Statement before the                                Glenn A. Walsh

  Board of Directors,                                P.O. Box 1041

  Allegheny Regional                                Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

     Asset District:                   Telephone: 412-561-7876

  ACLA Distribution              Electronic Mail: < >

 Formula to Libraries            Internet Web Site: < >

                                                                                    2006 May 30


Good afternoon. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. I was a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie: 1995 to 2000, Library Treasurer: 1995 to 1996, and the Library’s Delegate to the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA): 1995 to 1999. Today, I am speaking as a private citizen, representing no formal organization, with no affiliation to any library.


As the attached web site page indicates, on page 2 of the attachment, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library’s collection size was 35,772 cataloged items in 2001, but was 22,335 in 2005. Discussing this with Library staff and a Library Board member, I have learned that the collection size is now 18,000, may be further reduced, and this gutting of the Library’s collection is specifically due to the ACLA formula. Due to the formula’s “Collection Turnover Rate” criterion, libraries with large collection sizes are financially penalized if that library does not have a correspondingly high circulation rate.


Although we finally convinced Carnegie Borough officials to significantly increase Library funding in the late 1990s, subsidy increases are very unlikely in the foreseeable future. The Borough was devastated by the Hurricane Ivan flooding. Several buildings in the business district have had to be demolished. The town’s anchor retail business, Izzy Miller Furniture, is closing. Carnegie is losing their tax base. So, to just keep the doors open to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, the Library Board is doing what it can to maximize RAD funding from ACLA. And, this has meant the discarding of nearly half of the Library’s books !!!


Anecdotally, I also understand that some libraries are buying more popular fiction, to boost their circulation and hence their RAD funding, while their book budget for non-fiction titles is lagging.


The formula used by ACLA to distribute RAD funds to County libraries is overly complex and seeks to micromanage County libraries, with many unintended consequences. Funding to local libraries is now dependent on satisfying six criteria, with financial penalties for libraries which do not meet ACLA’s particular utopian idea of library service. And, additional criteria are being considered for the formula in future years, one which might penalize libraries which have public computer usage above 60 per cent !!!


Is this the intention of the Allegheny Regional Asset District? Is this how RAD intends to improve library service to County residents?


If officials of any local library wished to complain to you about this micromanagement, they dare not because of a gag-order in their Federated Library System membership agreement*. If they do anything that could be construed by ACLA as jeopardizing funding to ACLA, their Federated Library System membership could be terminated. Although this would not deny them RAD funds, it could deny them ACLA services and State funds funneled through ACLA.


The State Department of Education provides reasonable standards for public libraries, without trying to micromanage each library. This micromanagement of County libraries, through the ACLA formula, must end, and particularly the Turnover Rate criterion, which is damaging library service in Allegheny County, must be eliminated.

Thank you.


* Special Note: The previous was the prepared text. Following the sentence: "If officials of any local library wished to complain to you about this micromanagement, they dare not because of a gag-order in their Federated Library System membership agreement." the following was added during the verbal testimony: "--except one brave library." This addition referred to Verne Koch, a member of the Board of Directors of the Community Center and Library Association (which operates the Lauri Ann West Memorial Library in O'Hara Township), who testified a few minutes earlier before the Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset District, regarding the unfairness of the ACLA formula.