Members of a volunteer committee emphasized the need for a “functional library” during last week’s meeting of the Aberdeen Board of Commissioners.
Since forming in 2014, The Friends of the Aberdeen Library group has raised nearly $100,000 and purchased property for the project on North Pine Street. Tom Cruce, a member of organization, told the commissioners that a “vibrant library expands the cultural soul of any town.”
“The benefits for a functional library are numerous, and they include much more than just books,” Cruce said. “Programs that would not only provide cultural entertainment but also educational experiences for all ages could be attainable. This is something that the citizens we have spoken to wholeheartedly support.”
He added that the organization’s “casual polling” of local merchants “clearly tells us that the merchants deem a functional library as a plus for the town and for their overall business activity given the proximity of the site to the center of town.”
A new library could also “provide educational and informational equity” to “low-income families” who do not have access to computers or high-speed internet, according to Cruce. The town’s website estimates that the median household income for residents is $34,026, which is about $20,570 less than the statewide average.
Aberdeen’s current library, Page Memorial, was built in 1907. Janet Peele, treasurer of The Friends of the Aberdeen Library, told the commissioners that the facility is the “second oldest continually operated library” in North Carolina.
“We do not want to close that building,” she said. “We see that building as an archive, a place for Aberdeen people who are interested in genealogy and a place that you might bring your things from home that you’ve held on to from your grandparents for other people to enjoy.”
The group hopes the town will set aside money in next year’s budget for a new library, which is projected to cost about $1.6 million. Cruce said there is a “strong possibility” that the state will provide up to $500,000 in matching funds for the project.
Mayor Robbie Farrell said the commissioners will need time to “digest and look back through” the information presented to the board.