Monthly Archives: January 2009

Hey! Some Things You Should Know About Zines at CLP Main!

Okay, first things first.

What’s a zine?
Here are a few peoples’ thoughts on this:

“Zines are cheaply made printed forms of expression on any subject.”

 -from Whatcha Mean What’s a Zine? The Art of Making Zines and Mini-Comics


“The fanzine goes back as far as the early 1930s, when young science-fiction fans reproduced their own small magazines on messy mimeographs and even messier hectographs, crude precursors to today’s more accessible photocopy machines… The advent of cheaply photocopying in the 1980s liberated the zine. Anyone with something to say could afford to self-publish.  By the 1990s, women, feeling the need to communicate with each other and empowered by Riot Grrrlz, adoped the zine as the perfect medium in which to share their personal life stories, rants, philosophies, humor, poetry – and comics.”

 -from From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Women’s Comics, From Teens to Zines

“A zine is a little periodical that’s generally written, designed, and produced by the same person or group (i.e., self-published).

The content of zines–as well as how they’re put together–are limited only by the imagination of the author and can be made in a number of ways. People have done anything from professing their love of brownies to drawing in crayon about their latest heartbreak.”
 -from  the CLP Main Teen Zines Page

Here at CLP Main we have two zine collections – the Teen Zine collection and the First Floor New and Featured zine collection. The Teen collection now has over 200 zines. These zines can be checked out of the library! They’re housed in the Teen Department and cover a huge variety of topics and have been authored by zine makers locally and nationally. Local authors can donate their work to this collection. These zines  speak to Teen interests and experience. zinecollection200

There’s a brand-spanking new zine browsing collection with an adult focus in one of the reading nooks out on the First Floor. We’re really excited about our plans to offer personal zines, zines on politics, diy/how-to zines, zines on glbtq/gender issues, art and comic zines, health and body image zines, feminist zines, zines authored by people in prison, and locally-authored zines!

You can find both zine collections catalogued on LibraryThing:

Go to for the Teen Zines and for the Adult collection.

Hopefully it’s clear by now – you really need to check out our zines. (Or read them here.)

Send us your email address if you’d like to get updates on the zine collection or to hear about our zine-related programming, like zine readings or swaps.



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Not available in stores!

Congratulations Pittsburgh bibliophiles! A new day has dawned! There’s a new sheriff in town! It’s actually not really a sheriff at all, or even a human. This pilot project is actually a new style of online catalog searching that scours the collections of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County public libraries! Anyone can access it from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh homepage. Sit down–you’re about to fall in love.

“Why would I fall in love with a stupid card catalog?” Well, I’ll tell you! Encore defaults to a keyword search–so in layman’s terms, searching for books locally can now be just as easy as using Amazon and Google. Let’s say you wanted to impress the folks at your Super Bowl party this weekend. You can enter the terms “party snacks,” “football cookbook,” or “chili con carne” and get a great selection of books for each. But wait–there’s more!

encore-facetsLet’s say your search brings up 150 items. Instead of attempting the overwhelming task of examining each and every item, you can limit the results to list exactly what you want. You can limit the topic by clicking on one of the tags in the “tag cloud” to the right that most accurately describes what you’re looking for.  You can use the left hand column to also limit your search by items located within a certain part of town or a certain library, year of publication, format (DVD, music CD, printed material etc.), and language.

But that’s not all! Let’s say you’ve found the perfect item, but it’s already checked out or on a shelf at a library on the other end of town. All you have to do is click “Request it” next to the blue checkmark and it will be sent to the library of your choice.


And when you’re done, you can bring it back to any Allegheny County public library that’s convenient for you. We will ship it back to its owning library.


We are so convinced that you’ll love this product, that we are offering for unlimited time, access to research databases!  On the lower right hand column of the page is a small list of databases that will list relevant and recent articles and papers about your topic with complete citation information. All you have to do is log in to Encore with your library card number!

Are you tired of paying $14.99, $19.99 or even $29.99 for books, CDs, and DVDs from a store or website when we are offering them for checkout from your library ABSOLUTELY FREE?

Try Encore today, risk-free!



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Who doesn’t love free movies? (part the third)

Slow economy got you down? Can’t afford that weekly trip to the movie theater? Maybe you should watch a movie here at the Main library instead – you can meet new people, indulge in our free (and sometimes even healthy) snacks, and impress your friends with your newfound cinematic knowledge. Just pick the series that suits you best!

