Nine Carnegie Libraries in an Afternoon

Our Carnegie Passports are All Stamped

We started at the Homewood Branch where we were welcomed by Ray. After he stamped our passports he showed us an historic photo of the library and told us how the windows were uncovered during the renovation and the daylight was pouring in. We inquired about the caretaker’s apartment which we’d heard about. He called us back to the Customer Service Desk and introduced us to the Library manager, Morgan, who was able to take us upstairs and downstairs to the auditorium on a tour. And Ray was exactly right about seeing those ornate windows from above. Morgan showed us how they were used to regulate air flow. As we left the library we saw the hundreds of names on a WWI Memorial Plaque honoring the Homewood residents who gave their lives.

Our next stop was Squirrel Hill which was all glass and modern as we entered via the glass elevator. We learned there are “900 Holds” at the library making it one of the busiest and absolutely no squirrels in residence. Our passport stamper was “Customer Service Associate Number Two” who directed us to a display of historic documents at the front of the library. The view outside is the Forbes Avenue Squirrel Hill Business District

How about the breakout window boxes where you can crawl in and read?

The Hazelwood Branch was next and Customer Engagement Associate Theressa offered us a choice of the regular or extra large stamp! Asher (Adult Services) told us that the downstairs held The Family Center. We saw the colorful metal artwork of Homestead artist David Lewis inviting us to the Children’s Section.

We had a brief stop at Page’s Ice Cream where Jen bought me a sticker.

We had just crossed the Monongahela and we’re going right by the well know ice cream spot.

It was truly on the way to the Knoxville Branch. Kyler stamped our passports and showed us the location of historic information, touting Brutalist Architecture which is the style of the building.

Knoxville Branch on Brownsville Road

The Carrick Branch sheltered us from a quick downpour of rain. Laura, Caren and Ben each shared information about the renovation and again we chose the extra large stamp. The rug squares look like stones with grass growing in between the blocks. Every branch has a dedicated Teen Space and Children’s Section. “CLP – Carrick is the first public library in North America built completely using Passive House architectural techniques.”

Next stop was the Brookline Branch. You might notice the photos are fewer as time was ticking away Friday afternoon and all the branches would close by 5PM. Tallulah stamped our passports and told us how the library was in a church basement and this was its third location. It is also a LEED building “ Following the renovation, CLP – Brookline was named “Library Building of the Year” by the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association. The location has also been LEED-certified by the Green Building Alliance.”

Brookline Branch on Brookline Boulevard
Isn’t this a colorful space in the front of the library?

(Right down the block from the Brookline branch was PitaLand where we got spinach pies for supper)

The Beechview Branch is “the only branch with active trolley tracks running in front”, said Ann the traveling librarian who was stamping our passports.

Two more stops to go. Could we make it by five? My phone ran out of charge. Jen was expertly driving down some pretty steep streets and I closed my eyes for one of her maneuvers. We were determined to get to the final library branch snd get our passports completed and fill out the form so we could get our CLP T-Shirts with all the stamps on the front. We heard they were about out of shirts. Ooops.

Photo taken by Jen
On top of the world. Mt. Washington photo by Jen

Welcomed by Chelsey and Diana at our next to last stop. What a cool location looking out at the city. CLP Mt. Washington Branch was a lovely spot with a spectacular view. We could see an outdoor patio with tables and umbrellas which looked so inviting. For another day, when we weren’t on a mission. Nine libraries in an afternoon. What were we thinking?

Just the Downtown Branch on Smithfield Street. At traffic time. Friday afternoon. Crossing over the Liberty Bridge we knew we were going to make it in time. Jen stayed in the car at the curb in front of the Downtown Branch and I ran in with our passports. Jacob stamped them and when I asked said he had a plan to visit all the branches via bicycle. Oh my! Downtown is noted for their Business section.
“CLP – Downtown supports the thousands of people who live, work, study, shop and visit Downtown Pittsburgh” Alas no photos you’ll have to click the link. No power left in my phone and Jen had to stay with the car so we didn’t get a ticket or tow. Almost 5pm so no time to make it back to home library in Lawrenceville to fill out the form. They didn’t have the forms downtown.

Saturday! One more stop what a fun adventure. You can click the branch names for more information about each location.

Gems in the West End Branch: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

My friend Jen and I used to teach together for six years.  She was the librarian and I was the art teacher.  We got together last week and she asked if I’d signed up for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Summer Reading Program and if I had gotten a CLP Passport? No, I had not. But I have now.  There are nineteen branches from which to get a stamp from, in the Passport.  Since Jen had already been to Lawrenceville, West End and the Main Library I decided to catch up with her. Monday she and I will start the adventure together to visit more branches across the city.

This morning I drove to the West End Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.  

I received a warm welcome from Anastasia at the desk. She offered to give me a tour. All the wood is original and the library opened in 1899.

First item she showed me was the framed Civil Defense Sign.

Then we went down to the basement and she showed me the wooden cabinets painted by Theodore Hamiel in 1959, depicting many well known story book characters.  Mr. Hamiel was the library’s custodian.

Librarian Beth went and got an January 20, 1959 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article about the paintings.

Other treasures in the library sit atop the shelves.  There’s a replica of the Library (Anastasia got me a footstool so I could photograph it) and buildings that were in the West End in the 1970’s.

Some of the buildings represented are nonexistent now.   Nick Tutino created all the models in his retirement.  

You can read more about Mr. Hamiel and Mr. Tutino in the article link that Anastasia recommended here CLP West End:Structurally Similar, Completely Unique

Kyra is in charge of Children’s Services.  There are Preschool StoryTimes and Playtimes for Birth to 5 year olds with toys and games. “Allegedly, the West End Branch is where the FIRST library Storytime took place.” she said.

