Library Notes: Visit the “We Built This” exhibit at Rowan Public Library through Jan. 27

By Laurie Lyda
Rowan Public Library

This January, you’re invited to visit the traveling exhibit “We Built This: Profiles of Black Architects and Builders in North Carolina” at Rowan Public Library’s Headquarters branch, located at 201 W. Fisher St. in Salisbury. The free exhibit is located on the first floor of the library and is open to the public during the branch’s operating hours (Monday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Presented by Preservation North Carolina, this exhibit is sponsored by Joe L. & Hester M. Sims Family Foundation and Edward & Susan Norvell and is in collaboration with the Historic Salisbury Foundation, Rowan Public Library, Livingstone College and Friends of Rowan Public Library.

“We Built This” celebrates the history and legacy of Black builders and craftspeople in North Carolina. Spanning more than three centuries, the exhibit provides more than two dozen personal profiles and historic context on key topics including slavery and Reconstruction; the founding of Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs) and Black churches; Jim Crow and segregation; and the rise of Black civic leaders and professionals. Salisbury’s Livingstone College is among the featured HBCUs.

January offers several free opportunities for the community to engage with the exhibit through RPL-hosted programs and activities:

On Jan. 8 at 9 a.m., a virtual “Photowalk at Livingston College” will be shared via RPL’s YouTube channel ( and social media accounts. This virtual program will focus on the earliest buildings found on college grounds, several of which are featured in the “We Built This” exhibit. The video’s guides will provide information about each location and compare the images of vintage campus architecture with contemporary photographs that show how these long-standing buildings look today. To learn more about this virtual program, contact David at or 704-216-8229.

During the week of Jan. 8, each of RPL’s four branches will host an “All Ages STEAM Challenge.” STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, and this program challenges participants to employ those skillsets! All ages and all skill levels are invited to learn about famous builders featured in the “We Built This” exhibit and use recycled materials such as cardboard boxes, wrapping paper tubes and tape, to design their own unique structures. All materials will be provided. This STEAM challenge is designed for all ages. Children ages 8 and under must be accompanied by a responsible caretaker (age 16+). RPL West (Cleveland) hosts this program on Monday, Jan. 8, at 4 p.m.; RPL Headquarters (Salisbury) hosts on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at 4 p.m.; RPL South (China Grove) hosts on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 4 p.m.; and RPL East (Rockwell) hosts on Saturday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m. To learn more, call 980-432-8670.

Each RPL branch will feature a “We Built This Family Storytime” during the week of Jan. 22. Children are invited to enjoy stories and activities about Black architects and builders of North Carolina. While designed for children ages 5 and under, all are welcome. Children ages 8 and under must be accompanied by a responsible caregiver (age 16+). Runtime is approximately 45 minutes. This special storytime will be held at 4 p.m. at each location: RPL West (Cleveland) on Monday, Jan. 22; RPL East (Rockwell) on Tuesday, Jan. 23; RPL South (China Grove) on Wednesday, Jan. 24; and RPL Headquarters (Salisbury) on Thursday, Jan. 25. To learn more, call 980-432-8670.

Through Jan. 27, special activities are also available for those who visit the exhibit in person. Visitors are invited to complete an all-ages scavenger hunt or matching activity as they tour through the exhibit. All activity participants are eligible to receive a small prize immediately upon completion; they may also submit their completed form as an entry for a raffle prize. To learn more, call 704-216-8240.

For those who want to read further about the Black architects and craftspeople highlighted in the “We Built This” exhibit, a variety of resources are available through RPL. A selection of books, articles, databases, and other resource recommendations may be accessed via A library card number is required for off-site e-Resource access. Patrons may obtain a physical library card number and four-digit PIN by visiting any RPL branch. Digital cards may be obtained by visiting (If a patron has both a physical and a digital card, those numbers will not be the same.) For assistance, call 980-432-8670.

The “We Built This” exhibit will be on display at RPL Headquarters through Saturday, Jan. 27. It will then move to Livingston College for the month of February. For more information about RPL events, programs, and services, go to

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