Revised February 22, 2011
The Helen M. Plum Memorial Library opened in 1928 in a home bequeathed to the Village by Colonel William Plum in 1927. You can read a modern, typed copy of Colonel Plum's Will, Click Here.
For the original document of Colonel Plum's Will, Click Here.
Colonel Plum's Indenture is also available for viewing. Click Here to view Colonel Plum's Indenture.
From 1928 to 1962, the Library was housed in his home on Park Avenue. The Library Board obtained the current site at 110 West Maple in a land trade with the Lombard Park District in order to build a new two-story Library on Maple Street. This building opened in 1963.
The original 1963 Library comprised a two-story, 12,000 square foot building, with Young People's Services and a meeting room on the second floor, and Adult Services and Circulation on the first floor.
A 22,300 square foot addition to the Library was completed in 1978, creating the current Library building of 34,300 square feet. Adult and Young People's Services are on the ground floor, with offices and meeting space on the second floor, and a large meeting room in the basement. Voters approved a bond issue and an increase in the operating tax rate in 1976, the last time such approval was given.
The 1978 addition took land from Lilacia Park, and in exchange for that, the Park District was given 1,825 square feet of office space for 20 years on the second floor of the new building. They moved to new offices on Parkside in 1998, when the 20-year agreement ended. The second floor space was then converted to office, meeting and training spaces for the Library.
According to a perpetual intergovernmental agreement signed in 1980, neither the Park District nor the Library can build anything in the air space over the addition, west and north of the original 2-story building, without the written permission of the other party. This means that any larger Library building, which would obviously intrude into that air space, needs the permission of the Park District. Additionally, the Park District owns the driveway which adjoins the Library on the west edge, so building over or under that, or incorporating it into new building plans, needs Park District approval.
As our long-range planning efforts, begun in 1999, indicated the need for a larger building, the Library hired Library Planning Associates, Inc., who developed a space needs study in February 2001 that calls for 79,000 square feet, enough room for the Library for at least the next 20 years.
This report is in the Library's reference collection--call number REF DESK 022.3 / DAH
At the same time, the Library hired an architectural and engineering firm to investigate use of the DuPage Theater, for which the Village was accepting proposals by May, 2000, for adaptive reuse. The architects reported that the theater was not suitable from an architectural design point of view, nor was it deemed large enough to accommodate the Library building and necessary parking spaces. There were also concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety, and underground water.
The Library hired the same firm to investigate the possibility of other sites in town that would be somewhat centrally located and convenient to residents. Since the Library preferred to have parking all on the street level, this called for a five-acre site, which was unavailable. The Library also asked the Village staff to be alert for other sites, but none were found.
In 2000, the Library Board looked at other properties. They contacted property owners on Main Street, including MidCity Beauty Supply and the Masonic Lodge, but found those to be unavailable for sale at that time.
In November, 2000, anticipating the possibility of building on our current site, the Library Board bought the house and garage next door at 126 West Maple, as well as the empty lot next to the house. Eventually the house will be either moved or demolished to make room for the Library expansion that will occupy that land, but at this time, the house is not available for sale.
In April, 2002, the Library hired KJWW, an engineering firm, to evaluate the condition of the present building with respect to its mechanical, structural, electrical and plumbing systems. They found that while the building is well built and sound, it was never designed to accommodate an addition on the roof plaza deck.
Click here for a copy of this report
From September 2002 to May 2003, the Library Board worked with the Village to try to create a plan to build a 79,000 square foot building in the parking lot on the north side of Maple Street, at 24 West Maple. Those discussions were unsuccessful, due to a lack of space for both the building and adequate parking.
In the summer of 2003, the Library Board asked the Park District about a land swap. They offered a site at Southland Park, which was not suitable due to its proximity to ball fields and a retention pond, its relatively small size, a location that was too far from the center of town, and financial considerations.
A long-range plan was created in March, 2001 with community input. Among other things, it called for more building space. Many people said they'd like to see the Library remain in the downtown area. After investigating other sites in town, and especially the DuPage Theater site, the Library Board resolved to remain on its current site.
Two public forums were held at the Village Hall in June and July 2002, at which time the Library's needs for more space and the findings of an engineering study on our current building's ability to be expanded or remodeled were explained. Neither part of the current structure was designed to hold another addition. Tentative costs for construction on the current site were also shared at that time. Although this plan is not current, you can see the cost document in our reference collection, call number REF 022.3 PLU.
