Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Director's Corner by Sandra Collins


Northland Public Library was founded in 1968 to provide public library service to residents of Bradford Woods, Franklin Park, Ross Township and the Town of McCandless. Marshall Township joined the founding communities in 1986. Residents of the 5 member municipalities voted to provide funding to Northland through their local property taxes. With Northland’s acceptance of Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) funding in 1998, reciprocal borrowing privileges were extended to all residents of Allegheny County (even if their municipality did not support a library).

Approximately 59% of Northland’s income for 2010 will come from the member municipalities, about 12% from state aid, 20% from the Allegheny Regional Asset District and 9% from self-generated income (late fees, book sales, room rentals.)
The formulas used to determine the level of state aid and RAD funds are based on the population of our designated service area and maintaining local financial support. If one of our supporting municipalities elected to withdraw their membership in the Northland Public Library Authority, the resulting effect on our services and programs would be catastrophic since Northland would lose not only that community’s financial support, we would also lose a percentage of both RAD and state funding resulting in, at a minimum the loss of a quarter of our budget. Northland would exist, but certainly not at the same level as today – the cuts in state aid that all public libraries experienced for 2010 has resulted in a 6% reduction in our budget – bringing about a 38% reduction in our books and materials budget (we will be purchasing fewer titles and fewer copies) and changes in staff benefits.

The drop in our income which would result from the loss of a member municipality such as Ross or McCandless would be much more drastic- hours open would need to be reduced, staff size reduced, children’s and adult programming reduced, number of computers available for public use cut, more losses to our books and materials budget. In addition, the residents of the withdrawing community could lose their access to some Northland services.

Due to the cuts in state aid in 2010 neighboring libraries have instituted the types of service cuts, Northland’s users would experience if a member municipality elected to withdraw. Sewickley Public Library has drastically reduced hours, including closing on Fridays. Shaler North Hills and Northern Tier have also reduced open hours. At a time when the use of our resources has grown dramatically (10% increase in items borrowed, 41% increase in visits to the library between 2008 and 2009), such cuts would certainly affect residents. The withdrawal of one municipality (and the resulting loss of services) could result in the withdrawal of other (or all) communities as well. This will mean the end of Northland as we know it.

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