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User Submitted Stories

Blanche's Story: I love the library and have loved it since I was a kid. I've had a library card since I was 5 years old. Books enchanted me as a child and encourage me as an adult. The library itself though, the workers, the community coming together is the height of my week since I began teaching crochet there every Saturday since 2009. I get to teach what I love and read what I like..& our Homewood library is a gem in the community. I do read one book yearly koz as an adult I love bio's; A Life In Ragtime....Wow. Oprah or Forest Whitaker should make it into a movie. I suggest it to those in my family/circle of friends who are doing the term paper/school stuff. To me, A Life In Ragtime is the epitome of a well told story; the bibliographical inclusions only inhance it's importance. Thank you Homewood Library for being such a beautiful library in more ways than one.

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Ann's Story: The most influential, was a 'magisterial' biography of Sigmund Freud that became the impetus to endeavor an education in psychoanalytic theory.

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Leah's Story: Saturday mornings in Lincoln Place always involved a trip to the Book Mobile. I remember feeling very welcome, cozy, and of course excited about taking home a new stack of books. Sometimes the librarian at the checkout station would let me help him check out other patrons' books -- under watchful eye, of course. I think those weekly trips established my lifelong love-affair with CLP.

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Carole's Story: Some houses have rats. Some have roaches. Mine has books. In a way, I live in a library with cooking facilities. They're everywhere: shelved in various stages of neatness, piled up on end tables, listing in piles on the floor, threatening to slide off chairs. Every room has its supply, no place lacks a few.

For me, it's not just ONE book; I'm like an elderly Cat Lady whose habit has gotten ahead of her.

They may well breed in dark places: What would you get if "Wuthering Heights" had a tryst with "Frankenstein?" "Heathkit."

When I was a kid, I set myself to read everything that Alexandre Dumas, "Pere," had written. He was an awful spendthrift, and he was paid by the word. He wrote a LOT of potboilers, far beyond "The Count of Monte Cristo" and "The Three Musketeers." It was a real slog. In those days, libraries issued cards with little rectangles on them, and stamped with a due date for each book borrowed. I had a stack of these cards, all stamped with a date for each book borrowed. It was a pretty large stack, too.

Then there was the time that my mother and older sister, separately, sent me to the public library to borrow "Peyton Place." I got to hear the maiden lady librarian read me the riot act for my interest in such a thing. I had no idea what she was so upset about.

I have met some of my most memorable friends in books, endured the most frightening situations, "seen" places I will never visit, sifted sands of deserts and survived terrible storms at sea.

If ever "Fahrenheit 451" came to pass, I would certainly memorize a book. Meanwhile, of all the things I am grateful for, probably I am most grateful for books.

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Michael's Story: The book that made the most difference in my life was Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham." Before you start laughing, let me tell you why. My father was a Pittsburgh Police Detective with 35 years on the job. He would usually work the 4 to 12 shift, meaning that usually I would not see him by the time I got home from school. However, my father would often take his dinner break around 9:00, my bedtime. He would come home just in time to tuck me in and read a bedtime story to me, most often my favorite book, "Green Eggs and Ham." My dad was a great storyteller, changing the inflection of his voice, or coming up with funny voices for each of the characters. For me, "Green Eggs and Ham" wasn't just a funny story with a great theme of being open-minded, but it represented the unselfish love of my father and quality time spent with him.

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Mary Ann's Story: "The Hotel New Hampshire" by John Irving. I am 64 years old and read this in my late 30's early 40's. It was the first time a book moved me to laugh and cry. I still used the line "sorrow floats" taken from the book. When our children were in high school they both read the story and treasure the book also. Our son said "he did not want to finish it because he wanted it to go on and on." He did finish it. I highly recommend this book to 16 year olds and up in age to whatever.

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Bill's Story: The importance of the public library in the life of a writer is impossible to overstate. As a writer of non-fiction, the library is where I go to do my research and fact finding. While the Internet is helpful, it is not adequate and sometimes not to be trusted as a reliable source. My library card is always with me.

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Andrea's Story: When I was 12 years old, I was allowed to check out "Gone With The Wind." I found it to be quite a page turner and finished it in 3 days! I loved the Katonah, NY library. My mom took us every 2-3 weeks, and I adored every minute. I have always been a very proud Library card holder. Nothing is more relaxing for me than to spend time looking at books that I would love to read and then reading them. "Gone with the Wind" was very influential to me as I grew up to realize that war is heck. It was not all love and romance but there was REAL work going on. Life can sometimes be a fight for each of us and there are Always frustrations to get through. The tough times face most of us but it makes the Good times even sweeter.

