9.30.2010 libraries

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libraries:  This is a great article in general,  and Charlotte’s children’s library gets a shout out!

Libraries are perhaps our most enduring public institutions–priceless repositories of history, language, and culture. The dawn of the “information superhighway” threatened to make them less relevant, even obsolete. Yet now, these institutions are as prominent as ever, with a wave of innovation as the next generation of libraries extend their mission well beyond the storage of knowledge.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Bringing Stories to Life

In downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, the ImaginOn children’s library and theater illustrates the critical role that civic partnerships can play in expanding the impact of a community institution. The ImaginOn emerged from the cooperative efforts of the Children’s Theater of Charlotte and the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Each organization has a presence in the building, where they collaboratively produce a tightly integrated mix of programs and events. By sharing a building and a mission — “bringing stories to life” — the library and the theater complement each other perfectly, creating a critical mass of activity.

“Some people come to the library and find the theater,” says Beth Murray, a librarian at the ImaginOn, “Some people come to the theater and find the library.”

Kids take over the streets to express their thoughts in chalk during Wordplay Saturday in downtown Charlotte.

These overlapping uses set the stage for events you might not necessarily associate with libraries. In true front porch fashion, the ImaginOn produces events that spill into the downtown area. “Wordplay Saturday,” for instance, is a yearly event that fills the streets with people. With performances inside the library and activities outside, the festival transforms Charlotte into a giant party for kids. The event is one way the ImaginOn–together with the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Levine Museum of the New South, and several other neighboring institutions–has been instrumental to the emergence of a lively and walkable cultural center in downtown Charlotte.

Murray is quick to credit the people she serves as the inspiration behind the library’s success as a destination: “The public teaches us,” she explains, “The public helps us rise to the occasion.”

via Libraries That Matter « Project for Public Spaces – Placemaking for Communities.

9.28.2010 … Southwest Airlines Co. is coming to Charlotte!

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business, travel, Charlotte:  Hooray for Charlotte!

Southwest Airlines Co. gets more exposure to existing markets like New York and Boston, and it can get into smaller markets it doesn’t already serve.

AirTran operates daily flights from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to a number of markets, but it is unclear whether Southwest will continue that operation. In recent years, some passengers regularly have driven from Charlotte to the Raleigh area, which is served by Southwest, so they can take advantage of that company’s lower fares.

via Southwest buys AirTran; Charlotte impact? – CharlotteObserver.com.

9.26.2010 … Charlotte has reinvented itself before …

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urban development:

Charlotte has reinvented itself before: from gold mining to railroads, from a cotton producer to a textile center. Laura Schulte, Wells Fargo’s community banking president for the Eastern region, said she hopes Charlotte will reinvent itself again. It’s not in the city’s best interest to be a banktown forever, Schulte said, because the tax base, charities and other operations can become too dependent on that industry. “Being the largest banking town outside of New York was the good news and the bad news,” said Schulte, who moved to Charlotte from Los Angeles after Wells bought Wachovia. “… So my opinion is it would be very good if banking played less of a role. I don’t think that’s because banking would contract but because we’d have more diversity in the businesses here.” It will be difficult to determine when that transformation occurs, if ever. But the city says it’s going to try. The City Council’s new economic development plan for 2011 to 2014, which the council should vote on in November, emphasizes metrics for tracking whether the big-picture goals are met. For example, the city and its hospitality partners will measure the goal of making Charlotte more of a tourism draw by metrics like hospitality tax revenues, use of the convention center, and the number of retrained workers hired by the sector. Foxx said short-term success will come when the region’s unemployment rate, which is still in the double digits, declines dramatically. “Longer term, I don’t think we’ll ever be finished with the work of trying to make our city a better place to live,” Foxx said. “The minute you start standing still, you start losing ground.”

via Seeking a vision beyond banking – CharlotteObserver.com.