Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

Go West…

As an outreach librarian for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, I find myself in various neighborhoods throughout the city from week to week. In my year-end reflections, I’ve realized that through my job I’ve had the opportunity to discover new (to me) or otherwise unfrequented parts of this exquisite city of ours. Thanks to some programming I’ve been involved in over the past year, I’ve become much more familiar especially with two of our more western neighborhoods – The West End and Sheraden.

The West End branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is one of our 19 locations which has had the benefit of a recent renovation. Now replete with a newly paved parking lot and elevator access, along with a very warm and comforting sitting area, this little branch is managed by colleague Mark Lee. It is a gem in the West End neighborhood both physically and with regard to the multitude of programming that goes on both in and outside of this sweet space, provided to visitors by a very excellent and welcoming staff.


The West End branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Those of you who only know the West End as that place at the end of the West End bridge as you leave Heinz Field, would be surprised to know of all the library activity that goes on in that neighborhood. Beyond the branch at the corner of Neptune and Wabash are also the offices of the Allegheny County Library Association. Here, county librarians and library advocates work to promote library services around the county. In addition, just next door to the West End branch is the Library Support Center, which houses some great library workers who are responsible for everything from cataloging and labeling the many items that you see on our shelves, to the shipping department responsible for getting those materials out to the city and county libraries.

Here, too, resides the wonderful sorting machine, the staff who attend the machine, and van delivery staff (10 drivers, 1 manager and 8 vans!) – all of which make it possible for your requests to go from one library in the county to another in the matter of just a few days. These special workers are akin to Santa’s elves for the magic they perform in sorting and delivering to your local library that bestseller, DVD or much needed item for your child’s school project. (In 2013 alone, 4,099,800  library items were moved among the 74 libraries served by the shipping center).


A portion of the magical sorting machine which sorts hundreds of thousands of items a month!

Just beyond the West End, over a hill or two and around a couple of bends (through the hamlet of Elliott – which requires some further research on my part), one eventually gets to the neighborhood of Sheraden not even 2 miles from the West End. Here, the Sheraden Carnegie Library branch (headed by Ian Eberhardt, whom you may have seen on your TV as of late) shares a building and hallway with the Sheraden senior center, tucked away on Sherwood Avenue. Although one of our smaller branches, this location lacks for nothing in terms of programming, and has an extremely welcoming and helpful staff too!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this neighborhood, it is home to what I believe to be one of the most beautiful school buildings in the city of Pittsburgh, Langley K-8. Named for the same Langley of Langley Air Force base fame – Samuel Langley, a 19th c.  Western University of Pennsylvania (University of Pittsburgh) astronomy professor. The school sits high atop a hill in Sheraden, but be careful not to attempt to gaze at this school as you’re making your way through the busy intersection that sits just below, as I have a tendency to do when I’m out that way.


Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Both of these western neighborhoods, and more specifically, the senior centers that reside nearby to the neighborhood branches welcomed me for some exciting technology programming recently. I’m grateful to the centers, their directors and the fact that these programs opened up new doors and vistas in my daily work. I’m looking to discovering more of our many neighborhoods in the coming year(s) of my outreach and hope to share some more with you in 2015.

Happy New Year!

-Maria J.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pittsburgh Historical Collections at CLP

Image taken from Bridging the Urban Landscape online exhibit

Image taken from Bridging the Urban Landscape online exhibit


The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has long been a repository for Pittsburgh’s rich cultural heritage. We have many historical collections, in many different formats.

Most of these special collections do not appear in our online catalog. The links provide information to access these materials.


Pittsburgh History

Pittsburgh History – many diverse and wide-ranging resources in the Pennsylvania Department at CLP-Main.

Allegheny City Historic Reading Room located at CLP-Allegheny – a special collection of rare materials dedicated to the history of Allegheny City and the North Side.

Pittsburgh Today / Historic Pittsburgh – All things Pittsburgh.


Art and Artists

The Pittsburgh Art Topics File – an extensive clippings collection containing information about art events, art galleries, art festivals, and art organizations.

The Pittsburgh Artists File – index cards containing names of over 4000 visual artists.


Architecture and Architects

The Pittsburgh Architecture File – index cards containing information about specific buildings, architectural styles, areas, building types, houses, and other structures built in the Pittsburgh region during the 20th Century.

The Pittsburgh Architects File – index cards with the names of over 1000 architects and firms.


Music and Musicians

Pittsburgh Music Archives – a group of finding lists that provides access to uncataloged archival materials in a variety of formats.

Pittsburgh Music Special Collections – The Music Department at CLP-Main has an extensive assortment of special collections. See this post for an overview of our major collections.


Oral Histories

Western Pennsylvanians and World War II – a collaboration of Duquesne University & Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Oral Histories  – a cross-section of Western Pennsylvanians: black and white, female and male, ranging in age from their 30s to well-into their 90s.

