Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Prepares for Greater Than 50% Budget Cut
Most branches could close, with regional libraries remaining open
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 04/16/2010
- Library recently absorbed mid-year cut
- Three scenarios for FY11
- Budget will be decided in June
Next year may be much, much tougher for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, NC, which could see its budget cut by more than half, losing $17 million of $31 million and necessitating massive closures and cuts in service.
Last month, faced with cutting $2 million from its budget within the last three months of the current fiscal year, the library partly dodged a bullet. It initially planned to lay off at least 140 employees, resulting in the closing of at least 12 out of 24 library locations; that ultimately led to the loss of 84 positions, with hours and services cut, but no closings.
A $17 million cut
Now the library is preparing to meet the $17 million budget reduction target for FY 11 from Mecklenburg County, which supplies about 93 percent of its operating funds. All scenarios would result in layoffs of 170 to 230 staffers, leaving from 27 percent to 35 percent of the workforce compared to July 2008, two years earlier.
In one scenario, most libraries would remain open, but with very limited hours. In another, as many as 16 of the current 24 libraries would close, based on criteria to be applied after study of usage and location. In a third, 16 community libraries would close, leaving six regional libraries, along with ImaginOn and the Main Library.
The last scenario appears to be the recommendation by the library administration, which states that "this option provides a stronger starting place from which to rebuild the system should the economy recover," as well as more books, computers, and other services. (Here's the slide presentation.)
Lasting pain possible
The slide presentation notes that not everything can be quantified, such as the library's role as a center for children or assistance in employment. Moreover, the cuts could cause enormous institutional damage to the system, taking a generation to rebuild.
Expect much discussion and protest before the budget is resolved. The library board will vote in June, following Mecklenburg County’s adoption of the FY11 budget.