Governor Ed Rendell Pledges $7.5 Million to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Capital Campaign
Press Contact: Suzanne M. Thinnes
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
For Immediate Release
(PITTSBURGH, PA - June 5, 2006) Governor Ed Rendell announced a $7.5 million gift to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Capital Campaign at a press conference to kick off the public phase of the initiative. The Redevelopment Community Assistance Program (RCAP) grant is funded through the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED).
"In the last three and a half years, we've made strategic investments in community projects and revitalization efforts across the state," said Governor Rendell. "Today, we are taking steps to ensure one of the area's most valuable assets continues to serve the growing and changing demands of local residents. Once completed, these renovation projects will bring people into the community, support existing businesses, and spur further economic development."
"Governor Rendell's gift will help us take the next step in our capital improvement program," said Dr. Barbara Mistick, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Director. "As the region's most visited asset with more than 2 million people visiting our 19 locations each year, we believe that the continued revitalization of our locations is integral in meeting the rapidly changing needs of our communities."
Capital Campaign Co-Chairs, John Surma, Chairman and CEO, US Steel Corporation and Leo Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers officially launched the public phase of the $55 million project, of which the remaining money needed will be funded through the support of the community. The Campaign, "Libraries for Life: Building Communities, Enriching Lives", will raise funds to continue Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's system-wide renovations.
US Steel Corporation and the United Steelworkers have played a major role in winning state support for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. "The preservation and restoration of the Carnegie Library system in Pittsburgh is crucial to revitalizing the city," USW President Leo Gerard said.
"Andrew Carnegie was a visionary," added US Steel Chairman and CEO John Surma. "More than 100 years ago he understood that libraries were not only learning institutions, but also community centers and primers of local economies. While the learning technology has changed, libraries remain the cornerstones of our communities and we're thankful that Gov. Rendell is here today to demonstrate his support for our library system."
Slated for immediate renewal are the Library's East Liberty and Hill District locations. In January, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) approved a site location at the corner of Centre Avenue and Kirkpatrick Street for a new freestanding library facility in Pittsburgh's Hill District neighborhood. Currently, the URA is preparing the site for development.
A portion of the Hill District property at one time housed "Eddie's Restaurant," a neighborhood eatery that was a hangout for the late playwright, August Wilson. After dropping out of school at an early age Wilson spent the better part of his childhood reading in the former Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Hill District location on Wylie Avenue. In 1999, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh presented Wilson with the only high school diploma ever bestowed by the Library.
In 2000 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh embarked upon a system-wide project to make its neighborhood library locations accessible throughout the City of Pittsburgh. To date, six locations have been either renovated or relocated, and the first floor of the Main Library in Oakland has been renovated. The visibility of the completed renovations has brought new vitality, with all locations benefiting from increased visitor and circulation numbers.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's current economic impact study showed that 83% of respondents indicated the renovations were important to their enjoyment of the library while 64% cited that recent renovations to the library were important to their decision to visit a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location. The study, conducted by the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Economic Development demonstrates Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's quantifiable economic benefits to the region.
About Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
"Free to the People" since 1895
Established as a public trust in 1895, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh serves the citizens of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County with a distinguished history of leadership among the country's great public libraries. Through its Main Library, 17 neighborhood locations and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is the region's most visited asset, welcoming over 2.2 million customers last year. Each year the Library provides more than 6,000 free programs, classes and other learning and training opportunities that are tailored to meet the dynamic and diverse needs of people living in Western Pennsylvania.