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Bridgeville and South Fayette libraries to combine operations

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Bridgeville and South Fayette library officials are looking at ways to combine operational tasks, now that the South Fayette Township Library is poised to take over managing the struggling Bridgeville facility in 2014.

“I know there is some sadness,” Bridge­ville trustees board President Becky Wisbon said of this week's agreement between libraries in the neighboring towns. “It is with me as well. But this is an important time for the future of the Bridgeville Public Library.”

Bridgeville's library board still will own and maintain responsibility for the $4 million building that opened in 2011, replacing a smaller library in a former train station.

But the agreement that board members approved, 4-1, on Tuesday means South Fayette's library will handle day-to-day operations in Bridgeville for one year. Rebecca Long, director of the South Fayette library in the township's municipal building, will oversee both operations. The Bridgeville director's post held by Donna Taylor, who was paid $48,811 in 2012, will be eliminated.

“Looking at the processes we're going to combine, that will lead us to look at what kind of people and jobs and so forth we're going to need,” said Bob Millacci, president of South Fayette's library board.

Marilyn Jenkins, the Allegheny County Library Association's executive director, said the agreement parallels one between the Sto-Rox Library and Sewickley Public Library.

“Both (Bridgeville and South Fayette) communities have been wrestling with their own kind of issues independently,” Jenkins said. “It's our role to help connect libraries across the county.”

The Bridgeville library's expenses were budgeted at $360,047 for 2013, and reached $357,508 by Oct. 31. Net income through the same period was $48,535. The library has been in the red eight of 10 months this year and circulation is down by about 6,500 items from last year.

Jenkins said the agreement won't affect Allegheny Regional Asset District funding from the county's sales tax, which is distributed to libraries based on circulation numbers.

Mike Jones, a South Fayette library board member, said jobs likely won't move from Bridgeville to the township library. Both facilities list eight paid employees.

Bridgeville's library reduced operating hours and staff last year, and slashed its operating budget from $400,000 to $200,000. But Wisbon said the library's finances have stabilized and weren't a deciding factor in the agreement.

Board member Pauline Bognartz cast the lone vote against the agreement.

“We're giving the impression to the people of Bridgeville that we've given up — that it's so bad that we can't handle it anymore. That's not true,” she said.

Board member Mike Aqulina abstained because he is related to a library clerk, Rosemary Aquilina; board member John Oyler resigned as of Nov. 8.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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