Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How you can Help the Public Libraries of Charlotte

This column, written by Dannye Romine Powell, was in The Charlotte Observer on May 25. Since Powell eloquently stated what I believe, I am posting it here as a call to action to parents, teachers, and fellow writers. Following her column are the email addresses of the Charlotte City Council members and commissioners. Please take 5 minutes to write to them. Here is Powell's column: 

"'The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things.'

"That line from Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter," reminds me that it's time to talk not of "shoes and ships and sealing wax" or even of "cabbages and kings."

"But of the public libraries of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and whether the City Council and the county commissioners are going to do the right thing to keep 12 remaining branch libraries from closing on July 1.

"Mayor Anthony Foxx had a great idea: How about the city giving the libraries a one-time financial bailout of $2 million?

"No, the city doesn't owe the county a dime. Nor is it in any way obligated.

"But this year, the city's budget is in far better shape than the county's.

"As council member Ed Peacock said, "Under these dire times, how can we not consider lending a hand, throwing them a line on this one occasion."

"Other council members seem to have their ears full of sealing wax on the subject.

"That $2 million wouldn't save the day, of course. We'd still need $1 million in donations from the surrounding towns, and another $5 million from the county.

"High time to beg.

"In the little town of Garner, near Raleigh, the Wake County commissioners threatened to close its Southeast Regional Library, known locally as the Garner Library.

"The townspeople wouldn't hear of it. They showed up 500 strong at two commissioners meetings. Thanks to them - and to "late-appearing revenue" - that library seems to be saved.

"Here in Mecklenburg, we are talking about only enough money to keep the remaining 12 branch libraries open for one more year. Four of the original 16 are already due to close in June.

"Libraries Director Charles Brown told me Monday that if the worst happens, "it will take years, if not decades, to rebuild on what is widely considered to be one of the most successful urban libraries in the nation."

"Stop the worst from happening.

"The City Council's final budget vote is June 7. The county adopts its budget June 15.

"Start e-mailing our City Council members and commissioners today.

Tell them what it means to you to use your neighborhood library's computer for job and college applications, to borrow books you can't afford to buy, to sit in its air-conditioned comfort to feast on magazines.

"Tell them how, thanks to the library, your children now read with flashlights under the covers, how one book has led them to another, until the habit of intellectual adventure has taken firm root. Tell them that libraries teach kids to strong-arm boredom.

"Tell them that some things on the budget, and in life, are negotiable.

"But that the pursuit of knowledge - free, accessible and open to the public - never is."

Mayor Anthony Foxx: afoxx@ci.charlotte.nc.us
Mayor Pro Tem, at large, Susan Burgess: sburg346@aol.com
Patrick Cannon, at large: councilmancannon@gmail.com
David Howard, at large: info@davidhowardclt.com
Edwin Peacock III, at large: edwin@edwinpeacock.com
Patsy Kinsey, District 1: pkinsey@carolina.rr.com
James Mitchell Jr., District 2: JamesDistrict2@aol.com
Warren Turner, District 3: district3_turner@yahoo.com
Michael Barnes, District 4: barnesdistrict4@aol.com
Nancy Carter, District 5: n3157w@yahoo.com
Andy Dulin, District 6: andy@voteandydulin.com
Warren Cooksey, District 7: warren@warrencooksey.com
Board Of County Commissioners
Jennifer Roberts, chairman: jennifer.roberts@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
Harold Cogdell Jr., vice chairman: harold@consultmyattorney.com
Karen Bentley, District 1: karen.bentley@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
Vilma Leake, District 2: vilma.leake@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
George Dunlap, District 3: george.dunlap@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
Dumont Clarke, District 4: dumontclarke@mvalaw.com
Neil Cooksey, District 5: neil.cooksey@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov
Bill James, District 6: wjames@carolina.rr.com

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