The first public library in Wake County, the Olivia Raney Library, was chartered in 1899 in downtown Raleigh and opened its doors to the public on January 24, 1901. The library was erected in tribute to the late wife of Richard B. Raney, across from the family home on the corner of Salisbury and Hillsborough streets. Early library managers, all female, included Jennie Coffin, Mrs. J.S. Atkinson and Clyde Smith. Today, a North Carolina Historic Properties sign marks the location of the original library.
The second libraries in the county were opened by the Garner Women’s Club in the town of Garner (1931) and by Mollie Huston Lee on Raleigh’s Hargett Street (1935). The latter, the Richard B. Harrison Library, has relocated twice and is in current operation at 1313 New Bern Ave. By the 1960s, libraries had been established through the grassroots efforts of volunteers and civic clubs in the towns of Wendell, Zebulon, Fuquay-Varina, Cary and Wake Forest. In 1965, the Olivia Raney Library and the Richard B. Harrison Library merged, and discussions commenced with town libraries/library boards to develop a unified system of service for all residents of the county. In 1970, Library Director William O’Shea established a countywide advisory board as library branches opened in the suburban areas of Raleigh (North Hills, Southgate and Cameron Village) as well as in the town of Knightdale. By 1978, Wake County Commissioners Betty Ann Knudsen, Bob Heater, Stewart Adcock and Edmund Aycock agreed to merge many of the libraries in the county, and more importantly, Wake County Government agreed to assume full fiscal responsibility for library service. By 1985, all libraries, from Apex to Zebulon, were united as one system and were fully financed by property tax dollars collected by Wake County.
In 1982, a new Library Director, Thomas L. Moore, introduced the regional library concept, which placed large, full-service libraries in major geographic quadrants and/or population centers of the county, and he closed the system’s outdated “main” library. Mr. Moore also supervised the system’s first book inventory and employed the new idea of “popular reading” as a basis for the system’s collection development philosophy. In 1985, the Cameron Village branch library expanded to become the system’s first regional library. A $5 million bond issue passed, and the new North Regional Library opened to replace the North Hills branch library in 1986. The Wendell and Fuquay-Varina libraries were expanded in new facilities. The system’s third regional library, Southeast Regional, replaced the former Garner Library in 1989 as the system’s first library with an automated catalog and circulation system. Every library in the system was fully automated by 1992.
In the early 1990s, a $10 million bond referendum passed, and several building projects expanded and modernized the system. A fourth regional library, Eva Perry Regional, replaced the Apex branch library in a unique partnership between the town of Apex and Wake County. Community branch libraries were opened on Duraleigh Road to serve the residents of West Raleigh and on Green Road to serve residents along the North Capital Boulevard corridor, and the South Raleigh Library was refurbished. Both the Wake Forest and the Zebulon libraries were replaced with new and expanded facilities. The Olivia Raney Local History Library opened in 1996, using the bond money and the remaining Olivia Raney Family Trust. In 1997, the Electronic Information Center opened downtown as the first library in the system to offer public Internet access. By 1999, public Internet access was available in every library in the county. Two new Bookmobiles were added to the system to serve preschool children in daycare settings around the county. The last of the bond money was used to replace the Knightdale Library with the system’s fifth regional library, East Regional, in December 1999.
In 2001, the library system celebrated its centennial with its first written history by former librarian Roy Dicks and with the creation of a Public Library Trust Fund, held by the Triangle Community Foundation. In 2002, the library system hosted a “Libraries of the Future” symposium and created its new Strategic Business Plan. This plan has seen several revisions and updates over the years and serves as the outline for the delivery of basic services in the system.
In 2003, a $35 million bond referendum passed with a 70%+ approval rate from county residents. In 2005, both Richard B. Raney and Mollie Huston Lee were inducted in the inaugural class of the Raleigh Hall of Fame for their contributions as founders of the Wake County Public Library system. The Cameron Village Regional Library was expanded in a totally renovated space, which opened to the public in January 2006. In September 2006, a sixth regional library, the West Regional Library, opened to offer expanded service to the residents of the Cary/Morrisville area. In December 2006, a new community library opened in the town of Holly Springs, with a partnership arrangement wherein the county operated the library with an adjacent town-operated community center. Also in 2006, wireless access to the Internet became available in all county libraries. North Regional Library reopened in a new, expanded and county-owned facility in January 2007. The Leesville Community Library opened in September 2009. The completion of a Northeast Regional Library, off U.S. 1 North, and the renovation/expansion of the Wake Forest Community Library will follow to expend the funds remaining in the 2003 bond package.
Since 1995, the library system has been a division of Wake County Community Services, along with Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space; Geographic Information Services; Planning, Development and Inspections; and Veterans Services. Library Director Thomas L. Moore retired in June 2009 after 27 years of service.
