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Communications Manager
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
412-578-2458 (office)

(Pittsburgh) July 17, 2001 - In an effort to bring all 19 locations comprising the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system into the 21st century, CLP Director Herb Elish is announcing a $76 million Capital Improvement Program.

"Since the Main Library first opened its doors in 1895," says CLP Director Herb Elish, "the library has been a vital part of the Pittsburgh community. Although it remains an important educational and recreational resource, our system has been suffering nearly a century of neglect."

Despite the fact that the average age of a Carnegie Library branch is 79 (some have the original furniture to prove it), recent years have seen only $406 spent annually for minimal interior necessities.

"We're not looking to build new facilities or even add luxury sky boxes," Elish says. "Our goal is simply to provide the neighborhoods we serve with the highest quality collections, programs and services in facilities that are accessible, safe and comfortable for all of our customers."

Among the improvements to be made are air conditioning (five of the branches are not currently air conditioned), the full range of code requirements, furnishings, lighting, ADA compliance, enhanced community meeting spaces and features that are tailored to the needs of specific neighborhoods.

Elish states that the Library is committed to maintaining a presence in each community that is currently served. He says further that there will be no increase in the operating costs of the branch system.

To achieve its goal, the CLP will implement an aggressive capital campaign, pursue state and federal funds, and request long-term debt financing from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (ARAD) Board.

The ARAD request will be in addition to the annual operating and a small capital grant proposal. The CLP will support an initial $15 million bond issue by reallocating funds from its operating budget to create the debt service required. CLP will develop future proposals to bring its total debt to $50 million.

Last year, the Carnegie Libraries recorded more than 2.2 million visits - the most of any RAD-funded organization. "Obviously, we're doing something right," Elish says. "However, this financing plan, including a bond issue supported by ARAD will enable us to do better for generations to come."

About Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: "Free to the People" since 1895

Through its Main Library and 18 neighborhood locations, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh serves the dynamic and diverse information needs of people living in Western Pennsylvania. The Library is an important community anchor that provides universal access to literature, culture, art, music, history, business and technology.

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