The Library Board sought community input and suggestions. In February and March, 2004, the Library hosted public tours of the building, and at each one citizens were able to view the entire building, including the second floor, and discuss the project with a Trustee and ask questions.
If anyone wishes a tour of the building, or has ideas on any topic, feel free to contact Library Director Bob Harris at 656-6901 or Email Library Director Bob Harris.
Needs for a new, larger Library building:
Since 1978, the Library has added more kinds of materials, such as videotapes, DVDs, books on tape, and software for loan. Services such as public-use computers for Internet access and paid databases, more staff, and more programming for children and adults have also been added. The collection has grown from 101,000 items to 234,000 items.
The Library needs more space to accommodate:
· A much larger collection of books, audio visual and electronic materials
· Additional reading tables and chairs
· Small group study rooms
· Additional meeting room space
· Additional workstations for databases and the Internet
· Listening / viewing stations for audio visual materials
· Staff office and desk space
· A small room for refreshments from vending machine for the public
· A storage room for Friends of the Library and other supportive groups
· More restrooms
· More and better parking, including more handicapped spaces
· General storage
Besides giving more space, a new building will improve functionality. It would provide:
· Separate areas for children and adults
· ADA improvements
· Cabling and temperature control for automation equipment
· Replacement of an obsolete, poorly functioning heating and air conditioning system
· A safer way to return materials from the street
· Copy machines, online catalogs and computers throughout the building
· Flexibility to respond to changing patron needs and trends in automation
· Height-appropriate shelving for children's materials
Isn't everything on the Internet?
People ask about the future of public libraries, and wonder why we need a library when, as some may claim, "Everything is on the Internet". This is a false belief. While the Internet is a powerful, useful tool, good for current, factual information, it is less useful when you need to study a subject in depth, or for pleasure reading. Most of what libraries own, including expensive subscription databases, is not available for free on the Internet. Further, Internet sites are frequently unreliable, are not always factual, and are increasingly becoming pay-for-use sites. Good library service, into the foreseeable future, means a blend of print, audio visual, and electronic sources, as well as the Internet. Further, a library building provides space for programs and story times, group workspace, individual quiet study areas, and trained staff to guide patrons on their search through the complex world of information, including efficient searching on the Internet.
In November 2001, the Library hired the architectural firm of Burnidge Cassell Associates of Elgin to study the current building, the Long Range Plan and the Building Plan, and recommend what is the most effective, functional, and cost-effective method to gain more space. Architect Michael Mackey submitted their report to the Library Board July 9, 2002.
From May, 2003 to March, 2004, the Library Board focused its plans on demolishing the current building, and building a new building on the current site. Conceptual schemes were on display in the Library. The Park District had given tentative approval to build into their air space over the current building, pending development of an intergovernmental agreement. There would be parking in three locations: 1) within the building, 2) on the south side of Maple next to Calvary Church, and 3) in the north parking lot, which will be owned by Elmhurst Hospital. Daytime parking would increase from 44 spaces to 138 spaces. Elmhurst Hospital agreed to work with us to allow additional evening and weekend parking in their new clinic's parking lot.
Burnidge, Cassell Associates of Elgin, architects, designed a three level building with the basement level, entirely underground. That level, with many skylights admitting daylight into the space, was dedicated to Adult Services. This would provide more natural lighting than we currently have in both our Young Peoples and Adult Services areas. It included adult materials, a teen area, an information commons, a large quiet study room for individual study, and smaller 4-person study rooms.
The street level had sheltered parking for 32 cars, including five handicapped spaces, just west of the driveway that leads to the Park District's coach house. East of the driveway was the first floor of the building, containing the Circulation Department, meeting rooms, copiers, and some collections and display space.
The top floor, with views of Lilacia Park and Maple Street, held Young People's Services. It also included a story time room, study rooms, and offices and staff areas.
The Park District Board of commissioners expressed concern over the size of the new building, and its appearance as seen from Lilacia Park. In order to address the Park District’s concerns, the new building design included 36,000 square feet on a lower level, a grass-covered roof to replace the existing concrete plaza, movement of the front face of the building 17 feet closer to Maple Street and the north edge, that borders Lilacia Park,15 feet farther South away from the Park, a roof that is only about 11 feet higher than the current one, and a driveway for their use that is twice as wide as the current one. See the profile drawing.
The Park District was also concerned about the larger building casting a greater shadow on the lilacs and other plantings. In fact, because the existing concrete plaza would be replaced by a sloping grass-covered roof, the shadow cast by the new building when the sun is at its lowest point (December 21) would actually intrude less into the Park than it does now. See enclosed drawing.
