Library Initiative Gets Enough Signatures, To Go On Ballot

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is in need of some serious financial support.

Several local groups have been working to generate funding for quite some time; and today, supporters presented a petition to City Council.

The proposed ballot question calls for the people of Pittsburgh to fund the library system by what proponents say is a modest tax increase.

Those in favor say it’s a small price to pay for such an important part of the city’s quality of life.

After gathering them up this morning, City Council President Darlene Harris announced that there are enough signatures to put the Our Library, Our Future initiative on the ballot.

Organizers only needed about 2,800 signatures, but they got 10,739.

The ballot question will ask city tax payers to foot the bill to save the underfunded but widely used public library system.

“What we’re talking about 0.25 mills – that’s less than a one percent increase in property tax if you live in the city of Pittsburgh,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd.

That works out to about $25 a year per $100,000 assessed property value.

“It will be a tough challenge – it has the word tax in it, so It will be a challenge,” said Dave Malehorn, of the Our Library, Our Future initiative.

But failure to fund the measure, for proponents would be intellectually catastrophic.

“I think one of the saddest pictures in the city, among others, would be going to the Homewood branch on a Friday afternoon and seeing that branch is closed – kids are home for the weekend from school or it’s summertime and it’s hot and they don’t have access to that branch or other places in the community,” said Dowd.

The measure once through Council will be off to the Board of Elections to approve the question form and then it’s up to the voters of Pittsburgh come November 2011.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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  • Lewis

    Please visit YOUTUBE “Harrisburgh Sate House BLUES” LOVE YOUR LIBRARY

  • Carnegie would be mad at you

    Carnegie gave us these libraries free of cost, all we had to do was maintain them. Not build new ones, not hire overpaid supervisors, not waste our money on interior design. Just maintain.

    No new taxes. Try a user fee.

    • Amanda Drake

      Maintain through public dollars. Also, what is your definition of maintain? Do you think the libraries should be exactly as Carnegie built them? No computers, no air conditioning, no handicapped access?

  • Mary

    wasn’t that what the RAD tax was for? oh, wait, we spent it on sports instead of libraries. Can they guarantee any new tax would be spent on libraries and not something else entirely?

    • John

      The answer to your second question is “Yes”. The beauty of the voter referendum is the fact that people know exactly what they are voting for. The amount and purpose specified in the ballot question cannot be altered except with another direct vote of the people. It cuts out politicians and special interests and lets the people decide if this is a worthy use of our money.

  • 1-2-3

    If the tax is passed you will see it increase year after year. We don’t need more taxes, Have a user fee, these libaries are like ghost towns.

    • 4-5-6

      Library user fees are against the law in Pennsylvania. Public libraries (like public schools, public utilities, public swimming pools, public roads, public sidewalks, public buildings) were meant to be supported by public dollars.

      • 7-f-&

        Public pools and public transportaion have a user fee

    • Anonymous

      I worried about this increasing, too. But the amount of this tax cannot be increased without another petition drive and public vote. The money goes to the library system and it cannot be redirected or even touched by they city or any elected official.

  • Seriously, bro


  • Informed

    “Libraries are like ghost towns”?! Maybe you should actually use one to get your facts instead of making them up. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is the areas most visited regional asset with over 2.2 MILLION visitors a year. Just for comparison, the Steelers had just over 500,000 at home games last year and just over a million if you add away games.

    • Informed?

      You just unwittingly made your opposition’s argument. 500,000 people divided by 8 home games is 62,500 per game. So if a game is about three hours, that is roughly 20,000 per hour. If the Carnegie Library gets 2,200,00 vistiors per year and there are 260 average workdays a week, we can estimate 8460 visitors a day. At an 8 hour day, that is about 1,000 visitors per hour.

      Amazing, huh? People actually pay to go to Steeler games, but are unwilling to pay more for their library privledge?

      • Ghosts are scary

        right. that other person’s numbers were super generous to the library, and the steelers only play at one location. how many library locations are there?

      • Informed

        The “oppostion’s argument” was originally that “libraries are like ghost towns.” I’m assuming that that statment was made to argue against public library funding by saying that nobody uses the library? Your 1,000 visitors per hour number obviously blows that away (like the tumbleweed of an argument that it is).

        If you are a registered voter in the city of Pittsburgh you will have the opportunity to vote “no”. Just as others who recognize the value of the library in our community and region both from a direct economic impact and more indirectly through quality of life will have the chance to vote “yes”.

        For more info on the economic impact of the library on the region check out the report from Carnegie Mellon University:

      • Ghosts

        Libraries as ghost towns? When was the last time you were in a library? By your own argument, 1000 visitors per hour makes for some pretty lively ghosts!

      • Informed?

        I understand your points. I just don’t like that every time some public entity needs money, it is compared to the Steelers. The Steelers bring in money to this city and are part of it’s identity. When is the last time you were in a bar in Rome and everyone starting waving their Carnegie Library card and chanting “Here we go, Dewey,here we go!” during the internationally televised book binding competion?

        Bottom line, if you think the Steelers don’t deserve what public money they get, and I cannot argue that point at all, two wrongs don’t make a right. But atleast the Steelers have a user fee.

  • Thomas J Duttine

    If you want to use a library PAY FOR IT!

  • Eileen

    I will gladly vote yes to support my library and will encourage my friends and neighbors to do the same. The library is one of the last truly public institutions left that belongs to the people.

  • Kelly M.

    $25 a year is not an unreasonable amount. I admit that I don’t use the library, but education (and the arts!) are important and should be supported.

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