It has stood at the top of a hill for a century.
The outside of the cleaned Carnegie Library of McKeesport, an imposing stone structure, is a visual symbol of the strength and importance of the events that have taken place inside this fine building. Events that have given the community an enduring legacy - children exploring the wonder of books, community groups gathering for lectures and events, friends enjoying lively dances and theatrical productions, and civic organizations meeting and making decisions -- all of which have helped shape and touch the lives of many individuals.
The Library itself began as a result of the efforts of one civic organization: The Women's Club of McKeesport. Newly formed in late 1898, the Club's first goal was to create a library for McKeesport. Knowing of his interest and support of other library projects, Club Secretary, Mrs. Fred Crabtree wrote to Andrew Carnegie asking for his help. After many pleas over the next year, he responded with a gift of $50,000 to build the building.
His gift was made with the understanding that the City of McKeesport would furnish a proper site for the building and provide for its maintenance and operation. A far corner of the Evans Estate, bounded by what are now known as Carnegie, Library and Union Avenue was chosen as the location. On February 11, 1900, an ordinance was passed by the Council of the City of McKeesport accepting Mr. Carnegie's donation and appropriating $3,000 annually for the operation of the library. William J. East, a noted Pittsburgh architect, designed the building that is recognized as one of the area's architectural treasures. On July 15, 1902 President James Evans and Mrs. Fred Crabtree of the Board of Trustees opened the Library's doors.
The Library has grown considerably from the collection of 3,000 books Librarian Emily Kuhn first offered the community in 1902 to the present total of 110,134 books. The Library was named a historical landmark in the late 1970's. Ruth Richards was the director from 1963 to 1984. Recent renovations include the installation of nearly 16,600 Spanish roof tiles in keeping with the original design of the building. Since the 1990's additional changes and renovations have included an elevator, handicap accessibility, wiring, computers and the establishment of three branch locations. The White Oak Branch opened in 1992 at Heritage Hill Park. The Elizabeth Forward Branch operated from July 1998 to May 11, 2013. The Duquesne Branch opened in 2001 in the Duquesne Education Center. Jo Ellen Kenney was the director from 1989 to 2013. Kelley Moten was the director from mid-2014 through May 2015. Matthew Stefanko was the director from June through December 2015. Judith Gaydos was the director from June 2016 through August 2017. Colleen Denne began as director in January 2018.
Read an article by Lu Donnelly in Western Pennsylvania History magazine's Winter 2014-2015 issue.
The Board of Trustees, Director and Staff are proud to present the best library around -- the Carnegie Library of McKeesport -- for the next hundred years.
Below is a poster for an ox roast event that was held several years ago: