Weekly Update

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Libraries can be the lifeblood of our neighborhoods. For so many, they’re a place to learn, a place to visit with friends, and a place to stay connected to the world around them.

Earlier this week, the Institute of Museum and Library Services announced Memphis Public Libraries (MPL) as one of three recipients of the 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service.

This is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Over the past 27 years, the award has celebrated institutions that are making a difference for individuals, families, and communities. MPL is the first-ever two-time recipient (2007 and 2021).

Now, this is a tremendous honor, and I want to point out this didn’t just happen overnight. This award is the culmination of diligence and hard work by our MPL team over the last five and half years.

When I took office in 2016, neighborhood libraries were closed on Fridays, programs were underutilized, and they simply were not able to deliver the service our citizens deserve.

Fast-forward to where we are today—

  • Program attendance increased 103.6% FY16 to FY19
  • Through Feb 2020, attendance was up 12.43% compared to the same period in FY19 (Jul-Feb 2020 compared to Jul-Feb 2019)
  • The number of programs offered increased 114.58% FY19 compared to FY16
  • The number of children attending a library program increased by 93.67% FY16 to FY19
  • The number of teens attending a library program increased by 175.86% FY16 to FY19
  • A new Raleigh Library
  • A new Frayser Library (completion in early 2023)
  • A complete renovation of the Downtown Library is underway

While the past year has been very different, MPL employees have continuously adapted to meet community needs and fill critical gaps in services. From collaborating with the Memphis Shelby County Joint COVID-19 task force to produce health and safety content through its in-house television station (WYPL) to creating protocols for curbside pick-up and facility safety, delivering meals to vulnerable residents through MIFA, conducting contact tracing with the Shelby County Health Department, and producing a robust continuum of digital programming—MPL continued to deliver much-needed services in ways never thought possible.

Below is a snapshot of the last year’s activities.


All that to say—to Director Keenon McCloy and your team, I’m so proud to work with all of you, and congratulations on this tremendous accomplishment.

COVID-19 update: The good news is that the current seven-day average is less than the average seven days ago. Bad news—it’s still higher than it was 60 days ago. See below for more details.


As it stands, 68% of all new cases over the last 30 days have been people 45 years old and younger.


The best and most effective way for us to beat this virus continues to be vaccinations. Since March of last year, I’ve said we will listen to medical advice and follow the data. Well, medical experts are telling us to get vaccinated, and as you can clearly see in the graphs below, the data supports that zip codes with higher vaccination rates have lower infection rates.


Reminder—teens twelve years old and older can now be vaccinated. Last week, I took my daughter to receive her first shot.


To see where you can get your shot, go here.

A new Leftwich Tennis Center: Thanks to City Council’s unanimous approval earlier this week, the City of Memphis and the University of Memphis are scheduled to break ground on the new $24 million Leftwich Tennis Center early next month.


The partnership between the City and the University will provide a world-class facility not only for the Tigers’ men’s and women’s tennis teams, but also all our residents to enjoy. The new Leftwich Tennis Center will give us the ability to attract major national tennis tournaments, NCAA, and conference championships. This will be the largest tennis facility within hundreds of miles, featuring 24 outdoor and 12 indoor courts.

A majority of the funding for the project is coming from private donors and corporate prospects, with the City contributing $3 million of capital funds and $1 million of in-kind public works improvements and the University adding $5 million. The citizens of Memphis will be enjoying and gaining the benefit of the $24 million facility with a direct investment of $4 million.

The center will keep the name Leftwich Tennis Center in honor of Lt. Col. William G. Leftwich, who died in service during the Vietnam War.

Thank you to our donors and the UofM for contributing and helping us to raise the funds to make this happen, and thanks to the United States Tennis Association (USTA) for their support and guidance during this process.

For more information on the project, go here.

National EMS Week: In case you weren’t aware, this is week is National EMS Week. To all our EMS workers, thank you for your service—especially everything you’ve done for us over the last year. Know that we appreciate you.

Enjoy your weekend!


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