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Library honoring holiday, history

By Mark Berton
Monday, December 10, 2001

The staff of the Andrew Bayne Memorial Library in Bellevue is hoping to throw a Christmas party that would make Charles Dickens proud.

From 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, a Victorian Christmas party will occur at the library, 34 N. Balph St., in honor of the library’s users, library director Sharon Helfrich said.

She said the theme of the annual party is only natural because the library is housed in a 125-year-old Victorian mansion, which along with 4 surrounding acres, was bequeathed to the borough by Amanda Bayne Balph and Jane Bayne Teece.

Balph was the daughter of Andrew Bayne, a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1837-38 and a former sheriff of Allegheny County. In 1976, the library was designated a historic landmark by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation.

That history and the history of the times from which the house emerged will be celebrated Tuesday night.

“There will be Victorian crafts and Victorian treats and caroling,” Helfrich said. “It’s basically a Christmas party for our patrons. The house is all decorated for Christmas, obviously.”

The event includes door prizes as well, Helfrich said.

Bellevue Councilwoman Shirley Nine, chairwoman of the parks and recreation committee, is very familiar with the event.

“There will be singing — some Christmas carols,” Nine said. “Each room is a decorated theme. There are mantels all through the library which are very decorated, and one room is red, white and blue.”

The decorations continue up to the second floor of the library, Nine said, and there will be plenty of “punch and goodies.”

The library is open specifically for this event. It typically is closed on Tuesday nights, she said.

“It’s a wonderful event,” Nine said.

The library, which was renovated in the mid-1990s, is home to more than 14,000 titles, several magazine subscriptions and a plethora of reference materials.

Nine said circulation at the library is up 20 percent, and the number of users is up by 40 percent over last year.

That number translates into 24,234 patrons as of Oct. 31 of this year, Helfrich said.

There were 17,448 patrons of the library reported at the same time last year.

Helfrich said the circulation for 2000 was 31,298. So far this year, circulation is up to nearly 40,000 items, she said.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. © Tribune Review

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