The Library Amendment text

The Library Amendment text

Annotated version as pdf file

An annotated version of the amendment is available as a pdf file.   It contains the full text of the amendment and includes some brief explanatory comments for each section and subsection.

Download the annotated amendment in a straight up version best for online viewing and for printing out 8.5x11 pages.

Download the annotated amendment in a printable booklet format that uses 8.5x14 paper.   If you have legal size paper, the booklet version should be a bit easier to handle and read.   Just print one sheet at a time in the order they print, putting the second pdf sheet on the back of the first, fourth on the back of the third, etc. without looking at the page numbers printed on the paper (they look out of order and may confuse you, but it works out right when it's done).   After assembling the three sheets printed front and back in the order they are printed, just fold them in half with the cover side out (and staple in the middle if you want).

Underlined text will be added to the Charter

Library Amendment to the Pittsburgh City Charter


Whereas the Carnegie Library of the City of Pittsburgh was established by Pittsburgh Ordinance Number 240 of 1890, accepting Andrew Carnegie's donation of library buildings; and

Whereas the donation was predicated upon the public operation of the library system thereafter and that the Library's governing body would include both appointed members and officials elected by the public; and

Whereas the initial arrangements for the administration of the Library have been modified at times over the years, most recently doubling the size of its Board of Trustees to add seats for corporate fundraisers and significantly reducing the City's role in support, involvement, and governance of the Library; and

Whereas the resulting change in focus away from the traditional role of libraries to instead mimic commercial booksellers has lead to the replacement of librarians by business managers in contravention of state law, to the gutting of library collections, and to an ambitious real estate based agenda, the payment for which has incurred a huge capital debt after the Library Board's fundraising efforts fell short; and

Whereas the present capital debt service for the Library's real estate based agenda is $1-million per year, is accounted for as an operating expense, and is roughly equal to the Library's current operating deficit, which in turn is cited as the Board's reason for closing and/or consolidating a number of Library Branches; and

Whereas the City has a larger, competing real estate based agenda of its own and has used the City's influence on the Library Board of Trustees to manipulate the Library into acquiescing to the City's agenda, in conflict with and to the detriment of the best interests of the Library, and in at least two instances Library Branches were moved in order to prop up struggling, City supported, publicly subsidized, speculative real estate projects, leaving City owned historic library buildings vacant such that they now constitute unproductive financial liabilities for which City taxpayers must still pay; and

Whereas the City's regular contribution to the Library's operating budget has been only $40,000 per year, amounting to less than 13 cents per capita while other municipalities elsewhere in the state are required to provide no less than $5 per capita; the City contribution which is needed for the Library is but a fraction of the huge subsidies which the City provides real estate speculators; and yet the City intends to continue to subsidize future real estate speculation with tax money instead of using those funds to provide needed public services to its residents; and

Whereas the Library Board has insisted that it is not accountable to the public, has conducted its meetings in secret, and refuses to open them to the public as required by State Law, depriving the public of an opportunity to make comment and witness the Board's deliberations; and

Whereas the City of Farrell in reducing the Board of Trustees of its library to the status of an advisory body established as a matter of law that a municipality may use the home rule process to takeover and operate its library other than through its Board of Trustees, and Robinson Township has demonstrated that a portion of existing real estate millage, which in their case was equivalent to $10 per capita, can through a home rule referendum be dedicated to the maintenance and operation of the municipality's library while at the same time requiring that it not constitute a new or added tax nor result in an increase of existing taxes; and

Whereas there is great interest among the public for maintaining the City's system of Library Branches without closures, consolidations, or reductions in service, of preserving and maintaining its historic buildings as libraries, and of increasing the accountability of the library administration to the residents; now

Therefore the voters of the City of Pittsburgh in voting in the affirmative to the referendum question shall ratify the following amendment to the Pittsburgh City Charter adding:

Article 9: Public Libraries

901. Role as city agency

The Carnegie Library of the City of Pittsburgh shall be an official public agency of the City, functioning independently and structured as provided herein, the purpose of which is to serve as a repository and archive of human knowledge and the culture of our society for research, study, and personal fulfillment and as a public information provider and resource for community involve­ment and activity.

902. Library governance

a.   The Library Commission of the City of Pittsburgh shall be the governing body of the Library, responsible for its administration and the establishment and approval of Library policy.   The Commission is charged with fulfilling the purpose of the Library; efficiently and effectively providing free quality library services to the public; and upholding the high standards held when the Library first operated under the original agreement between Andrew Car­negie and the City.   The Commission shall have all powers, rights, and responsibilities as granted or assigned by law to the governing bodies of public libraries, except as otherwise provided herein, and it shall file its bylaws with the Orphans Court of Allegheny County.

