Renovation FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why start a renovation now?

The last major Main Library renovation occurred nearly 30 years ago in 1990. Since then, user needs have changed and many public service areas require updating. Like the city of South Bend, the Library is making improvements to meet community needs and support revitalization.  

Our vision for Main Library is to meet the quality of life needs of our community. Our renovation will do this in the following ways:

  • Improve physical accessibility to vital resources, especially for families, seniors, and those with mobility issues
  • Create welcoming spaces to encourage civic engagement, creative pursuits, and innovative thinking
  • Facilitate learning opportunities for both individuals and collaborative groups
  • Encourage the educational and social development of our community’s youth
  • Preserve and share our community’s heritage and identity
  • Support the community’s efforts to improve the vitality of downtown
  • Reorganize staffing to better serve community needs
  • Provide a safe, comfortable place for all community members

A public library has existed on Wayne & Main St. since 1896, but the structure has always evolved with the times. When it first opened, Main Library was called “South Bend’s Pride.” Just 10 years later in 1906, the Juvenile Department was created to meet the needs of children in the community. In 1960, a new Main Library was built on the site to expand and accommodate a growing collection. Thirty years later in 1990, the Main Library expanded again with a major renovation to each floor.   

Fast-forward another 30 years and the St. Joseph County Public Library is once again progressing along with the community to meet the needs of today and beyond. A public library is a vital and enduring resource that contributes to the qualify of life in a community.  To engender pride in local residents, a public library must constantly evolve with the community it represents. We believe the Main Library renovation of the new millennium might just earn back the title, “South Bend’s Pride.”

2. What will change with the renovation?

Many of the service areas will be moved or expanded. Children’s and Teen will move to the first floor, along with new adult materials. Fiction will remain on the second floor but will include Audio-Visual Services and the Computer Lab. Nonfiction and Local & Family History will move to the third floor.

3. How will the renovation improve Library services at Main?

The renovation will enhance many popular service areas. A few improvements include an expansion of Youth Services (Children’s and Teen) with interactive features to delight and educate our community’s youth; an expansion of Local and Family History to accommodate and preserve their growing collection; and the addition of study rooms to meet increasing demand for quiet areas.

4. Why move Children’s Services from the third to the first floor?

The move will give families an easier path to youth resources for a hassle-free library experience. Currently, Children’s Services is far from the entrance and difficult to access for caregivers supervising children.

5. Why move the entrance and patron parking to the east side of the Library?

The move will ensure the Library is accessible to our entire community. Most Main Library visitors drive to the Library. With the entrance on the east, the Library will maximize accessibility for both pedestrians and commuters.

6. How does the Library fit into the city’s plans to revitalize downtown?

The Library supports the city in its efforts to create an attractive downtown. We are designing an inviting exterior entrance and expanded plaza area to beckon pedestrians, connect to the activity on Michigan Street, and serve as a gathering place. We are also having ongoing conversations with the city to pursue our shared goal of creating a vibrant community.

7. How is the Library paying for this?

The Library has saved $3.5 million. The rest will be funded with a small bond issue.

8. How can the community get involved?

We want your input. You can provide comments and opinions by using the feedback form and attending the public forums starting on November 17. You can also keep up-to-date with developments by signing up for our weekly newsletter, which highlights library programs, projects, and news.

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