Until recently, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie was facing the greatest crisis of its 115-year history. Without a steady source of annual funding — the library had been borrowing $30,000 a year to keep the doors open — draconian measures would kick in. Those measures ranged from cutting operations to a mere 20 hours a week to closing the branch entirely. This was unacceptable to people who depended on the library for everything from access to computers for job searches to cultural and intellectual enrichment.
Advocates for the library turned out in record numbers for a Dec. 12 meeting to discuss its fate. They made their feelings about the centrality of the library in their community life known to the borough council members.
The community’s fervor was reflected in council’s 7-0 vote to double the borough’s annual library subsidy, to $70,000 from $35,000 a year. This level of funding is a lot closer to what surrounding municipalities spend on their libraries.
Now that the library is assured of a steady funding stream, it can begin to expand programming, knowing that it can meet the community’s needs now that the Carlynton School District has closed its school library. The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall is a community treasure that those living and working in the area can’t afford to lose. Fortunately, the community recognizes its value and is willing to pay for it.