Racine Public Library’s 2022 Second-Floor Renovation

A preview of what the second floor of the Racine Public Library will look like after its renovation. A corridor stretches from one side of the building to the other, freeing the way for light to bounce in off the lake through the library's broad east windows. To the left of the cooridor is rows of shelves, and to the right is several computer stations around a long table, as well as a modern front desk large enough for a single staff member. The library's ceiling is white with lake blue walls just around it, opening the space up and highlighting the color of the lake.

At the Racine Public Library’s June 2021 board meeting, the board approved a $2.4 million renovation of the library’s second floor.

As the needs of a community evolve, so must the services of its library. With the library planning to remain in its current building for years to come, a renovation became the best path to continue bringing literacy to Racine. Our updated space will make it easier for the community to find and use resources, attend events, study, discover, relax, collaborate, and get support from the library’s staff.

Our building has served us well, but we recognize improvements are needed for the library to be more accessible and easy to use. The Racine Public Library has been working with Product Architecture + Design, a Chicago-based company, to create a plan that will bring the library to its next chapter. Construction is expected to begin in April 2022 and will extend in phases throughout early 2023. The building will remain open throughout the project, and we’ll work closely with Rasch Construction & Engineering, our construction manager, to ensure the community can still comfortably use the space throughout construction.

What To Expect

Throughout the Renovation:
Shelves and items will be moving to new places throughout the renovation. Please let a staff member know if you need help finding anything.

May 5:
The construction team will begin setting up partitions to begin construction on the new staircase. Parts of the lobby will be blocked off during this time, including the public first-floor bathrooms. The public restrooms on the second floor will remain open.

The construction team will also begin preparing the building for work on the Lake Avenue entrance and the Business Center and flex study spaces on the southeast side of the building (the side along the lake, furthest from the current stairway).

May 6 to 20:

Most of our second-floor technology and items for checkout will be moved to a different part of the second floor. Computers will be moved to the north-west end of the building (the wall across from the second-floor desk, furthest from the entrance to the second floor).

May 20:
Construction will be in full swing.

The construction crew will open up the Lake Avenue side of the building to install our new entryway. This will include removing concrete outdoors along Lake Avenue where the new entrance will be placed.

The crew will also begin working on the southeast side of the second floor where our Business Center and flex study spaces will be installed.

The renovation will provide:

  • A new staircase to the second floor. Will allow two-way traffic and a provide a welcoming, accessible entrance.
  • An expanded history room. Our local history archive will reside in a dedicated space with climate control for light, temperature and humidity.
  • A dedicated teen space. A room separate of the other second-floor community spaces, giving teens a sense of ownership over the space. The new room will provide the means for quiet and group study, gaming and more.
  • An upgraded Innovation Lab. This room will serve as an expanded space for STEM workshops and make it easier to access and use our 3D printers, laser engravers, virtual and augmented reality and other technology. Will include several stations for community members to explore their innovation and creativity.
  • A Business Center and three new study rooms. These spaces will support our community’s remote work needs. They will be equipped with audiovisual equipment, monitors and whiteboards.
  • A large meeting room. This space will accommodate up to 77 people, with flexible walls to accommodate additional room for hundreds.
  • A second entrance to the library on the downtown, Lake Avenue side of the building.
  • Comfortable, usable spaces — flexible spaces, quiet areas and comfortable new seating.
  • Enhanced display of items for checkout. Will make browsing more accessible and appealing.
  • Improved lighting to maximize the effect of natural light.
  • Additional open spaces for exhibits and displays.
  • Clearer navigational signs and walkways.
  • Enhanced restroom accessibility.

Renovation Details

Library’s Total Floorspace65,000 sq. ft.
Floorspace to be Renovated29,300 sq. ft.
Renovation DurationJuly 2021 to Early 2023 (estimated)
Planning: July 2021 to April 2022
Construction: April 2022 to Spring 2023
Total Renovation Budget$2.7 million (current projection — subject to change)
Funding SourcesTrust Fund
Private Donors
Racine Public Library Foundation
ArchitectsTiffany Nash & Dan Pohrte of Product Architecture + Design
Construction ManagerRasch Construction & Engineering
What to ExpectThe library will remain open throughout construction. The renovation will commence in phases, with different spaces being completed at different times throughout the next several months.

Renovation Sneak Peek

Wondering what the library will look like after the renovation is complete? Check out the architect’s renderings below.

Understanding the Community’s Needs

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Racine Public Library completed its strategic plan. During this process and beyond, the library team held extensive conversations with community members, staff and library stakeholders to understand what needs the renovation would have to address. After collecting initial information about the community’s needs, the library board selected Product Architecture + Design to oversee the project.

Product Architecture + Design also collected feedback from staff, community members and the board to prepare its plan for the renovation, all of which was used to guide the project we’re about to begin constructing. We couldn’t be more excited to see this plan come to fruition, and we’re confident that this renovation will make the library the perfect destination for community members to build literacy and explore their world.

Want to support the renovation and other library projects?

If you believe in the work we’re doing to bring literacy — in all its forms — to the people of Racine, we’d love for you to support our work. Will you donate to help us power our renovation and the future of the library?