Early Children's Services of Carnegie Libraries

By Glenn A. Walsh, Life Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library
February, 1999

The first Library Children's Department was created with the opening of the Main Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) on November 5, 1895. Children's Rooms were also incorporated into CLP branches in Lawrenceville (1898), West End (1899), Wylie Avenue (1899), Hazelwood (1900), and Mount Washington (1900).

It is still unclear whether the opening of the Children's Department at the Main Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was the first such Children's Department. See the following article:

Sebak, Rick. "The Carnegie Library, The children’s department at Carnegie Library’s main branch has always been a wonderous place." Column.
Pittsburgh Magazine 2011 February.

The Children's Room at the Lawrenceville Branch (first Carnegie Library city branch and prototype for city branch libraries constructed by Andrew Carnegie) included the first Library Children's Room designed and constructed specifically to be a Library Children's Room.

The Carnegie Library of Homestead, Munhall, Pennsylvania, opened to the public on August 2, 1898, and dedication of the building by Andrew Carnegie occurred on November 5, 1898. However, their Children's Room did not open until June 2, 1900.

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, Pennsylvania opened, complete with a Children's Room, on May 1, 1901. This Children's Room was specifically designed for the use of children, including low bookcases, so that children could reach the books themselves. Hence, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library was the first suburban library in the world to open to the public, complete with a room specifically designed to be, and dedicated as, a Children's Room.

The Children's Library Storytime marks its centennial year, in 1999. It was in 1899 when the first Children's Library Storytime started only a few miles away from where construction was about to begin on the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

Miss Charlotte Keith, the first Children's Librarian of the newly-opened West End Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, started a Children's Storytime to attract and better serve the young readers of her district. At that time, this probably included some residents of the Carnegie area.

Although the exact date has not yet been determined (West End Branch staff members are still researching the library's history, for their Library Centennial celebration), the first Children's Library Storytime would have occurred sometime after the West End Branch Library opened to the public on January 31, 1899.

© Copyright 1999, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved

Andrew Carnegie Free Library History

History Plaques of Library

History of Carnegie Libraries

The Carnegie Formula and Early Carnegie Libraries

History of Astronomer and Optician John A. Brashear

Return to Information about the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

Return to Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

Return to History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries