Tag Archives: children

Howdy, Partner!

There have been many great partnerships throughout history – Orville and Wilbur, Hillary and Norgay, the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak), Rodgers and Hammerstein, Ben and Jerry,  the Curies, Bert and Ernie, Sherlock and Watson, Katniss and Peeta  -just to name a few. These partnerships, whether real or fictional, were formed over like interests and are a testament to what can be accomplished when people work together towards a common goal. Right here in Pittsburgh, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is creating some great partnerships with the goal of literacy throughout the city.

I’m extremely fortunate to be a part of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Office of Programs and Partnerships (OPP). Within this department which is housed at the East Liberty branch of CLP, we have a great collection of staff reaching out to a variety of groups in their own unique way, forming partnerships and conducting programs throughout the city to promote a variety of literacies within the community.

The BLAST crew regularly head out to the Pittsburgh Public Schools and related events, connecting with our city’s young readers and future leaders, aiding in early learning and literacy skills.

The Labs @CLP work at providing space and time for teens to connect to new learning experiences via technology.  Teens, an often neglected and misunderstood demographic, are able to engage with fellow teens and library staff through unique, technology-centered literacy.

LYNCS, of which I am a member, reaches out to various groups in Pittsburgh to provide a variety of literacies in neighborhoods, communities and schools. We run the gamut of providing pre-school story times, senior citizen technology programs, information and hands-on technology  at community events, and financial and job literacy to Allegheny County Jail inmates alongside our colleagues from the various neighborhood branches. In addition, the LYNCS crew has managed a temporary, pop-up library in the neighborhood of Allentown, bringing library services and programming to a community lacking easy access to our neighborhood branches and their services.  Over the past year and a half that we have been in this temporary setting, we have had the pleasure of working with great community partners to provide access to library services, unique programming and a community center for this often neglected and little known Pittsburgh neighborhood. A great result of the partnerships formed with various Allentown and other Hilltop groups, has led to the pop-up library  transitioning to the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center (ALEC), a project which would not have been possible without the partnerships formed with our community neighbors.


LYNCS colleagues at an outreach event.


The entire staff of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is working to reach out to all of the city neighborhoods, not only through library services and programming within the neighborhood branches, but also through a variety of outreach initiatives encouraging literacies beyond its brick and mortar locations. We are happily building new partnerships, whether it’s at the circulation desk or in a city park, not just during this National Library Week, but every day of the year.

-Maria J.


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What I Love

Dear Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh,

Perhaps it is a little early in our relationship to tell you this (you’ll recall that tomorrow marks our four month anniversary together), so forgive me if I’m being presumptuous.

But tomorrow is also Valentine’s Day, so this is the perfect occasion to say those three little words.

I’m in love.

With everything about you.

I love that you allow me to check out up to 50 books at a time.

And that nobody at the circulation desk blinks an eye when my fines creep higher and higher.

And higher.

I love the secret window that allows me to look down upon the dinosaurs.

I love that someone put a warm scarf on Dippy the Dinosaur during this long cold winter.

I love the quiet sense of history I get whenever I walk in the building.

I love that kids don’t have to be quiet.

And that kids all over the globe are discovering the Library online through My StoryMaker.

And that our libraries are the cool places for teens to hang out.

I love the way that Main looks at night.

And that you can come enjoy the Library After Hours.

I love that the First Floor librarians are enablers, telling me to “take as many as I want” when they see me browsing the stacks.

I love the conversations that happen among strangers on our Facebook page.

And among real life Library users when you find yourself browsing in the same stack, interested in the same thing.

Chalkboard I love reading the chalkboards.

I love when I feel guilty about taking a new display book from its stand, I know another excellent one will quickly replace it.

I love that I can renew my books online at 11:59 p.m., avoiding a fine by mere seconds.

I love when a donor tells me that he or she loves the Library.

I love that brilliantly magical moment when a child gets his or her own library card and for a few seconds, traveling back in time and becoming six years old again.

I love getting lost in the stacks (I need to carry a GPS) and discovering a new author.

I love that we have a GLBT section on the First Floor and that it’s not hidden away.

I love that we offer so many diverse programs and events.

I love that we offer Sensory Storytimes for children with special needs.

I love that when we were looking for a family-friendly place to go with my son with autism, we came to (and were welcomed at) the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main.

I love that every one of our CLP branches is different.

I love the immensely talented staff members I’m privileged to work with and call friends.

I love going to meetings and coming back with five books.

And recommendations of five more to read.

I love the peacefulness of the International Poetry Room.

I love being able to hear a new-to-me song on the radio while driving into work in the morning, and checking it out so I can listen to it on my drive home.

Or downloading it via Freegal.

I love walking up those worn marble steps.

I love that patrons can drink coffee anywhere on the first floor.

And that a Donor Plus Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh card offers a discount at Crazy Mocha.

I love that I could continue this list forever.

And that there is still so much more at the Library to fall in love with.

Love, Melissa F.

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None For Me, Thanks

I am child-free.

By choice.

I made this decision long ago, possibly before I even realized it. Thankfully, my husband agreed. I realize this is not always the case, but it is an important choice worth considering and thinking about.

