“What is the Fountaindale Public Library District?” by S.M. O’Connor

The Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook, Illinois (an outer-ring western suburb of Chicago located in northern Will County and southern DuPage County) is a district library rather than a municipal library. It serves DuPage Township, a civil township in Will County not to be confused with DuPage County to the north. The Fountaindale Public Library District (F.P.L.D.) formerly served both Bolingbrook and Romeoville equally, as well as outlying areas within DuPage Township, but now most of Romeoville is served by the White Oak Public Library District.  A relatively small group of people started to call for its establishment in 1967, and it began operations with temporary quarters inside Park View School in Romeoville in 1970.  Three years later, a referendum passed that authorized the construction of two identical libraries in Bolingbrook and Romeoville that opened in 1975.  After passage of the referendum, the new library district held a contest to select a name and historian James D. Bingle won with his entry “Fountaindale Public Library District.”

This was a reference to the place name for the district where the first permanent settlers built their homesteads.  Brothers Steven and Willard Scott chose the location where the DuPage River forks into the East Branch and West Branch.[1]   In the 1850s, settlers called this region Fountaindale because of the abundance of natural springs around the DuPage River.  Dale is an old English word for hill, a reference to the topography of the landscape in the vicinity.

In 2004, a Citizens Planning Committee advocated expansion of the library in Bolingbrook to accommodate more books, computers, and programming space.  The Board of Trustees initiated a site survey, commissioned a telephone survey, and space needs assessment, and interviewed focus groups to determine if there was public support for a larger library, and, if so, if the present site would be a suitable place for it.  Ultimately, they found there was public support for a larger library and the present site was, indeed, suitable.

This site is on Briarcliff Road, across the street from the Bolingbrook Post Office, which is at the southwest corner of Briarcliff Road and Canterbury Lane.  The U.S. Post Office is east of the Bolingbrook Town Center.[2]  The Fountaindale Public Library building is itself east of the Bolingbrook Park District’s half-acre Erickson Park, which is roughly rectangular in shape, with a small spur that juts out to the east, north of the library and its parking lot.  The 19.2-acre Bulldog Park, which would be square-shaped if its northern boundary was not shaped by the contour of Blair Lane, is adjacent to Erickson Park, though only a small portion of it is.  From the perspective of librarians and library visitors, there are parks behind the library and to the side of it.  However, there is quite s lot of landscaping east of the parking lot, between the parking lot and Delaware Drive, so from the perspective of someone in Erickson Park or Bulldog Park, people living in the houses on the east side of Delaware across from the library, and pedestrians walking to or past the library from points east of Delaware, the library looks like it is sitting in a corner of a single vast park.  Bolingbrook High School is a few blocks to the southwest of the Fountaindale Public Library, so the library is conveniently placed for government workers who need to do research and high school students who need to do research, work on papers, or collaborate on group projects for school.  The parking lot wraps around the library building like an upside down capital L, with the long side east of the building and the short end north of the building.

The F.P.L.D. Board of Trustees had contracted with Owners Services Group as the owner’s representative and Nagle Hartray as architects by 2005.  In November of 2007, the Board of Trustees voted to place a referendum on funding construction of a library on the February 2008 primary election ballot.  When the Office of the Will County Clerk counted the absentee and provisional ballots, the referendum passed by a narrow margin.

By court order, in August of 2008, the F.P.L.D. Board of Trustees transferred to what was then called the Des Plaines Valley Library District (now the White Oak Public Library District).  This united most of Romeoville under one library district.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place one year later in August of 2009.  Construction of the new library building began after the site was cleared and a temporary parking lot was built.  The new library opened on Monday, March 7, 2011 and the old library building was subsequently demolished.

4Figure 1 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Fountaindale Public Library building, as seen from across the street (Delaware Drive), on Friday, September 28, 2018.  From this vantage point, we see there are two tree lines east of the library, the first one being between the parking lot and the sidewalk and the second one being between the sidewalk and the street.

