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Capital Improvement Program

Main Library Designs Released
Customers at the Heart of 21st Century Library Improvements

Contact: Lane Cigna
Communications Manager
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
412-578-2458 (office)
412-480-4007 (cell)

(Pittsburgh) May 22, 2003 - Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh unveiled the details of its top-to-bottom plan to transform the Oakland-based Main Library into a customer-friendly destination for the public. Library Director Herb Elish and Owner's Representative Craig Dunham described the Main Library Reorganization and First Floor Renovation plans at an informational hearing held by Pittsburgh City Council on the library's behalf.

In commenting on the renovation plans, Mr. Elish said, "The renovations of the first floor of the Main Library are one element of an overall reorganization of the Main Library which has the dual objective of making the library easier to use and a more enjoyable place to be. If we are successful more people will want to take advantage of the remarkable information and entertainment resources we have, and more people will enrich their lives by becoming library users."

The Main Library is one of five facilities slated for renovations in 2003 & 2004 as part of a system wide Capital Improvement Program. Funding for the $2.8 million construction budget for the First Floor Renovation project come from the proceeds of a bond issue supported by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

"We worked very closely with EDGE, the project architects, to create a design that is dynamic and exciting while maintaining and enhancing the historic nature of the building," said Dunham.

"This was a unique project for EDGE," said Gary Carlough, principal architect. "The library is not a place that simply stores books. Our design responds to the fundamental purpose of the library to meet the needs of both casual and frequent users. A series of new architectural elements that deliver information will complement the sophistication of the existing classical architecture while offering a stimulating and enticing place that will attract customers," Carlough said.

The first floor will be transformed into an area containing new books, music CDs and films as well as librarian-selected featured items. Customers will find and enjoy high-demand items such as bestsellers, fiction, biographies, newspapers and current music and films. Customers will also be able to find current information about the library's services and resources. Other highlights of the design include:

  • A listening/viewing area for featured audiovisuals
  • An expanded teen area with video production equipment
  • A coffee bar which will also carry CLP merchandise such as its Remember Pittsburgh Collection and used books
  • An outdoor reading deck and courtyard created from previously unused space
  • A new ADA-compliant public elevator and ADA-compliant public restrooms
  • A comprehensive signage and electronic information display system
  • Centralized customer services stations

With the improvements, most of the Library's first, second and third floor services and collections will be relocated to reach the planned objectives. Employee cross-training is already underway with the staff gearing up for an exciting and complex transformation. Ultimately, the project will require the Library to move approximately one million print volumes and two million other resources such as bound journals, audiovisuals, photographs and maps within the existing building.

The Main Library will remain open for business during the construction. The First Floor Renovation project, which is expected to begin this summer will take up to 12 months. For more information on Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Capital Improvement Program, visit

About Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: "Free to the People" since 1895
Through its Main Library and 18 neighborhood locations, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh serves the dynamic and diverse information needs of people living in Western Pennsylvania. The Library is an important community anchor that provides universal access to literature, culture, art, music, history, business and technology.

Editor's Notes:
The final designs and floor plans are available online at under "Capital Improvements" - "Projects in Progress" - "Main Library" / "Designs"

EDGE Studio (Pittsburgh, PA) is the architect-of-record
Burchick Construction Company Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) will be the Construction Manager for the First floor Renovation project.

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