Updated Information

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has submitted an updated 2010 budget to the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD). The submittal also includes an updated five-year budget projection along with supplemental materials relevant to the assessment process undertaken by the Library system’s Board of Trustees. You can find this information at www.carnegielibrary.org/future

Carnegie Library Board of Trustees Approves Sustainability Plan

On October 5, 2009 the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees approved a plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system. This action plan includes hours reductions, branch closures, mergers and relocations, as well as staff reductions.

“The decision by the Board of Trustees was an extremely difficult one to make,” said Jacqui Fiske Lazo, Chair of the Library’s Board of Trustees.  “We understand the importance of our public libraries to individuals and to the community.  After more than a year of study and deliberations, however, we determined that it was necessary to take these actions.”

Now, more than ever, support and advocacy efforts of the public are essential to the long term health and maintenance of the Library system. Libraries are publicly funded. In fact, more than 80% of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s budget comes from local and state sources. We urge our customers to advocate for public and elected officials to develop long-term, sustainable funding.

For information on advocacy and what you can do to help please click here.

To read the press release please click here.

Pennsylvania Library Funding Remains at Risk with Latest Budget Agreement

The current proposed budget agreement includes steep cuts to public library funding.  Under the “Three-Caucus Budget Deal”:

Direct funding for local libraries will be cut by one-third; and,

Overall library funding—all programs—will be cut by 38%.

There is still time to make your voice heard.  Your advocacy today and for the balance of the week can be crucial:

1.Email your state senator, state representative and Governor Rendell — and find three others to do the same.

2.Call your State Senator, your State Representative and Governor Rendell and voice your opposition to the Three-Caucus Deal.

Visit our Advocacy page to locate your state elected officials.  Details about the proposed plan are available at www.palibraries.org (click on “State Budget Update, September 14, 2009”)

Town Hall Meeting Update

In July, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh convened three town hall meetings to address current and future funding issues. Nearly 400 people attended the meetings and demonstrated support for the Library and its mission to engage the community in literacy and learning. The Town Hall meetings generated comments and suggestions for mapping the future of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. All comments and suggestions are being considered as the Library crafts recommendations for the best ways to serve the region in the face of declining revenues.

Click on the links below to read the Town Hall meeting notes and the press release.

Town Hall meeting press release

Town Hall meeting notes

Operating Dollars vs. Building Dollars

A common question is about why Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh spends money to renovate buildings yet faces a shortage of dollars to keep our buildings, our programs and our staff at their current levels.

Funding for operations (service hours, programs, materials and salaries) comes from a different source than funding for construction and renovation. Much of the funding for construction and renovations come from bonds and grants specifically designated for buildings. These funds cannot be used for operating expenses such as salaries .

In 2000, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) began a capital improvement program with the intent of renovating/renewing the full system. The locations chosen to be renovated first were ones that had the highest percentage of county use, since the initial funding was from a county bond issue. The next set of renovations were based on opportunities that arose for public funding and support. At the time, the order of the renovations did not seem to matter, since the Library’s intent was to renew the entire system.

The renovated locations are actually more efficient to run and in the long run, save operating dollars. In addition they allow the Library to provide better services .

As our 2007 – 2011 Strategic Plan indicates, the Library has realized for some time the need to review the services and locations we offer in order to best serve the community with the funding that we have. With both types of funding limited – that for buildings and renovations (capital) and that for hours, staff and materials (operations) – we know we face some tough decisions.

Pittsburgh Protect Your Library

This morning Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh introduced a new campaign, Pittsburgh Protect Your Library, that was developed as a grassroots effort to remind customers to advocate for their library.  Each location will soon receive  “Pittsburgh Protect YOUR Library” buttons and business cards to share with customers and advocates.

Pittsburgh Protect Your Library by doing any or all of these three things:

You can help your library by doing one or all of these things. Please remember that we also welcome your comments, suggestions and questions about the Library’s advocacy efforts ongoing efforts to protect and sustain Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh well into the future.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Schedules ‘Town Hall’ Meetings

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Schedules ‘Town Hall’ Meetings

 to Discuss Criteria for Addressing Implications of Funding Cuts


(PITTSBURGH, July 1, 2009) - Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh officials today announced the scheduling of three “town hall” meetings which the public is invited to attend to learn more about the library system’s funding and financial matters that were announced last week.  Last week, the Library reported that it projects a $6 million budget shortfall by 2014 if no changes are made to its current system.   


As it considers options for changes to the system in the process it calls “Libraries for Life: Sustaining Our Future,” the Library is seeking public input. Changes will be recommended to the Library’s Board of Trustees by September and begin to be implemented for the 2010 budget year.


