THE EVA PERRY REGIONAL LIBRARY

THE HISTORY

In 1950, Apex had 1,000 residents, but no library. 7 years later the head of the Richard B. Harrison library in Raleigh obtained a federal grant of $2,400 and on October 24, 1957, Apex’s first official public library opened on South Salem Street, across from Apex First Baptist Church.

In 1960, the Apex’s Woman’s Club started their own library, in a second-floor room of the Apex Pharmacy Building that now houses Anna’s Pizzeria. In 1965, the two libraries announced they would be merge and. the Apex Town Council announced that it would open a municipal library for all citizens. Between 1965 and 1973, it struggled to find a suitable library location and wanted to use the old downtown Seaboard train station depot, but Seaboard still needed the building at that time.

While the town continued to seek a suitable library location, Apex residents Otha and Eva Perry, who moved to Apex in the 1930s, and owned over 300 acres of land, stared thinking about a solution but never disclosed what it might be. In 1969, Seaboard railroad finally gave their old depot to the Town, and in May 1973 the Apex Community Library officially opened at the depot.

By 1985, Apex had grown and had a population of 3,710 (from 2,192 residents in 1970 and 2,847 in 1980), and the library was starting to outgrow its confines.

Suddenly on Christmas Eve 1985, Eva Perry died at age 94 at a nursing home in Fuquay-Varina. The next month, the town of Apex learned she had left almost all of her fortune to the Town — with the stipulation that it must be used for a library. The donation was a big enough story that even the Associated Press wrote about it.

Also, in 1985, the libraries in Wake County were being merged into one county-wide system. The first “regional library” was just opening in Cameron Village, and the library system wanted to expand this concept with regional libraries around the county.

Eva Perry’s holdings were originally estimated to be worth about one million dollars, but were soon realized to top three million that could only be used for a library in Apex. The new regional library that Eva’s estate would pay for needed to be located near good roads, and not too far from Cary. And while Apex did not have a four-lane highway, US 64 was slated for widening in the 1990s,

In May 1987 a 5.6 acre tract along US 64 in Shepherd’s Vineyard that had been purchased by the Town for $500,000, would be the site of a major new regional library which would take nine more years to build and open.

In 1993, what was supposed to be called the “Southwest Regional Library” was renamed the “Eva H. Perry Regional Library.”

With the bulk of Eva Perry’s land sold by late 1993, a 22,500 square foot plan to house up to 200,000 books was decided on — many times bigger than the depot location. An official groundbreaking for the new library was held on October 3, 1994.

The officialopening was in January 1996. The total project cost was about $4 million, with about $3 million coming from the Eva Perry estate, and $1 million from Wake County for books and computers.

In December, 1995, with the opening of the Eva Perry imminent, the library at the depot finally closed after 22 years of service.

The new library was an immediate success. Over 7,500 books were checked out on the first day, and over 30,000 in the first week — more books than the old depot library could even hold. The new automated checkout machines were also a big help — one terminal alone was used to check out 1,700 books on the first day.

Those that patronize this library are greeted by a portrait of Eva Perry at the entrance.

You can read the full version of this historical article here

EVA PERRY TODAY

The Eva Perry Regional Library remains a vibrant and popular facility to this day, even though three more regional libraries have since opened in Wake County. In 1998, it was named the busiest public library in all of North Carolina.

The library offers a variety of programs for all ages, whether it is teaching adults how to use new technology or providing early literacy story times for children.

A Wake County library card, free to those who live in or own property in Wake County, opens many opportunities at Eva Perry, and in all Wake County libraries as well.

A library card allows you to check out materials, use library computers, and access electronic resources and downloadable books. After you get your library card you will be able to:

  • Check out and download eBooks and audiobooks
  • Check your account and renew your books online
  • Renew your books by phone
  • Place holds on books to be picked up at any location
  • Search a variety of databases
  • Use computers at the library

There is much more including children’s programs, meet the artist and novel readers programs, movies, and book discussions. There are adult Programs, book advisors, book club kits, assistance, and discussions, tutors, and a senior book service.

And you can set up your own personalized account and do things like out books on hold, see your reading history, rate books, and get book recommendations. You can also renew books you have already checked out.

The Eva Perry Regional Library
2100 Shepherd's Vineyard Drive
Apex, NC 27502
919-387-2100 
Monday–Thursday 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m.–5 p.m.

Non-historical information for this article was obtained from the public record and from printed materials procured from the Eva Perry Library.