Michael J. Wasilick was named Library Director in April 2010. Mr. Wasilick immediately initiated an administrative reorganization using the planning and evaluation tool known as the Balanced Scorecard. Also in April 2010, the library system received a public service award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners for the provision of services in the employment arena as a response to the recessed economy. Once the economy improves and bonds from the 2008 referendum (passed with a 76% approval rate) can be sold, plans will resume for new and renovated libraries to expand and enhance library services to the citizens of Wake County.
– July 2010Click on a library below to read more about its history:
Athens Drive Community Library History
The Athens Drive Community Library occupies a unique position in Wake County and North Carolina as the only public library housed within a high school. This cooperative library serves as the local branch for the southwestern Raleigh area as well as the media center for the Athens Drive High School students in its 10,000 sq. ft. locale.
In the late 1970s, Raleigh City Councilwoman Miriam Block envisioned a public library as part of the new Athens Drive Educational Environmental Complex. This educational facility was to be a hub of community life. The new high school, which opened in 1978, would serve as the anchor but would encompass the Lake Johnson recreational park and greenway, Community Schools, evening classes, a childcare facility, and the Athens Drive Public Library.
Throughout its history, Athens Drive has been recognized as innovative for its shared public resources. Although managed by the Wake County Public School system, the local community enjoys all the benefits of a full service library as well as a variety of other county services. The students of Athens Drive High School benefit from the full range of public library resources located conveniently on site as well. More than 320,000 visitors frequent the library each year.
The Athens Drive Community Library is managed by Kerri-Ann Ruthven (Kerri-Ann.Ruthven@wakegov.com) and is open to the public 52 hours per week with a collection of 47,000 items and computers for both public and student use.
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Cameron Village Regional Library History
The Cameron Village Regional Library is one of six regional libraries and is located centrally in Cameron Village Shopping Center, which is the oldest center of its kind in the Southeast. It is the hub for the library system’s District 1 and serves the established Raleigh neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Cameron Park, Five Points, Hayes Barton, Method, Oberlin and University Park. It is located within walking distance of several daycares, preschools and elementary schools, Broughton High School, St. Mary’s School, Peace College, Meredith College and NC State University. In addition to the increase of young families moving into older neighborhoods and a large number of retirees, the library sees many customers from the African-American, Asian-American and Latino-Hispanic communities. Former managers of the library include Carol Frushour, Linda Hickman, Cynthia Finnelly, Janet Virnelson and Dale Cousins.
Cameron Village Regional Library has approximately 180,000 volumes in its book collection and circulates more than one million books annually. In addition, the library has 60 computers for public use. WiFi is available throughout the library for users with adaptable laptops, and special computers are dedicated to the online catalog throughout the library. The catalog may also be accessed online from any computer terminal at www.wakegov.com/libraries. The system’s largest facility at 36,000 sq. ft., Cameron Village Regional Library is arranged much like a bookstore, with books shelved in popular “genres.” New books are displayed prominently in all three service areas, and audio books are available for both children and adults. There are also meeting rooms that may be reserved for public, nonprofit use.
There is a programming space for children’s story times and/or author visits that features a mural drawn from the cover art of The Library by Sarah Stewart and David Small. Local artists who have donated pieces to the library include Consie Powell, Lloyd Skidmore, Leah Palmer Preiss, Bill Hickman and Ann Fearington. The library also displays a collection of art in the Quiet Study Room by members of the Visual Art Exchange of Wake County, a rotating collection of children’s art from local schools in the downstairs pass-through gallery and local artists in both the Children’s and Reader’s Services departments that changes about every six weeks. The library sees approximately one million visitors per year and is open 67 hours a week. Twenty-three staff members are available to assist with the reference and reading needs of customers of all ages. The Regional Manager for Cameron Village Regional Library is Jean Ells (firstname.lastname@example.org
Cameron Village Regional Library Timeline
- October 1974: Cameron Village Branch Library opens in a 2,500 sq. ft. storefront at 434 Woodburn Road, with a collection of 6,000 volumes. Cynthia Finnelly, Janet Virnelson, Linda Hickman and Carol Frushour serve as managers.
1979: The library’s card catalog is closed and replaced by COM (Catalog on microfilm) readers; libraries begin to register voters.
April 1985: Cameron Village Branch moves around the corner to become the system’s first Regional Library, with 16,000 sq. feet on two levels and 80,000 volumes and features the library system’s first “Quiet Study Room.” Wake County assumes full fiscal responsibility for countywide library service.
July 1989: The library undergoes a renovation and expands to 20,000 sq. feet on one floor, with 120,000 volumes. The library’s circulation and book catalog are fully automated.
1997: Public access to the Internet is first offered in the library.
September 2003: Wake County Board of Commissioners approves the construction, design and budget for the total renovation and expansion of the library. Wake County signs a 20-year lease to have the library remain in the Cameron Village Shopping Center.
January 2006: The new and expanded, 36,000 sq. ft. library opens to the public after 18 months of construction and a temporary relocation.
April 2006: The library receives a Triangle CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) award for "Best Community Enhancement."
July 2006: The library receives a merit award from the NC Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for the design and concept of its renovated building.
September 2006: The library wins a Sir Walter Appearance Award from the City of Raleigh for best creative reuse of an existing site.
January 2009 and ongoing: The library functions as a cultural center for the community by providing books and information and by featuring art and performance by local artists, musicians, actors and dancing troupes. There is also a coffee bar provided as a public amenity.
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The Cary Community Library first opened its doors for service on October 22, 1960, at 143 W. Chatham St. The founding impetus of the library was the Cary Junior Women's Club, which had secured a $3,000 award from the North Carolina Library Commission. Mrs. Margaret L. Sherwood, who served as the first librarian, reported that 7,140 books were checked out that year. In July 1961, the Town of Cary began funding the library operations.
In 1964, the Library moved to upstairs quarters at 126 E. Chatham St. The Cary Jaycettes helped with the renovation and move. It was also in 1964 that the Cary Friends of the Library group was formed to provide continuing support for the library program.
Mrs. Polly Williams served as librarian in 1965, and as the library collection and use continued to grow, the Library Board began to search for new facilities. In 1968, the Library moved again to 118 S. Academy St., where it remained for five years. In 1969, the Cary Library joined with the unified Wake County Public Library system to better provide services for the local community. The tremendous popularity of the Library was evident when, in 1972–73, the Cary Library circulated more than 63,000 items—the highest circulation in the library system.
The Library moved to its fourth "temporary" quarters in 1973, to 145 W. Chatham St. with Mrs. Joyce Antrim as the librarian. At this time, a grassroots effort began among the citizens of Cary, who were determined to build a "permanent" library. Through their efforts, a $750,000 library bond issue was passed by town residents in 1974.
Because of growth and the space needed for books, space for people and programs were limited. The Cary Library was forced to move again, back to Academy Street, into the new Town Hall. Mrs. Carol Frushour was librarian during this period. In the fall of 1976, construction began for a new building located at 310 S. Academy St. On October 23, 1977, the dedication ceremony officially opened the Library to the people of Cary, almost 27 years to the day from its original beginnings. More than 40 years later, the Library is still going strong. At its current location for 32 years, it remains a popular community library. Over the years, many librarians have served at the Cary Library, including Barbara Buescher, Dale Cousins, Mike Wasilick, Terri Luke, Janet Lockhart and current branch manager Liz Bartlett (email@example.com
In 2010, the collection is 110,000 books and the library staff circulates nearly 850,000 items on an annual basis. There are currently 17 computers for public use as well as WiFi access. The library sees more than 550,000 visitors a year and is open 59 hours per week. Whatever changes have occurred throughout the past 50+ years, the Library and its customer base have remained loyal and committed to each other. In fact, this is affirmed each day, showing that the Cary Community Library truly lives in the "Heart of Cary.” Plans in the 2011 bond package include an expansion or replacement of the Cary Library, and the library celebrates its 50th anniversary in October 2010.
Duraleigh Road Community Library opened June 29, 1991, at 5800 Duraleigh Road in Raleigh, with Linda Cooper opening the library as its first manager. Funds for this new library were a part of the bond referendum passed by voters in 1989. This library quickly gained a large clientele as it was located in a rapidly growing northwestern sector of the city. Anchors in the community include both the Crabtree Valley Mall and Rex Hospital with adjacent medical facilities. There are many subdivisions and apartment complexes in the immediate locale.
Duraleigh Community Library has expanded twice over the years and is currently a 7,000 sq. ft. community library with a book collection of approximately 55,000 volumes. It has an annual circulation approaching 370,000 volumes and offers 13 public computers as well as WiFi access for research and Internet use. Customers come here to find "something good to read" as well as for homework help, picture books, children's programs and a carefully selected browsing collection of fiction and nonfiction for all ages. In a typical month, the Duraleigh Road Community Library sees 35,000 people of all ages during the 52 hours a week the library is open.
The Knightdale Public Library opened its doors in 1971 in a joint undertaking between the Town of Knightdale and the Wake County Public Library System. Joyce Smith ran the facility with a small volunteer staff. The library's first location was a brick building on First Avenue directly across from Arden Farm Antiques.
During the first year the library's card-carrying members grew to more than 1,000, with a collection of about 3,000 books and 100 records for all ages and interests. Another service was the new "copy-making" machine, which was used to copy many legal documents but was more popular for copying quilting and cross-stitch patterns. The community very enthusiastically supported the library and formed its own charter of The Friends of the Library. These groups held bake sales, craft bazaars and lotteries to raise funds to benefit their community library. Each Wednesday afternoon a group of "Library Ladies" would meet at 1:30 to do quilting and needlework. Another group of ladies met on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 to crochet. Many of these projects were later sold to help raise a portion of the library's budget for the year.
In 1975 Anne Hildebrand became the Knightdale librarian. She was faced with the new issues of the library's being too small to accommodate the nearly 6,000-volume collection and that it could not accept additional titles available from the Wake County Library System. In addition, the library was unable to have special programs for children and adults due to the space constraints. Relief came soon as the new Town Hall was willing to devote half its space to the library. The new facility was capable of housing 11,000 books, with a central meeting room where special programs could be held; it opened in March 1978.
After Anne Hildebrand retired in 1984, the library continued to thrive under the management of Peggy Patterson. Circulation grew and attendance at children's storytimes often had the branch bursting at its seams. In 1989 when Angie Stephens became the Knightdale branch manager, the "new" Town Hall location was no longer adequate. Through renovations and fiberglass display cases, Mrs. Stephens was able to shelve a collection of 24,000 volumes. The hours of operation increased, as well. Still, the demands on the library from the growing Knightdale community continued to escalate. When the Town Hall relocated to Steeple Square Court, the library expanded its shelf space and storage areas into the former Town Hall space.
A Wake County bond referendum called for the construction of a regional library to be built in Knightdale. The Town of Knightdale donated land for this project adjacent to the new Town Hall at Steeple Square. The project was initiated in 1998, and East Regional Library celebrated its grand opening on December 6, 1999, using the remaining bond funding from the early 1990s. The beautiful 21,000-square-foot facility maintains a collection of 110,000 volumes and a staff of 17 full-time employees. It offers a small conference room for community use as well as a quiet study room and children's programming room. The library is currently open 67 hours a week and has 31 computers for patrons to use. WiFi is available throughout the library for users with adaptable laptops, and special computers are dedicated to the online catalog throughout the library. The library sees more than 415,000 visitors a year and circulates more than 575,000 books per year.
Ann Burlingame and Carol Laing were Regional Supervisors until Brandy Hamilton (firstname.lastname@example.org
) assumed that position in July 2010.
The system's first express library, Express Library – Fayetteville Street, opened on March 17, 1997. It was the first branch of the library system to offer public Internet access. The Library is located at the site of two previous downtown libraries, the Business and Professional Library and the Downtown Popular Lending Library, in the Waverly F. Akins Wake County Office Building, at 336 Fayetteville St. The Library continues to evolve, providing readers' advisory service, book clubs and lifelong learning programming to downtown customers. The library also provides public Internet access at four computer stations. Special partnerships are evolving with downtown residents, such as Marbles Kids’ Museum, local merchants, and ever-expanding residential apartment and condominium units. The library sees nearly 17,000 visitors a month during the 45 hours per week it is open. The library closed in the summer of 2010 for about 8 weeks for a renovation/face lift. It is a pilot project for further expansion of small “express” (less than 1,500 sq. ft.) libraries in the system.
The first Apex Community Library opened in the late 1940s on South Salem Street. This library was a branch of the Richard B. Harrison Library of Raleigh. When the Harrison Library merged with the Olivia Raney Library in 1965, the Apex Library moved to an uptown location, and town officials appointed a Library Board of Trustees to negotiate with Wake County Public Libraries for books and a portion of the librarian’s salary. When the railroad offered the town its abandoned depot, a citizen went before town officials and asked that the building be used as a library. A committee of volunteers was formed and involved the entire community in the planning for the project. Special effort was made to preserve the original historic character of the building. In 1972, the Apex Community Library opened as one of the most attractive small libraries in the state.
The library remained at the depot location until December 1995. Miss Rachel Lewter served as librarian in Apex from the opening of the one-room library in town until 1986. After Ms. Lewter's retirement, Rebecca Carter, Linda Cooper and Cindy McConnell all worked as branch managers at the depot location.
In 1985, the Town of Apex received a generous gift from Mrs. Eva H. Perry. In her will Mrs. Perry instructed that the proceeds from the sale of her land go to the town to be used for the sole purpose of providing the community with a new library. The Town of Apex partnered with Wake County to build a regional library to serve the southwest quadrant of the county. The Eva H. Perry Regional Library was opened in January 1996.
The library is a distinctive 23,000-square-foot building that provides a particularly appealing setting for library users with its skylights, a glass-enclosed quiet reading room, an attractive conference room available for public use, a treehouse for children's programming and its wooded landscape. A unique feature is a 1,400-square-foot mural, by area artist Deborah Haeffele, on the wall of the Youth Services Department that depicts characters from children's literature. The library saw a minor renovation in 2007 with a rearrangement of furnishings and new finishes. The library offers 31 computers for public use, WiFi access, and houses approximately 180,000 volumes. The Eva H. Perry Regional Library is open 67 hours a week and sees more than 700,000 visitors per year. The staff of 20 circulates more than 1.2 million books each year.
Terri Luke and Christina Piscitello were Regional Managers until Cathy Nowell (Cathy.Nowell@wakegov.com
) assumed that position in July 2010.
In 1954, a newly formed library commission, along with members of the Fuquay-Varina Woman's Club, opened the first Fuquay-Varina Public Library on Academy Street. Within three years it was apparent that the community needed a larger facility to meet the growing demand for library services.
In 1960, a new building was opened on North Woodrow Street. Fuquay-Varina became one of the first towns in Wake County to design and build a facility that was specifically constructed as a library. In 1970, the community library became part of the unified Wake County Public Library system with Ms. Tilley Bailey as manager. Managers following Ms. Bailey included Mollie Newton, Victoria Sebley and Barbara LaValley.
In 1986, the Town of Fuquay-Varina funded the design and construction of a larger facility on the corner of Fuquay Avenue and Raleigh Street. The current building was dedicated in 1988 and a renovation occurred in 1998 with new finishes and a rearrangement of furnishings. The 5,000 sq. ft. Fuquay-Varina Community Library continues to be well used, with more than 315,000 annual visitors who check out nearly 400,000 volumes per year. The library offers seven public computers as well as WiFi access and a collection of approximately 45,000 items in the 52 hours per week it is open to the community.
Library bonds to be sold in 2011 include an expanded or replacement facility for the Fuquay-Varina community in the upcoming years. The Fuquay-Varina Community Library manager is Cindy McConnell (email@example.com
Opened on May 5, 1997, Green Road Community Library serves the diverse and rapidly expanding neighborhoods in the "Mini-City" area of Raleigh. As the library is located just off of the Capital Blvd. (Highway 1 North) corridor near several shopping destination points, it often responds to the public service needs of a very mobile Wake County community at large.
This library was built with funding from the taxpayer-supported library bond referendum in the mid-1990s. Wake County and the City of Raleigh, through innovative partnering of land use at Green Road Park, made the library a possibility. This cooperative effort continues through collaborative programming with the Green Road Community Center. The City and the County share customers separated by only a combined, shared parking lot.
The 6,000 sq. ft. library features regular programs and maintains 56,000 items in its book collection for adults and children of all ages. The book and Internet database collections aim to serve school projects through 12th grade. The library features 25 public computers and WiFi access. The library is open 59 hours per week and sees 465,000 visitors per year. The library was built with expansion in mind and can easily be renovated to more than double its existing space, should use and budget allow for such.
The library has been managed by Betty Hill Utley, Barbara McKinley and Travis Horton. The current manager is Michelle Stover Hildreth (Michelle.Hildreth@wakegov.com
The Holly Springs Community Library opened December 9, 2006. The library was built as a result of a taxpayer-supported library bond referendum and sits on land that was donated to Wake County by the Town of Holly Springs. This project provides a unique partnership between Holly Springs and Wake County. The library is approximately 8,000 square feet in size. It shares a 2,000-square-foot lobby with the Holly Springs Cultural Center. There is a dedicated children’s programming space within the library but also space in the Holly Springs Cultural Center for collaborative programming on a variety of topics for all ages. The Cultural Center includes a 200+ seat auditorium for plays, productions, speaking engagements and movies.
The library features a collection of nearly 70,000 popular reading materials for children, teens and adults. The library offers 20 Internet computers and WiFi access. The library’s 400,000 visitors per year check out nearly 550,000 items each year. The library also features a drive-by book drop on the exterior of the building for convenient book return.
The Leesville Community Library opened in September 2009. With insight and planning between Wake County and the City of Raleigh, the library is located on a campus with a small playground facility. Raleigh has plans for the future when a Community Recreation Center will be constructed on site adjacent to the library. The beautiful acreage will also feature a historic interpretative walking trail with a family cemetery, chimney and stone well in addition to a native landscaping plan.
Since opening, the 8,000-square-foot library has developed a loyal and enthusiastic clientele from the surrounding subdivisions and the Leesville Public School campus located just across the street. The library is seeing a steady increase in customers and expects to serve 300,000 visitors annually. The library offers 60,000 books, 20 public computers, WiFi access, and programs designed for library patrons of all ages.
In 2010 the design for the beautiful wooden, sloping ceiling won an award from the American Association of Woodmen. The library’s panoramic views of Wake County woodland are all breathtakingly beautiful, as well.
Originally opened in 1971 in North Hills Mall, this community library quickly developed a loyal following in the North Raleigh area. Due to the demands on the library and the rapid growth in population, the facility increased in size and relocated multiple times with slight name changes. In 1984 the exit from the North Hills Mall created the Twin Forks Library, at the intersection of Lynn and Six Forks roads. The library ushered in the “popular reading” philosophy, where book arrangement mirrored that found in retail bookstores, using popular topics of customer interest. There was more of an emphasis on popular reading and less emphasis on traditional reference services in this 5,000 sq. ft. facility. In 1986 the library expanded in size and scope as the system’s second regional facility and remained in the Twin Forks office park as the Northwest Regional Library. Gail Harrell was the manager of the library.
Ongoing growth prompted still further expansion in 1991, when the North Regional Library opened in a leased 20,000-square-foot building in the Horizon office park, further north, just off Six Forks Road. It quickly became the state’s highest circulating public library, with Mike Wasilick as the manager. In 2007, the library opened in a county-owned, 30,000 sq. ft. facility near the intersection of Newton and Falls of the Neuse roads, on Harps Mill Road. The library was furnished with funds from the 2003 bond package. The collection is now more than 200,000 volumes, and those books circulate 1.6 million times annually. Half of this circulation is children’s materials. There are 62 computers for public access and WiFi access throughout the facility. The building won a Sir Walter Award for best reuse of an existing building in 2007.
Since the beginning the library has offered extensive programs that educate and entertain children of all ages; more recently the library expanded to provide programming for adults. North Regional Library patrons are committed readers, and 960,000 customers visit on an annual basis. The library is open to the public 67 hours per week.
The Olivia Raney Local History Branch is a reincarnation of the name of the original public library of Raleigh, which was chartered in 1899 and opened to the public in January 1901. Located at the corner of Hillsborough and Salisbury streets, the original library was created in memory of Olivia Blount Raney by her widower, Richard Beverly Raney. This building was used until the mid-1970s, when the collection was moved to the Kress Building on Fayetteville Street. This library was closed in the mid-1980s, with much of the collection being moved to the Cameron Village Regional Library as part of the regional concept in the library system.
Approximately 10 years later, a movement by interested citizens and a portion of the funding from the 1990s bond supported the opening of a unique, stand-alone, 8,000 sq. ft. local history library in the Wake County Library System. The remainder of funding from the Olivia Raney Family Trust furnished the building. This beautiful facility is located in the campus-like Wake County Office Park, just east of the intersection of Poole Road and I-440. The library’s address is 4016 Carya Drive, with its neighbors being the Library Administration Building, Historic Oak View County Park, the Wake County Commons Building and the Cooperative Extension offices. The library view is the pecan grove at Historic Oak View County Park.
The collection of nearly 40,000 items is primarily local and family history-oriented, broadly interpreted to serve the diverse background of local residents today. One will find background materials on America, North Carolina and local history for students and researchers. For the genealogist, there is a variety of resources, both in hard copy and online, covering both American and international geographical areas. The library is a Family History Center loan location for the LDS church. Researchers can contact library staff for more information.
Copies of Wake, Capital County of North Carolina are available for purchase at the Olivia Raney Local History Library as well as Wake County Volume II: From Reconstruction to 1920.
The Richard B. Harrison Community Library is one of 14 community branch libraries in the Wake County Public Library System. The original structure was a small, storefront building that opened in 1935 with a collection of 890 books. The building was located on East Hargett Street, in the heart of the black business community in Raleigh. The library was named for Canadian-born Richard Berry Harrison, a noted black actor and professor of drama in the 1930s at N.C. A&T College in Greensboro. Harrison was brought to national prominence for his role of "The Lawd" in the play "Green Pastures." With founder Mrs. Mollie Huston Lee's leadership and strong community support, the library grew, and in 1948 a building was purchased on South Blount Street, which provided more floor space and a separate room for children's programs.
In 1967, Richard B. Harrison merged with the Olivia Raney Public Library to create the foundation upon which the Wake County Public Library system was formed. The library opened in a new building designed by local architect Milton Small, just five minutes from downtown, at 1313 New Bern Ave. This building opened as a “state of the art” facility in 1967. The 9,000-square-foot building houses more than 30,000 books for both adults and children. Although the circulation of books is somewhat lower than desired, almost 370,000 customers visit annually.
The Mollie Huston Lee Collection, named for the first African-American librarian in Wake County, is a major draw for researchers and those interested in African-American history. The Lee Collection is more than 6,000 volumes strong and is composed of both adult and juvenile fiction and nonfiction, serials, pamphlets and vertical file materials. This collection is currently under evaluation and study by library administration.
A strong community presence has defined the library from the beginning. The library serves as an outpost for many community agencies, including the AARP, Wake County Human Services, and many area schools and tutoring/mentoring groups. This diverse population is drawn to the collection, 19 public computers and WiFi service. Programming for adults and children often reflects the aspirations of the community. The Richard B. Harrison community room is open to the public for meetings and not-for-profit gatherings of all kinds. On any given day groups as diverse as alumni organizations, songwriters, theater groups and community action organizations can be found gathering in this area. The library also features a Quiet Study Room for individual research and study. The welcoming environment of the Richard B. Harrison Library is enjoyed by students and families alike. Library managers have included Mrs. Mollie H. Lee, Dianne Payne, JoAnne Stephens, Gail Harrell and Saundra Cropps.
Minor renovations occurred in 1989 and in 1998. Funding from the 2008 bonds, to be sold in 2011, will pay for a major renovation of the building in Fiscal Year 2011–2012.
First efforts by the Garner Woman's Club to organize a library in Garner in 1928 came to be reality in 1931 when the first Garner library opened on Main Street. Mrs. Ella Dupree was paid a nominal fee by the WPA to circulate books bought by the Woman's Club. When the library closed in 1933, the Olivia Raney Library bookmobile provided Garner with library service. The Woman's Club made intermittent efforts from 1933–1955 to reopen its library to Garner citizens. Beginning in 1956 the Garner Public Library was open on Thursdays in one room of the Woman's Club Clubhouse located on Hwy. 70. The Woman's Club and Junior Woman's Club members staffed it. During the summer of 1957 members of the Junior Woman's Club conducted story hours for children. In 1960, the Woman's Club library closed, and the county bookmobile service once again provided books to the citizens of Garner.
