I'm An Open Book

Confession of the Week: I love the library—I’m a lifetime cardholder to the best place to shop for books, free entertainment and endless adventure.

This week my style blog isn’t about style it’s about showing my support to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP)—an institution for which I’ve been a trusted cardholder for years. My library card has no annual fees, no interest rate. It’s a plastic card that gains me access to the world—for free. The CLP is my hangout, my spot, my place to venture alone or with my little ones. It’s like my second home.Carnegie Library Main Branch, Oakland. (Photo courtesy KitAy via Flickr.)

There are 19 branches of the CLP and my favorite branch is in Squirrel Hill, on the corner of Forbes and Murray Avenues. Growing up just a few blocks from the library, my mom would take my siblings and I there to read to us, let us play in the children’s reading section, check out the fish in the fish tank and of course check out books. Now that I’m a mom I’ve repeated the cycle and visit the Squirrel Hill library on a regular basis with my kids.

It wasn’t until last summer when I grabbed my family to attend the Carnegie Library’s annual Summer Reading Extravaganza at the main branch in Oakland on Fifth Avenue. We attend every year because it’s a fun way to start the summer reading. There are games, food and live entertainment. Plus, books on sale for as cheap as one dollar.

On one of the tables inside the library there was a message to patrons that the library needed our help in finding long-term funding. While the majority of funding the library receives comes from government sources, patron support is crucial and the instruction was for interested and concerned supporters to write a letter describing what the library means to us. I took a pencil and grabbed one of the legal notebooks available and began writing. And in a few minutes I was finished. I left my words of support written on lined, yellow paper (name, number and email included), folded it in half, and dropped it inside a wicker basket.

Carnegie Library, Squirrel Hill Branch. (Photo courtesy Raymond Yee via Flickr.)As an ongoing mission for the library, which welcomed more than 2.2 million visitors, provided more then 400,000 hours of free computer access and circulated 3.5 million items to cardholders, there is still need for support.

This past April, I received an email from Trina Walker, director of communications and creative services for the CLP asking if I’d be interested in filming a television ad for their campaign called “This is My Library.” She and her staff had read my letter and thought my family and I would be a good fit for the ad. My kids and I filmed a quick spot for them about why we love the library. It was a great feeling to be a part of a something so important.

My library is where I was raised, it’s where I’ve raised my children, it’s where we socialize and meet new people, it’s our video rental place where I don’t have to pay to rent a movie, it’s a place I can check out a stack of fashion magazines and not pay a subscription rate.
The message that the library needs your support is a word-of-mouth movement. Keep the subject of supporting the CLP an open book topic. Head the word. Make a move.

Join the Pittsburgh Protect Your Library movement:
Write, talk, give or donate by visiting carnegielibrary.org/about/future/ppyl.

Take in the sun and some reading at the Summer Reading Extravaganza, Sun., June 6, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. Registration is mandatory, however admission is free. Pre-register at carnegielibrary.org/extravaganza. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main (Oakland), 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland; 412/622-3114, info@carnegielibrary.org.