Oral History of Music in Pittsburgh – over 300 interviews. They currently can only be listened to in the Music Department at CLP-Main.

StoryCorps – more than 150 stories collected in Pittsburgh in 2006.

Oral Histories at CLP-Lawrenceville – collected and donated by the Lawrenceville Historical Society.


Digitized Collections

Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection – a digital collection of books, journals, photographs, trade catalogs, and other items related to the iron and steel industry in Western Pennsylvania.

Bridging the Urban Landscape – online exhibit of some 600 historical photographs and images accompanied by text, of Pittsburgh and its neighborhoods.


Famous Pittsburghers

These pages include links to finding aids for archival material.

Famous Pittsburghers

Pittsburgh Jazz Musicians



Pittsburgh Photographic Library



Pittsburgh Maps



Genealogical research in the Pennsylvania Department

Pennsylvania Department Research Requests


The William R. Oliver Special Collections Room

The William R. Oliver Special Collections Room is the crown jewel of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (in my opinion)! It houses rare and unique materials including books, manuscripts, personal papers and historic photographs, in a climate controlled room. The Oliver Room contains extensive holdings on the history of Western Pennsylvania. One of my favorites includes a collection of letters and papers on the Whiskey Insurrection, 1790-1800.


The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh also has non-local historical collections which I will detail in my next post.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pittsburgh Home Movie Day – November 22, 2014

Do you have any old home movies hiding in the closet or the attic?
When was the last time you took a look at them?
Have you ever wondered how to take better care of them?

Home Movie Day

Disinter some of those old 8mm, Super 8mm and/or 16mm reels and drop by Pittsburgh Home Movie Day 2014 on Saturday afternoon, November 22, at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main. Film archivists will be available to give you free advice on the condition of your films and, if possible, we’ll screen them for a local audience interested in YOUR celluloid memories!

If you’re bringing home movies to share, you’re encouraged to drop off your films between  12 PM and 1 PM to have them properly inspected and assessed by our archivists. Or you can drop by any time after 1 PM and have a look at some of the personal treasures other folks in the region have brought to share with you. We’ll be screening continuously until 4:30 PM.

For more on Home Movie Day, visit the Center for Home Movies or contact us directly at homemovieday.pgh@comcast.net.

Saturday, November 22nd
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main
Director’s Conference Room, First Floor
Film drop off: 12 PM to 1 PM
Screenings: 1 PM to 4:30 PM

Pittsburgh Home Movie Day 2014 is sponsored by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and by the Film Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh.

– Amy

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

If You’ve Got the Gin, We’ve Got the Tonic…

A recent Post-Gazette article by local author Sherrie Flick pondered the phenomenon of reading in bars, which has been Quite A Thing in other parts of the country, and has now made its way to Pittsburgh as a trend. The Eleventh Stackers were, of course, tickled to learn that the zeitgeist has finally arrived on our doorstep, and a few of us wanted to chime in with our own thoughts on the matter (especially since today is National Happy Hour Day). Enjoy our book/beverage pairings, and other boozy — or not-so-much — miscellanea.



One of the nicest bars for reading that I’ve ever encountered was in Toronto, Canada. While looking for a café to read in, I stumbled upon the Tequila Bookworm. The name alone clearly announces that readers are welcome! On a summer day, I imagine I’d be reading a dark mystery on their patio and sipping Sangria. Winter would call for something long or possibly Russian, with a Stout or a warming cocktail at my side.







Leigh Anne

I like the idea of drinking in bars, though I don’t frequent them much anymore. If it’s socially acceptable for me to be seen in one with a book, though, I just might go back and give it a try. Kelly’s is still my favorite Pittsburgh bar, and I would very much like to curl up in one of the booths, reading Mary Daly and drinking  whatever LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) creation is currently featured on the drinks menu.

Image from Marye Audet at SheKnows

Image from Marye Audet at SheKnows

The most fun I’ve had actually reading a book in a bar was a cold, wintry night at The Squirrel Cage. I was waiting for a friend so I treated myself to a Baileys and coffee and snuggled up with A.S. Byatt’s Possession. I honestly don’t remember how long I had to wait, because the moment was perfect, quiet, and timeless (yes, even surrounded by bar noise — good novels will do that for you).


Evil LibrarianBecause of the book Evil Librarian, I thought the best drink would be the drink that suits that librarian. So a Gin and Tonic to toast all those librarians out there.

If you have to pick just one combination, you couldn’t go wrong with a whiskey at Dee’s Cafe, while reading Bukowski’s You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense.



