If you’ve visited the historic Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main branch in Oakland recently, you may have wondered about the two plaques in the lobby honoring Orest and Orysia Seneta. The plaques, located on marble pillars in the regal turn-of-the-century lobby, recognize a generous gift from the estate of Orest Seneta. The inscriptions pay tribute to the Seneta family’s deep love of the Library and the services it provides in our community.
Siblings Orest, Orysia, and John Seneta, the children of Ukrainian immigrants Dmytro and Lesia Seneta, grew up in McKees Rocks, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The oldest child, Orest, was born in 1924, graduated from McKees Rocks High School and attended classes at the University of Pittsburgh. He lived in the Chicago area for a time before moving back to southwestern Pennsylvania to Baldwin Township, where he lived until his death in 2011. According to John, the youngest of the Seneta siblings, Orest deeply appreciated the Library, specifically the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Downtown location, where he spent a lot of time researching business and investments. You’ll find a plaque honoring an earlier gift from Orest’s estate on the first-floor of CLP – Downtown.
“These gifts are a fitting tribute to my brother and a way to ensure that others have the same access to resources into the future,” said John, noting how much libraries have evolved over the years since his brother poured through print newspapers, indexes, and journals to keep an eye on the stock market and learn more about interesting companies.
The tribute also honors their sister, Orysia, born in 1928. She worked at CLP – East Liberty after receiving her Master of Library Science from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1951, and went on to work as a school librarian at Wilmerding High School and Bethel Township Elementary School. Orysia passed away in 2007.
John’s late wife, Hisayo, worked at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, for many years, ensuring that its vast collection was available to health agencies and the public worldwide.
Libraries were a well-spring of information and inspiration to the Seneta family, and with their extraordinary legacy they have helped ensure others can enjoy these resources as well. Passing these plaques reminds one every day of the transformative power of libraries!