The 90-minute “town hall” meetings will include a brief presentation, as well as an opportunity for individuals to express what is important to them in terms of Library service.



WHO:       Hosted by the leadership of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and moderated by representatives from the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh.


WHAT:    A brief program will be presented outlining the financial situation faced by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  Individuals are encouraged to
                  comment about Library services.


WHEN &       Thursday, July 16 at 7:00 p.m.
WHERE:       CLP - Main; Lecture Hall, 4400 Forbes Avenue

                        Saturday, July 18, at 10 a.m.
                        Carrick High School; Auditorium, 125 Parkfield Street

                         Tuesday, July 21 at 7:00 p.m.
                        CCAC-Allegheny Campus; SSC Auditorium, 808 Ridge Avenue

Statement from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Regarding Governor’s Rendell’s Proposed 2009-10 Fiscal Year Budget

Statement from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Regarding Governor Rendell’s Proposed 2009-10 Fiscal Year Budget:


(Pittsburgh - June 29, 2009) Governor Rendell’s latest budget proposal, announced June 26, makes additional cuts to the Public Library Subsidy that equates to a $9.25 million loss of revenue. This would mean an approximate reduction in funding of more than $600,000 for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. That’s the equivalent of what it costs the Library to operate two mid-sized branches on an annual basis.  The revenue loss also equates to the money the Library spends on nonfiction books for the resource collections at CLP - Main in Oakland or having a children’s librarian in every Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh neighborhood library. 

These cuts will be devastating at a time when people are using libraries more than ever before and relying on the libraries for critical services such as applying for jobs and unemployment and finding health care and social services referrals.

Libraries are more than books. They are the foundation of the educational system in our country; they are community anchors and engines for community economic development.

This budget cut, while not completely unexpected, is happening at a time when local funding for libraries is also constrained. The majority of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s revenue comes from sales tax, which is also down in this poor economy. Since Andrew Carnegie did not endow the Library, it relies on public and private funding for annual operations as well as capital improvements. With all of these constraints, what was meant to be “free to the people” is going to have a hard time surviving.

Libraries are a vital asset. We need to agree that library funding should be protected. Tell the Governor and your state elected officials NO to library funding cuts.

The bottom line is that if we do not receive the necessary funding to operate our library system, or are not able to immediately secure new sources of revenue to close the gap or shortfall in our budgets, we will be forced to cut services, programs and potentially branches, the last thing we want to do at a time when people are using their libraries more than ever before.


Governor Rendell Announces Latest Cuts

Governor Rendell Announces Latest Round of Cuts, Reduces Proposed Budget by Another $500 Million

 HARRISBURG – Governor Edward G. Rendell today released a list of cuts totaling $500 million to his proposed 2009-10 fiscal year budget. Combined with more than $500 million in spending eliminated during the current fiscal year, plus other reductions that he previously announced to his projected budget, the Governor has now trimmed $2 billion from state spending during the current national economic downturn.

“Like so many of the cutbacks that we have made before, these reductions are painful to me and I understand they will be painful to the people who benefit from the affected programs. But the reductions are necessary,” Governor Rendell said. “I want Pennsylvanians to know that we continue trying to spread the burden of balancing our budget as fairly and evenly as possible.

“This proposal cuts or completely eliminates nearly 80 percent of all General Fund budget lines from their current level in the budget that was signed into law last July. Twenty-six percent of all budget lines are completely eliminated and of the remaining appropriations that we propose to fund, 70 percent will be reduced from their 2008-09 enacted budget levels,” the Governor said. “We cut further, accepted or partially accepted 53 percent of the cuts that were proposed in Senate Bill 850.”

Overall, 229 line items would be impacted by the latest round of spending reductions. Compared to the current fiscal year, the Governor has now cut three out of every four line items, totally eliminating 163 of them and reducing another 328.

While making the cuts, the Governor preserved funding for K-12 education, economic development programs that are crucial to helping the state pull out of the recession, and key social safety net programs. He avoided actions that could lead to higher property taxes at the local level, or the elimination of services to the most vulnerable citizens of the state.

In addition to further across-the-board reductions to General Government Operations lines for state agencies, the Governor also:

“I remain committed to adequate support for the programs that are an essential investment in our future and that will improve our economy over the long term,” Governor Rendell said.

