Joliet Public Library Receives Funding for State Capital Appropriation Bill in Full, Funding for Project Burnham

The Joliet Public Library is excited to announce that funding for Project Burnham from the Rebuild Illinois Community Development Initiative grant has been fully received and will be paid to the City of Joliet.

The total amount of $6.3 million, which was used to cover a portion of the library’s renovation of the interior of the downtown Ottawa Street Branch in 2021-2022, was paid upfront through the City of Joliet selling bonds to cover immediate construction costs. These bonds will be paid off by the recently received state grant several years earlier than expected.

Exterior of the Ottawa Street Branch – Joliet Public Library

The total cost of the project was $10.5 million, funded through the grant and library reserves. No funding for the library renovation came from new Joliet property taxes. Executive Director of the Joliet Public Library, Megan Millen, is pleased that the grant money came in early.

“We are happy to have received the funding in full and paid them back to the City of Joliet,” said Millen. “We initially expected the money to be distributed gradually over a span of a few years. Learning that they have been received and that the City will be reimbursed ahead of schedule for the bonds is great news. We extend our gratitude to Senator McGuire, a steadfast ally of the Joliet Public Library, for championing our mission and considering us for this grant. Additionally, we appreciate the City Council for their decision to facilitate the bond sale on our behalf until the grant funds were secured.”

The renovation was completed in the summer of 2022 and since then the Library’s vision of a modernized community hub and place of learning has come to life.

“The Children’s Zone has to be my favorite,” said Communications Manager, Mallory Hewlett. “It’s wonderful to see children and families enjoying the features of the play structure and light bright wall. My toddlers love the magnetic white board with giant letters and magnetic gears. It’s a space that allows children to play and enjoy themselves in the library, while fostering a learning environment.”

#D printers lined up in the new expanded Digital Media Studio – Joliet Public Library

The individual study rooms on the first and second levels have also been a popular addition. From January-November 2023, the study rooms have had about 2,330 reservations.

Additionally, the Digital Media Studio (DMS), which was once a tiny office on the second floor, has expanded across the lower level to include more technology than ever before. Staff in the DMS has also been able to offer more programming, such as 3D printing demonstrations.

“The services the DMS can now provide has expanded exponentially,” said Digital Media Studio Manager, Josh Phillips. “We have a makerlab, featuring 3D printers, t-shirt printer, poster printer and lamination. We also have two audio booths and a green screen room with all the equipment you need for a professional photo or video shoot. Our staff can help you with a variety of creative projects, and we are happy to help.”

An additional seven study rooms were built on the first level, and two for teens on the second level, which have been extremely popular with patrons. Joliet Public Library

The  Ottawa Street Branch was built in 1903 and designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. Over the years, Joliet families have enjoyed the building’s marble walls, limestone exterior, and arched windows. In 1991, a 49,000 square foot extension was built to accommodate Joliet’s growing population and complement the design of the original building. The addition was constructed to replicate the original building’s exterior. For more information, visit our website at

About the Joliet Public Library

The Joliet Public Library is committed to being a resource for the community to read, explore, ask and discover. For more information, visit or call 815-740-2660.