Rockford Library Preparing For Contamination Clean-up

Mar 3, 2014

Rockford Public Library officials are trying to decide how to work around a major environmental clean-up at the downtown branch.

Before it was Rockford's main library, the land was part of a gas plant. Coal tar was stored underground. Over time, it seeped into the soil. ComEd is in charge of contamination removal. Rockford Public Library Executive Director Frank Novak says the cost of clean-up is still unknown, but library officials are in the process of interviewing architects on how to operate during remediation.

"We don't have a lot of wiggle room. There's contamination on the site. It needs to get cleaned. We are going to have to do it," Novak said.

Credit Rockford Public Library

One option is to move all of the contents to a temporary location. Another idea is to move the main branch entirely to a permanent location elsewhere.

"All of the print content will have to be moved in a systematic order because you can't just have a big pile of books and work from there."

Novak says the library's contents cannot be moved into "just any" office space because of the weight of the materials.

He says there are a lot of moving parts that have to be worked out, but remediation may begin in spring 2016.