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Pittsburgh News - June 7, 2000

Carnegie library trims trustees

By Vince Guerrieri

An Allegheny County judge on Tuesday approved changes to streamline the board of trustees overseeing the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie.

The change should speed the $5 million capital campaign needed to renovate the century-old building, officials said.

Orphan's Court Judge Walter Little granted the current trustees' request to reduce the size of the board - set in the original trust that Carnegie signed - from 17 to 12.

Instead of 10 "life" trustees and seven ex-officio trustees, the borough mayor and council members, the new board will consist of nine trustees serving 3-year terms, plus three ex-officio trustees to be appointed by the borough council.

Larry Palmer, senior deputy attorney general for the state, offered no objections to the change, which he said the library's benefactor would have supported.

"I think it's obvious that if Andrew Carnegie were alive today, he would take steps to streamline operations," Palmer said during the 20-minute hearing.

But one trustee considers the change a departure from the steel magnate's wishes.

Glenn Walsh, a trustee since 1995, resigned from the board and turned over his library keys to board President Betsy Martin, who said she was sorry to see him go.

"He's a very valuable volunteer," she said.

In addition to the opening created by Walsh's resignation, there are two other vacant seats on the board.

One position is being sought by Ken Bowman, a member of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves, a re-enactment group that maintains a Civil War museum on the library's second floor.

Martin said during the hearing that the unwieldy size of the board prevented it from conducting business. Seventeen of the last 29 monthly meetings had to be canceled for lack of a quorum because fewer than nine members showed up.

One of the most important matters that has been put off, Martin said, is the hiring of a consultant to proceed with the planned renovation of the deteriorating library.

William Manby, president of the Chartiers Valley Partnership that is overseeing the restoration plans, said the change will make it easier for the partnership to raise funds and move forward.

"We're ready to roll," he said.

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