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$69,373 down, $1,930,627 to go for libraries

http://66.225.205.104/0319LibrariesClose.mp3

(Updated Sunday evening) Library patrons are trying to come up with $2 million to keep 12 Mecklenburg County libraries open. Nearly $69,400 had come in as of Sunday evening. But the library system faces the possibility of even deeper cuts next year. WFAE's Lisa Miller reports. Two million dollars, a quarter of the library's remaining budget this year, is a daunting sum to raise, especially in a weeks time. That money would only guarantee that libraries stay open until June 30th. After that, the library system will most likely have an even smaller budget to work with. "We're focusing on what's going on now, but July 1 there's a possibility of a 50 percent additional reduction to the libraries funding," Libraries Director Charles Brown said on WFAE's Charlotte Talks program. "So not only are these likely to be permanent, we're looking at closing most of the library system." Brown has known for a couple months that the county would be withholding some money to plug a $35 million deficit, but he says he didn't know how much until this week. County Commissioner Karen Bentley's inbox has been filled with emails over the closings. She says the library system should consider alternative measures to raise money. "Do we put some sort of a service fee or a fee for a library card, a minimal fee, to help at least bridge this budget gap?" says Bentley. "I understand certainly the philosophy behind 'you don't want to shut anyone out' so to speak, but I think those are fair conversations to have." The 12 library branches are scheduled to close by April 3rd. Those branches: Beatties Ford Road, Belmont Center, Carmel, Checkit Outlet, Cornelius, Hickory Grove, Independence Regional, Mint Hill, Morrison Regional, Myers Park, Scaleybark and Sugar Creek.