1800s

1848

William Carnegie moves his family, including 13-year-old Andrew, from Dunfermline, Scotland, to Pittsburgh.

1801-1866

Various subscription, Congregational,
private, and school libraries and reading rooms serve some residents of Pittsburgh.

1853 May 19

Andrew Carnegie writes to the Pittsburgh Dispatch arguing that he should have access to the Anderson Library, a private library on the North Side intended for “working boys.”

1881

Carnegie, who has made his fortune in railroads, oil, and steel, offers Pittsburgh $250,000 for public library building if the city commits to annual funding. City Council rejected the offer because the city couldn’t legally use tax money for a library.

1890

Carnegie again offers Pittsburgh money ($1 million) to erect a massive building for a library, museums, and concert hall. This time around, the City accepts, having fixed its pesky tax issue in 1887.

1893 July

Construction begins in earnest for Carnegie Public Library in Oakland, then the geographical center of the city, though it was undeveloped at the time.

1895 April 1

1895 April 1

Edwin H. Anderson becomes the first Librarian of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh after serving as director of the Carnegie Library in Braddock, which opened in 1889. Anderson left CLP in 1904 and eventually became director of the New York Public Library.

1895 November 5

1895 November 5

The completed Carnegie Institute, housing the Library, Art Gallery, Science Museum, and Music Hall was dedicated with ceremonies and a weekend of concerts at the Carnegie Music Hall.

1896 February 1

The Periodicals room is converted to a children’s reading room since the original building plan neglected to include a space dedicated to children.

1898 April

1898 April

The Children’s Department, which will overseee services at Main and branches, is established. It is believed to be the first fully organized Children’s Department in public libraries.

1898 May 11

The Lawrenceville Branch opens, built on land donated by Stephen Foster’s family.

1898 July

1898 July

The Home Library program begins delivering wooden boxes full of books to homes in neighborhoods without library branches. A volunteer visits each home weekly to read to children, talk about books, and tell stories.

1898 December 1

Andrew Carnegie offers to pay for an addition to the original building so the library can use the entire space, with the new areas to house the Art Gallery & Science Museum, plus add a foyer to the Music Hall. Initial costs were estimated at $1.75 million; by the time it’s complete, Carnegie donates $5 million and pays for additional costs directly.

1899 February 1

The West End Branch opens and introduces something brand new for libraries: a story hour for children. The program proves so popular, that it’s soon expanded to Main and the other branches.

1899 June 1

1899 June 1

The Wylie Avenue Branch opens. An estimated 1,000 children visited the branch on its first day.

1900s

1900 April

Harrison Craver, a chemist and metallurgist, joins the library to organize the first Technology Department in any municipal library. Students, and engineers in private practice, are the most frequent visitors to the collection.

1900 June 1

The Mount Washington Branch opens.

1900 Aug 16

The Hazelwood Branch opens with one feature that sets it apart from other branches – it has an auditorium that seats 600 people.

1900 October 1

1900 October 1

A Training School for children’s librarians welcomes its first class of five students at Carnegie Library.

1904

Anderson H. Hopkins succeeds Edwin Anderson as Librarian. He serves for three years before retiring due to poor health.

1904-1907

The renovations funded by Carnegie finally begin. In addition to expanding the building, the two campanile-style towers were removed because Carnegie thought they looked like “donkeys’ ears.”

January 1906

A “call station” for books opens at Kaufmann Brothers. It houses a small collection, but is primarily a pickup point for books patrons request from the Main library. By 1914, there are 259 similar stations at fire stations, department stores, schools, and playgrounds.

1906 October 10

The East Liberty branch opens. It’s the largest of the branches and serves 75,000 people in the East End.

1907

1907

Service to the blind begins with a small collection of embossed books at Main. By the end of the first year, 86 readers have registered and borrowed 1,461 books.

1907 April 11

1907 April 11

Andrew Carnegie formally presents the $6,000,000 Carnegie Institute in a dedication ceremony witnessed by 20,000.

1908

Harrison W. Craver named Director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, rather than having the title “Librarian” like his predecessors.

1909 January 30

The South Side branch opens, serving a neighborhood where more than half of the residents were born outside of the United States. The branch specifically employed a Polish woman to help explain the library’s services and register other Poles.

1910 March 10

The Homewood Branch opens. This will be the last new library building in the CLP system until 1964.

1917

John Hopkins Leete becomes the library’s Director, leaving his position as Dean of the School of Applied Science at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now CMU).

1918 October 26-November 7

1918 October 26-November 7

The library closes for two weeks due to the Influenza Epidemic.

1924 June 2

The Business District Branch sets up shop in the City-County Building, combining specialized business knowledge and general neighborhood lending services.

1928

The Knoxville-Carrick Branch opens inside Rochelle School. The Board of Education provides space, utilities and cleaning services; the Library provides staff, books, furniture and equipment.

