County budget reductions could mean library closings

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Over the past month, you may have seen news reports regarding Mecklenburg County’s current budget shortfall, which will need to be made up before June 30, 2010. The Library receives approximately 92% of its funding from Mecklenburg County, and we have been asked to identify a potential reduction of approximately $1.57 million in our FY2010 budget allocation from Mecklenburg County before June 30, 2010. The cuts are one way to close what has grown into a $34 million shortfall in the current Mecklenburg County budget.

This is still a potential, not actual, reduction. However, if this potential reduction becomes a reality, the Library will be compelled to make very difficult decisions about library operations, including:

  • A layoff of a significant percentage of the Library’s workforce;
  • Closing at least four library locations;
  • Significant reductions in hours of operation at all remaining libraries;
  • Further reductions in the books and materials budget.

The potential need to return $1.57 million to Mecklenburg County in the last few months of the current fiscal year has a more severe impact because we are unable to spread the reduction amount over twelve months.

When a similar situation occurred last year, the Library took most of its reduction out of the books and materials budget. We also already experienced a 10% reduction in this fiscal year’s budget, which we addressed by reducing staff pay, reducing benefits, and closing libraries on Sundays during the summer months.

We know that there are those of you who will be interested in helping libraries get through these tough times. The best thing you can do is to continue to be a supporter for libraries. Speak up for libraries wherever you can: in the elevator, with friends and neighbors or at community groups to which you belong. Consider a tax-deductible gift to your library, or remember the library in your estate planning. Even paying overdue fines promptly helps. If you’re interested in giving a financial gift to the Library, please visit the Library’s website.

We anticipate having a better understanding of the likely outcome of this budget situation and the potential for lay-offs within the next few weeks. County departments and agencies recently submitted scenarios for how to cut up to five percent from their budget, and county administrators are weighing which ones to enact. Additionally, the library has been asked to identify 5%, 10%, and 15% reduction scenarios for the next fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2010.    We appreciate your support of libraries, and will continue to keep you informed as we learn more.

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7 Responses to “County budget reductions could mean library closings”

  1. Twitted by adambrooks Says:

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  2. Hugh Nesbitt Says:

    For those who do decide to contribute to the library system, what assurance might be given that certain libraries will not be closed? I for one would be quite unhappy if I sent a check to the system and then learned that one or two of the libraries that I frequent were soon to be history.

  3. Sarah Poole Says:

    Hello Hugh. Thank you for your thoughtful question.

    Unfortunately there are no assurances that can be made in these uncertain times. The reductions that are being proposed by Mecklenburg County are severe — up to $1.57 million dollars between now and June 30 — and, if they come to pass, it will likely result in significant employee layoffs, which means we won’t have enough people to keep 24 libraries open.

    Any gift that is provided to the library is appreciated, and will be used to help offset the devastating cuts that have already been made.

    We appreciate that you value libraries, and we will continue to keep you informed of the decisions made by Mecklenburg County, and the resulting impacts.

  4. Marvis Hinkle Says:

    Would a larger volunteer base help in tight times. I believe people would come forth if it maintaining a lesser reduction in services and supplies.

  5. Sarah Poole Says:

    Dear Marvis,

    Thank you for your question. The Library’s volunteer coordinator is developing a plan for how our dedicated – and much appreciated – library volunteer base can best be leveraged during these critical times. We are grateful for those who have expressed interest in helping the library by volunteering, and we continue to accept applications for new volunteers at http://www.cmlibrary.org/volunteer so that our pool of available volunteers can continue to grow.

    Please understand that because library volunteers work in public facilities where children are present, we must conduct criminal background checks on all applicants.

    We appreciate your continued support and advocacy as we navigate these challenging times.

  6. Carol Edwards Says:

    I would like to have access to email Charles Brown and the Library Board about the choices in closings. Specifically, Hickory Grove our newest, greenest longest awaited branch is scheduled to close after less than two months use. THERE ARE ONLY TWO libraries scheduled to remain on the entire EAST side. There seems unfair access for those near center city and the west side. Center city is definitely over-served for the lack of parking there. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING??!!!

    This seems the height of injustice and makes no economic sense. The two branches remaining on the East–Matthews and University– are wealthier and quite distant for our neighborhood.

  7. Sarah Poole Says:

    Hi Carol, you can email the library board at libraryboard@cmlibrary.org.

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