Posts tagged Charles Brown
I sat at the Library Board of Trustees Meeting last Thursday and watched County Manager Harry Jones talk about the grim reality facing Mecklenburg County–a $13.2 million in immediate budget cuts across all departments before June 30th and an estimated $85 million shortfall for fiscal year 2010-2011 which begins July 1. You can view Jones’ presentation to the Library Board here: http://bit.ly/dgAZ7U.
After Jones’ presentation Library Director Charles Brown made his recommendation to close 12 libraries and layoff 148 staff members.
As you can imagine library staff were anxiously awaiting the news back at their branches or at home or from wherever they were connected.
I’ve been with the Library for nearly 11-years now and it is fascinating to see the role social media has played in these events. When we faced budget cuts in previous years it took days to get the news. Now with the advent of social media the news was transmitted instantly through Twitter feeds, Facebook, instant messaging, text messaging, and probably through other means that I’m not even aware of.
One former staff member tweeted that his heart was broken over the news.
But out of the meeting came a glimmer of hope when community members and the Library Friends group spoke up and said we can make a difference, we can do this. The tone in the room changed instantly from despair to hope. Before the meeting adjourned a library staff member back at her desk had created the event on Facebook $2 million in one week which aims to raise enough money to keep the 12 libraries open until July.
Since then the Library has raised more than $70,000 in online donations alone! Cash donations collected at libraries will be tallied on Monday.
This weekend saw grassroots efforts sprouting up all over Mecklenburg County with everything from a town-hall meeting to children selling lemonade to support the library.
Not only is the community rallying but staff members are rallying as well. Look for the next post which will show how you can help support the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
I’m sure you’ve heard the news:
On Thursday, March 18, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board of Trustees approved a plan to lay off 148 employees and close 12 library branches in order to absorb a $2 million reduction in funding from Mecklenburg County.
The branches that will close under the plan are:
- Beatties Ford Road
- Belmont Center
- Checkit Outlet
- Hickory Grove
- Independence Regional
- Mint Hill
- Morrison Regional
- Myers Park
- Sugar Creek
It will take approximately two weeks to complete the closings, with the selected branches closing their doors at the end of the business day on Saturday, April 3.
Director Charles Brown make the recommendation to the Board his voice full of emotion. Brown said this was the lowest point in his 40-year career in libraries. It was a solemn moment as the room fell silent.
After the recommendation from Brown and discussion among the Board, members of the community were invited to speak.
Dr. Susan Harden spoke passionately as an avid library user and former staff member, “Research is clear that societies are advanced by citizens having access to public libraries and the materials in them and the technologies in them.”
Bill Brawley, a library user from the Matthews community, vehemently said, “All of the wisdom of man is in books and you can get them in the library for free. Why would you not support a library?”
Harriet Smith from the Friends of the Library challenged the community to both volunteer in our libraries and to help raise the money to save our libraries.
You can see a 2-minute video with highlights from the meeting here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/420/index.html?media_id=11731321. If you’ve ever wondered why libraries are so important to the community, watch the clip!
As Dr. Harden, Brawley, and Smith spoke the energy in the room changed and a call to action became clear. We need a grassroots effort to raise $2 million dollars to save our libraries and we need it fast.
Staff immediately mobilized. Before the meeting was over one staff member who had been watching events unfold via Twitter created the Facebook Event $2 million in one week.
How can you help?
Donate now: www.cmlibrary.org/DonateNow
Contributions received by March 31, 2010, will help lessen the severity of immediate library service reductions, and even after March 31 all contributions will continue to help us provide the best possible library services to the more than 17,000 adults and children we serve each day.
Share this link with your friends and neighbors. www.cmlibrary.org/DonateNow.
The Library receives more than 90% of its funding from Mecklenburg County. Let your elected officials know what libraries mean to you. You can contact any and all of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners here: http://www.charmeck.org/Departments/BOCC/Meet+The+Board/home.htm
I’m calling on you to donate if you can. If you can’t donate, please help advocate for us. My heart aches for the community who will lose access to the tremendous amount of free resources and programs the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has to offer. Unemployment is more than 11% in Mecklenburg County. The community needs us more than ever.
This quote from my long-time hero Carl Sagan eloquently sums up my thoughts:
The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. I think the health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries. ~Carl Sagan, Cosmos
Are you willing to support your library?
To stay up-to-date on our budget situation sign up for updates from the budget info page: http://plcmc.org/about_us/librarybudgetinfo.asp and follow @cmlibrary on Twitter.