Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Without a doubt, my favorite Pittsburgh feature (next to my husband, obviously) is the Carnegie library, a massive structure in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh.  It was built in 1895 with money donated by Andrew Carnegie, the second richest man in modern history.

The Carnegie library, unlike most libraries till that point in history, was an open stack library, which meant that patron could browse through the books rather than requesting a clerk to retrieve a certain book from closed stacks accessible only to the librarians. What's more, there was no charge for using the library. Boldly emblazoned across the front of the library are the words "FREE TO THE PEOPLE".

Andrew Carnegie had an interesting philosophy on life, it is what's known as the "Carnegie Dictum" and it follows thusly:
A) To spend the first third of one's life getting all the education one can.
B) To spend the next third making all the money one can.
C) To spend the last third giving it all away for worthwhile causes.
I wish, at this moment, that I had taken pictures of its amazing staircases and the beautiful antique painting on its walls and arches, but alas, I failed. Not that any pictures I could have taken would have done it justice anyway.  You just need to come and visit me so we can take the bus to the library together.

Whenever I have any free time I take the 54C to Oakland to get lost in the library. There are rooms upon rooms upon rooms of books. Not to mention the sheet music collection and the extensive music, recorded books and movie collection. Recently I've been on a documentaries kick, so I've really enjoyed selecting documentaries on a variety of subjects for me to watch as I sew, do dishes, or do general housework. And did I mention the volume of books contained in the library? I did? Well it bears repeating.
I remember once searching two huge rooms of non-fictions books only to not find the section I was looking for. There were so many books in these two rooms I figured it had to be here and I was just missing it. I finally glimpsed a sign on the the wall that read "Not finding what you're looking for? It's down the hall." Sure enough, down the long corridor of books was a small doorway I had missed and it opened up into three more huge rooms of non-fiction.
It reminded me of the Children's song "In my Father's house there are many mansions." The song is talking about heaven and the place that God is preparing for us there. I know it's small minded, but sometimes I can't help wondering if heaven is something like The Carnegie Library.


  1. Oh, how fun! I've worked in a library this past year which has only increased my love for them. If I ever go to Pittsburgh, I shall certainly have to visit the Carnegie Library now...

  2. I don't think that's small minded at all. ;)

  3. In the last few months I've grown to love our library. That one looks like it would be so much fun to work also looks really empty. Is it?

  4. @Ellie - It gets pretty full in the afternoons. I try to go in the mornings though for that reason, and also because the bus is much less crowded.


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