Pittsburg, Kansas is a town with a long and colorful industry and nothing illustrates this better than its public buildings, one of them being the Pittsburg Public Library. Built in 1912, this gracious looking library building is a good example of the Prairie style of architecture that was in vogue at that time in Kansas. Anyone visiting Pittsburg should definitely make sure that this place is included in a tour itinerary.
The original Pittsburg Public Library was located in the city office building and it was very insufficient in size to meet the needs of local residents. However, the historic building that now graces Pittsburg was constructed thanks to a generous endowment of $40,000 from Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American steel magnate who was also one of America’s biggest philanthropists. In fact, Carnegie went on to have more than 3,000 libraries built all over the world even though this particular one was built in the face of determined opposition from local miners who were opposed to the involvement of Andrew Carnegie.
While the Pittsburg Public Library is without doubt a very important place in the local community on account of service it renders to locals, it is also on the tourist map thanks to its historical relevance and beauty. The library was designed by the famed Chicago-based firm of architects, Patton and Miller, and its design kept in mind the preferences of local residents who did not want a classical or ornate looking structure (very much unlike the other libraries built by Carnegie in other parts of the United States). Being a coal mining town where the locals were hard working individuals, the Prairie style of architecture was well received by all. The beauty and heritage of this library has ensured its position on the US National Register of Historic Places.
The exterior of the Pittsburg Public Library is made of Carthage limestone. Like most other buildings in the Prairie style, it too has two stories and a gently sloping red tile roof. The building was renovated in the mid-1990s in order to keep with increasing demand and also to add modern day conveniences such as ramps and elevators. The newly renovated library also has a kid’s library and a meeting room. The renovation also allowed more space for events like children book readings and book meetings. The library is a popular place for authors to promote their books too. Most of the time, authors will hold an event where they talk about their book then do a Q&A with the audience, answering questions like how to get started in writing, how to find ghostwriters and which publishers are best to use. The number of meetings per year has skyrocketed since the renovations thanks to the new space. However, the designers stayed true to its original design sensibility and also incorporated parts of the original façade in the new construction. The renovation project was a great success and the Kansas Preservation Alliance even gave the library an award for excellence. The Pittsburg Public Library was renovated once more in 2010 to include automatic doors and additional parking facilities, including space for handicapped drivers.
While the Pittsburg library welcomes large numbers of Pittsburg residents every day, it is also included in tourist itineraries. Visitors come here because it is one of the finest examples of design and construction dating to the early 1900s. It’s a good idea to check the library timings before heading there since it operates at different timings according to the day of the week.