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Lawrence's Story: "The Way of a Pilgrim", by an anonymous Russian author and translated into English, made a difference in my faith and how to live it out. This is a book that I would recommend to ANYONE who is trying to live by faith - no matter what faith one is living.

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Emily's Story: "Harry Potter" was what really got me into reading. I always loved stories as a kid, but school sort of ruined it for me. I learned to read early so I got really bored in class. I started reading Harry Potter when I was six and have continued ever since. I still hate the books schools choose for us, but I can get through them now that I know there are much better ones out there.

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Ingrid's Story: I consider Tolkien's "The Hobbit" a very influential book in my life, but by far the one that has given me strength and hope is the Bible.

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Patricia's Story: All the many books over the years, from fiction to drama, self help, religious and all other topics. Reading is a treasure no one can take away from you. It provides many hours of entertainment and help in other areas. No matter where you’re at it is there for you.

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Shirley's Story: The Bible has been the book that has made a difference in my life. If my house were on fire that is the book I would save.

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Lyn's Story: "Watership Down" --This is a story of love, friendships, challenges and pain. There are no super heroes, just everyday characters who work together with compassion and loyalty to make a better world. If that isn't a lesson for our world today then what else is?

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Albert's Story: I read E.M. Forster's "Maurice" after several other of his novels. This came at a time when I was receiving a lot of flack for being gay at work. I didn't know that the novel was about gay issues nor that it was published posthumously due to its subject matter. I loved the novel and it gave me great personal courage at a time a desperately needed it. I still love the florid Edwardian style of Forster as well as his thematic bent to this day.

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Carol's Story: I read, To Kill a Mockingbird when I was about 15. I could relate to the young girl, Scout in the story. I loved that book. As a youngster, I did have a Library Card. Got it at age 6. My love for books proceeded and I actually became a librarian later in life. Books take you to other worlds and you see things w/ new eyes.

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Leslie's Story: Any of the "Shoe" books by Noel Streatfield, but especially "Ballet Shoes" and "Dancing Shoes." I read and re-read them so many times between the ages of 9-12. They were my favorites and were eventually replaced by the Anne books. The main characters all fenced as part of their musical theater training. Because of the exposure, I took advantage of fencing at my high school and went on to fence at a Division 1 college.

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Rei's Story: I read To Kill A Mockingbird, in 11th grade. It sparked my love of reading. I still have that book.

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Patricia's Story: The Bible is the book that changed my life. The pages are full of inspiration, encouragement, and most of all the road to salvation through Jesus Christ. He has spoken to me daily as I have read His Word and has provided all I have needed as a road map for life--both on this earth and after I pass on.

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Carol's Story: When I was very young, my father was an avid reader. We had a "library" of sorts, filled from the floor to the ceiling with shelves full of books.

The books contained there were much too advanced for me, of course. This did not stop me from pulling them out, leafing through the pages, searching for something interesting. They fascinated me.

One day I ran across a book called "Hauntings; Tales of the Supernatural". It was a book of short horror stories, not quite so intimidating as a thick novel.

I decided to read it. Not only did I understand it, I loved it! It became my favorite book, and I read it again and again.

The book began my love of horror stories, and it held me captive on many nights, afraid to turn the light out to sleep. It made me love books.

I still feel my happiest at the library, surrounded by words and tales yet undiscovered. The library to me is the best place on Earth. It is a place where anyone can go. It costs nothing, and gives so much joy. We always made weekly trips to the local library when I was young, and I did the same with my son when he was a child. I still go often.

I still have the book, yellowed from age, but the words remain magic. Whenever I feel discouraged I take it out, and I remember. I am again that little girl enthralled with a book that I cannot put down, no troubles or cares to distract me. The world consists only of me, and the story.

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Susan's Story: When I was young, I was definitely a "library kid." I was at my local neighborhood library every week. About the time I was 12, I found out that Carnegie Library sent a bookmobile to the community NEXT to mine. So I biked over and learned that I could borrow from this library .... three books at a time during the school year and 10 books at a time during the summer. This was huge to me. My father bought me twin baskets to go on to the back of the bike, so I could in fact get those ten books. I still visit that same book mobile on Saturdays. Now, I can go online and ORDER a book or CD that I want. And, I browse the bookmobile for new finds. I'm never alone when I have a book in my hand.

