| Home

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Carnegie Library administrators explore 5-year plan with no drastic cuts

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Bill Vidonic
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 7:54 p.m.

As publicly funded institutions across the country struggle with budget cuts, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — no stranger to financial turmoil — is about to adopt a five-year financial and development plan that contains no drastic cuts.

Carnegie President and Director Mary Frances Cooper said Saturday that she doesn't expect major cuts or changes with the 2013 budget.

“We are always very careful and prudent,” Cooper said after about 25 people attended a presentation on the plan at the library system's East Liberty branch. “We're working hard to keep costs in line.”

The report, generated after community meetings, contains plenty of ideas but is short on specifics for the 19-branch system that employs nearly 500 full- and part-time workers.

The report recommends implementing a corporate-giving strategy, starting an endowment campaign and other fundraising efforts. Library board President Louis Testoni said Friday that he couldn't talk about an endowment campaign yet, but said, “It will be something (the library system) will be working on more robustly” once the five-year plan is implemented.

“We're always looking to expand the diversity of our funding,” Testoni said.

In 2009, in light of state funding budget cuts, the board began offering employees early retirement, freezing salaries and hiring, and cutting hours at branches, though it scrapped plans to close several branches when the city provided emergency funding. Cooper said some employees took the retirement package, but said on Saturday that he doesn't know the number.

Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, said Saturday that increased funding isn't the answer and that the board should look at a reorganization of the system.

“I'm not sure they've addressed their underlying problem of having too many libraries,” Haulk said. “If people are not going to the library, then maybe they need to eliminate so many full-service branches.”

Most of the new plan, Testoni and Cooper said, lacks specifics because the ideas had to come first.

“We're making sure we are directionally in the right area before we fill in the rest — the goals and places we know where we can get revenues and partnerships,” Testoni said.

There will be a link Monday on the library's website — — to allow final comment on the plan. Testoni said the board will vote on the plan in October.

Under the plan, the library system would implement recommendations from a 2011 Public Private Task Force on Sustainable Funding, including developing tax-incentive programs for corporate and individual donors and finding new funding sources.

Cooper said preliminary numbers for Allegheny Regional Asset District funding should be available later this month, with final approval in November. After that, the library board can vote on a final 2013 budget in December. The general operating budget this year is $27.8 million.

For 2013, the library is asking for $22.3 million in RAD money, or about a 5 percent increase over 2012's funding. The library faces flat state funding at about $3 million, Cooper added.

In November 2011, Pittsburgh residents approved a referendum that levied a 0.25-mill property tax that was expected to generate more than $3 million each year for the library. Cooper said the library has received about 94 percent of that tax money budgeted for 2012.

The money was used to keep libraries open all weekdays and after school, Cooper said, and it also will help with building improvements. Once improvements are completed, Cooper said, that money eventually will go toward the system's general fund.

“We're being very careful with money to make sure we don't overspend, or add costs that'll add layers to additional costs in the future,” Testoni said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Rossi: Nothing huge, but Huntington helped Bucs
  2. 2014 showing has Steelers RB Harris confident he belongs
  3. Suspects in SWAT incident in Pittsburgh identified
  4. Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
  5. Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
  6. Steelers OLB coach Porter teaches as passionately as he played
  7. Inside The Steelers: LB Williams dominates backs-on-backers drill at Latrobe Memorial Stadium
  8. Deadly snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
  9. 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
  10. Pittsburgh police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
  11. College Board alternative pushed