Back to the books in Wake Forest as downtown library branch reopens Sunday

The Wake Forest Community Library will reopen Sunday after a two-year renovation.
The Wake Forest Community Library will reopen Sunday after a two-year renovation.

After almost two years, bookworms in Wake Forest will be back in business.

The Wake Forest Community Library is reopening Sunday after a renovation project closed it in 2017.

The library, always a busy branch based on circulation numbers, has almost doubled in space to about 9,000 square feet and expanded its programming offerings, according to a news release. It had been one of the smallest among the 21 branches in Wake County.

“We’ve been out of the building for about a year and a half so we are happy to be home,” said library manager Valerie Pierce. “We’ve been hearing folks around who’ve asked about the library reopening and they’ve been waiting for us for a long time. “

The current location opened in 1996 and was remodeled in 2013. The expansion project was part of a 2007 bond that has paid for library upgrades throughout the county.

The expanded library will offer youth programs, a collection of between 40,000 and 50,000 books, 16 public computers and WiFi.

Former branch manager Christina Piscitello, who now works in the county library’s main office, said the Wake Forest area is booming.

“I mean, we were busting at the seams back then, and it’s just gotten busier and busier,” she said. “For the town, for the county and especially for that staff, to finally see that project come to fruition with the anticipated opening on Sunday, I know there’s a lot of excitement.”

Piscitello said she has fond memories of her time at the branch, especially getting to know the regular patrons.

“You get some of the old-time Wake Forest residents, some of the older people, and it kind of made me chuckle because you would get to know them with chit chat across the desk,” she said. “That’s the great thing about a community library ... you get to know them a little bit about their lives, and they get to know a little bit about you.”

While the downtown branch was closed, patrons had to trek over to the Northeast Regional Branch in Wakefield. Reopening the downtown branch is highly anticipated, she said.

“People just really feel a connection to their town library,” she said. “Especially with new people moving into an area, the library is often, especially if they’ve got young children, one of the first services they seek. They get a library card so they can use the services.”

The library will open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sunday at 2 p.m. It will also begin operating seven days a week for the first time after the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved the expanded hours to include Sundays in its latest operating budget.

“The library has always been an important part of this community, and we’re so excited to reopen it,” said Ann Burlingame, deputy director of Wake County Public Libraries. “This new and improved building will serve library patrons for years to come, and we look forward to making new memories with all of our visitors.”

Joe Johnson is a reporter covering breaking stories for The News & Observer. He most recently covered towns in western Wake County and Chatham County. Before that, he covered high school sports for The Herald-Sun.