Historic West End Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
(Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss; Photographer: Lynne S. Walsh)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
Renovations have been completed on the 115-year-old West End Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. A community celebration for the reopening of the historic Library branch will occur this Saturday, 2014 May 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EDT (the ceremonial ribbon-cutting is slated for 10:15 a.m.). The West End Branch Library is located at 47 Wabash Street, in the heart of the business district of Pittsburgh's West End Valley.
The West End Branch Library closed seven months ago to undergo a $1.7 million renovation. Handicapped accessibility is one of the major improvements to the building with the completion of a new elevator. Other improvements include a new slate roof and refurbished windows.
And, for the first time, the West End Branch Library will be air-conditioned. Until now, the West End Branch Library has been one of the few, original Andrew Carnegie-built library branches that has had to close on extremely hot days during the Summer months. Now, the West End Branch will be open six days a week, throughout the year, except on holidays.
The renovations were paid for from capital campaign funds raised by The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
The Saturday community celebration includes a ribbon-cutting scheduled for 10:15 a.m., tours of the renovated library guided by members of Friends of the Library and the West End History Club, and a performance by the Pittsburgh Musical Theatre, which is based in the West End. There will also be a 3-D Printing Demonstration, as well as crafts activities, and activities for teenagers. Cake and light refreshments will be provided.
The West End Branch Library, opening to the public on 1899 January 31, was the second neighborhood branch library constructed of the original eight branch libraries built by Andrew Carnegie in Pittsburgh. In his letter to the Mayor and City Councils on 1890 February 6, Andrew Carnegie offered these library buildings to the City and said, “All of these should be thoroughly fireproof, monumental in character and creditable to the city.” Andrew Carnegie provided these wonderful buildings to be monuments of literacy and learning for each of the neighborhoods where they were built, each to be recognized by the people as a special place where a person can improve their lot in life.
The West End Branch Library is the second library to house a specifically-designed and constructed library Children’s Room, the first being the Lawrenceville Branch (the first Carnegie Library city branch and prototype for city branch libraries constructed by Andrew Carnegie) on 1898 May 10. Not far from the West End in the Borough of Carnegie, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall opened the first specifically-designed and constructed library Children’s Room in a suburban library on 1901 May 1.
Story hours for children had their beginning at the West End Branch Library. Charlotte Keith tried storytelling as an experiment. She got the idea from kindergartens which were just opening throughout the country. Youngsters at the branch liked the stories, and soon the Carnegie Library Main Branch and other libraries all over the United States copied her plan.
In the Lower Level meeting room, a Library custodian painted pictures of children’s literature fictional characters on the doors to several cabinets, in the 1950s.
More on the Library's Community Celebration:
Link >>> http://www.carnegielibrary.org/events/details.cfm?event_id=104267
Official Library Web Site: Link >>> http://www.clpgh.org/locations/westend/
Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss. The author is a member of the Friends of the Library for the West End Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The author also served as a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in the nearby Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie Borough, from 1995 to 2000.
Related Blog Posts ---
Historic Plaque Sought: West End Branch, Carnegie Library (2012 Oct. 25):
Buhl Planetarium Chick Curator Revisits Chickens at Carnegie Library (2012 April 11):
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/04/buhl-planetarium-chick-curator-revisits.html
2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium
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