It Takes a Village to Save a Library

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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:

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.

Lemonade for the Library by Ed McDonald

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.

About Lori Reed

Lori Reed, coauthor of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Non-Profit Trainers, is a learning and communication strategist with more than twenty years experience in learning and development. A 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2010 “One to Watch” for paralibrarians, Lori graduated cum laude from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Lori is a certified Synchronous Learning Expert and a North Carolina Master Trainer and has traveled across North America speaking about libraries and training.


  1. That’s awesome! I think that libraries are a great community resource, and that the community should rally to support them in hard times. While the libraries here in Wake County don’t face quite that hard of a blow, there is talk of closing a branch that serves a large area of lower-income people.

  2. Anne Dolan says:

    I am dumbfounded. How could a decesion be announced on 3/18 and executed by 4/3? Additionally, how are all the libraries in the 28210 being closed? I bought my condo because I could walk to Morrison. I go to the library 3 or more times a week. I have repeatedly said that I could handle the economic crisis as long as the library didn’t close. The staff at Morrison is awesome. Please help me to understand how this could happen with such short notice.

    Thank you for all you are doing.

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