For the new libraries on Franklin and Columbia streets, no library card is required.
The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership opened the Downtown Free Library — located in two vacant newspaper bins downtown — last week.
Residents can grab a book from the bins and return it whenever they want — or they can keep the book.
The partnership originally stocked the bins with a variety of books, and residents can bring any personal books back to the bins.
For Meg McGurk, executive director of the partnership, the opening of the library bins is a dream realized.
“Part of our mission is to do events like this to keep the town feeling special and get more people to visit,” McGurk said.
McGurk said she hopes UNC students will begin to participate in the program.
“They should consider the Downtown Free Library as theirs,” McGurk said.
Molly De Marco, a research fellow at UNC, helped McGurk with the opening of the new library.
“We would like people to be more excited about reading,” De Marco said.
“It’s a new way to care for the community.”
McGurk said the library has gained widespread popularity since its opening, and the bins have had to be restocked three times.
She said people have also begun to leave books of their own behind in the bins.
“There were books in there that I know I haven’t put in, so people have been leaving books,” McGurk said.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he is excited about the new library because he thinks it’s a great way to promote reading in the community.
“This is a town of readers,” he said. “Reading programs like this are just who we are in the community, and I hope it keeps going.”
McGurk, whose love of reading prompted her to open the free library, said she hopes everyone will take advantage of the new library.
“I want everyone that walks on the sidewalks in downtown Chapel Hill to stop and pick up a book,” she said.
Though it has only been open for a week, Kleinschmidt said he hopes reading continues to grow in the community.
“Whether it is short-lived or long-lived, it is a good idea,” he said. “It is a way to get reading out to the community.”
The library operates in two bins, but McGurk said the partnership is hoping community members and organizations will help the fledgling library expand.
“I hope others are inspired by it and hope to open other branches or contribute to ours,” McGurk said.
“I hope they open in every community around us.”
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