Chapel Hill Public Library Adds New Hours

The Chapel Hill Public Library is adding seven hours to it’s weekly schedule.

When fully implemented starting March 14, the new library hours will be:

Monday – Thursday        9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday                             9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday        10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This makes a total of 69 hours per week. These changes were made without any increase in their operating budget because of a reorganization done last year.

Library users should also note a planned closure on Friday, March 18.

“Unbound” Unveiled At Chapel Hill Public Library

It’s a work of art more than a year in the making, weaving together nearly ten thousand pieces of Chapel Hill’s history, community and life – and it’s on display now in the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Unveiling "Unbound." (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

Unveiling “Unbound.” (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

It’s called “Unbound.” Commissioned by the town’s cultural arts division and compiled by Rhode Island-based artist Erik Carlson, it’s a digital projection through more than a hundred lenses, cycling through 9,469 still images and videos collected over the spring and summer of 2015 – including kids’ drawings, menus, maps, love letters, TV broadcasts, Super 8 films, YouTube videos and more, all drawn from life in Chapel Hill. (The piece also includes nods to various forms of communication: shorthand, Morse Code, binary, cursive writing, and Braille.)

Erik Carlson.

Erik Carlson.

The town selected Carlson from a pool of 235 applicants for the project. Carlson shuttled back and forth from Rhode Island to Chapel Hill throughout 2015 and 2016 to gather material and produce the piece – touring restaurants and bars, visiting community centers, attending cultural events, and more. (His final trip was down I-95 through six states, all with the finished artwork sitting precariously in his vehicle – but he says he made it without incident.)

The work was officially unveiled Friday evening, with Mayor Pam Hemminger, Cultural Arts Division head Jeff York, Public Library director Susan Brown, and most of the Chapel Hill Town Council in attendance along with Carlson himself.

Susan Brown, Pam Hemminger, and Erik Carlson discuss "Unbound." (Photos by Aaron Keck.)

Susan Brown, Pam Hemminger, and Erik Carlson discuss “Unbound.” (Photos by Aaron Keck.)

A couple days before the official unveiling, Carlson and Brown discussed “Unbound” with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


Learn more about “Unbound” here.

Chapel Hill Public Library Unbound 8

"Oh, let's just rip it!" (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

“Oh, let’s just rip it!” (Photo by Aaron Keck.)

And learn even more about it here.

Chapel Hill Public Library Unbound 1

Chapel Hill Public Library Unbound 12

Chapel Hill Public Library Unbound 11

Chapel Hill Public Library Unbound 10

Chapel Hillian Publishes Debut Novel

It’s a contemporary retelling of the Noah’s Ark story – only now with Noah’s wife coming into her own as the main character. (Gradually, at any rate.)

Just released in January, “Noah’s Wife” is the debut novel of Lindsay Starck. Originally from Wisconsin, she now lives in Chapel Hill as she pursues a doctorate in comparative literature at UNC.

Starck discussed the novel with Aaron Keck (and read a short passage) this week on WCHL.


You can meet Starck and hear more of “Noah’s Wife” this Thursday, February 18, at a “Meet the Author Tea” hosted by the Friends of the Chapel Hill Public Library. The event takes place in the library at 4 pm (free and open to all), with refreshments starting at 3:30.

Photo of Starck via

Photo of Starck via

To buy the book, click here.

Chapel Hill Public Library Plans To Expand Hours

The Chapel Hill Public Library is planning to add four to six hours to it’s current schedule.

Before deciding when these hours would be, the library is asking for public input to help figure out which hours would best serve the community.

The deadline to submit input is February 15.

According to the library website, these expanding hours will come with no increase to the current budget.

The library will announce its expanded hours in March.

Step Dancing Comes To CHPL

The Chapel Hill Public Library begins its celebration of Black History Month this Saturday, February 6, at 3 pm with a free exhibition of step dancing performed by local students.

The step groups at UNC’s Communiversity Youth Program are comprised of 3rd through 5th graders, taught by UNC students through the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. Step is a percussive form of dance that originated at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the early 20th century.

Chris Wallace of Communiversity discussed Saturday’s program with Aaron Keck on WCHL, joined by two dancers and one teacher from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Medicaid Expansion In NC?

North Carolina is one of 16 states nationwide that still hasn’t expanded Medicaid, even though (or because) Medicaid expansion is a key component of the plan behind the Affordable Care Act. With a major election looming this year, what is the status of the Medicaid expansion debate in North Carolina?

The League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties is hosting a discussion on Medicaid expansion this Wednesday, January 20, at 6:30 pm in the Chapel Hill Public Library. (The LWV is a nonpartisan organization, but it’s taken a position in favor of Medicaid expansion.) League president Janet Hoy will speak along with Adam Linker of the NC Justice Center.

Janet Hoy previewed the event and discussed the issue with Aaron Keck on WCHL.


Wednesday’s event is called “Status of Medicaid Expansion: What’s On the Political Horizon?” It’s free and open to the public.

Visit for more information.

