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Chapel Hill Public Library

A department of the Town of Chapel Hill

History of the Library

Pre-1958
  • Readers are served by University Library. The Mary Bayley Pratt Children’s Library (established in 1929 by local clubs and located in the elementary school) serves as both school and public library for children.
1958
  • Chapel Hill Public Library established by the Board of Aldermen on the recommendation of a study by the Community Council, an organization of more than 60 local organizations concerned about local library resources.
  • The Pratt Library Board disbands, giving their funds to the new Public Library to help finance the purchase of children’s books.
  • Trustees name the children’s area the Mary Bayley Pratt Children’s Room.
1958-1967
  • CHPL located at 115 W. Franklin Street. Elizabeth McCarthy is first librarian. Mrs. Elizabeth Geer succeeds her (1962-1975).
1965
  • Building bond proposal approved by voters.
1967
  • New library, located at 523 E. Franklin Street, opens (December 8, 1967).
1972
  • Library purchases a bookmobile, providing outreach and mobile branch library services.
1975
  • Library ground floor is remodeled to house the Mary Bayley Pratt Children’s Library, the meeting room, periodicals storage room, and staff work areas.
  • Librarian Geer retires, and is succeeded by Susan McClure.
1976
  • Library officially becomes a department of the government of the Town of Chapel Hill.
  • Library Board becomes an advisory board to the Council.
1978
  • Mary Boone is appointed Library Director.
1979
  • Trustees identify long-range library space needs in Our Library and the Community, for the Town’s Community Facilities Report, 1979.
  • Library appears as a facility need in next four CIP Reports (1979-84—1983-88).
  • Property adjacent to library is purchased by the Town, to provide additional space for patron parking.
1980
  • Architectural firm prepares Chapel Hill Public Library: Alternatives For Growth, analyzing the library’s space needs.
  • Parking area is expanded to accommodate a total of 28 parking spaces.
1981
  • Cornelia Spencer Love, a Trustee for 12 years, dies and leaves a trust of $350,000 to the library to assist future expansion and facilities. Town accepts gift 11/22/82.
1982-present
  • Chapel Hill Public Library maintains the highest per capita circulation of any North Carolina public library.
1982
  • Town CIP report includes need for bookmobile replacement.
1983
  • Library survey shows that 86.5% of patrons come to library by automobile, 5.6% by bus, 5.9% by walking, and 2% by bike or motorcycle.
1984
  • Library Board proposal for University Mall mini-branch library is denied by the Town Council.
1985
  • August 22: Manager recommends library expansion in or near downtown area.
  • October 1: Library Board holds a public forum to gain citizen input on possible locations for a new library site.
  • November 4: Library Board recommends library expansion outside of downtown area. Includes specific sites and site criteria.
  • November 11: Kathleen Thompson is appointed Library Director.
  • November 25, 1985: Manager suggests specific downtown sites, and includes site criteria.
1986
  • July: Bookmobile removed from service, due to breakdown.
  • September: Council adopted bond order for November election, including $4 million for a new library building. Appoints a Citizens Bond Task Force to inform voters on all bond issues.
  • November: Voters approve the $4 million library bond.
1987
  • March: LSCA bookmobile grant requested.
  • April: Library Committee appointed by Council.
  • May: Bookmobile grant denied. Library Committee meets for the first time.
1988
  • June: Arrival of new bookmobile, purchased from library gift funds.
  • July: Bookmobile service resumed.
  • September: Began books-on-cassette program.
1989
  • January: Fundraising feasibility study was conducted.
  • February: Building Program completed.
  • May: Library park property acquired.
  • October: Fund
1990
  • February: Master site plan reviewed by the Council
  • March: Contract signed with Innovative Interfaces for automation purchase.
  • June: Bar coding of collection completed.
  • July: L.S.C.A. $100,000 grant awarded to the new library project.
  • September: Beginning of automated circulation.
  • November: Voters deny a supplemental bond referendum for $2 million for the new library.
  • December: Library Building Program revised.
  • December: Beginning of automated patron access catalogs.
1991
  • February: Building schematics approved by the Council. Capital Projects Team established.
  • April: Special Use Permit application approved.
  • July: Design development drawings approved by the Council.
  • August: Project ordinance budget revised.
  • October: Pritchard Park dedication.
1992
  • Broke ground for the new Library.
1993
  • Completed the $250,000 collection development project for opening day of the new library.
  • Awarded the furniture contract for the new library.
  • Coordinated move to new facility.
1994
  • May: Library dedication is attended by over 3000 people.
  • Annual circulation increases by +30%.
1995
  • “Safe Child Policy” is implemented.
  • “Behavior Policy” is implemented.
  • October: Library is named as a new Town polling place.
1996
  • Bookmobile reduces service to day cares and public housing facilities only.
1997
  • April: First meeting of the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation.
