The Friends of the Carrboro Library will hold its annual book sale to raise money for a dream it has pursued for nearly 30 years: a free-standing library in Carrboro.
The sale will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15 and 16, in the McDougle Middle School Cafeteria. The Carrboro Library currently functions out of the school’s library.
“We’re the largest town in North Carolina without a freestanding library,” book-sale co-chair Dolly Triantafillou told me over coffee at Weaver Street Market.
The Friends’ group, Triantafillou said, started in 1987. The “sparkplugs” were Ellie Kinnaird, then the recently elected mayor of Carrboro and employed with UNC’s libraries, and Barbara Dewey, then school librarian at Frank Porter Graham Elementary School.
Besides the annual book sale, the Friends have participated in surveys, workshops and untold meetings, Triantafillou said, all in hopes of landing a permanent home. “We have had bake sales, yard sales,” she said. The group has worked at Carrboro Day, July Fourth celebrations in Carrboro and Chapel Hill’s street festivals.
Over the years, Triantafillou said, the number of Friends has grown steadily, now including some 150 members. “But also a couple of generations have grown up. Parents will work on it for a while, but then the kids will grow up.”
More than 20 Friends have died as they waited for the dream to be realized.
In the past, Triantafillou told me, often the problem has been a lack of agreement between Orange County and Carrboro elected officials about where to place the library. Significant taxpayer money has been spent evaluating two sites, one along Hillsborough Road and the other on Brewer Lane downtown. Neither site panned out. Being evaluated now is a downtown site, the former Andrews Hardware Store location, currently a Carrboro town parking lot.
Long-time Friends’ member Nerys Levy believes the third time may be the charm. “We would like it to be this site,” she said. Otherwise, fears Levy, who is chair of the arts program for the current library operations at McDougle Middle School, “It will be another 10 years.”
What is imagined is either a library on the former Andrews Hardware Store site or a multi-use building that includes the library. The devil will be in the details.
Both Triantafillou and Levy noted how Carrboro owns the land on South Greensboro Street, but Orange County will provide the funds for building and operating the library. As envisioned, the Carrboro Branch Library, the first freestanding county branch, will serve the population of southwest Orange County. This is close to 35,000 people, Levy said, and includes an area as far west as White Cross and as far south as the Chatham County line.
As she informed me, the Chapel Hill Public Library is a municipal library, meant to serve Chapel Hill, akin to our school system where we have city schools and county schools with different types of funding.
More than 20 Friends have died as they waited for the dream of a freestanding library to be realized.
If the Carrboro Board of Aldermen chooses a multi-use building, Levy sees the core as being a library on three different floors with interactive spaces. “There’s a lot of imagination out there in terms of libraries.”
But will this work for Carrboro’s small, crowded downtown? Will officials make the library a central focus? Will they understand people need to drive in from the county? Will some argue only biking, walking or riding an inconveniently scheduled bus is acceptable for getting to downtown? Or, will a new parking deck be in Carrboro’s future?
“It will never be perfect,” Levy said, “but the perfect is the enemy of the good. UNC has built half of a new campus while we’ve been trying to decide this for years.” Yet, she added, “The Friends of the Library are facing the future with great optimism and excitement. We will watch. We’re a very vigilant group.”
Saturday, Oct., 15, the sale will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., the line usually forming between 7:15 and 7:30 a.m. The cafeteria will be filled with books, Triantafillou said, including self-help books, the most popular. Available as well will be CDs, DVDs and many books on tape. A bag day will be held on Sunday, Oct. 16, from 1-4 p.m., $6 a bag.
Anyone wishing to help Friday, Oct. 14, to set up or Sunday, Oct. 16, to break down, can call Triantafillou, 919-929-7954 or co-chair, Linda Browner, 919-969-8145.
Linda Haac lives in Carrboro. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org