Natalia Rudiak received this eloquent essay and research from a soon-to-be Beechview constituent. She did not yet verified this information, but the citations are listed below. Please feel free to share with your networks.This came from N.R.'s Facebook page. The author is unknown to me now. I'll ask.
"I and my neighbors are dismayed by the apparent inequity of closing our library and those in other less affluent neighborhoods. In my correspondence with the RAD Board I questioned the rationale and criteria used to determine which branches were to close. It seems as though community libraries like Squirrel Hill's were never in any danger even though they are so very close to the Main Library and have ample and direct bus service to and from that location. Their library is also open 7 days a week compared to Beechview's 5 days. The Squirrel Hill branch is also open 52 hours per week compared to Beechview's 37 hours. When I expanded my research to include some of the other locations earmarked for closure, the number of hours and days per week are very similar. In addition, the number of available hours on evenings and weekends is similarly lopsided. Squirrel Hill's library has 45-60% more evening and weekend hours than those libraries due to close. This is especially important if overall library usage was used as one of the criterion for closures. With such a disparity of hours of operation and especially those on evenings and weekends, is it any wonder that a branch such as Squirrel Hills has more usage?
"Their square footage is also larger and the additional resources within also impact usage. The Carnegie Library has recently added an outdoor scrolling message board to the Squirrel Hill branch. In the face of impending funding shortfalls and economic troubles, it seems extravagant to be adding a sign yet completely closing branches in other communities.
"With the announcement of branch closings, the Carnegie Library mentioned that neighborhoods losing their branches were close to other branches -- like Brookline's branch to Beechview (1.5 to 2 miles away with no direct public transportation). If proximity to other branches was another primary criterium, then why, with Squirrel Hill about a half a mile away from the Main Library, were they not more strongly considered? It appears as though CONVENIENCE is an option for communities like Squirrel Hill, but not for smaller and less wealthy neighborhoods.
"I have nothing against Squirrel Hill, their residents or library users, but I don't feel like the playing ground is a level one. Looking back over the last few years on the tens of millions of dollars that the Carnegie Library Board has spent on expansions and renovations on many of its branches, it appears like these closings may have been planned for quite some time. I don't know whether or not any of the libraries planning to be closed were those receiving renovations or expansion, though it wouldn't be hard to find out.
“With the Board's acknowledgment of funding shortfalls that they knew and admit were coming about -- these multimillion dollar expenditures are in hindsight foolish and irresponsible. The Carnegie Library Board is made up of well-compensated smart people who now appear to be shrugging their shoulders and acting like these events were totally unforeseen. This is a stretch at best.
"One of Andrew Carnegie's primary goals when establishing the libraries was for the "improvement of the poorer classes." If this is an ongoing importance to the Carnegie Library, then these closures make no sense whatsoever. It seems that the values and goals which were once so vital to the heart of the library mission are no longer an issue. Communities like Beechview, Hazelwood, West End, Lawrenceville and Carrick are exactly the type of areas public libraries are intended. No one would argue that more affluent communities like Squirrel Hill have more options and resources available to them when compared to these other neighborhoods, yet it is the very communities that need this resource the most and have fewer options which are asked to do without. Somehow, the Carnegie Board has lost its clarity of purpose and direction.
"This is yet another devastating blow to Beechview residents. Having endured the many losses of businesses and the URA debacle with Bernardo Katz, Beechview needs some true support and not the loss of another community resource. It seems as though our tax dollars rarely, if ever, find their way back as reinvestments in our community. However, it feels as though whenever the city needs to make cuts or look for cost-savings, then Beechview magically appears at the top of the list.
"Here are the library hours information that I paraphrased. When you look at these numbers, it isn't hard to see how usage numbers can be easily skewed or slanted to damn some libraries and protect others. I'm starting to think that Beechview residents should petition for a reduced tax rate given that city, county and state funds seem to be concentrated elsewhere. If the mayor would ever respond to any questions, I would like to ask him to name just one thing that he's done to 'specifically' help Beechview. What it boils down to is; in these difficult economic times, what are more affluent neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill losing when it seems as though other neighborhoods like Beechview and Hazelwood are losing so much?
“Please note that I revised my distance numbers for the distance from Squirrel Hill to the Main Branch, as I was using the 'half-mile' distance I read from a Post-Gazette article and I wanted to verify.
Beechview Library Branch:
Open 5 days/week (closed Fri. & Sun.)
37 total hrs/week (9 hrs evenings & weekend)
1.35 miles from Brookline Branch(Library to library location)(No public transportation between neighborhoods and must cross major/dangerous W. Liberty Ave. intersection)
Hazelwood Library Branch:
Open 5 days/week (closed Mon. & Sun.),
36 total hours/week (10 hrs evenings & weekend)
2.7 miles from Squirrel Hill Branch or 2.69 miles from South Side Branch
Carrick Library Branch:
Open 5 days/week (closed Mon. & Sun.)
37 total hours/week (8 hrs evenings & weekend)
1.22 miles from Knoxville Branch(Bus service available - 51C)
Lawrenceville Library Branch:
Open 5 days/week (closed Fri. & Sun.)
39 total hrs/week (only 7 hrs evenings & weekend)
1.94 miles to East Liberty Branch(Bus service available - 86B or 91A w/transfer to 500)
West End Library Branch:
Open 4 days/week (closed Mon., Fri. & Sun.)
26 total hours/week (only 8 hrs evenings & weekend)
2.01 miles from Sheraden Branch (Bus service available - 26A, 26D)
Squirrel Hill Library Branch:
Open 7 days/week,
52 total hours/week (14 hours evenings & weekend)
1.67 miles to Main Branch(14 blocks)(Library to Library location) (Bus service available - 59U, 61A, 61B, 61C)
“This hours of operation information is based upon information posted on www.clpgh.org and distances from mapquest.com. I've defined evening hours as 6:00 p.m. and beyond. The bus routes are from calls to PAT Transit's Customer Service Phoneline.
"You may definitely use this information in anyway that you feel will help the cause. It is not necessary to be credited at all. My benefit will be when we save our library and that's all I'm interested in."
I'm wondering where Glenn Walsh is on this issue? Did he just give up on the city?