You are here

Chapter 7

1939 - 1940
Charlotte Library Closes Doors Day
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library: A Century of Service

But close it did. On the evening of June 30, 1939, the doors of the Charlotte Public Library were locked. The staff went home, and for the first time in almost fifty years the city was without a library.

Almost immediately citizen groups began organizing to reopen it. The Citizen's Library Committee, headed by James R. Bryant, banded together with Parent/Teacher organizations, book clubs and various civic groups to rally support. After they had presented county officials with a 7,000 name petition, a second election was scheduled. Voters reacted to the negative publicity Charlotte had received from across the state as a result of the closing. When the second election was held on May 25, 1940, the vote was 10,172 - 1,966. The library property levy, not to exceed 4 cents on $100 valuation, had passed by a resounding five to one margin.

Although all the former staff had found other jobs for the year the library was closed, most, with the exception of the director, returned when the main library reopened on July 1, 1940. Louella Posey, head of the cataloging department, was appointed acting director. The Brevard Street Branch reopened Aug. 1 and the town branches reopened in the fall.

The crisis was over. The vote of no confidence had been reversed. The library would never again face such a threat to its existence. With sound financial footing for the first time, the library board planned for the future. The library had fallen behind its rapidly growing city. Now it was time for another period of expansion.

A new director, Hoyt R. Galvin, was on the job by November 1940. He was to remain for thirty years and guide the library through a period of growth that would transform it into a major urban library with a national reputation for innovation and public service.


Ryckman, Patricia. Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County: A Century of Service. Charlotte, N.C.: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1989.