University City will welcome a new library in spring 2025. The Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously on Oct. 6, 2022, to approve the development.
Approved county funding will go towards the venture. Residents can expect a 35,000-square-foot two-story building including rooms for youth programs, studying and meetings, a pre-teen and teen area, drive-through returns and other services.
The addition is needed as our current library is projected to be limited to serve our future population. The lease for the existing University City Regional Library is set to expire in December 2024.
“This library will be the center of the University City community,” said Tobe Holmes, the Director of Planning and Development. A community that he says values education and civic assets.
The library held a Community Engagement Meeting on Jan. 26 to help the architects understand what features are desired. One feature that residents specifically asked for was a central staircase.
The meeting also touched on what essential functions of the library to the community and how to prioritize these functions. For example, a resident requested a community meeting space balanced with how many books are to be shelved. Other requests include an outdoor space, a robust area for kids and amenities for seniors.
“Each library is built to reflect the existing and projected demographic that will use it,” said Holmes.
The high youth circulation in University City is of priority to the commissioners. The current library has the second-highest youth circulation of any other library in Charlotte.
Holmes also noted the large number of immigrant users they wish to accommodate. “If we’re able to have a library that helps kids who currently speak a different language or are from a household of first-generation Americans, that’s pretty important,” Holmes said. “Our library turns 30 years old in a couple of weeks. It was originally slated for improvement back in 2008. This community has waited for 15 additional years to see the improvements promised then.”
A lot of work went into ensuring the right site for the development, which is taking place in Uptown. The chosen location is 0.4 miles from the light rail station and a few blocks from four bus lines on W.T. Harris Boulevard and North Tryon Street.
Atkins Library does, at times, collaborate with University City libraries. “It gives students another place to go to study, especially for off-campus students,” said Holmes. “In addition to being another place to study, it also provides opportunities for volunteerism, meeting space, classroom groups and community.”