This post has been move to the Save Libraries.org Web site.
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.