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County library to build new location in Griffith, close two nearby branches

The Children's Service department where assistant librarian Jodi (cq) Garciworks is making best renovatiproject underway mabranch Lake County Library Merrillville

The Children's Service department, where assistant librarian Jodi (cq) Garcia works, is making the best of a renovation project underway at the main branch of the Lake County Library in Merrillville, Ind. Thursday October 13, 2011. The department has created black tape frames on a temporary construction wall where children's artwork is displayed. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 16, 2011 3:15PM



The Lake County Public Library is planning to build a new location that will replace both the Griffith and 41st Avenue branches.

The new location will be on the northeast corner of 45th Avenue and Colfax Street in Griffith.

It will be built at the same time as the central library’s 18-month renovation and expansion project, which started last month. The Merrillville location will get a new handicapped-accessible entrance, additional meeting rooms, a new brick exterior, a drive-through book drop and a more efficient heating and cooling system.

The Griffith project is expected to break ground next spring, and officials hope it will be complete by fall 2012 or spring 2013.

Assistant Director Ana Grandfield said both branches are more than 40 years old and need additional wiring to serve patrons’ technology needs.

“We can’t afford to have two branches less than mile and half away,” she said. “The new location will offer better hours and services. Computer use has gone up so much, and the government is requiring more and more things done by Internet, such as unemployment. People also come into the library for testing, to work on resumes, apply for jobs. Children have to get homework done, but a lot of students don’t have that access at home.”

The building will be much larger — about 19,000 square feet — than the current locations. It will eclipse the combined square footage of the Griffith (8,800 square feet) and 41st Avenue (4,000 square feet) branches.

Grandfield said library officials have met with zoning officials in Griffith to make sure they didn’t need a zoning variance, as well as county officials about traffic on Colfax Street.

“I commend Griffith because they really helped us,” Grandfield said. “They’re thrilled about having a larger location. It’s nice to be wanted.”

The library held a pre-bid meeting at the site Thursday morning to answer questions from potential contractors. They are accepting proposals for site work until Oct. 25.

Grandfield said Skillman Construction is working on a feasibility study to see how much they can spend on the new branch. Tom Kuhn of Schererville firm Carras-Szany-Kuhn and Associates, P.C., is the project architect.

“With the renovation at central library, we’re finding that everything is costing so much more,” Grandfield said. “We do have money set aside, but we can’t cut that much.”

The branch will include a dedicated children’s room, an adult community room, more computers and a browsing and reference area. Grandfield said a planned courtyard may be axed if finances are tight.



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