International Cinema Sunday
First Sunday of each month at 2 PM
Highlighting films from around the world. Watch out, there will be subtitles.

book jacket     book jacket     book jacket

Saturday Matinee
Second Saturday of each month at 1 PM
Featuring films you may have missed.

Real to Reel Documentary Film Series
Third Thursday of each month at 7 PM
Need a reality check? Come see why true stories are as entertaining as fiction.

If you (heaven forbid) miss a film that you really really wanted to see, just look it up in the catalog and request it – they all go into our regular collections after the programs.


All films are shown in the Center for Museum Education – Classroom A.

  • From the front entrance: Walk straight through the First Floor, down the rear stairs, and through the glass doors. Classroom A is on the right.
  • From the rear (portal) entrance: Walk straight past the museum security office (on the left) and through the glass doors. Classroom A is on the left.

If you get lost, just ask one of the guards or employees!


Note: this post is made from 71% recycled content. Check to see if post recycling is available in your area.

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Books (but no snakes) on a plane

I try not to go anywhere without at least one book.  You never know when you’re going to be stuck in rush-hour bus traffic, or sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, or standing in line at the bank.  Might as well have something to read, just in case, right?

So when I was packing for my trip to Denver, I made sure to take at least one book for every day I would be gone.   And even though I’m having a great time up here where the air is clear, I’m glad I have a few pieces of the Pittsburgh libraries’ vast arsenal with me.  Keeps me sharp, and cuts down on the homesickness.

Here’s a quick peek at some of the books I took:

Sit Down and Shut Up, Brad Warner. If you find the Buddha, slam dance with him! An extremely down-to-earth Zen monk makes an esoteric Buddhist text accessible to the average jane/joe.

Sacred Voices, Mary Ford-Grabowski, ed. This diverse collection of women’s wisdom illuminates historical and contemporary aspects of the sacred feminine.

Leading With Kindness, Baker & O’Malley. If you think being kind means being a cream puff, think again. The authors espouse a firm, reality-based approach to kindness at work. Designed for bosses, or people who think they might want to be one someday.

Straight Up and Dirty, Stephanie Klein. This hilarious narrative of the post-divorce world will bring healing laughter and tough-love comfort to everybody who’s ever failed at relationships. Klein pulls no punches, sharing her story in an honest, yet not-victim based, way as she struggles to date after her marriage goes horribly awry.

With all these great books to distract me, I won’t have time to worry about whether or not there are snakes on my plane. What kind of books and music do you use to distract yourself during travel or other down times?

Your roving reporter,

–Leigh Anne


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Darwin 2009, Part I

charles_darwin_1880February 12th, 2009 marks the 200th birthday of Charles Robert Darwin, the humble naturalist famous for describing the theory of evolution by natural selection in meticulous detail in his groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species.  Origin, as it is often referred to, celebrates its 150th publication anniversary this year on November 24th.

These two propitiously timed anniversaries have made 2009 the year for celebrating Darwin, and many of Pittsburgh’s esteemed educational institutions will be joining in the festivities.  Duquesne University will be the host of Darwin 2009: A Pittsburgh Partnership, and they will offer an impressive array of Darwin-related lectures and more.  Here at the library, we will be discussing Darwin and the implications of his theory during three meetings of the Black Holes, Beakers, and Books popular science book club, which I’ve mentioned here before.  The first meeting of the book club will correspond with Janet Browne’s Charles Darwin 200th Birthday Lecture at the Drue Heinz Lecture series on February 9th.  Finally, our friendly neighbors at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will be celebrating Darwin with an excellent series of lectures from January till the end of April.

If you don’t live in Pittsburgh but you’d still like to be involved, check out the Darwin Days website.  It lists numerous Darwin-related events happening internationally.

Finally, a few sources about Darwin to get you reading about a guy who truly changed the way we think about the world:

The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online — A hugely impressive collection of Darwin’s published works available to be read online, including beautiful digital scans of original 1st editions of his most important books.

Darwin Correspondence Project — Another interesting online collection that gathers Darwin’s personal letters.

Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin’s Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives by David Sloan Wilson — An excellent overview of the importance of Darwin’s theory of evolution, written by one of today’s  foremost evolutionists.


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The Beauty of the Shared Universe

I came across a paperback copy of one of the latest Wild Cards series of novels, Inside Straight. Since it was free I grabbed it, and being a fan of the superhero genre, started reading it. For folks who haven’t visited the first link in the post yet, Wild Cards is a shared universe created by New York Times best-selling author George R. R. Martin in the 1980’s (before he became rich and famous).

Wikipedia offers us a nice explanation of the  shared universe.  Ever since the first superhero team-up, the modern comic book has embraced the idea of the shared universe.  The fantasy and sci-fi book industry was a bit late to the game, only creating formalized shared universes in the late 1970’s and 1980’s with series like Wild Cards and Thieves World  (my first exposure to the shared universe concept in book form).

One could argue that the many Conan pastiches that have been published since creator R. E. Howard died are themselves a shared universe, and the Cthulhu Mythos have always been shared among an elite cadre of dynamic writers (including Howard himself). But they don’t follow the same tight structure that Thieves’ World and Wild Cards do. Both series contain books that usually begin with some kind of framing sequence, then present a series of short stories from different authors. The authors freely share characters and build from each other’s work. Generally an editor (Robert  Asprin for Thieves’ World, George R. R. Martin for Wild Cards) rides herd over the whole affair, and usually contributes a story or two to each book.

Shared universe books like these are always a mixed bag–with so many different authors you never know what you might get in terms of storytelling style or quality. As a kid they forced me to expose myself to other writing styles I might not have tried otherwise. They also gave me the chance to read female writers, and experience a genuinely feminine perspective on sci-fi and fantasy. My first exposure to Janet Morris and C. J. Cherryh came from Thieves’ World.

Now back to Inside Straight. It’s pretty damn good. If you liked the first season of Heroes and you dig reality TV shows, this book presents a pretty nifty mix of those two concepts. I am now going to have to track down the other newer Wild Cards title, Busted Flush to see where the universe goes next. Should be fun!


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Laboring On

A few weeks ago I read an article about Thomas Geoghegan, and decided to see if the library had a copy of his book Which Side Are You On: Trying To Be For Labor When It’s Flat On Its Back. (Geoghegan, if you aren’t familiar with him, is one of the contenders for the Illinois congressional seat that Rahm Emmanuel left open when he became Obama’s Chief of Staff.)  He is also a labor lawyer, and chronicles some of his experiences in Which Side Are You On.  My interest in labor history is fairly recent, and I really know very little about it other than what I’ve seen in a few documentaries, and this book was perfect for filling in some of the holes in my knowledge.  Geoghegan worked for some of the biggest and most powerful unions around– the United Mine Workers (UMW) and The United Steelworkers of America (USWA).  This isn’t a straight history of labor, but more like a collection of anecdotes, peppered liberally with historic facts.  In other words, exactly the kind of labor history that I was looking to read. Of course, the fact that this book was published in 1991 means that some of the big events in more recent labor history– the collapse of Bethlehem Steel in 2003, for example– haven’t happened yet, but some of his stories of recession and layoffs and big business seem to foreshadow the current economic crisis.

I can’t read about labor history, particularly when so much of it focuses on the steel industry, without thinking of Pittsburgh’s own labor history.  I’m still a relative newbie to the area, but so far I’ve found the steel-town history of Pittsburgh to be omnipresent.  Beer, football, and my favorite Pittsburgh movie all nod at the city’s industrial past. And I love how little traces of the city’s industrial past are all over the place — like that corner of the library that was left black during the building’s cleaning several years ago.  I tend to be something of a visual learner, so I’ve also been loving the image search feature of the Historic Pittsburgh database. A search for “steel” brings up nearly 2,000 historic photographs!

After being in a bit of a reading funk lately, I’m happy to have finally found a subject as interesting as this to keep me occupied for a while.  I have a feeling that I’m only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about Pittsburgh’s labor history, so you’ll probably see me lurking in the library’s Pennsylvania Department, looking at photographs or checking out some of their books on the city’s past.  And of course, I’m always open to suggestions — leave a comment if you’ve read any particularly fantastic books about Pittsburgh’s industrial history!