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John's Story: Every book I ever read, fiction or nonfiction:
From J. Verne to a C. Doyle; from R. Heinlein to A. C. Clarke; from L. Pauling to C. Castaneda; from G Gamow to A. Huxley.
Every book has opened doors of perception, windows to other universes. Gutenberg is one of the very few humans that give me pause to believe there remains a sliver of hope for homo sapiens.

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Karen's Story: We use the library all the time! Current Adventure: C.L. Lewis "Narnia" series! My son is Edmund and I happen to be Queen Jadis. Always another adventure to go on! AWESOME!

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Shana's Story: "Family Happiness" by Laurie Colwin - This is a story about a woman in a great, but unsatisfying marriage and life. It caused me to ask a lot of life-changing questions.

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Lauren's Story: "Amelia Bedelia" books provided my mother and I with fun shared reading joy when I was young, and contributed to my lifelong love of reading. Then Beverly Cleary's "Ramona Quimby" stories were some of the first that I read as an independent reader. I loved and identified with the little girl who never meant to cause trouble, but always found it!

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Jean's Story: Cry the Beloved Country is the book that made an enormous impact on my life.

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Jenn's Story: The first book that went beyond just something to read and truly came alive for me was Jack London's "Call of the Wild." I was probably 10 years old. That experience of laying on my bedroom rug, book in hand, banging my feet against the floor in excitement for Buck as he broke the 1000lb sleigh free from the ice and hurled himself against the traces over and over again to pull it over 100 yards... that level of intense enjoyment is what I judge all my fiction reading against to this day.

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Nancy's Story: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. It was so moving! I named my daughter after the character in the book. This book has all the emotions: suspense, love, intrigue, deception, courage...best book ever.

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Lewis's Story: I was in grade school, and I went into the school library. There was this book, and on the cover was a picture of an African man. He had rings in his ears and a bone through his nose. On his head were feathers. That moment something changed inside of me. I can't explain it to this very day. I just know I felt good about being black.

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Jesse's Story: I've had a library card since I can remember. In fact, one of the first things I did upon moving to Pittsburgh was to visit the library and sign up for a card. The real value of my library card has become increasingly apparent over the last 3+ years, though, as my wife and I seek out books to read to our son.

He has always enjoyed books, and from the time he could walk would pick up a book and carry it to our laps if we were sitting, wanting to be read to. What has been fascinating for me, though, has been the variety of books that he is interested in. Many days, he wants to visit the non-fiction section of the library before we go to the fiction room.

His interests have led our family to know more about many topics than we would have expected: biographies of sports stars, aviation pioneers, history's leading scientists; explorations of marine mammals, dinosaurs, big cats; in-depth looks at heavy machinery, and more. Not to mention the joys of revisiting my childhood favorites from a new perspective.

My favorite episode of his young reading career, though, has been his recent analysis of Sid Hoff's "Sammy the Seal" and subsequent determination that, based on the size of Sammy's flippers and the presence of ear lobes, Sammy is actually a sea lion and not a seal. Even better, he equates authorship as an important element to a written text, and his summary on the topic isn't just that Sammy is a sea lion, but rather that--in his own words, delivered at the dinner table, unprompted and apropos to nothing, "Sid Hoff thought Sammy was a seal, but he actually was a sea lion."

Not a bad literary critique for a 3 1/2 year old!

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Carol's Story: My first introduction to Carnegie Library was pre-school when my mother took me to Story Hour. I was mesmerized and have been since that time 70 years ago.

Several years ago I revisited the children's room at the main library in Oakland with my grandsons and felt right at home. One gravitated to a computer, climbing up onto the seat to enter the world of make believe while another took my hand and led me to the books that he wanted to hear.

In between those 60+ years I worked as a librarian and taught library science to MLS students - one of my favorite courses that I taught was The History of the Public Library where I emphasized Andrew Carnegie's contribution.

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Jane's Story: There is no one book which changed my life; the library itself changed my life. I grew up in Baltimore; at first, my mother took me, but as soon as I could, do it safely, I went on the bus, at about age 8. My need to read satisfied my curiosity, filled lonely hours, and substituted for a family. Everything I knew about the world, I learned from books. I even learned that I wanted to be a librarian! Now retired, I volunteer at the library and still spend my days immersed in the world of books.

