Nashville Seeks To Fill Its Library ‘Deserts’

Feb 21, 2017

Nashville opened two sparkling new libraries in recent years — in Bellevue and Southeast — and now officials have approved a timeline for more construction and renovations across Davidson County.

“It was time for us to make sure we were keeping pace,” said Larry Price, assistant director of branch services.

The Nashville Public Library last created a master plan for its facilities in 1996. So Price said it was time to evaluate demographic changes and determine whether its branches were large enough and in the right locations.

“And we were also looking for … where we have library service ‘deserts,’ ” he said.

Officials found a few deserts — like the areas around the intersection of Dickerson Pike and Trinity Lane in East Nashville.

And the population boom throughout Antioch and Southeast Nashville means that zone probably deserves four new branches. The plan calls for these additions near:

  • the intersection of Murfreesboro Pike and Briley Parkway;
  • the intersection of Nolensville Pike and Harding Place;
  • the intersection of Smith Springs Pike and Anderson Road; and
  • Crieve Hall — should the population grow.

Price said Southeast Nashville saw its rapid growth at a time when few new libraries were being built — a double whammy that left residents underserved.

“We’ve had these kinds of peaks and valleys in terms of library construction,” Price said, “and one of the things that this whole plan really attempts to do is have a smooth plan for the next 25 years for new construction, as well as the major maintenance of all of the existing facilities.”

Visit a summary of the plan to see all branches and construction goals.

The plan’s goal is for 90 percent of residents to be within 3 miles, or a 15-minute commute, of a library. Reaching that saturation could take 25 years, Price said. Along the way, residents will get a say in what these future libraries are like.

“These are not my public libraries. These are not the library board’s public libraries,” Price said. “These are Nashville public libraries and we want the public input at every step of the way.”

Donelson is first on the list for a new, 25,000-square-foot building. And the Madison branch has funding for a renovation — replacing carpet, furniture and paint — that Price said is several years late.

The facilities plan then calls for other 1950s and 60s branches to be replaced, as they tend to run small in Inglewood, Hadley Park, and on Thompson Lane.

This chart shows library facility plans for the coming 8 years (the full plan includes goals through 2040).
Credit Nashville Public Library