Each year, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Board of Directors schedules a public board meeting so that our community members can be updated on CLP happenings and get a view of our governance process. In addition to this transparency, we also use the public meeting as an opportunity to publicly recognize the loudest and proudest library advocates.
Staff, volunteers and board members nominate library advocates who, through their work, have demonstrated a belief in the importance of free and equitable access to information; a belief that libraries and librarians are vital to the economic, social and educational fabric of our community; and the ability to act as an ambassador in the community as the eyes and ears of the Library, as well as its voice.
Of course, we have lots to say about our wonderful Advocate of the Year nominees, and could (and already have) dedicated pages and pages to writing about their contributions. For this blog post, though, we’re sticking to the highlights. Here’s a quick look at some of this year’s top library advocates:
- Indra and Jaya A. have been instrumental in guaranteeing the success of the Children’s Department at CLP – East Liberty. As extremely dependable teen volunteers, they take the initiative in helping out in the Children’s Room, helping with Storytime programs, tidying, cleaning shelves, reorganizing shelves, answering questions from children and their caregivers and more. Through their volunteer work, they demonstrated a desire not only to benefit the community and the library, but also a prolonged commitment to pass along skills and knowledge to others.
- Edith Abeyta and Renee Piechocki have collaborated with The Office of Public Art and CLP – Hazelwood to form Arts Excursions Unlimited, a project engaging community members to tackle issues including environmentalism, urban design and social justice through art. More than 700 Hazelwood community members of all ages engaged with Arts Excursions Unlimited programming in 2016 alone.
- The Allentown Senior Center has a strong connection to the library and its services, working with the library to provide programming on healthy learning and technology literacy to its members.
- The Jack Buncher Foundation has a long-standing commitment to libraries and has been a leader in helping strengthen educational services for children, teens and families. In 2016, they were a vital partner in a first-of-its-kind initiative called Love Your Library, helping 45 Allegheny County libraries collectively raise $530,910 in funds.
- Community Kitchens PGH partners work with CLP to provide their students with library account registration and job and career-related programming
- Joe Farinacci has been a dedicated volunteer at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped since 2009, recording and editing audiobooks and bringing his technical expertise to the recording process. His constancy and worth ethic are exemplary and an inspiration to all he works with at LBPH.
- Jennifer Hoffman, president of the West End Community Group, has been the glue to help bring together many residents, business, city representations and organizations, including the library, in the West End neighborhood.
- Maggie Jones is a dedicated volunteer in the Children’s Department at CLP – Main; she sincerely believes in helping others, being kind and giving back.
- Officer Tiffany Kline-Costa has had a huge impact on the young patrons of CLP – Sheraden by volunteering as a Reading Buddy, starting the CLP – Sheraden Chess Club, and running a pop-up recreation center program in Summer 2016. Officer Kline-Costa has been a positive presences in other CLP libraries as well, facilitating positive community relationships and educational programming.
- Honesty and Hope L. are a dynamic duo of sisters who are teen advocates and regulars at CLP – East Liberty, where they’ve been an integral part of teen programming and innovate projects for years, including the Teen Haunted House, library Olympics, Alternative Homecoming Planning Committee and more.
- Kristen Liu logged nearly 300 volunteer hours in 2016 alone, helping out as a Reading Buddy and Family Play Shop volunteer at CLP – Hill District and a First Floor and Let’s Speak English volunteer at CLP – Main. She’s motivated mainly by her desire to help others and make the world a better place, which is happening here in Pittsburgh thanks to her efforts!
- Julia M. is a teen volunteer who serves as a Reading Buddy at CLP – Hill District. She immediately understood the charge of this volunteer position and took her work with a positive attitude and an innate talent for working with youth. Her commitment and skill at engaging youth of all ages is amazing, especially considering she’s a teen herself.
- The Large Print editorial team (Leah D., Arwen K., Lauren J., Anushka S., Elsa E., Joshua C., Irina B., Kelsey F.) is a group of teens who created a completely teen-run literary journal from scratch, creating a platform for teen voices and experiences to be heard by all members of the community. (You can check out a copy of the first edition of this newly created publication at your neighborhood library!)
- Bekezela Mguni is an artist, activist and radical librarian who worked with CLP on her project, the Black Unicorn Reading Room and Black Unicorn Library, centering on the literacy and artistic contributions of Black women and Black queer, transgender and gender nonconforming people. By using CLP materials in her project, she was able to highlight the resources available to the public by re-framing them and making them accessible to individuals who may not regularly visit the library.
- Bonita “Bonnie” Staley is one of CLP – Beechview’s all star volunteers, working to provide computer help, assisting patrons with job search and resumes and even conducting mock interviews. She’s a critical asset in our efforts to provide free and equitable access to information and to assist our customers in their efforts to secure employment.
- Shimira Williams exemplifies the library’s mission in many ways, but one of her biggest contributions has been working with young people at CLP – Homewood on technology-related programming, including coding workshops and the annual STEM in Fashion program. In addition to helping out at CLP – Homewood, Ms. Williams is a fixture at a few other library locations, including Downtown and Business and East liberty.
- Dutian Zeng is a familiar face at CLP – Main, where she coordinates the dozens of volunteers who teach Chinese language classes. If that weren’t enough, Ms. Zeng took her commitment one step further, working with a teaching colleague in Wuhan, China, to collaborate on a list of 100 top children’s books in English and Chinese. Dutian lives out her belief in libraries as a place where anyone can come to learn, and embodies the welcoming spirit of CLP, acting as an ambassador to everyone she meets inside and outside of the library building.
All of these nominees are truly winners to us, but if you’re eager to see who takes home the official prize, or just want to share your questions or comments about CLP, we hope to see you on March 13 at 6:00 p.m. at CLP – Main for the public meeting!
Learn about the Library’s accomplishments of 2016 and plans for 2017Join us at the Annual Public Meeting
Ginny is a baker of treats, reader of fiction and Coordinator of Volunteer Services based out of the Office of Programs and Partnerships at CLP – East Liberty. She wants to pet your dog.