Construction on the 46-year-old building began in May of 2021. Funded by an $11.5 million investment by the City of Eau Claire and $7 million in private donations through the library’s Story Builder capital campaign, the reopened building will feature a new third floor, an all-new layout, and a modernized mechanical infrastructure for heating, cooling, and more. These changes will add square footage to the library, make better use of existing space, and save money in annual running costs.
Designed by MSR Design and built by Market & Johnson, Inc., a few of the most dramatic changes and additions include the following…
Third Floor Community Room – The library’s new third floor will house a 200-seat, public-use event space with room for all kinds of events, up-to-date technology, and great views of the Eau Claire River. Right outside the space will be a central art gallery and a rooftop terrace/green space.
All-new Innovation Lab – Also up on the new third floor, patrons will find a spacious, public-use, classroom-style space designed for different types of events, workshops, and gatherings such as cooking and science demonstrations.
Bigger, Better Dabble Box – The library’s new Dabble Box makerspace will be twice as big, adding room for STEAM learning opportunities, workshops, events, and more. A new outdoor patio will make space for those messier science experiments.
Expanded Kids Areas – Kids and families will enjoy a greatly expanded space with lots of natural light, a larger event room, two “play and learn” areas, a toddler gym, and increased shelving for children’s materials.
Dedicated Teen Space – Located near the expanded kids’ areas, teens will find a space made just for them, with teen-friendly seating, displays, meeting rooms, and collections all in one place.
Tween Space – Similar to the new teen space, the library will have an area just for tweens, which will include three study rooms, a lounge, and a computer area.
Accessible Shelving – To serve the whole community better than ever before, aisles between shelves will be 12 to 18 inches wider, and the shelves themselves will be 12 to 24 inches lower. These changes put everything into easier reach while increasing sightlines and bringing in more daylight.
Meeting Rooms – The first and second floors will feature meeting and study rooms perfect for a variety of group sizes, including a modern 24-person conference room and special “book club” room for less formal gatherings.
More Good Stuff – The new design also features an automated materials-return system, a lower-level drive-thru pickup window, a cost-saving geothermal heating and cooling system, and more.