When I was a teen, I babysat but I just never really liked taking care of children and found the attention required to give a child exhausting. My mother told me it was because they were “other people’s children” and that, when I had my own, I would feel differently.

Society pressures us, but especially women. Being Hispanic, my family didn’t understand but eventually came to accept our decision. I have never felt that so-called maternal urge, if there is such a thing.

Then, when I was 23, I met a woman who was happily married without children. She finally put into words what I could not. It was just something she and her husband did not want to experience and they were content with each other and  did not want to change that.

It was a revelation.

There is a financial cost I did not want either. Did you know that one of the highest bankruptcy predictors is whether or not someone has children? When I asked for financial advice, the first thing a good friend told me was, “don’t have kids.”


Every so often, this topic pops up in the media; Time magazine recently did a cover story about it. And like money, religion, politics, and food, it’s very controversial.

There are several books in the library on this life-changing decision. If you or someone you know is trying to decide, these might be helpful.


Two is Enough : a Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice by Laura Scott


Complete Without kids : an Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance by Ellen Walker


No Kidding : Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood


Beyond Motherhood : Choosing a Life Without Children by Jeanne Safer


~Maria, who loves being the favorite aunt


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Getting to Know Allentown All Over Again

Today we welcome another new blogger to the Eleventh Stack team, Maria J. You’ll be getting her take on the Carnegie Library, and librarianship in general, monthly from now on.

As a staff member of the CLP LYNCS (Library in Your Neighborhood, Community and School) department of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, I have had the pleasure of working in the Allentown neighborhood of Pittsburgh since October 2012.  Carnegie Library has established a temporary pop-up library at the corner of Arlington and Warrington Avenues in the southern Hilltop neighborhood, with the goals of bringing library service and creating community connections through February of 2014.

You can like the pop-up library on Facebook here

You can like the pop-up library on Facebook here

Allentown is one of those little surprises in the city of Pittsburgh which may only be recognizable to many for the reputation it has garnered through some unfortunate stories in the news. I have known this neighborhood since my childhood, when my siblings and I would come from Ohio to visit relatives who lived on the South Side slopes. It was a sense of homecoming for me to be able to come back to the community after decades of change–change for both me, and for this neighborhood.

While there are more empty lots and empty storefronts in Allentown these days, what hasn’t changed is the fact that these hills are filled with friends, families, and children. You may not realize this, as you travel along Warrington or Arlington on your way to the South Side or the other Hilltop communities, but if you were to stop in at the Pop-up, you’d soon realize the vibrancy of the neighborhood.

The little storefront which houses this temporary library quickly fills up with a variety of people and sounds. The clicking of keyboards and the laughter of children are often mixed with music from YouTube videos watched by patrons, the sound of ukuleles occasionally used in our programming, or the echo of traffic rushing by on Arlington Avenue on those days when we prop open the front door. The day I’m writing this happens to be a school holiday, and there are folks ranging from preschool to retirement in this little storefront-cum-library. While the adult patrons may be searching for jobs or reconnecting with old friends online, the younger kids are playing games on our iPads or XBOX, or creating works of art at the craft table we’ve set up to keep them busy during the day. This is definitely not your grandmother’s library, but nevertheless, the neighborhood grandmothers are no strangers to it!

Many of our visitors are familiar faces to us now after our having been here for nearly a year. They’ve become our friends, and sometimes we spend more time with them during the day than we do with our own families. We have made friends with young and old alike: staff and visitors have come to know and interact with each other on a first name basis, and we have come to know their personal stories, too. These are stories you couldn’t imagine by driving quickly along the cross streets, full of presumptions about the Hilltop neighborhood, but they are stories to which many of us can relate: stories of happiness and heartbreak, of homework troubles and homelessness, and also stories of hope. And every day, with each new visitor, we are introduced to another story, another friend, and, hopefully, soon, a familiar face and name.

–Maria J.

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Happy Birthday to Him!

I hope you will allow me to indulge myself for one blog post. (Although, I guess you can argue that I do that for every blog post.) It just so happens that today, my regularly assigned posting day with no interventions, is my son’s 11th birthday. He doesn’t know that I am writing this (I’m not sure he knows that I write for a blog or even what a blog is), but I will certainly show it to him later today.

7 months old

We all have strong feelings for our children. Hopefully, they are more positive than negative. I don’t believe I could have a better child. He is smart as a whip. It’s mostly A’s on the report cards, if not all A’s.  He is extremely well behaved. I don’t have to ask him to do his homework, he just sits down and does it when he gets home from school. He loves our family cats and eagerly helps clean the litter box and put food in their dish. He not only eats his vegetables, he asks for them and this includes asparagus, lima beans, and brussel sprouts. He is zealous about his interests and I admire that focused, single-mindedness (at least up to a certain point). He is caring and kind-hearted. He doesn’t understand why other children will  go out of their way to treat someone else badly

He enjoys building Legos and is especially fascinated with the Lego people. He collects Pokémon cards and pretty rocks.  He is fond of history,

2 years old

especially the French and Indian War, US Civil War, and World War II. Basically, all wars fascinate him and he watches the Military Channel as religiously as his mother watches the Cooking Channel.  We do find common ground watching shows together such as Bizarre Foods, Iron Chef, Cash & Cari, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  He is my favorite sous chef and I now find cooking without him to be lonely.

