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*Projected Concept-Main Floor Ottawa Street Lobby 

The Joliet Public Library is excited to announce that we are exploring the renovation and modernization of the interior of our historic Ottawa Street Branch. The focus of the renovation is to provide the Joliet community with updated library spaces and improved access to library resources. The project will create an inviting downtown destination for the community, and serve as an indoor compliment to the adjacent future City Square. 

It was the Library’s original architect, Daniel Burnham who famously said “Make no little plans, they have no power to stir men’s blood”. The Library has been making big plans for the Ottawa Street location, which was originally built in 1903, for years. As part of the Library’s Strategic Planning Process which began in 2015, the Library Board identified creating a master plan for building renovations as a top goal.   

In April 2018, the Library began working with consultant Anders Dahlgren of Library Planning Associates to pinpoint the spatial needs of both the Ottawa Street and Black Road branches. After assessing his findings, the Library Board decided to address the Ottawa Street Branch’s needs. 

In March 2019, after an extensive RFQ process, the Library Board engaged Engberg Anderson Architects to work with staff to develop preliminary floor plans and drawings.  As of July, the Library Board has approved draft floor plans and the architects are working on 3-D models and accurate cost estimates. 

The Joliet Public Library have been good stewards’ of the historic building by replacing the roof, chiller, an elevator and windows, but have foregone any major interior renovations to the Ottawa Street building since the addition was built nearly 30 years ago in 1991. 

Project Burnahm will address lighting controls, aging building systems, accessibility and plumbing requirements, goals of the project include: 

  • Separate floor just for children and families 
  • A  magical discovery zone for youth to encourage creative play and learning
  • Individual and collaborative study spaces. Currently the Ottawa Street Branch has no private study rooms or designated quiet areas.
  • Improved digital media and maker spaces which are already wildly popular at the Library
  • Larger, more extensive Local History Room
  • Opening of the Chicago Street entrance to allow easier access to pedestrians

“Downtown Joliet is in the midst of a grand renaissance and residents are starting to desire downtown living.,” said Executive Director of the Library, Megan Millen. “The Marriot Corporation has found downtown Joliet desirable enough to invest in an $18M new hotel project. With several other projects underway or in the offing, now is the perfect time to improve our diamond in the rough Public Library. We imagine families playing in the City Square, enjoying the downtown restaurants, and then going inside the beautifully renovated Library. We envision students from JJC and the University of St. Francis spending time between classes and collaborating in one of our new state-of-the-art study rooms. We picture business owners recording promotional videos in our revamped Digital Media Studio.” 

While planning for the project for many years and responsible budgeting, the Library has set aside $4 million in reserves to help fund this project. The Library has requested an estimated $6.5 million from the City of Joliet to be included in the 2020 budget. If approved, construction could start in late 2020. Library officials plan to keep the building open during construction. 

In 2018, the Joliet Public Library provided over 3,000 free programs for adults, children and young adults at both their locations, welcoming over 90,500 attendees. The Library has a collection of 267,620 printed materials and over 56,000 e-Books. The Ottawa Street Branch welcomed about 175,000 visitors last year. 

“As the third largest city in Illinois, Joliet should have a modern public library that reflects the changing needs of a resurging downtown,” said Millen. “Joliet Public Library, in the heart of downtown, can be an  anchor to economic development and growth. Together with the City of Joliet, we can create a unique and fabulous destination for our community.” 

The Library will be hosting engagement meetings to gather input from the community in the fall. For more information, visit join our mailing list. 

