Bookstore is not a library

While I was shopping in Dillard’s one day last month, Mr. Dillard himself and a regional manager were roaming the store. As I paid for my purchase, the salesclerk commented how fortuitous it was that the entourage happened by in time to see a customer buying something. Truth be told, the store was not exactly bustling with shoppers.

I thought back to that exchange when town manager Roger Stancil, at the March 28 Town Council meeting, decisively ruled out all alternatives for a temporary home for the library save the two spots at University Mall. The original plan was for the library to move to the mall during the renovation and expansion of the library building in Pritchard Park. But in December and all throughout the holiday shopping season, the town explored moving the library to the mall permanently, in the space occupied by Dillard’s. The implication was that Dillard’s was on its way out, certainly not a rumor Dillard’s would want circulated at the start of the 6 to 8 weeks that would determine its profitability for the year.

Among the options Stancil ruled out for the temporary relocation was the soon-to-be-vacant Border’s bookstore on Sage Road and U.S. 15-501. The cost would be prohibitively expensive, he said, more than $800,000 to upfit the store, not including the $80,000 to truck the books from the library. As I wandered through the emptying Border’s last week, I wondered what there was to upfit. Everything was right there: shelves, display racks, tables, upholstered chairs, information desk, separate children’s center, even the coffee shop that library patrons hanker after so. Had Stancil been first in line when Border’s began selling its fixtures, the town could have outfitted the entire temporary library for $10,000.

But I’m sure the pre-Christmas speculation of Dillard’s leaving town came at a price. No doubt Mr. Dillard stopped in to see mall manager Peter DeLeon during his visit last month and the talk of some sort of recompense may have come up. So the mall might badly need the $775,000 the library will pay for temporarily relocating there, not counting the $80,000 to truck over the books.

After council heard Stancil’s report, council member Matt Czajkowski brought up again the idea of non-Chapel Hill residents paying for library cards. The space at the mall is half that of the current library. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt suggested waiting to talk about that during the budget discussions in May.
– Nancy Oates

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