North Raleigh library on the move

Staff WriterNovember 1, 2006 

— The North Regional Library will close Nov. 22 so staffers and volunteers can pack up and move to a new building a mile and a half away.

Starting today, library patrons can check out books through Jan. 31, which officials hope will help to cut the number of books that must move to the building on Harps Mill Road.

The library, now off Six Forks Road, is the second busiest library in Wake County and, possibly, the state, county officials said. Nearly 1.2 million books were circulated there in the last fiscal year.

That traffic makes space cramped in the existing 20,000-square-foot building.

Popular children's programs can draw dozens of parents and children to the library on some days. A room dedicated to quiet study must become a classroom to hold some programming.

And, on Sundays, the public computers are so popular they fill up within five minutes of opening. Staffers have had to cut the normal session time in half to 30 minutes.

And, with a color scheme that relies heavily on aqua, the space, which the county moved into in the early 1990s, is a little outdated.

"We do look a little Miami Vice-ish," joked Mike Wasilick, a regional manager for the library system in charge of North Regional.

The new 30,000-square-foot library will have room for more of everything, Wasilick said.

Another 50,000 books will be added to the library's 200,000-book collection when the new library opens about Jan. 20.

The library will get 22 new computers and 15 new computers dedicated to checking the catalog.

There also will be more meeting and classroom space.

County voters approved money for the project in 2003 as part of a $35 million bond package. The total project, including the purchase of nearly 5 acres and an existing office building, along with its renovation and expansion, total about $7.6 million.

The library bonds also are paying for the construction of the West Regional Library, which opened in Cary in September, and the Holly Springs Library, which will open next month.

Two more libraries in the Leesville Road and Wakefield Plantation areas will open in the next few years. And work will start in January to expand the South Raleigh branch. The new Cameron Village Library, which opened in January, was paid for with a separate pot of money.

"The western and northern part of the county has been where the most growth has been occurring," said Tom Moore, county library director. "So we're catching up. The people are already there. We're trying to put the libraries in after the people are there."

Judith Powers considers herself a library groupie. She goes to North Regional two or three times a week to drop off books or attend a class. She said she is excited about the new building but knows she will be a little nostalgic about leaving the old one.

For Powers, the library is like family. She said she will miss it when it closes but plans to help with the move.

"For me, there is just a lovely feeling when I walk into a library," Powers said. "It always is very welcoming. There is a sense of community."

Staff writer Sarah Lindenfeld Hall can be reached at 829-8983 or slindenf@newsobserver.com.

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