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New Exhibition Gallery, Expanded Bookstore Coming To Newberry Library In $11M Renovation

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 9, 2017 9:49PM

One of Chicago's oldest library institutions is undergoing a major new renovation.

An $11 million, six-month upgrade will bring a host of new amenities to the first floor of the the Newberry Library, the free, historic research space on the Near North Side. Renovations include an information center, where visitors can learn about the library and register; an expanded bookstore; a new seminar room, where patrons can go through collection material; and perhaps most excitingly, a permanent exhibition gallery.

Other changes include an ADA-accessible entrance and digital signage out front. They'll also strip away some of the "fortress-like" fencing on the exterior. The library faces "a bit of a fight when it comes to the nature of the building; it can be on the imposing side," Alex Teller, Director of Communications for Newberry Library, told Chicagoist.

The project will begin in January, 2018. The library has so far secured 40 percent of the funds needed for the estimated $11 million cost.

“We consider ourselves a community of learning that flourishes both within our walls and beyond them. But the Newberry is, first and foremost, a physical space built on bringing our users into direct contact with the legacy of the past and into conversation with one another and our staff,” said Newberry President David Spadafora. “In renovating our first floor, we are not just strengthening this community bond but providing our visitors with new opportunities for engaging with our collections, our staff, and other readers and lifelong learners.”

The library hasn't decided what its first exhibition will be for the new gallery. But we know it'll include "a rotating selection of highlights from our collection," according to Teller, with books, maps and manuscripts. Perhaps selections from the Women's March protest archive would make a nice debut?