Tag Archives: library programs

How the Library helped me be a better Big Sister

Volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters has been a big part of my life for years. I was “matched” with my first “Little” right out of college, and we were matched for two years until her family moved out of state.  A few years later, I decided to sign up again, and I’ve been a Big Sis to Lindalee for nearly two years. Spending time with her twice per month is definitely a highlight for me.


Original artwork by Lindalee

Together, we’re into dog walking, cupcake making, car singalongs and bowling; and of course, chatting about our lives, talking about school (Linda is very into Accelerated Reader and multiplication these days) and generally having a good time.

Big Brothers Big Sisters does a great job of hooking up volunteers with resources they need, and even gives tickets to events on occasion, but even so, it can sometimes be a challenge to keep our activities new and fresh (especially in bad weather when we can’t really go outside). Enter: the Library.

One of the easiest things to do when I’m not sure what to plan for an outing is to pull up the library website or app and check on which locations have something going on that my lil’ sis is interested in. We’ve visited a number of different libraries this way, and it’s great! Lego club, maker programs and sensory story time have all been favorites. After we’re done, we read some books and spend time playing games together on the computer (and we once spent nearly 45 minutes googling pictures of baby bats — surprisingly adorable). It’s been really convenient that Linda doesn’t need her own library card to use a computer, so we’re able to explore no matter where we go.

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Lindalee drew this after a attending a bug-themed Story time at the Main library. Afterwards, we played with lots of toys and she used fun-smelling markers on this colorful creation.

The library also helps out when we go on long drives. Because my Little Sis lives about 45 minutes away from me, it can be a haul to get to some of the activities we enjoy.  When I know we’ll  be in the car for a long time, I pick up some of her go-tos like Diary of Wimpy Kid or Dork Diaries, or even just some fun, short picture books to keep her (and I) amused while she reads out loud during the ride. (A recent favorite was I Love Dogs.)

As Linda has gotten more interested in baking and cooking with me, I’ll grab some cookbooks, and we’ll look through them together, read the recipes, shop for ingredients and make some delicious treats. (She also enjoys browsing cookbooks in the car, too.) Recent cookbooks we’ve chosen include  The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, Smart Cookie and Baking with Kids.

Finally, although Big Brothers Big Sisters does check in with me to make sure everything is going okay, it’s also nice to know I can grab some books on mentoring, how to navigate conversations, or even how to come up with new activities. (I’ve found that browsing parenting books can be useful for mentors, too!)  Here are a few titles that look good to me — I’d love to hear any recommendations anyone has!

p.s. if you live in Pittsburgh and you’re interested in getting involved, Big Brothers Big Sisters is always looking for new mentors. You can get started here.





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Perspective, As Seen from a Corner of the Library

CLP - Desk

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m writing this from an undisclosed nook of CLP-Main.  It’s a spectacularly gorgeous (and busy) weekend in Oakland; across the street, a few thousand (give or take) capped-and-gowned bright-eyed job hopefuls are graduating from the University of Pittsburgh.  A kids event is taking over Schenley Plaza.

In the midst of this, the Library is quite the happenin’ place, too.  We have an abundance of people here.

World Kaleidoscope is presenting Alba Flamenca, and they’re warming up for their 2 p.m. performance in the Quiet Reading Room. Families are arriving for Sensory Storytime. People, including myself, are using their Library cards to access the Library’s free Wi-Fi. A librarian is helping a student find information for a research paper that’s due “sometime this week.”

And this is all just on the First Floor.

I’m tucked away in a corner of the Library on a Sunday because, for the second weekend in a row, my daughter is participating in one of our creative writing programs for teens. This is a new experience for her:  learning to write in a different genre (and, God willing, perhaps about something other than the lads of One Direction), having her work critiqued by her peers and learning how to dole out constructive criticism, and meeting new people from different schools and backgrounds.  The workshop is giving her the chance to learn new skills and broaden her horizons – all the things that, in my development job with the Library, I tell people we do every day.

Powered up with my laptop and fueled by my Crazy Mocha coffee, this doesn’t feel like hanging out at my workplace on a weekend. Far from it. In a way, being at the Library incognito as a patron instead of a staff member gives me a different point of view of the Library.  My work hours typically fall during the week, which is why I don’t normally have a chance to see the Library the way I’m doing this afternoon.

In many ways not much is different. It’s still the same Library, of course, but it’s also a reminder to me of the possibilities that CLP offers to all of us in so many ways, regardless of the day.  Whether it’s reading a new genre, listening to a new type of music, or attending a program, it’s always possible to expand one’s horizons … or to remember to look at the same thing you see everyday from a new perspective.

