Maker Professional Training Program

This Wednesday, November 5th at 6:00 pm, Jamie Sauer from the Maker Professional Training Program will be at CLP-West End to talk about the training program. The Maker Professional Training Program, through funding from a Department of Labor Federal grant, offers a free 90-day job training program for unemployed and under-employed people in the Pittsburgh area. The MakerPro teaches individuals next-generation digital making and machinist skills which they can use to find manufacturing jobs or create their own start-up companies. The classes are taught at a makerspace called TechShop, in the Bakery Square section of East Liberty, Pittsburgh. There the participants can get hands-on experience using laser cutters, CNC machines, water-jet cutters, milling machines, CNC routers, welders, 3D printers, and more.

I recently got to talk to Jamie about the program. It is helping to fill the skill-gap that local manufacturing employers are experiencing and it’s helping people develop new skills and find gainful employment in full-time careers in manufacturing. The program is bridging the gap between “making” and manufacturing: it’s teaching people how to turn their affinity for making into a fulfilling career.

The Maker Professional training program has a monthly enrollment so they are constantly reaching out to find and help people gain employable skills as quickly as possible. There are over 100 people in the program and they are adding and placing more participants on a monthly basis. This is the first program of its kind through the department of Labor and it is quickly gaining steam since its launch in May of this year.

They have a website that is open to the public as well as the MakerPro participants – On the site, people can create their profile, describe their skills and competencies and display their portfolio of finished and current, on-going projects.

If you are interested in learning more about the Maker Professional Program and the types of skills you can learn in their classes join us on Wednesday night at the West End location for a talk, cookies and coffee! The next round of classes begins December 1st!


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A Purr-Fect Howl-oween For Reading

It’s no trick: our treat for you this Halloween is a post that showcases pictures of our best fuzzy friends. No calories or carbs: just plenty of library worker pet photos and their accompanying tails…er, tales.

Suzy / Ace / Otis


Ace is the brains. Otis is the brawn.


Ace is like Santa Claus.


Move along, human.

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You, Matthew Inman

Despite my best efforts at convincing them it’s not a “How-To-Not-Get-Caught” manual, neither cat pays me any attention. Both Ace (I say he’s white and orange, he insists he’s cream and mango) and Otis (I say he’s fat, he says he’s husky) have lured me into their deadly traps more than once. Oh, Otis loves having his belly rubbed? Well, why didn’t someone tell me? Until he doesn’t and I’m stuck in the famous bear trap of claws and teeth. You can also see from the above pictures that Ace is an expert at the judgemental stare. Thanks to Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman, I have to live with the knowledge that when Otis kneads me before he plops down for the night he is actually checking my internal organs for weakness. And every time I yell at Ace to get off the counter, I have to be reminded that Hitler hated cats and Abe Lincoln loved them and so what kind of person am I? When they aren’t plotting to kill me, Otis enjoys People magazine and Ace reads extensively about the French Revolution. Libérez les chatons!



Joelle / Leo Mushnik / Leyla

See how sweet and innocent we are? Heh!

This is little Mr. Leo Mushnik and his sister Leyla. They are very young, so I read to them while they dance and drink from my water glass.


Jess / Sprocket


“I’m missing This American Life to take this photo…”

Meet my buddy Sprocket, the cutest little Boston terrier in the land. I get to visit him at my friend’s monthly potluck dinners. When not burrowed under all of the blankets, he enjoys reading about American history, like Sarah Vowell’s The Party Cloudy Patriot.


Briana / Mali

Mali’s pick: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of…” an owner who doesn’t spray her with the squirt bottle every time she jumps on the kitchen counter. MEOW. Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, “a wife.”


Mali has good taste in classics!

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s timeless critique of courtship and the marriage plot. Witty satire and splendid characters abound in this nineteenth century comedy of manners. I enjoyed purr-using the pages of this Austen classic while curled up on my owner’s freshly laundered (read: cat-hair free… but not for long) sheets.

