E-readers may be fix library's seeking
Buy 'em some Kindles.
That strategy might be the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's best approach to solving its chronic financial problems, especially if city residents reject next week's ballot question that supporters contend is critical to the 19-branch system's future.
It's on a 0.25-mill property tax hike that would generate about $3.5 million annually for the library system. What would it cost city homeowners• On a property assessed at $100,000, an extra $25 a year.
That's less than the list price of John Grisham's latest hardback, but there are two good reasons why the proposal probably is doomed.
Reason one: Most city residents are aware their taxes support the library, largely through the Allegheny Regional Asset District. Funded by a county sales tax increase in 1994, RAD was supposed to keep the library and other regional attractions permanently on solid financial footing.
That hasn't worked as well as anticipated.
Reason two: People are allowed to attend just one library board of trustees meeting each year, so the levy would amount to taxation without representation. Most Carnegie branches probably have several tomes detailing how well such situations go over with the public.
If the referendum fails, what then?
One possibility is to try other recommendations in a Carnegie task force report on library fundraising, released in January. It mentions, for example, pursuing more individual, corporate and foundation donations, and attempting to establish an endowment.
Those suggestions are so stunningly obvious as to be virtually useless. It's akin to saying you should try to raise money by trying to raise more money.
Another possibility is a more radical use of the library's RAD money. Perhaps the Carnegie should ditch many of its branches and simply purchase e-readers for the folks who no longer could visit their local libraries.
A far-fetched proposal• Not from a financial perspective.
For nearly the same $23.9 million it costs to operate the system this year, the Carnegie could purchase a $79 Amazon Kindle for nearly each of the city's 305,000 people -- even those too young to read, or those who prefer watching "Two and a Half Men" to reading "The Three Musketeers."
The bargain-end Kindles subject readers to advertisements and sponsored screensavers. But it's possible to download on them myriad classic books and pay the same amount as you would if you physically checked them out -- nothing.
People probably would have to trek to an actual library if they wanted to read Grisham for free. But the Kindles would enable the Carnegie to cut building maintenance, utility and staffing costs while maintaining free access to voluminous amounts of reading material.
It's far from a perfect solution, but so is the referendum.
Sometimes you have to think outside the book.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Capitals dominate overmatched Penguins, 4-0
- Latrobe earns return trip to WPIAL Class AAA wrestling semifinals
- Breen’s long passes key to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic’s fast break
- Lapierre eager to make mark with Penguins
- Penn Hills man charged in robbery of The Exchange in Ross
- HS highlight reel: PIAA approves Clairton sanctions
- High school roundup: No. 3 North Allegheny takes down Canon-Mac
- Gorman: Big 33 streak one to savor
- Greensburg athletes of the week: Uniontown’s Joe Campbell, Greensburg Salem’s Claire Oberdorf
- Dixon vows to fix Pitt’s long-distance dilemma
- Ex-Aliquippa, Pitt star Revis finally realizes Super Bowl dream