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Main Library Renovations History

Prepared by Sheila T. Jackson, Director, Main Library Redesign


  • Original twin towers flanking the Music Hall were removed.
  • Entry lobby was redesigned incorporating 2 side staircases of Tennessee Marble. The original staircase from the Lending Department to the Reference Department was removed.
  • A hydraulic public elevator was installed moving passengers from the first to the second and third floors.
  • An eleven-story book stack was built replacing the original iron stacks, which were situated at the rear of the Lending, and Reference rooms (each floor had 3 stacks). An electronic book conveyer system was included in the stacks.
  • The Children's Room was relocated from the Lending Department to the south wing where it occupied 7 rooms including 3 reading rooms, an office area, a children's study room, a teacher's reading room and the Carnegie Library School for librarians. (1909)
  • The Technology Department was moved from one side of the Reference Room to the third floor. It was a reference collection only. Circulating books remained in the Lending Department.
  • The Lecture Hall was relocated from the south wing to a dedicated space adjacent to the Museum's Bird Hall.
  • The Periodicals Reading Room was relocated from the Lending Department to expanded space on the 2nd Floor South wing.
  • Catalog and Order Departments were relocated from the 1st Floor to the 2nd Floor southeast rooms.

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  • The Reference Room was repaired and redecorated.
  • 27 steel book tiers were added to the Technology Department, east end to provide added stack space.
  • Public restrooms were installed.

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  • New main elevator replaced existing hydraulic elevator by Westinghouse Electric at the cost of $9,556, traveling at the speed of 300 ft./min.
  • Major electrical systems of the library were upgraded.
  • The Gillespie Reading Room was established in the right room of the Lending Department featuring the world's best literature.

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  • Improved steel underpinnings of Lending south courtyard in preparation for construction.
  • Basement offices were constructed for shipping and print shop, and James Anderson room was built for teens in courtyard area, including skylights.
  • Large all-purpose information desk was removed in Lending in favor of smaller individual desks for librarians.
  • Staff workspace was established on the right side of the room between the James Anderson space and the Gillespie Room.

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  • Children's Room received major renovations. (1952)
  • Air conditioning was installed in Technology Department. Skylights were closed off.
  • Carnegie Corp. provided $ 1.5 million to Carnegie Institute and Library to make building improvements including the total replacement of the roof and upgrade of heating, ventilating, and electrical systems.
  • The Periodicals Room was painted and casework was bleached.

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  • Bindery was closed in basement.
  • Personnel Office merged with Institute Personnel and moved to offices in South Wing. Children's Department lost one more room and Treasurer's Office occupied the space. The westernmost room in Children's Department was used as a conference/storytelling room.
  • Wadsworth Special Collections room was designated in room off of 8th Stack for rare and unique materials.
  • Granite steps to Main Library and Music Hall were reset.
  • Electronic "Checkpoint" book security system was installed.
  • Popular Library (formerly the Lending Department) was refurbished. (1978)

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  • Children's Department was remodeled occupying just 3 rooms in the south wing of the first floor, including offices. A storytelling "pit" was included. (1984)
  • ULISYS was installed as new online circulation system. (1984)
  • Catalog, Serials, Book Order and Processing moved from the second floor south wing to remodeled basement bindery space. (1985)
  • The second floor south wing was remodeled. Two easternmost rooms for expanded Microfilm/Periodicals Room, and two westernmost rooms for the expanded Pennsylvania Department, were renovated. (1986)
  • Staff access to the online catalog was provided at all public service desks.
  • Music and Art were merged and occupied the entire north wing of the 2nd floor.
  • General Reference and Popular Library collections were divided between Humanities and Social Sciences subjects. General Reference became Social Sciences. Popular Library became Humanities. (1986)
  • The "Popular Library" was renovated into the Humanities Department. Public access to the online catalog (CAROLINE) was provided. (1988-1989)
  • The Charge Booth was removed from the 1st floor hallway and a large "access desk" including circulation, registration functions was placed inside the Humanities room. (1989)
  • Marble staircase ceiling murals were cleaned and restored.

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  • Music and Art was renovated with a separate room to house M&A audio-visual materials (east room). Equipped with Internet access computers. (1994)
  • Social Sciences Department was renovated, murals cleaned, and fleur-de-lis murals on the front walls, covered in the early 1900's were uncovered. Equipped with Internet access computers. (1994)
  • Internet access computers were added to the Pennsylvania and Science & Technology Departments. (1995)
  • Children's Department was renovated and equipped with Internet access computers. (1996)
  • Branch and District services moved to Allegheny Regional from basement offices. EIN (Electronic Information Network) occupied renovated space. (1996)
  • Technical Services was remodeled. (2000)
  • Director's Office was renovated. (2001)

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