5Figure 2 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is a close-up of the Fountaindale Public Library building, as seen from across the street (Delaware Drive), on Friday, September 28, 2018.

2Figure 3 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the Fountaindale Public Library building, as seen from beyond the inner tree line east of the building, on Friday, September 28, 2018.

3Figure 4 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is a close-up of the Fountaindale Public Library building, as seen from the tree line east of the building, on Friday, September 28, 2018.

1Figure 5 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the main entrance of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.  Please note the parking lot is largely empty in these pictures because I took them after the library had closed for the day.

6Figure 6 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is another view of the east side of the building, as seen from the parking lot on Friday, September 28, 2018.  On the east side of the building, a substantial part of the façade is a curtain wall.

7Figure 7 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: In addition to the Bookmobile, the Fountaindale Public Library District has the Library Express Van.

8Figure 8 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the north corner of the east side of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

9Figure 9 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the northeast corner of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.  This is another good vantage point to appreciate the various building materials and shapes of which the structure is comprised.

 

The Bookmobile is a full-service mobile library branch that has been in operation since 2003.  It provides scheduled stops around the district that are open to the public as well as visits to Bolingbrook preschools, schools, and senior citizen facilities.  Patrons can board the Bookmobile to browse for bestselling books, audiobooks, C.D.s, Playaways, and D.V.D.s for adults, teenagers, and children.  One can also apply for a library card and request to pick up materials on hold on the Bookmobile.

In summertime, the popular MOPs Puppet Shows are brought to the community live from the Bookmobile.  Each thirty-minute-long show is made up of two or three short acts filled with music and interactive elements.

One can follow the monthly schedule of the Bookmobile on this Webpage: http://communico.fountaindale.org/events?t=Bookmobile/Outreach.  Note that the Bookmobile will be out of service through Friday, October 26, 2018.

In September of 2017, the F.P.L.D. acquired a second vehicle to better serve the district.  The Library Express Van visits local senior citizen facilities and provides library services to all Bolingbrook middle schools and several preschools in the district.  Unlike with the Bookmobile, library patrons do not board the Bookmobile.  Instead Outreach Services staff members disembark to serve library patrons.  The Library Express Van is equipped with carts to roll into schools and other facilities.  The Outreach staff also uses the Library Express Van both to retrieve material from off-site book drops and to deliver materials to patrons who receive Home Delivery Service.

This service provides books and other library materials to patrons who are unable to visit the library building or Bookmobile due to temporary or long-term physical (or other medical) disabilities or lack of transportation, regardless of age.  Upon request, librarians can also help these patrons select materials and locate information on specific topics.  To benefit from this service, a patron should fill out a Home Delivery Service application and return it to the library.  [One must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the application.]  If one has a question, call Outreach Services at (630) 685-4230 or e-mail Outreach Services at outreach@fountaindale.org.  Once one has been approved for Home Delivery Service, one may request books, audiobooks, D.V.D.s, Playaways, magazines, music C.D.s, and more by calling or e-mailing Outreach Services, placing holds through the online card catalog, or through the postal service.  In the first three scenarios, books and other materials are delivered to one’s door by the Library Express Van, but, in the fourth scenario, one will receive mailbags with materials, and when those materials are due, simply attach postage and mail them back or drop them off at the library building or the Bookmobile.

10Figure 10 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the center of the north side of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

11Figure 11 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the center of the west side of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

12Figure 12 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the northwest corner of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

13Figure 13 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the center of the west side of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

14Figure 14 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the southwest corner of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

15Figure 15 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This projection at the southwestern corner of the building reminds me of both the prow of a ship and the bastion fortresses (also known as star-shaped fortresses) that were built in the 18th Century to thwart canon fire.

16Figure 16 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: The way the second and third floors overhang the first floor along the center of the south side of the building also owes something to fortress architecture.

17Figure 17 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This is the south side of the building, as seen from a vantage point near the U.S. Post Office on Friday, September 28, 2018.

