300 Albemarle Square
History of Northside Library
A New Branch for Northern Albemarle
It cost a cool million to renovate and equip the 15,500-square-foot space that once housed a Drug Fair discount pharmacy in the heart of the Albemarle Square Shopping Center. The renovation itself came to a mere $210,000. It was the computer system, the subscriptions to 130 magazines and newspapers, the innovative yet comfortable chairs and furnishings and, oh yes, the books that made the difference. When Jefferson-Madison Regional Library's largest and busiest branch first opened its doors to the public on December 14, 1991, the opening day collection was half a million dollars worth of 24,722 volumes, 14,000 of them children's books. Nearly all the books were new, in pristine condition. The Friends of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library had donated 1,400 items. An additional 6,000 volumes followed over the next six months. Despite these numbers, there was no escaping the obvious: the shelves looked bare. It would take a long time to reach Northside's capacity, intended to hold close to 100,000 volumes. Of course, of no small contribution to the bareness of the shelves was the curious phenomenon observed by the ever alert library staff. From day one, people kept coming in to check out books. A lot of books. 1,319 volumes in five hours went out the first day, with 57 new patrons registered. By the end of the month, 9,421 books had circulated and a record 400 new registrations had been added. The following month 21,299 volumes went on loan.