Tucked along Fisk Street in Lawrenceville sits Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's first neighborhood location, CLP - Lawrenceville. Opened on May 10, 1898, the Library has served the residents of Lawrenceville and nearby neighborhoods for 113 years.
Library staff recently poured through historical documents from CLP - Lawrenceville in preparation for a Discover Your Library* event that featured the history and architecture of this notable building. Information gleaned from Annual Reports details how the Library has provided reliable services to residents during both good times and bad throughout its history.
Small Pox Outbreak, 1913
"The appearance of small pox in this district in September affected the circulation seriously. Previous to that time, the circulation had exceeded that for the corresponding part of the preceding year, but a decided decrease occurred during the following months … . "
World War I
The Library had a Win the War Recipe Drawer where Library customers shared their cheapest recipes and it also served as a drop-off point for the Books for Soldiers drive.
The Great Depression
"The Library is not a luxurious extra to these children. They need warmth for cold toes in worn out shoes. They need tables for lessons and friendly help."
World War II
"One young woman whose husband is in the Navy comes to the Library every time she receives a letter, to pour over a map and read about each different port."
"All through the year men and women have been returning from the different branches of the service. They have come from all parts of the world, sometimes with definite requests for books … or just a good story 'not about the war.'"
CLP - Lawrenceville hosted the Library Bobby Soxers Club, a book discussion for girls in grade 5 - 7 and also held story hour in Arsenal Park.
The 1960s and 1970s
Annual Reports from the 1960s and 1970s mentioned declining circulation due to the accessibility of resources in other places like school libraries and growing use of film and television. Then, as now, the staff began looking for new ways to reach people including an increased attention to recreational reading materials (which had been purchased sparingly, since "serious pursuits" were considered a better use of money).
As it has done for more than 100 years, CLP - Lawrenceville continues to meet the needs of the community with programs for children and adults and reading materials both for recreation and for education.
As is true of all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh neighborhood locations, the history of CLP - Lawrenceville is interwoven with the lives of generations of residents who have lived and worked in the area. Library service in the City of Pittsburgh continues to evolve to meet the needs of our users.
"As librarians over the decades have adjusted their offerings to suit the changing needs and desires of their customers, so do we today: computers, Wi-Fi, eBooks and online resources are available as are books and other more 'traditional' library offerings."
– Karen Brooks-Reese, Manager, CLP - Lawrenceville
* The Discover Your Library series is a program offering that is open exclusively to CarnegieLibrary of Pittsburgh contributors and Donor Plus Library Cardholders. The program features special programs about the services, collections, history and locations of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The final program of 2011 was held on October 27 at CLP - Lawrenceville.
>> For information on becoming a Donor Plus Library Cardholder, stop by your local Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location or visit carnegielibrary.org/donorplus.