Archive for July, 2008


Main Library Planning & Programming

July 29, 2008

The community meeting about Main Library will take place tomorrow from 5:30 to 7:00pm at the Main Library Auditorium. The meeting will be divided into two parts:

(A) Presentation by the great architects who are working with us to understand our existing building and site, and

(B) Listening to the community members who assemble to hear what you feel is important as we develop this Library as a Place for our community to meet, to study, to learn, to bring our children, to connect with the world of information and ideas in these packages called books, CDs, DVDs, and nowadays, electrons flowing through the wires and airwaves that form the Internet.

On Wednesday, our architects will be conducting focus groups from dawn ’til dusk with groups such as the Business community, the Faith community, Homeless and Poor people, the Hispanic/Latino community, Neighborhoods, Parents of young children, Seniors, and Teens. All this engagement with Durham people is to learn what our community wants and needs in its Main Library.

Should we even call it the Main Library any more? Over the past five years, we’ve planned and built a Regional Library System, with a full service library within five miles of every Durham County resident. East Regional Library and North Regional Library are the first of what will be four regional libraries. They are wonderful! If you haven’t visited one or both of them, you must!!! And if you haven’t visited the historic Stanford L. Warren Library, that’s one of the 10 Things to Do Before You Die. Seriously. It’s a treasure!

So if we’re a regional library system, should our downtown library be called the Central Library? Our regional libraries are 25,000 square foot facilities, while our existing Main Library is a 65,000 square foot building. So what distinguishes it from the regional libraries? What do we all want and need this Library to be?

I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow and Wednesday!

Bull City Rising Blog entry pertaining to the Main Library Planning.


Vernon Jordan

July 21, 2008

One of my colleagues at Durham County Library, our Assistant Director for Administrative Services, Joyce McNeill, recently met Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. I asked another of our staff members, a young African-American man, if he knows of Vernon Jordan. No, he said, he had never heard of him. I said, “Well, I’m going to read his book, which is called Vernon Can Read!, and it would be pretty cool if you’d read it too, and we can discuss it.”

Vernon Jordan is of course one of the great civil rights leaders of our time. Among many, many accomplishments, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Urban League, Chair of President-Elect Clinton’s transition team, and Georgia Field Director of the NAACP when Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes were the first African-Americans admitted to the University of Georgia.

When Ms. McNeill met Mr. Jordan following a speech he gave at the American Library Association conference, they talked awhile and learned of a number of mutual acquaintances here in Durham, such as the late John H. Wheeler, Dr. John Hope Franklin, John W. Edwards, and Benjamin Ruffin. Jordan gave the eulogies for both Edwards and Ruffin in recent years.

Jordan has for many years served on the boards of directors of companies and foundations including Xerox, Revlon, American Express, and Lazard Freres investment banking firm, where he is Senior Managing Director. He has been with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld since the early 1980s and currently serves as Senior Counsel.

Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir not only tells the captivating story of his life through the early 1980s. This book distills his wisdom, his integrity, his leadership, and his understanding of the forces of history and all that the black community in America has done to overcome a tragic and burdensome past, as well as what is still undone.

Jordan has written another book, which will be published later this year, called Make It Plain: A Life of Public Speaking. I can’t wait!


Southwest Library Community Meeting Tuesday!

July 13, 2008

Cherry Huffman Architects are finishing up plans for the Southwest Regional Library renovation & expansion to 25,000 square feet by 2010.  Our architects for this project are Laura Battaglia and Louis Cherry.

Join us Tuesday, July 15 at 7:00pm at the Southwest Branch Library meeting room to learn more about design plans.


Main Library Renewal Coming!

July 11, 2008

About two weeks ago, we kicked off a Planning & Programming Study of our Main Library. You are invited to a community meeting:

Tuesday, July 29 from 5:30 to 7:00pm at the Main Library Auditorium, 300 N. Roxboro Street (RSVP here)

Come for a presentation by the architects we’ve hired to conduct this study and to give us your suggestions and ideas for what you want in this renovation and possible expansion project. Our lead architect is Chris Brasier of SmithGroup, with offices at American Tobacco in downtown Durham; architect Bill Ash also works with Chris as part of SmithGroup. They have teamed with two library architects: Ed Lazaron of Design Collaborative, Virginia Beach and Jeffrey Scherer of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle of Minneapolis.

The study is in two parts:

(1) Building Evaluation: SmithGroup has mechanical & structural engineers and others evaluating the existing building. We know it has “good bones,” and we want to learn all about “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of our Main Library.

(2) Programming Plan: We want to figure out all the things we want in a new library. For example, we know we need magic and wonderful spaces for our children’s areas. We know we need magic in a new “Teen Zone,” too. How many computers will we need? The 50 or so we have now are in almost constant use. Do we need 100, 150, 200? Does our auditorium need to accommodate lots more people? How many quiet study rooms, conference rooms, tutoring rooms, etc. do we need? Should we have a Friends of the Library retail store? A cafe? A greatly expanded local history area to accommodate the ever-growing resources in the bursting-at-the-seams Benjamin Powell Memorial North Carolina Room? Oh, there are so many things we’ve been hearing from so many of you!

We’re reaching out to you here and now to invite your hopes and dreams for this library at the heart of our city and county. Please come Tuesday, July 29 at 5:30pm!!!


ALA, Humor and Cancer

July 5, 2008

ALA, our national professional association (the American Library Association,, held its annual conference in Anaheim the past several days. One thing that’s great about these conferences is the chance we have to learn about new authors. The headliner at a program of Friends of Libraries U.S.A. was Paula Poundstone, and she’s hilarious. But there were four other comics and one of them touched me . . . viscerally.

Robert Schimmel I didn’t know before Sunday. He’s pretty earthy & raw with his comedy. But his book Cancer on $5 a Day* (*chemo not included) is a tremendous testimonial of his struggle with cancer back in 2000. His 11-year-old son had died of cancer a few years before. Schimmel was Stand-Up Comic of the Year in 1999, and his pilot for a 13-episode TV sitcom had been picked up by Fox. Then he got non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To his doctor, he said “Just my luck, I get the one not named after the guy.”

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At the end of the program, Robert Schimmel’s wife and two boys, who were born after his cancer was in remission, came up front. He said, “Here are the kids I wasn’t supposed to have.” Read this book and give it to a friend. It’s funny, gut-wrenching, and heart-wrenching.

The other comedians at the program, and their recent books, are:

Beth Lisick, Helping Me Help Myself: One Skeptic, Ten Self-Help Gurus, and a Year on the Brink of the Comfort Zone

Dan Kennedy, Rock On: An Office Power Ballad

June Casagrande, Mortal Syntax: 101 Language Choices That Will Get You Clobbered by the Grammar Snobs – Even If You’re Right

Paula Poundstone, There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant to Say



July 1, 2008

Welcome to DURHAM BY THE BOOK, the Durham County Library blog. My name is Skip Auld, and I’ve been library director at Durham County Library for two years. This blog is our new attempt to communicate with our community. It’s a two-way street, so please comment here or call or email me (919-560-0160 …

As I write, I’m at the American Library Association annual conference getting ready to accept an Innovation in Technology award for our wiki ( We used it last year as we planned the future of library services together with you. We’ll continue using it as we plan this summer and fall for our Main Library building renovation. We’re trying to make sure we meet critical needs in Durham for education, uplift, and quality of life.

I picked up a bumper sticker at one of my meetings a couple of days ago:

A city with a great library
is a
great city.

I like that. Let’s work together to make it happen.

Skip Auld, “Saying Yes to the Community: Building a Customer-Centered Library”