Wake County to take the public out of a public library | Wake County | Indy Week
Pin It

Wake County to take the public out of a public library 

So last week, Wake County Public Libraries unceremoniously informed residents of a mixed-income Southwest Raleigh neighborhood that, starting July 26, the Athens Drive High School library many of them had come to rely on for book-learnin' and Internet access would be closed.

Shockingly, this did not go over well.

In a letter, Ann Burlingame, deputy director of WCPL, told library patrons that the county commission and school board had decided to shutter the library to keep students safe.

"It became clear that the security requirements for a school library are greater than the security requirements for a public library," Burlingame wrote.

The closing will, of course, hurt those in the neighborhood who don't have a car or want to drive five miles to the Cameron Village branch. It will hurt the library staffers who are about to be, well, canned. It will hurt the kids who take special-needs classes at the library or attend the on-site preschool the library supports or the summer activities it offers. It will hurt Athens Drive teachers who used to be able to request books from the library system.

And it will hurt Hannah McKenzie, who at least once a week walks from her home in Avent West to the library with her 2-year-old son for story time. "It's a huge part of our lives and community," McKenzie says. "There are lots of reasons to keep it open."

To make matters worse, there's also the fact this decision was made without any sort of public hearing or even any advance notice to the library staff. And the county isn't even considering a compromise, like, say, opening the library to the public on nights and weekends, when the students aren't around. Oh, and this isn't the first time the county has tried to do this: In 2009, the commission yanked the library's funding, only to backpedal after a public outcry.

School board member Jim Martin, whose district covers Athens Drive High, says there are two problems with the library: One, nobody's using it, which means the county has to subsidize its operations. Two, the people who are using it are maybe getting a little creepers.

"There have been issues in terms of the public getting into the halls of the school and there has been some stalking of students in the library," he says. "It's one of the lowest-used libraries in the county, and there was not a good mechanism to run fewer hours and sustain the library."

"[The county] has never wanted a library at Athens," says Public Schools First NC board chair Yevonne Brannon, who together with then-City Council member Miriam Block pushed to get the public library opened at the school in 1979. "This community has had a library for nearly 40 years. It should at least be moved—relocated in the community. Just closing it is not fair to all of the residents in this growing zip code."

The residents will get a chance to plead their case to the county commission July 6.

Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at triangulator@indyweek.com. Additional reporting by Kaitlin Montgomery.

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Wake County



Twitter Activity

Comments

I am curious as to why I have seen no press coverage of the fact that both US Senator Cory …

by Rebecca Llewellyn on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

If anyone on this thread actually thinks Mayor McFarlane has anything to do with the success of Raleigh, they are …

by Dan Levi on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

Most Recent Comments

I am curious as to why I have seen no press coverage of the fact that both US Senator Cory …

by Rebecca Llewellyn on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

If anyone on this thread actually thinks Mayor McFarlane has anything to do with the success of Raleigh, they are …

by Dan Levi on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

@dianahaywood - so are you suggesting that we elect someone who says you should vote based on race? He has …

by For Real? on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

The incumbent mayor has shaped a future for Raleigh that can be very accurately observed and analyzed. Where one perception …

by Ml Hayes on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

It's time for McFarland to go. She has done more then enough to our city especially the SE Raleigh district. …

by Diana Haywood on Nancy McFarlane Presides Over a Thriving City. Charles Francis Says She Doesn’t Deserve the Credit. (Wake County)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation