Partnering to Remove Barriers and Increase Access

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is dedicated to providing equal access to all people in the community.  Strategic priorities and partnerships support access to library resources to students and those who are in economically challenging circumstances.  Library services and resources are essential to promoting systems changes in a community.

After the Charlotte area ranked lowest in the country for economic mobility, the Library saw the opportunity to provide greater access to services, especially for students and those affected by the digital divide.  One of the barriers for economic mobility is unequal access to resources that support learning and economic success. The Library collaborated with partners including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Read Charlotte (RC),  Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), Read Charlotte (RC), and Charlotte Opportunity Task Force (COTF).  Partnerships with CMS and RC focused on ensuring all children had equal library access and were successfully reading on grade level by third grade.

The Library partnered with CMS on ONE AccessTM, which empowers all 147,000 preK-12th grade students to use their school id number as a library account; EpicFest, which brought award-winning authors into schools to engage with low-income students; and Storyvine, which connected traditional storytellers with students in Title I elementary schools. 

The Library also partnered with Google Fiber/NTEN to provide “DigiLit101,”structured digital literacy instruction in at-risk communities to help provide context and training to adults. 

With COTF, the Library partnered to develop a plan to move the needle on economic mobility, beginning with the, and hosted hosting focus groups as well as community conversations.

As a result, more than 125,000 students used ONE Access this year.  These fine-free accounts allowed many students to access library resources without barriers.  Through EpicFest 1,500 students at 19 schools interacted with authors in new ways, and 4,853 students at 39 schools were exposed to traditional storytelling through Storyvine.

Through DigiLit101, 183 adults received 12 hours of instruction each at 17 locations, in English and Spanish. Participants were awarded a free or low-cost laptop upon completion.

The Library’s Job Help Center connected more people than ever to jobs, and 126 people attended focus groups and completed surveys to address community economic opportunity.