Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Carnegie Library & RAD

Message from Glen Walsh:
The following are excerpts from the grant application, requesting funding from the Allegheny Regional Asset District for The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, for Fiscal Year 2008. I have divided these excerpts into two categories: "Good News" and "Bad News."



Library Capital Improvements $5,382,000

4. ADA Compliance $850,000

Several older and non-renovated branches have ADA compliance issues specific to entrance access points, restrooms, handrails, door hardware, circulation desks, signage, etc. While there are several more branches with ADA compliance issues, Beechview, Mt. Washington, and West End are targeted here since these facilities are unlikely to be fully renovated through the capital improvements program in the near future.

4. HVAC Upgrades $1,500,000 [Note: whoever wrote this grant proposal made the mistake of using the number 4 twice; henee, there are two "number 4" items.]

Several branches are not air-conditioned and other branches have aged systems. The mechanical and electrical infrastructure supporting these upgrades would also need to be upgraded to accomodate the new systems. Work would include but not be limited to electrical service upgrade, roof support, new/existing duct considerations along with the procurement and installation of the systems. Branches considered for this project [GAW Note: Note they use the word "considered"] are Beechview, Lawrenceville, Mt. Washington, South Side, and West End. This investment is considered at this time since these facilities are unlikely to be fully renovated in the near future.

[GAW Note: Note the Carnegie Library news release of Aug. 8, temporaily closing the four historic branches due to lack of air-conditioning, during the very hot


5. New windows $135,000

Windows are original in several branches. To ensure energy efficiency once the HVAC upgrades are completed, new windows are a logical investment. Branches considered for this project are Beechview, Lawrenceville, Mt. Washington, South Side, and West

6. New Overhead Lighting $225,000

New energy efficient lighting is needed to replace 50 year old ceiling mount strip fixtures. Electrical service would need to be upgraded also to accomodate lighting. Branches considered for this project are Beechview, Knoxville, Lawrenceville, and South Side.

7. New Roofs $50,000

Roofs at the Knoxville and Lawrenceville branches are in need of replacement as they are at least 40 years old. Roof replacement will eliminate leaks and related damage.

8. Exterior Repair $90,000

The exterior of the Mt. Washington facility has age-related missing mortar joints and repointing issues which result in water seepage into the building. Power washing and repainting of the library's exterior are needed.

9. Interior Painting $85,000

Interior painting of several branches is overdue. Project anticipates patching, prep work and painting of Beechview, Knoxville, Mt. Washington, South Side, and West End.

10. Restore Ceiling $32,000

Remove dropped acoustical ceiling and restore the West End branch's original ceiling, which has historical and aesthetic value.


Service Points/Facilities

Initiative 2.1
Conduct rightsizing plan to evaluate number and location of library, administrative, shipping and storage facilities.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will launch a Commission on Libraries in 2008 that will explore the factors that influence the success of libraries in urban regions which will be critical to understanding various future scenarios for CLP in the Pittsburgh region. The outcomes from the Commission will assist the Library in evaluating dedicated funding strategies and best practices for libraries and how they might impact the future structure of our Library system.

Initiative 2.2
Complete neighborhood revitalization program to renovate/relocate all eligible CLP facilities, based on rightsizing plan.

Neighborhood Libraries Revitalization

The next renovation project of CLP's capital improvement program is the Hill District Library. Carnegie Library consolidated the two locations in the Hill District (MLK and Dinwiddie Street) and will build its first new Library since the early 1980s at the corner of Centre and Kirkpatrick Street. The official groundbreaking occurred on April 19, 2007 and is likely to reopen late Spring 2008. Another new library on Pittsburgh's North Side will begin construction in early 2008 to replace the Allegheny Regional branch which was permanently closed due to a lightning strike in 2006. Renovations also will begin in late 2008 to CLP's East Liberty branch. As was done with all recent library renovations, a community process is part of the planning. Several public meetings are held to help determine the elements and configuration of each library. The process in the Hill District is complete. The process for both the North Side and East Liberty is underway.


The Good News seems good for some of the historic branches Carnegie Library still operates. However, the word "considered" in several of the proposals is a definite concern. This means that they may or may not institute the proposed improvement for the specified library branches.

Concerns are further amplified by the beginning of some type of Commission on Libraries process that will result in a rightsizing plan, and improvements may then only be "considered" for "eligible" library branches.

Originally, Carnegie Library had planned on a groundbreaking for a new North Side library building [to replace the very historic Allegheny Regional Branch--first *publicly-funded* Carnegie Library in the country, in the neighborhood where Andrew Carnegie grew-up] this Autumn. Now, they say that construction of a new North Side library will begin next Spring.

From everything I have heard [including the Library Director's public comments before City Council in December and the RAD Board last March], Carnegie Library STILL does not have enough private funds to match the State funds they have, in order to build a new library on the North Side. Carnegie Library received a "cardboard check" from the Governor last year, during his re-election campaign, for $7.5 million for the Library system. However, Carnegie Library has to match every penny of that State grant, dollar-for-dollar, to be able to use the State money. As of July, a Carnegie Library staff person told me that the Library has still not raised enough private money to build the new library building.

In the meantime, I have heard that planning meetings "with the community" are ongoing for this new North Side library. However, it seems that these planning meetings, if they exist, are "invitation-only" possibly coordinated by the North Side Leadership
Conference. The general public is not invited to these meetings as several people [including me] might complain that they should reopen the original Allegheny Regional Branch Library--as I and several others did complain at the one public meeting they did have several months ago.

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