Archive for the ‘News stories’ Category

County budget reductions could mean library closings

March 9, 2010

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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What’s the future of reading?

October 15, 2009

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Library Director Charles Brown chats with WFAE’s Mike Collins about the role of libraries in a digital age. Other guests include Stanley Wilder, University Librarian for UNC Charlotte and Sarah C. Michalak, Assoc. Provost for Libraries and University Librarian at UNC Chapel Hill.

Listen online: http://bit.ly/4j6MCQ

Major gift helps Library close the ‘digital divide’

October 2, 2009
From left to right: Mecklenburg County Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts, Library Director Charles Brown, Library Trustee Chair Darrel Williams, and Susan Patterson, Charlotte program director for Knight Foundation.

An announcement of a significant gift from the Knight Foundation to the Public Library. Pictured left to right: Mecklenburg County Commissioner Chair Jennifer Roberts, Library Director Charles Brown, Library Trustee Chair Darrel Williams, and Charlotte program director for Knight Foundation Susan Patterson.

Charlotte and Mecklenburg County residents will benefit from expanded Internet access and help searching for jobs, thanks to a $804,100 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County. This gift was announced at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2, 2009, at a press conference at ImaginOn.

Read the full news release on the Library’s web site. Videos of the event, which included heartfelt testimonials from library users about the personal impact library technology has made in their lives, are available on YouTube. Click here for the grant announcement, and here for a library user speaking about what the library means to her.

Library response to DVD story on FOX Charlotte

April 3, 2009

Recently, FOX Charlotte ran a story about how the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County purchases DVDs and whether money could be saved using other vendors. Library Collection Management Manager Linda Raymond did an extensive interview with FOX, but only a few seconds of that interview were aired. In the full interview, Raymond explained the many reasons that we use specific vendors, including increased efficiency (saving staff time/cost), customer service, billing procedures, and the ability to buy large quantities of items at a discount before the release date so that customers can have high-demand items as early as possible.

The reporter showed that on Amazon.com a movie like “27 Dresses” can be purchased at a lower price than the library paid; however, that did not take into account these important things:

  • the Library receives a discount ordering in bulk.
  • the price when the item was purchased vs. the price today (DVDs are more expensive closer to the release date).
  • the price shown on TV was the consumer price, not the corporate price. The library has to use an invoice system with vendors, so it can’t purchase items using a credit card like an individual consumer.

Also not reported in the FOX story was the fact that in the budget scenarios the Library submitted to Mecklenburg County last month (see our previous post “Library works with Mecklenburg County on Budget Scenarios”), the Library plans to preserve as many jobs as possible by cutting costs in other areas, such as benefits and materials spending.

Because of this story, the Library has received several inquiries from concerned library users. The library buys goods and services from a variety of vendors in accordance with the Library Board of Trustees Bidding Policy, which is in compliance with applicable North Carolina statutes in regard to the purchase of goods and services. We’re always willing to answer questions about our purchasing practices.