Bill James responds to e-mails about library closings

The ImaginOn Library downtown staffs about 50 employees.

County Board of Commissioner Bill James posted a Facebook entry Saturday responding to some 200 e-mails he has received regarding the library closings. In an attached PDF (which can be read here), James said the County cannot by law raise taxes in the middle of the year; it can’t sell the arena and it can’t eliminate CMS busing. James did offer the idea of the library implementing a program where it could charge for library cards, in addition to continuing to raise funds from the community. One question that puzzled James was what would happen in the event the library raised, say $500,000, of the $2 million it needs. How would it determine what libraries stay open and what ones stay closed?

One of the better ideas James said was closing the ImaginOn in downtown, the children’s library/theatre.

“As with most things in Charlotte, the Library revolves around ‘uptown’. The main branch is there and so is the Martin center. Those two facilities take up a large portion of the budget. Shut down the Martin Center and you save a bundle. I doubt it would ever happen because of the way uptown protects its own. Most of the Library Board members are uptown centric and don’t reside in the burbs (or on the west side). I am not advocating closing the Martin Center (or any branch) but the reality is it is VERY expensive to run so closing it create a pool of money that could allow the re-opening of a lot of branches.

Meanwhile, the seriousness of the matter for library employees is beginning to sink in. Letters have already been received by staff at the Mint Hill library alreting them of their impending cut. Citizens of Mint Hill are not standing idle. The Facebook page “Save the Mint Hill Library” already has 1,100 fans. There is also a Web site devoted to saving the Mint Hill Library.

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