By Cameron Lee
May 2, 2020 (updated)
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library has announced the Beatties Ford Road Regional Library will be renamed the Allegra Westbrooks Regional Library. The historic renaming marks the first time the library has been named after an individual. Raised in Fayetteville, NC, Allegra Westbrooks was hired by the Public Library of Charlotte Mecklenburg County in 1947 prior to desegregation and managed the only library serving African American residents in Charlotte at the time (Brevard Street Library).
“Ms. Westbrooks was a mentor and inspiration to many library and community leaders, and was a tireless advocate for reading, libraries, and education,” said Rob Harrington, chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Board of Trustees. “We’re excited to share the good news with the community about Ms. Westbrooks who was an extraordinary leader, library professional and role model, and we look forward to celebrating the renaming with the community after the library reopens.”
After the library system desegregated in 1956, Westbrooks was promoted to head of acquisitions and later assistant director. She was also the first African American public library supervisor in Charlotte, serving in this role and overseeing significant expansion until her retirement in 1984, after a 35-year career. Allegra Westbrooks passed away in April of 2017 at the age of 96.
“The Library plans to move forward with a celebration of Ms. Westbrooks, her legacy and the official renaming of the Allegra Westbrooks Regional Library at a date and time to be determined later this summer,” said Dana Eure, acting Library director for Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Beatties Ford library opened on April 20, 1997, replacing the historical North Branch that served the neighborhood since 1957. In 2009, the library underwent renovations and didn’t reopen until June 13, 2011 due to budget cuts. The expanded 19,645 sq. ft. library now serves the community as a regional library for the area.
Check out more from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and stay updated on the opening ceremony for the new Allegra Westbrooks Regional Library – Beatties Ford Road.
This article has been updated to reflect Allegra Westbrooks was the first African American librarian and supervisor in Charlotte, North Carolina. Mollie Huston Lee is considered by many as the first African American librarian and supervisor in the state of North Carolina.