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Mary Jo's Story: As a child I spend most Saturdays at our library. I was a child who was reading under the blankets with a flashlight past bedtime. One of my favorite sections in the library was the travel section and those books were not allowed to be taken out. I was fascinated with Venice and all that water surrounding the city, and no cars and all the canals, I loved looking at all the international cities and the different worlds they had. Just two years ago I finally got to Venice and it was a dream come true to see the place I was truly amazed with as a child! I have gone to Ireland, Paris, Mexico, many Carribbean islands and this year to the Amalfi Coast! I really think the library is the source of my love for travel! So thank you Carnegie!!! Not only am I still a book lover, I am also a traveler thanks to the Carnegie!!!

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Joe's Story: Since my moving to Pittsburgh, the library system has proved to be a favored asset. Much of the attraction can be attributed to the CPL staff.

Even our dog Holly has caught CPL's scent of success.

Now she wants a library card

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Nicole's Story: I grew up in the Sheraden neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The first library branch I visited regularly with my mom as a small child was the Sheraden branch. This was during the mid 1980's.

I was very small when this happened.

I'm not sure if it's still like this now, but when I was a kid the Sheraden branch was also the local community center for senior citizens in the neighborhood. The senior center often held events involving the community and library patrons. My mother sometimes volunteered at these events. One day my mom told me there was an event where the librarians were going to read popular children's books aloud to the kids and she wanted me to participate in the reading. I liked books and reading, but I was a shy kid. I didn't want to do it. My mom, the artist, thought making a costume for me would ease my anxiety so she constructed this large Cat in the Hat Cat costume for me out of cardboard. She made a giant Cat in the Hat cat hat for me and painted my face to look feline. I could be imagining this, but I also think she constructed an elaborate and heavy cat tail out of hundreds of weaved pipe cleaners for this costume.

Anyway, the entire costume was extremely heavy and I was five or six years old. It was a huge ordeal to pack me and the costume I was wearing into the car.

When we arrived to the event I noticed that I was the only kid wearing a costume and everyone was staring at me. My mom had to drag me into the main room of the library. I started to cry and the cat makeup on my face started to run into my eyes. I broke away from my mom and ran into the hallway. My giant hat fell off. I ran into the senior citizen center room at the end of the hallway and stopped, dead in my tracks, staring at a bunch of wrinkled and smiling faces staring back at me - a little girl dressed like a cat with tears streaming down her face. A woman in the room exclaimed, "Look! We have a cat!".

I was five years old and I was having an anxiety attack.

Before I could respond or make sense of what was going on, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. It was the head librarian for the Sheraden branch and she was holding my cardboard hat. "I think you dropped something" she said. She encouraged me to return to the main room and told me my costume was wonderful. I told her my mom made it and I hated it. She told me not to be afraid or worried and said, "Everyone loves your costume and they want you to come back.". With some gentle coaxing I put my hat back on, took her hand, and we walked back into the main room of the library together. When we arrived she said something like, "The Cat in the Hat is back, but she's a little shy.". I sat down with the other children and listened to the stories the librarian read to us. After a few minutes I forgot how scared and silly I felt and simply enjoyed the moment. My hat kept falling off as I laughed at some of the stories. I didn't care.

I don't mind if this story isn't shared because I realize I'm relying on childhood memories I may have altered or romanticized from a long time ago, but this is something that has always stuck in my mind about my initial experience of the library, librarians as community heros, Pittsburgh, and the place I grew up in. As I grew older, the Sheraden branch became a very important part of my childhood. I spent a large portion of my childhood and teen years visiting that branch - almost every day. I always felt welcome when I entered the building. I knew it was a place I could go to whenever I wanted to feel like myself and not feel awkward about being there. I owe that realization to the librarian who handed me that silly cardboard hat that day and encouraged me to join the group.

I'm 32 years old now, and I still feel welcome and at home when I enter any Carnegie Library branch.

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Veronica's Story: Visited the Children's Library as a child immigrant; knew Miss Cathon and learned from books because I had skipped three grades.

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Pete's Story: I am writing you from the International Poetry Room in the Carnegie Library in Oakland. My home library is in Ligonier. This is just my second visit to the main branch. The first time my wife and I visited was on Super Bowl Sunday this year. Local independent radio station WYEP-FM was hosting a "Souper Bowl" concert as a way to provide food to under-resourced neighborhoods. We were so enthralled by the library's rich offerings that we decided to sign up for our own cards. The people who work here are cheerful and exceptionally helpful. The library's architecture, furniture, and extensive titles are quite extraordinary. Now I need to get back to my job search...