Though written over 200 years ago, Pride and Prejudice is every bit relatable today as it was in 1813. Featured in the novel is an over-bearing mother who can’t rest until all of her daughters are married to handsome rich men. Sound familiar? No? Maybe that’s just me then. And then there’s the hilariously awkward Mr. Collins who proposes marriage to his cousin Eliza Bennet. Okay. Maybe that part isn’t so relatable (or at least we hope it isn’t). At any rate, if Pride and Prejudice is the cat-tastic classic you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t found the time, make it your next weekend read! Meow.


Ginny / Astro



Astro implores you to read Hyperbole and a Halfby Allie Brosh. A hilarious and insightful book based on a webcomic/blog of the same name, Hyperbole and a Half explores childhood, depression, and the absolute absurdity of living with dogs. Astro especially enjoyed “The God of Cake,” a story he connected with on a fundamental level because it involves misbehavior and delicious food.


Tara / Frank

Frank is in the mood for spooky stories.

Frank is in the mood for spooky stories.


Frank is getting into the Halloween spirit by reading some morbid short stories. And really dear readers, outside of Edgar Allen Poe, is there any better author than Shirley Jackson to read around this most ominous of holidays?

“I can’t help it when people are frightened,” says Merricat. “I always want to frighten them more.”Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle


Melissa M. / Trixie


The songs of my people!

Melissa M.’s cat, Trixie, only reads poetry that really speaks to her. To see other pet-reading pics from the First Floor — New and Featured staff, check out this photo album on their Facebook page.


Sue Banks / Honey Banks Earl


The incredibly photogenic Honey Banks Earl is very much a Renaissance dog.

The incredibly photogenic Honey Banks Earl is very much a Renaissance dog.

I like books about squirrels.  This one is especially helpful:  Outwitting Squirrels by Bill Adler, Jr., and I’m happy that we have three editions in the catalog, including the 2014 update!  I’ve been chasing those things for 13 years and I’ll tell you, squirrels have changed a lot since the first edition was printed in 1988.

I also enjoy spending quality time with the couch while listening to music, like Through a Dog’s Ear by Lisa Spector.  I appreciate its subtitle – “music to calm your canine companion,”  but would remind my Friendbeasts that the person on the porch is clearly here under nefarious purposes.

Although I don’t have my own library card and can’t work the iPad (yet), I do enjoy streaming video from Hoopla  like this: The Dog Who Saved Halloween.  And I don’t care that the hacks on IMDB gave it 4.4 stars – I think it’s a classic.


Tim / Noodle


Must increase brainpower!

Noodle likes to increase the size of his already gigantic head by reading.  Here he is curled up with Christopher Miller’s American Cornball: A Laffopedic Guide to the Formerly Funny.



Jeepers creepers, it's Cosmo!

Jeepers creepers, it’s Cosmo!

This is Cosmic Creepers, a/k/a Cosmo to his friends. He lives with Kerry Hanahan of LBPH.


Melissa F. / Mrs. Douglas

Mrs. Douglas with CLP books

“I am Reader … hear me roar!” Or, you know, purr.

With a name like Mrs. Douglas (and those possessed-looking eyes, thanks to her owner’s cell phone camera), Bad Feminist is an apropos book selection for Melissa F.’s cat.  Among this essay collection, Mrs. Douglas especially recommends “To Scratch, Claw or Grope Clumsily or Frantically.”   An eclectic reader who certainly isn’t as picky with her reading material as she is her food, Mrs. Douglas, age 5, has a bit of a wild streak; she tends to race around the house maniacally and her glowing eyes are always bigger than her rather sensitive stomach. Given the number of CLP books Mrs. Douglas (and her owners) are currently indulging in, she’s in danger of exceeding the maximum number of items allowed on a CLP account.

