Statement before the        Glenn A. Walsh

Allegheny County             P.O. Box 1041

Library Association:          Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

ACLA Public Hearing       Telephone: 412-561-7876

On Distribution of RAD     Electronic Mail: < >

Funding to Libraries         2007 July 16


Good evening. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. I served as a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie Borough from 1995-2000, Library Treasurer 1995-1996, and Library Delegate to ACLA 1995-1999. Today I am speaking as a private citizen representing no organization.


The problem with the formula for distributing RAD funds to suburban libraries dates back to the conception of ACLA. ACLA was designed by library directors of, primarily, the larger, better-funded libraries, with the library directors of the smaller libraries having minimal input into the formation of this new organization.


Library directors of the smaller libraries could not just take-off time to go to a myriad of organizational meetings. As most of these smaller libraries are perpetually short-staffed, these library directors had to stay at their libraries to provide service to the public! In the meantime, the library directors of the larger libraries could leave sufficient staff behind to operate the library, while they went-off to play ACLA !!!


So, is it any wonder that when library directors from the larger libraries designed the organization, and later, the formula for suburban libraries to receive RAD funds, their bias led to an organization and formula that favored the larger libraries. In the beginning, their justification was that the organization should “raise the bar” for library services in Allegheny County.


Well, this is great if your library is in an affluent community that can afford the additional money to “raise the bar.” However, many of the communities, and their libraries, are struggling in Allegheny County and cannot afford the additional property taxes needed to meet the higher service thresholds set by ACLA. Nearly every library in this county would be happy to meet these higher thresholds, if they had the money to do so; the reality is that the extra municipal funding is just not available.


Now after its first decade of existence, ACLA uses its funding clout to continue empire-building. If a small library cannot meet these higher thresholds, then they must give up their independence to a larger library, or even to ACLA itself—even though many of these smaller libraries continue meeting all criteria for State funding. ACLA considers itself superior to Commonwealth Libraries, by continuing to require higher thresholds than is required by the State.  How temporary will ACLA’s direct operation of the Robinson and Sto-Rox libraries really be?


And, some of their requirements are dubious, such as the turnover-rate criterion, which is a disincentive to maintain older non-fiction books which receive minimal circulation. Thus, libraries are financially penalized for maintaining a large collection of older books, which include some of the wealth of human knowledge!  ACLA’s emphasis on popular books with high circulation does not meet the full mission of a public library.


A complicated distribution formula, that is difficult to understand, benefits no one but ACLA bureaucrats that enforce it. The distribution formula should be simplified and should emphasize the population of a library’s service area, so county money is distributed based on people to be served, not based the amount of money that an affluent community can match.







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