Community Library for Newbern, Alabama

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Within the rural context of Newbern, Alabama, a library can become a social center within the community. A group of dedicated community leaders recognized the need for this civic resource and requested the help of the Auburn University Rural Studio in its design, construction, and implementation. The library will become the first public Internet access point within the community, as well as a safe place for at-risk youth to receive educational guidance after school. The project has the advantage of reviving an unused building into a vital community space.

Will Gregory
334 798 9812

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September 4, 2013
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The white brick Bank of Newbern building will be the future home of the library. The corner building signals entry into downtown, enhancing the town’s urban presence. image: Auburn Rural Studio
The challenge involves reviving the vacant building as an active community space. image: Auburn Rural Studio
The combination of physical books and current technology within Newbern will define the library as a social place. image: Auburn Rural Studio
Books are essential to the social and space-making strategies in this design. image: Auburn Rural Studio
The project involves a careful layering of old and new to create a connected civic interior, seen in this schematic entrance view. image: Auburn Rural Studio

The bank building already possesses cultural significance, but the challenge lies in designing its interior reuse with an integrated extension to provide space for a variety of library activities. While designers often attempt to make sustainable buildings, this project also requires designing a sustainable institution.


By understanding books, current technology, and the existing building as valuable social devices, the Newbern Library becomes both an educational and cultural resource for its patrons. As a defined extension of the existing building, the new structure complements the existing while creating a connected civic interior.