Midtown Raleigh News

Athens Drive High School library will close to the public in July

Starting next month, the library at Athens Drive High School will no longer be open to the public.

The change is due to security concerns, said Tim Simmons, a spokesman for Wake County schools. He said school leaders have discussed the possibility of closing the library to the public for years.

“One of the top priorities is the school system,” Simmons said. “When safety concerns are in play you need to address those promptly.”

No major security issues have been reported at the west Raleigh school. But Simmons said some parents have complained that it’s easy for library visitors to access the main part of the building.

The school system and Wake County partnered in the early 1980s so the Athens Drive High School library served students while also doubling as a public library.

But times have changed in terms of security at schools, said Ann Burlingame, assistant library director in Wake. High schools need to monitor who comes on their campuses, she said.

“We need to have a regard for the children and their safety,” Burlingame said.

West Raleigh doesn’t have another public library. The closest library, Cameron Village Regional, is about 4 miles away. The Cary Community Library, which will undergo an expansion, is about 5 miles away, and the Eva Perry Regional Library is about 8 miles away.

Many library users in west Raleigh are already traveling to those three libraries, according to the county. Of the 2,100 library cards issued at the Athens Drive site, 75 percent of the users visit those other libraries.

The county plans to build the Middle Creek Community Library near West Lake Elementary next year.

The Athens Drive library will close to the public July 26.

Hendricks: 919-836-5755; Twitter: @ashleytalks_