(For those interested in the etymology of such things, Mrs. Douglas got her name from the fine folks at the Delaware Humane Association who originally thought she was a he … and named her Douglas.  When that proved to be incorrect, they solved that problem by officially adding the Mrs.  Now happily living in Pittsburgh, this bad feminist tends to answer to whatever pleases her – which is, more often than not, simply Douglas.)

Eric / Captain Fang

Cue The Ramones...

Cue The Ramones…


This is Captain Fang, posing with a book he feels is appropriate. He lives with Eric Meisberger of LBPH.


There you have it: our pets, paws-itively smitten with books, reading, and all the other great services the Library has to offer. What about your furry friends?  We’d love to see some candid photos in the comments section.

Happy Howl-oween!

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Heart O’Scotland

As a devoted reader of historical romance and Jane Austen, I prefer to read stories set in England during the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. But with the recent news of the Scottish Independence Referendum and the overwhelming resurgence in popularity of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon on television, I’m inspired to feature some wonderful historical romances either set in Scotland or that feature Scottish protagonists during the Regency period. Read on for some that I have absolutely  loved.

The Bride Says No, The Bride Says Maybe, and The Groom Says Yes 

by Cathy Maxwell

The enchanting Brides of Wishmore series is wonderful and uplifting. The small village of Aberfeldy is the setting for the happy endings of the beautiful but very different Davidson sisters, Tara and Aileen, and their widowed cousin, Sabrina. There are lots of sticky situations to get them to their happy endings including a runaway bride, a love triangle, and a dissolute father who sells his youngest daughter to a local laird in order to settle his gambling debts. Despite the drama, these stories are joyful and fun, especially when read with a charming Scottish brogue on e-audio by Mary Jane Wells.

The Devil Wears Kilts and Rogue with a Brogue by Suzanne Enoch

Ranulf and Arran are the eldest brothers of Clan MacLawry, desperately trying to save their changing way of life amid clan clashes and the influencing ways of the English. One will fall for an Englishwoman against his better judgment while the other will be enchanted by the daughter of a rival clan member. Though it mostly takes place in London, the unique Scottish ways of Ranulf and Arran dominate the story and it’s fascinating and fun to read. The third book in the Scandalous Highlanders series comes out next March.


Claimed by the Laird by Nicola Cornick

The third book in British author Cornick’s Scottish Brides series is the best. Christina McMorlan is the eldest daughter of a selfish widower who has set aside her own happiness for that of her family. But when her whiskey smuggling business is threatened by Lucas Black, a stranger out for justice, she takes a chance on a different kind of fate. This is a unique and beautiful story featuring an older brave and independent heroine and the handsome and protective gentleman who unexpectedly enters her life.


How to Marry a Highlander by Katharine Ashe

This is a truly charming and fun e-novella. Teresa Finch-Freeworth goes after the only man she has ever wanted, Duncan, the Earl of Eads, a man she once locked eyes with across a crowded ballroom. He thinks she’s daft and, besides, he has his hands full with seven sisters he must see married and settled on limited funds. But when Teresa storms into his unsuspecting path, the results are delightful and dangerous. This novella is part of Ashe’s wonderful Falcon Club series.


The Laird by Grace Burrowes

And now for something much more serious. Husband and wife Michael and Brenna must get to know one another all over again when he returns to Scotland after nine years at war. Brenna’s painful and secret past threatens their future happiness as the menace has not gone away and is in fact very close to home. A sensitive romance that tackles abuse, love, and family written by one of the most consummate storytellers writing historical romance today. This is the third book in Burrowes’ dark and dramatic Captive Hearts series, but it can be read as a standalone.

-Maria A.

*This is the fifth in a series of recommended notable historical romances.


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Don’t Go In There!

