In a few years, Carrboro residents will have access to a new library in the parking lot next to Open Eye and Glasshalfull. The Orange County Public Library and the town of Carrboro will share the library with Town of Carrboro employees. There is also the potential for the Arts Center to move some of its programming into the new space.
Currently, the Orange County Public library has two locations in Carrboro: the Cybrary on North Greensboro Street and a branch at McDougle Middle School. However, the library wants to expand to a location that better serves the needs of Carrboro residents.
“In our current spaces in Carrboro, we do not have adequate event space. We also don’t have any meeting space and many people like to use libraries for meetings,” said Libbie Hough, Communications Specialist for the Orange County Public Library. “We want to provide another place where folks can meet, can learn and feel welcome and free to explore new interests.”
Hough added that Carrboro lacks a space with access to public computers―something that the library would add to the town.
“A library makes a downtown vibrant, and it’s a huge attraction. The library of today is now a gathering space, a place for meetups, and you have art displays and books and tapes,” said Lydia Lavelle, Mayor of Carrboro. “It’s a place for the community, and it’ll be a great addition to downtown.”
Plans for the library are still in the beginning phases, with the Town of Carrboro and the Orange County Government deciding on a designer this month. For the last year, both parties worked on a development agreement to discuss how to divide up the costs of the building.
“There’s a timeline and a process outlined and everyone seems to be on board,” said Hough. “If everything goes to plan, [the library] will open in the fall of 2019.”
The library will replace an 88-space parking lot, raising concerns from both residents and businesses owners.
“The construction phase itself has the potential to have the most potentially deleterious effect on businesses in proximity, on many levels,” said Scott Conary, owner of Open Eye, in an email interview. “It could be as simple as restricting access, but can also be as complicated as affecting utilities that are needed to stay in business, and keep care of our very delicate equipment. Other concerns are noise, parking in that time frame, and the potential loss of current parking/street access.”
The main concern stems from the lack of parking during construction.
“We’re in the process of looking at the lots around the space to see if we can purchase or lease some parking space for what we anticipate will be needed and will definitely be needed during construction,” said Lavelle. “In the long term, we might put a modest deck on some place around the lot to have some extra parking― not too imposing but something to give more parking.”
Conary explained that businesses will face aesthetic and function issues such as having the view blocked, but he added that once construction is completed, the library could have a positive impact on the town.
“There is the potential for this to have a positive long term impact for bringing folks from the county and beyond into the downtown, especially if parking for the public is maintained for easy access to the town and businesses,” said Conary.
Since its incorporation in 1911, the Town of Carrboro has only built one new building ― Fire Station Number
Two ― because most buildings are repurposed. Now Town of Carrboro is also planning to fix up the area around the library.
“Part of what we’ll do is be improving Roberson,” said Lavelle, referring to the road behind Armadillo Grill and Tyler’s. “We’re going to put in bike lanes and a sidewide…to make it much more user friendly for bikers and walkers.”
With a completion date set for fall of 2019, the Town of Carrboro and the Orange County Government continue to search for a design that fits the needs and concerns of the community.
Photo Courtesy Indy Week.