Champaign Public Library begins construction for its latest project
CHAMPAIGN — Construction began in January for the Champaign Public Library’s newest addition, which officials said will ideally be open by the beginning of the next academic year.
The addition, which they’re calling The Studio, will be a space dedicated to the teenagers who visit the library after school.
The Studio will occupy 8,000 square feet of space in the library’s basement, which will be used for afterschool programming for teenagers, said Brittany Millington, the library’s director.
“Right now, we have approximately 150 to 200 teens who visit the library every day after school, which is a really wonderful thing to see happening in our community,” Millington said. “So this new area will really allow us to enhance our offerings in a more designated space, and we’re really excited to be able to do this.”
The library already offers afterschool programs for teenagers in some of its current meeting rooms, but Millington said The Studio’s technology space will innovate the library.
She said the area will include a computer lab, a gaming area, an arts and crafts space and recording studios with sound booths for podcasting.
“A lot of the activities for this space that we were envisioning really enhance what we've currently been doing after school and just allow us to offer those types of activities on a new level,” she said.
The library board also has plans for The Studio to eventually provide programming for adults as well and said more information about adult opportunities will be coming this spring or summer, Millington said.
When the library was initially built, she said, its original board designed its basement to support the development of future projects.
“The board at that time had authorized the development of the lower level thinking, ‘One day, we might want to grow the space,’” she said. “And so sure enough, here we are about 15 years later, actually developing that idea out.
“So there was definitely the recognition that one day the library might need to grow.”
The Studio project involves the creation of a staircase that will lead to the library’s lower level, so until it opens, the basement can only be accessed by elevator, Millington said.
The project’s total cost is about $3.2 million, which was funded by the city of Champaign, the Champaign Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Champaign Public Library, Millington said.
Cecile Steinberg, director of the Friends of the Library, said her volunteer organization donated about $50,000 to the creation of The Studio, which it raised via its used bookshop located in the library’s basement.
Steinberg said she’s excited about The Studio because more people will become aware of the FriendShop when visiting the lower level. She said she hopes more people will begin visiting the shop once The Studio opens.
“Up until now, there was one way to get down to our bookshop, and many people never knew about the bookshop,” she said. “And we expect that now we're going to have many more people aware of our shop and hopefully making use of it.”
It’s good for libraries to provide a space for activities that people might not be able to access otherwise, Steinberg said
“The public library serves everybody, and regardless of age, gender, of religion, of mental capacity, of physical capacity, of color, everybody is welcomed at the library,” she said.
It’s important for teenagers to be engaged in activities that will develop their hobbies and potential career interests, Millington said
“If you get young people and children focused on healthy activities very early on in a safe and healthy environment, they're more likely to carry that with them as young adults and moving into adulthood,” she said. “And I think that that's absolutely what we're here to do.”
She said she hopes to see The Studio open before school begins in fall 2023.