Overhaul of main Durham library in home stretch
Posted October 18, 2019 7:17 p.m. EDT
Durham, N.C. — After more than two years of renovations, Durham County's main library on North Roxboro Street downtown is nearing its grand reopening.
The $44.3 million overhaul, paid for with bonds voters approved in 2016, provides more space, more technology and more creative opportunities, such as an area for artists.
"I consider this as Durham’s huge community living room, and everything about it is exciting," library director Tammy Baggett-Best said Friday.
Although the exterior renovations are done, Baggett-Best said much work remains to be done inside, so the library won't open to the public until next spring.
Furniture is now being assembled inside, and books from storage will arrive in December, around the same time that library staff return to start putting everything in place and in order.
Durham residents are eagerly awaiting a chance to get back inside.
"It’s beautiful. I’m surprised they still build libraries," said Mary Kelly, who remembers going to the library growing up in Durham. "The library brings people together. You don’t have to Google search everything."
"It’s a lot better than the last one. It’s bigger. I can’t wait to get inside and see what our options are," said Dorothea Whaley, a mother of two who lives nearby.
"I think it says a lot about Durham and its support for education and the community and children, especially," said Hank McCarthy, who has two young daughters. "I think it’s fantastic what they’re doing."
Fifteen percent of households in Durham County lack internet access, officials said, so Baggett-Best said the revamped library will provide those residents a chance to do everything from school work to job searches.
"I would love to think that everyone in Durham County would come out to this location, visit our library, see what we have to offer, and make this a place that is a regular stop for them," she said.