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Editor’s note: The following is a letter – in its entirety as intended – from Racine Public Library Executive Director, Angela Zimmerman. Links have been added to provide easy access to more information.

Dear Community Members,

We are embarking upon an exciting time as we prepare the Racine Public Library for its second-floor renovation, and we could not be more thrilled. This renovation is crucial to help our current building serve us for years to come while adapting in how we bring literacy to Racine County. Our building has of course served us well, but as Racine grows and changes, the library must follow. The library of the 2020s, in essence, must offer new technology and increasingly human-centered services. It also must be easier and more enjoyable to use. Our renovation will adapt us to these needs, better helping our community find resources, attend events, get support, study, discover, relax and collaborate.

Libraries have been undergoing this shift from collections to connections for many years. While checking out books and other items remains an important part of library services, we’ve noticed an increase in our patrons’ requests for human services to meet their basic needs. As the library transforms, it will soon be able to accommodate requests for new meeting spaces and welcome visitors to an upgraded Innovation Lab, Teen Space and History Room.

The library will be easier to reach, as well, once we add a second entrance to the downtown side of the building along Lake Avenue and a new staircase at its main entrance. The building will also become a new haven for our community’s creators, offering a recording studio, better browsing for our Beyond Books collection, and more. I’m thrilled to be guiding our library through this transition. By providing new services that transform the purpose and definition of libraries, we open options for Racine and support its well-being, learning and innovation for years to come.

The next time you enter the library, you’ll notice shelves and items moving to different parts of the library as we prepare to embark on full construction. This includes our second-floor computers, which will be relocated to the northwest corner of the building. We will strive to keep all services, resources and items as easy to use as possible while building is in progress. If you need assistance finding anything, our staff will be happy to help.

Our contractors will begin setting up partition walls for construction on May 5, and construction will be in full swing by May 20. Our first phase of construction will entail building our brand-new staircase, working on the new Lake Avenue entrance (including removal of the outdoor concrete where the entrance will be) and remodeling in the southeast corner of the second floor where our Business Center and flex study spaces will emerge. During this first phase, the first-floor bathrooms in our lobby will be inaccessible, so please plan to use the second-floor bathrooms instead.

You’ll also see the library’s team out and about in the community more often throughout our renovation. Be sure to visit us at the library parking lots for our free Spring into Summer event on May 14, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also coming up are our 125th Anniversary Block Party on Lake Avenue on July 16, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., as well as new additions this summer to our Library GO! fleet of mobile libraries. We can’t wait to see you and show you all that we’ve been working on.

We’ll share regular updates through our newsletter, social media channels, website and local papers so you know what to expect of your visits throughout this process, which we expect to last until early 2023. Visit RacineLibrary.info/renovation to learn more.

Yours in literacy,
Angela Zimmermann
Executive Director
Racine Public Library

About the Racine Public Library

The Racine Public Library’s mission is to lift up the lives of the people of the Racine community by embracing community diversity, promoting inclusion, creating opportunity and by supporting the development of community literacy through a love of literature, learning and civic engagement. Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan, the library first opened its doors in 1897 and has served the community from its 75th Street location since 1958.

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