Accessible and welcoming to all, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library celebrates the joy of reading, fosters learning and growth, connects people to each other and the world, and inspires individuals with what they can achieve. Through 20 locations, online, and through targeted outreach, the library system delivers exceptional library services and programs, with a mission to create a community of readers and empower individuals with free access to information and the universe of ideas.
The roots of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library can be traced to 1891 when, during a period of Charlotte history characterized by boom and civic pride, a group of prominent citizens organized the Charlotte Literary and Library Association. This subscription library operated in rooms above a bookstore on South Tryon Street for nine years, under the direction of Librarian Bessie Lacy Dewey. In 1901, directors of the Association transferred control of the Library to the City School Commissioners, so that the general public and students would have access to the collection. The Library was now the Charlotte Public School Library, located in two rooms in City Hall at the corner of North Tryon and East Fifth Street. The arrangement lasted two years, with Librarian Sallie H. Adams in charge. In 1901, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie agreed to donate $25,000 for a library building, if the city would furnish a site and taxes to support operations. The tax was approved by vote of citizens on May 6, 1901. The building was dedicated and opened to the public on July 2, 1903 in the 300 block of North Tryon Street.