News - Joliet and Will County

Joliet ushers in ‘new era’ for downtown library branch

Renovations include new youth services, expanded Digital Media Studion and Local History Room

Joliet celebrated the recreation of the downtown library branch on Friday and will mark the transformation again on Saturday, with a public open house.

Library Executive Director Megan Millen vowed that “a new era for Joliet library services will dawn” as she cut a ribbon for the Friday event, suggesting just how much she and others believe the library has changed with the $10.5 million renovation.

The event for invited guests include former state Sen. Pat McGuire, who secured a $6.3 million state grant that Millen said “literally saved the project.”

The library showed its appreciation by creating “The McGuire Room” in space that is on the first floor of the library.

Also at the celebration was Lionel Richie via video as the Joliet native who went on to fame as a singer and songwriter delivered his own congratulatory note to the library.

“I, Lionel Richie, want you to know I am coming back to see that library because I spent some time there,” Richie said in the video.

The Joliet Public Library building at 150 North Ottawa Street, was built in 1903 and was designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham.

The renovation was dubbed Project Burnham.

Changes include vastly expanded technological services with a larger Digital Media Studio and an Industrial Lab that now has nine 3D printers.

The youth library now has an interactive play area for children. The Teen Hub provides a game room and gathering place for teens.

Longtime Joliet residents get a Local History Room that provides comfortable quarters for research and reading beyond the cramped corner previously devoted to local history.

The library wants the public to visit the renovated downtown branch during a community event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In addition to guided tours, there will be a petting zoo, mini-golf and costumed book characters for families.