City Council Seeks To Keep Carnegie Library Branches Open

Updated:

The Pittsburgh City Council plans to announce legislation today that would give the Carnegie Library an additional $640,000 in funding to keep all of its branches open through the end of the year.

The $640,000 would be in addition to the $600,000 the council approved in November. Library officials are counting on the money as part of their $24.3 million operating budget this year.

Channel 11 News obtained a letter sent by the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Library to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. The letter acknowledges that the city is facing tough times financially, but the trustees said they're hoping for his efforts for the 2010 year and beyond. They also said they realize that the $1 million they were promised to get from a proposed tuition tax is now off the table.

Meanwhile, council members questioned the mayor's dedication to helping fund libraries.

The library board voted last year to close branches in Beechview, the West End, Hazelwood and Lawrenceville and merge the Carrick and Knoxville branches due to a lack of funding. Library officials wouldn't say if they would proceed with the branch closings if they did not receive the additional $640,000.

Councilman Doug Shields said the library has still not received the $600,000 the council had promised last year. The library had been counting on the money, he said, adding he believes the public wants to see put to good use.

"It's a question of priorities here, what we have to be standing for," Shields said. "And I know that we're strapped for money in a lot of different ways and we can spend money on a lot of different things. But I can't think of one thing that gets more unanimous response from the public, the people we answer to, as to where we want to put that investment."

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