Fuquay-Varina library getting a facelift

aramos@newsobserver.comAugust 3, 2013 

  • About the Fuquay-Varina Community Library

    1954: A newly formed library commission and members of the Fuquay-Varina Woman’s Club opened the town’s first public library on Academy Street.

    1960: A new library building opened on North Woodrow Street. Fuquay-Varina became one of the first towns in Wake County to design and build a facility designated for library space.

    1970: The library became part of the Wake County Public Libraries system.

    1986: Fuquay-Varina funded the design and construction of a larger facility on the corner of Fuquay Avenue and Raleigh Street.

    1988: The Fuquay-Varina Community Library, with 4,800 square feet of space, opened at 133 S. Fuquay Ave.

    1998: The site underwent minor renovations.

    Source: Wake County Public Libraries

— Vibrant greens, golds and blues draw the eye to the mural on the ceiling at the Fuquay-Varina Community Library.

The four-seasons painting will be one of the few remnants of the old decor after the library gets a $150,000 makeover.

The library closed Sunday so crews can begin minor renovations. They will paint the walls, install new bookshelves and carpet, bring in new furniture and re-arrange the place.

The library is expected to reopen the end of September.

Ideally, the aging library needs about 4,000 square feet of additional space, said Dale Cousins, senior library manager for Wake County. But with tight budgets, an expansion isn’t possible, she said.

The 25-year-old library hasn’t had a fresh coat of paint or new furniture since 1998. While the current upgrades won’t add more space to the building, they will provide a fresh look until the county can afford to restart its building program, Cousins said.

“That library sees a lot of wear and tear. They’ve had some ceiling leaks in the past,” she said.

In 2007, voters overwhelmingly approved a $45 million bond referendum for new libraries and expansions to existing sites, including the Fuquay-Varina and Cary community libraries.

But with the recession, Wake County Commissioners decided not to sell the bonds, and libraries faced steep budget cuts.

The county didn’t shutter any library branches, but it cut back some library hours and slashed the book-buying budget from about $3 million to $1.2 million, Cousins said.

The bonds have since been sold. Now the issue is finding the money to operate new facilities, said Deputy Director Ann Burlingame with Wake County Public Libraries.

At about 4,800 square feet, the Fuquay-Varina site is the smallest community library in the system. But it’s one of the busiest, Burlingame said. About 126,000 people visit the library each year.

The library hosts children’s programs five days a week. The events attracted about 8,200 young kids last year, she said.

The site has about 254,000 books in circulation, she added.

When the library reopens next month, patrons will see expanded operating hours. The site will remain open until 6 p.m. on Saturdays and until 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

Andrea Behrns-Miller, an avid historical fiction reader, took advantage of one of the perks of the temporary closing: extended book check-out times.

She walked out of the library with huge stack of books, and they aren’t due back until Oct. 12.

The outdoor book return will be closed during the renovation.

“I’m doing what I can to help them clear the shelves,” Behrns-Miller joked.

Catrice Williamson of Fuquay-Varina mostly goes to the library to use the computers.

The closure will be inconvenient for her, she said. She would have to travel several miles to visit a library in Apex, Holly Springs or Garner.

“There’s a great need for a bigger library,” Williamson said. “It’s too small for Fuquay-Varina. I would just rather they do (all the upgrades and expansion) all at once and get it over with.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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