I really appreciated the personalized tour of the West End Branch and seeing the treasures housed here. I’m checking out a book at each branch when I visit.

There’s free parking in a lot and accessible entrance with elevator to take you up to the main floor.


Next stop- Main Library in Oakland

Little Free Library Extraordinaire

Clintonville, Ohio a neighborhood in Columbus. There are wonderful Little free libraries all over and when we walk we see them but this one takes the prize. Take a Book Share a Book. “

“Building community.

Inspiring readers.

Expanding book access.”

What fun with all the Playmobil figures setting the scene
Blank notebooks and pencils, sidewalk chalk and pencil sharpeners all available to take
So creative and inviting

I posted about a Little Free library at the bus stop in Pittsburgh in 2021 and also about the Little Free libraries on a post tiny libraries in 2016

Supporting Your Independent Bookstore and a Friend

October 11th, fellow blogger and friend, Audrey Kletscher Helbling, posted the news that her poem, “Funeral During a Pandemic” had been published in an award winning book- This Was 2020—Minnesotans Write About Pandemics and Social Justice in a Historic Year.

The collection was compiled by Paul Lai, a Ramsey County Librarian in Minnesota. If you click the link at “posted the news” above so you can see a photo of the beginning of her poignant poem.

There are 54 pieces of prose and poetry in the volume.  I called the reference librarian at their library and was able to get the

ISBN# 9781087967622

I discovered the book could be ordered from your independent bookstore. So I did!

Here is a nearby independent bookstore, White Whale Bookstore (“a home for book lovers”) in Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh PA, just a few miles from my home.  Today I went to pick up the book. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Hope you have an independent bookstore near you.




Little Library at the Bus Stop

I had to stop and get out of my car to photograph this new (to me) scene.

Little Libraries have been posted on the blog before -in the snow , one Laura found and one in Pittsburgh on Friendship Avenue

Here’s the one I saw today

And a bench to sit on and read while you wait for the bus

Ground Control Has Been Released

Karen Hough’s first novel  Ground Control has been released and my copy arrived in the mail today!

I am looking forward to diving in and devouring it tonight.

Remember the post where Canadian author Karen Hough was introduced? Her Aunt Joanne is my good friend whom you’ve met on the blog before.

Canadian Author Karen Hough residing in London

Here are links for Book Club discussion guide and the link to purchase a copy. too.


Here is the link to subscribe to her mailing list (book club discussion guide):


Prisoner 88 Author at Kate’s Kid Book Bash!

People at Work Series- Young Adult Author Leah Pileggi with her book Prisoner 88 

Leah Pileggi, Author, at her table display where she signed her books we purchased 

from Leah’s Website 

A ten-year-old in prison? Prisoner 88 is my middle-grade historical novel set at the Idaho Penitentiary in 1885. Check out the trailer!

Awards for Prisoner 88:*Indies Next List pick

  *2013 list of Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts by the NCTE

*2014-15 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award (DCF) Master List (State of Vermont)

*2015-16 Nebraska Golden Sower Award List (in the YA catagory)     

*2016 Charlie May Simon Honor Book (State of Arkansas)


The scene was the Ace Hotel in East Liberty.

The event was Kate’s Kid Book Bash! on Sunday December 8th.  

“A holiday children’s book marketplace celebrating the life of beloved Pittsburgh picture book author, Kate Dopirak. Proceeds benefit Reading is FUNdamental/Pittsburgh. Buy your favorite kids books (board books, picture books, middle grade, young adult) and have them signed by dozens of authors in attendance. Pop Up Bookstore by Riverstone Books. Storytime for little ones. Art demos by children’s book illustrators. Meet members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Bring your reusable shopping bags!”

Illustrator Cori Doerrfeld drawing a bunny while an appreciative audience watches in awe.

Below are two more books I purchased at the pop-up Riverstone Bookstore.  

Then we went to each author’s table display to have them signed.

Author Sharon G Flake’s book

Signed by author Marjorie Dennis Murray

Man’s Best Friend and Books

The sculpture of the dog with a stack of books on his head has always caught my attention when I drive by the Millvale Community Library.  Tonight Steve  and I walked down Grant Avenue after dinner to see it up close. What an invitation to come inside and find a good book to read.

The artist is Pittsburgh sculptor James Simon and the sculpted dog’s name is Pages.

And how about those magnificent door handles? I know there’s a story there.

Miilvale. Just across the Allegheny River from the city of Pittsburgh. You’ve seen my posts of Panza Gallery, Grant Avenue Bar, McWalker Yarns, Jean-Marc Chatellier Bakery, Tazza D’Oro, bicycle racks and Esthers’s Hobby Shop  -to name a few.


Millvale Community Library  213 Grant Avenue   Millvale, Pennsylvania

I didn’t even know who Mercy Watson was Until Last Week

Mercy Watson books have been checked out of the Columbus Public Library and are now at  home with my grandson Charlie, 3 1/2.

I’d never heard of the existence of Mercy Watson prior to last week’s Ohio visit.  Charlie has always liked his soft pig toy and  has a small pig on the kitchen counter where he eats lunch.

Mercy Watson is a pig.   No, edit that statement

Mercy Watson is a porcine wonder.” says Mr and Mrs. Watson

The author is Kate Di Camillo and illustrated by artist Chris Van Dusen 

Seems that ‘buttered toast’ is a favorite of Mercy Watson.

Laura  created a Mercy Watson breakfast for Charlie.

He was adjusting the mouth/cashew.

That is hand squeezed oj accompanying the toast. Mmmmm. 




I should have taken one more shot of the empty breakfast tray. 

a screenshot for the Mercy Watson site