Media Contact

Megan Millen · 815-740-2660 · 

Mallory Hewlett · 815-846-3124 · 


The Joliet Public Library has been selected as the recipient of a $2,000 grant from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)-Chicago Section.
The grant will be used to purchase items to create 20 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) bundle kits. Items include robots, a Harry Potter coding wand, electronic music generator, planetarium projector, snap circuit rover, microscope, and more.
The STEM kits will be available to check out at the library in the fall and they will also be used in interactive programming for youth.
Executive Director of the Joliet Public Library, Megan Millen, says staff at the library is excited about the grant and to circulate the STEM kits.
“We offer so many programs at our library that are both fun and educational,” said Millen. “Our staff is excited to put together these STEM kits to connect our patrons with tools they may not have access to anywhere else.”
Photo: Representatives from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers present Joliet Public Library Youth Services Associate Coral Borg with a check for $2,000 during the Library’s monthly board meeting.
What is the Outreach Collection at JPL?
The Joliet Public Library offers thousands of quality reading materials suitable for pre-Kindergarten through High School youth, and is intended to be a zero risk way to provide materials to children to use at your non-profit organization, or for children to take home to read at their leisure.
How Does It Work?
At your request, we will fill a book tub with a curated collection of fun reads for your students’ age group, to be picked up at either library location, dropped off during an outreach staff member visit, or delivered to your school (District 86 only).
How Does My Organization Sign Up?
After the Business Owner, Chief Executive Officer, Local Administrator or Property Manager of your organization signs an agreement form and has a library card on file, email your request to the library at or fill out our online request form. You can find the request form here:
The Details
  • Each book tub contains a maximum of 50 items. Tubs with books for younger readers (ie. Board Books, Easy Readers, Easy Fiction, Easy Nonfiction) will hold more items than tubs with books for junior high and high school readers (ie. Juvenile Fiction, Juvenile Graphic Novels, Young Adult Fiction, Juvenile Nonfiction).
  • There is no limit on the amount of tubs an organization may check out at any given time.
  • Each tub circulates for 9 weeks/63 days, and may be renewed.
  • Outreach items do not accrue fines. We request that all books in a given tub be returned together to Joliet Public Library on time (or retrieved by library staff, upon request). Books that are not returned with their tub will not be billed to the institution or to the family.
  • Outreach books are encouraged to leave your site to go home with children. We do ask that educators track which child has selected which book(s) when the child has taken the material(s) home. We suggest that children who have not returned books to your organization be limited from taking additional books home until their books are returned.
  • If you prefer a customized tub with specific topics or specific titles, we are happy to provide you with those through our existing Curriculum Kit service.
Visit or call 815-740-2660 for more information.

Are you up for the challenge? The Joliet Public Library’s popular Summer Reading program returns this year from June 2-July 27 with the theme, It’s Showtime! Join us for fun and educational programs, reading challenges, weekly prize drawings and more!

Children, teens, and adults of all ages are encouraged to learn together as a family and community during the Summer Reading Challenge. Readers are invited to join the fun by reading books, attending free programs at both library locations and submitting pages read in person and online. Reading logs can be turned in at either library location or online at and registration for all ages is now open.

New this year is our Grand Prize Checkout Challenge, sponsored by D’Arcy Buick GMC. Checkout an item at the Joliet Public Library and enter the code on your receipt in our website form at You will be entered into a drawing to win a $250 Target gift card. A new code will be entered each week!

Prizes are earned by hitting milestone page numbers. At 200/600/1,000 pages, stop by the Ottawa Street or Black Road Branch to pick up a prize of your choice. When you reach 400/800 pages, visit us and pick out a free book. But don’t stop there! For every 100 pages read, your name is entered into a drawing for a weekly prize. Need help keeping it all straight? Pick up a Summer Reading log at one of our library locations and be sure to register online.

Don’t miss out on the bonus challenges! Let us know when you volunteer in your community, build or create something, or even try a new fitness routine. Jot down the date you completed the challenge in your log and post a photo to our Joliet Public Library Facebook page using the hashtag #JPLSummer to gain Internet fame.

Every child through grade 6 who visits the library five times or more will receive one ticket to our final party in August! This year, join us for the Joliet Slammers game at 1:05 pm on August 4.

All points will need to be submitted by July 27. Prizes need to be picked up by August 3. Prize selection will vary throughout the summer, so don’t wait to pick up all your prizes at the end! Grand prize winners will be called for their prizes at the end of the summer.

Finally, this summer, the Joliet Public Library is going Fine Free from June 2-August 22. The fine threshold will also be raised to $50. This means items you return to the Library between June 2-August 22 will be FINE FREE! This promotion is excluding inter-Library Loans and Hotspots. Return your long overdue books and enjoy no fines with this special promotion.

