Every year, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is lucky enough to benefit from working with hard-working, supportive partner organizations and from the efforts of dedicated library patrons who are engaged in impactful projects. At our Annual Public Meeting, we take some time to recognize these efforts by recognizing one Community Advocate and one Outstanding Partner with a special award.
One blog post cannot fully encapsulate the meaningful work these folks have performed, but we thought this could be one avenue for spreading the word about their impact. So, here’s a quick look at this year’s nominees; If you’re interested in seeing who won, or you’d just like a an update on the state of the Library, feel free to join us at our State of the Library meeting on March 15, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. at CLP-East Liberty.
Community Advocate Award Nominees
- Kelly Ammerman is a teacher with PPS CITY Connections. She has brought her students to CLP – Allegheny for the past year to participate in programming and to connect students with library resources (Life After High School, the Labs) in accordance with CITY Connection’s mission: Preparing students to live, work, connect and contribute in the community. Kelly and her students even made a video to show the impact of the library in the lives of students.
- Norene Beatty has been a community activist for many years and is a founding member and secretary of the nonprofit Pittsburgh’s Old Stone Tavern Friends Trust, Inc. She has been studying the ledger from the tavern (1793-1797) in the Oliver Room at CLP – Main for the past several years and has found over 60 veterans of the Revolutionary War among many other of Pittsburgh’s founding citizens. Norene then gives free lectures primarily about the Whiskey Rebellion and why it is so important to save this iconic structure in Pittsburgh’s West End. She is directly embodying the mission of CLP by studying important local history, disseminating this history to the public and helping to not only save a historic building but also to revitalize a community.
- Jim Cunningham is a host of a classical music show on WQED, and a longtime patron and advocate for the Music, Film, and Audio Department CLP – Main. His primary contributions have been as a head of the Friends of the Music Library and his above-and-beyond promotion of Music performances and programs at the Library. His advocacy has truly been long-term multidimensional.
- 2015 marked Joe Farinacci‘s 10th year volunteering his time and talents at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. By now, Joe is an old pro at recording and editing audio books; so much so, that he actually has helped train staff and other volunteers on the equipment and procedures. Joe was profiled on Eleventh Stack last year in this post.
- Jon Forrester has shown an extremely strong commitment to literacy and learning by offering a Dungeons & Dragons program for teens at CLP – Brookline for more than four years. This interactive storytelling and role-playing program cultivates creativity, teamwork and cooperation, and problem-solving skills. As one of the program’s teen participants put it: “To say that Jon’s only quality was ‘dependable,’ he’d be solid gold for that alone. Witty, clever, consistent, he’s willing to put in the extra effort like updating websites, keeping everyone on the same page, and that really makes him inclusive, and anyone can get on board with that. He’s done the best he can for everyone possible.”
- Tanya Frederick sewed the Pride Community Quilt, a community art project made at PrideFest 2015. Attendees were asked, “What book changed your story?” and answered the prompt by writing titles of books on squares of quilting fabric. In the months afterward, Tanya worked for more than twenty hours sewing the cloth squares and quilting the fabric, making a beautiful community quilt that will be hung at CLP locations and outreach sites.
- Since starting as a library volunteer in 2014, Margaret Glatz has been one of the most reliable and enthusiastic volunteers we have. We appreciate Margaret’s willingness to travel to multiple library locations, helping with everything from outreach to children’s programs to language learning
- Officer David Shifren saw a need for more community connection, so he started up a weekly Chess Club for kids at CLP – Hazelwood. The chess club has become a real staple of after school programming, where he teaches children critical thinking and problem-solving skills through chess. His work was even profiled in this piece in the Tribune-Review.
- Adele (Delli) Speers was the driving force behind CLP’s adoption of the Pop Des Fleurs project. As a Fiber Arts Guild Member, South Sider and library user, she wanted to see our neighborhood bloom! She urged us to have the test installation in January 2015 and worked tirelessly for our Library—making flowers, promoting, planning, volunteering her time at workshops, brainstorming and most importantly, making us all more creative and inspired. The project would not have happened without her enthusiasm and confidence.
- Caren Surlow has a lifetime of library use under her belt, and has a special soft spot for CLP – West End, where she helps with a multitude of children’s programming and serves as a dedicated member of the Friends of the Library.
