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Bridgeville library board accepts operations takeover by South Fayette

Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 1:33 p.m.
 

Struggling Bridgeville Public Library will get a financial lift from nearby South Fayette, where library officials agreed to take over day-to-day operations next year.

The Bridgeville library has struggled with budget issues since opening the $4 million building on McMillan Road in 2011, replacing a smaller library in a former train station.

“I know there is some sadness,” Becky Wisbon, president of the Bridgeville Public Library board of trustees, said of the move. “It is with me as well. But this is an important time for the future of the Bridgeville Public Library.”

The Bridgeville Library Board on Tuesday approved a measure allowing South Fayette to take over management of the facility in 2014 for a one-year term. The board of trustees voted 4-1 with one abstention to enter into a managed services agreement with the South Fayette Township Library.

Board member Pauline Bognartz voted against the motion. Mike Aqulina abstained. Board members Bill O'Connor, Cindy Ghelarducci, Patte Kelley and Wisbon voted in favor of the agreement. Board member John Oyler resigned from the board effective Nov. 8.

The agreement will allow South Fayette to take over day-to-day operations in Bridgeville, though Bridgeville will retain ownership and responsibility for the building.

Patrons of the Bridgeville Library may not notice many changes, officials said, except for greater use of technology at the facility.

South Fayette library Director Rebecca Long will act as director for both libraries.

South Fayette board President Bob Millacci said the next months will focus on looking at processes at the library.

“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,” he said.

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

“Both communities have been wrestling with their own kind of issues independently,” she said. “It's our role to help connect libraries across the county.”

Jenkins said the agreement will not affect Regional Asset District funding, which is distributed to libraries based on circulation numbers. She said both libraries remain independent, and statistics will be tracked independently.

Bridgeville's executive director position, held by Donna Taylor, will be eliminated. Taylor made $48,811 in 2012. South Fayette board member Mike Jones said jobs should not be moved from Bridgeville to South Fayette.

The library lists eight staff members, including Taylor and fundraising coordinator Joyce Heinrich.

Heinrich said Tuesday night she has been reducing her hours each week and is now works between eight and 10 hours. She said next year, she will work on an as-needed basis.

South Fayette also lists eight paid staff members, including Long.

Wisbon said communication had become an issue.

She said 11 months into the current board's term, it became evident the board needed to explore other options to stay afloat.

In 2012, the library reduced its operating hours and staff to make up for a lack of volunteers and donations. It also slashed its operating budget from $400,000 to $200,000.

Bognartz said she voted “no” because the agreement gives off the wrong impression.

“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.”

Bridgeville library's expenses were budgeted at $360,047 for 2013, and it had reached $357,508 by Oct. 31. Its net income through the same period was $48,535, and it has been in the red eight months this year.

The library's circulation from January to October 2012 was 58,930. Through Oct. 31 this year, its circulation totaled 52,443.

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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