South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

 
 

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Library heralds successes at city-wide meeting held at the South Side Branch

 


Informal meetings held recently in the South Side and North Side, and sponsored by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP)’s board of trustees, allowed the community to learn about the current and future plans of the library.

In her slide presentation on Sept. 19 at CLP-South Side, Mary Frances Cooper, president and director of the Carnegie libraries, heralded its successes: summer reading program; children’s and family programs; people of all ages reading in the library; and the projected 2013 revenues.

The highlights of the latter are $19.1 million from the county Regional Asset District (RAD) tax; and $3.9 million from the city’s new library tax.

The RAD tax accounts for 64.6 percent of total projected revenues, and the library tax for 13.2 percent.

The 2013 projected expenses include $17 million for salaries and benefits, and $4.1 million for library collections.

Among the year’s priorities are increased outreach to preschools; expanded laptops and eResources; and the addition of staff and hours to teen services.

Expanded library hours to 8 p.m. resulted in an average week of 945.5 hours in 2013 compared to 866.5 hours last year, and 748.5 hours in 2011.

Ms. Cooper said a focus in the strategic plan is staff and organizational culture, which includes a well-informed, diverse staff with the skills and resources needed to provide high-quality library experiences.

Another focus is the library in a changing world of information, resulting in collections in multiple formats, and opportunities to learn the technology needed for home, work, or school.

“The labs create opportunities for kids to use technology to explore their creativity.

“Technology infuses everything we do,” Ms. Cooper said, citing the iPads used in elementary story time, and the eiNetwork which connects all the Allegheny County libraries.

The computer libraries may also be used to apply for jobs.

The county libraries have 1,400 public computers at more than 70 locations.

Regarding the potential merging of the Carrick and Knoxville branches into one building, Ms. Cooper said they have been looking the last three years for a great location along Brownsville Rd. and about midway between the two communities.

The only suitable locations they found involved combining multiple parcels, and not all were for sale, she said.

Officials are now taking time to see what can be done at the two current sites.

In other news, the CLP pop-up library opened in Allentown earlier this year, and will run through Feb. 24, 2014.

It is located in a storefront at 1206 Arlington Ave ., next to the Zone 3 police station. The library is a project of CLP’s Library in Your Neighborhood Community and Schools (LYNCS).

Allentown/Beltzhoover area residents will find library services like programs, a small collection of books and magazines, laptops and printers, audio books and DVDs, and a forum for social interaction and learning within walking distance.

The CLP is also conducting literacy programs in the county jail.

The libraries’ involvement in the community extends to setting up booths at public gatherings, such as at high schools.

On Aug. 6, the CLP-South Side held family-oriented activities during its celebration of National Night Out.

Funding and contributions come from six prime sources: individual support, RAD support, corporate and foundation support, tax incentives, voter initiative, and endowment campaign.

The 2013 fundraising goal is $2.6 million.

The Allegheny County Library Association consists of 45 libraries.

To spread the word about its myriad of programs, the multi-media advertising campaign involves radio, TV, web ads, direct mail, and social media.

In the question-and-answer period that followed and was conducted by CLP trustee Kim Clark, chair of the board’s external relations committee, an attendee asked about the library’s Hazelwood branch. The library is open at its current site at 4901 Second Ave ., which is rented space.

In spring, 2014, a new library will open three blocks from the current site in the vacant Hazelwood Presbyterian Church building on Second Ave. Renovations began last week. Heinz Endowments are funding the project.

To Ms. Clark’s question of what would residents like to see done in the future, an attendee suggested CLP making better connections with the public schools.

CLP Board member Barbara Logan concluded the presentation citing the innovative Word Play posters in transit shelters throughout the city.

In Word Play, child-friendly public art provides images and words designed to serve as starting points for children and parents for having fun with words, sharing observations, comparing and contrasting pictures, and making up stories about them.

In the South Side, Word Play posters can be found at bus shelters at Carson and 22nd streets, and at 18th and Mt. Oliver streets. They are also in all of the CLP branches, and in some childcare facilities.

 

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