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Col. James Anderson's Library


From The History of Pittsburgh: Its Rise and Progress by Sarah H. Killikelly, 1906.

Col. Anderson little realized how vast was to be the influence of the library he established in 1850, and named "The James Anderson Library Institute of Allegheny City," which consisted of the books of his own library, offered to all who desired to use them. Its first home was the second floor of a building on the southeast corner of Federal street and the Diamond. The prominent citizens of the town acted as a board of directors, and this popular institute was open to visitors Tuesdays and Saturdays from seven to nine-thirty P. M. from March first until October first, and from six to nine P. M. from October first to March first. The library was closed through the Civil War and the books stored in the basement of City Hall. It reopened in 1865. The place was popular with boys, and was particularly attractive to a special boy. Here he came in his few leisure hours and read and read. He was not a boy inclined to talk but was very busy. This boy, who loved books and was so busy, grew up very much as he promised, and then, because he was grateful to the Colonel, even after many years, for lending him his books when he was a boy and had none of his own, he ordered a certain great sculptor to make a portrait bust of Colonel Anderson, and beneath was put the figure of a man which personified work, and this was erected close by a great stone building over whose entrance is graven "Carnegie Library, Free to the People."

The Anderson Library is still maintained in its integrity, occupying the first floor of the new High School annex at Arch and Erie streets. There still remain about four hundred of the original books, but several thousand more have been added. So even to-day, Col. Anderson's library continues to help the boys and girls who desire it.


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