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Public library’s historical restoration complete

Scaffolding covers the front of the Sycamore Public Library Thursday afternoon as the building is getting a facelift to bring it back to its original beauty.
Scaffolding covers the front of the Sycamore Public Library Thursday afternoon as the building is getting a facelift to bring it back to its original beauty.

SYCAMORE – Historical restoration on the Sycamore Public Library, 103 E. State St., was completed Wednesday.

Restoration began in March on the 115-year-old library building.

The windows and windowsills of the Carnegie Building were restored. The windows were blown out by 45-mph wind gusts in January 2019. The windowsills were cracked and were letting in moisture. The Carnegie Building’s crown was missing metal leaves and the pediment over the original front door on State Street was restored, as well as the letters forming “Sycamore Public Library 1905.”

The historical restoration, which cost $104,000, was completed by Restoric LLC, based out of Chicago. Part of the project’s cost, $75,000, was funded by a state grant by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The remainder of the money for the project was covered by the Carnegie Window Fund that former Board President Yvonne Johnson worked to establish years ago.

“Our library is 115 years old and still standing and still in operation,” the library’s executive director Monica Dombrowski said. “Our restoration shows how important tradition and the past are to Sycamore and the community. It’s the perfect example of what the library does: honor the past and history while continuing to change and look forward to the innovative future.”

Inside the library, a $15,000 grant from Meijer allowed a wall to be torn down, revealing three original wrought iron bookshelves from 1905. Pillars were built to support the shelving.

While the library was closed during the pandemic, changes were made to the library’s second floor. The teen collection switched locations with the large print and historical collections. The teen space now is in a busier front area and the large print and historical collections have been moved to the quieter rear section.

Dombrowski said that although the restoration has been completed, there are a few additional projects “down the road.”

“We plan to remodel the youth space and add a conference room,” Dombrowski said. “But discussions and plans will start on those projects as soon as the pandemic slows down in this ever-changing climate.”

The library began offering curbside services at the beginning of June and reopened Monday. One of the patrons that recently visited the library, Dombrowski said, told her that the library should be considered an essential service.

“Everyone said that it’s amazing to be back inside the building because they missed us and the library so much,” Dombrowski said. “One patron said she didn’t realize how much entertainment, joy and education she received from the library, from programs, books and human interaction. So many needs can be fulfilled by the library.”

For information about the Sycamore Public Library, visit www.sycamorelibrary.org or call 815-895-2500.

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