#OberlinVillageRegionalLibrary (Living Locally, Episode 5)

As you may know, for the past year, we have been working on a petition, #OberlinVillageRegionalLibrary. The goal: to change Village Regional Library’s name to Oberlin Village Regional Library. On September 13th Leeya talked to the Wake County Commissioners who unanimously agreed with the idea. After many communications with Regency Properties, the decision remains in the County Commissioner’s hands. It has been quite the ride so we wanted to share the experience with you. 

Check out the County Commissioners video at: tinyurl.com/commisioners. Leeya’s part starts at 27:50. If you watch you can also see Ms. Cheryl Williams, who helped us enormously with this petition, speak about Oberlin Village.

After our first petitioning session, we realized we would need help to get this project going. So we recruited some friends. However, the topic and petitioning process is complex so we knew we needed a “training” session. Just before school let out in June, we had an hour and a half, 56 slide presentation to share with everyone. This included background on the topic, our advice about petitioning, and much more.

Petitioning was an experience. In some ways like both handing out our magazines but in some ways, very different. For one thing, we talked to many different people. On the other hand, we didn’t know a lot of the people we were talking to. Most people were very kind and we enjoyed meeting new people. Either way, one thing is for sure: we definitely got our steps in!

We’ve wanted this name change for a number of reasons:

The Village Regional Library Name Doesn’t Connect to History

  • The Cameron Village Regional Library was renamed to the Village Regional Library because of the Cameron family’s connection to slavery as one of North Carolina’s largest slaveholding families.
  • However, the current name, Village Regional Library, doesn’t represent any history in this city or state. We believe the name Oberlin would be a better name as it is reflective of the history in our city. 

Oberlin Village Reflects the Academic Aspirations of Oberlin Community

  • Oberlin Village was likely named by James E. Harris, a former apprentice born in Granville County. He is believed to have studied at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, one of the first colleges in the United States to admit Blacks and women. After the Civil War, he returned to Raleigh to further promote freed Black independence, which is likely when he proposed the name.
  • Furthermore, Dr. James Shepard, another resident of Oberlin Village, helped to establish North Carolina Central University.
  • The name “Oberlin” has academic aspirations tied to it, which is extremely fitting for a library. 

The Name “Oberlin Village” Ties the Past to our Future

  • Because of the rich history behind Oberlin Village and the change that we hope to bring for the present and future, we believe the name Oberlin is a way to tie the history of the past to the change of the future.

Thank you to everyone who gave us their signature and/or support! Check out our YouTube channel where we hope to have a video update soon that goes in more detail about our experience!