Statement before the             Glenn A. Walsh

     Council of the                             P.O. Box 1041

  City of Pittsburgh:                  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

  Scheduled Closing of    Telephone: 412-561-7876

   MLK Reading Ctr.      Electronic Mail: < >

                                         Internet Web Site: < >

                                                                        2005 December 27


Good morning. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. Today, I am speaking as a private citizen, representing no formal organization. You have not seen me for the last couple weeks, as I have been ill.


Now that I have returned, I find that Carnegie Library has scheduled the permanent closing of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Reading Center on Herron Hill. The small Reading Center, along with a small Hill District Branch Library, replaced the larger Wylie Avenue Branch Library building, which Andrew Carnegie built in 1899.


According to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Carnegie Library Director Barbara Mistick said, regarding Reading Center supporters, “It would be wonderful if they would go and speak in places where a difference could be made, like the Regional Asset District, that's where our funding dollars come from.” Yet, RAD funding decisions for 2006 became final on December 1; the public hearing regarding 2006 RAD funding levels was in October!


I attended the Carnegie Library’s annual budget hearing before the RAD Board in August. Not once did Dr. Mistick indicate that any library was at risk for closing. When RAD made their funding decisions, they had no idea a library facility might close---and neither did the neighborhood! The Hill District neighborhood was not given adequate notice of the Reading Center closing, to give them time to seek other options.


With all this talk of using gambling money to build a new arena, it would be a much greater public service to use some of that money to help keep our neighborhood libraries open!


With the closing of the Reading Center, there would be two city-owned library buildings empty and unused—the other being the historic Hazelwood Branch Library building.


I know City budgets are tight. However, for the Reading Center, would it be possible to have a Department of Parks and Recreation staff member simply open the Reading Center, so children would have someplace to go for a few hours after school each day? Most regular library services would no longer exist, but the books and the computers could still be there for the children to use. The City would have to ask Carnegie Library to maintain the computers, but that would be all.


This would be a temporary fix, but one which would allow the Reading Center to continue helping the young people in the neighborhood. Please explore the possibility of limited operation of the Reading Center by the Department of Parks and Recreation.


Thank you.