Library Board Votes To Cut Back Branches' Hours


CHARLOTTE, N.C.,None - Local libraries will operate on an abbreviated schedule beginning July 1, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board of Trustees decided Thursday.

PDF: Library Schedule

The Belmont Center, Carmel and Checkit Outlet branches closed June 19, but all other branches will stay open. Under the new schedule, all branches will be open four days a week. The schedule varies for each branch, but all branches will be closed on Sundays.

In the fall, the main branch and ImaginOn will be open five days a week, including Sundays.

"We feel like, overall, this is the best solution that we could make for our community," Board Chairwoman Robin Branstrom said.

Library patrons seemed to agree.

"I [would] rather the libraries stay open," Sonia Somervile said. "Eeven if it's fewer hours, I think it's better than closing the libraries."

A one-time funding infusion from five Mecklenburg County towns and the city of Charlotte helped keep the county's libraries open. The library system typically doesn't receive any money from towns within the county, but the 2010-2011 fiscal year will be an exception.

Town leaders from Cornelius, Mint Hill, Matthews, Davidson and Huntersville agreed earlier this week to help the library avoid closing branches through a range of measures, including donating money, waiving rent and helping fund related programs.

The city of Charlotte agreed to contribute $1.4 million to the library system.

The library board met Thursday and voted to formally accept the money and approve the changes to branches' days and hours of operations.

The pledges came after the county cut millions of dollars from the library's operating budget.

In response, library leaders came up with a sustainability plan (Click here to read it.) that asked for one-time emergency funding from county towns and the city of Charlotte.

They said if the system hadn't received the additional funding, they likely would have closed 12 branches and laid off more than 200 staff members.

The board said it is now forming a task force of community leaders to study long-term plans and cost-saving measures for the library system.

Previous Stories: June 19, 2010: Budget Cuts Force Charlotte Libraries To Shut Down May 27, 2010: City Leaders Butt Heads Over Library Funding May 11, 2010: Library Letter Spells Out Possible Layoffs May 6, 2010: Leaders Respond To Library's Money Request April 30, 2010: Library Leaders Plan For Looming Budget Cuts April 15, 2010: Library Board Looks At Bleak Scenarios March 29, 2010: 12 Libraries Slated To Close Will Remain Open