September 19, 2013 · 5:00 am
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
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.
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Tagged as activities, Allentown, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, children, CLP LYNCS, CLP pop-up, crafts, friends, gaming, grandmothers, Hilltop, library, Maria J., neighbors, Pittsburgh, South Side, ukulele
January 4, 2013 · 5:00 am
While strolling through the wilds of Regent Square last summer, I discovered what looked like a little birdhouse perched on a well-manicured lawn. But the little house was filled with books, and above the door was a sign that read “Little Free Library.” Although my own neighborhood is located near four wonderful libraries (C.C. Mellor, Swissvale, Wilkinsburg, and Squirrel Hill), the idea of a personal lending library in my front yard sounded like a great idea. And so, with a little amateur carpentry and an armful of books:
photo provided by author
Little Free Library Charter #3059 is open for business in Edgewood!
You can purchase a library already constructed or download blueprints to build your own. We currently have ours covered with lights for the holiday season, but we have plans for a spring remodel if and when the snow finally melts.
Example of the pre-built Little Red British Phone Booth Library
Our library has been a wonderful way to clear out our overloaded bookshelves, meet some new neighbors, and pass on the joy of reading. We’ve had some anonymous donations of books and magazines as well, left behind by generous passers-by. I’m happy to report that our biggest “movers” are children’s and young adult books.
The Little Free Library organization has, as part of its mission, a goal to build more than 2,510 libraries around the world–more than Andrew Carnegie–and then even more. Happily, the original goal was reached in 2012 with libraries throughout the United States, Germany, Canada, Ghana, Pakistan, Haiti, Lithuania, and many other countries. Interested? Visit their website for information on how you can become your own library director, or donate a library to an underserved community anywhere in the world.
March 24, 2011 · 11:30 am
Right now I live next door to a building that used to house a business. Said business relocated to a different neighborhood, which is sad for those of us who liked to shop there. However, it does create the delightful state of affairs in which I can now describe where I live in terms of something that used to be there (and it wasn’t an Isaly’s). This makes me feel as if, after thirteen years of city living, I am a bona fide Pittsburgher at last.
I’ve loved every moment of my time here thus far, especially getting to know all the wonderful people. Pittsburghers are just like their iconic spokesman, Mister Rogers: friendly folks who start conversations on buses, cheerfully perform random acts of kindness , and of course, give helpful directions.
Feel like being part of — or even more of a part of — Pittsburgh’s neighborly phenomenon? Next time you stop by Main Library, please consider supporting our colleagues in the Children’s Department by contributing to their latest Rogersian effort. Between now and April 16 you can support the Mommy & Me Food Drive, which benefits our friends and neighbors at Community Human Services, by bringing a low-sugar, non-perishable food item with you next time you visit. We always love to see you when you come in, but we’ll be super-excited if you choose to support the library and the Oakland community in this way, at this time.
My own Pittsburgh story is, I’m sure, just beginning, and I can’t wait to see what the chapters ahead reveal. All I know for certain is that it will never be boring! Not with wonderful friends and neighbors like you.