This Independence Day, supporters of Our Library, Our Future, a voter initiative for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, celebrated by remembering the democratic principles on which the library was founded.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was established in 1895 with seed money provided by Andrew Carnegie, a frequent supporter of philanthropic causes. Mr. Carnegie believed the library was essential to community growth and maintained the philosophy that those most willing to help themselves deserved the help of others. However, his generosity did not include an endowment to finance the ongoing costs of day-to-day operations.
"Thomas Jefferson believed that knowledge was the foundation of freedom and happiness. With more than 2 million visitors every year, we know that both education and democracy are important to our community," said Mary Frances Cooper, deputy director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. "The library plays a critical role in providing equal access to information for all. In order to remain strong and provide this access, the library needs to find additional sources of funding."
Early last month, more than 300 people joined together to launch the Our Library, Our Future voter-initiative, with many recounting first-hand experiences to raise awareness about the need to provide financial support for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the critical services that the library provides. Those services include early learning programs for children and families, job search assistance and computer and Internet access. This initiative gives voters the opportunity to make their voices heard and vote on whether dedicated funding support should be provided to the library.
Over the years, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has served as far more than just a landmark for the city and surrounding community. The library has remained committed to inspiring citizens to respect and pursue American values such as life-long learning, citizenship and civic participation. Much like the signers of the Declaration of Independence, the library has helped foster an independent and free society by providing citizens with essential informational tools that promote democratic values. As the cradle of our Democracy, the Library deserves great recognition on Independence Day.
"It warms my heart to celebrate the library's role in democracy. I bring my two children, Maya and Roman, to the library all the time, and we recently checked out a few history books to learn more about our Nation's independence," says Suzy Scherf, library user and spokesperson for the Our Library, Our Future initiative. "Thanks to the library, my children can learn what it means to grow up in a democratic and free society, and I'm proud to belong to a place that continues to fulfill this valuable promise."
The Our Library, Our Future voter initiative is just one of six solutions recommended by the Task Force on Sustainable Library Funding to provide Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh with the diverse and sustained funding it needs.
The initiative will ask voters to put a referendum question on the November 2011 ballot for a 0.25 mill special tax (the equivalent of $25 per year or $2.09 per month on $100,000 of assessed value) on all taxable real estate in the City of Pittsburgh to be allocated and used only for the operation and maintenance of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.