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In Celebration of Its Past, Wake Libraries Hope Citizens Will Invest In Its Future

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RALEIGH — Read any good books lately?Wake County Public Librariesare celebrating100 yearsof serving the community. Now, the library system is looking to the community to give back.

A century ago, Raleigh was happy just to have a library.The first onewas donated by hotel owner Richard Raney.

"In the larger cities -- Boston, Philadelphia, New York -- the library movement was taking hold and Richard Raney saw that Raleigh needed the same kind of cultural and education opportunities for its residents," says Dale Cousins, regional supervisor.

Since that time, the Wake County Public Library System has grown from one branch to 17. Its collection of books has grown from 5,000 to 1.5 million.

Despite volumes of reading material, there are still some resources you will not find. There are no big meeting rooms, computer labs or books on tape.

"We haven't done some of the things that you find elsewhere. We've chosen consciously to concentrate on books," says Cousins.

Library officials are ready to concentrate on adding new amenities, but they will need a trust fund to supplement their budget.

"The tax money provides the basic level of service we can provide, but if we want to dream and scheme of bigger things, I think the trust fund is the heart of that," says Cousins.

Library officialsare hoping to collect$1 million for the trust fund by the end of the year. They are hoping for the same generosity that helped build the library system a century ago.

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Laurie Clowers, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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