This article originally appeared in the Fall, 2021 issue of the Library’s print newsletter, Transformations.
When Marcellus “MT” Turner arrived in Charlotte, one of his first priorities was to visit each of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s 20 branches to meet staff and customers. We spoke with the Library’s new CEO and Chief Librarian about libraries, communities, and his vision for the future. His responses have been edited for length.
How do you see the relationship between the Library and Library Foundation?
We’re two entities, but for the Library to achieve the progress we want, we need the support of private dollars. Public dollars can only take us so far, and private dollars allow us to do more of the innovative, experimental work we want to do. To move forward we must have a great and strong Library Foundation, and we certainly do.
What does the new Main Library mean for the community?
Many of us come to the table with an idea of what a library is, and I hope when people see this new library, it blows their socks off. I hope it will inspire, everyone will feel welcome and included, and it will be an agent for positive change in our community.
How will community partnerships be a part of the new Main Library?
Community partnerships are so important to any library, and we have them with our branches already. Partnerships allow us to extend our work to audiences we don’t necessarily reach. And partnership is a two-way street. We can offer partners something they don’t have.
In one word, how do you think you’ll feel on the new Main Library’s opening day?
Hopeful. Hopeful that we’ve delivered on this idea so many people worked on before I arrived. Hopeful it meets the community’s needs and interests. Hopeful it liberates our idea of what a library can be.
Is there anything you’d especially like our donor community to know?
I look forward to meeting you, to working with you, to helping you realize what our Library means. I want you to know that I appreciate the confidence you have in us to deliver on your support. I’m excited to get to know you!
We’ve heard you’re a foodie. What’s your favorite Charlotte restaurant so far?
I’m a foodie who likes good food. Not necessarily expensive meals, but a good atmosphere – and that means people enjoying themselves. I discovered Flower Child and some other new favorites exploring the neighborhoods around our library locations, but I love a good burger! I missed going to Zack’s before it closed, so I’m still on the hunt for Charlotte’s best burger. Any suggestions?
Five Fast Facts
- Last time MT lived in the South: 1994
- Hardback or Paperback? Neither – audiobooks in the car!
- Favorite ice cream: Cookies and Cream
- Number of time zones MT has lived in: Four
- First library job: School library student assistant in fourth grade