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http://66.225.205.104/LM20100325.mp3

All Mecklenburg County libraries will stay open at least until the end of June. Library trustees voted yesterday to reverse their decision to cut $2 million from the budget by closing twelve branches. Instead, all libraries will close two days a week and operate 8-hours a day. That's including the main library uptown. WFAE's Lisa Miller talks to All Things Considered host Mark Rumsey about the library board's decision. Read Listen Library trustees have received hundreds of emails and phone calls since they decided last week to close half the library system's branches to make way for county budget cuts. They heard from enough people like east side resident Geneal Gregory and Myers Park Junior Scottie Stowe to go back to the drawing board. "Teens are losing places to go," said Gregory. "Schools with the current cuts they're getting, teachers are losing their morale. It seems like there are not outlets for us. I'd rather have fewer libraries than no service." "It's time for us to roll up our sleeves, get up off of our seats and ensure our libraries are functioning," said Gregory. Gregory and Stowe were one of dozens of library users who came out to hear what alternative the library board would come up with. Libraries Director Charles Brown explained why the board had initially decided to close libraries instead of reducing hours at all branches. "We were trying to maintain the highest quality possible service at least in some areas of Mecklenburg County, but we heard from the community they want to preserve locations. They want that very convenient access," said Brown. "So we're exploring another strategy to preserve locations, but there will need to be cuts and service hours to accomplish this. There are no easy tradeoffs." In addition 84 people will be laid off and all remaining employees are looking at salary cuts between 5 and 20 percent, depending on how much they make. The budgets to buy new books and run programs like story-time and after school activities have been gutted. The cuts go into effect April 5th. Library officials still have to decide what two days a week the libraries will close and what portion of the day they'll stay open. Brown pointed out to trustees it's not clear what will happen in the new budget year that begins in July. "Again, I want to remind you that July 1 begins a new fiscal year with the possibility of even a more drastic reductions in funding support," said Brown. Mecklenburg County Manager Harry Jones told library officials last week that commissioners could reduce the library's budget up to 50 percent. News of the board's decision quickly reached Independence Regional, one of the libraries scheduled to close. A branch manager removed the closure notice from the library's front doors. As library users checked out they offered they're congratulations in hushed tones. "Oooh, I'm so happy," said Pauline Bethea. "Me too and thank you for the support," replied a librarian. "Oh, I just love this place," said Bethea. But all knew the celebration may be short-lived.