HARRISBURG, OCT. 19, 2009 — State Sen. Wayne D. Fontana today continued his fight to keep open four branches of the Carnegie Library in the City of Pittsburgh by urging the members of the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) Board to follow the recommendations of the Board’s auditing committee and order a special audit of the library system.

“The more I look at this issue, the more certain that I am that there is enough money for the Carnegie Library to keep these branches open,” Fontana said. “While the Board’s decision was made to offset a deficit in 2014, closing the branches is a knee-jerk reaction and doesn’t take into consideration the impact on the community or the economy where those branches are located.”

Last Thursday, RAD’s audit committee voted to look into long-range finances and how the decision to close libraries was made. The $10,000 audit would be paid for by RAD. Although RAD periodically audits its grant recipients and requires professional audits, this audit would have a greater scope so that the RAD Board can see the Library’s entire financial picture.

Fontana has advocated for increased state funding for public libraries and called on the Carnegie Library Board to consider creative solutions and to look at other alternatives. Upon the announcement by the Board that the Beechview, West End, Lawrenceville and Hazelwood branches would be closed, the Carrick and Knoxville branches merged, and the Mount Washington library moved, Fontana immediately spoke against the decision and has continued meeting with representatives of the affected branches, communities, and his colleagues to find another solution.

Fontana continues to work to secure a commitment from the Carnegie Library Board to keep these branches open if additional funding is identified, but thus far there has not been such a commitment. He has also requested copies of the independent studies conducted by the RAND Corporation and Carnegie Mellon University that were relied upon by the Board in making this decision, but has not yet received those materials. He has also been participating in community meetings with residents who are working to identify options – including a meeting held this past Saturday in Beechview and an upcoming meeting in Mt. Washington on Thursday.

“I am committed to finding a short-term solution that can keep these branches open while we search for a long-term answer,” said Fontana. “Removing a branch library from communities that are already facing an economic decline is disastrous. We cannot fail our constituents by allowing these branches to be closed without investigating each and every option. I will continue my conversations with the administration, the librarians at the affected branches and my colleagues and encourage the residents of these communities to weigh in with their thoughts and ideas.”