Interior Update FAQ



Interested in your public library’s future growth and development? 

Then you’ve come to the right spot! This page is where you’ll find all the facts on our current facility plans and designs.

Have thoughts you’d like to share? Feel free to use the “Contact” page on this website to send us any ideas, feedback, questions, or concerns you have and library staff will get back to you.

Please note – all updates are in bold. Look for updates after each new step in the process. Current updates posted March 13, 2020.

The Lake Geneva Public Library Goals for Success:

  • Make our library extraordinary
  • Serve and provide access for all community groups (technology, media, arts, culture)
  • Create a warm, welcoming environment
  • Improve the functionality and efficiency of the library
  • Plan for the ability to evolve and adapt to future change
  • Honor, respect, and retain the architectural character of the library
  • Preserve the history and culture of the library and community
  • Promote and provide lifelong learning
  • Provide leadership in anticipating and addressing community needs
  • Work in unison and partner with other community entities
  • Serve as a draw, a destination, an attraction

What exactly is going on?

The services the library provides to the community have outgrown the existing building as it is currently configured. The library board and staff have been listening to feedback from patrons for the past few years, and based on that input, we choose FEH DESIGN out of Oconomowoc, WI, to start looking at how we can meet the challenges of today’s world and fulfill the needs of our community.

Step One: January 2020, FEH conducted a facility assessment, reviewing the building, structural and maintenance issues, along with the building systems to provide a status update and overview of upcoming capital needs.

Step Two: FEH performed a space needs study, that included talking to members of the community regarding what they want and need from their library, and then assessing current space and how and if that space can fulfill those needs.

Step Three: In this phase of conceptual design, the community was invited to two design workshops (held on March 4 & 10) at the library to give architects feedback on various ideas. During this process, design pieces were sketched with input from staff and public. These conceptual plans will help inform the final plans for a possible renovation. FEH anticipates providing various options to the library board in April, 2020.

PUBLIC FEEDBACK as of March 13, 2020


The general input here revolves around any proposed physical expansion of the current building, designed by architect James Dresser. Some people are concerned that any of the proposed changes to the physical structure might not be in keeping with the current prairie style, indicative of Frank Lloyd Wright and his students. The intent of the library board is to be respectful of and honor the architectural integrity, while still addressing the library’s need to fulfill, to the best of its ability, not only the current, but the future and ever-evolving needs of the community. 

Frank Lloyd Wright himself was an innovative thinker and embraced change. Now is our opportunity to look at the library with new eyes and a focus on the future. Through the community workshops, we found that the majority of attendees are interested in the possibility of expansion and forward thinking changes. The board will take that input seriously in their review of interior renovation options both with and without additional square footage.


The general question is, “Where will the money come from?” It is important to note that the issue of funding cannot be addressed until a plan has been approved and estimated costs established. Once this is done, the Library Board has the job of finding possible sources. For a public library, funding would likely come from a wide range of sources: individual donations, grants, Library support and fundraising organizations, Library investments, city support, etc. The identification of these sources will not be immediately known, but will take careful planning and execution of capital fund campaigns and other funding programs. 

Does the community use the current library resources enough to warrant an expansion?

The concept of capacity is an interesting one. We can look at our current library audience and say that yes – we meet (though barely) the needs of current patrons. However, when one sees that a fraction of our current patrons come from our local community, the question arises as to what are we missing that would better serve the greater community? 

  • We do not have a teen space; no place for teens to come, study and hang out; no place to serve as a safe alternative to other less desirable choices.
  • Our programming can be attended at maximum capacity with no room for growth; a single program space allows only one event at a time to be scheduled.
  • We have requests for co-working, quiet rooms, and meeting/study spaces that we cannot currently fill due to lack of space.
  • Our children’s area is small and less inviting than library spaces in newer facilities.
  • Our open floor plan and acoustics carry noise to the few quiet reading and work spaces in our building currently.
  • Our internal layout and shelving has been significantly changed from the architect’s original intent due to the need to maximize space for library materials.
  • We need to assess our ADA compliance and how we can bring our facility up to code and improve accessibility for everyone.

We can keep what current space we have and continue to only serve those currently using the library, or we can look to make this library a true center of the community, reaching all sectors, and expanding our services to meet today’s AND tomorrow’s needs. We will be learning more about the library needs when the Library Board receives the full report from FEH, and will provide those updates when available.


I heard the library is going to be torn down and replaced with a hotel. Is that true? 

NOPE! One of our great benefactors, Mary Sturges, deeded the land for Elm Park / Library Park and the Lake Geneva Public Library to the City of Lake Geneva in perpetuity as long as only a library and a park occupy the space. There cannot be any other buildings on the property. To see the deed, click here.

Is this the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building in Lake Geneva?

The Lake Geneva Public Library was built in 1954 and it was designed by James Dresser, a Frank Lloyd Wright protégé, not by Mr. Wright himself. The library building is important to many residents for its architecture and the library board takes its stewardship of the building seriously. The board’s intention is to honor and preserve the facility architecture while restoring the original beauty and intention of the interior, and also providing a facility that can offer the resources, services, and amenities of a modern library. Here’s what the library looked like in the 60s and 70s, shortly after it’s construction:

It is also important that the board and staff plan for the future and provide a library that meets the needs of the community and residents. Fortunately, function is an important feature in prairie-style design so these two goals are not mutually exclusive.

What is the timeline for interior renovation?

To be determined! First, the library board will need to review the concepts from FEH (Spring 2020). Then, we will need to determine funding options and that will begin to give us a better sense of a project schedule. We can tell you already that we will need your support! Our Friends of the Library and Lake Geneva Public Library Foundation are great organizations to consider donating to. You can also donate to the library directly and designate your donation for “building renovation”. We anticipate having more funding and donation opportunities available once the scope and schedule of our project becomes clearer, so please stay tuned!