Wilson Project

Wilson Library Improvement Project

On March 1, 2024, the University announced a timeline extension for the launch of the Wilson Library Improvement Project. A message from the Finance and Operations office is below.

Because of this extension, the collections access limitations scheduled to begin in 2024 and the 2025 building closure that had been announced in October 2023 will not take place. Wilson Library and its collections will remain open to the public and available to the campus community.

To learn more about the Wilson Library Improvement Project, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.
To contact the Libraries about the project, please use our online form or send email to wilsonproject@office.unc.edu.

Wilson Library Improvement Project Update From the Finance and Operations Office

March 1, 2024
The timeline for the launch of the Wilson Library improvement project, scheduled to begin in August 2024, will now be extended. As Facilities Services staff worked through the project’s design and planning stages, it was determined that the cost estimates surpassed the allocated budget.

As announced last October, the library would have been closed during construction, with most special collections materials placed in storage and unavailable for use.

The project timeline extension means that the library will remain open, and materials, staff and program space will continue to be available to the campus community.

“We are extending the timeline with an eye toward doing the work more strategically and more comprehensively,” said Vice Chancellor for Finance and Operations Nate Knuffman. “I understand how this delay can be frustrating, but we want to do it the right way, and it is still a high priority.”

Delaying the start of construction allows library and facilities planning staff to develop a Libraries Space Master Plan that will help:

  • Review and re-envision the physical spaces and service models of the libraries at a high level for our campus.
  • Better understand opportunities and needs for off-site storage of library materials.
  • Develop a pathway to holistically improve and maintain library facilities.
  • Inform priorities for the capital planning budget process.
  • Align library construction projects to inform an updated Campus Master Plan.

The RFQ for firms to provide design services for the Libraries Space Master Plan has been posted, and a firm will be selected by the end of March 2024. The selected firm will be asked to develop the plan before the end of calendar year 2024 to help inform priorities for capital planning.

“There will be an opportunity for library staff and our campus community to engage in the planning effort to help inform the libraries’ future,” said Knuffman of the Libraries Space Master Planning process.

Knuffman said that the University will make the Wilson Library improvement project a top priority — hopefully expanded to include projects as scoped in the library master plan as well — in the legislative capital planning request for 2025.

Campus Message about the Wilson Library Improvement Project, Oct. 31, 2023 (now superseded)

Dear Carolina Community:

We are planning for several improvements in Wilson Library that will provide critical updates in this historic building. The project will include extending sprinkler coverage, creating emergency egress stairs and upgrading the fire alarm system.

Because this work will be disruptive and widespread given the size and age of the building, Wilson Library will close to the public during construction. We ask our community to begin planning now for these changes.

  • We anticipate that beginning August 2024, and for approximately three years, most special collections materials will be in secure storage and unavailable for use. We will continue to offer digital special collections, online research and instructional expertise and services during this time.
  • Wilson Library will remain open for study, meetings and special events at least until the early spring semester of 2025.
  • Most Music Library collections and services will be made available in other locations or through other means such as interlibrary borrowing.
  • The Center for Faculty Excellence, currently housed on the lower level of Wilson Library, will relocate its offices.
  • Wilson Library is expected to reopen in 2027.

Some of you may have questions about the impact these changes will have on your research, teaching and learning. We will provide additional information at upcoming meetings, including Employee Forum on Nov. 1. We’ve also created a webpage to post specific project dates and other details when finalized. In addition, you may reach out as follows:

We thank you in advance for your patience during the closure and will keep you updated on any changes to this timeline. We also share our appreciation for the N.C. General Assembly and the generous funding it provided for this important project. As we anticipate Wilson Library’s centennial in 2029, these critical improvements will help ensure the building remains a beloved Carolina treasure.

J. Christopher Clemens

María R. Estorino
Vice Provost for University Libraries and University Librarian