Just as Davidson residents let out a sigh of relief for exceeding their fundraising goal for their local library, eyes quickly turned to the county-wide Future of the Library Task Force.
The task force is expected to finalize its recommendations for creating a long-term viable Charlotte-Mecklenburg library system to the system's Board of Trustees and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners next month.
At its meeting last week, the Future of the Library task force worked on items to include in their recommendation, such as expectations for volunteers and guidelines for making decisions at the branches.
A task force subcommittee presented the advantages of becoming either a county department or remaining an independent entity, as well as examining possible funding methods.
James Woodward, chairman of the task force, said some advantages of becoming a county department included: the county's increased interest in the library system's performance, greater assurance that the priorities for both entities were aligned and increased access to other county resources.
Some advantages for remaining independent, said Woodward, included freedom to choose library content without needing to consult with county commissioners and better access to private funding.
Woodward said the task force plans to present recommendations by the end of March, including recent findings that the library system was neither over-built or over-funded before the county made cuts last year.
It remains unclear how many of those recommendations the system's board of trustees or county commissioners will adopt. It's also unclear how much funding the libraries will get from Mecklenburg County in the next fiscal year.
"We're hearing that it's going to be a tough year," said Davidson and Cornelius branch manager Ellen Giduz. "We're being warned the picture isn't pretty."
The library system has received $730,000 in donations from the town libraries in the county. Cornelius gave $175,000. In late January, Davidson Branch Library's Fundraising Task Force announced the town had exceeded its fundraising goal by more than $35,000, for a total of $211,025.38.
The town raised the money by selling bricks for $100 and $500 to residents with the option of personalizing the brick. The bricks will be used to recreate the Davidson library's old patio and will be unveiled May 7, which is Davidson's Town Day.
Davidson's task force also recruited volunteers to help fill the shoes of workers who were laid off. Before the cuts, 12 staff members plus Giduz worked at the two libraries. Now there are three full-time equivalents at each branch, and Giduz splits her time between both.
During recruitment last summer, several volunteers from Davidson and Cornelius were put on waitlists because volunteer response was so strong, said Giduz.
"Clearly it was a statement of, 'We're not going to give up this branch,'" said Kim Fleming, the chairwoman for Davidson's Library Fundraising Task Force. "People in the town are really behind the library. It's an important place to them."
But the funds the towns raised to save their libraries will only last through June 30.
Giduz said she thinks Davidson residents would be open to participating in a fundraising campaign again, but she wants to wait to see what the needs are.
Richelle Kehe of Mooresville said she's closely following what's happening with the library system because of how integral the Cornelius branch is in her family's life.
Kehe said she visits the library multiple times a week because Pine Lake Preparatory, the school her children attend, requires students to read a certain number of accelerated-reader books.
"We couldn't afford to buy all of these books. And there's no way the school's little media center could hold all of the books they'd need to go around," she said. "So for me, this is an important issue."