Downtown Library and Books Stores

Libraries are great, and in sheer investment a library is more likely to contribute in tax dollar increase over capital investment than most other things. A strong library system, and I’d think especially one with a strong central face, increases civic engagement and other lifestyle outcomes.


Sounds like you’re taking a developer on their word alone. The ULI study was done at the best of the development group. Hey, if the city gives me all that money, a study I just did projects that it’ll spur 20 times the development projects.


Well, since the 1960’s site of the Olivia Rainey Library is being put up for sale, we at least have a good place to put this…

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If we first think of a library as a collaborative knowledge and learning center, then they make sense. Have you seen/been to the Hunt Library? It’s an exercise in expanding ones mind about what a library can be. FWIW, the library is open to the public so you can go tour it yourself. They also have formal tours that you can take to learn about all of its attributes.


For historical reference, here is Goodnight Raleigh’s history of the original location of the Olivia Rainey Library…


The ole pitch to emotional arguments like ‘do it for the children’ also ‘oh and women use them too’.

I get that but it’s more likely a DTR library will not be used by these groups but instead get overwhelmed by transients like in Greensboro or Nashville (where the transients have taken over the downtown library). Wouldn’t happen in Raleigh? (old) Moore Square anyone?


Wait, what in the actual hell? How is citing a statistic about the frequency with which women use libraries an “emotional” argument? That’s a factual argument. If I cited statistics about how frequently men use a particular public service, would that also be an “emotional” argument?

I’m not sure what you mean by the term “transients” except that it seems to be an effort to apply a pejorative term to a group of human beings. But speaking as somebody who spends a fair amount of time in libraries, I generally encounter a pretty diverse cross-section of the community, albeit one that leans a little bit on the younger side.

And, also, wait, is the argument here that “nobody” would use a downtown library, or that a library would be “overwhelmed” by tons of people? Because it certainly can’t be both.


This talk of “transients taking over a library” is shallow. Let’s please class up this conversation. I find a lot of this topic to be naive about libraries.

For me, I remember when the downtown post office, the one at the corner of Martin and Fayetteville was planned to be closed but then mayor Meeker and others urged them to stay open. I think that that post office building should be converted to a public library. If the feds ever closed that building, the city and county should make a play to get it from them and make it a great public building.

library > stadium


That would be the natural choice.

This is exactly it. I’m working on a library in Delaware right now, and the owners are actually opting to call the building a “learning commons” instead of a library, since the latter apparently has antiquated connotations (as evidenced by this thread).

Most of the libraries our firm works on are progressive in nature, and that makes all the difference. While they do retain traditional stacks for books, much of the programming is oriented towards communal spaces for learning and creativity. Libraries these days include “maker spaces” with 3D printers and lasercutters, virtual reality/black rooms, studios, event spaces to be rented by the community, and spaces for collaborative work. Hunt Library is a great example of what this can look like, and many of those same amenities have begun trickling down into mainstream public libraries in cities that prioritize quality public buildings. The library is no longer the silent, solitary space it used to be.

Downtown Durham’s new library is going to be beautiful and really embodies the “cool” that modern libraries are after. Green roof seating, outdoor amphitheater, cafe, and event spaces that allow it to be used by the city during festivals and events. With the number of people that work from home these days, I can see this being a go-to building for productivity.

In Carrboro, the new main library will share a building with town offices, a Teen Center, Virtual Justice Center, the community radio station, and - until recently - ArtSpace.

Y’all are so old school. :wink: It’s not about the books!


Salt Lake City’s downtown library is a centerpiece of the city.


For anyone who bothered to read the whole article, I find it truly serendipitous that

The Olivia Raney Library was once known as Raleigh’s ‘Taj Mahal’

And this topic spun off of the election thread where mayoral candidate Charles Francis, who referred to the proposed new municipal camps as the “Taj Mahal,” is proposing a destination library for downtown. :rofl:

And the circle completes itself!

And for those who think of libraries as vaults where old dusty books and microfiche films are kept, you should try actually using one—your tax dollars are paying for them, after all. Libraries were the internet before it was cool, and they have continued to evolve while some people clearly haven’t been paying attention.


Wow, that’s beautiful. :heart_eyes: Thanks for posting, @charlie and welcome to the community!


Interestingly, the original Olivia Raney Library had many of the pieces that we look for in downtown development. Street level retail, community meeting space, etc. Only the second floor had books as far as the Archives pics indicated in the early 1900’s. Very forward thinking. Now, if they had had Internet access at the time, it would be perfect!


“Libraries were the internet before it was cool…”

Wait, there’s porn?


Yeah my family and I find ourselves in the libraries at least monthly. And they are universally fantastic and always busy. I don’t care how libraries elsewhere in the state and country are managed, Wake County knows how to run a *$# library system that meets the needs of its residents and I have utmost faith that, were they to have a larger facility downtown, it would be well-run, safe, clean, and very popular.


The question (topic) isn’t the viability of libraries. Libraries definitely serve a function. Some love them. Some could care less about them. The question is should downtown Raleigh have a new (probably expensive and tax payer funded) library? This is not a stadium vs library issue. You can have both, one or none. Does Raleigh already have enough libraries to serve the public? Will a downtown library draw enough users to justify massive spending (if brand new)?

Any initiative to get people to read actual books is probably a good thing. But, like anything else, it has to make sense logistically and financially.

The Hunt Library is pretty cool.


I keep wanting to check The Hunt out. Just had to figure out how to find it. Now that I’ve seen it, I wonder if it can achieve a stable orbit once it launches.

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I recall the debate when the new, but by then old, Olivia Raney needed replacement. At the time, the decision was to treat Cameron Village as the downtown branch. They argument at the time was there were not enough patrons to use a downtown branch beyond business material. Hence the small branch DTR has. Dang, I am late for class!

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I had thought that The NCSU Hunt Library was only open to students.
But I called them and they said it’s open to the public from 8am to 10pm daily.

We will be making the trip soon!