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Library expansion garners more support

| Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009, 12:00 p.m.

The venerable Carnegie Library of Homestead is improving access for visitors and concert-goers.

At a news conference Wednesday, library officials announced plans to install a new elevator and entrance ramps and to expand the children's and teen sections. They also announced a new computer lab and a Web site for the Music Hall, through which people will be able to buy tickets for events.

"We're going to be state of the art," said Dan Lloyd, president of the library's board of directors.

The expansion will increase the children's and teen sections from 1,150 to nearly 2,000 square feet. So far, the library has raised $50,000 from the Allegheny Foundation, chaired by Tribune-Review owner Dick Scaife, and $10,000 from Janney Investments.

The larger children's section is expected to cost $100,000 and be completed in September.

The elevator and ramps will cost about $300,000 and be finished next year. Lloyd received an oversized check of $150,000 yesterday from Allegheny County Council President Rich Fitzgerald on behalf of the county's Department of Economic Development.

The new access will save senior citizens and patrons with disabilities from having to negotiate the 45 steps in front of the library, which was dedicated in 1898.

"I have a hard time going up and down the steps," said library patron Marlene Morvay, who is taking physical therapy.

Morvay, 64, of Munhall, who was finishing a book near the library's marble fireplace yesterday, also takes classes in the computer lab.

The lab, supported by the Snee-Reinhardt Foundation and the DSF Foundation, doubles to 10 the number of computers the library uses for classes.

"The goal is to teach computer classes," Lloyd said, "and it is tough when you only have five."

The new Web site, www.Librarymusichall.com, allows users to check upcoming events without contacting staff or going through the library's Web site.

Tickets to Music Hall acts not already booked can be purchased through the Web site — saving the library $1,000 or $1,500 per show in the fees of ticketing agents, Lloyd said.

To boost income, the library has updated its fitness center, increased memberships by 50 percent and obtained a license to sell alcohol at Music Hall events.

The goal, Lloyd said, is to make the library less dependent on its endowment, worth about $1 million. The library used to get $200,000 from the endowment each year for its $680,000 operating budget. Last year, it used $175,000 and will draw $125,000 this year.

"We're trying to get ourselves to the point where we take nothing from the endowment," Lloyd said.

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