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Rebecca's Story: Snow day today! It's too snowy to drive. Luckily, the Lawrenceville Branch Library is within walking distance. When I suggested a library visit to my fourth-grader, he was psyched! We both know the library is a place to see our neighbors, pick up the books we've requested and pick out new ones. We'll ask the friendly library staff for more suggestions, and we'll bring home a tote bag full of books, DVDs, and CDs to keep us happy and busy on this snowy day.

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Gloria's Story: I was a young girl living On Spin Way of Pittsburgh, PA walking hand in hand with my mother in the 50's catching the Hamilton Bus which drop us off in front of the library on our way home from Downtown. I would beg her to let me investigate the large building on the corner. She was a busy mother of six children and never seemed to have time to stop. As I got older around the age of 9, I walked to the library and was very afraid to go inside myself. I gathered up the courage and went in to find so many books shelves in such a neat order. A Librarian walk up to me and directed me to the children's section and ask me did I wish to read a book. I had no interest in reading at that age. I only was courious of what was housed in this building. She got a book from the shelf and I remember the title to this very day. "Charlotes Web." I did not want to disappoint the nice lady and not attempt to read the book because my reading and comprehension skills were not so great in Belmar Elementary School.

I open the book and discovered an interesting world that lay between to book covers and pages with ink. I sat there the entire summer afternoon reading the book and staring at the illustrations. When I finished the book, I sat back and smiled and thought to myself, "I can read and not be afraid to ask for help if I did not know the definition of a word!" That particular day open my eyes, my mind, and confidence to acquire a thirst for reading. I became a Teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, retired, and was ask back to teach for a few more year before leaving. I owe it to my mom who took me pass a library and to the librarian who introduced me to "read to discover" in a book I shall remember the rest of my life.

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Kelly's Story: I just wanted to comment on the great resources you have listed here: http://www.carnegielibrary.org/research/homegarden/gardening/kids.html. My class will be starting an indoor herb garden soon and I found a lot of helpful gardening information from your page, thank you! I also wanted to share this guide to herbs I found that also has a great kids section: http://www.herbco.com/t-herb-gardening-guide.aspx. I figured it would make a nice addition to your links.

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Jennifer's Story: As an avid reader, I treasure the library. I hope to pass this passion on to my children.

Recently, my 7 year old daughter said "Mommy, going to the library is like Christmas. We get a present every time!"

Isn't that the truth?

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Mattie's Story: I came to Pittsburgh back in 1975 from Erie Pa. My first experience with a library was in Wilkinsburg for 4yrs I went to that library and then I moved to Homewood with my 3year old daughter and we stated attending the Homewood library. To my daughter the children s section was the best place in the world she loved all of the books and activities that they offered.I would take her there 3 days a week and just sit and read what ever book she picked out. When she got old enough to read on her own she would sign up for the summer reading program and win the reading contest because she always remembered word for word what she was reading when the librarian would give quizzes on the books that the children were reading. My Daughter is 29 yrs old now and she still loves books thanks to my Homewood library. As for myself Homewoods library has everything that I need I enjoy all types of books and the nice movies & music selection that they have on site. I live where I could either go to Squirrel Hill,or East Lib and I have been to both but The customer services is the best at Homewoods when they know that you like something they will make suggestions to help you decide. I now Have a 6year old granddaughter who lives in Braddock but only wants to go too the Homewoods Library to get her books and to see Ms. Vonnie & Mr Ray.before my granddaughter even goes into the children s section she states I have to go say hi to Ms. Vonnie & Mr. Ray I think that shows great respect for the two of them.

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Henrietta's Story: I grew up out side of Philadelpha going to public Library in yeadon and lansdown Pa in the 1970-80's and the Library helped me to learn about History in the United states of America in Pennsaulvania and Pittsburgh the Library let's you borrow book's,dvd's,cd's and computers as long as you bring them back on time and that helps fund the Library and the doner cards help keep the Library open when you apply for them at the Library to keep your public library open.

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Ethan's Story: The Carnegie Library in Oakland provides Pitt students access to an amazing library with tons of resources. Many Pitt students also enjoy visiting the library for a place to study. Thanks!

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Jacqueline's Story: My family loves the library! The library is a wonderful place to discover authors, to find books that may not be carried in the store, to do research, etc. I often frequent the library during my lunch hour or after work to decompress or pick up a new read and a cup of coffee. As a bilingual family it is often difficult to find books at the retail stores in more than one language and the library has been a phenomenal source of material.

We also are completely enamored of the toddler and youth section of the library (which, by the way, also has numerous books in foreign languages). The librarians in that room are always so helpful and so friendly that often my daughter (3 years old) will cry when we have to leave. There was one day in particular in summer of 2009 when the lady at the counter played with her using a stuffed Kermit the Frog doll for a few minutes and my daughter was completely delighted! She laughed and interacted and was terribly upset when it was time to go home because she was having so much fun at the library.

I wish the library could offer more family activities in the evenings on weekends since I work full time during the day. It makes me sad to know that business hours are being cut because the library is important to individuals as well as the community.

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Mary Ann's Story: Some of my fondest childhood memories are going to the Lawrensville Library. I loved the marble steps to enter. The Beatrix Potter books were my favorites as a youngster. Growing up I would do my homework at one of the desks in the library. I loved the big windows that let in the cool breeze. Recently I visited that library again. I walked up the marble steps and entered with a warm feeling. I am thrilled that the new library is going up in East Liberty since that is closest to me now. I hope my grandchildren will have as many fond memories of their days at the library.

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Lynn's Story: I loved the East Liberty library on Station Street when I was growing up. Our parents took us there every week. I remember the excitement of getting my first library card and then checking out the maximum number of books. It was hard to carry them all. Because I was a good reader, I was allowed to look at the books in the adult section. I worried about being "caught" there by someone who didn't know I had permission. Later, when the old library was torn down, I was thrilled to see the King Arthur paintings installed in the stairwell of the new one. As my kids and I came down the stairs after a pleasant hour in the childrren's room, I would recite the story of Arthur: "There was a sword stuck in a stone..."

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Mary's Story: The Library has been invaluable to me over the past 5 yrs. My job was outsoursed in June of '05. I needed to get other employment. The library was available to me to help me obtain my Pa. Insurance license. I am licensed in life/health/property/and causalty insurance. I was able to take the practice test online. I also used the library for job searches. Thank God I start my new position this coming Monday. I could not have accomplished these things without the library. Being unemployed I didn't have the internet at home. I am greatful that the library was there for me to utilize. Thank you for everything. God bless

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David's Story: Both my parents were teachers. My love for books began under our dining room table, where the beautiful illustrations from "Sally, Dick and Jane," an instructional book from my parents' classrooms, beckoned me into the world of reading.

It was inevitable that the library would become part of my life. I passed it twice daily on my walk to and from middle school. In summertime I circled our small Illinois town endlessly on my bicycle, passing the library as I sped down the big hill on Sixth Street. Eventually, I stopped in.

Marble steps led past a carved stone façade into a dark interior, which was a woodworked museum of bookcases, paneling, banisters, vast tables and smooth chairs. All this was lit by hanging lamps designed for the recent invention of electricity. This library had remained virtually unchanged since its construction, which was funded in part by Andrew Carnegie in 1904. We never called it anything but The Carnegie Library.

I received my own library card at so young an age (and so small a stature) that adults could scarcely believe I could write, much less fill out an application and sign my name. There was a Children's section, but it was misnamed: I was not there with any childish intent. I bypassed "Sally, Dick and Jane" for "R is for Rocket," which had an intriguing picture of a gleaming spaceship on its cover. This book propelled me into the orbit of my reading life.

I buried myself in Bradbury, I ate up all the Asimov, I surfed the length of the Science Fiction shelf on a wave of new ideas. Then I studiously assimilated the entire juvenile biography section. Dozens of famous people, in several tote bags, would accompany me on long family vacations. Among others, I learned about Andrew Carnegie, who had donated this very building to my very town. Like Carnegie, I wrapped myself in pages and emerged a different person.

Thirty years after this metamorphosis, I took a job in Pittsburgh. On my first day, on my lunch break, I discovered that my workplace was two blocks from the Carnegie Library's Main Branch in Oakland. This thrilled me to literal tears. On my second day, I took an unopened piece of delivered mail to the circulation desk and received a bright yellow library card. Before I had a PA driver's license or a local bank account, even before my furniture or family had arrived, I had a library card to the THE primordial Carnegie Library, my own key to the Mother Ship. I still use it several times a week, and I have resisted all suggestions that I upgrade its fading barcode, or update its memorized 14-digit number. I will be proud someday to have physically worn out my library card, and to have contributed my share of wear on the eroded marble stairs.

