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New main library building designed for 21st century technology
$135 million project slated for 2024 debut
Published Thursday, November 7, 2019 8:38 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Artist rendering of the interior of the planned Main Branch library in Charlotte. The current main branch will be torn down in 2021 and the new building – expected to cost $100 million – is scheduled for completion in 2024.

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A library fit for the 21st century is in the works for Charlotte’s urban core.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library unveiled renderings today for their future home—a $100 million, 115,000-square-foot space. Demolition begins in 2021, with anticipated opening in early 2024.

“Where is it going to be? The same place since 1903,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library CEO Lee Keesler said.

Keesler described the present building as “pretty inadequate from a technology standpoint,” as the demands of the modern library expand well beyond simply holding books, which was the primary purpose when the structure came into existence 30 years ago.

The $135 million project will draw both public and private funds. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation Executive Director Jenni Gaisbauer said 67 percent of funding for the structure designed by Snohetta has already been secured. Mecklenburg County committed $65 million to the project.

“I’ve been working on the project with Lee and the team since 2014, and I have really learned that libraries are not the libraries that we all grew up with,” Mecklenburg County manager Dena Diorio said. “A 21st century library is a very, very different place. To be able to be part of developing and creating a 21st century library for Mecklenburg County is going to be a game changer for the community for the next 100 years.”

The Knight Foundation donated $10 million, which VP of Community & National Initiatives Charles Thomas noted as its “largest gift.”

“The leadership had a bold vision for creating a 21st century library,” he said. “What’s important to Knight Foundation is fostering more informed and engaged communities. In this new era of digital technology, it’s critical that our democratic institutions such as libraries are equipped with the resources to make that happen.”

While the new main library will be smaller than the current one, Snohetta official Nick Anderson equated it to trading in an SUV for a high-performance car. The new site will include a lower level for event space. The main entrance will face Tryon Street and will be located one level one, which will also include a café entrance, lobby, immersive theater area, reading zones and self-service checkpoints.

Level two consists of a welcome and orientation center for new residents, job training center, counseling services space, technology center, computer lab, recording studios, digital visualization lab and an outdoor terrace. The third level will house most of the branch’s 160,000 volumes, reading areas and staff space. Level four will house special collections as well as the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, theater and staff space. The fifth and final level includes a reading room, writer’s studio and porch, outdoor terrace, and administrative offices.




Hi - the building cost is $100M. The Foundation's campaign is working to raise $135M, which includes funding for the Main Library as well as other library projects and the endowment fund.
Posted on November 8, 2019

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