The doors swung open as Library board chair Jennifer Appleby exclaimed, “Welcome home!”
The re-opening of Morrison Regional Library is more than a homecoming for the neighborhood. It’s also a new chapter in Library technology and customer service for the entire Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system – written in partnership with Library users. “Morrison was redesigned based on direct input from customers and the community, and puts new, exciting spaces and the full range of Library resources within convenient reach of visitors. It will serve as a model and laboratory for the next generation of libraries in our community.”
So far, customers are impressed. People of all ages read or use portable devices indoors and outside, the café buzzes with families enjoying a snack, teens in headsets laugh as they explore virtual worlds, 3-D printers in the makerspace whir, and students studying for exams focus intently in quiet rooms. Even the technology is flexible – customers borrow Chromebooks and laptops from a vending system and use them wherever they are most comfortable.
Ann Walker, an area pediatrician, exudes “It’s wonderful! Lately I’ve been using the Library as my home office. I use a single study room, which is quiet, private, and perfect for making phone calls. And the staff support is great – I’ve learned so much about new technology!”
Location manager Susan Green notes that many customers bring their own devices to the Library, and arrive seeking spaces and resources to suit their needs and work style. She points out the customer-first philosophy evident throughout the Library’s twenty branches, as staff push the old boundaries and consider new ways to accommodate requests. “Our goal is to provide a personalized environment, to expand the menu of ways users can connect with one another, with their Library and with information. Flexible spaces and new technologies help to make that possible.”
One new technology introduced at Morrison is automated materials handling, a system that uses radio frequencies to track tiny tags in each book. This simplified process frees staff to offer more programs and assistance to customers.
The Morrison improvements, along with renovations to North County and South County Regional locations, were funded by Mecklenburg County as part of the 2013 Capital Improvement Plan. Look for some finishing touches on the Morrison patio this spring, made possible through the generosity of individual donors already investing in a Library by and for its users.