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Identity & Community

West End Library Closes for Renovations

The 114-year-old Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s West End branch is turning a new page with a series of renovations.

Spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes said the renovations will include the branch’s first air conditioning system and elevator.

“By having air conditioning throughout the entire library, it really will bring people in during all aspects of the year to come in and be able to enjoy library services,” Thinnes said.

According to Thinnes, the goal of the nearly $1.5 million in improvements is to make the building more comfortable and accessible - especially for those with disabilities.

“Right now since the building is more than 114 years old, people with mobility issues and even people who have strollers, they have some difficulty getting into the buildings,” Thinnes said. “So we’re making sure that the building is accessible to everyone.”

Thinnes said the West End branch is also adding a new customer service desk and refurbished restrooms in compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The building’s heating and lighting systems will also be replaced.

Thinnes said they are balancing the facility’s new renovations with preserving its long history.

“We want to make sure because it is a historical building that any design that we do reflects that historic nature, so I don’t think that you’re going to see a huge change in the exterior of the building,” Thinnes said.

These changes include a new slate roof, refurbishment of the existing wood-framed windows and repointing and cleaning of the brick.

But she noted that the inside will have a more modern appearance - with the new customer service desk, furniture, paint and carpeting.

The library will close October 19th through spring 2014, but the programs will continue in different locations.

“While the library is under construction, we want to make sure that neighborhood residents have access to library services, so our staff will be out in head start programs and daycares in the schools to make sure that they continue with library service outreach,” Thinnes said.

Library users can pick up and return requested items at the Library Support Center on Alexander Street.