By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Rockford Public Library has set an opening date for its new Main Branch in downtown.

The new 66,000-square-foot library, 215 N. Wyman St., will open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and daylong celebration starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 22.

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The Hart Interim Library, 214 N. Church St., will close at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 8 in preparation for moving the library’s collection to its new home. The Hart library, which has served as the downtown branch during construction, is due to become a future home for the city’s Family Peace Center.

The library has been updating its collection during the course of construction, getting rid of tattered and dog-eared books to replace with new copies and new titles, said Bridget Finn, the library’s marketing director. It’s also expanding its digital collection.

“We’re making sure that our collection is contemporary, up to date and modern,” Finn said. “The collection that we’ll open this library with will be pristine.”

Bridget Finn walks through the second floor of the future Rockford Public Library on Friday, May 31, 2024, in downtown Rockford. The new Main Branch is slated to open Saturday, June 22, 2024. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

The opening in nearly three weeks is nearly three years in the making. Construction on the new three-story branch began in October 2021 after ComEd completed environmental cleanup work at the site.

ComED has previous ownership ties to the property and was required to demolish the former main branch in order to conduct a cleanup of contaminated soil. The site was home to a gas plant dating back to the 1800s before the first main branch opened there in 1902.

ComEd is paying for about $36 million of the $39 million construction of the new branch.

The library was designed by Studio GWA and Engberg Anderson and built by Scandroli Construction Co. with more than 40 local subcontractors, library officials said.

“This building will be an amazing hub from which we achieve Rockford Public Library’s mission to educate, inform, and enrich the people in our community,” said Lynn Stainbrook, executive director of the Rockford Public Library.

The library’s first floor features an indoor playground that’s part of a youth area filled with interactive components designed to help children fall in love with literacy.

One of the first things you’ll notice on entering the new Main Branch is the loads of natural light that pour into the building. It also offers views up and down the Rock River from its home along the river’s west bank.

“This building was designed with its spot along the river banks being the utmost value. Every room you’re in has natural sunlight flooding in,” Finn said. “When you give the people of Rockford all these different views, they’re going to begin to see Rockford differently.”

If you go | Rockford Public Library grand opening

When: 9 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 22

Where: 215 N. Wyman St., Rockford

About: A ribbon-cutting ceremony will happen at 9 a.m. followed by a variety of festivities and activities to participate in throughout the day. A community poem will be delivered at 4:30PM by city of Rockford Poet Laureate Jenna Goldsmith.

Regular hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Bridget Finn, marketing director of the Rockford Public Library, shows off some of the views of the new Main Branch on Friday, May 31, 2024, at 215 N. Wyman St., Rockford. The branch opens June 22, 2024. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on X at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas and Threads @thekevinhaas

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