The Commission on the Future of Libraries in Allegheny County
The commission and the library administrator have provided leadership and encouraged the coordination of services among the forty-six independent public libraries. Their efforts have focused on the following strategic initiatives:
Commission members represent Allegheny County government, ACLA, CLP, the Community College of Allegheny County, the State Library of Pennsylvania, and the Buhl Foundation.
A milestone of the commission's success has been Project Link-Up. This pilot project was initiated to connect the independent public libraries to The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh through personal computers, a modem, and public telecommunications networks. Initial funding came from a grant from the Allegheny County Higher Education Building Authority to purchase the hardware, software, and telecommunications equipment for fifteen libraries. The project expanded to include eleven additional libraries when the commission was awarded grant funding for high-speed modems. Thirty independent libraries are currently connected to CLP's on-line catalog (CAROLINE), a listing of 675,000 titles of books, records, and films in its extensive collection. Since Project Link-Up has been established electronic requests for materials has increased by 84 percent with a simultaneous reduction in turnaround time of more than 50 percent.(*2)
Project Link-Up proved that an electronic information network can work in Allegheny County and that thirty independent municipal libraries can cooperate and coordinate library activities.
(*1) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, editorial, "Directing the Libraries," August 30, 1991, p.6.
(*2) The statement describing the Commission was prepared as part of a grant request, June 1994.