Statement before the Glenn A. Walsh
URA Board of
Displacement of Telephone: 412-561-7876
Historic Carnegie Free Electronic Mail: < email@example.com >
Library of Allegheny Internet Web Site: < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
2006 September 14
Good afternoon. I am Glenn A.
In an August 31 news release,
Carnegie Library announced a decision to abandon the historic Allegheny
Regional Branch Library building on the North Side, in favor of development of
a new library on an empty lot on
Originally called the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny, this library building was very special to Andrew Carnegie as it was built in the neighborhood where he grew-up. In 1904, Andrew Carnegie commissioned architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French, who had collaborated on the Lincoln Memorial on the Washington Mall, to design and construct a memorial to his mentor, Col. James Anderson, who had built the city’s first public library. Originally built adjacent to the Library building, today this memorial sits next to Buhl Planetarium, directly across from the Library entrance.
The Allegheny Regional Branch
Library building is Andrew Carnegie’s first publicly-funded Carnegie
Library in the country. With construction of this Library in 1890, Andrew
Carnegie started funding libraries through “The Carnegie Formula,”
which required the community to annually subsidize the library by no less than
10 percent of the cost of building construction. 1,677 libraries were built in
The city’s oldest Library building was completely renovated in the 1970s, so it is not outdated for use as a library. In fact, before lightning closed the Library in April, it was the fourth busiest library branch in the city!
In the news release, Carnegie Library states that they ”recognize the value of the historic nature of the building and want to see a reuse for the facility.” They said the same thing about the historic Hazelwood Branch Library and Auditorium three years ago—yet, today the Hazelwood Library building sits empty and unused.
Any major economic
development impact of a new library structure has to be questioned,
particularly considering that the original library site will be empty and
unused as is the Hazelwood Library building. After more than a decade, a new office
building and parking garage have not spurred major redevelopment in the
Federal/North project; how can a library make a greater impact? Construction of
The Carnegie Science Center was supposed to spur redevelopment of the
According to the news release, Carnegie Library has met with North Side civic leaders and government officials regarding this issue. This is not a substitute for input from the general public.
I ask that any decision by
the URA Board to convey property to Carnegie Library be deferred, until
well-publicized public meetings in the neighborhood result in a consensus
regarding the future of the Allegheny Regional Branch Library building. A
decision to move a library branch should be from a consensus of the people in
the neighborhood, not a decision made behind closed-doors in