Tag Archives: Bonnie

Magical Fruit

If ever a food were magical, it would be the beloved bean.  I grew up eating refried beans almost every day and have never gotten sick of them.   

Did you know that beans are actually seeds?  According to the gorgeous, fun-fact-filled book 100 Health-Boosting Foods: Facts and Recipes for Super Health, not only are beans low-fat and filling, but also are a great source of natural plant protein. It also states that if eaten four times a week beans may reduce the risk of heart disease by 22 percent.  Do you eat enough beans?  Check these books for tips, ideas and information about this magical fruit.  Err–seed.

The Bean Bible: A Legumaniac’s Guide to Lentils, Peas, and Every Edible Bean on the Planet! by Green, Aliza.

A comprehensive guide to the history of beans from around the globe.  With recipes.

The Bean Book by Roy F. Guste, Jr.  

This book is filled with fun facts about beans.  Did you know that in some early civilizations, beans were used as currency?  Or that in some countries, people eat the leaves from the bean plant?  

 The Instant Bean by Sally and Martin Stone. 

Now you can no longer use the excuse that beans take too long to cook to be a staple in your kitchen.  This mouth-watering collection of recipes (Black bean chocolate mousse pie, anyone?) has time saving tips like quick-soak methods, using a pressure cooker and freezing portions of cooked beans to use later.  

Check out this musical tribute to beans (Warning: You might need to be eleven to appreciate this video):  –Bonnie


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Hair today, gone tomorrow

We wash it, dye it, shave it, curl it, iron it, mousse it, clean it out of the sink, tousle it, spike it, banana clip it, lose it, relax it, barrette it, berate it, comb it, bleach it, deep condition it, spray it, cut it, add extensions to it, braid it, crimp it, tease it, gel it, brush it, love it and hate it.  People in the United States spend $20,641,000,000 per year on it. So what am I talking about?  No, not pants!  Hair!


Here are some great books featuring this versatile asset:


Drunk, divorced & covered in cat hair by Laurie Beasley Perry.


After her husband takes off, Perry finds solace in knitting and enters society again with the help of her smart and funny knitting group.


Great hair : secrets to looking fabulous and feeling beautiful every day by Nick Arrojo.


This “What Not to Wear” stylist offers a complete education on hair care to enhance your beauty so you feel gorgeous. 


Guilty by a hair! : real-life DNA matches by Anna Prokos. 


Your hair can confirm your guilt or maintain your innocence.  Remember that.


Speaking of crimes, it would certainly be one not to offer you the viewing pleasure of perhaps the most exciting silent hair video on the Internet:







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Welcome to the World!, or, How to Experience Exotic Lands for Free

I love travelling to new places—not so much to sightsee, but to sociologically deconstruct how other people live. It’s fun to find out what strange (to me) things people do and then attempt to discover why it’s done that way. It’s also a good way to analyze why I do weird things. 

Travelling is very expensive, and the easiest–and cheapest—way for me to spy on other peoples’ cultures and histories—and even perhaps their innermost thoughts—is to read fiction and nonfiction by their authors. In our library, we have a whole section called “World Fiction” that is comprised of new books translated from other languages. 

Here are some of our brand-spanking-new World Fiction titles:

Laish: A Novel by Aharon Appelfeld from Hebrew (Romania)
Wandering Stars by Sholem Aleichem from Yiddish (Russia)
Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada from German (Germany)
The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel by Yoko Ogawa from Japanese (Japan)
The Possession by Annie Ernaux from French (France)
The Virgin of Solitude by Taghi Modarresi from Persian (Iran)
Tokyo Fiancée by Amelie Nothomb  from French (Japan)
Karnak Café by Naguib Mahfouz  from Arabic (Egypt)

Another way to immerse yourself in another culture is to attend our language clubs and cultural programs. This month we have hosted 23 programs related to cultures and languages. We kick off our new Japanese for Beginners program tonight, the fourth Tuesday of the month, which begins at 6 pm in the Center for Museum Education—Classroom A. This class is open to anyone interested in learning Japanese and about Japanese culture. Do you already know Japanese?  Come to our Japanese Conversation Club, which occurs at 6 pm on the second and third Tuesday of each month in the large print room.



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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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It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye

“Winter is the season for board games.”  –B.L. McCloskey

I tend to agree with the genius that penned the above statement.  Who doesn’t love to sit around a table with friends or family, laughing and taunting one another in the spirit of friendly competition?  Over the holiday, I played gin rummy in Alabama, Settlers of Catan in West Virginia, about a million rip-roaring games of checkers with my friends’ brainiac little girl, as well as a Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana jigsaw puzzle and a topographic Wheeling, West Virginia map puzzle.  By the way, I don’t think jigsaw puzzles count as board games, but it didn’t stop me from taunting and jeering my fellow puzzlers.

As you might guess, the Library has myriad books on board games, like the Oxford History of Board GamesNew Rules for Classic Games with rules that breathe new life into games you might be sick of, as well as R.C. Bell’s Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations.

What you may not know is that the library can be a destination for playing board games.  You could bring your own, but if you have an ID card, you could borrow one of ours!  The First Floor has several sets of Monopoly, Uno, Scrabble, and playing cards (tournament anyone?) as well as chess, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle, and Rook.  The Teen Department has too many to list here, but I’ll give you a few: Settlers of Catan with the Seafarers expansion pack, Cranium, Apples to Apples with expansion pack, Risk, Balderdash, Set, Mancala, Ticket to Ride, Voltage, Phase 10, Gloom, Backgammon, Upwords and many, many more!

So approach the Ask-a-Librarian desk and tell ’em Bonnie sent ya!!



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A season for giving

As the holidays come upon us, certain words and phrases come to mind—“giving,” “sharing,” “weight gain,”  “debt,” “rampant consumerism.”  We each do our best to focus our thoughts on others—on loved ones and family, those less fortunate than ourselves.   Yet I think I can safely say that many of us can’t help but wonder how we’ll be able to afford our holiday gift-giving this year.  Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to cut costs, like making or baking creative gifts.   I’ve heard of some families volunteering together, helping those less fortunate as a way to combat consumerism and remember that the holidays are a time to think of others.

Pittsburgh has its share of need and organizations who are trying to meet needs.  These organizations are always looking for volunteers.  Pittsburgh Cares supports 229 nonprofits and specializes in connecting people with causes they are already passionate about.  There are a number of holiday-related projects, like wrapping presents for children or serving holiday meals to residents of senior care facilities, but other projects can be selected by various criteria–including location, “impact areas” like literacy, homelessness/hunger, animal support, children and youth, the environment, and whether the projects are good for first-timers, families or teams.   There is even a calendar that can be browsed–and it is dense with fascinating possibilities.  Each entry describes the type of work that will be done, what skills are needed for the project (usually none), how many people are needed and how many people have signed up already.

If you live outside of Pittsburgh (poor you!) don’t despair.  There are national organizations who serve to connect volunteers with those who need their help.  ServeNet.org is one such organization.  Prospective volunteers can search organizations by location, and then causes served, population served, skills, special events and age range.  VolunteerMatch.org is connected to over 61,000 member organizations.  One can search by keyword and distance to a specific zip code.  Results are separated according to date, interest area, and location.  There are even organizations that help people volunteer virtually if they are have constraints that make other types of service difficult.

Volunteering isn’t for everyone.  But if you would like to give back to your community, get out there and remember “It is more blessed to give than to receive”–any time of year.


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If you can’t trust a librarian, who can you trust?

Most librarians I know feel very strongly about equal access to library resources and services, the strict confidentiality of your library records, the importance of intellectual freedom, and a resistance to censorship. But wait, there’s more!

Here is the American Library Association’s Code of Ethics taken from ala.org:
I. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
II. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
III. We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
IV. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
V. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
VI. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
VII. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
VIII. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

Also, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has its own privacy policy that promises that any information gathered from you, for example your name, address, phone number, email address, etc. will never be shared with outside parties. In addition, safeguards have been put in place on the data to ensure its security.

So rest assured–we are looking out for you!



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DragonflyA couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting the American “scary fantasy”/horror novelist Frederick Durbin. Mr. Durbin was visiting Pittsburgh from Japan, where he has been teaching English at the university level for almost 20 years. My friends contacted him after reading and loving his best-known work Dragonfly, a Christmas Carol-like homage to Halloween. They kept in touch over the years and this summer Durbin came to visit. My friends showed him some of their favorite Pittsburgh haunts, and finally he responded: “Okay. If you show me one more cool thing I’m moving to Pittsburgh.”

And then they brought him to our library. Frederick Durbin is moving here from Japan in the spring.

One might think that after working at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for a while, the magic would give way to the humdrum. Today is my one year anniversary working on the library’s First Floor, and I want to tell you that I still get giddy walking under the “Free to the People” sign and through the giant bronze front doors into the marble foyer with the resplendent mosaic floor.

You might want to congratulate me on my special day. And I’ll be honest, I, like everyone, always love hearing a genial, heart-felt felicitation. But in turn, I would like to congratulate you, Pittsburgh bibliophiles, on your magnificent libraries. Because when you walk from the library’s stacks into the First Floor with a bright smile and your cheeks ablaze with the delight of knowing you are surrounded by well over a million stories, histories, maps, facts, guides, magazines, DVDs, CDs, scores, microforms, etc, I know exactly how you feel.



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Being broke ain’t no joke

In these fickle times it seems far-fetched to feel fine about finances and one’s fiscal future. Gas prices are high. The stock market is tanking. Economists on the news sound more hysterical every day. It might be time to begin thinking about making lifestyle changes. Now unless you are dense (and I doubt you are, or else you wouldn’t be reading a library blog), you have noticed that a great deal of what we are doing here is promoting the incredible and vast free resources we have here at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. We can help you. We are your personal librarians after all.

Matters of Managing Mulah

We have myriad books on personal finance. Whether you are interested in how to diversify your funds, get out of debt, or get rich quick, we have it all.

Finding Free and/or Cheap Entertainment

We already told you about the free 2008 RADical Days events all over the city. There are also some free and low-cost options on the Pittsburgh 250 official website. But you, Loyal Reader, know by now that not only do we offer you music, DVDs, books, and various other diversions in fun formats, we also have a monthly calendar chock full of wonderful things to do. And you are invited. You’ll enjoy yourself. Bring your friends!

Changing Your Lifestyle

There are all kinds of ways to make life less expensive. One way is to use recipes from collections like The Ninety-nine Cents Only Stores Cookbook. If that sounds gross, we have many other cookbooks devoted to eating on a shoe-string budget and plenty with ideas for growing your own food. America’s Cheapest Family has written a book on living life cheaply, with topics including menu planning, reducing debt, saving money and cutting back on utilities. It also has tips for garbage picking and mooching, if you’re into that sort of thing.

So don’t despair dear doves!


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Pittsburgh is so RAD!!!

Here is yet another reason to love living in Pittsburgh: RADical Days 2008 is beginning today and will go into the middle of October! Museums, theaters, galleries, zoos, outdoor adventure organizations, libraries, parks and cultural centers will be hosting free events open to everyone on selected days.

What is RAD? RAD stands for “Regional Asset District.” According to the website:

“The mission of RAD is to support and finance regional assets in the areas of libraries, parks and recreation, cultural, sports and civic facilities and programs. The District receives one-half of the proceeds from the 1% Allegheny County Sales and Use Tax and the other half is paid directly to the County and municipal governments by the State Treasurer.

Since 1995, the 1% County Sales tax paid by residents of and visitors to Allegheny County has resulted in a cumulative $1.97 billion investment in the region.”

This is an opportunity for the assets that benefit from your tax dollars to thank you with free admission! Get out there and enjoy a free concert by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, paddle around the Three Rivers Downtown, get free admission to the Carnegie Science Center, and much, much more.


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