My efforts to preserve Carnegie Libraries began when I was elected a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh suburb. My election came on April 20th, 1995, the 96th anniversary of the legal founding of the Library by Andrew Carnegie. However, I was elected to the Library Board at the time the Library was being sued by the Borough of Carnegie; I was replacing a Board member who had resigned, so that the Borough’s lawsuit would not hurt his business.


The Borough of Carnegie was suing the Library, to have the all of the ten Life Trustees removed from the Board of Trustees. The Borough claimed the Library Board had mismanaged Library finances. However, the facts were that the Carnegie Mayor and all six Borough Councilman were also members of the Board of Trustees, as had been stipulated by Andrew Carnegie, and the Borough’s financial contribution to the Library’s operation was only a token amount each year.


The Mayor and Borough Council had refused to increase their financial contribution to the Library and really did not want to spend tax dollars on a public library. Had their lawsuit succeeded, it is likely the Library would have closed and the historic building may have been reused as a municipal building.


At the time of my election to the Board, the Library Board was split in two factions—one faction, which included the Library Board President at the time, supported the Borough Council position; the other faction, which I belonged-to, supported keeping the Library open.


Not so coincidentally, this lawsuit came at the time of the creation of the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD), which would begin distributing county tax dollars, for the first time to county libraries, in 1995. The Library’s on-going financial problems, much of it due to a lack of sufficient municipal funding, would be partially relieved by the new county library funding. As the Borough wished to eventually gain control of the historic building, it was not in their interests to have the Library’s financial problems resolved by the new county funding.


And, their gamit worked for a while. With the Library being sued by the Borough, the Allegheny County Library Assoiciation (ACLA), which directly controls the distribution of county funds to libraries, refused to give the Andrew Carnegie Free Library their county appropriation. As soon as I was elected to the Board, I immediately started working on having that county money released to the Library. After several months of work, I finally got the money released at the end of September. And, none-to-soon. Had the Library been without that money for another month-or-so, we probably would have missed a payroll and would have had to close the Library.


State report and amending of state report