Statement before the                Glenn A. Walsh

    URA Board of                              P.O. Box 1041

       Directors:                                        Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.

    Displacement of          Telephone: 412-561-7876

 Historic Carnegie Free  Electronic Mail: < >

 Library of Allegheny     Internet Web Site: < >

                                                                        2006 September 14


Good afternoon. I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mt. Lebanon. Today, I am speaking as a private citizen, representing no formal organization.


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 Federal Street. This announcement came as a news release—Carnegie Library sought no input on this decision from the general public !!!


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 United States under “The Carnegie Formula.”


The city’s oldest Library building was completely renovated in the 1970s, so it is not outdated for use as a library.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 North Shore in 1991. However, plans for boat docks, yacht club, and MisterRogers theme park never materialized; if The Carnegie Science Center could not help redevelopment, how can a library?


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 Oakland!


Thank you.