Tag Archives: events

Run for a Reason

On Sunday, May 1, 2016, runners will take to the streets to participate in the 2016 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. This year, not only can you run in any of the events of that weekend, but you can also raise money for the Carnegie Library while doing so! Currently, runners and Library-lovers have raised close to $1,000; if you are interested in running or donating, check it out here!

Run for the library I used to be a biker. Or a cyclist. Whatever the preferred title is. When I started working for CLP in 2002 I rode my bike to work four or five days per week, climbing up 18th street to CLP – Knoxville where I performed my duties as a children’s specialist. On the weekends I’d go for long bike rides; I rode my bike to the store, to run errands, I rode it everywhere. In 2011, I rode it all around the city in the 48.4 mile Cycle for CLP tour of all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations. If there was a day that I didn’t ride the bike (whether due to fatigue, extreme weather or just simple laziness) I’d be cranky and irritable. In the winter, if there was snow on the ground I might run a few miles every once in awhile, but that was about it.

But over the years a change took place and I have ever so slowly, and at times, reluctantly, become a runner. Now, I haven’t touched the bike for months, but in 7 weeks I am going to lace up my running shoes and run 30,000 or so steps to raise money for literacy and learning.

Way back in 2002 (or even 2010), if someone had told me that I’d be running a marathon I wouldn’t have believed them, and said there’s no way that would ever happen.  

In 2011, on a whim I signed up for the Pittsburgh Sprint Triathlon. After panicking, flailing around and hyperventilating in the open water, I completed the bike and run portions of the race. I finished realizing that I needed to work on being a better swimmer, and perhaps a runner too. After hours and hours spent in pools, rivers and lakes, I still can barely swim. But I begged a couple of friends who were accomplished runners to let me run with them. The first time I ran with my friend Garrett in Frick Park was not a blissful experience: It was cold … and icy … and I was miserable much of the time. We ran a little over eight miles, and afterward, I could barely walk for two days (Does this sound like fun yet?). Every muscle in my legs was so sore it took me five minutes to walk up and down the stairs.

Yet I persisted. Each weekend I’d run somewhere in the eight-nine mile range, and the runs got easier. One Sunday morning, I ended up running 13 miles with a friend, and he told me, “Hey. If you can do 13, you can probably run the full marathon.”  I balked, but you know what? He was right. I ran longer and longer distances each weekend, came home, ate myself into a food coma, and slept all afternoon on the couch. My training plan that first year was very much in the vein of “I run long distances for the worst possible reason: I run to eat.” I have now become one of those people that feels that running for two-three hours is something reasonable to do on a Sunday morning. It can be blissful and sometimes painful, but most of all I find it meditative. Running is where I practice my storytelling for children’s and teen programming; where I think through management issues at work; or just plain daydream about video games, clocks and cooking. Some people practice yoga or meditate. For me, running is a chance to spend a couple of hours alone with my thoughts.   

If anyone out there has contemplated running a half- or full-marathon, or starting smaller with a 5K or 10K, here are some library resources to get you started.

Run Your First Marathonbook1

 

 

 

 

book2.pngFeet, Don’t Fail Me Now

 

 

 

 

book3The Runner’s World Big Book of Running for Beginners

 

 

 


book4
The Complete Running & Marathon Book

 

 

 

 

See you on May 1st!

 

-Ian

 

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New Shoes and Sole Hope

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Eleventh Stack are celebrating Black History Month by highlighting books, music and movies by African American Artists. We also have a ton of great events and programs for children, teens and adults. You can view all of our Black History Month posts here.

There was a joke about African Americans having bad feet. But once you bought a shoe, it was yours. You couldn’t exchange it. And you couldn’t try it on in the store.
Betty Ellison-Harpole

When I was reading the book New Shoes by Susan Meyer I cringed when Ella Mae wasn’t allowed to try on shoes. I know this was simply one more Jim Crow indignity piled upon a mountain of indignities, but imagining a little girl unable to try on shoes…

NewShoes

New Shoes, Susan Meyer

When her brother’s hand-me-down shoes don’t fit, it is time for Ella Mae to get new ones. She is ecstatic, but when she and her mother arrive at Mr. Johnson’s shoe store, her happiness quickly turns to dejection. Ella Mae is forced to wait when a customer arrives after her and is served first. Ella Mae is unable even to try on the shoes because of her skin color. Determined to fight back, Ella Mae and her friend Charlotte work tirelessly to collect and restore old shoes, wiping, washing, and polishing them to perfection. The girls then have their very own shoe sale, giving the other African American members of their community a place to buy shoes where they can be treated fairly and “try on all the shoes they want.” Set in the South during the time of segregation, this stunning picture book brings the civil rights era to life for contemporary readers.

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In celebration of Black History Month, CLP- South Side is having a special storytime and shoe-cutting party for the whole family. What is a shoe-cutting party, you may ask? Using patterns from the charity Sole Hope we will use denim and plastic to create shoe soles for children in Uganda. We’ll collect our soles and send them to Sole Hope, where trained shoe-makers create shoes for those in need.

New Shoes and Sole Hope
Saturday, February 20
2-4 PM

SHOEPARTY_BUTTON

We could use the following donations for our party on Saturday!
Jeans or denim
Fabric scissors (just letting us borrow a pair for the day would be awesome!)
Clean milk jugs and/or laundry detergent bottles
$10 to sponsor a pair of shoes

Hope to see you Saturday!
-suzy

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On Margaret Atwood, Flawed Characters, and Connection

This blog post was written by library patron Dana Bell, after the recent Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures visit from Margaret Atwood. Thanks for sharing your impressions, Dana!

At sixteen years old, most of my friends were spending afternoons draped over their beds singing with MTV’s Total Request Live while dreaming about Gavin Rossdale (I hear he is currently free again, although it be weird to drape yourself over a twin bed and dream about him while reading Tiger Beat). I would be lying if I said that that sort of activity hadn’t taken up a small portion of my time as well, but a far larger portion of my time was spent escaping my own personal dystopia by immersing myself in the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood.

This is something for which I have thanked my English teacher, Judith Totty, numerous times. You see, when I selected Ernest Hemingway for my end-of-semester author project, and she nicely but firmly denied my request, I was forced to select Margaret Atwood. She said to me, “Dana, I know you like classics but you need to read Margaret Atwood. I’ve already assigned her to you.” She couldn’t have predicted how life-shifting this author would be in my world.

bookcover (1)Margaret Atwood is a hero. She writes stories about real people. People who have been broken. People who have defined “resilience.” People who have faced pain and hurt and kept moving even though the situation is less than hopeful.

In writing real people, she captures what it means to be human and to have the human experience, because — let’s face it — humans are not “all good” or “all bad,” as she stated in her lecture on October 28, 2015 at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Lecture Hall, after someone in the audience expressed concern over HBO picking up Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy.

The questioner wanted to know how much creative control the author would have and stated that her major concern was that they would potentially make the character Jimmy (the protagonist of the first book in the series, Oryx and Crake) a “good guy” instead of a “bad guy.” Atwood contested that Jimmy was merely human and hadn’t the questioner ever “met someone like him in real life?”

While she shared in the concern of feminist undertones and meaning potentially being stripped from the story (something she admits she has little control over), she disagreed that her characters are definable as good or bad, saying “I have no interest in writing angels.” She even discussed how she’d had a young man read through Jimmy’s character to give her tips on his authenticity, of which the young man could only come up with two: the first being the semantics of how to use profanity, and the second being how to properly smoke a joint. Otherwise, the young man was curious as to how she had pinned him down so well.

One might wonder how Atwood knows us (fans, ordinary people, broken people, etc.) so well. Perhaps it is because she is so in tune with us and our world. She tweets regularly (with nearly a million followers), remains tied to environmental activism and is always aware of the most current political news; in fact, she is often tied to that political news bookcover(check out #hairgate on Twitter in conjunction with the article “Stephen Harper’s Hair Problem”).

And, as she highlighted on October 28, she spends a large portion of time researching. For her current novel The Heart Goes Last, she came back to research she did for Alias Grace (one of my favorite books) that involved the for-profit side of prisons.

