Morton Grove Library looking at space issues again
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:49AM
Pam Leffler is well aware of the “turmoil” that accompanied the previous discussion of space issues at the Morton Grove Public Library.
That’s why, while she wants to deal with what has been a problem at the library for many years, any talk of a new building is off the table.
Leffler, executive director of the library, raised the issue with the Morton Grove Library board at a special meeting last week in a preliminary way.
“We’ve started discussions with the board,” she said. “I want to make sure the board is on board with it. I think we’re all committed to moving forward.”
The last time the library board discussed the space issue, one of the alternatives members looked at was building a new library. That was promoted in part by former director Ben Schapiro and had the support of several library board members.
The board looked at options for a new building, including possible locations and funding.
Those discussed prompted a successful challenge to incumbent board members that put control of the board in the hands of members opposed to raising taxes to finance a new building.
It also prompted Schapiro’s departure from the library.
Leffler, who took over the post last year, said she is well aware of the problems that surrounded the earlier talks about space.
At the same time, though, she said it is something the library needs to address.
The current building opened in 1952. The auditorium was added in 1980, and that was the last addition to the building.
Since then, officials have from time to time done some remodeling in an effort to better utilize the existing space.
Among the problems has been the addition over the years of new technology and materials. Computers, DVDs and similar new offerings have all taken their toll on space.
Leffler said, most recently, some remodeling was done in 2007 to create additional space for staff. “It has become very quickly filled up,” she said.
Leffler said the library paid for needs assessments done by private firms in 1998 and 2010.
Among the proposals in the last study were construction of an addition to the exiting building or building a new library at a larger site.
Leffler said at this point she is not proposing yet another study.
“We don’t want to waste money and have somebody tell us the same thing again,” Leffler said. “Those things are not economically feasible at this point.”
But even reconfiguration or remodeling of the existing space is not without problems, Leffler said.
For one, some areas of the library still have asbestos. Though the material is safely encapsulated now, even running a new computer cable could pose a problem.
“We can’t just run one more data cable though the floor,” Leffler said.
“It’s (asbestos) currently not a health hazard, but it’s something we have to take into account.”
Leffler said that the staff has just started looking again at the space issues, and there is no real timetable for coming up with a recommendation.
“Right now we’re at a very preliminary point,” she said. “I’m warming with the board.”