WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - At a time 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.
The 5-0 vote Monday, came after Library Director Harry Tuchmayer said the number of patrons who use the Myrtle Grove branch has multiplied significantly since its construction more than 20 years ago.
"In order to accommodate this growth, the branch needs to be expanded. However, the current site is not conducive to such an expansion due to the size of the lot, which is slightly over one acre," Tuchmayer stated in a written request to the board.
Myrtle Grove Branch Manager Patricia Dew said the parking lot is too small for the number of people using the facility, causing a headache when people try to pull in and out of the location.
"It may be time to expand to a bigger facility so people will be able to enjoy the library without feeling crowded or like they may get into a fender bender in the parking lot," Dew said.
The property under consideration is a 2.95 acres site located at 3802 South College road behind the Walgreens at 17th Street and S. College Road.
The written request indicates the County Manager has already executed a purchase contract for $444,000, and that was made official with the commissioner's vote.
"There seems to be a movement that we still need physical libraries, however I do acknowledge that we need to look to the future and temper how we go forward," County Commissioner Skip Watkins said.
Watkins said he was curious as to whether or not digital reading platforms would hinder the existence of a physical library, but said the parking situation at the Myrtle Grove Branch cannot be ignored.
"It's a tough library to get in and out of. There's not adequate parking there, and the [purchase] wouldn't be just a total wash. The [Myrtle Grove] property would be for sale."
Watkins said selling the branch would help offset the cost if they moved forward with purchasing the new location, hinting that "there may or may not be some interest in that property already."
County Commissioner Rob Zapple said the role of libraries is shifting, but he thinks there will always be a need for physical locations.
"Yes, there are a lot of books that have gone towards Kindle or E-books, but you see an awful lot of young families in libraries," Zapple said. "The libraries and their mission has shifted slightly, so it's become a real resource for mothers and fathers with young children."