1.   The Commission shallconsist of thirteen members, each having equal vote, whose elected and appointed positions shall be nonpartisan and for which they shall run, or be considered for appointment, without identified party affiliation.   Candidates for elected Library Commission seats shall be city residents for at least two consecutive years immediately prior to their election, and those running for district seats shall additionally have resided in the Library District in which they are running for at least one year immediately prior to their election.   Appointees to non-elected seats shall be residents from within Allegheny County having experience in the governance, administration, or management of libraries and a demonstrated commitment and concern for the operation of quality libraries; at least one appointee shall be currently from a suburban municipality.

2.   The Commission shall have four appointed seats and nine elected seats (five of the latter elected by district, four elected at-large, citywide).   The term of office for all seats shall be four years beginning and ending upon the certification of the municipal general election in the year its next term is scheduled to be elected or appointed.   Elected seats shall be limited to three consecutive terms for the same seat, except that in counting for term limits, less than two years being served shall not count as a term.

3.   The initial length of terms for elected and appointed seats shall be adjusted to divide their numbers between two successive municipal elections as follows:   the Commission's initial election shall be a special election held at the next general election following the ratification of these provisions, at which all nine elected seats shall be elected at-large, two seats being for an initial term of three years and seven seats being for an initial term of one year; at the next municipal general election, of the seven seats up for election, two shall be elected at-large to four year terms and the other five shall be elected by district, with the odd numbered districts being for four year terms and the even numbered districts being elected for an initial two year term; for the four non-elected seats, two shall have initial terms ending upon certification of the Commission's first municipal election and the other two shall have initial terms ending upon certification of the Commission's second municipal election.

4.   The nomination process of candidates for elected Library Commission seats shall parallel the nomination process of nonpartisan candidates for a government study commission under the Pennsylvania Home Rule Charter and Optional Plans Law.   The nomination papers may not carry any political party designation or slogan. Nomination papers may only be circulated and signed within a time period between the thirteenth and the tenth Tuesday before the election.   Candidates must obtain signatures of regis­tered voters equal to at least two percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial general election or two hundred registered voters whichever is less, all being from voters registered within the City if running at-large, or, if by district, in the Library District for which they are running.   Nomination papers must be filed no later than the tenth Tuesday prior to the date of the election. All other requirements of the Pennsylvania Election Code and the City Charter shall also apply.

5.   The City shall be apportioned into five Library Districts drawn to be even in population; to best reflect the social composition of a contiguous area; to contain a nearly equal number of library branches in each; to include as much as possible of the ser­vice areas of the library branches which are located within the district; and where possible to not divide neighborhoods.   The Library Commission shall be responsible for drafting the boundaries of the Library Districts, for which the City Planning Department shall provide assistance as needed.   The Commission shall conduct no less than one public hearing on the districting in each of the proposed Library Districts, after which, if substantive changes are made, a subsequent round of public hearings shall be held in the districts affected by such changes.   A final districting map shall be approved by the Commission after presenting it to the Allegheny County Division of Elections, the Orphans Court, the Mayor, and City Council for their comments and shall be filed with the City and the Division of Elections prior to the end of June in the year of the Library Commission's first municipal election.

6.   A vacancy on the Commission shall be filled with a qualified individual appointed by the Commission within sixty days, provided that, for a midterm vacancy of an elected seat, the appointment shall be of an interim member who shall serve until a successor is elected in a special election to fill the remainder of the unexpired term, such election being held at the next general election; and that, for a non-elected seat, when filling a position initially, a midterm vacancy, or an opening created by an expiring term, the Orphans Court shall be afforded the opportunity to name the person who shall serve for the remaining unexpired term.

7.   The Commission shall organize itself and elect its officers upon the seating of its members, including those elected or named by the court, following the certification of its initial special election and thereafter upon the seating of members to be installed at the first meeting following the certification of each municipal election.

b.   Upon the County Board of Elections certifying the ratification of the Charter amendment, the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh shall be bound by the provisions herein and, to the degree prudent and feasible, the Board shall refrain from disposing of resources and assets or making major or long term policy decisions or commitments which would later bind the Library Commission.   Upon the filing of the Library Commission's bylaws with Orphans Court and their approval by the Court, the Commission shall assume all control of the Library and the Board of Trustees shall become an advisory board to the Library Commission with the purpose of assisting the Commission in various capacities, including but not limited to identifying and helping it acquire funding for the Library’s capital projects, operations, and endowment fund.

903. Dedication of municipal millage to a City Library Fund

Of the City of Pittsburgh’s existing municipal real estate millage which is in force at the time of the ratification of these provisions, 0.12 mills (which shall not be in addition to other taxes and shall not result in a tax increase) shall be dedicated to the operations of the City’s libraries and shall be deposited into a special Library Fund of the City into which all funds designated for, provided to, and/or received by the City’s libraries from all sources, public and private, shall be deposited and which shall be administered by the City of Pittsburgh Library Commission.   The dedicated allocation of the municipal real estate millage shall commence in the fiscal year following the year of the ratification of these provisions.

