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Arts & Culture

Say goodbye to Charlotte's Main Library at 'One for the Books'

 Artist Osiris Rain paints a mural in the Main Library's Great Hall.
Jodie Valade
/
WFAE
Artist Osiris Rain paints a mural in the Main Library's Great Hall.

Charlotte will have one last chance to say goodbye to the Main Library building in uptown this weekend and next at an event called “One For the Books.” The building officially closed last week in preparation for demolition and a new $100 million project slated to open in late 2025.

"One for the Books is our time for the community to have one last time to come into the Main Library before it’s demolished to make way for the new Main Library," said Karen Beach, the library foundation's deputy director. "So if you’ve never been in the Main Library before, this is your last chance."

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday this week and next, the community can take a self-guided tour of the nearly empty building, see a special mural being painted by artist Osiris Rain in the Great Hall, and take home a book marked with a special stamp labeling it as a “final checkout.”

Reservations are requested in advance at foundation.cmlibrary.org.

Rain's artist statement on the mural says he is trying to pay tribute to the "cathedral" of the library. His full statement:

"A library is a cathedral to the evolving ethos of the soul. Its aria of dogeared pages rustles through its silent halls opening us to the world of imagination and self-growth. As the butterfly emerges from the cocoon that hangs sleepily beneath the morning flower opening its petals with a yawn to the morning sun. With that dreary crust removed from tired lashes, we are metamorphosized as each page turned, like the stretching of young wings, taking us ever upward into the open sky. We see the world from vantage points never experienced before laid bare and exposed by the rising light of each word. Then upon descent, we raise our eyes from that final page transformed. We are now the hero of our own journey, the protagonist of our own tale, the archetype of our own creation."

Here's a sneak peak at what awaits on the tour:

The lobby has a fresh mural that visitors are invited to add to throughout the event.

 Visitors are invited to leave their mark on the walls of the Main Library at One for the Books.
Jodie Valade
Visitors are invited to leave their mark on the walls of the Main Library at One for the Books.

A self-guided tour features 11 stops throughout the library where visitors can scan QR codes to learn more about the Main Library's history.

 A stop along the self-guided tour in the Main Library.
Jodie Valade
A stop along the self-guided tour in the Main Library.

About 5,000-6,000 books will be available in a book giveaway for adults and children alike — some previously in circulation and some donated — and can be stamped with a special "final checkout" stamp.

final checkout stamp
Jodie Valade
Books taken home in the book giveaway can be stamped with this "final checkout" stamp.

Anyone can bid in an auction on items from the library. Included among the treasures being sold are card catalogues, rare books and several of the library's Carnegie chairs.

One of the stops on the self-guided tour includes a chance to explore what Beach called the "spooky basement." Primarily used for storage, it is a two-level basement.

 One of the stops on the tour of the Main Library is a rare chance to explore the "spooky basement" stacks.
Jodie Valade
One of the stops on the tour of the Main Library is a rare chance to explore the "spooky basement" stacks.

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