It’s hard to say why I find horror movies, and haunted house movies in particular, so appealing. It probably has something to do with being frightened, but from the comfort and safety of my couch or theater seat (the credits roll, and I’m reminded that none of this is real). It could also have something to with the house I grew up in, the “original homestead” of my ancestors in Oregon. While I don’t recall it being particularly haunted, it was a shadowy old Victorian house in great disrepair, and years after we moved out I heard rumors that it was the sort of abandoned house that teenagers would dare each other to spend the night in (I will not include a photo here dear readers, because I don’t want it to haunt your dreams). Of course, scary movies might also appeal to me because of my family’s occasional visits to the Timberline Lodge for dining — the Lodge served as the exterior of one of the (imho) most creepy movies ever filmed, The Shining.

Pop Pilgrims The Shining from Timberline Lodge on Vimeo.

Whatever the reason, I like a good, scary haunted house movie. And whether you prefer your haunted house movies to be atmospheric or funny, there’s sure to be something on this list that appeals to everyone:


The Amityville Horror
A couple’s Long Island colonial house on the river’s edge seems perfect–until it isn’t.


The non-ghosts are scarier than the ghosts in this film. After a  trendy New York family moves into an old farmhouse, the former tenants (a couple of likable ghosts) contact the afterlife’s bio-exorcist “Beetlejuice” to help them scare the family away. The Danny Elfman score for the film is also killer.


The Changeling
After the death of his wife and child, a composer moves to a secluded mansion, where he attracts the unwilling attention of a possible ghost. An underrated gem, with some scenes that inspired the director of the more recent The Conjuring.


The Conjuring

One of the best haunted house movies to come out in years, this 2013 film focuses on a family terrorized by a dark presence in the secluded farmhouse they just moved into.

The Evil Dead
Five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in the Tennessee woods unwittingly resurrect malevolent demons and spirits.


The Haunting
Adapted from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, this psychological thriller tells the story of four people who come to a haunted house to study its supernatural phenomena—and may never leave.


House (1977)
After learning that she will be sharing the summer with her father’s new girlfriend, a young girl invites some friends to join her at her aunt’s house instead. With a sick aunt, a bloodthirsty cat, and evil spirits lurking around, the girls find that it might have been better to stay at home. A very weird, crazy film that is half horror, half dark humor.


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Some Scary Sci-Fi

Being only three days out from Halloween leaves me thinking of scary movies. Being a sci-fi nut, I love those films that freely mix the horror and science fiction genres. Two dynamite films come to mind: one well-known, the other mildly underrated.

Alien_movie_cover AlienRepeat after me. “Alien is not a sci-fi movie; it’s a horror movie.” Ridley Scott’s brilliantly gritty space thriller dresses in plenty of sci-fi trappings, but delivers all the chills of a first-rate horror flick. The spacers terrorized by H. R. Giger’s hideous creature are simple corporate workers trapped in a terrible situation and knocked off one by one in gruesome fashion. Mr. Scott uses cunning visual techniques and camera angles, and just enough creature effects, to perfectly capture the frenetic action of the crew’s hopeless struggles against a power beyond their capabilities. The best way I can demonstrate this is by linking to a clip of Brett’s (Harry Dean Stanton) death. It is not for the faint of heart, so don’t click unless you can handle it. Here it is. Brett stands powerless in the face of the inhuman Alien. The horror he endures in those last few seconds of his life freezes the viewer’s blood. It did mine. That’s why Alien succeeds as a horror film. 


Event-Hor-cov  Event HorizonIf I ever make a list of the most underrated films of all time, this one will rank very highly on it. This also happens to be another horror movie masquerading as a sci-fi flick! The sci-fi equivalent of a haunted house is a haunted starship, and oh boy, does Event Horizon deliver the goods on that account! The eponymous ship, the Event Horizon, mysteriously reappears after seven years of being lost in space. Lead by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), the crew of the Lewis and Clark answer the lost ship’s distress call. They find the Event Horizon deserted. A ghost ship. Horror ensues. Director Paul W. S. Anderson sets a dark tone with plenty of darkly shot corridors, strange sounds, and haunting visions. Things really start to go pear-shaped when the crew of the Lewis and Clark find a hidden video recording of the last horrific moments on the Event Horizon’s bridge before it disappeared. I am going to link to this, but it is incredibly disturbing and horrific. You have been warned. Here is the link.

