the parking lot in September, cleaning the carpets and raising the height and narrowing the width of the circulation desk.

Jessica Sus of Genoa often visits the Sycamore library and said she has noticed the upgrades and changes, including the boarded-up windows.

“I love stopping by the library to check out a stack of books and then hunker down and curl up with a good book at home,” Sus said. “My husband and I visit the library often and noticed the boarded-up windows. We just hope they get fixed soon. The library doesn’t look the same with boards for windows.”

Curtis Valasek began as the library’s adult service and volunteer coordinator in early January and said he already loves his job because the Sycamore Public Library isn’t like other libraries.

“Coming from the suburbs, this library has a much smaller feel and you don’t feel lost inside,” Valasek said. “Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and they truly make the library feel like home.”

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