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Charlotte Area News

County commissioners: closing libraries wasn't our call

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Libraries began operating this week on reduced hours to make up for lost county money. Last night, a few county commissioners told library board members they should have taken more responsibility for their initial decision to find the savings by closing twelve branches. Although the county made $2 million in cuts to the library budget to help make up for a deficit this year, commissioners had no say over how the library's board of trustees would find those savings. Commissioner George Dunlap said that fact is lost on many people. "I received emails and phone calls saying that the county commission closed libraries and at no time did I hear the board of trustees publicly make a statement that that's not true," said Dunlap. Library trustee Darrel Williams told Dunlap the library board had no interest in making it appear the county commission made the initial decision to close libraries. "I think the public is generally confused about who's responsible for what, but I would tell you that none of us led the public to believe the county commission did that," said Williams. Commissioner Harold Cogdell pointed out that a library press release included a way to contact county commissioners, but no information about reaching the library board. Library board chair Robin Branstrom said she'll make sure trustees' email addresses are posted online.