"Our goal was to preserve the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system so that it can continue to fulfill its mission to support literacy and learning for everyone," says the Honorable Frank J. Lucchino, Task Force Chair and Library Trustee. "Libraries are critical to education; education leads to economic advancement and economic advancement leads to improved quality of life."
"Libraries are not luxuries, but necessities," he emphasized. "A sustainable level of funding is needed to help maintain services that are critical to community residents, including afterschool programs for children and teens, free access to computers and the Internet and a wide variety of books, music and online resources that often cost too much for individuals to purchase. We must do whatever we can to protect this critical community asset."
In their final report to the Library's Board of Trustees, the independent Task Force addressed feedback provided by the community in 2010 and proposed a multi-pronged approach that, when implemented as a package, would have the potential to provide the Library with an additional $5 to $7 million annually.
The Public Private Task Force on Sustainable Funding final report and the library benchmarking research, Sustaining Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, are available on the Library website, carnegielibrary.org/background.
The two primary strategies and six specific tactics provide a funding solution that is shared by all aspects of the community:
- Protect and grow current library funding:
- Improve advocacy and increase individual giving by building a culture of library supporters.
- Secure annual increases from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD).
- Secure increases in corporate contributions.
- Work with local/state entities to develop tax incentive programs for corporate and individual donors.
- Initiate new funding streams:
- Provide the citizens of Pittsburgh an opportunity to vote on whether dedicated funding support should be provided to the Library.
- Launch a library endowment campaign.
"We are confident that this multi-pronged approach creates key building blocks to financial sustainability," says Task Force member Lynne Squilla. "This plan enables the entire community - from individuals to corporations, government and foundations - to participate in this shared goal."
As part of the Task Force's research, a benchmarking study of high-performing libraries was conducted by UPMC interns at the request of member Scott Lammie, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, UPMC Insurance Services. The report, Sustaining Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, concludes that the Library has one of the smallest operating budgets for an urban library and regional library system of its size and stature.
The study states, "Virtually all benchmark metrics confirm that Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is now chronically under-spending in staff resources, collections and other basic infrastructure support."
"Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh transforms and advances our lives, our communities and our society," says Lammie."Pittsburgh's preeminent position among the most literate cities in America is now in serious jeopardy as funding cuts continue to weaken the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system."