About Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main (Oakland)

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main is located in the heart of Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, a diverse community that is home to universities, medical centers and residential homes and apartments. It serves as the primary, full-service Library resource for current and historic materials, digital collections and information for Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and state residents.

At CLP – Main, expert librarians are available to answer questions, to provide research guidance and readers’ advisories and to assist in using popular technology. CLP – Main also offers a variety of free entertainment, training sessions and literature-based programs for all members of the family.

The collection at CLP – Main dates back to 1895. Today, it contains more than 2.5 million items. Readers can select from an array of fiction titles, including new and featured items for casual readers, children’s materials, teens’ literature, graphic novels and foreign language materials. This location is also home to a robust nonfiction collection that features literature, history, sociology, science and technology, government documents and patents, art, an expansive music collection, reference books, standards and specifications, microforms, audio visual formats, maps and journals.

As the Main library for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh system, this location also houses several specialized entities:

  • The Library’s Music, Film and Audio Department offers a rich collection of movies, TV series and music in a variety of formats, as well as music books, scores, periodicals and special files that cover all aspects of music.
  • The Oliver Room provides access to the Library’s rare books, manuscripts, historic photographs, institutional and other archives, which blend to create a fascinating view of the past.
  • The Gallery at CLP – Main exhibits local works of art, with new installations every one to two months. If you would like to submit a proposal for the gallery, please call 412-622-3151 or email newandfeatured@carnegielibrary.org.

History of CLP – Main

CLP – Main was Andrew Carnegie’s original library gift to the City of Pittsburgh, and it shared space with the Carnegie Institute’s museum. It was dedicated on November 5, 1895, in the Music Hall by Mr. Carnegie. The building underwent a series of updates to become the space it is today, but it retains its classic charm and much of its original architecture.

The original 1895 twin towers flanking the Music Hall were removed when the building was renovated in 1907, and the Museum was provided with its own independent space facing Forbes Avenue. At that time CLP – Main’s entry lobby was redesigned to incorporate two side staircases of Tennessee Marble. The original staircase from the Lending Department to the Reference Department was removed. An 11-story book stack was built to replace the original iron stacks, which were situated at the rear of the First Floor Lending Department and the Second Floor Reference Room (each floor had three stacks). An electronic book conveyer system was included in the stacks. A Special Collections Room was designated for rare and unique materials in 1985. Public access to the online catalog (CAROLINE) was provided in 1988, and public access to the Internet throughout CLP – Main was provided with the completion of the renovation of the Second Floor in 1995. Most recently, the First Floor, the New and Featured Department and the Teen Department were fully renovated in 2004 to create a one-stop browsing collection for new fiction and nonfiction.

Tours at Main

If you would like to schedule a group visit to the Library, click here.

CLP – Main welcomes all ages of readers, researchers and visitors. For help, just ask a librarian.

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