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First Day on the Job

Fellow blogger, MA wrote a great post yesterday on the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  This being such a historic occasion, there are a lot of commentary and thoughts about the event.  President Obama’s inaugural address was posted on the internet soon after it was delivered.  And, while trying to find late-breaking  images of yesterday’s events, I stumbled open an entire Inauguration 2009 Flickr group pool of pictures. 

Our country’s 200+ year Presidential Inaugural tradition has some interesting history.   For example, the swearing-in traditionally takes place before noon, and only two inaugurations were moved indoors due to cold weather (William Taft in 1909 and Ronald Reagan in  1985).  The library has a few books on the subject if you’re interested in reading more.  You can also check out the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to view videos of previous inaugurations.

– Lisa

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Living History



american-flag-2aI have to admit, when I sat down to write this blog I found myself at a bit of an impasse when it came to what the topic would be on.  Due to today’s inaugural  events, I thought it would be foolish to overlook them in the post.  Alas, there are few books that specifically deal with the inauguration as a whole.  We certainly have some famous speeches, such as J.F. Kennedy’s inauguration address on CD or in book format, but I was unable to find a specific book on the topic.

So I took a walk around the library to scrounge up something, and found myself lurking in the Mezzanine here at Main.  It is, in my opinion, the best  section here because it has all the books on my favorite topics, from  history to religion, along with philosophy, business and folklore- I can find it all in a small space.  Some of the historical tomes make you feel in awe when you think about them long enough.  One can only imagine what it was like to live during the times of Ancient Rome when Hannibal of Carthage marched on Rome with his elephants through the Alps, or when England separated from the Catholic Church during the reign of King Henry VIII.  These events drastically changed the course of history! 

Something struck me then, as I was pondering all of this.  Today, we are living history in the making.  We are seeing a great change occur in the history of our own country.  Not only are we gaining the first African American president, 50 odd years after the Civil Rights Movement, but we are also seeing the first change of the presidency since 2001.  After eight years we are experiencing something new and different in the history of our Nation. 

So what is there left to be said?  The event tends to speak for itself, and only time will tell what impact all of this will have on our country.  I implore anyone who has the time to go to Woods Run library for the Inauguration Party and experience this moment of our history together.  It’s a grand occasion, so whether alone or with a large group of people I hope you all watch it and keep in mind that you are living history.


-An afterthought, I came across something on CNN that I thought everyone would enjoy.  It is an inauguration speech library, beginning with our very first president!  Enjoy!


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Herrmann and Hitchcock


Innovative strings-only orchestra.

The screeching string music from the shower scene in Psycho is likely one of the most recognizable (and parodied) bits of music for film.  Even without that huge hit, Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) would still be one of the top film composers of all time. 

This month, Pittsburgh Filmmakers is showing four Alfred Hitchcock films with Bernard Herrmann soundtracks: The Trouble With Harry, Vertigo, The Birds, and Psycho.  Kudos to Filmmakers for drawing attention to how Herrmann’s scores are an essential part of the mood of Hitchcock’s films. 

And I know I keep mentioning the use of Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in films (Excalibur and Step Brothers), but it’s also relevant here.  In Vertigo, Herrmann composed a Scène d’amour whose resemblance to the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde is exceedingly clever.  Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde was significant in music history because of its tense, vague tonality that climactically resolves in the transcendental “love-death” of Isolde.  Herrmann’s vertiginous, tension-building music pulls the same trick, resolving into sweeping romantic bliss when [SPOILER ALERT!!] Scottie Ferguson watches red-haired Judy Barton transform back into blonde Madeleine Elster.  I urge you to listen to the Scene d’Amour music side-by-side with Wagner’s Prelude & Liebestod to hear Herrmann’s effective homage. vertigo  For a more elaborate elucidation of the Vertigo soundtrack, read New York Times music writer Alex Ross’s 1996 article or check out the library’s Vertigo film score handbook.

Finally, to make explicit that Herrmann and Hitchcock both knew the great significance of music and emotion in Vertigo: when Ferguson is institutionalized, his doctor and friend both recommend the therapeutic effects of Mozart.  Mozart, of course, is tonally grounded without the provocative, musical uncertainty of Wagner and Herrmann.

What is absolutely certain is Bernard Herrmann’s talent as a composer, whether you’re in the movie theater, concert hall, or the library’s compact disc collection.

— Tim

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