  • October: The Town Council appoints a Library Needs Assessment Task Force to study of Chapel Hill’s public library resources and development over the next 5-10 years, as requested by the Library Board and the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation.
  • October: HAPLR Index 1997 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State.
1998
  • June: The Public Library Association publishes “Planning for Results: A Public Library Transformation Process,” which revised and updated earlier professional service planning documents.
  • September: Bookmobile service is eliminated.
  • November: Revised standard measures of service are adopted by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association (“Guidelines for North Carolina Libraries, 1998”).
  • October: HAPLR Index 1998 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State.
1999
  • June: Library Needs Assessment Task Force report is received and accepted by the Town Council.
  • July: Administration of the Cornelia Spencer Love Trust is transferred from Trustee William Steward to the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation.
  • October: HAPLR Index 1999 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State.
  • November: The Town Council approves the Manager’s recommendation to hire library consulting services to review resources needed to maintain and to expand library services, to update the current library building program and to develop timetables through 2010 to maintain and expand library services.
2000
  • August: The Town hires consultant Sandra Nelson.
  • September: Nelson, the Library Board and staff begin initial work for the Public Library Association’s Planning Process report, to be called the Five Year Services Plan.
  • October: HAPLR Index 2000 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State.
  • November: Foundation holds its first fund raiser (A Novel Experience).
2001
  • August: The Town hires consultant Ruth O’Donnell to complete the Five Year Services Plan.
  • October: The Town Council accepts the Five Year Services Plan.
  • October: HAPLR Index 2001 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State.
  • December: Orange County Library Task Force report is submitted to the County Commissioners.
2002
  • January: Began leasing foreign language materials in Spanish and other languages from the Cumberland County Library’s Foreign Language Center.
  • February: Council reviews the Manager’s response to the Five Year Services Plan. Also authorizes the Manager to hire a consultant to develop a library building program, based on the Five Year Services Plan.
  • May: Installed the Gates computers in the Children’s area. Coordinated installation of security buzzers in the Library in key work areas as part of the Library’s Safety Plan. Installed shelving backs to book shelves, as a safety measure.
  • June: Library receives a $20,000 LSTA grant to develop a long-term technology plan. September: Robert Rohlf is selected to prepare the Library Building Program. Richard Wayne is selected to develop the Library’s Information Technology Program. Established a Library home page.
  • November: Library Board membership is increased from eight to nine members, to include eight Town appointed members and one member appointed by the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
  • October: HAPLR Index 2002 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State. Purchased pagers to streamline management of the public access computer queue.
2003
  • January: The Town Council receives the consultants’ recommended Library Building Program and the Information Technology Plan.
  • March: Unique Management is hired to pursue long-term library overdue materials and fines.
  • April: The Town Council accepts the Library Building Program and the Information Technology Plan, completing the three-part Library Master Plan.
  • May: First Library Trends report is received by the Council.
  • August: Upgraded the Library automation system to a windows-based platform.
  • October: HAPLR Index 2003 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State.
  • November: Citizens approve a $16.23 million library expansion bond.
2004
  • March: The Council authorizes $500,000 in bond money for costs associated with the initial design phase of the library expansion project.
  • April: Expanded computer lab is installed.
  • June: The Council establishes a Library Building Committee to organize a process for selection of an architect and work with the architect through the design process. The Council accepts the Library Board’s recommendation to not filter the Library’s public access Internet computers.
  • September: Town Council appoints Library Building Committee members. The Library Trends report is updated and received by the Council.
  • October: HAPLR Index 2004 ranks Chapel Hill Public Library as first in the State. The second Orange County Library Task Force report is submitted to the County Commissioners.
2005
  • February: Friends hold first meeting of the “Books Sandwiched In” book club.
  • March: UNC volunteers initiate free computer training classes for the public in the Library.
  • April: The Library launches its new website.
  • June: The Chapel Hill Public Library Building Committee meets for the first time to begin expansion planning. “Once Upon A Time” statue is purchased by the Town for the Library.
  • August: The Library introduces “BookLetters.”
2011-2013
  • The Library facility at 100 Library Drive is expanded. The Library moves to a space at University Mall during construction. Read more.

Last updated: 12 August 2005