by Diana Nelson Jones/Oct 26
The grassroots crusade to fight closure of four Carnegie Library branches now has a Facebook group, an on-line petition and plans to make noise.
A rally is scheduled at the Hazelwood branch, 4901 2nd Ave., Saturday at 2 p.m.
Thousands of Pittsburghers are still game to test the theory that democracy works best (or only) when politicians become alarmed that they might lost their seats.
Before four libraries are closed, one is moved and two others are merged, might this city, then, decide it can commit more than $40,000 a year to one of this nation's most storied philanthropies? Andrew Carnegie started libraries to elevate the poorer classes, but he didn't set up an endowment because he believed libraries should rise or fall on the community's esteem for them
P-G Book Editor Bob Hoover wrote in the Oct. 13 Post-Gazette about the industrialist's thoughts, including this nugget: "The main consideration should be to help those who help themselves."
The Carnegie Library system says it will be operating on $1.2 million less than it needs in 2010, based on expectation of a 20 percent cut in state funding. Another set of numbers is a score you're not going to like. In dollars spent annually per capita, it's Cleveland 250, Pittsburgh 38.
Never in the history of America have the well-off lost their schools and libraries so that those in the greatest need could be favored, so of course Beechview and Hazelwood are among the losers if the Carnegie closes four branches. including Lawrenceville and the West End.
The system plans to merge Knoxville and Carrick branches and move the Mount Washington branch from Grandview Avenue to Virginia Avenue, but we don't know where on Virginia yet.
In an email to announce the petition and Facebook group, reader Tess McShane wrote that "each branch that closes represents an unraveling of Pittsburgh's social fabric."
She and her family moved to Pittsburgh from Seattle a few years ago and settled in Beechview, thinking it amazing that they should find a great old affordable house in a neighborhood on a street car line and with a library. But it turned out there was not much else to celebrate. They live in Point Breeze now but have lots of friends in Beechview and other neighborhoods where libraries are threatened.
"Libraries are oxygen sources in neighborhoods that are losing air, and somebody needs to do something," she said.
She set up the Facebook group and the petition and has patrons from libraries all over the city behind her, she said. "It's depressing that a city on the rise with so much potential is closing libraries, but it is heartening to see people from different neighborhoods working together" to prevent that.
A solution is out there.... creative minds can find it... probably from inspiration of stories and other sources... at a library!