Local residents reacted with disappointment to the proposed closing of the Cornelius Branch Library.
Retired English teacher Paula Brown, 63, has lived in Cornelius for 18 years and has visited the library weekly. She said she's most disturbed that Mecklenburg County would choose to cut a service that's so critical to a child's development and success.
"Although it's smaller than the North Meck library, it has everything we need or access to everything we need," Brown said. "My daughter grew up in this library. It's not good for our community. I hope our commissioners can do something to change this. It's a shame."
But in a meeting this morning, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board voted to keep all the branches open -- but they'll be open only five days a week, and eight hours a day. Employees will take a pay cut -- those employees who remain, after 82 to 84 are laid off. The new plan was among two alternatives provided by the library director this morning. The original plan called for 148 layoffs and closings of 12 of 24 branches.
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The Cornelius branch celebrated its 10th anniversary on Feb. 11 at its newest location but has been in operation at multiple locations since 1931, said library supervisor Ellen Giduz, who has been with the system since 2006.
The branch is unique because it serves about 8,000 visitors per month in small amount of space, Giduz said. Inside the 5,500-square-foot facility, people have access to more than 20,000 items, including CDs, DVDs and eight computers, which are heavily used. It also provides English as a Second Language classes, arts and crafts programs and story hours for children, as well as events for teens and adults.
"We get a lot of foot traffic from people in the neighborhood," Giduz said after hearing about the proposed closings. "It will have a significant impact on people who need computers to apply for jobs, but the library system is doing it's best to ensure people have access to a library within a reasonable distance to them. I'm sad but very hopeful we will re-open as soon as possible."