Carnegie branch libraries
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Does anyone else have any favorites / hidden gems? (Either for the ambiance or the collection.) After all, yinz guys like books n'at, right? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
That's not to say that I don't like my local library, though -- everyone's super friendly there, and it's a little more personable, I think, probably because it's not as large and has a smaller staff.
Of the originals, both chartered and gifted, these include(d): Allegheny City (N. Side), Braddock, Homestead, Duquesne, and Carnegie.
The library on the North Side (the 1st chartered library) is now closed (due to a lightening strike!), but a portion of the building lives on as the New Hazlett Theater. The Duquesne library was torn down (?!) several years ago, as considered too costly to maintain.
Three of the original gems, however, still shine very brightly.
The Carnegie Free Library of Braddock has evolved and no longer has a bath house in the basement, but a ceramics studio. Good indy rock shows and symphony ensembles are being put on in the auditorium and the French & Indian War Museum is an amazing place to find out about Braddock's defeat nearby.
Carnegie Library of Homestead stands like a beautiful lady high on it's hill. It is renowned as possibly the best surviving example of what Carnegie intended his libraries to be. The gym and pool still operate and offer reasonable rates of membership. (As an interesting piece of trivia - 4 women trained in the pool there and 2 went on to win Olympic medals in the '28, '32, and '36 games). There are still bowling lanes in the basement as well. This venue has been the most successful at booking music gigs of prominent and well-known intl. acts. A new mural of the night sky by Ian Green was recently painted on the ceiling of the reading room.
Carnegie Free Library is another of the majestic beauties still packing them in. A gift to the people of the town who renamed themselves for him, this library, like Homestead, has a beautiful music hall that is home to several musical productions a year. The interior is very impressive and high ceilings mean lots of tall windows for an airy and reflective space. This library boasts the 1st suburban library in the world to have a children's reading room (Lawrenceville being the 1st EVER children's room in a library). Instead of a pool, they got a gym, which is still used as a dance space. Don't forget to visit the Capt. Thomas Espy Civil War Room. One of just a handful of GAR posts left - war veterans met here until the 1930's and it is like a time-capsule, and an educational boon for all Civil War enthusiasts...
All of these are worth a visit for the fact that they physically represent the first examples of a cultural shift and a movement towards self-knowledge and the importance of education and learning in America.
In addition to these, I would add these other Carnegie library locations:
Homewood library - recently renovated to it's original splendor, with warm wood and windows creating a wonderful, communal library space.
C.C. Mellor library in Edgewood - I agree with the above poster, that it is like being in someone's home library space! of course -
Main in Oakland, with it's many glass-floored stacks, the calm, outdoor bamboo-lined interior courtyard, and the ability to spy on the dinosaurs and museum goers from the stacks is a one-of-a-kind experience.
Mt. Washington - coming out of this library on Grandview Ave. is like coming out of the Ft. Pitt Tunnel: all of a sudden, *BAM* THERE'S THE CITY!
Penn Hills - a wonderful, new 'green' library building. A great space, impressive audio/visual lending collection
Bayne Memorial Library in Bellevue - another example of a library that seems like it's in someone's house - because it is!
one of my favorites - Sq. Hill. this is always bustling with activity. I like grabbing a seat and reading my book or magazine in the big, open, front space overlooking the Forbes/Murray intersection.
Hope that helped a little? Cheers...