The Garner Public Library opened on November 8, 1968, at 106 E. Main St. in the old Town Hall building, and additional space from the barber shop next door was added later. Sponsored jointly by the town's Golden Age Club and the Woman's Club, the library was staffed by volunteer help, with Mrs. Portia Banks serving as head librarian. The library inherited a collection of books, dating back to 1931, from the Woman's Club's first library. Donations and a collection from Wake County Public Library supplemented this initial collection. The Town Board provided the building and maintenance and appointed a seven-member Library Board of Trustees. Bill Rand served as first chairman of the Library Board of Trustees. In 1970, the Garner Library Board of Trustees entered into a contract with Wake County Public Libraries, where the county provided library materials, supplies and personnel for purchasing and processing all books. Garner provided the building and maintenance and would provide funds to employ clerical help. In 1972, the Town of Garner appropriated money for a paid staff. Rosemary Carmichael (supervisor), Evelyn Stevens and Opal Pegram (library assistants) were the first library employees paid by the Town. In 1975, the citizens of Garner approved a bond issue for a new library building, and the Garner Public Library relocated on July 7 to the first building specifically built for that purpose, in the new town complex at 902 7th Ave. The new building was 4,500 square feet, with a seating capacity of 36 and a book collection of 35,000 volumes. In 1982, Wake County took over management of the library, and in 1985, Wake County voters approved a $5 million bond issue for library improvements, including plans for the new Southeast Regional Library next door, at 908 7th Ave.
Grand opening and dedication ceremonies for the Southeast Regional Library took place on a snowy Monday night, February 20, 1989. SER opened as the third regional library in the Wake County Public Libraries system and was the first fully automated library in the system. The 22,000-square-foot facility, with a seating capacity of 200, was built at a cost of $1.6 million. In 1991, Rosemary Carmichael resigned as branch supervisor after serving 20 years in that capacity, and Mike Wasilick and Gail Harrell have since served in that capacity, as well.
In March 1972 the Raleigh City Council proposed that the south side of Raleigh receive a branch library. A site was found, the staff was hired, and South Raleigh Library opened its doors in January 1973. The library was located at 1514 Proctor Road, with Jo Anne Cannady as the first branch manager. The library's location, in a center with a convenience store and a supper club, faced some difficulties, but in May 1975 four new staff members were hired. Wesley C. Alston, was hired as the new supervisor. In spite of innovative programs and good service, circulation was deemed too low to support the high cost of service for this branch, and in 1977 the Raleigh Library Advisory Board voted 4–1 to temporarily relocate or close it. Proposals for relocation were taken to the Raleigh City Council, but they voted to leave the library in the Southgate location. The library remained in this location with a newly defined program of service that would more accurately reflect and meet the needs of the community.
In 1978, new Branch Manager Barbara Alston Kenon was hired and new operating hours were established. The staff enlisted a community advisory board and recruited groups to attend children's storytime and adult programs. Location continued to be a problem, so it was decided to relocate the branch to 507 Newcombe Road. Rather than close the branch completely before the new location was ready, the hours were changed to accommodate groups currently attending programs. On February 5, 1981, as South Raleigh Library opened its doors at the new location at the same time, plans were being made to build a shopping center near near Rock Quarry and Cross Link roads. Putting the library in a shopping center in Southeast Raleigh was proposed to be the best permanent solution for this wandering branch, so South Raleigh Library packed up and moved again. The doors opened at the Southgate Plaza address November 15, 1985. The branch was remodeled in 1993 with all new finishes, new furniture and new shelving for the first time. In 2007, the library was once again renovated and expanded into adjacent space.
In September 1961 Catharine Paschal, a member of the Olivia Raney Library Board, procured $3,000 in federal funds from the State Library to establish a public library in Wake Forest. This first grant was used for the librarian's salary, books and furnishings. The Wake Woman's Club also campaigned door to door to raise additional funds for the establishment of a library. The Wake Forest Public Library's first location was in the old W.W. Holding Company office and was donated by the Holding family for a public library. The book shelves were built by the agriculture students at Wake Forest High School. The grand opening of the library was on November 15, 1961. The collection included 1,000 books, which had been donated by citizens. During the first month of operation, the library issued 81 cards and circulated 111 books during a weekly 15 hours per week schedule. Cards for children were 25 cents and for adults were 50 cents. The out-of-county fee was $1. From the beginning this library had a relationship with the Olivia Raney Library. Many of the books made available were on loan to the Wake Forest Public Library from the Olivia Raney Library.