Although all of that should give her substantial insight into the human condition, I myself know from studying anthropology that historical research is not nearly enough to hone in on the essential nature of a culture, nor the way we as humans respond to it, and neither is watching the news or discussing politics or ideals with people. Someone who truly wishes to understand people will collect so much more than the passing opinion. They will collect the motive, the connections, the psychology behind all that they do and encounter. They will absorb elements of a culture and turn those elements over in their head and think about the significant roles they play.

I think Margaret Atwood’s skill in character writing comes from her ability to listen and remain open and engaged in her research and in life, and in some ways she succeeds in forcing us to do the same. She is changing the world by placing her readers in the role of anthropologist. Her books are a catalyst for processing a number of feminist and ethical quandaries. By showing us realistic, albeit dismal, situations, we observe humans like ourselves facing actual issues, making logical mistakes and thinking sometimes disturbing thoughts. We are forced to witness and remain open for the entirety of the story (which we don’t often do in real life) and are often left with more questions when the final page is turned, which allows our wonderful brains to mull over the more philosophical questions raised.

I think it is her firm grasp on reality and human nature that draws so many of us in. The lecture on October 28 sold out in about six hours, and there was not a single empty seat in the lecture hall that evening. I told my mother that morning, when expressing that I was on day two of a migraine, that I would have to be in an ambulance to miss seeing and hearing Margaret Atwood speak. No one forces me to think quite as freely and deeply as she does, and it is refreshing.

It was also refreshing to be at an event with literally hundreds of people who feel as much admiration and appreciation for an author as I do. I was no longer the girl sitting on my bed reading, aware of how different I was from my peers. I was surrounded by people who are just like me and just as excited.

As my husband and I made our way to the signing line, I struck up several conversations with other admirers. There is something about talking to another person who reads what you have read that breaks the awkward barriers of being a stranger. We’ve walked to the Paradice Dome together, we’ve witnessed Offred’s longing for human touch, we’ve peeled apples with Grace Marks at midnight on Halloween and lived to tell the tale.

Conversation between nerds of the same fandom is truly a beautiful thing. Some of the people I spoke with stated that this was one of the most epic events that the library has hosted, and I have to agree. While I have been to past events, there is nothing like having a classic author in your city, at one of your most beautiful libraries, making you laugh and think and talk with strangers. It was beyond wonderful to hear Atwood read from her latest book but also to be connected with other people with similar interests I might otherwise have passed on the street without a word.

Collage of photos taken at the Margaret Atwood lecture and signing on 10/28/15, provided by Dana Bell.

Collage of photos taken at the Margaret Atwood lecture and signing on 10/28/15, provided by Dana Bell.

The signing line was fairly quiet, reverent even.  I watched as she quietly signed hundreds of books, interjecting wit here and there as people spoke to her, though many were rendered speechless. When I made it to the front of the line, I am pretty sure I was anything but articulate (I may have even said “Wow” or “Oh my god”), but she smiled and seemed to appreciate my sincere thank you and the small gift and card I sheepishly gave her. In her own open and understanding way, she allowed me to be my weird brand of human (in this moment a total fangirl, complete with loss of speech, something I am not used to). That night, I fell back into who I was at sixteen, draping over my now queen-sized bed and diving into The Heart Goes Last, very happy in the knowledge that this time, I would not be alone.

-Dana Bell

I want to say a very special thank you to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Arts and Lectures for hosting this event. Meeting Margaret Atwood has been on my bucket list for a very long time, and it is because of these associations that I had the chance. I also want to thank Classic Lines Bookstore. I lost my copy of The Blind Assassin years and years ago and was so happy you had it for sale at the door.

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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.

source: fredrogers.org

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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FREADom Songs

Do you love Pittsburgh? How about karaoke? Are you a little rebel who reads banned books? Do you like free stuff, games and prizes?

If any of those things sound like your cup of tea (or coffee or hot chocolate), celebrate your freedom to read at FREADom, the ACLU-PA’s 20th annual reading of banned books tonight at 7pm at the Carnegie Museum of Art Theater (that’s on the lower level).

image courtesy of the PA ACLU - click through for event page.

image courtesy of the ACLU-PA – click through for event page.