The Friends of the Joliet Public Library provided funds for prizes, as well as several Joliet businesses who offered in-kind donations.

Saturday, June 1, 2019 will be no ordinary day in downtown Joliet as it is transformed into the Joliet Public Library's (JPL) award winning 10th Annual Star Wars™ Day. This family-friendly festival of galactic proportions is complete with over 200 costumed Star Wars™ characters, games, live music, a vow renewal, movie prop exhibits, and more.

New this year is a special ceremony for those who want to renew their marriage vows under the watchful eye of the Empire. A ticket is required to participate in the vow renewal and can be picked up for free at the Rialto Square Theatre Lobby beginning at 8:30 am on June 1. A limited number of tickets are available, so be sure to get yours while they last! The ceremony will begin promptly at 9:30 am and is for entertainment purposes only; no legal or spiritual implications apply.

Other activities will kick off at 11 am with a parade of costumed characters and Star Wars™ themed vehicles. Join thousands of other Star Wars™ fans and be here early to claim your spot on Cass, Chicago or Clinton Street! The parade will start at the Joliet Area Historical Museum on Ottawa Street, go east on Cass Street, south on Chicago Street, and west on Clinton Street. The route does not go in front of the Rialto.

JPL is proud to partner with the Joliet Area Historical Museum and the Rialto Square Theatre, who will host activities throughout the day. The Joliet Area Historical Museum will host vendors and exhibitors, such as the Rebel Legion, Blues Mobile, Movies in Miniature, Cantina Customz, Bug Pals, and Federation Toys. They have events featuring Mr. Freeze Cryogenic show, presentations on costume building and light saber duels.

The Rialto will welcome exhibitors such as Darkside Galactibiles, the Mandalorian Mercs, R2-Builders Droid Club, A. Tom Rehn, and Civilized Galactic Gear. They will also feature fan favorite Jedi Training Academy on the Main Stage.

Be sure to check out the Main Stage on Clinton Street near the food tent for different bands and an all-ages costume contest at 1:15.

Several authors and artists will be returning to Star Wars™ Day this year. Authors include John Jackson Miller, and Keith Ryan Kappel. Be sure to visit Artist Alley on the second floor of the Library and meet Dave Dorman, Steve Palenica, Mikey Babinski, James Tampa, and Jamie Snell.

The event will shut down Chicago Street from Cass to Van Buren. Be sure to get there early to get a spot in one of the parking garages or at the Joliet Area Historical Museum!

For the kids, don't miss all the games set up on Clinton Street. Try everything from bean bag toss to surviving the Mustafar Lava Fields. Don't forget to stop by and try the fan favorites like the Trash Compactor game on the first floor of the Library and the Scavenger Hunt at the Museum.

Hungry? Stop by one of our food vendors! Jody's Hot Dogs, Smokin' Z BBQ, Beach Bums Tropical Sno, Cheesecakes by James, DeWitt's Gourmet Cookie Shop, Parmesans Wood Stone Pizza, TCBY, Life's a Slice, and Taco Maui will all be lined up near Clinton and Chicago Street. Initiative Coffee Company and Candy and Corn will be located at the Museum.

This event is made possible through partnerships with the City of Joliet, Joliet City Center Partnership, Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet Slammers, Bicentennial Park, and Joliet Area Historical Museum as well as the generous sponsorships from the Friends of the Joliet Public Library, D'Arcy Automobiles, Joliet City Center Partnership, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd., and First Midwest Bank.

The Joliet Public Library received the 2018 ALA Excellence in Library Programming Award for Star Wars™ Day. This award recognizes a library that demonstrates excellence by providing programs that have community impact and respond to community needs.

For a full list of activities at the library and these locations, pick up a Star Wars™ Day Jedi™ Passport at the event or visit Event passports will be located at the Library, Museum and Rialto entrances and information booths. If you need help the day of, find a volunteer in a purple shirt.

The Joliet Public Library is committed to being a resource for the community of Joliet to read, explore, ask and discover. For more information, visit or call 815-740-2660. Library hours are Monday- Thursday from 9 am –9 pm, Friday –Saturday from 9 am–5 pm and closed Sundays in the summer.

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