The Library would keep the Plum memorabilia we currently have. We wanted the Library and Lilacia Park to be harmonious, with views of the Park from our second floor Young People's room. No land would be taken from Lilacia Park. The Library Board worked very closely with the Park Board, who had reviewed our drawings, to ensure that the Library does not overshadow or detract from views in Lilacia Park.
If the March 2004, referendum had been approved by the voters, construction would have begun no earlier than 2005, and would end in 18 months to 2 years. The Library Board would rent space elsewhere in town for a temporary library. The Village had promised to help us to find a location that has enough room, a strong enough floor to hold the collection, and adequate parking.
The Library Board held two referenda at the March 16, 2004, primary election. (By law, we can only hold a referendum during the time of a regularly scheduled election.) One question was to ask voter approval to raise taxes to sell $23,500,000 in bonds to pay for the building. This covers the construction cost, furniture and equipment, fees, surveys, and reimbursement for purchase of the property next door. Using 2003 figures and loan rates, this would have cost the owner of a $200,000 market value home an additional $100 per year for a 20 year loan, using December 2003 interest rates.
A second referendum question asked voters for approval for a permanent tax increase for operations, raising the maximum allowable tax rate from the current 25 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation, to 31 cents. This would fund costs necessary for a larger building, including maintenance, utilities, and staffing. It would cost the owner of a $200,000 market value home an additional $38 per year, based on a 2002 tax bill.
A citizen's committee worked very hard to help with the referendum. The referenda both failed, however. The first question results, for the general obligation bonds ($23,500,000), was:
YES: 4,072 (44.05%)
NO: 5,173 (55.95%)
For the increase in operating tax rate (6 cents per $100 EAV), results were.
YES: 3,858 (41.67%)
NO: 5,393 (58.33%)
The Library is interested in learning from those who voted "no", why they did so. Please feel free to contact the Director, Bob Harris, at 630-627-0316, or Email Library Director Bob Harris
A citizen's survey:
In October, 2004, the Library Board conducted a statistically reliable telephone survey of Lombard residents concerning the failed 2004 referendum. Volunteers asked questions about awareness of the Library's earlier referendum, voters' feelings about the Library plans, and best site for a new Library, among other things. The full survey report is available from Bob Harris, Library Director. Email Library Director Bob Harris
Summary results follow:
Lack of awareness is not the reason for the referendum failure. Voters were well aware of the expansion and the referendum (86%). In fact, more people were aware of the Library plan, and held an opinion about it, than any other village issue.
Major reasons for the referendum failure from those who said they would vote "yes" were the cost of temporary quarters and the scale of the proposed expansion, representing about 30% of the "yes" voters. From the "no" voters, major concerns were the sheer cost and "unacceptable parts of the plan", which could mean anything from parking to architectural design issues. The scale of the plan was not as much an issue for them.
Voters who supported the referendum agreed that the expansion was necessary, and 84% agreed to increased taxes. However, some objected to the cost of temporary quarters during construction, the size of the expansion, and overall cost.
The Library Board understands that a key implication of the survey is the need to communicate specific plan details and the benefits to residents. Both opponents and supporters asked why the Library doesn't use the 2nd floor (it is being fully used now by the Library), the house next door (the Village won't allow that, due to its non-fireproof construction), or better utilize existing space.
75% concurred the Library should be downtown, at the current site if possible (whether in the existing building or a new building), or at least another downtown location. Only 6% would choose Southland Park as a first choice.
Since the referendum:
In late June, 2004, the Library Board asked the Park Board what the Library should do to gain Park Board approval for a new, larger Library on the current site. The Park Board had objected to the plans for a 79,000 square foot building, saying it is too large for the site, and suggested reducing the plan to 50,000 or 60,000 square feet. The Park Board also reiterated their offer for a swap of less than 3 acres of land in Southland Park in exchange for the Library's properties on Maple Street.
The Library Board investigated space reductions, and explained to the Park Board in December, 2004 that although some minor reductions might meet the needs of Lombard residents, a reduction to 50,000 or 60,000 square feet was not feasible or realistic.
On January 25, 2005, the Library Board asked the Park Board to allow an additional 11 feet in height for a new building, and the Park Board voted "no".
To confirm numerous earlier verbal discussions between the Library and various Village staff, in June, 2005, the Library Board notified the Village Board in writing of its desire to be informed of available properties in the downtown area for a new Library, including but not limited to the DuPage Theater site.
