CHAMPAIGN — Details for the Champaign Public Library’s upcoming teen-focused expansion are coming to light.

The soon-to-be-developed 8,000- square-foot space on the library’s lower level, called “The Studio,” has new renderings to share from an architecture firm, and a new price tag: $3.2 million.

The library, which sits across State Street from Edison Middle School, is a common gathering point for students once classes let out. Around 150 to 200 teens arrive every afternoon of the school year for after-school programming, library Director Brittany Millington said.

“When the library built this building, they built an area on the first floor to one day be available for a staircase to go down to the lower level, envisioning there might one day need to be an expansion,” she said. “Sure enough, we feel like we have reached that point.”

The Dodds Teen Center has space and seating for about 80 kids. The Studio will convert what’s currently a staff storage area in the lower level into a public space for activities and workshops. It’s expected to provide seating for 150 teens and preteens and enough room for about 400.

“We wanted to offer extra technological capabilities, and enhance the usage of what teens could do with after-school activities at the library,” Millington said.

The library released renderings of the project from Chicago firm Product Architecture and Design, showing off plans for The Studio’s computer and gaming areas, recording booths and high-tech “makerspace” for the craft-minded.

A big chunk of its funding comes from the city of Champaign, which approved a $1.5 million transfer from its general fund toward the project early this year. The library’s foundation committed another $1 million, while its volunteer force, the Friends of the Champaign Public Library, provided extra support.

An anonymous gift lifted the project’s initial $2.5 million cost to $3.2 million.

The library will dedicate around $700,000 from an anonymous $1.2 million donation received this year to enhance The Studio, upgrading its furnishings, technology and equipment. It plans to save some of the anonymous gift for future improvements, Millington said.

The benefits of the space won’t just go to the teens, she said — the library plans to host workshops with The Studio’s technology for adults, too.

A four-to-five-month construction period is expected to begin this winter, with a projected opening date set for summer 2023.

“Since it’s on the lower level, for the most part, we’re envisioning very limited disruption to customer use,” Millington said.

Ethan Simmons is a reporter at The News-Gazette covering the University of Illinois. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@ethancsimmons).

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