[From Philanthropy News Digest, January 24, 2009 Note the emphasis on “innovative activities designed to engage library users”.Â AlsoÂ note the economic return that the library provides to the community!]
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh needs to explore new ways to meet its serious funding challenges, engage patrons and other stakeholders, and evaluate the services it offers, a new report from RAND Education finds.
Funded by the Eden Hall Foundation, the report, Assessing the Future of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: Pathways to Sustainability (85 pages, PDF), outlines nine opportunities for the library and its stakeholders to pursue, including expanding innovative activities designed to engage library users; rigorously assessing the number and size of services and programs it offers; evaluating ways to leverage more benefits from existing resources, including technology, volunteers, and strategic partners; and the benefits and tradeoffs of a county-wide merger with the forty-four independent libraries in Allegheny County.
A study by the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Economic Development found that the library generates more than $132 million in combined economic return and estimated value to Allegheny County, sustains more than seven hundred jobs, and provides an economic benefit of $3 for every $1 it spends. But since the state cut funding for the library in 2002, it has had to juggle days and times of operation at its nineteen locations, even as circulation, visits, and program attendance has increased.
“RAND’s study is a critical information tool for the entire community,” said Barbara K. Mistick, president and director of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. “Over the coming months, we want to create a community dialogue about the importance of libraries. We want to engage library customers, foundations, elected officials, civic leaders, and the community at large. We need them to be our partners in determining the future of library services and funding and how we can serve our community best.”
â€œCarnegie Library of Pittsburgh Should Explore Other Funding Sources, Right-Size Programs.â€ Rand Corporation Press Release 1/15/09.