The MPL went to the voters with a bond issue referendum in April of 1985 whereby it hoped to raise money with which to build a more suitable library building. When the referendum failed to pass, the Library Board and MPL staff began to implement plans for better utilization of the existent Oakwood School facility. New shelving for paperback books was installed in the hallway, the audio-visual and reference sections were consolidated, and an Apple IIe computer was purchased for the public.
In November of 1989, the MPL proposed two successful referenda: a $2,600,000 bond issue for the construction of a new library building and a tax rate increase for operating expenses from a maximum of $0.15 to $.25. This means the property tax in support of the MPL rose from fifteen cents per $100 property evaluation to twenty-five cents per $100 property evaluation. In March of 1990, the MPL sponsored a national architectural design competition to generate innovative design solutions.
More than 750 architects paid an $80 fee to enter the competition and over 290 submitted designs to be judged. Four professional architects, Matteson Village Community Development Director Ralph Coglianese, and Administrative Librarian Joyce Willis served as the competition jury. There were three primary criteria.
First, exterior image and response to context – the exterior image of the building had to fit the context and character of the surrounding structures and landscape. Second, interior plans and functional effectiveness – the interior plans had to function effectively when evaluated from the standpoint of a wide range of expected users, not only from the standpoint of physical convenience, but also from the standpoint of broader social and psychological needs. Second, cost and response to economic issues – the size, structural and mechanical systems, and general use of materials had to be commensurate with the budget of $2,600,000.
Three winners and six honorable mentions were selected. The first place winners were Spangler, Semler & Schlenker of Philadelphia. The Illinois architects of record were Clark, Cordogan & Associates of Aurora and Chicago. Burnside Construction Company was accepted as the lowest qualified bidder to construct the building.
In September of 1991, ground was broken on the three acre site at the corner of 207th Street and School Avenue in Oakwood Park and construction of the new building began. Construction of the new library building was scheduled for completion by August of 1992, but there were several construction delays and the MPL did not move into its new home until November of 1993. The theme of the new building is “the Library in the Park” as it is surrounded by Oakwood Park.
The building is 23,000 square feet and was expected to satisfy the library needs of the community for at least twenty-five years. All public services are located on the main floor.
There are two symbolic peristyles at the main entrance of the MPL, separated by a plaza. Each peristyle is simple in a way that evokes Arte Moderne architecture (not to be confused with the Art Deco style of architecture). They also evoke the Brutalist style. There is an enclosed lawn off the plaza.
The lower level holds a public meeting room with a capacity for seventy-five people and a staff lounge, Friends of the Library room and storage areas. The building was expected to accommodate 60,000 books, 3,500 audio cassettes and compact disks, 2,000 videocassettes and seating for 104.
In 2001, the expected capacity had been significantly exceeded. Other features include two quiet study rooms and a computer/typewriter room for public use.
At the time of the MPL’s move into the new building, a donation from a local computer programming company, Applied Systems, raised the level of computer technology available to the MPL staff and visitors. This gift included hardware, including fourteen PCs, ten printers and a CD-ROM server and software. Applied Systems assisted the MPL in the installation of the systems and with trouble-shooting. Computers that allow access to electronic resources are available in both Adult Services and Youth Service.
Between 1993 and 2003, the population of Matteson rapidly increased. On April 1, 2003, a referendum that raised the tax rate ten cents to .35%, which doubled the actual dollars for the MPL. As a result, the library has made significant capital improvements.
They put on a new roof; upgraded the electrical system; added ceiling fans to help provide more efficient heating and air conditioning throughout the patron areas of the building; recaulked all of the windows, doors and exterior seams; repaired drains and resealed the parking lot; improved handicapped access; and increased the hours of operation to sixty-eight per week. In addition, the MPL increased the number of Internet public access computers to fourteen and added two free standing public PCs (personal computers), both with scanners; added WI-Fi access; added one self-checkout station; added a new circulation desk and added shelving;increased information and research databases from ten to thirty-eight; added staff positions; added a Web site and improved it; and increased the total expenditures on materials budget, books, DVD’s, CD’s, audio books, large print books, digital audio books.
Between 1960 and 2006, the population of the Village of Matteson grew from 3,225 to 16,016. In 1963 the MPL issued 277 family library cards and circulated 10,500 books. The MPL owned 3,300 books. By comparison, in 2006, more than 8,100 residents had library cards, and the MPL circulated 121,000 items. As of 2006, the MPL owned more than 140,000 items, including books and large print books, magazines and newspapers, audiobooks (books on tape and books on CD), DVDs and videocassettes, digital audio books, and what the MPL described as “electronic information resources available from home.”
As Matteson continues to grow, the MPL likewise needs to grow. The MPL states, “The library needs more space! There is a need for further expansion. There is a need for a computer room/lab, a young adult/teen room, a quiet reading room, quiet study rooms, more shelf space, a café, a larger youth services room, a larger A/V room, and more staff office space. The community support of the library continues to remain very strong and will remain strong in the future. Matteson and the Matteson Public Library will continue to evolve and grow together.”
There is a link on the home page of the MPL Web site to a survey the Board of Trustees would like Matteson residents to take. This will help the Library Board “determine the most cost efficient option to meet the community’s needs.”
The MPL is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays in summertime (from June to August) and open on Sundays during the school year (September to May). The phone number there is (708) 748-4431.