Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Saving Library Materials: "Great Depression Mentality" ???


Rising above the trees of Allegheny Square is the clocktower of America's first
publicly-funded Carnegie Library, the original Allegheny Regional Branch of
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (originally the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny)
which opened in the then-independent City of Allegheny (now Pittsburgh's North Side)
in 1890. After lightning struck the clocktower in 2006, and even though the City
repaired all damages, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh abandoned the original
building and built a new, smaller branch library three blocks north on Federal Street.
The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh is now considering reuse of the library building.
(Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss; Photographer: Lynne S. Walsh)
More on the history of the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny:
Link >>> http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/photoalbumAlleghenyReg.htm

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The reuse of library space for programming, rather than to store library materials, was one of the themes mentioned by Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA) Executive Director Marilyn Jenkins, during her annual budget presentation before the Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset District (ARAD) on August 20. She noted, approvingly, that some libraries were now reusing library space, which once contained book stacks, for programming for teenagers. In her statement, she disparaged older librarians, who she said had a "Great Depression mentality," for their reluctance to discard library materials and reuse the space for programming.

Glenn A. Walsh, former Life Trustee of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, found this statement appalling. Hence, Mr. Walsh delivered the following statement before the Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset District, at the District's annual public hearing on October 29:

Statement before the     Glenn A. Walsh
Annual Hearing of           P.O. Box 1041
   the Board of                   Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
 Directors of the               Telephone: 412-561-7876
 Allegheny Regional        Electronic Mail: < gaw@andrewcarnegie.cc >
   Asset District                 Internet Site: < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
 2013 October 29                 Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com >

Good afternoon. I am Glenn A. Walsh, 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. From 1995 to 2000, I was a Life Trustee on the Board of Trustees of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, and I author a web site on the History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries at < www.andrewcarnegie.cc >. Today, I am speaking as a private citizen representing no organization.

I was quite troubled, during your annual budget hearings, when the Executive Director of the Allegheny County Library Association spoke disparagingly about some librarians who she said had a “Great Depression mentality” regarding their reluctance to discard library materials.  I wonder if she has forgotten the primary purpose of a library is to hold and maintain published materials of interest to a wide variety of audiences.

When I was a Library Trustee, I sought and received the donation of several additional book stacks, so our small library did not have to weed as many materials out of the collection. At the same time, a reference librarian told me that many older books, magazines, and journals had been discarded from Carnegie Library’s Allegheny Regional Branch. Are all of these discarded materials now available on-line or on microfilm in Allegheny County? I doubt it.

As a former Library Trustee, I am fully aware of the space and financial limitations of public libraries. However, the published information they have acquired and preserved over years and decades should not be discarded simply due to lack of space or funding. 

I ask that the Allegheny Regional Asset District work with public libraries, and perhaps even academic libraries, to plan a special repository for published materials that community libraries can no longer host. Such a repository should include at least one copy of every published material, in whatever media is most efficient, if such a material can no longer be retained at any community library in Allegheny County.

I would be happy to assist with any such plan.


As an addendum, I would like to recognize and again thank the public libraries which donated book stacks and other materials to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in the late 1990s:

* Mount Lebanon Public Library - Donated surplus book stacks, when their library closed for an expansion project.

* Baldwin Township Public Library - Donated book stacks and books when, regrettably, their library had to close permanently.

* Robinson Township Public Library - When the first attempt to establish a public library in Robinson Township failed, the book stacks and other materials were donated to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, which is patronized by Robinson Township residents. Some years later, the second attempt to establish a public library in Robinson Township was successful.

* Upper Saint Clair Public Library - Donated several brand-new computer carrels, for which their library had no use.

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Related Blog Posts ---

Carnegie Library Bldg. May Be Reused by Children's Museum  (2013 Sept. 3):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/09/carnegie-library-bldg-may-be-reused-by.html

Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square Opens  (2012 June 25):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/06/buhl-community-park-at-allegheny-square.html 

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

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