Wednesday, February 18, 2009


There’s an old saw that says that the devil is in the details. Most of us have had experiences that tend to prove that point, and I thought a lot about this in the last few days as I listened to the Chapel Hill Town Council and citizens on WCHL talk about whether or not we should build a branch library. On February 9th, the Council rejected suggestions to seek an alternative to the expansion to the current Chapel Hill Public Library and maybe consider going in the direction of a branch, maybe downtown.

Then, the other morning on the 'What You're Saying on the Street" segment on WCHL, I heard some citizens indicate that they thought having a branch might be a good idea. Well, the devil is in the details. We are fortunate that we have citizen volunteers who are willing to give their time and talents as members of the Library Board of Trustees. Over 10 years ago when I was one of the nine trustees, we examined this issue in depth as part of the process leading to the recommendation to expand the current facility.

We concluded, just as the current trustees have, that a branch was not cost effective for Chapel Hill and that we would be better served by having just one facility that was larger in space and had more staff. These tough economic times have meant a belt tightening and our library has had to cut its hours; others in our region have put their branches on the chopping block. We don’t need to follow that path, and when the bond market improves, I’m glad that Chapel Hill will proceed with the library expansion.


JCB said...

Wasn't one of the reasons downtown came back up a potential donation of space? Doesn't that have an impact on the calculation here? Certainly operational costs go up, but is that more than the combined operational plus capital costs for expansion?

Fred said...

James, the Mayor didn't reveal any info on the location or duration of the possible donation, so it's hard to evaluate the true costs..

JCB said...

You're right. Silly me for thinking that the CH Town Council would fully think through an issue.