CLP - Stacks

~Melissa F.

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Halloween Happenings @ Your Library!

Even though Wednesday, October 31st is the official 2012 trick or treat day in the Pittsburgh area, there are still a lot of pre-holiday festivities planned for those of you who want to squeeze in as much spookylicious funtime as possible before surrendering to  Christmas creep. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is pleased to offer an entire slate of pre-Halloween fun for all ages, so check out the following list of holiday programs, click the event links that interest you, and plan the next few days accordingly!

“Oh no! We forgot to go to the library!” From ClipArtPal

Friday, October 26th


Kids Create. Stop by after school to make a fun Halloween craft!

Downtown & Business

Dance of the Undead is a teen-themed program of amazing proportions, in conjucntion with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. It does require permission slips and pre-registration, so if zombie makeup, dance, and social media sound good to you, click the link and read carefully!

Saturday, October 27th


Halloween Storytime, for children ages 2 and up, accompanied by an adult. Spooky stories and trick-or-treating, costumes encouraged!


The Haunted Library, three rooms of unmitigated, family-friendly TERROR for ages 6 and up. Created and presented by Teen Think: Searching and Destroying Boredom at the Library since 2012.


The Halloween Fire and Ice Show. Did somebody say EXPLOSIONS? Mad Science of Pittsburgh presents fun, informative science demonstrations for all ages.


Celebrate Halloween. Pumpkins, candy, stories, and MagicMan T.J. Hill. For all ages, costumes encouraged!

Main Library

Created by LAV with MemeGenerator

Where to begin?

Mt. Washington

Kids Create. Make a spoooooky Halloween craft!


The Not-So-Scary Halloween Party features games treats, and the magic of Tom Jay.

South Side

Word on the street is, the Drop-In Craft is Halloween-themed. Check it out!

West End

School Age Fun: Book Adventures tackles Witches, Wizards, & other Things that Go Bump in the Night. Costumes encouraged!

Sunday, October 28th

Squirrel Hill

Didn’t get enough Hogwarts Halloween?  Do it all over again at Squirrel Hill!

Monday, October 29th


Celebrate: Halloween Party! Enjoy stories, games, prizes, and trick-or-treating. Pre-registration is required, and today (10/26/12) is the last day to register! Click the link for details.


Halloween Storytime, for children aged 6 and under, features stories, songs, and rhymes that are more fun than scary.

Tuesday, October 30th


Teen Halloween Tricks and Treats. Monster makeup, snacks, and a Halloween movie, all for teens.


Teen Fright Night Costume Party. The Teen Lounge transforms into a haunted extravaganza, complete with food and games. Costumes encouraged!


Aiieeee! It’s the return of The Haunted Library!


PreK Program: Halloween Storytime and Craft. A little silly, a little spooky, a lot of puppets! For children aged 2-6, with an accompanying adult. [Repeats at 11 a.m.]

Hill District

Teen Zone: Hook Up My Pumpkin! Teens in grades 6 through 12 are invited to the Teen Zone for games, crafts, movies, trivia, snacks, and other fun.

Main Library

Halloween Costume Party / Decorated Pumpkin Contest. Stories, songs, and a Halloween parade! If you like, bring a pumpkin you’ve decorated for the pumpkin contest. Costumes encouraged, but please, no masks. Pre-registration required–click link for details!

Woods Run

Don’t miss the Annual Halloween Bash, a costume-friendly haven for treats and fun activities. Also features the stylings of Mad Science of Pittsburgh.

And, as if all that weren’t enough, here’s what’s happening at the library on Halloween itself:


Monster Movie Mania. Enjoy classic monster movies of the 1930s on our big-screen TV. Popcorn provided!

Hill District

It’s Pumpkin Time! Enjoy stories, games, crafts, and a special treat.

Main Library

Teen Art Club: Wigs, Beards, and Mustaches. Still stumped for a costume? No worries – come make some appearance altering stuff out of paper and yarn.

West End

All-Ages Costume Contest. Dressing up for Halloween? Stop by West End branch, enjoy some candy, and enter to win a pumpkin prize.

Family Fun Halloween. Families, stop by before trick-or-treating for storytime and your first treat. Dress for the costume contest!

Horror Show Teen Lounge. Afterschool fun, with snacks, for middle, high, and homeschoolers.

Whew. That’s enough good times to make a wicked witch wander in search of warm wassail to wet her whistle. Hope we’ll see you at the library this Halloween season!

–Leigh Anne


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