Due to overwhelming community support,
the Library has diversified and expanded its funding sources. On February 20, library users saw the fruits of their investment: neighborhood libraries that are open every day after school for study time and social time, evenings for homework help and every work day for job searching and learning support. In total, customers gained an additional 119 hours per week of library service.
This was welcome news for communities such as Pittsburgh's West End neighborhood. Affected by drastic budget cuts in 2003, the Library cut hours and closed the building on Mondays and Fridays. Now visitors to CLP - West End have an extra two full days of access to books, computers, programs, homework help, job assistance and early literacy resources. Located on a busy corridor on Wabash Avenue, CLP - West End has deep roots in the community. When CLP - West End was built in 1899, glassworks, steel mills and coal mines supported a small, long-standing African American community and a burgeoning immigrant population from Germany, Ireland and Poland. Today, the library serves residents in Pittsburgh's Elliot, West End, Crafton Heights and Westwood neighborhoods, conducts outreach to hundreds of school children and welcomes a large number of commuters who pass the building on their way to downtown, the South Side and Greentree.
Mark Lee, Manager of CLP - West End, said customers are "universally excited" about the new hours. "There is a large degree of enthusiasm in the community," he said. "Being open more hours has had an immediate economic impact, with more people coming to the Library and supporting area businesses."
In addition to new children's programs, Lee noted that the extended hours have helped the staff at CLP - West End attract teens to the Library for movie night and Xbox Kinect gaming. Programs already planned for adult library users include a seminar in urban chicken farming and a résumé and cover letter workshop as part of the Skills for Success: The Fontana Series Career Building Workshops. Lee is optimistic that a book group for the neighborhood will be established soon.
"We're putting the West End back on the map!" he exclaimed. "The Library is, without a doubt, viewed as a community destination - it's one of the rare gems that appeals to the entire neighborhood."
>> Updated hours of operation for all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations are online. Visit www.carnegielibrary.org to find programs and events happening this month at your neighborhood location.