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The Impact of Giving

You open up new worlds for Pittsburgh families!

Thanks to you, the Wilson family pursues their love of reading and adventure by exploring our community’s diverse libraries.

Saturday mornings, Monday evenings, early in the day or later in the afternoon — whatever the day, whatever the time, chances are good you’ll find the Wilson family at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. “Sometimes, it’s every day,” says Sarah Wilson. “One day we went to six libraries that were pretty close together. We stopped at a bakery in between and grabbed a cookie. There’s been a time I’ve had 200 books out. I am not kidding you,” she laughs.

Sarah and her husband, Daniel, not only love browsing the stacks, they’ve also volunteered to help sort books at the Library Support Center located in the West End where more than four million items travel through annually. Items are sorted, cataloged, processed, labeled with color- coded stickers, sleeved and loaded onto a fleet of vans for daily deliveries to libraries in Allegheny County. “We saw the huge conveyor belt work, and it was a lot of fun,” she says.

Sarah, Daniel and their five-year-old son, Ben, get to the Library as often as possible. “We love to get books. I want to get everything and anything Ben can read,” she says. “Since I’ve had him, I think I’ve checked out about 3,000 books, but it might be more than that because I stopped keeping track.”

In the fall of 2022, the Library debuted its Passport Challenge. Patrons were encouraged to swing by their neighborhood branch and pick up a pocket-sized guide that would take them to all 19 Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations. The premise is simple: at each branch, patrons present their passports and get them stamped by a librarian. It helps get people out of their routine and encourages them to explore new neighborhoods that might be right next door. Library users can discover new programs, meet Library staff, browse the stacks and take in the architectural splendor that epitomizes so many of the Library’s uniquely designed buildings. Once all 19 stamps are obtained, participants earn some serious bragging rights, not to mention special CLP swag.

The Wilson’s had already visited all 19 branches before the Passport Challenge even came into existence. Then they did it again, this time with passports in hand.

On each visit as soon as Ben walks in the door, he says hello to the librarians in the Children’s room and any other familiar face he sees roaming the stacks before grabbing a LEGO book or two or three. “He loves the little windows at  the Squirrel Hill branch and will just open a book and read in the corner. There’s a couple of librarians who know us by name, “ Sarah says.

Ben loves books just as much as his mother does. Hardback books, paperback books, audio books — he enjoys them all. “We’ve actually listened to all of the Magic Tree House books on audio while we’ve been in the car. He followed along with the whole story, and he just turned five in April. Those are geared for older kids to read, but we got him the first 25 or 30 for Christmas, and he really likes them. He likes mysteries and detective stories … nothing scary, of course, but he’s pretty open-minded as long as it’s something fun.”

There’s no doubt Ben loves the Library. “He loves to sit with me as I pick up my holds and keeps every little knick-knack that he makes at Kids Club. He’ll take them to his gram’s or to the neighbors to show them what he did. Sometimes you can’t get him away from his library books and it’s like, ‘Hey, you need to get dressed! We need to get going!’ Sarah laughs.

Both of Sarah’s parents were teachers, so she embraces the value of introducing kids to books at a very young age. “ The more you read to kids when they’re younger, the better their vocabulary becomes and it’s easier for them to talk to people. It’s funny, sometimes Ben likes to talk to adults more than kids. He’s just a chatterbox,” she says.

“The Library encompasses a lot of information that people can use, and it’s very important for people to have access to it. It’s a joy to be able to have it and use it. It’s just a fun place to go and hang out. Last weekend we rode our e-bikes to the Library and sat in hammocks for a while outside. Then we went inside and found some books and came back out again. It’s like our second home.”

With your help, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has become an integral part of many families’ lives, furthering literacy and serving as important neighborhood gathering places. Thank you for your commitment to our community.

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