18Figure 18 Credit: Sean M. O’Connor Caption: This sign is at the southeast corner of the building, as seen on Friday, September 28, 2018.

The firm Nagle Hartray designed a 110,900-square-foot building.[3] In the hands of a lesser architect, the unusual combination of shapes could have resulted in a mere jumble, but the award-winning result here is a structure that is attractive, impressive in scale, and unique.

The firm stated, “A rational structural grid based on bookstack dimensions underlies the building’s plan to assure efficient planning in collections areas.  The organically shaped perimeter merges the building with surrounding parkland.  The building achieved LEEG Gold certification through the performance driven design of architectural and mechanical systems.”

The Library opens up as one ascends.  A rustic wood canopy leads visitors into the lobby where a sloping wood ceiling opens to the main stair, which is organized around an LED-lit glass tube that extends the full height of the library.  The top floor has the character of an aerie, enclosed by custom fritted glass that casts forest-like shadows on Library interiors.

The design garnered the AIA Chicago Distinguished Building Award, American Society of Interior Designers Design Excellence Award, and the Brick in Architecture Award.  This building is L.E.E.D. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-certified.

Note that the four-story building uses the European system of numbering floors, not the American and Canadian system.  Thus, the second floor above ground is called the “First Floor,” the third floor above ground is called the “Second Floor,” and the fourth floor above ground is called the “Third Floor.”  One can take a virtual tour of the Lower Level (ground floor) here, the First Floor here, the Second Floor here, and the Third Floor here.

The 7,000-square-foot Studio 300 opened on the Lower Level in 2013.  This is a digital media center with six sound-recording suites, two video-recording studios and three group collaboration rooms.  It is open from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Fountaindale Public Library District now describes the building as 114,000 square feet.  I attribute the size differential between what the Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects say they designed and the size of the library building the Fountaindale Public Library District states exists, to construction of Studio 300.

Paul Mills has been the Executive Director of the Fountaindale Public Library District since July of 2011.  He previously served as Director of the Acorn Public Library District very briefly from January to July of 2011.  Mr. Mills had successively held two executive positions at the F.P.L.D. in 2010, so when he became Executive Director of the Fountaindale Public Library District, it was a matter of bouncing back there, as he was Technology Services Manager from January to May of 2010 and Deputy Director from June to December of 2010.  Mills had worked for two Illinois Regional Library Systems that no longer exist as such as a result of mergers.  He was Director of Technology Services at the Prairie Area Library System from July of 2004 to December of 2009.[4]  Before that, he worked as Information Technology Coordinator for the Heritage Trail Library System from January of 2001 to June of 2004.[5]  He earned his B.A. in History at Benedictine University (previously Illinois Benedictine College) in 1992 and his M.S. in Library Science at Dominican University (formerly Rosary College).

Nancy Castellanos is the Deputy Director.  Debra Dudek is the Adult & Teen Services Manager.  Tasos Priovolos is the Building Operations Manager.  Wendy Birkemeier is the Children Services Manager.  Jenny Cuevas is the Circulation Services Manager.  Christina Theobald is the Collection Management & Technical Services Manager.  Melissa Bradley is the Communications Manager.  Jennie Nguyen is the Finance Manager.  Leandra Pottle is the Human Resources Manager.  John Matysek is the Information Technology Manager.  Marianne Thompson is the Outreach Services Manager.  Jeffrey Fisher is the Studio Services Manager.

One can become a member of the Friends of Fountaindale by printing out the application form, filling it out, and handing it in at the library building, the Bookmobile, or the Library Express van with dues for the membership level desired.

MEMBERSHIP LEVELS

Students

$2 per year

Seniors (ages sixty and over)

$4 per year

Library Staff Members

$4 per year

Individuals

$6 per year

Families

$10 per year

Businesses

$40 per year

Lifetime Membership

$100

 

One way the Friends of Fountaindale raises money for the Fountaindale Public Library District is through The Friends Book Cellar, a bookshop on the lower level of the library building.  It sells gently-used books, music C.D.s, D.V.D.s, and other donated items.  The Book Cellar is open from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.  A smaller selection of items is available for sale in The Nook on the first floor between Meeting Room A and Brooks Café.