The phrase FREE TO THE PEOPLE is carved in stone over the door of the Carnegie Library's Main Branch in Oakland, but we know it isn't true. Carnegie, like many philanthropists, was content to build an edifice, but he intended the gift to precipitate a matching commitment from the community for its maintenance and operation. Charleston, Illinois is a small town of limited means, but this village maintained its commitment, and only recently - in 2009 - has their Carnegie Library been renovated, presumably sufficient now for another century of boys on bicycles. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has not remained carved in stone for a century, but has evolved and grown and struggled to remain a lighthouse for the very legacy of public libraries. This service to our city has come at a price, currently borne in largest part by the RAD sales tax, but also supported by fitful measures from city and state.

Hard decisions lie ahead for our Carnegie Library. Their roads of community service and infrastructure may diverge in the yellow wood of financial downturn. We may be sorry they could not travel both. Those who use the wonderful library should enter the discussion. Only this way can our leaders retake the measure of our commitment to remaining a city where people can use a wonderful library. Let's take the road of excellence less traveled by, and that will make all the difference.

I think I read that in a book.

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John's Story: My name is John, I am 29 years old, and I live in Munhall, Pa. I have only lived here in Pittsburgh for 5 years, but for the past 2 years, my life has been, let's say, difficult. I am living with HIV, and although there are a lot of days when I want to stay inside and hide from the world, there is one place where I find comfort & sanctuary: my local library.

I've never been in one so large. It's like stepping back into the early part of the 20th century, with the paneling and the beautiful rows of books. The staff are usually very friendly, making suggestions for reading, and always wear a smile so bright it can be read by.

I have only recently begun patronizing the library here in Munhall. I moved here in January 2010. Since then, I have checked out over 90 books & dvds. Because of the incredible access to other libraries, I can request any book I like, and have it within a few days. Plus, there is something of a respite, however brief, hidden and tucked away in the small treasures of those pages. I can escape to another world, be wrapped up in fantasy and mystery, and I even sometimes cry, when something really really sad happens.

I find myself at the library more and more, picking up books at random, finding some really great stories. And along the way, I'm discovering that it's not so bad living with a disease. The social stigmas & stereotypes are unfortunate, and I don't like being another "statistic", but at least I have my public library, a place of magnificent wonder, that I hope will never go away.

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Paula's Story: I had the pleasure of bringing my daughter to the 2010 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Summer Reading Extravaganza. Mary is 2 years old and she had a fantastic time. She loved visiting the booths, playing games, making crafts and watching the Puppet show. When our day was over and we were returning to our car, I noticed she was trailing behind me and came to a stop. When I asked her what she was doing she replied "I give library a hug and kiss! I love the library!" She ran up to the library's outer wall, stretched out her arms and embraced the stones. Then she straightened up, gave the wall a kiss, and returned to me with a big smile. She wanted to show her appreciation for all of the fun she had that day. The library makes an impression at the earliest of ages. I'm grateful she loves the library as I do.

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Roberta's Story: Kudos to Local Librarian.

On Saturday, June 26 I was seated at a table with three friends at the St. Pamphilus summer festival enjoying some delicious carnival food. A woman approached one of my companions, Mary Anne Coyne, and asked her if she was a librarian at the Beechview branch. Mary Anne confirmed that she had worked at the Beechview branch many years ago. The woman proceeded to thank Mary Anne for her work at the library. She had attended the children's story hour when she was a little girl and wanted to let Mary Anne know how much that meant to her. She said that her family could not afford to go to the movies, much less go on vacation, and that the stories Mary Anne had read to her transported her to other times and different places. Her heartfelt appreciation was truly inspirational. Mary Anne is much too modest to relay this story herself, but it is important for people to realize the value of a good librarian. This is one of the many reasons we need to keep the Beechview branch open, so that current and future generations can have that same experience. There are undoubtedly numerous families in Beechview right now who are in the same situation, who can't afford movies or vacations. Maybe a story hour at the Beechview branch will transport them also to a time or place that they otherwise would never visit.

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Elizabeth-Anne's Story: The public libraries of this state, and particularly the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, have been a cornerstone in my life. When I was young and didn't fit in at school, we went to the bookmobile, and my eyes were opened to the classics in which there were other girls who didn't fit in either but who grew up to be great. We never would have bought the books on our own, but we read them because they were at the library. When my sister had trouble reading and looked like she was not going to go far in school, my mom made a new rule--we could stay up as long as we wanted Friday night as long as we were reading our library books. I remember that I would get five books every week--four for Friday night and one for the rest of the week! Needless to say, sheer determination to stay up, along with a supply of interesting and appropriate library books, helped my sister conquer her reading difficulties, succeed in school, and go on to lead a producative life. In addition, when my brother saw how we could stay up, he quickly learned to write his name just so he could get his own library card (he was two-years-old at the time)!

