When the Board of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh meets this afternoon they will take up several weighty issues including a vote to delay portions of the “Action Plan” it adopted October 5, 2009. That plan called for small changes such as higher fees and fines and major changes such as closing four branches. Library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes says while many aspects of the plan will stay in place, the $600,000 approved by Pittsburgh City Council will allow the library to “defer” the closures. Thinnes says the additional funds will buy the library more time to lobby Harrisburg for additional funding. Council President Doug Shields has promised to slip another $600,000 into the 2010 budget, which is yet to be finalized. It is unclear how much time the additional money buys the libraries. At a meeting with state legislators November 23rd the president of the library board said she would like to have a firm commitment for state funding in hand by February. The board will take a vote on the 2010 budget today despite not having final numbers from the state or the city.
The Board also expects to consider the public’s request to hold open meetings. Thinnes says it is on the agenda for discussion, but it will not necessarily be voted on today. She says, “As a Public Trust, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is not required to hold open meetings but understands the community’s interest in board decisions.” Thinnes says it is public support that gives the library hope that lobbying efforts in Harrisburg will be more fruitful in 2010 than they have been in the past. Knowing that the public is very interested in the issues facing the board this month, the board will hold a public forum at 4 o'clock in the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland before heading into the closed-door meeting. A maximum of 25 speakers will be allowed. Speakers had to sign up last week, but Thinnes says anyone is welcome to come to listen.