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Oakmont Carnegie Library History, Page 2

Sara Moot Boyle, 1926-1968

December 1925 was an important month at the Library, as it marked the employment of Miss Sara Moot, later Sara Moot Boyle, of Oakmont as Librarian with a yearly salary of $1,600.  Sara would remain with the library for 42 years.  The Oakmont Carnegie Library began a new era of growth, vitality and community involvement with the hiring of the first in a series of enthusiastic, community-involved professional Librarians who were dedicated to making the Oakmont Carnegie Library one of the finest libraries in Western Pennsylvania.Elementary and high school students were encouraged to use the Library during school hours.  Students would walk to the Library from The Fifth Street and the Gilmore schools, both of which were located at Fifth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The Library was kept open until 9:00 in the evening to provide access for the general public.  A telephone was installed at the Library so that people could call for information—a radical idea at the time.

In 1929, the basement of the Library was made available to local groups, and the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion held regular meetings in the basement rooms.  (A minor fooforaw developed when it was publicized that the Ladies were playing cards after the meetings—bridge and pinochle.  The problem was resolved when the ladies agreed to eliminate the card games, and their regular meeting continued in the basement for a number of years).

During the 1930’s, the School Board, which was also the operating Library Board at the time, used the basement rooms as a kindergarten room.  A problem developed initially when the janitor complained about the extra work created by the kindergarten classes, but the School Board resolved the problem quickly by voting to increase the janitor’s salary from $65 to $85 per month.

In 1966, the supervision of the Library was transferred from the School Board to the Borough of Oakmont.  The value of the Library to the community was recognized by the Borough Council and the Council has always made a special effort to appropriate funds necessary to maintain the Library as a healthy, vital part of the community.

In 1968, after 42 years of service to the Oakmont Library, Sara Boyle retired.  Sara Cristof was hired and served until 1973.

Elizabeth Carlin, 1974-1989

The growth of the Oakmont Library continued with the hiring of  Oakmont resident Elizabeth Carlin in 1974.  It was during her tenure that the Library was designated as “a building of architectural and historic importance to the community” by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.  A plaque was placed at the entrance to commemorate this event.

Working with the Library Board and the Oakmont Borough Council, Mrs. Carlin spearheaded the restoration of the main floor to its 1901 appearance.  The restoration program began in 1979 and was successfully completed in 1983.  Funding for the project was primarily accomplished by generous contributions from Oakmont residents, businesses and service organizations; with additional funding developed from corporate donations, charitable foundations and government agencies.

Mrs. Carlin had a goal of making the Library more accessible to older residents. With the help of Assistant Librarian Marie Palazzi Richter, they secured state funding to establish an extension of the Library at the Riverview Community Action Center.  She established a home outreach program to deliver library materials to those who are unable to visit either of the Library facilities, a program that is currently managed by librarian Dixie Anderson; and, with the assistance of the Oakmont Lions Club, an extensive Large-Print Library was developed.

With funds donated in memory of Jules Palazzi, an Oakmont resident who was a major influence of the Library restoration project, a block of black granite inscribed “Oakmont Carnegie Library” was placed on the Library front lawn in 1988.  This sign was moved in 2009, and is now placed outside the current entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Elizabeth Carlin retired in 1989, but has continued to show her interest in the workings of the library since her retirement. 

Janice Beiber, 1989—2005

Responding to requests from the community, Jan Beiber served as the catalyst for organizing a support group for the Library, and appropriately on April 1st  1992, the Friends of the Oakmont Library, known affectionately as FOOLs, was established.  The FOOLs continue to provide funding for various library programs and activities, including the annual Summer Reading Program.       

Librarian Jan Beiber and her staff worked diligently to prepare the Oakmont Library and Oakmont residents for the twenty-first century.  Library patrons became able to access the internet on computers located throughout the library, as well as to be issued Electronic Information Network library cards.  These cards enable patrons to utilize the services and materials of other libraries on the network, a consortia of Allegheny County’s public libraries.
Working tirelessly, Jan Beiber and her staff, with only occasional weeping and gnashing of teeth, implemented a computerized check-in and check-out system in 1995 that not only facilitates the daily operation of the library, but provides access to the countywide electronic catalog.

Sunday hours were once again established, making the library available to the community seven days a week.

In 1998, the Library Board hired Integrated Architectural Services to create a plan to expand the library.  The shelves were full and study tables gave way to PCs.  Expansion and renovation became necessary as the building approached its 100th birthday.  Funds were raised in the community and a $1.4 million bond was approved by 74.8% of voters in May 2003.  This new construction project began in 2003 and added approximately 6,000 sq. ft. to the building.  The goal of the project was to expand the scope of the library’s facilities, services and programs, and at the same time preserve its historical and architectural integrity, ensuring accessibility for all users and providing expanded reading, display and programming areas for our patrons.