Other resources to consider:

Book Girl’s Guide to Cocktails for Book Lovers, Tessa Smith McGovern

To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, Philip Greene

Cocktail Therapy, Leanne Shear

And a few fiction picks:

Happy Hour of the Damned, Mark Henry

Killer Cocktail, Sheryl J. Anderson

When the Sacred Ginmill Closes, Lawrence Block

Not much of a drinker? You can still celebrate happy hour – and you could argue that any hour spent with a book and a beverage is a happy one! Observe.

Melissa M.

My preferred drink/book/location combo, if I’m being safe-for-work, would be The poirotandteaMonogram Murders, the new Hercule Poirot novel by Sophie Hannah, and a cup of English Breakfast tea on my front porch. If you’re a big Agatha Christie fan and were concerned about someone else taking Poirot over, rest assured that it’s fine. Ms. Hannah did well, in my opinion, and I’ve spoken to more than a few other rabid Christie fans who agree.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a late summer Sunday morning. The only thing that I needed was a cat on my lap!


The Litigators, with napkin roll bookmark, and lunch bag in the background.

The Litigators, with napkin roll bookmark, and lunch bag in the background.

I like to have an iced tea while I’m reading John Grisham. If that iced tea is being refilled by a waitress, even better. Most of my reading happens in diners or small restaurants. I have a geographic memory, so I can tell you where I was when I read Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Keystone Café, Monte Cello’s in Shaler). I read The Mysterious Benedict Society at the now closed Downtown location of Franctuary.

Sometimes a waitress or another customer will ask me what I’m reading. Once a mother came up and said she was so jealous that I had the time to read. At the Johnny Rocket’s in the Pittsburgh Mills mall, I wrote down the name of the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith on the back of a business card for a waitress. My bookmarks are always those pieces of paper used to wrap napkins and silverware. Now that I take my lunch to work more often, I’ll have to add “Break Room, CLP — Downtown & Business” to my list of rotating reading spots.

Your turn: what book would you read at the bar? Which bar? What would you drink?  Designated drivers, we’d love to hear your non-alcoholic alternatives, too.


Filed under Uncategorized

Our Ever-Shrinking World

This past month, my family had the wonderful privilege of hosting an exchange student in our house for two weeks. In that all-too-brief stay with us, it became very clear through our interactions with this German teenager at how small our world is getting. Whether it was his very excellent English, choice in cologne or his one site-seeing request of visiting a Wal-Mart, the overwhelming evidence was there that we are indeed living in a global society and thus a shrinking world. But as enjoyable as his visit was, I didn’t need it as vindication for me. As someone who works throughout the city of Pittsburgh, I see this on almost a daily basis.

Pittsburgh has been a magnet for visitors, whether long term or short, for centuries now, and thanks in part to a great mix of travellers who have landed on the shores of our three rivers, we now can boast to be one of the “most…(pick your favorite top-ten list Pittsburgh has made it on recently)…cities” in the world. And as usual, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is right there to help the recent traveler, and those who love them, meld into this ever-present global society.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers a variety of language classes and conversation salons throughout the city, including our newest program Let’s Speak English for those whose native language isn’t English and would like to learn through conversation. The conversation salons allow native English speakers to converse with experts of various foreign languages. Just click here to search our events page for language-related programming going on at a neighborhood branch near you.

In addition to these fantastic events happening, there’s also our Mango Languages online learning program. Mango Languages allows you to practice a language of your choice (there are dozens available) in the privacy of your own home, office or wherever you choose to access this resource remotely, not to mention that it’s available on the computers in the libraries throughout the city. And don’t forget about Little Pim, which is a language program specifically geared toward children. The whole family can get in on the action!

foreign language

“Language Laboratory” – A language laboratory at one of Pittsburgh’s public schools, date unknown. Courtesy of the Western PA Historical Society collection.

Whether you want to brush up on your English, German, French or any number of other languages, your local Library is a great place to start your own personal journey through our global society.

-Maria J. (who failed miserably at Latin in high school, but is getting her Pittsburghese dahn pretty well.)



Filed under Uncategorized

Surprise! This Book Just Transformed Into My Worst Fear

I love Halloween because it’s the one time of year wearing a costume is socially acceptable. It’s the time you can be someone or something you’re not. You can taste what it’s like to be a monster, or your favorite fictional character, or a concept.

zombinatorLots of people in Pittsburgh, pretty much everyone apparently, wants to “taste” what it’s like to be a zombie—there are zombie walks, massive humans vs. zombies games on college campuses, zombie literature, a zombie store, and new zombie movies all the time.

Before I go any further, let me say this: I don’t scare easily.

Spiders? I put them outside so they can eat annoying bugs. Snakes? I had a pet snake when I was a kid, and the only reason I don’t have one now is because my dogs would probably try to eat it. Bats? I squeal with delight when I see one because I think they are super adorable (and they eat half their body weight in insects per night!). Insects? As long as they aren’t trying to bite me, dive bomb me, or fly into my mouth or ear, I don’t bother with them. And I love the ones that help my garden, like bees and lady bugs.

