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Champaign Public Library constructions begins for new expansion

by Aliza Majid

A newly renovated activity space at the Champaign Public Library is set to open to the public this summer.

The 8,000-square-foot expansion project is called “The Studio” and will be predominantly used as a teen space for students to utilize after school

Since the current teen space can only accommodate around 80 people it becomes difficult to handle the estimated 150 to 200 students who come after school every day.

“It can get crowded especially in the space where we have computers upstairs for teens. We anticipate with the new space and also demand in general we’ll get more and more middle and high schoolers visiting so this will allow us to accommodate them a lot easier,” Mike Rogalla, the Children's Services Manager at the Library said.

The Studio will be able to hold many more events and expand its inventory with maker space machines, recording studios, a computer lab, a gaming area, and many new installments as they continue to design the area.

“This will allow for that after-school crowd to have their own space where they can connect and create and do fun projects together after school,” Tricia Duzan, the Deputy Director of the library said.

These new services will not be limited to teens as the library plans to host workshops for different community needs.

“We also have business initiatives that will focus on developing small business ideas and work with them and do something that will require this equipment you could sample before you make that investment,” Duzan said.

This new expansion will also include a new staircase that will lead right into The Studio space from the main level. Currently, the only way to get to the lower level is by using the elevator which also affects people’s access to the library’s bookshop since it’s in the basement.

“It’s going to provide easier access for friends' bookshops down in the lower level that’ll be right adjacent to the space so people won’t have to wait for an elevator to get down there and they have the option to use a stairwell,” Rogalla said.

The library renovations' projected cost is $3.2 million which the Champaign Library Foundation, the City of Champaign, and Friends of the Library have funded.

“You can sense the excitement a couple of weeks ago when we built the temporary wall. It generated a lot of excitement from the community and I think the staff has really enjoyed talking about it. This will really give us a great space for them to learn and hang out and learn new skills,” Duzan said.

The library hopes for the renovations to be complete by fall in order to help students during the new academic year.

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