Thursday, December 14, 2006

Carnegie Library - Oakland

One of the books I keep meaning to take out of the library, but never get around to actually doing, is Meet You in Hell, the story of the Carnegie/Frick rivalry that ends when Frick responds to Carnegie's dying request for a meeting to iron things out with the infamous line "Tell him that I'll meet him in hell." Both men are Pittsburgh legends and there are plenty of buildings, parks, foundations, and companies named for them, but Andrew Carnegie's name is probably most venerated for the libraries he left. I swear this city has more libraries than coffeeshops. It seems like there is one on every corner. I haven't read much about Carnegie, but what I have read indicates he was quite a ruthless person who spent his last years trying to make good from bad. The Carnegie Library was the first library to have storytime (1899) and the first to have an organized children's department (also 1899). It also had the first ever public library Science and Technology Department (1902). Perhaps Carnegie was a hellion, but his gift of literacy may trump the bad.

Last week I finally spent a day in the main library, in Oakland. There is wireless Internet access (print out the directions for proxy settings here, or ask a librarian for a printout), but if you have a library card, you can use the library's computers for Internet (filtered) access. If you have library card from any PA library you can get a Carnegie card for free.

You need a map to really get around, but it isn't hard. The shelves are crowded and individual rooms are rather chilly, but there are plenty of places, both old and new, to sit and browse books. I would have taken a dozen books out, but I know I need to read the thousands I own at home before borrowing. So, I just sat and read chapters here and there, and left empty-handed.

1 comment:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I used to do my college research in there instead of in Hillman, when I could. Much cooler place.

Come to think of it, the first time I did that was in high school. Found a book from something like 1905 just sitting on the shelves, with everything else.