Later, when my high school didn't have the books I needed to study, the Carnegie Library and other public libraries helped fill in the gaps, and with inspiration from the resources of our library, I went to Harvard Summer School, won 1st places for four years at the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Sciences, and received scholarships from the American Chemical Society and Westinghouse. The library also sponsored writing programs which helped me write the poem that won the Pennsylvania Cultural Arts Grand Champion in Literature during the 1990-1991 School Year, as well as to participate on my school's newspaper, creative magazine, and in one of Pittsburgh's publications for young people.

As I have gotten older, I have continued to use the public library for everything--graduate classes, light reading, access to classics in their native languages, self-help books, medical advice, parenting skills, and more! My children, ages 5 and 3, just got their very first library cards 2 weeks ago and are so proud of the books they take out, read, and return. It's a great place to find great books on every subject, and to get books about the culture in which they lived for the last four years (South Korea) which are no longer in print. These go a long way in making them feel that they have a place here in this new place and that there is room for all kinds of different people here!

Also, as a teacher of English to speakers of other languages, I have seen how the public library provides them with the best access to information around the entire city. In the library, they can find not only literacy programs, but also materials for themselves and their children that help in ways that would never be possible if they had to fund them themselves. Even to people around the world, our libraries provide appropriate reading lists that help influence the thoughts of young people everywhere.

Finally, I remember the first time I saw the Carnegie Library as a small child. Standing at the base of the steps, I was dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of the building, awed by the sculptures on either side, and entranced by the names carved into the walls. I knew it was a place I wanted to be. It was with gratitude, pride, and nostalgia that I stood there two weeks ago with my sons, heard their gasps at the base of those same steps, and knew they felt the same way.

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Carole's Story: My extended family tried valiantly to share family stories with me. As a youth looking backwards didn't appeal to me. Thus, after my life of turmoil, blowing like a bad seed in a brisk wind, I found myself searching microfilm in the basement of the main Carnegie Library on a hot day in August 2001. Imagine the sheer delight when I discovered my Great Grandmother's one-page handwritten will--it was written in 1937--all I had of her besides a picture--I didn't even know her given name--she was just "Grandma" when I was only a toddler. This 'find' revealed her birthplace, my inheritance, and eventually I stood on the land where she was born--in Virginia/WV. (Someone might have told me about that but I sure don't recall.) This discovery led me to long-lost cousins, to two young g. g. aunts who died in the Allegheny Arsenal explosion, to homes where my family had lived around Pittsburgh, and to the personalities of my recent ancestors, better understanding my own foibles, that was gleaned from continuous research. This service at the Library, being available when I was visiting from out of town, offered me a valuable link to my life. Please do everything possible to continue to provide this service and all the others to the guests and residents of Pittsburgh.

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Laura's Story: My library story started early in my life. In elementary school I loved the library so much that I got in trouble for sneaking away from recess to go to the library. My obsession with books only grew more serious as the years went on. I hold library cards for the three cities I've lived in, and finding the closest library has always been a top priority whenever I move. The library has allowed me to complete my degrees by giving me the opportunity to borrow, not buy, expensive textbooks, find additional study guides, and by serving as a test center. As a distance learning student, I can rely on library computers to complete homework and quizzes when my own computers are on the fritz. As an educator, I can bring new resources into my classroom without putting extra strain on my budget. Sometimes I go a little overboard, but feeling like a book-laden packhorse is worth it when my students can go further in their research, enjoy a new story, or discover more by a favorite author. The library even has CDs with kid-friendly music that I can play in the classroom, and new albums by artists I can play to unwind at home. My latest library adventures have been Inter-Library Loan and digital books through NetLibrary. NetLibrary gave me access to a textbook that I can read on any computer and has piqued my interest in a number of audiobooks, which might just be the solution for "reading" in the car without giving myself motion sickness! Inter-Library Loan is just magical. With ILL, I don't have to be limited to the books we have locally. My imagination can roam the world, finding obscure books that I might never otherwise encounter. The whole idea of these books flying across county and state lines to arrive in my hands makes me feel like this is the height of civilization. The library gives me so much, and asks so little in return. All I have to do is take care of the books, mind the due date, and continue to cultivate my desire for stories and information. I love the library because it gives every person the same chance to learn more and realize their full potential. The library doesn't just house books, it holds the potential for a truly egalitarian future for all citizens. I love the library because it is the essence of the human experience, a grand historical tradition, and a doorway to the future, but mostly I love it because it makes my life so much better.

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