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The Daily Tar Heel

Carrboro library still struggles to find location

In downtown Carrboro, the town’s hip crowd has access to everything they could ever desire: coffee shops, an organic market and a community arts theater. Everything, that is, except for a substantial town library. 

There have been talks of constructing a Carrboro branch of the Orange County Public Library for decades, but the Orange County Board of Commissioners and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen have struggled to find a viable location at which to build the proposed Southern Branch Library.

Now the county is suggesting that the library be built on a town-owned lot located on South Greensboro Street, next to Open Eye Café. Many residents are excited about the prospect of a pedestrian-accessible library that is right in the heart of downtown Carrboro. 

“I think it would be fabulous, because there is such a pedestrian and bike population here. It sounds ideal,” Carrboro resident Mary Hughes Brookhart said.

If the lot is approved, the town and the county hope that the library will serve as more than a place to check out books.

“The library would add another location in Carrboro for people to come together in a community space,” Damon Seils, a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen said. “It would offer cultural opportunities in downtown Carrboro that aren’t currently available.”

Currently, Carrboro has two smaller branches of the Orange County Public Library: one located in McDougle Middle School and a Cybrary located in the Carrboro Century Center. However, the two libraries have a combined square footage of only 9,600 feet: an amount that is half the size of most community libraries.   

“I think the other Carrboro libraries are nice, but there’s not really a real space there. They’re very limited,” Brookhart said.

The town and the county have evaluated several locations in the past, though none have met the criteria the town needs in order to officially launch the construction of the library.

“The issue has been with the availability of land within Carrboro,” Orange County Commissioner Earl McKee said. “There are very few properties that do not have issues, whether they be with the title or with parking.”

The Orange County Board of Commissioners and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen plan to meet on October 15 for a joint meeting, during which they will discuss the Southern Branch Library project.

“I think finding the location is the key,” Seils said. “Carrboro and the county have had good collaboration on this issue for the last few years, and I’m looking forward to seeing that continue.”


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