Independence Library set to reopen next year
by BRIAN NADIG
The Independence Library, 3548 W. Irving Park Road, is expected to reopen by early 2017 after a fire gutted the facility last October, but city officials are investigating the possibility of building a new library elsewhere some day.
The library has been closed since the fire, which started in a nearby business. The approximately 100-year-old library has been located in its current storefront space since 1995, according to the Chicago Public Library.
"Our number one goal has been to resume, in the short term, library service," Chicago Public Library government affairs director Patrick Molloy said. "Long-term, we continue to explore all other options."
Several Northwest Side aldermen and community groups have called for a new, larger library, but funds for the project are not available.
The library is in a tax increment financing district, which produces funds that can be used for capital improvements. However, the district is relatively new, and it may not have sufficient funds, Molloy said.
The lease for the Irving Park building expires this year, and the city Department of Fleet and Facility Management is negotiating a new lease that would give the city flexibility in the event that a new library can be built, Molloy said. The city also is investigating leasing an additional storefront on the block so the library would be larger when it re-opens, he said.
The building’s owner will have to complete repairs before the library can move back into the storefronts, Molloy said. The books that were removed after the fire are going through a restoration process due to smoke and water damage, and some materials may not be usable, he said.
Reading programs which are normally held at the library during the summer will be available at the Independence Park fieldhouse, 3945 N. Springfield Ave. Participation in programs at the library usually is highest during the summer, Molloy said.
While the library is closed, patrons are being encouraged to use the Albany Park Library, 3401 W. Foster Ave., the Mayfair Library, 4400 W. Lawrence Ave., or the Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave.