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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh - Allegheny Regional Remains Closed Indefinitely
Damage to building a public safety concern.

Press Contact: Suzanne M. Thinnes
Communications Manager
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
412-688-8609 (fax)
412-491-6889 (cell)

For Immediate Release

(PITTSBURGH, PA - April 14, 2006) Due to a violent lightning strike that caused extensive damage to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Regional location, the library remains closed indefinitely. The space currently occupied by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at 5 Allegheny Square is not up to public safety standards, posing a significant safety risk to customers and employees. The Library is actively seeking interim space to resume library service to the City's North Side neighborhood.

On Friday, April 7, 2006 at approximately 8:15 p.m. the building, in which the library operates, was struck by a lightning bolt that caused a part of the facility's clock tower to explode sending large debris into the building's roof and clock tower structure. Early estimates suggest a multi-million dollar repair bill, and, as additional damage is discovered, repair costs are expected to rise significantly. When Andrew Carnegie formed the library he pledged money for the construction of the library buildings, not operational dollars. Since the transitioning of the Library to the Allegheny Regional Asset District Board in 1994, the City of Pittsburgh provided capital dollars that are not available today. The indefinite nature of the repairs to Allegheny Regional is causing Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to seek interim space.

Current capital improvements that are renovating and rejuvenating Pittsburgh neighborhood libraries are funded through public and private funding. Rebuilding the existing Allegheny Regional location, which is owned by the City of Pittsburgh, by using funding that is not allocated for capital improvements would jeopardize library services.

The Library's priority is to resume library services to the neighborhood as quickly as possible without compromising safety. Given the complications and extent of the repairs that is needed, the Library is working with the City of Pittsburgh and community officials to find appropriate space.

Immediately after the destruction occurred Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh sought the expertise of a Disaster Restoration Consultant who took steps to secure the Library's collection. The consultant continues to find pieces of granite in the bell tower and on the roof that puts the building at risk of further damage. During the recovery process, a 4,000-pound piece of the building's clock tower was extracted safely from the Library's Lecture Hall, which sits directly above the Children's Area. The glass is so pervasive in the Children's Area that even after three extensive cleanings debris is still embedded. The impact of the granite also caused a complete loss of the library's HVAC system which maintains the building's air quality. Allegheny Regional is currently without heat, hot water or air conditioning, and sustained a partial electrical loss.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is asking the community to please come forward if they are able to provide suitable commercial space for a library location on the North Side. To meet the high demand for library services in the area, the space would need to be large enough to accommodate the Library's collections, computers and approximately 350 visitors a day. In addition, the desired space would be fully ADA compliant, accessible to the entire neighborhood and have Internet access. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Jane Dayton, Assistant Director, at 412-622-6502

As the 4th most visited Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location, Allegheny Regional welcomed over 96,000 visitors last year and serves as the main library for three area schools. For safety concerns library customers are asked to respect the construction perimeter. Items may be returned to any Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location, including:

  • CLP - Downtown & Business
    612 Smithfield Street

  • CLP - West End
    47 Wabash Avenue

  • CLP - Main
    4400 Forbes Avenue

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh card holders may also borrow and return materials from any Allegheny County Library. Anyone wishing to make contributions to resume library services may do so online at

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