Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has not had an easy three years. Mecklenburg County cut a big chunk of its budget. In response, the library drastically cut hours. But now library CEO Lee Keesler says things are moving in the right direction.
What a difference three years makes. Back then, library board meetings were somber affairs. But at yesterday’s meeting, the mood was light. There were even some jokes.
Library trustees heard about efforts to create what’s called a digital library branch. It’s a place online where people can access a bunch of services the library already offers in-person like story time and help with job searches. That’s a good sign things are looking up for the library.
“We have a lot of momentum right now. We will have added back hours twice now,” says library CEO Lee Keesler.
Many branches still only operate four days a week, but that’s better than it was. By April, all library branches will be open at least five days a week.
“The next and probably last step on the journey to full service is to add a sixth day to the community and town libraries and a seventh day to Imaginon and main libraries. If and when we get to that point, then we’ll consider that to be full service,” says Keesler.
That would take an extra $1 million. Keesler isn’t sure when the library will have enough money to do that, but he says as finances improve adding those hours back is the top priority.