New library director speaks to WBTV during first day on the job

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte's public library system is turning another page.

Former banking executive and past Arts and Science Council executive director Lee Keesler is taking on the task of bringing the place known for books back from the brink.

"It attracts all people from all corners of the county. All socioeconomic parts of the county," Keesler said. "It's also a good moment in the history of the library. We went through a well documented time financially."

Keesler inherits a system that had it's share of closures, layoffs, and reduced hours at many places including the main branch at 6th and College in Center City.

"This year's county budget allows us to open the regional libraries on Sunday. That means people of all ages could go in on Sunday afternoon, when they could not have before, that doesn't get us back to what we would call full service levels, but it gets us closer to that," he said.

Keelser a Charlotte native and East Meck grad takes the reins from Vick Phillips.

He is the past interim director who faced stormy times.

Phillips recalled that when it came to saving local branches card holders tend to exercise ownership.

"The people in Davidson and Cornelius are as passionate as the folks in Matthews and Mint Hill," he said.

With more people on line, and fewer books being checked out, Keesler is asking a simple question and that is how does this institution remain relevant?

"What does the library of the 21st century look like for this community, and that will become our road map for the next several years."

It is a valid concern as one of our city's institutions enters what some may see as an uncertain chapter.

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