I do have one mortal fear, though: Zombies.

That’s right. I think bats are the cutest things ever, snakes make great pets, and spiders are my friendly household helpers, and yet I’m Terrified—with a capital T—of zombies.

It’s the idea that a monster could scratch you ever-so-slightly and yet still infect you with a disease that turns you into a mindless husk of a body with cannibalistic leanings. It’s the slow and relentless onslaught. The overwhelming numbers. That once they start coming, you can fight, but humanity’s demise is inevitable.

Walking Dead Book OneOnce, I tried reading The Walking Dead, and got ten pages in before I slammed the book shut. “Nope. No way. Not going to happen,” I told the book.

Miniature WifeLately, I’ve been stumbling onto zombie stories everywhere. This past weekend, I was reading The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales, and BAM, surprise zombie story! I had to read it, because I have this compulsion about finishing books, and aside from the surprise zombies, I really enjoyed the delightful weirdness of the collection.

That night, I made my husband hold my hand after we turned out the lights, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the zombies and their gray teeth and slurping sounds.

bprdhellonearthoneLast month, I was reading B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth, and BAM, zombies! I’ve encountered the traditional slow-moving raised-from-the-dead zombies in Hellboy before (and those don’t really scare me), but these were mindless mutated half-animal creatures that got turned into zombies from breathing a gas released from a gigantic monster. UBER CREEPY.

weliveinwaterEven Jess Walter’s seemingly normal collection about class and race issues, We Live in Water, contains a surprise zombie story. It’s not a typical zombie story—people are turned by taking a recreational drug that changes their brain chemistry—but it’s still a zombie story.

stitchedIf you look at the cover of Stitched by Garth Ennis, a writer I greatly enjoy, it looks like a war comic with some scary reaper dudes. NOPE. It’s about voodoo zombies who can’t be killed. I read this one anyway, but man did it freak me out.

All these zombie stories act kind of like zombies themselves. You think you’re safe and comfortable and then all of a sudden your best friend has become a flesh-eating monster, and you have to fight for your life. I think I’m safe and comfortable reading fun quirky short stories about miniaturized wives or class issues in a decaying city, and then all of a sudden I’m reading a story about zombies and I’m terrified.

I guess this is one of the risks of being a science fiction and fantasy reader in the zombie-obsessed 21st century. It makes a kind of sense—lots of people believe we’re all turning into zombies because of too much work, because we listen to the same talking heads and don’t think for ourselves, because there is always a new virus that does scary, scary things to the human body.

So I’m not going to stop reading these types of stories, even though they make me want to hide under the covers like a five-year-old afraid of the monster in the closet.

How about you? Do you love zombies? Hate them? What’s your favorite zombie story?



Filed under Uncategorized

Toi Derricotte & Vanessa German: Saturday Poets-In-Person

Samuel Hazo_postcard flyr (5_5x8_5)

Come join us on Saturday, September 20th, at the Main Library in Oakland, for the inaugural reading in our brand new series, Saturday Poets-In-Person. The series will focus on well-known Pittsburgh poets, with the featured poets for the first reading being Toi Derricotte and Vanessa German. Readings will take place from 3 to 4 pm on Saturday afternoons. Sign language interpretation will be provided for our Deaf community.

Toi Derricotte is an important American poet whose work resonates deeply with the sorrows and the joys of being human, utilizing elements of her own life to inform us all what it is to be alive in the late 20th and early 21st century. An award winning poet who is the co-founder of Cave Canem, an organization “committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets,” she was elected Chancellor of  the Academy of American Poets in 2012.

Vanessa German is a multidisciplinary artist based in Pittsburgh’s historic Homewood neighborhood. Her performances have been described by Creative Mornings  as being in a “style called Spoken Word Opera; a dynamic hybrid of spoken word poetry infused with the theatrical elements of Opera, Hip Hop, and African Storytelling.” Her love of Homewood, her personal courage in the face of adversity, and her performance work, the stuff of Pittsburgh legend, are well-known both nationally and internationally.

All readings will take place in the International Poetry Room on the second floor of Main Library. The poetry collection housed there contains over 4,500 books and is one of the largest standalone poetry collections in a public library in the US. The collection was begun by the Carnegie Library in collaboration with Dr. Samuel Hazo, the founder and Executive Director of the International Poetry Forum, with a few dozen books back in 1976 and has grown into a destination point for poetry lovers in Pittsburgh and throughout Allegheny County.

For lovers of the written word, performance art, or poetry, this is a program not to be missed. I hope to see you there. FYI, here is a flyer for the complete series. Just click to enlarge:

page0001~ Don

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized