It was a full house Wednesday evening at the Chapel Hill Town Hall as residents discussed whether to relocate the town’s only public library to a mall.
The town held a public hearing on the option to move the Chapel Hill Public Library from its current location at 100 Library Drive to University Mall, replacing Dillard’s.
Most residents present said they would prefer the library to be expanded in its current location. They cited children’s safety, jobs at Dillard’s and less attractive scenery as reasons to stay on Library Drive.
Sydney Simmons, a senior at East Chapel Hill High School, said students use the library for studying, tutoring and escaping distractions from home.
“I feel like our voice isn’t heard in this issue, and that’s a big reason why I wanted to be heard,” Simmons said.
She said if the library was relocated to University Mall, she would be inclined to shop rather than study.
Simmons said she had attended town council meetings to learn more about the issue after her mother expressed concern. She said she handed out more than 400 fliers and created a petition last Sunday that garnered more than 200 signatures in opposition of the move.
Madison Marquette offered in November to permanently house the library in the space Dillard’s currently occupies.
Jay Lask, the managing director of property investments for Madison Marquette, said relocating the library would make the mall unique and attract people from other towns.
Ellie Boote, a UNC graduate student in the School of Information and Library Science, said she leans in favor of the move.
New to the area, Boote said the library is a good resource for new residents, but the original location isn’t obvious to those who aren’t familiar with the area.
“Right now, you really only come across the library if you’re going out with the intent of going to the library,” Boote said.
She said it was important to think about future patrons and how they would benefit from relocation.
“Overall, we have to do what the majority of the community is in favor of because it’s a public library — it’s there to serve the public,” she said.
Council members plan to consider the proposal at a Feb. 14 meeting.
Until then, residents will have to await the decision.
“Are we really going to forsake our beloved library this Valentine’s Day?” resident Tom Farmer asked.
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