To serve a growing community, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg library needs to add four regional libraries and five branches over the next 15 years, a consultant told library trustees Thursday.
Library officials hired Arizona library planning consultant Laura Isenstein to help them chart how Charlotte-Mecklenburg's library should grow through 2025.
On Thursday, she showed them how many new facilities they'll need and where, generally, they should be located.
The library now has six regional libraries. Her firm recommends adding four more – in northwest Mecklenburg, southwest Mecklenburg, Mint Hill and University City.
The Mint Hill regional library would replace a smaller branch library. And University City, which already has one regional library, would get a second, so patrons could visit libraries on both sides of Interstate 85. The existing University City regional library would be relocated.
The plan calls for building new regional libraries between 40,000 and 60,000 square feet. That's larger than South County Regional, now the largest regional branch at 33,000 square feet.
Under the plan, the library would also add five branches – in Huntersville, Ballantyne, Pineville, west Mecklenburg and the Monroe Road area.
The plan also calls for expanding or relocating many existing facilities that are either overcrowded or inconvenient for patrons.
It recommends moving the Independence Regional Library to the Eastland Mall area. Patrons who visited the old location would be served by a new library. Freedom Regional Library would also be relocated.
The plan would nearly double space at the Cornelius branch and either expand or relocate the Davidson branch. It would also move the Plaza-Midwood branch to a larger space.
Consultants also propose installing book dispensing units along light rail lines. Already used by several U.S. libraries, the units let patrons swipe library cards and choose a book from several hundred selections.