1928

1928

Ralph Munn succeeds Dr. Leete as library Director. He will stay for 36 years and expand CLP’s services throughout Allegheny County.

1930

The Brookline and Carrick neighborhoods get storefront branches. Brookline will move two more times before getting its own building; Carrick will relocate to a former movie theater that provides plenty of space.

1933

The Great Depression causes a drop in city funding for the library. Staff is cut from 285 to 232. To compensate for the loss of staff, hours are cut at branches, and deposit stations are closed.

1936 March 17

The St. Patrick’s Day Flood damages two branches: The Penn Avenue branch at 28th Street and Penn Avenue, and the West End branch.

1942

The library’s Victory Book Campaign asks for donations of books for military libraries at home and abroad. Pittsburgh forwards more books to these libraries than any other city except New York.

1943 September

The Knoxville Branch moves into “temporary” quarters after the Rochelle School building is sold; it stays for 22 years.

1945 November 5

The Library celebrates its 50th anniversary with an open house attended by 3,000 people.

1952 September 4

1952 September 4

CLP starts bookmobile services. It lends 83,075 books in its first year.

1956 June 1

All residents of Allegheny County may now borrow books from CLP and its branches, and bookmobiles are added to serve communities without their own libraries. The expanded services are funded by the County Commissioners.

1956 October 19

1956 October 19

The Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny, and its Woods Run branch, become part of the CLP system. Even though Pittsburgh absorbed Allegheny City in 1907, the library continued to operate independently for another 49 years.

1964 September 30

Keith Doms is named library director and oversees major organizational and administrative changes to modernize the library.

1964 July 8

New Woods Run branch opens.

1965

New Knoxville branch opens.

1965

A $1.6 million renovation project gives the Allegheny Regional Library its first face-lift since it was built in 1890.

1966

The library establishes the International Poetry Forum and presents annual readings by distinguished poets from around the world.

1967

New Beechview Branch opens.

1968

1968

Service to the Blind, which was based in Main, and later Allegheny Regional Library, moves to Baum Boulevard, where it still operates today, and adds services for physically handicapped patrons.

1969 January

Anthony A. Martin named director of CLP. Under his tenure, four branches will open or move to new buildings, and modernize more services.

1969 February 28

New East Liberty Branch opens after its former location was razed for a redevelopment project.

1970

The Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Reading Center opens.

1972

Squirrel Hill branch opens

1981 March 23

Sheraden Branch opens

1982

New location for Hill District branch established after demolition of large parts of the neighborhood in the 1960s left it far away from the people it was intended to serve.

1986

Robert B. Croneberger becomes library Director. His philosophy of the library as an active information advocate, rather than a “passive dispenser of information,” starts many new partnerships for the library.

1989

1989

The library introduces CAROLINE, its first computerized catalog system. Restoration/renovation of Main branch.

1999

Herb Elish, a business executive, becomes library director after Croneberger’s death. His business background leads to changes that make library spaces more user-friendly.

1999

August Wilson, who dropped out of high school, but continued his education by reading voraciously at the Hill District branch, receives his high school diploma from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

2000s

2001

Lucille Colamarino takes advantage of library fine Amnesty Week to return a book she borrowed in 1924. (The fine would have been $12,500!)

2002

CLP makes e-books available for the first time through NetLibrary.

2002-2003

As part of a major renovation campaign, Main, Downtown, Squirrel Hill, Brookline and Homewood all see redesigns and improvements.

2004

Downtown & Business branch moves from Wood Street to its current location on Smithfield Street.

2005

Dr. Barbara K. Mistick becomes the first woman Director at CLP.

2006 April 9

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh — Allegheny Regional branch on the North Side is struck by lightning, forcing the building to permanently close to the public.

2008

2008

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh opens its first new library in nearly three decades at the key, once-blighted Hill District intersection of Centre Avenue and Kirkpatrick Street.

2009

Library officials announce plans to close branches in Beechview, Hazelwood, Lawrenceville, West End, and merge or relocate branches in Carrick, Knoxville, and Mt. Washington due to budget issues. The closures are averted when money from legalized table games and a 2011 tax initiative is directed to the library.

2011

The “Our Library, Our Future” tax initiative passes, staving off proposed branch closures and restoring reduced hours.

2012 January

Mary Frances Cooper is named the 11th director of CLP.

2012

The Pittsburgh Iron and Steel Heritage Collection, a digital archive, goes online, providing access to more than 500,000 items from the CLP’s Archives and Special Collections that tell the story of the city’s steel, iron, and coal industries.

2014

Edith Abeyta becomes Artist in Residence at the new Hazelwood branch, a project sponsored by the Library and the city’s Office of Public Art.

2016

CLP becomes a partner in the Historic Pittsburgh, an online collection of digitized primary resources pertaining to the history of the city.

2020, March-August

All Carnegie Library branches close to the public as part of the state-mandated COVID-19 virus containment efforts.