Attending the ConnectEd Library Challenge Summit in Washington DC, by Library CEO Lee Keesler

Today, I represented our Library at the ConnectED Library Challenge Summit hosted by the White House, the Urban Libraries Council, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the American Library Association.  County Manager Dena Diorio and CMS Superintendent Ann Clark joined me at the event.  Library, City and County, and Public School execs from 50 communities around the country were in attendance.

In April 2015, President Obama announced the Connected Library Challenge, calling upon library executives to work with their mayors, county managers, school leaders and school librarians to create or strengthen partnerships so that every child enrolled in school can receive a library card.  Charlotte Mecklenburg Library was already working to provide access to all CMS students using student ID numbers (ONE Access), and quickly agreed to participate in the Challenge.

Today's session in Washington, D.C. was an opportunity to hear from mayors, county managers, school superintendents and library executives who are leading the way in the Challenge.  We heard from two mayors and a county manager who made a persuasive case for supporting their library partners.  We heard leaders from New Haven and Washington, D.C. talk about progress they've made in providing access.  Dena, Ann and I also had an opportunity to tell the story of how Mecklenburg County, CMS and the Library have collaborated on ONE Access, our initiative to provide nearly 150,000 students with library accounts.  Over two-thirds have already activated their accounts.

In the afternoon, attendees met in small groups to assess the progress that has been made in the Challenge, and how to sustain and build on this work.  This exercise produced rich discussion and much sharing of ideas and best practices.  There was universal agreement that improved access is the beginning, not the end, and that these partnerships of local government, schools and libraries must remain active and engaged.

It was gratifying to observe that Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is regarded as a leader nationally in expanding access as well as other areas.  It was also interesting to hear what other libraries are doing, and how we can learn from them. 

Meetings like this reinforce the great work being done in our Library.  Many thanks to all our Charlotte team who make us a national leader among libraries.