Jody Hargett is the President of the Friends of Fountaindale.  Art Bilski is the Vice President.  Terri O’Toole is the Secretary.  Jane Krzyzanski is the Treasurer.

The Friends of Fountaindale Biannual Book Sale started on Friday, October 5, 2018 and runs through Sunday, October 7, 2018.  Friday was devoted to a Members-Only preview that resumes from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Saturday.  One can enjoy this benefit by becoming a member or paying a $2 fee.  The public sale times are from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, 2018 and from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 7, 2018.  The bag sale will run all day on Sunday, whereby one can fill a bag of books for just $4.  Please note, the Friends of Fountaindale can accept payment only in the form of cash or checks.

Brooks Café is neither owned nor operated by the Fountaindale Public Library District.  It is a family-owned operation that sells coffee, muffins, deli sandwiches, hot snacks, smoothies, lattes, and coffee chillers.  It is open from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays, from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.  Note that the fryer is operational from 12:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Sundays, from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.  They can cater events, too, if one is holding a meeting or event at the Fountaindale Public Library.

The address is 300 West Briarcliff Road, Bolingbrook, Illinois 60440.  It is open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

ENDNOTES

[1] The DuPage River is a tributary of the Des Plaines River.  The West Branch flows for thirty-five miles from what is now Hanover Park in Cook County, through the entirety of DuPage County, to a point in Bolingbrook in Will County where it meets the East Branch.  It is the West Branch that flows through Bartlett, Wheaton, Warrenville, Winfield, and Naperville, including the scenic River Walk in downtown Naperville. The East Branch flows for twenty0five miles from what is now Bloomingdale, through Glendale Heights, Glen Ellyn, Lisle, Naperville, and Bolingbrook.  From the point where the two branches unite, the DuPage River flows through Plainfield and Shorewood, west of Joliet, to what is now Channahon, where it finally flows into the larger Des Plaines River, as does the manmade Illinois and Michigan Canal.

[2] This is a group of government buildings arrayed around two small lakes, one of which is beside Lily Cache Creek and the other is effectively part of Lily Cache Creek, which is a tributary of the DuPage River the way the DuPage River is a tributary of the Des Plaines River.  The Bolingbrook Police Department, the Bolingbrook Branch Court, and the Bolingbrook Village Clerk are all quartered in a building north of the lake that is north of Lily Cache Creek.  The Joseph & Sarah Levy Senior Center & Banquet Facility is south of Lily Cache Creek, and on the north side of Canterbury Lane.  The address is 251 Canterbury Lane.  During the workweek, it is a senior center, and on weekends it is a banquet facility available to rent out for wedding banquets and the like.  It can accommodate up to 250 guests.  The DuPage Township Administration Office stands to the east.  The Will County Recorder of Deeds has a satellite office in this building.  The address is 241 Canterbury Lane.  The Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce is to the east of those buildings, south of Lily Cache Creek, and on the north side of Canterbury Lane.  The address is 201 Canterbury Lane.

[3] After a merger, this firm is now called Sheehan Nagle Hartray Architects, and it is an international firm with over seventy architects and interior designers headed by six principals in the Chicago Loop and an office in London that serves the European data center market.

[4] Effective Friday, July 1, 2011, the Metropolitan Library System (M.L.S.), DuPage Library System (D.L.S.), North Suburban Library System (N.S.L.S.), Alliance Library System (A.L.S.), and Prairie Area Library System (P.A.L.S.) merged into the super-system Reaching Across Illinois Library System (R.A.I.L.S.).

[5] The Prairie Area Library System (P.A.L.S.), had come into existence in 2004 as a result of consolidation of the Heritage Trail, Northern Illinois, and River Bend Library Systems.

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