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Fact Sheet

Library Space Programmers: DesignGroup
Architects: Edge-Studio
Information Architecture Consultant: MAYA Design
General Contractor: Burchick Construction, Inc.
Owner's Representative: Craig Dunham


Following a two-year strategic planning process, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh announced plans to revitalize all of its neighborhood libraries. The renovation and redesign of the libraries will result in vibrant, state of the art facilities that will be fully accessible to all community members, more inviting and comfortable, better suited for library and community programs and capable of displaying both print and electronic materials.

As part of the strategic planning process, several problems were identified related to the Main Library.

  • Focus groups indicated to us that today's busy customers want library services to be convenient and comfortable.
  • Services to teens should be expanded.
  • Space needed to house and feature the collections was restricted in the context of the 1895 building, with no growth space for collections available.

To address these issues, the following plan was established. Develop a "popular library" on the first floor in a renovated space, improving service for the browsing reader. Also, reorganize Main Library departments to offer one-stop shopping for reference and non-fiction collections, including the arrangement of books in an intuitive, sequential manner. The scope of the entire reorganization process required moving more than one million print volumes and two million other resources (audio visuals, microforms, maps, technical reports, government documents, patents, photographs, etc.) within the Main Library building.

In the process of preparing for the construction of the new "popular library" on the first floor at Main a study was undertaken of the way customers access Main Library space, staff, collections, electronic resources, and services. This study of the “information architecture” of the library resulted in recommendations to: improve way-finding and signage, reduce steps, simplify complexity, provide for increased direct access, and offer information and customer service desks that are readily identifiable.

Estimated Budget

Through a bond issue supported by the Allegheny Regional Asset District, the construction budget for the renovations to the Main Library was $2.8 million.

Scope of Work

Main Library Renovations

Construction Dates (July, 2003 - April, 2006)

First Floor

  • Children's Department - will continue to offer books, audio-visual materials, online resources and training, and special programs from infant to 11 years of age.
    (Note: The Children's Department was last refurbished in 1996 and is not part of the 2003 -2004 renovation project.)
  • "Popular Library" - will feature high demand titles, new and classic fiction and non-fiction, best sellers, genre fiction, magazines, large print, cooking, African-American, home and how-to, public affairs, biography, travel as well as new and featured audio visuals with a listening/viewing area. This space will provide a coffee bar, ample comfortable seating, an outdoor deck, and a new, ADA compliant public elevator. An expanded teen area will offer recreational reading material and electronic resources in a space uniquely designed with teens in mind. Public restrooms will be refurbished and made ADA compliant. ADA access from the outside to the first floor to the Main Library will be upgraded.

Main Library Reorganization

(Reorganization Dates: June, 2004 - April 2006)

Second Floor

  • Reference and Nonfiction - subjects spanning the humanities, social sciences, music, art, and science and technology will be combined and serviced from single information desk. Librarians focus directly on the customer's needs. Customers will not need to travel among a variety of departments to find the information that they need. Telephone, virtual and email reference services are centralized in one space. Public collections will be arranged in sequence of their Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal numbers. Two additional stack areas are opened to the public.
  • A large department features the adult audiovisual media, adjacent to the non-fiction collections.

Third Floor
(services relocated from the 1st and 2nd Floor)

  • Pennsylvania Department - a feature department that covers local history and genealogy
  • Microfilm Unit - a research collection providing back issues of local and national newspapers, local historic census and texts and periodicals on microfilm
  • Job and Career Education Center - offers assistance in exploring careers, educational opportunities and employment options
  • PC Center - provides public training classes on computer resources and programs

Note: The Foundation Center was relocated to the Downtown location in October, 2002.

Interim Operations

Main Library services will continue to operate during the construction and reorganization, although most first floor departments and services will be relocated.

About DesignGroup

DesignGroup of Columbus, Ohio is helping CLP create a space program for each library. Using ideas and feedback gathered in community meetings and through staff surveys, DesignGroup creates a "bubble diagram" to reflect the multiple needs for library space as well as a detailed list of all the functional requirements of the spaces to be included in the renovated facility. The space program accounts for all elements of space usage including material storage, access, collection sizes, both print and electronic anticipating future growth and circulation for library employees and customers. DesignGroup has provided similar services for other public library systems including the Columbus Metropolitan Library System's Main Branch and suburban libraries and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system.

About Edge Studio

EDGE studio is an experienced group of skilled individuals capable of producing a wide range of design-oriented services and ideas. Work focuses on the role that design plays in shaping experience and perception. They seek out projects that require an innovative design approach and we use various disciplines - architecture, graphics, web, film, sound, writing, and photography to create original, sophisticated, and economical solutions that reflect the individual needs and character of each client. Gary Carlough and Dutch McDonald are registered architects and principals of the firm.

About MAYA Design

MAYA Design is a design consultancy and technology research lab. They "tame complexity in ways that lead to a positive, fruitful experiences." Peter Lucas, PhD, is Founder/Principal/Cognitive Psychologist; Joseph Ballay is Founder/Principal; and Mickey McManus is President/Chief Operating Officer.

For More Information

Please see our web site, speak with or email Sheila Jackson, Assistant Directory, Main Library Services.

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