In 1973 the Wake Forest Library relocated to the old Central Carolina Bank building at 123 S. White St. The Library remained in this building until October 1996 when funds from a County bond referendum were used to build a new 5,000-square-foot facility on Holding Avenue. Henry Miller, an original Library Board member, left $53,000 to the Wake Forest Public Library in his will to be used to assist with the building of the new library. On November 17, 1996, the Wake Forest Library opened in its new location at 400 E. Holding Ave. with a collection of 45,000 volumes. The Wake Forest Community Library will soon be expanded with 2011 bond dollars.
Past managers of the Wake Forest Community Library have included Helen Sistrunk, Mrs. Kent Barbee, Pearl Ray, Irene Holding, Joyce Board, Sandra Hope, Ann Burlingame and Christina Piscitello.
On July 16, 1950, the Wendell Women's Club started the Wendell Library in a room at the Women's Club Building. In 1958 the former Christian Church in Wendell was donated as the site for the new Wendell Library. Renovations were completed on the former church in February 1962, and on May 1, 1962, Mrs. Richard S. (Peggy) Brantley was appointed head librarian. On March 3, 1963, a dedication and open house was held for the new Wendell Library, located on Buffaloe Street and Wilson Avenue. In August 1970 the Wendell Library Board voted to receive book funding from the Wake County Public Library system, and in July 1983 the Board voted to merge with the WCPL system. On April 1, 1985, Mrs. Brantley retired, and Holly Cook-Wood became the branch manager. In 1986, a library construction project was approved for a new, 5,000-square-foot building at a site on Hollybrook Road, next to the East Wake Senior Center. Linda Mansfield was branch manager at the time of the grand opening of the new Wendell Library building, on May 22, 1989. Janet Poole served as acting manager until January 1990, when Maria Hoffman was hired. She served until mid-1994, and Karen Robinson was branch manager from 1994 to 1996. In October 1996 Liz Bartlett was hired as branch manager and served in this capacity until January 2000. Tracy Herbster served as branch manager until July 2001. Patricia Gardiner was hired as branch manager in September 2001 and served in this capacity until September 2005. Jane Deacle served as branch manager until November 2006.
West Regional Library is one of six regional libraries in the Wake County Public Library system. The library is the result of the 2003 bond referendum expansion of the Wake County Public Libraries. Opened in September 2006 as part of Cary's Carpenter Village development, West Regional Library provides much-needed services to the rapidly expanding western half of Wake County, which includes the Cary, Morrisville and Apex communities.
West Regional Library is a neighborhood-friendly place. The library is situated with a view to a community lake and with easy access to nearby walking and biking trails. It is adjacent to the Green Hope public school complex. The 30,000-square-foot facility features a unique U-shaped design, with Youth Services in one wing and Adult Services in the other. Library visitors enter via a courtyard into the central "marketplace," with the newest books, comfortable seating and easy access to a wide variety of information services.
Staff are available to assist at multiple service desks throughout the library. Both the Youth and Adult sections of the library feature numerous computers for accessing the library's catalog, reference resources and the Internet. Library customers may also bring in their laptops to take advantage of free WiFi. Other library features include self-checkouts, two group study rooms, a conference room, a multipurpose room for story times and special events, a space just for teens, and a drive-up book drop.
The Zebulon Library, which opened with 800 volumes in the Zebulon Woman's' Club building in 1952, was funded by donations and a grant from the "Finer Carolina" contest, sponsored by CP&L (now Progress Energy). It was staffed and managed by volunteers from the American Legion Auxiliary. The library closed temporarily in 1958, but reopened the following year as part of a National Library Week celebration. On September 1, 1959, the community welcomed its first librarian, Mrs. Gilford Bufkin. She worked two days per week for an annual salary of $480. The hiring of a librarian made it possible for the Wake County Bookmobile to begin a relationship with the Zebulon Library. Mrs. Melvin Lanier, and later Mrs. Raymond Pippin, served as librarians in the 1960s, when the community raised the funds to purchase the old post office building to replace the Woman's Club building, which was no longer adequate for the town's needs. The new library, almost 2,000 square feet, opened in March 1967, with new furnishings and books. On September 1, 1967, Mrs. Edythe Tippet was hired as librarian. At this time, the library was open 15 hours per week and had a collection of about 4,000 volumes. About half of those were borrowed on a rotating basis from the Olivia Raney Library in Raleigh. In 1970, Zebulon Library joined the Wake County Library system. Under the agreement, the town was responsible for the salaries and the building and maintenance. Wake County provided operating staff, supervision and all library supplies and materials. A major renovation of the building with new furnishings was completed in 1983. In 1986, Jean Ells was hired as librarian after the retirement of Mrs. Tippett. The Zebulon Library switched to an automated circulation system and library catalog in 1990 and was renovated again in 1991. The countywide bond referendum passed in 1993 allowed for a new library to be built for the Zebulon community. The new 5,000-square-foot building, with more than 30,000 volumes, opened in September 1998. The facility, on Dogwood Drive, adjoins the elementary school and the Wake County Eastern Regional Center. The library offers 12 public Internet computers and free WiFi.