Books! I Have Books!

So, yesterday I walked up to the Brookline branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to pick up two books that I had requested, Michael Connelly’s The Poet, which came from the Moon Township Public Library, and Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, which came from the Sewickley Public Library, which happens to be the library where my DIL works as head of the Teen Department.

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The other two books are both from the Brookline branch. There are three tables and a wall of shelves as soon as you walk into the library that are filled with best sellers and new releases. It’s rare that I go into the library and don’t end up checking out at least one book from the best seller/new release tables. I just cannot resist books. 🙂

The public library system here in Pittsburgh is very strong. Not only does the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) have a large collection and many branch locations throughout the city, it is also part of the Allegheny County Library Association, which gives library patrons in Allegheny County access to every member library. I can search for books on-line, request them on-line, and have them ready for pick up at the branch of my choice in only a few days. I can also put a hold on books that are currently checked out, and I will be notified by e-mail when they are available.

Moreover, my CLP library card is valid at any CLP branch (and I have two branches nearby, one of which is within walking distance, the other just a short T-ride away). But even better, I can use my CLP library card at any of the ACLA libraries, which means that I can go to, say, the Dormont Public Library, which is within walking distance, and check out a book with my CLP card. It’s a dream come true for an avid reader like me.

If you haven’t been to your local public library lately, you should check it out. Not only do public libraries have books, magazines, and newspapers that you can read for free, they also lend audiobooks, E-books, movies on DVD, music on CDs, video games, graphic novels, and lots of other stuff. For free. And if your library doesn’t have what you are looking for, they can get it from another library, often at no charge to you, or perhaps for a small fee. Also, libraries offer a wide variety of programs. Your local public library can help you write your resume. You may be able to learn to knit or play the guitar or use your new smartphone at your public library. If you need Internet access, your public library has free WiFI for your laptop or tablet, and banks of computers you can use if you don’t have one of your own. There are after-school and summer programs for children and teens, programs to help new immigrants learn English and adapt to their new community, and meeting rooms open to community groups.

Forget the stereotype of the stern librarian constantly shushing patrons. Contemporary public libraries are a happening place, with lots of activities for people of all ages. And the librarians are often young and hip, like my DIL, and those who are neither young nor hip are still totally cool. Your public library. Be there or be square. 🙂