Downtown Library

Yeah, Francis also isn’t my first, or even my second, choice, but I would definitely love to see a better library in downtown. (There’s an express library on Fayetteville Street.)

So I saw the comments above about, “Ooh, a library, how very 1985! Have these people never heard of a little thing called computers?

But I am here to tell you that libraries still have a huge role to play in communities, now and in the future. I’m at Southeast Regional Library on many Saturday mornings, and it is packed with parents of young kids there for the programming. There’s also well-attended programming throughout the week, both for adults and kids, and, believe it or not, plenty of people still use the library for renting books. I’m on the waiting list for one book, and when I got on the list, I was #158 in line. So, yeah, people still use libraries.

Since this is a political thread, let me tie this back into politics. Believe it or not, for all of the reasons listed above, people still want libraries in their communities, and so they are vote-winners. There’s a grand opening for a brand new library in Fuquay-Varina this Sunday, and let me tell you, voters there are very, very excited about it. About the only thing that makes people happier than a new library is a new elementary school.

6 Likes

I don’t think it’s needed downtown. There’s plenty of libraries for families in the suburbs, Cameron village, etc. I can’t tell you the last time I went into a public library. Probably high school in 1999…

Cary is getting a new downtown library that will replace the old one. It will now sit facing the Cary Water Fountain. A nice three story building that should be opening up in a few months I think. I think every city should have a downtown library.

6 Likes

@daviddonovan

Correct. Libraries are needed where there is a captive population who would use one. I occasionally will go to Olivia Rainey, DH Hill or the State Archives if there’s a historical bit that I need which isn’t online.

So, if I were thinking about where to put a new library, and I were an elected leader, I would look at where there is a gap. Southwest of Downtown is a new growth zone. It would make more fiscal sense to put one there.

But, the bigger point is jurisdiction. Libraries are a County thing. Not a city thing.

1 Like

All libraries in Wake County including the ones in all the cities are Wake County libraries. There actually was almost a library going to be built on Fayetteville St but the 10 story building it would have been in the plans fell through and was never built.

2 Likes

And sorry I don’t really care about a library. But I don’t mean to crap on the idea of having one downtown. It just seems like a random idea to toss out in a campaign to get some votes. Not that big a priority to me to make me vote for someone like him tho.

1 Like

Helsinki just got an design award winning library: Oodi Central Library. I toured it it was pretty nifty.

7 Likes

And Raleigh already has an award winning library of its own at NC State.
Next time I’m in Helsinki (I have friends there), I’ll look up this one!

3 Likes

Who reads books anymore? Why on earth are cities building these ginormous libraries? Aren’t there other public projects Raleigh could consider downtown that might be ,well, I don’t know…from 2019,…not 1919!!!

2 Likes

Small 20 character kids.

Be careful of what you wish for. Greensboro has a relatively new downtown library. Fills up quick with the transients, seems there is always an incident. Sort of ruins the vibe of what it should be.

1 Like

These days the mission of a library goes far beyond books. Perhaps it is useful to think of libraries as repositories of knowledge, not necessarily in book format. They provide computers and internet connectivity to a lot of people who don’t have access to them. They also provide lots of programming and can perform a lot of the functions of a community center.

11 Likes

I have great memories of going to the main library in downtown Miami in middle school and high school in the 90s. It was quite an adventure, and the library itself felt so grand compared to the branches I’d been to. I feel similarly inspired, but in a modern way, whenever I’m at Hunt, but I can’t see a downtown Hunt library happening.

I actually use Wake Libraries frequently, and Cameron Village branch is always busy. I guess I’m one of the few people who still read books, and I love how I can check out ebooks from anywhere or place a hold for a hard copy title located anywhere in the system and pick it up at Cameron Village in a few days.

To me, main libraries have a much different function than branches. However, I’m just now really thinking about the fact that, as the state capital, Raleigh does have the State Library, which may serve the purpose of a main library in some ways. I’ve never been there, but now I’m curious enough to maybe pay a visit.

4 Likes

Durham is putting the finishing touches on a $40M renovation of their downtown library after passing a bond in 2016, so should be interesting to see if it ends up a good use of money.


I’m a huge fan of libraries, although up until probably two years ago, I hadn’t stepped foot in one since college. Now I regularly check out ebooks, which I can download to a Kindle, or physical books, which I can have transferred to either the little Fayetteville Street location or the branch near my house for pickup. I also take the kids over on weekends and even our small branch generally has plenty of people in it. While I’m not advocating for a new downtown location in Raleigh (and I’m definitely not supporting Francis), I’ll strongly disagree that libraries are in some way outdated or rarely used.

7 Likes

Millennials, more than anybody. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center, American Millennials are more likely than members of any other generation to have visited a public library in the last year. The survey, conducted in fall 2016, found that 53 percent of people ages 18 to 35 had visited a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months.

Also, parents. 54 percent of parents of minor children reported they had used a library in the past 12 months. It’s not surprising that those two figures are so similar since many Millennials are parents of minor children. And, of course, children! My gosh, children. Libraries are amazing places for children to grow and learn and have access to real, tangible books. My daughter loves story time at our local library, and every time I go I see quite a few other parents that we know. The programming there is fantastic.

Also, underserved communities. Libraries provide free access to information and education (and internet access) to people with limited incomes, they help local residents find jobs, and they help immigrants learn the English language. Libraries are a crucial third space where people can come and benefit from cultural enrichment and books regardless of their incomes.

Also, women. 54 percent of women told Pew that they had visited a public library or bookmobile in the past 12 months.

I could go on and on, but maybe, maybe it’s just quite possible that all of these cities that are building these new libraries actually have very good reasons for doing so, and Raleigh could learn a thing or two from them. Libraries have certainly evolved in the age of the internet, but they remain as essential to a healthy community as they’ve ever been.

8 Likes

You aren’t in favor of public support of a stadium that would attract thousands of people to the city’s core on a regular basis, not to mention spur 10X in development projects but you do support public support of a building that nobody will use?

5 Likes

And just like that, UncleJessie said what we were all thinking :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

2 Likes

You know, it’s a real shame that some folks on this forum feel the need to work the stadium issue into every discussion, but be that as it may, luckily I did come prepared with the relevant statistics.

Did you know that 232,421 people are active cardholders at the Wake County Public Libraries? Or that in 2018 the county libraries received more than 3.4 million unique visits? Or that patrons spent more than 400,000 hours on the libraries’ public computers? Or that total attendance for library programs exceeded 400,000? Or that the library has more than 1.6 million books, more than a quarter of which are checked out at any given time?

Given those hard facts, it’s hard argue with a straight face the “nobody” uses or will use a public library.

So, yes, I am not in favor of spending public money on a soccer stadium, and, yes, I am in fact in favor of spending more money on public libraries, which are, without question, one of the best ideas humanity has ever had. Happy to clarify that.

But, wait, don’t go, I also want to tell you about my exciting ideas about spending more money on children’s museums and public playgrounds and Pre-K programs and elementary schools.

11 Likes

Libraries usually have nice bathrooms.

3 Likes

I’ve taken a few great naps in libraries myself.

1 Like