Hillsborough Street Doors of the D. H. Hill Library

The Hillsborough Street doors to the West Wing of the D. H. Hill Library were closed in 1990 upon the recommendation of the faculty and student members of the University Library Committee, with the support of Public Safety (now University Police), and with the endorsement of the Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost. It is now used only by those with physical disabilities.

Factors leading to this decision were:

Architectural changes

  • For the building addition completed in 1990, the entrance off the Brickyard was designed as the principal entry point. It is the most visible and accessible entrance from classroom buildings and north campus dormitories. Library services most popular with users have been placed in locations easiest to find and use from that entrance (e.g., Ask Us, study space, library computers).
  • The original D. H. Hill Library (now the East Wing), in fact, had only a single main entrance facing the Brickyard. The West Wing was at that time a separate Student Union facility, and the Hillsborough Street doors served as its entrance.

Safety and security

  • It is standard practice among research libraries to operate only a single entrance as a means of increasing the safety of people in the building and ensuring the security of the valuable collections. University records show that, before 1990, the D. H. Hill Library was the site of the most frequent reports among academic buildings of incidents such as larcenies, assaults, and indecent exposure. Its location at the edge of the campus and right off a busy city street made it easy for individuals without legitimate library business to enter the building via the Hillsborough Street doors. After closing that entrance, the library experienced an immediate reduction in the number of safety and security incidents. The potential for crime will always be a problem for a university situated in an urban setting; with 24-hour service, the Libraries must ensure the safety of its occupants around the clock.
  • Students, staff, and faculty voiced their concerns about safety for those who must walk around the D. H. Hill Library building to the entrance, especially at night. The library worked with campus officials to identify problem areas on all sides of the facility and rectified them with additional lighting.
  • University Police provides a safety escort service between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am, as long as weather is safe for operation. To request an escort to an on-campus location, call 919-515-3000 or use a Blue Light Emergency Phone found at many locations across campus.


  • Maintaining a second entrance to the D. H. Hill Library represents a very significant commitment of both ongoing and one-time costs in library staff and other resources that would have to be diverted from other programs. Its elimination was deemed a reasonable alternative to the further erosion of the collections or reference services, or to cutting back on library hours altogether. The major drawback was the inconvenience posed to some library users.
  • Today, with the library's 24-hour schedule, it would be financially challenging to provide for adequate library and security staff coverage of a second entrance.
  • The one-time costs of physical renovation (constructing a staff work area, removing asbestos, adding electrical and computer networking, purchasing and maintaining security detection equipment, etc.) would be prohibitive.


  • When the library building absorbed the former student union and gained its entrance as well, many used the building simply as a covered walkway from Hillsborough Street to other parts of the campus. Daily, hundreds of people came in one set of doors, walked through the building, and exited on the Brickyard side. The library frequently received complaints from students who found this heavy pedestrian traffic very disruptive to their study and research. It also effectively made the West Wing useless as serious study space, which further exacerbated a problem with inadequate library seating for students.
  • The first floor of the West Wing now houses quiet and attractive study seating and collaborative work space, much of  which would be lost if the entrance were reopened.

Approved 1-7-99
Approved by ULC.
Revised 10-27-17