April 26, 2010 Progress Updates
In 2009, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh struggled to close the gap between increasing costs and declining revenues, due primarily to state budget cuts and level RAD funding. CLP projected a $5 million deficit by 2014 and presented an Action Plan, which included service reductions and branch consolidations and closures. Due to $600,000 in one-time, stop-gap funding from the City of Pittsburgh, the Library was able to defer that plan for one year.
The Library and the community have one critical year to work together to find long-term dedicated funding. The following report outlines important milestones and progress made to date.The Library is committed to ongoing dialogue and information sharing with the community through reports such as this, press releases following Board meetings, and the Community Conversation process.
Senate Bill 711 Signed into Law
providing table gaming money for libraries
In January, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed Senate Bill 711 into law. The bill legalizes table games in Pennsylvania casinos and contains language related to library funding for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and libraries in Allegheny County.
Table gaming revenues are an important first step to achieving long-term sustainable funding for our Library system, but they will not provide the whole solution. The Library's long-term structural gap is greater than the amount expected through this new source of revenue. The exact start date and financial impact of table gaming revenue is still unknown.
The Library appreciates the work of elected officials on this issue and their recognition of the essential contributions that libraries make to our communities and the need for a new funding source.
Governor's budget includes state cuts
On Tuesday, February 9, Governor Rendell released his proposed 2010-2011 budget for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Governor's budget calls for another reduction in funding for public libraries and state-wide services, including ACCESS PA databases and interlibrary loan delivery. Prior to his announcement, Siobhan Riordan, President & Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, and Dr. Barbara K. Mistick, President & Director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, urged the Governor via letter to support an increase in library funding.
Difficult choices are required of the Commonwealth to maintain a balanced budget; however, libraries throughout the state provide essential services for education and work-force development and should be funded at their maximum level. With libraries across the Commonwealth still reeling from budget cuts in 2009-2010, these additional cuts are devastating. With this proposed budget, total library appropriations have gone from $93.3 million in 2009-2010 to $67 million in 2010-11. The Public Library subsidy alone has decreased from $75.1 million in 2008-09 to $58.8 million in 2010-11.
The Library's Advocacy pages urge supporters to write letters and contact their state elected officials in support of library funding.
February Storms took a toll on Library staff and buildings
Due to severe winter weather, the full Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system was closed an unprecedented four days to the public (Saturday, February 6; Sunday, February 7; Tuesday February 9 and Wednesday, February 10). Only five of the Library system's locations were able to open on Monday, February 8, some with reduced hours, yet more than 4,000 people visited the five locations that were open that day.
Many Library employees continued to work in buildings and at home to facilitate operations. Custodial staff worked 250 hours overtime and used 7,500 lbs of salt to treat sidewalks. The heavy snows caused significant water damage to library buildings, particularly to the oldest facilities. As a courtesy to customers who could not make it to the Library to return books, overdue fines were "forgiven" for two weeks.
Board of Trustees Meet February 22
As Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Board of Trustees met on February 22, the focus was on long-term sustainable funding and community engagement. The Board addressed current funding, which is still critical at both state and local levels. It announced the formation of a 10-member Public-Private Task Force on Sustainable Funding, to be chaired by the Honorable Frank J. Lucchino, former board chair of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, current board member and library advocate. The Board also discussed the importance of an expanded community engagement process. A news release sent to media and posted on the Library's Web site provided meeting details for the public.
Public-Private Task Force on Sustainable Funding
The Task Force was commissioned to explore alternative funding models and sources of funding to sustain the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system and will recommend a sustainable model of operational funding for the future. The committee met for the first time on April 16. Details on the Task Force and its membership are posted on the Library's Web Site.
The Library has planned a "Community Conversation" that is designed to engage the public, the Library Board of Trustees and other key stakeholders in an open and transparent dialog about the Library's future. This three-part process will enable the Library's Board of Trustees to understand the needs and priorities of library users. At the same time, the public will have the opportunity to learn about the challenges the Library faces. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is a valuable public asset, and the more minds that are dedicated to solving its funding problem, the more likely a good solution will be found.
The process begins with Community Workshops scheduled for May 15, 16 and 17, 2010. A Community Conversation page on the Library's Web site provides additional information and ongoing updates.
RAD Special Audit released - March 30
On March 30, the Regional Asset District (RAD) released a Special Audit of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh performed by Parente Beard. The report validates that Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh took a reasonable approach to identifying possible solutions to its funding crisis in 2009. The audit also confirms that the Library system is facing a very real funding challenge -- for both operating and capital dollars. A letter to the community, which includes a link to the Audit, is posted in the Library's press room.
Fundraising and Advocacy
While we continue to fulfill our community's daily needs with services that only a library can provide, we also are taking a strategic approach to:
- Communicate the vital role that libraries fill for individuals and our community
- Emphasize the urgent need for public support of the Library
- Secure long-term, dedicated funding for library operations
A combination of tactics, outlined below, support these goals.
- Pittsburgh Protect Your Library (PPYL) -- provides ways the community can support the Library with words, actions and donations. Visit the Pittsburgh Protect Your Library Web pages frequently for regular progress updates as well as a tools for sending email to elected officials, making a donation and submitting personal stories about the importance of the Library.
- New Chapter Newsletter -- provides details about the valuable library services and programs that are made possible through donations and public funding. The Library's newsletter is mailed to donors and posted online on the Library's Web site for all to see.
- "This is My Library" Ad Campaign -- provides first-hand accounts from library customers of how the Library changes lives and encourages advocacy on the Library's behalf. The Library has a limited budget for advertising, but is able to maximize our dollars thanks to the generosity of sponsors and local radio and TV stations. Television ads are running on WTAE, Channel 4 and This TV (WTAE's Retro programming on channel 204 on COMCAST). Radio ads run Saturdays through Wednesdays on: KDKA 1020-AM; KQV 1410-AM; WJAS1320-AM; WSHH 99.7-FM; and WWSW 94.5-FM. Go to carnegielibrary.org/about/mylibrary for details.
- Donor Plus Program -- gives library customers an easy way to help the Library offset increasing operating costs. Last year the program provided $60,000 toward operational funding. Tax deductible individual donations of $30 or family donations of $50 provide a Donor Plus Card, which has all of the benefits of the Library's free Classic Card in addition to newsletters, discounts and invitations to events. The program unveiled a new look in April during National Library Week. Visit http://www.carnegielibrary.org/DonorPlus/ for details.