New Book Machine Speeds Reads Back To Chapel Hill Public Library Shelves

The Chapel Hill Public Library boasts one of the highest per capita circulation rates in the state. That means a lot of books and DVDs coming and going each day, totaling approximately 1.3 million items annually.

Handling that volume of materials takes time, and can be physically taxing for library staffers. Library Director Susan Brown says it takes a mental toll as well.

“You fill up a cart of books and you turn around and there are more books, says Brown. “It’s like this fire hose of stuff that keeps coming back in.”

Starting this week, the library has a new solution in the form of an automated materials handler. The machine combines a conveyor belt with Radio Frequency Identification technology to collect and sort materials after they’ve been dropped off in a book return by library patrons.

The books will be automatically scanned and checked in, then travel over several yards of conveyor belts before being sorted onto one of eleven bins. From there, librarians will re-shelve the books.

In addition to the new ramps and conveyor belts in the sorting room, there’s a Plexiglas window in the library lobby so patrons can watch the process in action.

“We were sort of thinking of that Krispy Kreme model, when you can see the doughnut coming off the belt,” says Brown. “It has proven to be very popular.”

The purchase of the $300,000 machine was made possible by a $200,000 gift from the Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation, combined with an additional $100,000 from the town’s Library Gift Fund.

Brown says they are taking suggestions for what to call the new contraption.

“We thought it would be a super-fun way to engage the public in this, so just for a couple days, we’re having an informal contest to name it.”

You can drop off suggestions in a ballot box near the viewing window.

The library will conduct a formal ribbon cutting as part of its Mystery in The Stacks fundraiser this Friday. Find out more here.

“Civil Rights: Then And Now” At CHPL

The year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Voting Rights Act – a law that’s still very much in the news, with a wave of recent state laws changing voting procedures after a Supreme Court ruling struck down some of its key provisions.

One of those laws was North Carolina’s controversial 2013 “voter ID” bill – passed almost immediately after the Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which enabled states and municipalities with a history of discrimination to amend its voting laws without getting “pre-clearance” from the federal government. That law is now being challenged in court too, as are similar laws in other states – including Texas, whose post-Shelby law was recently struck down by a court.

Those legal conflicts make it clear – if it wasn’t already – that the Voting Rights Act is still just as salient in public life today as it was fifty years ago. To mark the anniversary, the League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties has teamed up with the Chapel Hill branch of the American Association of University Women to sponsor a discussion of “Civil Rights: Then and Now,” featuring NC Central law professor Irving Joyner.

The event will take place on Thursday, September 17, at 6:30 pm in the Chapel Hill Public Library. It’s free and everyone’s welcome to attend.

Irving Joyner spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck on Tuesday – along with League of Women Voters president Janet Hoy and AAUW president Bea Keller.

Chapel Hill Library to Host Harper Lee Celebration

Harper Lee’s new book, “Go Set a Watchman,” will be the subject of events Tuesday at the Chapel Hill Public Library.

Readers remember the Atticus Finch of Harper Lee’s groundbreaking 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” as the white lawyer who stood up against racial prejudice. In the book, Finch defends a young black man named Tom Robinson, who was falsely accused of raping a white girl. Gregory Peck played Finch in the 1962 film adaptation.

But critics who’ve read advance copies of Lee’s second release warn readers to prepare themselves for a very different Atticus Finch. “Go Set a Watchman” features a racist Atticus Finch who affiliates with the KKK and opposes desegregation.

Nonetheless, Harper Lee fans are awaiting the release of her new book with a great deal of excitement. Flyleaf bookstore owner Jamie Fiocco says she’s even a little nervous about the expectations readers have for a book that may have been an early draft of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“Whenever I read a debut novel, I’m a little more forgiving with maybe the author’s way of writing and how they develop the story,” Fiocco said. “But this is a really strange situation in which the second book we’ll be reading is really the first book, […] but we’re reading it as the second and so there’s a lot of expectation.”

The Chapel Hill Public Library is inviting fans to gather there Tuesday to celebrate the release of “Go Set a Watchman.” Library Director Susan Brown says the celebration will feature the 1962 film adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and a panel discussion.

“Daniel Wallace is going to moderate,” Brown said. “We have an author, someone from the ACLU, someone from the Center for the Study of the American South, and they’re all going to talk about what Harper Lee has meant to them as writers, as readers and to our culture.”

The library is showing the film at 2 p.m. The panel will take place at 6:30 p.m. Flyleaf Books will be selling copies of Lee’s new book at the event.

Thieves Target Chapel Hill Public Library

The Chapel Hill Public Library was the target for thieves on Thursday.

Chapel Hill Police Sergeant Bryan Walker says the manner in which the crime was committed is unusual.

“Apparently someone overnight had actually removed glass from one of the doors,” says Walker. “The glass and frame had been removed and was not broken.”

Once the glass was removed someone stole an Apple computer estimated to be worth $2,000 from the library’s teen center.

The crime was discovered by employees when the library opened on Thursday morning. Chapel Hill Police are still investigating the incident.