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Civic Impact

Expanded Carnegie Library Branch Opens New Chapter for East Liberty

The renovated East Liberty branch of Carnegie Library is reopening after 15 months with more space for local school kids to enjoy its reading programs and a new spot for everyone to explore the library system's historical collection.

The $5.6 million renovation by lead architect Anna Chen of EDGE Studio in East Liberty increased the facility's size by 9,000 square feet, moving the children's department to a new space on the first floor.

"One of the bigger points of the move is the building's green features," says Carnegie Library spokesperson Suzanne Thinnes. Its more energy-efficient redesign will save the branch 35 percent of its energy costs, or $10,000 a year, thanks to the use of new, highly reflective roof and other improvements.

The branch's re-opening celebration includes a champagne luncheon fundraiser on Aug. 27 and a free community day on Aug. 28, featuring storytime, crafts and other family-friendly entertainment at the branch's South Whitfield location.

The library's industry-focused Heritage Collection is also new to the neighborhood, housing materials from 1900 through 1970, including many that are rare or unique in Pennsylvania: everything from scientific journals to "a handbook a steelworker might have had in his back pocket," says Sheila T. Jackson, assistant director of main library services.

"But there's also the wonderful home, family and literature collections," adds Jackson, as well as government documents (Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce directories, social registers, telephone directories and maps) and architecture folios. "We have capacity over there for 150,000 volumes," she says, "so we have the capacity to grow. It's really exciting for us."

Writer: Marty Levine
Sources: Suzanne Thinnes, Sheila Jackson, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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