Community Art on Display at Chapel Hill Library

Chapel Hill’s Public Library is creating a new installation to showcase on their walls.

It’s a selection of public art on display by an uncommon homegrown artist… you.

“It’s called Unbound because I was looking at the library as a place that binds together material, books and CD’s and DVD’s.” says Erik Carlson. “And all these pieces of information so that they can be protected but then also they’re unbound and shared with the community.”

Carlson is an artist from Providence Rhode Island. His proposal for the space was chosen amongst many other submissions.

Susan Brown, Director of the library, says it was a competitive process.

The national call brought in about 238 submissions and Carlson’s was chosen because of the unique community aspect of his proposal.

It was about a four hour process, but Brown says she can’t complain.

“It was a great process. And we were so thrilled with Erik’s because it really captured the idea of the community and the library,” Brown said.

All of this was made possible by the towns Percent for Art program, where development projects allocate a percent of their budget for a work of public art.

Members of the community can submit their own memorabilia to be on display. Things like your grandmother’s best recipe, a photo of your great uncle sitting in his car on Franklin St. or any other mementos that show the evolution of Chapel Hill and your time spent here.

“This is an opportunity for them to take those things, and bring them in, and make them part of the artwork,” says Carlson.

What’s even more cool than being able to see your submissions displayed in the public library, is how Carlson and Brown plan on making it come to life.

“Folks that are familiar with the library, right across from the main service desk there’s two blank walls there. And then there’s going to be four panels,” says Brown.

Behind the panels are video monitors.

“But the thing is, these monitors are covered over so you can’t see most of them, and you only get these glimpses into the images through these very cool optical lenses,” Carlson says.

Brown compares it to looking through a viewfinder. Or a glass dome with your digitally converted work inside.

Why digital and not original pieces you might ask? Carlson explains this concept and his use of Braille in the installation.

“Now with everything being digital I thought it was very appropriate that, as libraries are moving into a new phase where they’re dealing with all these digital information and processing that,” Carlson says, “I thought it was appropriate that Braille played a part in besides being very interesting digitally.”

If you need help converting your work, the public library has you covered.

“The library’s digital media lab will be open every Thursday. So you can come and learn how to scan things, or take photos, or take your own super 8 and digitize it,” says Brown.

For the remainder of Carlson’s stay in town, he’s working with Mary Scroggs and Northside Elementary School so they can get involved in the Public Library’s public art work.

They’ll create works of art that portray what they feel is important about the community.

“And then also we’re encouraging them to go home and get their parents, and their siblings, and their neighbors to submit,” Carlson says.

So if you’re in the area, from the area, or have ever visited Chapel Hill, submit your work for display!

Find out more and keep up with installation developments here. You can find Carlson’s work here.

Wednesday: CH Town Council May Pick a Bid for Old Library

The Chapel Hill Town Council meets Wednesday to likely choose one of four bids to buy the old Chapel Hill Public Library at 523 East Franklin Street.

Various community organizations used the building between 1994 and 2010, and then the town took responsibility for it. Two years later, it was decided that the upkeep cost too much for the Town of Chapel Hill.

In 2013, an agreement was struck with Preservation North Carolina, which has held the easement on the property since 2007, to find a buyer. The minimum asking price is $752,000.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Arts and Sciences Foundation, Inc. has offered the highest bid, at $1.03 million. Arts and Sciences would use the building as the foundation’s headquarters.

The lowest bid comes from Jay Miller, at the asking price. Miller, the Board of Directors Chair at the ArtsCenter, wants to use the building as a nonprofit hub.

The other bidders are Chabad, which is planning a community center with a focus on students; and the building’s neighbors Chris and Ann Cox, who envision a cultural center with rental space for arts organizations and private functions.

Preservation North Carolina originally agreed on a fee of $5,000 for its work on the sale, but recently requested an increase to 2.5 percent of the sale’s proceeds.

PNC cited the sale process being “much more intensive and more complex than originally anticipated” as the reason for the request.

The Chapel Hill Town Council meeting takes place Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., in Meeting Room C of the Chapel Hill Public Library on Library Drive.

CH Library Survey Asks For Public Input On Operating Hours

CHAPEL HILL –  The new director of the Chapel Hill Public Library, Susan Brown, says as additional hours of operation are being restored to the library, she wants public feedback in the process.

The library’s “30 Second Survey,” running through Tuesday, is asking when patrons would like to see the additional hours added to the schedule.

“We ask folks to rank which hours would be most important for them to be added back in,” Brown explained. “We have the option to pick Saturdays, Sundays, and week day mornings and week day evenings. They can simply rank them 1-4. We also have a place for, if people want to leave comments about the hours, they can do so.”

The Chapel Hill Town Council recently approved an additional $244,000 in library funding to keep the library open 64 hours a week. The newly expanded facility had been cut down to 54 hours when it reopened this spring due to the building’s higher operating expenses.

Brown says the goal is to put six hours back into the schedule soon, and then the survey will help determine when the rest should be added.

“In my position here now, I really want to start more conversations with our users because this is their library,” Brown said. “This is one way to do so. This survey isn’t the answer but it’s really going to get us to a really informed answer.”

There are also paper copies at all service points in the library.

Click here for the library’s website. The survey is featured in the top slider.

Chapel Hill Library Names New Director

CHAPEL HILL – After its first nationwide search for a new director came up short, the Chapel Hill Library has found its new leader.

“It was great to meet Roger Stancil and some other folks who are involved with the library and I’m very proud to have been selected,” said newly appointed Susan Brown.

Town Manager Roger Stancil announced Monday that Brown will take over as director effective May 20.

The library’s dedication ceremony is scheduled for April 20, and Brown has agreed to be in town for the event. Brown is currently the marketing director of the public library in Lawrence, Kansas. There she has also served as an adult services librarian.

“We were Tar Heels when we came here and we’ve been J-Hawks briefly and we are thrilled to be Tar Heel once again,” Brown said.

Prior to her time in Kansas, she worked in Raleigh at the Cameron Village Regional Library. She’s also the former branch manager of the Carrboro Cybrary.

But the search to find a library director was not easy. A team of consultants received applications from as far away as Washington and Arizona, but none of the sixty or so candidates fit the bill. Brown went through an extensive interview process to get the job.

“Rather than just a typical one-on-one interview or a presentation, it was a day-and-a-half series of all kinds of activities,” Brown explained.

Brown is no stranger to Chapel Hill. After getting her bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Tech, she enrolled in UNC’s school of Information and Library Science where she completed her master’s degree.

“We left Chapel Hill about 7 years ago. And we are just thrilled to be coming back,” Brown said.

To read more about Susan Brown, you can follow this link to her blog:

To see a new video on the Library’s progress, click here.