Early Children's Services of Carnegie Libraries

By Glenn A. Walsh
February, 1999

The first Library Children's Department was created with the opening of the Main Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh(CLP) on November 5, 1895. Children's Rooms were also incorporated into CLP branches in Lawrenceville(1898), West End(1899), Wylie Avenue(1899), Hazelwood(1900), and Mount Washington(1900).

The Carnegie Library of Homestead, Munhall, Pennsylvania, opened to the public on August 2, 1898, and dedication of the building by Andrew Carnegie occurred on November 5, 1898. However, their Children's Room did not open until June 2, 1900.

The Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie, Pennsylvania opened, complete with a Children's Room, on May 1, 1901. This Children's Room was specifically designed for the use of children, including low bookcases, so that children could reach the books themselves. Hence, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library was the first suburban library in the world to open to the public, complete with a room specifically designed to be, and dedicated as, a Children's Room.

The Children's Library Storytime marks its centennial year, in 1999. It was in 1899 when the first Children's Library Storytime started only a few miles away from where construction was about to begin on the Andrew Carnegie Free Library.

Miss Charlotte Keith, the first Children's Librarian of the newly-opened West End Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, started a Children's Storytime to attract and better serve the young readers of her district. At that time, this probably included some residents of the Carnegie area.

Although the exact date has not yet been determined(West End Branch staff members are still researching the library's history, for their Library Centennial celebration), the first Children's Library Storytime would have occurred sometime after the West End Branch Library opened to the public on January 31, 1899.

Copyright 1999-2000, Glenn A. Walsh, All Rights Reserved

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