Carnegie Library attracts youths in droves

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The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has captured the youthful demographic that would make Hollywood advertising sharks envious -- with 70 percent of Pittsburghers between the ages of 13 to 36 in possession of a library card, according to a study released yesterday on the library's economic impact.

"There is no other resource in our community who has such a reach into that demographic," said Jerry Paytas, director of CMU's Center for Economic Development, who conducted the study.

A magnet for teenagers and 20-somethings, the library rivals a shopping mall with its assortment of books, videos, DVDs and Internet access.

The former bastion of the bookish, the library draws more crowds than the region's sports teams.

"Even though several library facilities were being renovated in 2004, the library was still a top destination," the report said, luring 1.6 million visitors, more than the Pittsburgh Pirates with 1.58 million at PNC Park and well more than the Steelers at Heinz Field.

It also generated $6 for every public dollar spent to fund it in 2004, $75 worth of benefits per Allegheny County resident, the study said. It gets nearly $22 million a year from state, county and municipal sources.

The library sustains 726 jobs yearly and produces more than $91 million annually in combined economic output, the report said, which Dr. Paytas described as money spent by the library and its customers added to the dollar value of the amount of time spent at the library.

Presented before a bevy of local officials, foundation executives and media at its Downtown branch, library director Barbara K. Mistick said the study was compiled to demonstrate the value the 110-year-old institution brings to the community and how critical state, local and foundation dollars are to its existence. The library and two local foundations paid for the study.

"It's a common misconception that Andrew Carnegie left us a fortune," Dr. Mistick said. "The study confirms that the library has evolved with the times ... and remains an important force for the region."

The study was compiled from a number of data sources, including an online survey with more than 1,300 participants, said Dr. Paytas.


Corilyn Shropshire can be reached at cshropshire@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1413.


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