By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on November 6, 2019
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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This video encouraging voter registration was produced by the Dare County Board of Elections and was filmed by Swell Productions.