PEMBROKE — The Pembroke Library reopened on Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting as part of a celebration of its expanded space and services.
The library, which is now about 7,500 square feet, is about twice as large as it was before the renovations, and now has room for roughly 19,000 books, DVDs, videos, audio books, manga and graphic novels, all available for check out. It also features wireless Internet and has numerous magazines and newspapers. It is one of seven libraries in the county library system, which employs about 25 people.
According to Katie Roche, director for Robeson Public Library system, the new space will improve the experience for patrons.
“People respond to the physical space they find themselves in and this space, being airy and open, is very comfortable,” Roche said. “There is room to have privacy to explore the collections. A library is a special place because it’s free. There is no membership — it’s not a school or a religion. It’s a nice place in the community, where people can come and interact.”
About 30 people attended the event, including Mayor Milton Hunt, and other town and library officials.
The expansion provides room for eight new computers, book racks, art work and displays. The library boasts several well-lit areas for quiet study.
“This library provides computer access to people looking for jobs, students in distance education and people who simply want to connect online,” Roche said.
The first library came to Pembroke in 1991 and it soon became the second busiest library in the system, trailing only Lumberton. During 2009, more than 17,000 people — almost 50 a day — visited the Pembroke Library. The need for more space prompted a move in 1998 to its current location at 413 Blaine St.
The work was paid with a $232,800 Community Facility low-interest loan and a $235,000 grant, both from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. According to a statement from the Department of Agriculture, the Community Facilities program helps pay for essential community facilities for public use in rural areas such as child care centers, hospitals, medical clinics, assisted-living facilities and libraries.
Randall Gore, state director for U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, noted how lucky Pembroke was to be able to secure the funding.
“These terms are not as plentiful now as they were when we began this,” Gore said.
The library, which had boasted 4,758 square feet, closed in early August 2011 so that renovations could be done.
Construction crews knocked out the south-side wall of the building, and added an area that left the library with an L-shape. Seven parking spots were added on the east side of the building, increasing the number to 26.