Rockford Library Settling Into Its Temporary Home

Jan 9, 2018

An awning in front of the Hart Interim Library displays its address and the Rockford Public Library logo.
Credit Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

The Rockford Public Library is settling into what will be its temporary downtown home for the next few years.

The Hart Interim Library in downtown Rockford has been a great success and, in some ways, an improvement, according to Bridget Finn. She’s the library’s Director of Marketing & Communications.

“It’s a great space,” Finn said. It’s a smaller footprint, but it’s a real study in excellent design.”

The renovated site was, in recent times, a county satellite jail among other uses, Finn said.

She added that the library even has been able to provide some new services there – like its maker space

“We have a 3-D printer tour and a 3-D scanner tour,” Finn said, “as well as labs where you could use the printer, as well as meet-ups where you can talk to people about the movement and certain things that are going to be available in our lab.”

And she said the library staff is excited about the return of morning hours system-wide. They were cut during the Great Recession.

The Interim Library is named for Albert Hart, who designed and constructed the building to house a Montgomery Ward in 1929. 

The move to temporary quarters resulted from the discovery that the main Rockford library sat on top of underground coal tar containers left from a 19th-century gas operation.

Finn says ComEd plans to demolish the old Main Library slowly and deliberately -- not least because of the buried coal tar.

Finn says there will be community listening sessions in the spring and summer as the library plans for its new permanent home, which it hopes to open in the next three to five years.