904. Capital expenditures and funding

a.   Neither direct capital expenses nor the payment for any capital bond issue nor other capital debt service shall be paid from the municipal millage which is dedicated to Library operations nor from any other funding which has been designated for use as part of the Library’s operating budget, except that operational funding from the Regional Asset District which the RAD Board has approved for the Library's capital debt service may be used for such purpose, and, for the Library's accounting purposes, capital debt service shall be accounted separate from its operating budget.   The City may utilize funding sources other than the municipal real estate millage which is dedicated to Library operations to pay for its Library's capital expenses and capital debt service.

b.   No less than thirty days before the Library may grant final approval for any new construction or renovation work which is considered to be a capital expenditure and is in excess of $50,000, the City Controller shall publicly certify that sufficient capital funding has been allocated with a contingency amount which is more than adequate to assure completion of the activity; that secure sources of payment of any debt service that may be incurred have been arranged and finalized, pending the project’s approval; that the capital expense and/or capital debt service it might incur will not utilize nor encumber the Library’s present or future operating funds nor come from monies which would otherwise be available for operating funds; and that future additional operating and maintenance liabilities to be incurred by the new facility, addition, or changes for which the capital expenditures are to be made have funding identified to cover them without jeopardizing other existing or planned Library operations.   Should such certification be found to be in substantive error by a court of competent jurisdiction, the court shall stay or revoke any approval(s) which rely upon it until such error is corrected and a new certification is issued in compliance with these provisions.

905. Historic library buildings

a.   The City's library buildings which hold a historic designation shall in themselves be considered cultural, architectural resources of the City held in trust for the residents of Pittsburgh and Alle­gheny County.   Each such building shall, as can be reasonably arranged and scheduled, be restored to its original exterior and interior condition or as near as can be feasibly accomplished.   Upgrades and additions to provide for new library uses and/or greater usage shall be sensitive to the original design and, to the degree possible, shall retain and replicate the original design as to appear to be part of the original structure.   Historic furnishings shall be considered part of the interior architecture. Planning and design shall be in consultation with the City of Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission and such other agencies and institutions as are concerned with the preservation of historic architecture and shall receive approval from the applicable agencies and Historic Review Commission for work that may impact a historic library's exterior or interior architecture before the work may proceed.

b.   The Mayor and City Council shall be responsible for appropriating adequate capital funding from sources other than the Library’s operating fund to assure the restoration and preservation of the exterior and interior of the City’s historic library buildings, how­ever this shall not restrict the Library or its designated agents from also pursuing and securing additional funding for such purposes.

c.   The Library shall utilize each of the historically designated City library buildings for library purposes and shall be responsible for maintaining them to best assure the preservation of their exterior and interior architecture and historic furnishings.

906. Reduction in service and branch closures

a.   Before the Library may approve any reduction in library service hours; the reduction or elimination of major programs; or the major renovation, relocation, permanent closure, a temporary closure exceeding two weeks, or consolidation of any branches, it shall first conduct public hearings within each affected Library District which shall be scheduled at times and locations to assure the great­est possible attendance and shall be advertised and conspicuously posted no less than ten days prior to the hearing date.

b.   Any proposal for a library closure (except for temporary emergency closures as may be necessary) or for relocation or consolidation of a branch shall be placed as a referendum question upon the ballot of the next available election within each Library District which includes all or part of the affected branch’s service area and in order to proceed must receive the approval of a majority of the voters voting on the question in the special election.

c.   Should the reasons for an emergency closure of a library no longer exist, it shall be reopened within thirty days or a public hearing shall be held as per 906(a) and, if the closure is proposed to be made permanent, it shall be subject to 906(b).

907. Audits

a.   In addition to such other audits as may be required, the City Controller shall perform biennial financial audits of the Library to be completed six months preceding each municipal general election and shall immediately make its findings public.

b.   The City Controller shall also conduct biennial performance audits to be completed six months preceding each municipal general election to determine the Library’s level of service and the effectiveness of those services in meeting the special needs of City residents and to make recommendations for improvement.

908. Compliance with state laws

In all other aspects not covered herein, the Library and Library Commission shall comply with the Pennsylvania Library Code, Sunshine Act, Open Records Law, and all other laws and regulations which apply and govern the operation of public libraries within the state of Pennsylvania.

Severance and Conflicts

In the event this amendment cannot take effect in its entirety because of the judgment of any court of competent jurisdiction holding invalid any provision, the remaining provisions of the amendment shall be given full force and effect as completely as if the provision held invalid were not included. Any Pittsburgh City Charter provision, Council resolution, City ordinance, or any policy, rule, regulation, or provision governing any City unit of government or agency, or any part or parts thereof, which may be conflicting with the provisions of this Amendment is hereby repealed in so far as the same may affect or may be affected by this Amendment.

Underlined text will be added to the Charter.