A New Generation

This article originally appeared in the Spring, 2021 issue of the Library’s print newsletter, Transformations.

Charlotte is built on generosity. Names linked with our most impactful organizations – cultural institutions, hospitals, universities and more – reveal a generation of civic leaders whose vision and philanthropy benefit our entire region. Many have long supported – and continue to invest in – our Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

As The CommonSpark campaign proceeds, new names – representing a new demographic – are joining that list.

Meredith Heimburger and Brandon Neal are familiar faces around the Library. Meredith serves on the Library Foundation’s board, and Brandon is a Library trustee who also serves on the board of the Urban Libraries Council. They’re both parents to young children, full time professionals and proud members of Generation Y (born in the 1980s and 1990s). Together, the two have set a personal goal: recruit 50 young families to contribute a total of $1 million to build a new Main Library.

“The Library is so meaningful for our community and our own families, and everyone we’ve asked has been excited to be a part of this project. It’s a demonstration that our generation is ready and willing to participate, to step into the very large shoes of people who have long given so generously to the organizations we all use,Heimburger explains.

Pre-COVID, the two hosted a cocktail party to introduce friends to the Library’s plans. Neal observes, “We know there are people in our age group who have the capacity and the motivation to invest in The CommonSpark. They use Library services and understand its value. We just need to engage them.”

So far they’ve received commitments totaling nearly $500,000, and word is spreading. “We set a $1 million goal because people want to contribute a meaningful amount, to step up in an impactful way. It’s aspirational but achievable, because people are passionate about our Library.” And it is our Library. Heimburger continues, “Every child in Charlotte will look to this gorgeous new Library and say ‘That’s mine.’ There’s something powerful about that, and we can be directly involved in making it happen.”

Neal reveals, “Early on, I had some skepticism – but then I visited the new Central Library in Calgary, Alberta. Staff and customers see that library as a manifestation of the city’s values: that every citizen deserves beauty, dignity, empowerment and knowledge. I saw an incredible diversity of users making that library their own – taking selfies, playing on an indoor playground, having afternoon wine and cheese, meeting and learning and interacting together. That’s when I understood. We can build a destination like that, a library that really reflects our community, where learning, empowerment and access to opportunity are free to all. That’s what this campaign is about.”

To learn more and help ignite The CommonSpark, contact us at foundation@cmlibrary.org or 704-416-0803.

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