Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Backs Off Branch Closing Plan
"Short-term solution" for a year; new revenues must be found
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 12/15/2009
- City funding, plus new state legislation on casino revenue
- New fines and fees
- Concern over closed board meetings
As was hinted last month, the board of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) yesterday postponed for a year a plan to close five branch libraries and cut hours, though one library will be lost owing to a merger of two branches. Board chair Jacqui Fiske Lazo called the reprieve “a short-term solution.”
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the $1.5 million gap will be filled via a one-year grant of $600,000 from the City Council—which has traditionally let the Regional Asset District, funded via a countywide sales tax, support libraries—plus an expected $850,000 annually thanks to state legislation steering casino revenue to the library. The latter will cover 60 percent of the shortfall.
CLP also has trimmed its budget by cutting staff, the result of ten retirements. It also will boost revenues by upping fines for adult borrowers from 25 cents a day to 30 cents a day and imposing 20-cent-a-day fines on children’s materials, which are currently not subject to fines.
According to reports in the Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, speakers at a public hearing preceding the meeting all urged the board to see the value of libraries.
The public hearing was held because of criticism of CLP, a nonprofit organization, for closing its meetings; the library has even been sued to open its meetings. A CLP board subcommittee will report in February on opening the meetings.