At last Thursday’s Mint Hill Board of Commissioners meeting, Tina Ross wondered why the library has not begun the effort to face its future funding problems. Her question is now answered. The library announced today it is forming a task force to help guide them in the restructuring process so it can remain viable in the community.

Former UNC-Charlotte Chancellor Dr. Jim Woodward will chair of the task force. He served as the chancellor of UNC Charlotte from 1989-2005, and was Interim Chancellor of NC State University in 2009. During his time at UNC Charlotte, he chaired the UNC System’s Information Technology Strategy Network Infrastructure Assessment Task Force.

The Library also announced today it has received a grant for $75,000 from the Community Catalyst Fund of the Foundation for the Carolinas to form a Future of the Library Task Force.

The Task Force will comprise 12-15 members with experience and skills in strategic analysis and planning of organizations, engaged in philanthropy, and/or experience in educational institutions, including libraries. The Task Force will be charged with making recommendations to the Library Board of Trustees and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on a sustainable public library system. The Task Force will be directed to focus at a minimum on the following areas:

• The scope, cost and relative importance of various library services
• The system for delivering library services
• The organizational structure and governance of the library system
• The funding model for supporting library services
The Task Force members will be appointed by the Task Force Chair in consultation with the County Manager and Library Director, as well as other funding stakeholders. An open recruitment process will be established to allow Mecklenburg residents to apply to serve on the Task Force. Additional public involvement opportunities also will be available for residents to provide input and feedback.

The work of the Task Force will be guided by a process design team to be appointed jointly by the Task Force Chair, Mecklenburg County Manager and Library Director. Among its key tasks, the design team will:

•Suggest refinements to the charge and/or specific questions or lines of inquiry for the Task Team
• Conduct the application and nomination process for Task Force membership
• Identify types and potential providers of support for the work of the Task Force
• Begin identifying the nature and sources of information to be provided to the Task Force
• Create a process for gathering, organizing and preserving information for the Task Force
• Propose a budget for anticipated logistical and other needs
• Propose Task Force deliverables
• Develop citizen involvement and communication strategies
Grant funds will be used to defray expenses of the Task Force, including the costs of research and contracting with consultants for facilitation and/or project management services beyond what is to be provided through the staffs of the Library and County, or donated to the Task Force.

The tentative schedule for the Task Force is as follows:

August 1, 2010 – Appoint Design Team Members
September 15, 2010 – Complete Appointment of Task Force Members
October 10, 2010 – Complete Organization and Design Phase; Convene First Meeting of the Task Force
February, 28, 2010 – Task Force Completes Work, Issues Report and Recommendations
In separate but related activity, the Library Director and Mecklenburg County Manager have appointed a staff steering committee to examine additional options for consolidating Library functions with the County. This includes but may not be limited to: financial management (finance and budgeting); human resources; information technology; capital projects management; and public information/communications. Library facility maintenance and security were consolidated within the County earlier this year as part of adopting the FY2011 budget.

Recommendations from this steering committee will be provided to the Library Director and County Manager, who will provide their joint recommendations to a subcommittee comprising three members each of the Board of Trustees and Board of County Commissioners. Final recommendations of the subcommittee will be provided for final decision by the Board of Trustees and Board of County Commissioners.