Future of Athens Drive Library discussed after plans were announced to close the facility

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Wake County leaders are taking a second look at a decision to close the Athens Drive Library to the public.

About 200 supporters of the library packed a meeting Thursday evening.

Wake County commissioners announced last month that public access to the library would end July 26 due to a low number of visitors and safety concerns because the library is part of Athens Drive High School.

Supporters said cutting off access would hurt the people who need it most.

"We insist that there be a library to replace this one, if we lose this facility," said library supporter Ann Spencer. "Second, we want it to have the same walkability that this library has. The same access to public transportation that this library has, and we want to serve the same fundamental community."

Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann and Wake County Schools Superintendent James Merrill released a joint statement at Thursday's meeting:

"Following community feedback, the county and the school system will continue working together to determine how the county can provide high-quality public library service at Athens Drive High School.

"While this joint effort moves forward, we will offer public library service on the current schedule until the new school year begins in August. Once classes are in session, we anticipate opening the school library to the public during afternoon, evening and weekend hours until we develop a final solution.

"Our evaluation in the coming weeks will focus not only on the short-term needs of the community, but also how we intend to offer public library service in this area for years to come.

"As part of the review process, we will bring staff together from both the county and school system to re-evaluate ideas, options and costs. Based on previous reviews by school and county staff, higher standards and security enhancements will be required under any new agreement.

"We are committed to effectively involving the public in this process as we all work together to generate a solution."

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