ACLA's story begins in 1991 when the County Controller's office issued
a special report entitled, "A Quiet Crisis: Libraries in Allegheny
County". The report detailed the dismal state of County libraries
and challenged the library community to improve service and increase funding.
At that point in time, libraries worked independently of one another.
There was little to no cooperation across municipal borders. Libraries
were urged to coordinate and cooperate. ACLA was created in response to
the call to action. As a result, libraires now have experienced significant
funding increases along with providing quality library service.
Accomplishments since "A Quiet Crisis" was released.
In less than 10 years, through coordination and cooperation, (in spite of state cuts) library funding
in Allegheny County has increased by over 70% (more than $15 million)!
The eiNetwork is the nation's premier network of its kind. Library service has
been extended into new areas with six branches of County libraries and
thirteen Knowledge Connections in public housing communities.
- The former Allegheny County Commissioners immediately appointed a Commission
on the Future of Libraries in Allegheny County" (CFLAC) with Frank
Lucchino (former Controller) as Chair. The Commission was charged with working
from within County government to address the issues highlighted in the
- In 1992 libraries formed a voluntary association called CLASP (County Library
Association Serving the People). CLASP promoted communication among libraries
and worked within the library community to address the issues highlighted
in "A Quiet Crisis".
- In 1992, through the support of the Buhl Foundation, a County Library Director
was hired. After three years, Allegheny County directly funded the position.
This position served to assist libraries in coordinating their efforts
- In 1993 State legislation was passed allowing the establishment of the
Allegheny Regional Asset District (ARAD). Through an additional 1% sales
tax collected in the County, funds were made available to support regional
assets. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's operating funds from the City
and County were replaced by ARAD funds. County libraries collectively lobbied
the ARAD as a regional asset and secured contractual funding in the amount
of $5,000,000 per year as supplemental to local government support.
- In 1994 CLASP registered as a nonprofit corporation. As the acronym CLASP
had previously been claimed, CLASP became ACLA (the Allegheny County Library
Association). The County provided administrative oversight for ACLA by
contract through the office of the County Library Director.
- In 1995 ACLA, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and the Commission on
the Future of Libraries partnered to develop the Electronic Information
network (eiNetwork). The eiNetwork was launched in 1996 with capital investments from
the Foundation community, Allegheny County, and ACLA, establishing a common
automation system for libraries throughout the County. One library is not linked to the eiNetwork and maintains
a stand-alone system: Monroeville Public Library. One library is beginning the conversion process: Upper St. Clair Township Library.
The Allegheny Regional Asset District, ACLA, and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh continue to sustain the operating costs
of the network.
- In 1997 ACLA voted to amend its bylaws and reorganize its Board structure
to qualify as a federated library system. By doing so ACLA began
receiving direct funding from the State in 1998 and became eligible for
State grants. In 1999 ACLA hired the County Library Director as its full
time executive director, thus consolidating oversight of library services
within the organization.
- In 1999 the State legislature passed significant increases in State Aid
- In 2002, ACLA acquired legal ownership of bookmobile operations from the
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
- In 2003, the state legislature passed a 34% cut in library
funding. Significant service reductions have been implemented
in Libraries in Allegheny County and across the Commonwealth.