In 1904, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library designated a separate area for children, at a time when the idea of dedicated library space for children was just beginning to catch on nationally. In exchange for a $300 contribution from the board of education, the Library offered free Countywide services for students.
The expansion of the Carnegie library in 1915 included a larger children’s department, and soon after 37 school libraries also operated as public library branches well into the 1930s. Our partnership with schools continues today with the ONE Access program, giving all students library access with a student ID.
This space facing Tryon Street once housed the children’s department in the current Main Library. Pat Siegfried led Youth Services in the 1990s and won numerous awards, including the American Library Association’s prestigious Grolier Award, presented to a librarian whose “unusual contribution to the stimulation and guidance of reading by children and young people” exemplifies outstanding achievement in the profession. Pat recalls the recognition not for any individual’s achievements, but for creative and impactful collaboration with schools and other community organizations – a commitment that continues today.
In 2005 the children’s department became ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, earning international recognition and awards for innovation. The free-standing, 102,000 square foot facility is shared with Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, where the two organizations together inspire young people and bring stories to life.
This space was reinvented with support from the Knight Foundation as the Library’s first Job Help Center, opening just in time for the economic crisis of 2010. In the new Main Library, an Opportunity Center will offer college and career planning programs, as well as training and job search support.
The Knight Foundation is again investing in the new Main Library, which together with ImaginOn will create a vibrant, multi-generational, tech-forward uptown campus ready to respond to our community’s needs – at every stage of life.
This audio tour was created using resources from your Library’s Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room.