Thursday, September 18, 2008

Show Me the Money

The Carnegie Library of Homestead (Pennsylvania) doesn't appear to be your ordinary library. It includes an athletic club (fitness center and swimming pool) and music hall as part of its operations.

According to an article in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the library board laid off its Executive Director and Library Director (these are two separate positions) to address the loss of $300,000 in its investment fund. ("Investment losses prompt two layoffs at Homestead library".) The new library management model: a team of six members of the Board.

Library Board President noted that this move will save approximately $100,000. (Does this figure include benefits? What were they paying these folks?)

Here's how the article describes the library's financials.

The library has an annual budget of $650,000 to $680,000, but this year that amount rose to about $800,000 because of "projected increased revenues that were overzealous," Mr. Lloyd said.

About $30,000 of that budget comes from support from the local municipalities of Munhall, Homestead and West Homestead. Munhall, the largest contributor, provides $17,000.

Some of the annual budget also comes from the endowment, though Mr. Lloyd did not say how much. But for now, the library board hopes to balance the budget without touching the endowment.

According to this website, the total population of the 3 municipalities listed above is 18,030. (Munhall, 12264; Homestead, 3569; West Homestead 2197.) That averages out to less than $1 per capita in local support.

I'd love to see a detailed breakdown of revenues and expenditures. All I could find, though, is a spreadsheet of state aid to Pennsylvania public libraries through this webpage. The Allegheny County Library Association, of which the Carnegie Library of Homestead is a member, received $5,726, 916 in state aid in fiscal year 2007-2008. I found no breakdown as to how the money was distributed to member libraries.

Makes you wonder why Mr. Lloyd is so evasive. Minimal local funding. Indeterminate endowment funding. Where is the rest of the money? And were the Executive Director's and Library Director's salaries paid from the endowment account? This story raises a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Anyone else curious?

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