Library officials looking for community input
Carnegie Library representatives attended the June meeting of Carrick Community Council and heard more than a dozen comments and questions regarding the concept of merging the Knoxville and Carrick libraries at a new site, one that has not yet been chosen.
Plans to close branches in Beechview, Lawrenceville, Hazelwood and West End were halted when library officials received offers from the city regarding emergency funding and help came from other funding sources. However, library reps still wanted to know how communities felt about closing Carrick and Knoxville branches and merging somewhere else.
Mary Frances Cooper, library deputy director, brought along assistant director for neighborhood libraries Mary Monaghan, Carrick branch manager Julia Kuchta and community engagement coordinator Maggie McFalls. Ms. Cooper said Carnegie Library was considering building a "big, beautiful" state-of-the-art facility.
The library board had previously announced deferring the four branch closings at least until 2011 but also said at that time that they would still consider the Carrick-Knoxville merger.
Ms. Cooper said this was one of several meetings that would be held on the subject of construction. Carnegie Library also plans to obtain input from Mount Oliver, Knoxville, Bon Air and Overbrook.
"These summer workshops, these brainstorming sessions will help us do the best thing to serve the community," Ms. Cooper said.
"No location has been selected yet. Ideally, it would be less expensive to build a full-service facility from scratch. If you have a site you want us to know about or if you have a building you want us to consider rehabilitating, let us know.
"If we merged and had a full-service library we'd be open a lot more hours…The staffing needs are unclear. But we have a great staff at both libraries," she said.
"What will you do with the old library buildings?" someone asked. "They belong to the city of Pittsburgh. We know that is a concern that is important to people," Ms. Cooper responded.
Another person asked that the local historical society be allowed to continue mounting displays at any new location.
Ms. Cooper also said the proposed merging of Carrick and Knoxville and the proposed moving of the Mount Washington branch were both suggested as part of an effort to reach more people.
However, some Mount Washington residents are adamantly opposed to such a move for their branch. "There is a lot of sentiment there for the current location."
After the meeting Ms. McFalls announced Carnegie Library's schedule of meetings with Hilltop neighborhoods. She said her officials have already met with the Hilltop Economic Development Corp ., the Carrick Business Association and the Carrick Community Council. A meeting was scheduled with the Upper Knoxville Block Watch at 7 p.m. June 17.
Meetings are also being arranged with the Mount Oliver borough council, the Bon Air Community Council, Overbrook Community Council and several subcommittees of the Hilltop Alliance.
She said Carnegie Library will continue to announce the locations and times for community workshops happening across the city. "We encourage residents from every neighborhood to come out and participate in a conversation about the future of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh," Ms. McFalls said.
For information visit the website at www.carnegie library.org/future Any questions can be directed to Ms. McFall. Her phone number is: 412 622-8877.
Another guest speaker was school board member Jean Fink who discussed a proposal for the redistricting of Concord K-5 and Roosevelt PreK-5. The reason for the changes are so students who live close to Roosevelt can go there and those who live close to Concord can go there. Most Overbrook students would go to Concord.
"The board has not voted on this yet. I do want to talk to my colleagues…There will be plenty of opportunities for public comment at hearings…This idea works, is logical and reduces the cost of transportation…This will reduce overcrowding at Roosevelt. I think it will work out really well… "Students who are in their last year at an existing school would finish that year."
She said anyone wanting more details on the plan could contact the schools or call the board office at 412-622-3770.
As they did last month, community council members promoted the Corn Fest to be held Aug. 21 at Phillips Park. John Rudiak spoke of the diversity of music – such as the Carrick High School band, rock, jazz, blues, funk, alternative music, swing, Irish dancing and Bhutanese dancing.
"If you don't like what you are hearing, wait ten minutes and you will hear something that you will like better," Mr. Rudiak said.