Lake Norman & Mooresville

Book stores to help libraries

At a time when the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is suffering from deep county-wide budget cuts, local booksellers are banding together to offer financial support this August.

Three libraries closed indefinitely June 19, and to keep the remaining libraries open, the book-buying budget was reduced by 58 percent since last fiscal year.

That means the average wait time for a new book is six months - sometimes longer.

"We were able to keep the libraries open with the deals made with the municipalities, city and county, but we still had to make cuts elsewhere," said Angela Haigler, communications and marketing director for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

To help out, 18 bookstores in the greater Charlotte area have agreed to hold their own three-day book sales and give a portion of profits to the library's book-buying fund.

"Customers will be asked if they're interested in supporting local libraries, and if they're interested, 10 percent of their purchases for that day will go to the libraries," said Edward Lee, general manager of the Books-A-Million at Concord Mills Mall.

Each participating store created its own policy.

Main Street Books in Davidson is giving 10 percent of its gross profit in August.

"We're all in the same opinion that (reading) is part of education," said co-owner and manager Barbara Freund.

The bookstore initiative was jump-started by Caroline Crownover, marketing manager of Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthPark.

After getting approval from inside management, she approached other bookstores to see if they would get on board, said Joseph-Beth General Manager Cheryl Johnson.

The drama over closing branches has gone on for months, culminating in a near-50 percent cut to the libraries' budget.

The libraries haven't seen such drastic cuts since the Great Depression.

"We'd like to be able to satisfy customer demand as much as possible as we've done in the past, but that's difficult in this budget situation," said Haigler. "We're hoping that by participating in this book sale we can bring back to the public's view that the library still does need assistance."

Booksellers anticipate the customer response will be good.

"Here in Davidson, they'll be excited," said Freund. "The library here is very special because the community of Davidson here raised the money for the building itself."

Haigler said the key is for customers to tell sales associates at participating bookstores they want their purchase to go toward the cause.

"We don't expect to get all we need in this one effort, but hopefully there will be some other ones out there," said Haigler. "We look forward to other efforts the public may take on."