A veritable rogue’s gallery of greats from the event’s past twenty years have assembled for tonight. Scrapbook documentarian and Pittsburgh treasure Rick Sebak will read from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Talk-show host Lynn Cullen will read selections from the Bible. Award-winning poet Terrance Hayes will read some of Vladimir Nabokov‘s Lolita.

Pittsburgh’s best jazz vocalist, Etta Cox, will sing “Strange Fruit,” Billie Holiday’s banned song that protested lynchings. There will be more singing throughout the night in the form of a banned-song karaoke singalong. Fun fact: I’m banned from this part of the event because my singing voice sounds like a cat giving birth to a helicopter and can literally cause paint to peel.

If you’re over age 21, don’t forget to get your Banned Books Week cocktail from the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC).

There will also be a Banned Books Quiz, featuring questions about frequently challenged Young Adult books (like The Bluest Eye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The House on Mango Street), organized by your favorite CLP librarians. And of course there will be prizes!

Best of all, it’s free!

FREADom is also sponsored by CLP, 90.5 WESA-FM and 91.3 WYEP-FM. For more information call 412-681-7736, email pghinfo@aclupa.org or go to www.aclupa.org/takeaction/events/2015freadom.

–Ross

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Everything You Need to Know About Everything I Never Told You (and Celeste Ng’s upcoming appearance at the Library!)

Everything I Never Told You - paperbackIn Everything I Never Told You, much is unspoken. Living in suburban Ohio in the 1970s, the Lee family has many secrets, regrets, unfulfilled dreams and hijacked ambitions. There are letters never sent nor received, tchotchkes stolen, misunderstandings big and small, of innermost feelings repressed and silent pacts.

Part of this happens because of the time period in which Celeste Ng sets this, her debut novel. (And may I interject and say that this is one hell of a debut novel.)  This is one of those stories where the setting and time period is almost as much of a character as the characters themselves. Ng  flawlessly captures every detail of life in the groovy 70s: sunbathing while coated in baby oil, the National Anthem coming on TV when the late-night station goes off the air, dialing a rotary phone and listening in on another person’s conversation.

Back then, society’s norms almost demanded us to capitulate to others’ needs and to project one’s unfulfilled ambitions onto one’s children.  The idea that women could pursue a career in the sciences–or have any life beyond the kitchen–was still revolutionary.

“You loved so hard and hoped so much and then you ended up with nothing. Children who no longer needed you. A husband who no longer wanted you. Nothing left but you, alone, and empty space.” (pg. 246)

The central event in Everything I Never Told You happens in the very first sentence.  “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.”  Lydia is the 16-year-old daughter of James and Marilyn Lee, and from that auspicious beginning, Ng expertly unravels for her reader how James and Marilyn met (professor falls in love with student), married and became parents to Lydia, Nathan and–surprise!– Hannah.

I did have a slight issue with the character of Hannah, as well as a plot development toward the end of the novel. On the latter, I’m not mentioning this for spoiler reasons. I understand why it was there–another example of the cultural and societal norms of things unspoken–but it felt gratuitous and somewhat unnecessary because the rest of the novel was so strong. And while I understand why Hannah was included in the story, at times she seemed extraneous and–true to her character–in the way. I’m not convinced that she was necessary for the reader to understand the theme of the novel.

Which can be summed up in a few lines found toward the novel’s conclusion, when the events leading up to Lydia’s death unfold for the reader’s full understanding:

“Instead, they will dissect this last evening for years to come. What had they missed that they should have seen? What small gesture, forgotten, might have changed everything? They will pick it down to the bones, wondering how this had gone so wrong, and they will never be sure.” (pg. 271)

Sometimes – oftentimes – our lives turn out differently than we planned. Terrible things happen. But by listening to what the people we love are and aren’t saying, admitting to our deepest wishes and exposing our most fragile insecurities, our lives and those around us have a chance to change for the better.