Lately, I have been thinking quite a bit about what we have in common.  I am grateful he has developed into a young man with whom I can share my interests.  I’ve always encouraged his passions and we’ve had wonderful adventures experiencing them (we still have a yearly pilgrimage every fall to see the trains at Horseshoe Curve in Altoona), but it’s reached the point where he is old enough to actively participate in what I consider to be fun. We like to travel to new places, stay in fancy hotels, eat in nice restaurants, and enjoy doing more ‘grown-up’ things together. I love going to restaurants with him and watching him blow the waiters away when he orders tuna tartare.

Christmas 2004

We both don’t like a lot of noise and commotion in the morning. We are night owls. Every New Year’s Eve he makes it to the ball drop and beyond while his grandmother and/or father snooze on the couch. We share a similar temperament and prefer to please other people as opposed to having conflict with them. We are a lot alike, but different at the same time.  I treasure both the similarities and the differences.  He is a joy and my life’s work.

So Happy Birthday to my baby boy, who isn’t a baby anymore…

-Melissa M.


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a buried treasure

The Madness of Philip and Other Tales of Childhood

I was recently looking at a list of items that have not been checked out in the last few years, curious to see if they were missing, or had just fallen out of popularity.  One of those items, I discovered, had been long “misshelved” under the name of the author listed in the book, Josephine Dodge Daskam, while our catalog indicated that the book could be found under the author’s married name, “Bacon.”  Well, aside from the satisfaction of being able to get something into the right place, I discovered a wonderful treasure called The Madness of Philip and Other Tales of Childhood, published in 1902.

Looking at the cover, I thought, is this a children’s book?  So I had to read a few pages, and while it is about children, it is definitely written for adults.  The first tale is one of a kindergarten class, one that is having a rough day.

Maranatha’s desperation was dreadful to witness.  She realized that her vocabulary was hopelessly inadequate to her situation:  she knew herself unable to present her case effectively, but she felt that she was the victim of a glaring injustice.

This is after a teacher scolds her for putting a clothespin on her nose, even though she was only following Philip’s lead.  Later on, during a game of follow the leader in which we learn that Maranatha was born for the ballet, she tries again.

Maranatha was born for the ballet.

Her eyes sought Philip’s, and with a coy little smile, she took his hand to lead him to the centre.  Too many poets and novelists have analyzed the inevitable longing of woman to allure him who scorns her charms, the pathetic passion to attract where she has been brutally repulsed, to make it necessary for me to discuss her attempted endearments as Philip sulkily flung away her hand.

And that’s just the first story.  The second, “A Study in Piracy,” traces the adventures of the Head Captain, the Lieutenant, and the Vicar on their search for treasure.

The Head Captain, the Vicar, and the Lieutenant

“My, but that was a close shave!  I thought they’d got us sure!” breathed the Head Captain.

“Wh-who were they?” asked the Lieutenant, round-eyed.

“Who were they?  Who were they?” the Head Captain repeated scornfully.  “The idea!  I guess you’d find out who they were if they caught you once!”

The Lieutenant shot a sly glance at the Vicar.  Did she know?

The third story, “Bobbert’s Merry Christmas,” starts out with Bobbert telling his baby sister, “And that’s how I came to be born in a manger!”  I haven’t gotten much further in the book yet, but I’m looking forward to “Edgar, the Choir Boy Uncelestial.”

Daskam/Bacon captures both the glories and frustrations of childhood, with the descriptive language of an adult.  And while the children are having their turn-of-the-last-century experiences, you can delight in the hilarious consistency of human nature.

- Kaarin

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Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Picky Eaters*


I had to laugh when I came across Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater by Matthew Amster-Burton, because for no explicable reason, I sometimes say to myself “I’m a hungry monkey.” Usually when I’m hungry. I also connected to the book because I consider myself a recovering picky eater. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties before I willingly began eating beets, greens, squash, peppers, and eggplant, and developed an interest in trying new foods. I spent several years as a vegetarian somehow, surviving mostly on grilled cheese and salad (made up of lettuce and carrots). Truth be told, it was a new boyfriend who essentially shamed me into exploring vegetables, and for that I will be forever grateful. “Why do you say you don’t like mushrooms,” he asked me, “when you eat them all the time?”

I also have to give some credit to my mother, who was of the “I cooked it, you’ll eat it” philosophy of dinner. She had no pity as I held my nose to swallow zucchini, or repeated “tastes like sugar, tastes like sugar, tastes like sugar” while chewing asparagus. In my defense, she did go through a rather extreme tofu-making phase from which it is a miracle that I recovered. “Deep fried” was the magical cure for that one. Truthfully, though, I believe the tough love approach worked on me in the end, and now I am a complete farmers’ market junkie.

Ideas about parenting may have changed since I was a kid, and certainly there is a plethora of information to help if you see your children heading down the picky path. Give one of these a try:


*With apologies to Waylon & Willie.

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