By Board Member Tom Szuba
In 2014, after many months of studies, the 21st Century County-City Library Service Committee concluded that libraries in Allegheny County are important and highly valued. The study was initiated by the Allegheny County Library Association (of which Sewickley Public Library is a member) and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to address important shifts in library services in the face of decreasing funding.
The county report identified these common attributes for the 45 libraries across Allegheny County:
- Public Libraries are important and highly valued.
- Shifts in technology, user behavior, and educational priorities are changing the work of libraries.
- Not all Allegheny County libraries meet state standards for library service.
- Funding for county-wide services provided centrally, such as shipping and technology, are not keeping up with costs.
- Increased demands on local government and municipal budgets impact local funding for libraries.
- Some municipalities provide no direct support for library service.
To address the issue of equitable access to library services for all residents of Allegheny County, the panel made a several recommendations:
- Establish baseline standards for library service in Allegheny County.
- Combine the county-wide services of the Allegheny County Library Association, District Services, and the eiNetwork into one integrated entity.
- Identify and secure new and equitable funding sources for all library service in Allegheny County.
The Sewickley Public Library Board of Directors is also considering what a library of the 21st Century looks like. We agree that the Sewickley Public Library is important to, and highly valued by, our community—including patrons from Sewickley, throughout the Quaker Valley School District, and other communities in the vicinity. We strive to provide state-of-the-art services while working within our existing budget. As we move into 2015, however, it is our hope to increase fundraising so that we can continue to be a treasure to our community while becoming a shining example of a 21st Century Library. Please join us in these efforts.