The Governor also announced that Pennsylvania will submit its federal stimulus State Fiscal Stabilization Fund application today, prior to the June 30 deadline. Of Pennsylvania’s total 2009-10 allocation of $953 million, the application uses approximately 18 percent, as allowed by federal law, to provide general budget relief ($173 million to help meet mandated correction costs).  The remainder is intended for education, and the state will dedicate:

The federal application can be amended when the final state budget is enacted.

News Release June 22nd 2009

Funding Outlook Threatens Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s

 System of Programs and Branches


Financial Gap May Require Cuts in Services and Locations


Public Input and Support Sought in Upcoming Town Hall Meetings


PITTSBURGH, June 22, 2009 – Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh officials said today that the Library projects a $6 million shortfall by 2014 if no changes are made to its current system in terms of projected funding and operating expense.   

Jacqui Fiske Lazo, Board Chair and Dr. Barbara K. Mistick, President and Director, briefed library employees and local media about the Library’s financial outlook.  The projected $6 million deficit represents 26 percent of the Library’s current $23 million operating budget.  Despite ongoing efficiency measures, including reducing the 2009 budget by 10%, the Library is at a point where it can no longer sustain current operations with the revenue it receives.   

“On the horizon, the library system’s major sources of funding are compromised as the Allegheny County Regional Asset District and state government are expected to either keep level or reduce their current financial commitments to the City’s library system,” said Board Chair Jacqui Fiske Lazo. “In addition, given the state of the economy, we also anticipate declines in endowment income and support from other private donors.  Our Board of Trustees and the Library’s management team are on top of this issue.  This will be a difficult, but necessary process that is intended to protect the quality of a great asset to our region,” added Ms. Fiske Lazo.

“We’re taking a proactive approach,” said Dr. Barbara K. Mistick, President and Director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  “For the past several years we have closely monitored the budget situation. This is not a new problem, but is now one that is becoming more difficult to overcome by simply trimming expenses each year.  Our goal is to get ahead of this problem as it threatens our system of services and branches.  The last thing we want to do is close a library branch.”  

“We are reviewing every possible action we can take to realize a lower cost structure, including assessing people, programs and places within our system in a manner that protects the high quality of our services,” added Dr. Mistick.

Approximately 92% of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s 2009 annual operating budget is derived from public or government sources. The Allegheny County Regional Asset District (RAD), which will provide an estimated 72% of the system’s revenue in 2009, administers a portion of the County’s sales tax revenues, which fluctuate year-to-year.  Funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania currently accounts for approximately 20% of annual operating revenue; the remaining 8% is derived from a combination of fund-raising, earned income on investments and the City of Pittsburgh.

In recent years, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has commenced a fund-raising program aimed at supporting annual operating expenses.  These contributions amount to approximately 4% of the system’s total funding. 

As it considers options for changes to the system, the Library is seeking public input on the criteria that could be used to make decisions. Changes will be recommended to the Library’s Board of Trustees by September and begin to be implemented for the 2010 budget year.

Public Input and Support Sought in Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

The public is invited to attend any of three “town hall” meetings titled “Libraries for Life: Sustaining Our Future.” These meetings will take place in July at centrally-located sites in the City.  These are planned to be 90-minute meetings that will include a brief presentation, as well as an opportunity for individuals to voice their opinions on how the Library could maintain its high standards while reducing costs.  More details of these events, including meeting dates, times and locations, will be announced within the next week. In addition, the Library is encouraging ongoing advocacy to Library funders on behalf of the Library as well as individual financial support.

“No matter what the circumstances are from a financial standpoint, our goal remains to fulfill the library’s mission of engaging our community in literacy and learning,” said Dr. Mistick.  “The engraved stone above the entrance of the Library’s Main branch in Oakland says ‘Free to the people’ and that’s a commitment we must keep. But great Library services comes at a cost, and now we must find new ways to assure Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is free, open and accessible.”

In 1895, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie dedicated the Main library of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and proclaimed it “free to the people.”  While he provided the seed money to build the first public library to bear his name in Pittsburgh, he did not endow its on-going costs, as he believed the community and local government should take ownership and responsibility for such a valuable community asset.  For many years, the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided operating revenue for Pittsburgh’s libraries.  In 1994, the Allegheny Regional Asset District was created and became the major source of annual operating funds, thus reducing the role of funding by local government.  On average 70% of the Library’s annual operating funds come from sales tax revenue distributed by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

In 2004, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh began to fundraise actively to support a capital improvement program to address its aging facilities.  The campaign recently capped off a $55 million goal in which these funds were dedicated to the renovation of nearly one-half of the libraries facilities. 


To learn more about Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, please visit www.carnegielibrary.org.

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