Library System Expansion

Lincoln County Public Library logo

Description of project and linked documents here.

Lincoln County Libraries Facility Assessment

Conceptual images of Jonas Library Upfit

County officials are aware that social media has been active lately regarding the discussion of the Lincoln County Library System and our need to expand to meet future demands. In the spring of 2022, the County contracted with McMillan, Pazdan, and Smith architect firm to conduct a spatial needs assessment for Lincoln County pertaining the library system in order to meet expectations by the year 2040. That assessment, which was presented in a public workshop in early 2023, is accessible on our county website from the link below. This study was paid by Lincoln County taxpayers and we encourage anyone interested to look at the study and the recommendations. In summary, the spatial assessment study indicated that approximately 43,000 square feet of additional library system space was recommended by 2040 to account for area coverage and the growing population. This recommendation is also considered an “exemplary” standard, meaning if the County achieved that amount of new library space, we would be at a surplus of more than 14,000 square feet above the “expected” standard recommendation.

In fall of 2023, the County received an appropriation of 18 million dollars for capital improvements for the Lincoln County Library System by the North Carolina General Assembly. The funds were provided as “…a grant to Lincoln County for capital improvements or equipment at the county library.” These funds are required to be spent by October 2025. A link of the appropriations can be found on our website under News Releases.

With only limited time to prepare for this unexpected opportunity, county officials immediately referred back to the 2022-2023 assessment report in order to set priorities to leverage the appropriation funding to serve as many people as possible. The study indicated the eastern part of Lincoln County needed approximately 20,000 square feet of additional space in the form of a new library as noted on the impact bubble maps. Further, the study indicated Lincolnton should have approximately 30,000 square feet of additional space by 2040, which is more than double the existing square footage at the Jonas Library in Lincolnton. Also, the current parcel the Jonas Library sits on can barely accommodate any expansion due to its location downtown and the size of the existing footprint.

This knowledge presented in the study, along with the expiration of funding, set in motion the decision to examine parcels of property as close to the center of Lincolnton as possible, in order to stay within the proper population impact bubble. The County needed property that could not only accommodate a Lincolnton based library of 20,000 square feet or more, which is 33% larger than the existing Jonas Library, but also with enough acreage to have future expansion to meet potential demand and population growth.

As part of the decision, the County presented the possibility to the Library Board of Trustees the potential site of the old AMC theatre parcel, which has been vacant for nearly two years. This site offered an affordable parcel within 1.9 miles of the center of downtown, additional acreage for future expansion, existing infrastructure to reduce renovation costs, and reaches underserved communities of Lincolnton. Additionally, the Board of Commissioners met with the Library Board in December 2023 to discuss the recommendations further.

The consideration by county officials is hopefully to use the 18 million dollar appropriation to provide the citizens of Lincoln County with as much library space as possible per the study. The ability to provide the citizens of Lincoln County with nearly 40,000 square feet of newly built library space, at essentially no cost to the taxpayer, was seen as a great service to everyone and their families.

The Board of Commissioners are still reviewing the options of 1) a new East Lincoln library only, 2) a combined project consisting of an up-fitted Lincolnton library on Aspen Street and a new East Lincoln library, or 3) a limited renovation of the Jonas Building and new East Lincoln library. Regardless of the final decision, we recognize that there is a lot of passion behind the project and the final direction may not please everyone.