Each of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods has its own character. If they were people, you could easily pick them out of a lineup. Lawrenceville would be the bearded guy in the trilby earnestly telling you all about the small batch of artisan mead he’s brewing. North Side is the scrappy guy hawking t-shirts outside Heinz Field for extra cash—friendly, but focused on self-improvement. Shadyside is the magazine editor at the launch party, poised and professional. Greenfield is the woman planting a butterfly garden, quietly transforming her landscape into something lush and soothing. And Oakland would be the multi-tasking twins, identical save for the sweatpants on one and the suit on the other, madly texting each other as they zigzag around people on the sidewalk and clutch their enormous coffees.
Staff at every Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh location work hard at getting to know their neighbors, scoping out the neighborhood’s general vibe and specific needs, and creating services and connections that will help its users thrive. So far, so good: every day Pittsburghers rely on the Library for computer access, educational programs for children and teens, support for adult goals and dreams, and help finding a good book, CD, or movie.
As a librarian in Oakland, I see this play out every day. The community comes to us for quiet study space, the companionship of a knitting circle, the computer classes and resume assistance that will make the job search a little easier. They have toilets that need to be fixed, curtains that need to be sewn, languages that need to be learned before the trip, and questions about where they’re going. They need to e-mail the document before the deadline, fax the papers before the closing, and photocopy the scholarship application before they send it out. They want to learn Ruby, nail the audition, start a non-profit, repair the bicycle, take a break and get lost in a good book. Every day brings something different, and it’s a privilege to be a small part of it.
You, on the other hand, are a very large part of what the Library accomplishes. Your support makes it possible for Pittsburgh to have a vibrant, resource-rich library system—for you, your family and friends, and for every person in our community. Different people in different neighborhoods need different things, but your donation makes the Library the center of its community, regardless of what that looks like. And that is a beautiful thing.
To make a year-end gift to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, click here. To learn about other ways to help your neighborhood thrive, click here. And the next time you’re in Oakland, stop upstairs and say hi. Especially if you’re brewing a small batch of artisan mead, or are in need of a very large cup of coffee.