In early November 1968, boy scouts, library personnel, and volunteers carried 38,000 volumes from the Cook House and children’s library to their new home.  The opening ceremony took place on November 10, 1968, exactly 57 years after the original library opened.27

Before and After…
“In the old building books were jammed into every conceivable space, on the floors, in windows, and in what once were walk-in closets in the Cook family home. Rare volumes were stored in a bare-raftered attic.”  “There was a basement storage area for books to be used on the Bookmobiles, but, in order for the librarians to stock the vehicle, they had to carry the books by hand up and down a narrow stairway.  The basement also housed a complete periodicals file, designed for use by students as reference material, but almost totally unavailable to them because of space limitations.”  A very small “6 by 10-foot area on the second floor was used for book preparation.”   Only 29 chairs were available for readers when there were 30,000 township residents. 11

“The new building had 14,000 square feet of usable space on the main floor, divided to provide separate reading areas for both children and adults, and separate reference areas for special volumes.”  This allowed parents and their children to be able to go to the same place to utilize library services.  The architects designed the building so that most of the services were conveniently located at street level.  This prevented the hassle, especially for the elderly, of climbing up and down stairs to find their books.  “All first floor partitions and equipment were removable.  Ductwork and lighting have been designed to accommodate these changes.  All areas have been planned for future expansion at minimum cost and disruptions to the use of existing facilities.”  Additionally, there was space in the basement for meeting rooms and 30 parking spaces to provide easy access to the library.11,27

New Library, New Librarian

            From September 1968-April 2007, Fred Byergo served as director of the library.  He graduated from Lawrence University with a degree in philosophy.  His interest in library sciences began with a summer job at the Oak Park Public Library.  There, his job was to clean out the attic.  “The ‘groovy stuff’ he found there aroused his interest, got him talking to the librarian, offered him a job as custodian.”40  In 1968, after three years in the navy, he completed his master’s degree in library science at Rosary College (now Dominican University).  That same year, he signed on as head librarian at Cook Memorial Library, just in time for the big move to the new facility.  Upon his retirement in 2006, he was dean among local library directors, having served longer in his position than any other Lake County director.14

27 Cone, Spencer. “Addition Has Space, Comfort.” The Independent-Register 7 Nov. 1968: 7C.
29 “Major Benefit: Joint Plan Aids Reader.” The Independent-Register 7 Nov. 1968: 6C.


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