Tag Archives: Beth


Those pesky late fees! No matter how we all try, occasionally the timely return of that library book just doesn’t happen. Suddenly there’s an overdue fee (or two) on your account. Or perhaps you have a friend or child who seems to periodically accrue just enough fees to block his account. It’s frustrating for him, for you, and for the library staff when you can’t visit us and borrow the things you want or use the computer. So what is a savvy library-lover to do?

Introducing….The CLP Prepaid Late Fee Gift Card!

  • Hanukkah gift?
  • Holiday stocking stuffer?
  • Secret Santa?
  • Upcoming birthday?
  • Favorite teacher?
  • Straight-A student reward?

 The uses are endless! Give the gift of reading and take away the worry of late fees.

A Sample Card

Here’s how it works:

  • Purchase a Gift Card for $10 at the Customer Services desk.
  • Give to a friend, loved one, or use yourself.
  • When you accumulate late fees at the library, simply have your card “punched” to cover your fee!

Take note:

  • Each punch is worth $1.00. Buy $10 and get $1 “free”!
  • The card is only good towards late fees—sorry, but lost items must be paid for.
  • No cash value/refunds—fees must be paid to the nearest dollar.
  • Good only at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations.
  • No expiration and lost cards are the responsibility of the purchaser.

Of course we hope that you’ll return our items on time (and borrow more) but we also understand that life can get busy. Your fees help the library in many ways so when you pay them, know that they go towards all the things you value—our collections, our staff, keeping locations open, doing programs. Every little bit helps. Before you get a late fee, here are a few things to remember:

  • Save your due date receipt and make sure you know which items are due when. Don’t be fooled by one week items.
  • Monitor your account online.
  • Know the rules for renewals—no bestsellers or 6-hour DVDs, don’t wait until it’s overdue, and no renewals if someone else has a hold on it.

When the late fee happens, we hope that you’ll pay it cheerfully and know it goes to support something you love.  We know you’ll lend us support in whatever ways you can—and the new Prepaid Late Fee card will help others you care about to enjoy the library, too!

– Beth

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The lengths people will go to…

On a normal work day for me, the title of my post would likely refer to the many stories I hear each day from library patrons (well-meaning and otherwise) who have problems with their accounts: the reason they couldn’t return a book on time, or why they couldn’t pay a fine, or how the dog chewed a book, but it wasn’t their fault. Yes, the lengths to which people will go to avoid…well, you know…amaze me.

But not today.

No, today is a celebration of our patrons who go the extra mile on behalf of the library, the people who cherish the library and its collection, and the lengths to which they will go.

What prompted this change of view? It began with a wonderful little package waiting in my mailbox two weeks ago. It was wrapped in simple brown paper, hand-addressed in pen, and stamped with a modest airmail stamp…and a postmark from Korea.

Yes, Korea. One of our patrons had taken the time to mail back a Prokofiev symphony score. From Korea. A week early.

It's true!

It's true!


Can you believe it?

This reminded me of the books I’d received the week before that, from Hawaii, with a note from a student’s mom: “Sorry that my daughter accidentally brought these books home with her.” So far in the past month we’ve received items back from Michigan, Maine, State College, Erie, New Orleans, and–drum roll please–this week’s winner, China: another mom with books that her son, who was visiting China, mailed home. Yes, the books were late–but she did bring us the postmarked box as proof!

We also received a book mailed to us by an airline this week. Over the years we’ve had our share of packages from airlines as well as from rental car agencies and the United States Postal Service. Every time one of these parcels shows up at our door, my faith is restored. Someone cares. Someone understands that the library works only when we all work together, that what you borrow and return has an impact on what another person is able to borrow and return. It’s part of the great social contract.

So here are some thank-yous to people who have saved the library for me.

  • To the father who handed over his charge card to pay off several hundred dollars on his high school daughter’s card, even though the lost books were due to her allowing a friend to use the card.
  • To the person who found a young boy’s wallet with his library card and turned it in at Phipps Conservatory, as well as to the Phipps staff who e-mailed us so we could contact the cardholder.
  • To the stranger who came to the desk to make restitution for books he had stolen long ago–he handed over a $200 donation and left without revealing his name.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not about the individual book, CD, or DVD. Things will be lost, damaged, and spilled on. Things will be late. That’s okay. But each time you pay for that item, or accept responsibility for a fine, or return something long overdue, what you’re doing is more than just a simple physical or financial exchange.

What you’re saying is that YOU are a part of the library…that we are all in this together…that you share in both the joy and the responsibility of this great democratic institution that gives equal opportunities for learning, entertainment and wonder to us all…and that you do it willingly. And each time one of you does it with grace, or kindness, or enthusiasm (well, okay, nobody pays fines enthusiastically), you are affirming your connection to the library and all of its members.

So, thanks to all who “get it”! You often save the day!



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Upset at the Oscars? This Film Could Do It!

The Oscars are just around the corner and most of the nominees have already been reviewed, analyzed, examined and pored over in every conceivable way. But be on the lookout for one new upstart, just released last week, that could steal the show in the Short Film Category.
A recently released “biopic” of the Music Department at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is already garnering rave reviews. From Haydn to Hip Hop: Music at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Directed by David M. King, © 2009, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is sweeping the YouTube (and library) nation. Although not released in time for Sundance, the clever pacing, witty humor and cast of characters give this compelling film a good chance at a win.

First-time director David King is a natural storyteller. In just over nine minutes he manages to convey the entire story of two souls who turn to the library and discover a world of wonders. Wide-eyed Bonnie seems to marvel at every new discovery while sensible Wes already “had the scoop” on what libraries offer. Interspersing live musicians with the collection, King manages to both point out the connection that the library can make to the real world of music and musicians, but also the variety of resources this library offers.

This reviewer’s favorites include the “barcoded” opera singer and Tim the “whiz kid” librarian/drummer. Personalized information help is not lost, it seems to say, and don’t discount that librarian vs. the Internet!

In these days of economic troubles, it is a real service to remind the public of all the wonderful things made possible with “just” a library card. Would that we could encourage all people to get a card, to use it wisely, and to support an institution that really lives up to the idea of a social contract. Where else can you try out opera, rap, folk and jazz—as well as read up on the history of the blues? Or take up a new instrument? Or find the perfect song and arrangement for your special occasion?

This video reminds us of what libraries are all about—now go get your card today!

Rating: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪



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The Cold, Cold Ground…and the Warm, Warm Hearts

On October 16th, the weather forecasters were warning that a drop in temperature was about to take place.  Having been rather warm for October in Pittsburgh, we were finally going to see our first chilly evening–some predicting around 37 degrees.

I hate to be cold.  I don’t do well in the cold.  My fingers and toes seem to go numb pretty quickly, and I tolerate it less and less with the passing years.  So I wasn’t that thrilled to know that our first chilly night of the season would be one I would be spending outdoors, sleeping in unity with others to raise awareness about homelessness.  Of course, I also had to acknowledge it was rather appropriate.

October 17th was the date for the first-ever Sleep-in for the Homeless, put together by Community Human Services Organization, and with participants from all over the city. I was pleased to represent our library as an interested party to serving these constituents, while recognizing the complexity of the issue.

A few months ago several librarians put together fabulous resource lists and a new page for our website. Now we were getting to the heart of the event–200 people gathering on the portico of the City-County Building for an evening of talk, music, awards, homeless “jeopardy,” documentary viewing, and perhaps a little sleep (ok, not so much on the sleep).

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