Library receives state grant for makerspace building renovations

Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White has awarded the Arlington Heights Memorial Library (AHML) with the Live and Learn Construction Grant in the amount of $50,000.

“My office is fortunate to have the opportunity to assist your library with this important infrastructure improvement project,” White stated in his letter to the library announcing the award. 

The Live and Learn Construction Grant provides funding to public libraries for the conversion of existing buildings not currently used for library services. AHML will use the grant toward the renovation of 112 N. Belmont Ave., formerly the Arlington Heights teen center, into a standalone makerspace building, a first among public libraries.

The funds will be used for remodeling for accessibility to comply with the Illinois Accessibility Code and Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Planned improvements include construction on the concrete stair entry and ramp at the front entrance of the building, the entrance vestibule and interior ramp, code-required signage and improvements to one of the restrooms on the main floor and the accessible parking space.

“We are grateful to the Secretary of State for this grant which supports the library’s makerspace project, makes it more accessible, and the positive impact it will have on the community,” says AHML Executive Director Mike Driskell.

While preserving the structure’s historic architecture, renovation plans also include replacement of the existing roof and HVAC system along with upgrades to the interior space that will transform the building into a state-of-the-art center for hands-on experiential learning. The makerspace will offer technology and creative equipment and supplies for use including 3D printers, laser cutters, embroidery, quilting and sewing machines and computers for 3D modeling, design and programming. A professional-grade commercial kitchen will also be included in the makerspace. The makerspace will allow entrepreneurs, small businesses, hobbyists and students to use equipment they may not have the resources or space to own.

“The initial catalyst for creating a makerspace came from a community survey,” says Driskell, “and it has been part of the library’s strategic plan since 2018. It’s gratifying to now see all the planning and development come together. The library is excited to provide a place that will give the Arlington Heights community new opportunities to learn and to innovate both personally and professionally.”

Williams Architects of Itasca is the architect for the project and designs are being finalized.  Construction and renovations are expected to begin in early fall with a targeted opening date of late 2020.  To learn more about the project, visit