During 2006 and 2007, the Library Board developed an intergovernmental agreement with the Park Board, certifying the Park Board's wishes for a new building. Essentially, they asked that a library expansion to the west not be more than two stories in height above ground. The agreement included moving the existing driveway which the Park District uses as access to Lilacia Park, to the west and north ends of the properties at 126/130 W. Maple St. This would give the Library one continuous piece of land on which to build. This driveway land exchange was completed on April 18, 2008.
To clarify its intent once the driveway is moved, the Library Board resolved in January, 2007, that “it is the intent of the Library Board of Trustees to obtain contiguous property to explore design options for a larger Library”.
In April, 2007, the Library Board adopted the following resolution, concerning a location for a Library building:
The Helen Plum Memorial Library Board of Trustees resolves the following:
1. That keeping our Library in the downtown district of Lombard serves not only our existing community interests, but also our future community interests given the anticipated development of additional downtown housing.
2. That our Library’s unique historical linkage to Lilacia Park should be given special consideration with respect to the legacy of Colonel Plum and his wife Helen in light of the fact that Colonel Plum donated both their home to our village for our Library, and their adjacent garden for our Park.
3. That said historical significance between the Helen Plum Memorial Library and Lilacia Park should be given serious consideration by the Library’s Board of Trustees prior to any consideration of alternative sites.
4. That past negotiations and agreements by previous Library and Park Boards, which may have resulted in less than desirable accommodations, be put behind each party toward the future interests of our community.
5. That the successful negotiation of a property exchange between the Helen Plum Memorial Library and the Lombard Park District for the existing Park District driveway which currently prevents the Library from expanding westward be a continuing priority in that the exchange would allow the Library to expand and still allow the Park District access to their coach house.
6. That our Library must continue to pursue all available means to provide the village of Lombard with the most efficient, state of the art and cost effective Library possible. Toward this goal we have selected a space planning expert to optimize our existing facilities.
In April, 2007, the Library Board hired DesignGroup, an architectural firm that specializes in libraries, to see how we can make better use of our existing space. The report was submitted in October, 2007, and is available for public review in our reference collection, at REF 022.3 HEL.
The study recommended significant changes which were beyond the Library’s means.
In anticipation of the Library obtaining the existing Park District driveway property, and assuming the house would be demolished, the Board also hired DesignGroup in September, 2007, to present various options for expansion, using the property where the house now stands. This study is available for public review in our reference collection, at REF 022.3 HEL.
It shows eight different conceptual schemes for use of the property at 126 W. Maple, from a parking lot to a two story building with a basement, tied into a reorganized original building.
The Library Director presented the Library Board with a scaled down reorganization plan, which would meet many of the immediate needs of the community. It was approved, and a reorganization project was begun in June, 2009. See the article on this web page “Library Reorganization” for more information.
People often ask why other options besides a larger library can't work. Here are some answers.
"Why don't you use the existing house next door that you bought in 2000?"
We cannot use that house as it stands, since it is not fireproof construction, and Village code prohibits its use for library purposes. The Library Board has accepted a report from DesignGroup, an architectural firm that specializes in libraries, that provides eight possible schemes for use of that property.
"Why don't you expand to the second floor?"
At the time of the referendum, the Library's second floor was already heavily used, as it contained the Technical Processing Department, which employs 10 people and handles ordering and cataloging of materials, and computer support, as well as the Business Office, Director's office, and two rooms used for staff and public meetings, Internet training, and children's programs. At this time, the second floor contains a large Adult Quiet Reading Room, the business office, the director’s office, the I.T. office, a small public conference room, a public Board room, and the Technical Processing Department.
"Why not just expand over the plaza deck?"
We investigated putting on a 2nd floor addition over the plaza deck, and found it was not functional. The deck was never designed to hold more weight. Of course, this is the area for which the Park District would have to give permission if we built on it. Further, it would not provide the necessary space.
"Why not build somewhere else in Lombard?"
The Library's first priority for a site is a downtown location, and we are not aware of a site downtown that is currently available, and that is large enough.
"Why not build a branch?"
This would be a costly duplication of materials and staff, and would not solve the problems of the current building, which would still be used by the majority of our patrons. Our phone survey showed that 77% of Lombard wanted us to either keep the Library as it is, or build a new Library on the current site or somewhere else downtown.
For more information …
Contact Bob Harris, Director, at 630-656-6901 or Email Library Director Bob Harris
Write the Director or Trustees c/o the Library at 110 W. Maple, Lombard, 60148
Come to a monthly Board meeting, the second Tuesday of each month, at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are held in the second floor Board room.