Celeste NgEverything I Never Told You won the ALA/YALSA Alex Award 2015, given to one of ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. I found it incredibly well-written and suspenseful enough to hold my attention. And I typically shy away from stories about dead or dying children. I chose this because Celeste Ng grew up in Pittsburgh and I have tickets for her appearance here as part of Authors on Tour on June 1.

What’s Authors on Tour? So glad you asked. Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh have teamed up to present authors who are on a national publicity tour, either with a new hardback or recent paperback book release. We’ve enjoyed a great evening with 2014 Man Booker Prize Winner Richard Flanagan and Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk will be here May 21. Celeste Ng wraps up the series. All of the authors will appear at the historic Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Lecture Hall in Oakland, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Interesting in joining us?  Details for how to get tickets are here.

~ Melissa F.

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Branches are people too.

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Come visit us!

With all of the amazing activities taking place at the Mothership Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh-Main (language lessons, poetry, author visits, crafting) it is easy to forget that CLP has 17 neighborhood branches and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. And we’re all busy little bees, planning awesome programs for all ages, all year round. But since I’m the manager of CLP-South Side, let’s talk about me!

Every Week

TeenLoungeTeen Lounge
Mondays 4-6 pm
The South Side Library is the place to be every Monday afternoon. There’s tons of fun happening at Teen Lounge from gaming, snacking and crafting, to working on projects around the Library and around the South Side. Come and kick it at Teen Lounge.

Crochet & Knitting Club,
Wednesdays 5:30-7:30 pm
Join us for our Crochet and Knitting Group. We are a group of friendly crochet and knitting fans, looking to teach and learn from other friendly crafters. Bring your current projects or start something new!

Storytime
Thursdays 11 am – 12 pm
All kids are welcome at these storytimes designed for children 18 months to age 5. Get up and get moving with stories, songs, rhymes and silly fun! In these 30-40 minute storytimes, children and adults will actively explore books that expand the imagination and inspire self-discovery.

Gaming
Saturdays 12-3 pm
Feel like getting your game on? Head down to the library for an assortment of video and tabletop games for all ages! Meet new people to challenge, or bring a friend along for gaming fun.

Special Events

All Day Movies
Thursday, 11/28- Family Blockbusters
Saturday, 12/13- Holiday Favorites
Friday, 12/26- Holiday Favorites
Join us at the library for an all day movie marathon! Each month we’ll feature a day long celebration of films on a fun theme.

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The Labs
Monday, 12/8
3:30 pm – 6:00 pm
The Labs is the place to make and learn with art and technology. During this workshop, teens can explore a variety of processes with the help of mentors. Mentors will provide equipment and expertise related to music/audio production, design, circuitry/robotics and photo/video. Stop by and make something cool with us!

IMG_20141111_142113 (1)Work. Nights.
Thursday, 12/4
6 pm-midnight
Scott talked about Work. Nights. in a previous post, but I wanted to remind everyone that it is taking place at CLP- South Side!
Accelerate. Collarborate. Innovate.
Stay up late at the Library. Network. Get stuff done. Connect with other innovators. Research your ideas and jumpstart your ingenuity! Come to the library for:

  • a creative co-working environment
  • guidance from library professionals well-versed in technology, entrepreneurism and more
  • late night snacks and coffee

GingerbreadGingerbread Houses
Saturday, 12/6
11 am – 1 pm

Add a sweet touch to your holiday with edible arts and crafts! We’ll supply the gingerbread, icing and decorations—everything you need to make a delicious gingerbread house. Due to limited space, registration is required. 412-431-0505 or southside@carnegielibrary.org

Book Sale
Saturday, 12/13
10 am – 5 pm
Browse our new and gently used books. Homemade baked goods will be available for purchase, as well as gifts made by our Crochet and Knitting group. All proceeds benefit the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh- South Side Friends group.

MakeAndDoMake-and-Do
Saturday, 12/13
2:30 – 3:30 pm
Be social, Be spontaneous and Be artistic! Check out this program dedicated to cooking, crafting and technology based making for teens.

Whew! This is only one month of one branch’s activities! You could probably find something to attend every day of the month if you tried. Hope to see you here!
suzy

 

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