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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.

  • 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 report.

  • 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 countywide.

  • 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 funding.

  • 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.
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.
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