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It is a plan so dastardly, so despicable, that state and local officials don’t want you to know about it. Pennsylvania has a plan in the works to gut the Philadelphia Library for the Blind, a vital service for the area’s visually impaired. The cover for the move is fiscal conservatism, but that makes no sense as the move may end up costing the state more money. The whole thing has the stench of political cronyism. Governor Tom Corbett and western PA Republicans want to move most of the operations out of Philadelphia to the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in Pittsburgh, nestled in the Governor’s home county. The two libraries share funds allocated in the state library budget. This isn’t about saving money; it is about shifting the majority of those funds to Pittsburgh.
I understand that elections have consequences. I understand party patronage. I don’t understand making the 13,000 visually disabled people who regularly use the Library suffer because of political gamesmanship. The Philadelphia Library for the Blind lent out 600,000 Braille and recorded books last year. That is 20 percent of the entire circulation of the Philadelphia Library System.
There is another part of the plan that the state doesn’t want you to know about. Once the materials are taken from the Philadelphia Library for the Blind, transported across the state and set up in their new home at Carnegie, the state hopes to build a new facility in suburban Pittsburgh and move everything again. How exactly does that save money?