Quick fix to library occupancy limit

Posted 2/11/20

LUCAMA—Installation of a lighted emergency exit sign appears to be a solution to an occupancy limit issue at the Lucama branch of the Wilson County Public Library.

Some Lucama residents were …

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Quick fix to library occupancy limit

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LUCAMA—Installation of a lighted emergency exit sign appears to be a solution to an occupancy limit issue at the Lucama branch of the Wilson County Public Library.

Some Lucama residents were upset last week when a Wilson County building inspector issued a new occupancy permit for the library, located at 103 E. Spring St.

The permit capped occupancy of the 1,675-square-foot library space at 12 persons.

The library has two employees, which meant if both of them were working, only 10 additional people could enter the library.

Ron Hunt, assistant Wilson County manager, said the occupancy limitation at the Wilson County Public Library branch is temporary after finding that the branch had no illuminated exit sign.

“Library services continue for the town of Lucama at the current branch,” Hunt said. “This only impacts any services that would bring in groups larger than 12. Our library staff will continue to offer those services, such as children’s programming, at other branches as well as the main branch. Children’s books continue to be offered at Lucama.”

Hunt said the inspection showed that due to the square footage of the building, there was an initial estimate of a maximum of 12.

The fact that the building has only one entrance does not have a bearing on the occupancy finding.

“The sign was posted, and the inspection was sent for review to Wilson County Development Services Director Mark Johnson,” Hunt said. “After Mark Johnson, Wilson County development services director, reviewed with the inspector and compared to the state building code, it was determined that the code allows for an increase in occupancy, if all other requirements of the code are met.

“In this instance, the library branch at Lucama can be increased to 49 occupants with the installation of illuminated exit sign above the door.”

Hunt said that “never at any point has there been an unsafe incident at this branch due to its size.”

The library building in Lucama is owned by the town of Lucama and is connected to the back side of the Lucama Town Hall and board of commissioners meeting room.

At other branch libraries, including Black Creek, Elm City and Stantonsburg, the town owns those properties where their libraries are located.

Wilson County Public Library provides the library services.

“Whenever a concern like this is brought to our attention, it is good practice to apply the same standard to our other county branches,” Hunt said. “The county is proceeding with inspecting all other branches in the county. Those inspections should be completed soon.”

Hunt said the county has a great partnership with its towns and works with all of them on how best to utilize the library spaces to serve its citizens.

“We pride ourselves on offering a safe environment, so any time something is brought to our attention we want to act immediately to improve it,” Hunt said. “In this case, we have made temporary adjustments to the programming, but let’s be clear, the location is safe for day-to-day services. We are only talking about temporary space limitations for groups.”

Hunt said a work order for the illuminated exit sign was submitted Tuesday within hours of finding out about the need.

“The moment we have that up, we will increase the number of occupants allowed in the Lucama branch,” Hunt said.