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The Library bar seeks new beginning after controversial membership policy

The Library

The Library, a collegial hangout, on Franklin Street has recently changed their membership fees. 

The Library, a popular Franklin Street bar, has loosened its membership requirements after Chapel Hill residents complained about a $25 application fee enacted earlier in the summer.

On July 3, the bar announced on Twitter the membership application would also require a valid W-2 form as proof of employment for all non-students, causing some locals to claim the policy was discriminatory. 

New management plans to establish a new reputation after its controversial decision.

“There were lots of fights on a few specific nights last year,” said A.J. Tama, the new owner of The Library who took over in late July. 

He said the private membership rules already existed but hadn't been enforced.

The original change was made in July because the bar was receiving pressure from the Town of Chapel Hill to comply with a state law telling private clubs like The Library they have to operate on a members-only basis. 

Tama, a long-time Chapel Hill resident who worked security at Top of the Hill for six years, decided to change the membership application after seeing some of the negative feedback it had received. 

“The W-2 requirement is absolutely gone,” Tama said. "The bar will also be charging only $2 for membership this fall in order to make it a more attractive location for both students and locals."

This pricing falls more closely in line with the membership fees at other Franklin Street bars, like the Crunkleton and The Dead Mule Club. 

In order to emphasize a new beginning for the popular club, Tama and The Library staff have remodeled the interior and are planning a social media campaign to welcome the community back. 

Despite The Library's new plans, some students find it difficult to overlook the implications of the bar's original policy change.

“It’s easy to forget as a student that there are full-time residents of this town who ought to be able to enjoy the same amenities as students,” said Rodrigo Bustamante, a junior at UNC. “I always saw The Library as more of a place for locals to go to, and when I heard about the change, I saw it as a way to get rid of a certain reputation that the bar had acquired.”

Ruth Samuel, a UNC sophomore, said the news about the membership concerned her because it implicated minority students as being the source of the issues prompting the policy, despite the bar serving as a hub for African-American students. 

"It's ridiculous, the fact that he said a W-2 requirement was something that could reduce violence and fights," she said. "There's no guarantee that because someone has a job or passes a background check they won't cause trouble."

Bustamante said he hopes there can be a space in the future for Chapel Hill’s diverse population to interact without garnering a bad name in the process.

“People have heard a lot of rumors about The Library this summer,” said Tama. “But we are excited for people to give this place another chance. We want to be a part of the community.”

Tama remembers a time when tThe Library was an important establishment in the Chapel Hill nightlife, and he acknowledges the bar lost sight of what made it great. 

“This used to be a great bar back in the day,” he said. “I think we are definitely on our way back.”


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