Survey shows support for Southern Shores library

By on November 6, 2019

(Dare County Library)

A potential site for a new Southern Shores library branch that would serve northern Dare County and southern Currituck County communities has been identified, according to the chairman for the committee charged with exploring the possibility. And of the 400 Dare County residents who took a recent survey on the issue, about 80 percent responded favorably to the idea.

Mike Fletcher, who leads a Southern Shores-appointed committee to explore the feasibility of such a branch, made a presentation to the Kitty Hawk Council at its Nov. 4 meeting. It was the first stop in his campaign to garner support from the elected boards in Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and Duck before presenting the concept to the Dare County Board of Commissioners.

The county commissioners would ultimately determine whether to proceed with the project and how to fund it.

Fletcher noted that specifics on the potential site would likely not be released until next month, when the committee would have a better idea on the financial details. Southern Shores Councilman Jim Conners first floated the possibility of a modestly sized library on the north end of Dare County and earlier this year, Southern Shores hosted a public meeting on the topic.

The exploratory committee includes representatives from Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk and Duck, as well as Martin’s Point. There are currently three libraries in Dare County – in Kill Devil Hills, Manteo and Hatteras – all of which are part of the East Albemarle Regional Library system that also includes Camden, Corolla, Currituck, Moyock and Pasquotank.

As for the survey, roughly 80 percent of the respondents said they were interested in a library branch in Southern Shores, while 18 percent were opposed to such an idea. Just over half of the survey comments cited convenience and the quality of life as reasons to support such a branch. A number of the comments opposing the library cited redundancy, financial impact and “zero sum impact.”

“I am not in favor of adding a library,” one respondent wrote. “It seems like frivolous spending when there is a branch eight miles away and the funding would then be reduced to the current branches.”

Another respondent noted, however, that a branch would fill a “huge void” between Barco and Kill Devil Hills: “Not having a library for almost 40 miles excludes a large area of Currituck and Dare residents from having easy access to library services and programs.”

A third respondent stated: “I believe libraries are at the heart of a community. With such a small year-round population in Duck we frequently have to travel so far to find community spaces and activities. A library would be just one more way to strengthen our local connections.”

For his part, Kitty Hawk Mayor Gary Perry asked residents to provide feedback on the issue through emails or by calling elected officials or town staff.

“We need to know whether you would be willing for the town to chip in money to put something like this up in Southern Shores area – in other words, another or partial library. We need to know if you think it is redundant or something that is worthwhile to do in addition to what is already existing,” he said.

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  • surf123

    Any survey that asks if you are interested if having something that you might need without any costs (implying free) will get positive responses. The problem with this is that there is no way you could ever justify building a library for such a small population. Add to that the concept that libraries are going the way of the dodo bird. Why drive somewhere when you can get to the materials on line for free or at minimum cost. A building with computers would be a far better use than a building to house books that no one will read.

    Wednesday, Nov 6 @ 3:40 pm
  • Jim Conners

    Good article, but to clarify one point, it was actually a Kitty Hawk resident who first contacted me with this idea. He was cleaning out the All Saints Episcopal Church library and thought it’d be an idea worth pursuing.

    All I did was talk to adjacent towns and the county informally about the idea, then approached the SShores council to form a committee to further explore the idea. That committee has done an OUTSTANDING job of further researching this.

    Wednesday, Nov 6 @ 3:49 pm
  • Ann G. Sjoerdsma

    Regardless of what one thinks about having a library branch in Southern Shores, the survey has no validity. In Southern Shores, it was NOT a random sampling of residents whose interest in the subject was unknown. The survey was completed by residents who volunteered their opinions. It is hardly surprising that people who are interested in a branch library would seek out and answer a survey (accessed through the town website) designed to gauge interest in a branch library. The survey is simple self-reporting. Inasmuch as there has been no discussion of costs, there is little incentive for people who have no use for a branch library, or would oppose one if taxpayers had to pay for it, to answer a general-interest survey.

    Wednesday, Nov 6 @ 8:28 pm
  • Forbes Kennedy

    Ann is correct. This is hardly a “randomized survey” and involves something of significant cost too build and maintain. Libraries are really becoming as obsolete as schoolteachers. As teachers are morphing into mere proctors and disciplinarians, libraries are being replaced by easier online access. Post offices used to be the “hubs of communities” as well; now they are essentially retail desks and carrier sorting facilities.

    Thursday, Nov 7 @ 4:57 pm
  • Thomas Black

    I dig the Southern Shores Beacon, but don’t understand the criticism of the library survey. The survey is merely a mechanism to obtain feedback from town property owners. The survey results are what the survey results are….voluntary feedback from those who cared enough to respond to the questions. It amazes me that anyone would argue that a library in Southern Shores degrades the community. Libraries expand human knowledge, promote reading for education and pleasure, and offer resources to the community. Where is Ray Bradbury when you need him? #ssbeaconbookburningparty

    Friday, Nov 8 @ 12:40 pm