CoastLine: Libraries Evolve As Gathering Places, Hubs For Content Creation

May 2, 2019

People socialize, research, shop, and entertain themselves online.  They read online.  So if the trend towards digital activity continues, are public libraries an endangered species? 

Yale University students recently launched a campaign to save the books after the school’s Librarian proposed relocating thousands of them to make room for more student seating.  That’s according to the Washington Post.  The outcry by students shocked administrators, and they compromised by slightly increasing the number they would keep and asking for input on which ones to keep.

It was 2014 that WECT produced a story about New Hanover County’s purchase of land for a new library – and the story starts this way: 

“At a time when readers are switching to E-books, New Hanover County leaders have decided to buy land for a new library to replace the current Myrtle Grove Branch.” 

While it’s not spelled out, you might hear an -- uh, really, guys?  An expensive book receptacle when we’re going paperless?  That was five years ago. 

County Commissioner Rob Zapple, also a WHQR Board Member, told WECT that there would always be a need for a family gathering place.  Is that still true?  And what does that really mean? 

New Hanover County's new branch, the Pine Valley Library, is set to open May 6th.  It’s the culmination of years of planning and is designed to be, as county manager Chris Coudriet describes it, “a 21st century library.” 

Randall Library at the University of North Carolina Wilmington is also set to undergo a massive renovation.  The General Assembly has approved $5.5 million dollars for the project; officials say they’ll need almost $62 million to complete it – which they expect to do by the Fall of 2022. 

Today, we’ll explore the evolution of the institution we call a library with two local experts: 

Harry Tuchmayer joined the New Hanover County Public Library staff in 1981 and has served as Director since 2008. 

Lucy Holman is the University Librarian at Randall Library on the University of North Carolina Wilmington Campus.