Red Sweaters

We don’t feature Children’s stuff on here often (check out our friends at Story Pockets!) but every now and then, something comes along that we just can’t pass up.

As some of you may know, a few years ago the wonderful folks at the Fred Rogers Company developed a new show featuring the next generation of friends from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I’ve seen a few episodes with my niece and nephew, and it is just as great as you’d expect.

In an upcoming episode of the adorable Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, one of the Red Sweater Kids pays a visit to the Carnegie Library to sign up for their first card. The Sweater Kids are featured at the end of each episode – exploring their Pittsburgh neighborhoods and interacting with neighbors in the same way that Fred Rogers did on the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.


Good news – a few of our branches will be screening a preview of this special episode and will have some crafts on hand to enjoy after.

Saturday, November 14 (tomorrow!) at 11:00 am – Beechview

Saturday, November 28 at 11:00 am – Woods Run

Thursday, December 3 at 11:00 am – Mt. Washington

Friday, December 4 at 9:30 am – Downtown & Business

Wednesday, December 16 at 6:30 pm – Lawrenceville 

Saturday, December 19 at 10:30 am – West End 

So pull out your best red sweater and join us for some fun!

— Jess


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Dysfunctional Fun for the Holidays


Family love is messy, clinging and of an annoying and repetitive pattern… like bad wallpaper. -Friedrich Nietzsche

This year, for the first time in many years, I am heading home for the holidays. Most of my family live in Oregon, and as much as I’d like to see them every year for the holiday season, I don’t like dealing with airports. Rare circumstances are bringing me home this year though, and I’m really looking forward to it — despite having to deal with air travel and lengthy flights.


I’m pretty fortunate in that my family is fairly low-key and drama free during the holidays. Sure, we have our political squabbles, but we mostly hang out and eat, watch movies and plays cards. [Side note: If I win at cards my dad will say it is “luck,” and if he wins it is inevitably due to “skill.”]


If you too are visiting loved ones this holiday season, take a moment to ponder how lucky you are that you don’t belong to the following families.


A Christmas Tale

A bone marrow transplant, mental illness, self-injury, alienation, general family dysfunction and Catherine Deneuve. It’s a very French holiday film!


City Island

The Rizzo family is sent into turmoil when the patriarch of the family brings home an ex-con to stay with them. Everyone in this family has a secret, but no one’s sharing, and the consequences could be incredibly uncomfortable.


The Family Stone

The Stone family presents a united front when eldest son Everett brings home his fiancé, Meredith, whom they all despise. Feeling out of place, Meredith begs her sister to join her in the Stone household, setting off a series of further complications.


The Family That Preys

Two families are torn apart by ambition, secrets and infidelity — in the end, will they come back stronger than ever?


The Kids Are All Right

Two moms, two kids … and one sperm donor interloping with family affairs. This is a sweet comedy where the kids of the title may have it more together than the adults.


Little Miss Sunshine

A dysfunctional and emotionally bankrupt family is brought together when the youngest member of the clan is accepted into a beauty pageant. Despite complications due to drugs, Nietzsche and a recent suicide attempt, the family ultimately triumphs.


Our Idiot Brother

When idealistic and sweet-natured Ned is kicked out by his hippy girlfriend, he decides to visit each of his three sisters, quickly sending each of their lives into disaster.


The Royal Tenenbaums

Cancer, resentment, secrets, depression, attempted suicide, unrequited love — it’s all here.


Step Brothers

Two stunted man-children (Will Ferrell & John C. Reilly) must learn to get along after their mother and father  marry.


Sixteen Candles

Poor Samantha. All she wants is for someone in her family to remember that it’s her sweet 16th birthday — unfortunately the only person who seems to take an interest in her is a nerdy boy named Ted.


This is Where I Leave You

When their father passes away, four grown but stunted siblings return to their childhood home to sit Shiva with their free-speaking mother.



Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins

Successful talk-show host RJ Stevens was bullied and put upon by his family as a child. When he visits home he’s determined to show everyone how much he’s changed. Unfortunately, RJ’s Southern relatives have other plans.


Am I missing any of your favorites? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Happy Upcoming Holidays,


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Does Size Matter?

Guys, I completed one of my 2015 Reading Resolutions just in time to start thinking about 2016’s … but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I finally finished Stephen King’s It. I feel a new kind of emptiness inside and my right eyelid has been twitching for the past couple of days (and I thought Chuck Palahniuk wrote some twisted stuff). That old terror of reality is coming to get me, more frightening than any supernatural evil, but I did finish.

I decided to give myself the entire month of October to read It because it’s huge and because I’d finish on Halloween. Spooooooky! I have to say it’s one of the most complete novels I’ve ever read. Some of the book’s detractors may say that there’s too much detail about the history of a fictional town, but it made the whole experience feel more real. I wanted to go on adventures with the kids in the book and I wanted to be with them when they finally faced off with It, which I can only describe as mind-bendingly far out. The made-for-television adaptation is really like a trailer for the book. There’s only so much of the novel that could conceivably be crammed into just over three hours. Some of the novel—like the showdowns with It—are so unfathomably conceptual that they might be unfilmable. Such scenes are better existing only in your mind, if your mind can handle them.

itcoverIt consumed me and took over my subconscious for a several days. I had nightmares about my friends dying pretty regularly while I read it, but on the night I finished it, my dreams were beatific. I didn’t remember specifics upon waking, but I felt at peace.

The novel is a big hulking thing, more weapon than book, that sat on my bookshelf in three different apartments over five years, a towering 1138-page monolith. I felt a new kind of accomplishment when I turned the final page, and finishing it endowed me with the confidence that I could start and—more importantly—finish other long books.

(Please note: When I talk about length, I’m talking about number of pages, not number of words, even though number of words is more accurate.)

For years I’ve been putting off reading some long books, like Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. For some reason I thought it was around 1000 pages, but it’s a paltry 639. Ernest Hemingway‘s For Whom the Bell Tolls and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden are practically novellas at barely 500 and 600 pages, respectively. And Moby-Dick? Herman Melville’s classic allegorical tale, which I always thought was much longer (like Kavalier & Clay), comes in at 625. Haruki Murakami‘s 1Q84? That’s closer to It at 925. What about Gone with the Wind? Margaret Mitchell gets even closer at 1037 pages. War and Peace? Tolstoy’s tome tips the scales at a whopping 1386 pages.

Some of these look downright scrawny next to It.


That sweet, sweet thickness.

It isn’t even King’s longest novel; The Stand holds that honor at 1153 pages.

There are, of course, plenty of articles and listicles about the longest novels, some of which are in our catalog, like:  Joseph and His Brothers (1207 pages), Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady (1533) or The Man Without Qualities (1774).

But does size really matter? I’ve read long books that were awful, like the 756-page Breaking Dawn (don’t judge—I was in college, trying to impress a girl) right along with short books that were awful (like The Train from Pittsburgh). Likewise, I’ve read short books that were fantastic (like the 295-page Me and Earl and the Dying Girl). Regardless, it’s undeniable that with more words—and more pages—authors have more room to create a more detailed world into which you can escape.

I doubt anyone would bemoan a well-crafted escape.

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read, dear readers? Do you have any recommendations on what I should read next to decompress after It? Sound off in the comments below!



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Poppin’ Poppin’


Way back in January, my good friend and fellow South Side Community Council member Jenn Holliman said, “Hey Suz, want to do a thing?” And, since I’m impulsive and don’t think things through, I was like, “YES! Let’s do a thing!”

She didn’t tell me that we had a month to make 1,000 flowers.

That thing was Pop des Fleurs. You may have noticed back in March that CLP – South Side was covered in bright flowers of every material: plastic, yarn, coated paper, and anything else we thought could withstand a Pittsburgh winter. We were a test installation to see what materials would survive. There was another gorgeous installation at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville as well.

Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville

Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville

Pop des Fleurs was originally conceived by Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh member, Annette Sandberg. The idea was born during the cold and dreary Pittsburgh winter. Annette was trying to remember how her friends and family had remained up-beat and connected during long, cold winters in her birthplace, Norway. The image that came to mind, was her family home filled with flowers and candles, and warm conversations in front of the fireplace.

Its creation will create color and bring delight during the dark season of February and March through handmade, pop-up flower bouquets and gardens. It will also raise awareness for the internationally renowned exhibit of contemporary fiber art happening here in Pittsburgh in May 2016.

Remember Knit the Bridge in 2013? It’s the same amazing group of people!


Knit the Bridge, 2013


Knit the Bridge, 2013

Our flowers were installed on my birthday! The community came out in full force and embraced the project from beginning to end. The Market House Senior Center ended up doing their own project for their 100th Anniversary. The Chamber of Commerce had an installation. People loved it. It brightened up the gray March.

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The great news is that Pop des Fleurs is partnering with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Every branch will host workshops, serve as a space for individuals and groups to make flowers and also will be installation sites for the gardens. This project aims to connect communities and neighbors while learning about different fiber arts.

In other words, it’s a big deal! I am beyond excited to be working on this project and I am so proud that Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was picked as the community partner. Every library in Pittsburgh will be covered in flowers for the month of February! If you are interested in becoming involved—by making flowers, donating materials or planning the installation—contact your local library branch or check out the Pop des Fleurs website for more information. And follow them on Facebook for updates about the project.


If you feel the need for even more entertainment, come to CLP- South Side’s Crochet and Knitting Club and watch me learn to crochet left-handed! So far it has consisted of me swearing a lot and launching yarn across a room.


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The Lunar Chronicles: A YA Fantasy Series Worth Reading

bookcoverI had first heard about Marissa Meyer’s series through a former colleague. My colleague said to me (and this is actually true) that Meyer got her start through a writing contest. I think that it’s great that Meyer went from winning a writing contest to being a best-selling author.

This series is what I’d call fairy tales with a science fiction twist. The first book, Cinder, is about a girl named Cinder who is what I’d technically call a mechanic even though she doesn’t fix cars—she’s a cyborg. She ends up doing work for Kai, the prince of New Beijing. She tries to warn him about the evil plan from the series’ main villain Lunar Queen Levana’s to start a war with Earth. Cinder, whether she wants to admit it or not, ends up developing feelings for Prince Kai in the process, despite her not telling Kai that she’s a cyborg.

bookcover (1)In the second book, Scarlet, the title character is on a journey to find her grandmother when she crosses paths with Cinder, who’s trying to escape from prison.

bookcover (2)In the third novel, Cress, Cinder and her crew need help from Cress, an expert hacker working for the bad guys against her own will. Cinder wants Cress to help her try to stop something catastrophic from occurring. I won’t give you any spoilers—just know that it’s not good.

What I like about this series is that even though each book centers around a different character, they’re all connected. The next book in the series, Winter, comes out on bookcover (3)November 10th. In the meantime all of the previous novels are available in our catalog as well as Fairest, which is Meyer’s prequel novel about Queen Levana.

Happy reading!



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Watching In The Wake Of Spectre

Better than my birthday! More exciting than Christmas! Spectre hits U.S. theaters today! This latest installment in the James Bond 007 series could very well mark Daniel Craig’s last turn in the lead role, and by all accounts, it’s an explosive swan song. I’ll be seeing the movie today, and I am thinking multiple viewings will be in order for this one.

I thought it might be fun to list a number of thematically related movies to watch either before, or after, you catch Spectre. Of course, re-watching Mr. Craig’s first three Bond epics should be a must to get yourself tuned up for this one. The slick scripts, gritty energy and amazing action in Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace and Skyfall make Mr. Craig my favorite Bond of all time. Beyond Bond, what else might we watch to scratch that kick-butt action itch?

The Long Kiss Goodnight — This 1997 action romp features Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson. Ms. Davis leads as an amnesiac assassin who suddenly remembers she’s a stone-cold killer. Starting the film as a small town schoolteacher, she undergoes a startling transformation when she realizes a lot of dangerous men are trying to kill her. This one holds up well.

The Bourne Identity — Matt Damon and Franka Potente star in this super-slick adaptation of the Robert Ludlum novel of the same name. Amnesia again figures into the plot, as Mr. Damon plays a U.S. government black ops agent gone rogue. The more he learns about himself, the less he likes! This film also sports a brilliant soundtrack by Moby.

Shoot ‘Em Up — This clever deconstruction of the action film genre features Clive Owen and the luminous Monica Belluci (also one of the Bond girls in Spectre). Mr. Owen plays a gun-toting killer with a heart of gold in this underrated flick that features dizzying action sequences. It’s a ballet of violence no self-respecting fan of the genre should miss.

The Equalizer — Denzel Washington plays McCall, a shadowy ex-government type who now lives a quiet life. When the people he cares about become victims, McCall balances the scales with extreme prejudice. Mr. Washington brilliantly captures the mood and movements of this tragically haunted and fundamentally badass character.

This little list offers just a sample of the awesome action fare you can find in our extensive online catalog. Enjoy!

–Scott P.



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I find it absolutely hilarious that the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh shares its birthday with V for Vendetta day (a/k/a Guy Fawkes day for those of you who don’t speak geek). For starters, V. and Carnegie would not have liked each other at all. Also, V. was concerned about helping the common man by blowing up powerful institutions; Carnegie, for his part, was often unkind to ordinary folks, but was still interested in building institutions for them. The irony is more than a little palpable.

So, in addition to everything else you need to remember today, take note that Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh turns 120 years old this November 5th. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed; much has changed, but many things have remained the same. Governor Daniel Hartman Hastings, one of the speakers at the Library’s 1895 dedication ceremony, had this to say of the enterprise:

The public library is equally a public necessity and a public blessing. Its unfolding and spreading influence for good is beyond calculation. This community already thrills in anticipation of the blossoming and the ripening fruit to come from the tree this day planted.

Here is a temple of enduring stone which will stand through the ages, whose grand and graceful proportions will be a constant source of pleasure to the beholder. Here, Music will charm the ear and gladden the soul. Here, Art will welcome and inspire her devotees. Here, Literature will sit upon her throne and the children of men will gather wisdom at her feet. Here are assembled the representatives of the greatest industrial community in the land to receive the trust committed to their keeping by a benefactor and a philanthropist.

Today the temple of stone is still, indeed, standing*. She’s had a bit of work done, but is all the better for it. Music is still here, and still charming. Art remains welcoming. Literature has expanded her kingdom by leaps and bounds, in ways Carnegie himself couldn’t have predicted. And the Library has consistently—most recently through its current strategic plan—proved itself both a blessing and a necessity to the Pittsburgh region. One of the city’s biggest, best fruit baskets, so to speak.

Nothing there anyone could complain about. Not even V.

Super Science @ CLP - Squirrel Hill, circa 2012 - photographer unknown. Click through to learn more about STEM programming at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Super Science @ CLP – Squirrel Hill, circa 2012 – photographer unknown. Click through to learn more about STEM programming at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Will the Library still be here 120 years from now, when we all have internet chips in our brains and we finally get those hoverboards we were promised? I think so. It might look different, but the mission will still be the same: to engage our community in literacy and learning. Complex characters both fictional and historical will still be here, whispering reason—or revolution—as you walk by. And of course, through our programs, services and community engagements, the Library will still be planting, and harvesting, all sorts of fruit for you to enjoy.

The grandeur of the past, the excitement of the present and the hope of the future. Who could ask for a better gift? If you feel the same, please share your Library story and tell us how CLP has affected your life. To learn about other ways you can remember the Library on this momentous occasion, click here.

–Leigh Anne

*Does this make library workers Stone Temple Pilots?  Hm.


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