These two films represent the pinnacle of what creative folks can do when they skillfully combine two genres. As Halloween approaches, think about tracking down one or both of these titles. If you’ve seen them already, watch them again. If you’ve never seen them before and watch them for the first time, I envy you.

– Scott P.


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It’s Scary Because It’s True.


Spooooky Dravo Cemetery

The ideal time to find out you are camping next to a haunted cemetery is around midnight, after you’ve had lots of beer and are twenty-five miles away from home and on a bicycle. The patrons of June Bug’s Restaurant & Bar in Sutersville were alternately amused and horrified that we were camping next to “Stringtown Cemetery.” According to local legend you can hear babies crying (only if you are a man and only after midnight) and other disturbing sounds. Supernatural Lore of Pennsylvania: Ghosts, Miracles and Monsters writes that you may be chased by a two-headed astral dog from Satan or feel sudden, unexplained cold winds caused by a ghost train. (Brief history of Dravo Cemetery, if you’re interested.)

But you know what scares me more than two-headed Satan dogs? Humans.

True Horror

BugliosiHelter-Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, Vincent Bugliosi

Even 45 years later, the Manson Family murders have the power to fascinate and chill. In 1969 Los Angeles experienced a series of random murders, including the brutal stabbing of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and the seemingly unrelated murder of grocery store owners, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca . Written by the prosecutor of 1970 trial of Charles Manson, Helter-Skelter is a firsthand account of the cases of Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and other members of the”Manson Family.”

AnnyPerryAnne Perry and the Murder of the Century, Peter Graham

Did you know Anne Perry (the author) is a murderer? In 1954, Juliet Hulme (now Anne Perry) and her best friend, Pauline Parker went for a walk in the woods with Parker’s mother, Honora. Honora Parker was later found “accidentally” bludgeoned to death with a brick. Both girls confessed and were convicted of the crime. Why did they do it? Because Honora Parker wanted to keep them apart. After serving five years in prison, Anne Perry went on to have a successful writing career. See the murder on film in the Peter Jackson directed Heavenly Creatures, starring Kate Winslet as Juliet Hulme.

zodiacThe Zodiac Killer: Terror and Mystery, Brenda Haugen

After Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer is one of the great unsolved serial killers in history. Starting in 1966 with the murder of student Cheri Jo Bates, the Zodiac killer claims to have murdered 37 people, but investigators believe his victim count was seven, two of whom survived. Taunting the police with cryptic notes and strange cyphers, police eventually ruled out over 2500 potential suspects. The one fingerprint found on a letter has never been matched to a suspect. In 2014 Gary Stewart released a book, The Most Dangerous Animal of All, where he claims that the Zodiac Killer is his biological father, Earl Van Best. As of right now there has never been a definitive DNA test and so it’s still officially unsolved.

LarsonThe Devil in the White City, Erik Larson

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes is one of the first documented serial killers in American history. He designed an entire hotel with murder in mind. A murder “castle” using multiple builders, so no one knew the exact plan of the building. Except him. It was a perfect killing ground full of soundproof, windowless rooms to suffocate people, gas lines to asphixiate, and a convenient chute to the basement for dead bodies (where even more atrocities occured.) Capitalizing on the crowds converging on Chicago for the 1893 World’s Fair, Holmes eventually confessed to murdering 27 people. However, it’s likely his body count is close to 200.

KrakauerUnder the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Jon Krakauer

Krakauer combines a history of the Mormon Church with the investigation of a jarring double murder in this devastating book. In 1984 Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter, Erica, are discovered with their throats brutally cut. Delving into the dark world of the FLDS Krakauer recounts the “revelations” received by Lafferty’s own brother-in-law: revelations that required her “removal” for several offenses, as well as the underlying religious extremism that caused Ron and Dan Lafferty to romanticize and justify killing for God.

Friendlier in the morning.

Friendlier in the morning.

For the record, we never heard any babies crying, we never saw any kind of dog, astral or otherwise, and all the trains we heard were real. The worst part of the trip was cold feet- because I forgot socks.

Happy Halloween!



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A View to A Kick

Everyone has their limits. But limits exist to be tested, yes?

Normally I draw the line at fiction that contains child abuse as a plot point. There’s quite enough of that in real life, thank you. And while it means I miss out on some mysteries and thrillers, it also means I don’t have horrible nightmares, either.

So when I picked up Chelsea Cain’s new novel, One Kick, I almost put it right back down. Missing children, child pornographers? No thank you.

And yet.

The first chapter of One Kick is, hands down, the best story-starter I’ve read in a long time. When the FBI swoops in to capture a long-hunted suspect, they don’t expect to find one of his victims there for rescue. But there she is, Kick Lannigan, whose videos are among the most popular with internet predators. Confused beyond belief, and firmly in the grip of Stockholm Syndrome, Kick makes a decision that she’ll eventually regret, one that will lead her to a life of vigilante crime-fighting, in the hopes of atoning for her own guilt. My jaw practically fell to the floor as the scene unspooled, and I realized what was going to happen (Ever yell at a character? This is definitely one of those thrillers).

Flash forward to Kick’s wobbly adult life, with only her dog, Monster, and a fellow abuse survivor, James, for company (her family ties are…complicated). She’s a lean, mean, pervert-busting machine, armed to the teeth and maxed out with physical combat skills to boot. Still, when a mysterious man named Bishop shows up on her doorstep and asks for her help finding yet another missing child, Kick is understandably wary. A man of few words, with his own painful past to protect, Bishop gains Kick’s begrudging respect (trust is a bit much to ask), and the unlikely team springs into action. Given, however, that it’s also the tenth anniversary of her own rescue, it’s questionable whether Kick can hold it together, especially when the past and the present smash together in an ugly tangle of revelations.

Author photo and book cover

Photo courtesy of OregonLive. Click through to read a news article on Cain.


Characterization is definitely the novel’s chief selling point. I’ve never run across a protagonist quite like Kick. She’s flawed, obviously, but what’s really compelling is that she’s flawed despite her best efforts to become whole. She’s tried therapy, meditation, kava-kava, positive mantras, emancipation from her over-controlling mother (who exploits her “victim mom” status in a way that made me want to slap her silly), and a whole host of other healing and coping techniques. She’s also taken lessons in just about every confidence-boosting, self-protective art under the sun (Kick is awfully fond of her Glock)..and yet, she’s still just barely hanging on by a thread. As you barrel through her adventures, you want her to win so badly, to get some measure of peace, respite, justice.

Instead, she gets Bishop…which might be almost the next best thing, given that they have an awful lot in common (with the exception of Bishop’s dislike of firearms). Not in that “here comes the big strong man to make it all better” kind of way. More like the “here’s somebody who knows what it’s like to hurt” kind of way. They say there’s somebody out there for everybody; is it possible Bishop is the one for Kick? Or is he just using her the way so many other people in her life already have?

I suppose we’ll have to wait until the next book in the series to find out. Yes, this is the first of a projected series, which puts me in the tooth-gnashing position of looking for something else as exciting to read while I wait. Luckily, Cain’s Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell series is hanging around the library system just begging for some comparison/contrast. And Confessions of a Teen Sleuth looks pretty amusing, to boot.

Where do your limits lie, constant readers? Is there any kind of book or subject material you just cannot even? Or are you fearless in your pursuit of fiction?

–Leigh Anne

with apologies to James Bond and Duran Duran


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