small text medium text large text

A Community Conversation

For the past eight months, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the community have been working together to find options for sustainability.

In May and July, community members, stakeholders and Library staff and board came together in a series of open discussions about the Library's future. To date, 1,000 people have contributed to the dialogue by attending workshops and providing feedback through online surveys.

The Library's three-part Community Conversation Workshop series is enabling staff and board members to understand the needs and priorities of library users. At the same time, the public has the opportunity to learn about the constraints of limited public funding for critical library services and weigh in on the crisis.

In May, workshop participants identified the challenges and opportunities facing the Library. From there, library users, staff, board members and members of a Public-Private Task Force on Sustainable Funding developed ideas to address those challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. Collections, hours, locations, programming, outreach and digital needs were identified as core areas of service that could be adjusted depending on customer needs and the availability of resources and funding. The July workshops tested those ideas and tasked the community to consider potential funding scenarios, review the service areas, and to think about the types of choices that may be required to respond to changing customer needs and fluctuating revenues.

With approximately 90% of the Library's annual operating revenue derived from public or government sources, funding fluctuates over time and is especially hard hit during challenging economic times. Finding sustainable sources of funding is critical to ensuring the long-term financial and operational health of the system. Community input is critical as the Library considers funding options and service delivery choices.

Schedule for Community Conversation (Part Three) Workshops

A third and final set of workshops will be held to refine the ideas with the most promise and explore potential directions for the future. Join the conversation!

Saturday, September 18 | 10 am - Noon
St. Catherine of Siena Church • 1915 Broadway Avenue, 15216 • Across from CLP - Beechview

Saturday, September 18 | 2 - 4 pm
Providence Family Support Center • 3113 Brighton Road, 15212 • At the intersection of Brighton Rd. and Schimmer St. near CLP-Woods Run.

Sunday, September 19 | 2 - 4 pm
CLP - Squirrel Hill • 5801 Forbes Avenue, 15217

Monday, September 20 | 6 - 8 pm
CLP - Downtown & Business • 612 Smithfield Street, 15222

What Participants are Saying

"The phrase FREE TO THE PEOPLE is carved in stone over the door of the Carnegie Library's Main Branch in Oakland, but we know it isn't true. Carnegie, like many philanthropists, was content to build an edifice, but he intended the gift to precipitate a matching commitment from the community for its maintenance and operation. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has not remained carved in stone for a century, but has evolved and grown and struggled to remain a lighthouse for the very legacy of public libraries. This service to our city has come at a price, currently borne in largest part by the RAD sales tax, but also supported by fitful measures from city and state."

"Hard decisions lie ahead for our Carnegie Library. Their roads of community service and infrastructure may diverge, in the yellow wood of financial downturn. We may be sorry they could not travel both. Those who use the wonderful library should enter the discussion. Only this way can our leaders retake the measure of our commitment to remaining a city where people can use a wonderful library. Let's take the road of excellence less traveled by, and that will make all the difference."

"I think I read that in a book."

Excerpted from an essay submitted by library customer David Malehorn, PhD.