- We couldn’t imagine a more group of teens more worthy of recognition that the Teen Alternative Homecoming Planning Committee (Kyra Bingham, TaeAjah Cannon, Ana Carballido-Dosal, Leah DeFlitch, Jayne Juffe, Mae Knight, Katina Motta, Kendal Nasiadka, Paige Pegher, Gabriele Spokas, Oliver Sterling-Angus, Sophia Kachur, Maya Best, Abby Redlich), who fully embraced the mission of providing a fun, engaging community experience centered around books and learning, donating over 60 hours of their time in planning meetings, obtaining activity supplies, preparing the event space, assembling programs, selling tickets and distributing promotional materials. Their work attracted 279 teens from all over Pittsburgh to the 2015 Alternative Homecoming event.
Outstanding Partner Award Nominees
- The AARP Foundation Tax Aid Assistance Program provides free tax preparation for low-to-moderate-income taxpayers, with a focus on those who are 60 or older. Year after year, their collaboration with CLP – Squirrel Hill has assisted more than 1,000 of our community members, helping them to file for rebates and earned income credits, and avoid insta-loans and interest charges.
- Bat’s Barber Shop near CLP – East Liberty is the location of one of our first “Community Collections” – books that are free to check out even for community members who may have compromised library cards or a spotty history with the Library. The staff of Bat’s have been great advocates in encouraging community members to read and engage with the Library, and have been hands-on in helping with book selection. As the nominator put it, “The shop uses every opportunity to teach the East Liberty community and visitors to the barbershop about what the Library offers, and the importance of literacy and continued education.”
- Community Kitchen Pittsburgh has partnered with CLP to promote the value of the Library to participants and encourage use of Library services and programs to aid in job and career searching and as a source of entertainment and education.
- Dreams of Hope has been instrumental in supporting LGBTQ teens in and out of the Library. The organization has assisted with multiple programs and events, increasing the number of teens who see the library as a safe, welcoming and nurturing place. We have seen an increase in the number of teens checking out material with LGBTQ themes, and credit our well-supported Gay Straight Alliance groups for a portion of that increase. (We also loved that one of the teens involved Dreams of Hope wrote a play about a librarian who gives resources to an LGBTQ teen!)
- EQT has been a significant supporter of literacy programs at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for more than a decade.With contributions exceeding $450,000 over the years, including as the presenting sponsor of the annual Summer Reading Extravaganza kickoff event, EQT’s dedication to CLP has provided many opportunities for thousands of children to make strong connections with the Library. This ongoing support is helping the Library to be among our community’s leading organizations that are ensuring the success of our region’s young people.
- The Family Center Team at the Allegheny County Jail helps by acting as a conduit between the jail, families of inmates, and the library. Their willingness to explore and welcome us as outreach partners has allowed CLP to reach 493 children and 977 caregivers/parents with library programming, including book giveaways, within the jail in 2015.
- Lawrenceville United (LU) has demonstrated a deep commitment to further both the mission and vision of CLP, partnering with CLP – Lawrenceville on outreach and programming to children and seniors. LU was also an integral partner in the Historic Lawrenceville: Stories from our Neighbors oral history project. LU acts as an intermediary between community members, their interests and needs, and the other businesses, nonprofits and schools in the neighborhood. LU clearly recognizes the importance of partnering with the Library in order to achieve their goals — and, thereby, the goals of the community at large.
- For more than 10 years, United Black Book Clubs of Pittsburgh has worked to encourage literacy and highlight the library in the community. Their work with CLP – Homewood includes supporting numerous events, bringing African American authors to the library branch to meet their fans, hosting the annual African American Read-In during Black History month, and more.
- Veterans Place has hosted CLP for computer assistance sessions and fiction discussion for the enrichment and benefit of its residents. Program director Cathy Komorowski has also facilitated the placement and promotion of a Community Collection at the Veterans Place facility where residents and day-program participants can borrow high-quality books onsite. Because the Library welcomes everyone, and is considered to be a “safe space” for many homeless veterans in our community, a partnership between Veterans Place and CLP to bring the Library to them and encourage them to visit our locations was a natural fit.
We are unbelievably proud of the work represented here. These advocates and partners have shown in a multitude of ways their belief in libraries as a vital part of community life in Pittsburgh. We sincerely thank them for all they have done to bolster the library’s mission and make a real difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors.