Sunday, November 22, 2009

Officials Meet Monday on Library Funding

State and city of Pittsburgh elected officials will meet with members of the Carnegie Library Board Monday morning to discuss short-term and long-term funding solutions to avert library branch closings.
Earlier this fall, the Library Board announced plans to shut down branches in Lawrenceville, Hazelwood, Beechview and the West End and merge those in Knoxville and Carrick because of a projected $1.2 million shortfall in 2010. That led to criticism from those communities and politicians.
State Senator Jay Costa of Allegheny County says he wants a promise from the Library Board "that if we in fact are able to get resources for the next year, that they will make a commitment on December 14 at the Board meeting to defer the implementation of the branch closure part of their plan to allow us to engage in discussions over the next year to address our long-term needs."
Costa says those long-term needs are funding and accountability because the library system faces a $6 million deficit over the next several years..."we'll be looking to the state, the city, the corporate community and private citizens to put together a long-term funding stream that allows as many communities as possible to receive library services."
A spokeswoman says the Library Board is willing to defer the closures if agreement can be reached on funding for 2010 and a long-term dedicated funding source.
He says something has to change including the structure of the system "do we need a large facility?"
Costa says he's hopeful that they will come out of Monday's meeting with a consensus of "here's where we're at, here's what our respective responsibilities are, and go from there."

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