Beyond the Public Library

Alternative options for book lovers in the Triangle
Jamesbhuntjrlibrary Creditncsucopy
Photo courtesy of North Carolina State University
James B. Hunt Jr. Library

Looking for new ways and places — in addition to the public library — to expose your children to books? Consider checking out some of these unique opportunities that can be found right here in the Triangle.

James B. Hunt Jr. Library

1070 Partners Way, Raleigh

The James B. Hunt Jr. Library, built in 2013 on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, has been voted one of the “10 most amazing college libraries in the U.S.,” according to College Raptor, a website dedicated to helping prospective students choose a college. As soon as you enter, watch through a floor-to-ceiling glass wall as the library’s bookBot, a robotic book delivery system, retrieves one of two million books from a climate-controlled storage area.

The library’s bold colors, touchable technology and multitude of modern seating options make visiting it a truly unique experience that will spark the imagination of all who visit. For an added treat, pack a lunch for a picnic and eat outside on the fifth-floor Skyline Terrace while you enjoy expansive views of the NCSU campus.

The Hunt Library offers free walk-in tours every Friday at 3:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Check the website to confirm tour dates.

Photo courtesy of Alan Estep

Apex Little Free Library

Little Free Libraries

Various locations
919-560-0188 (English); 919-560-0157 (Spanish)

Little Free Libraries have been gaining popularity since their inception in 2009. These small structures are built to house a collection of books that operate under the motto: “Take a book, return a book.”

Create a book treasure hunt by checking locations registered at, then plan a fun route to follow. Donate books from home that your family has read and no longer needs so you can swap them out for something new — all while exploring the town in which the Little Free Library is located. Visit the site's blog to locate Little Free Libraries that focus on a theme, like Marvel, as well.

Durham County Library Bookmobile

Makes various stops

The Durham County Library bookmobile covers more than 200 miles during the six days it operates each week, and makes a limited number of public stops. It carries books and movies for children and adults in both English and Spanish. A valid library card is required to check out books, and you can register for one for free on the bookmobile. Books checked out there can be returned to any library location in Durham County.

During 2018, Durham County plans to add a second bookmobile to service even more locations. Call before heading out to a stop to ensure it will be there. Visit the website to see the bookmobile’s monthly schedule.

Photo by Maureen Churchill

Book Harvest

2501 University Dr., Durham

Donate new or used books to help stock the shelves at one of Book Harvest’s 50 community book banks across the Triangle. Each week, children harvest 2,000 free books from these locations, which are listed on Help organize donations at one of the locations or bring your kids to experience an “open book sort,” which is available to volunteers of all ages (youth volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult) and held on the second Saturday and fourth Tuesday of every month, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Drop-ins are welcome, and there is no need to register in advance.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and SmartStart

Durham’s Partnership for Children: 919-403-6960
Orange County Partnership for Young Children: 919-967-9091
Wake County SmartStart: 919-851-9550

Imagination Library has partnered with SmartStart to send free books to the homes of North Carolina children up to age 5. Participants receive one new book each month to help them build a strong foundation in reading before entering kindergarten. Visit the website for details and to find the program nearest you.

A lifelong lover of books, Maureen Churchill works outside the home full-time and writes the “Searching for Balance” blog at A wife, mother and avid reader, she enjoys exploring the Triangle area looking for unique activities to share with her family.


Categories: Early Education, Education, Enrichment, Triangle Go-To Guide