As writers, we are also both avid readers (although Michael is significantly faster than me and gets to claim he reads ‘more’ than I do), and we also both love our fantastic little Pittsburgh library system. The Carnegie Library has branches all throughout the city and the suburbs, and it’s free to join and be a member.
However, the library system is facing some tough financial times as of late, and due to budget cuts and lack of compensatory revenue (not sure if that means we’re all getting more punctual on returning our books on time, and therefore generating less late fees!), the Carnegie and its branches will likely have to make some cuts and/or consolidations in the coming years. This could mean closing some of the smaller branches, which would have a serious impact on the accessibility of books and reading opportunities for the people who live in those areas.
There are so many great things about the Carnegie Libraries: you can search the whole catalog online and see availabilities before you go pick up your selections. They host workshops and classes on everything from writing, to computer basics, to game strategies (someday, I’m going to take one of those chess-playing classes so I can beat old men at parks — at chess, that is). They have free internet and computer access, if you don’t have your own at home, and, through the magic of Inter-Library Loan, you can take out a book from virtually any place in the city, and pick it up at your favorite location!
We frequent our local branch here in Squirrel Hill, but we also journey over into Oakland from time to time to visit the bigger main library. Michael uses the Carnegie to get books for research for the books he writes, and I spend a lot of time daydreaming about the day my book will get published and I will waltz casually into the Oakland library and donate a free copy. So, we naturally want to do whatever we can to help keep our library system up and running.
One of the things you can do is what we did: join the 2011 Carnegie Library Readathon! This readathon is great for slow readers like me: you log the number of hours you read, not the number of books. And what’s even better is that you get credit for reading not just books, but magazines, newspapers, and Beatrix Potter books to your pup! (Lucy just loves The Pie and the Patty Pan; she totally takes after her mum.) You can even get credit for reading blogs, so that means that the more time you spend here, the more money you can raise for this amazing cause!
Here I am with my registration form. It’s $5 to sign up, and then you can have your friends and family pledge you, either a certain amount per hour, or a flat fee (all of which is tax-deductible). The contest runs from January 8 until February 19.
So get ready for some pictures of us out and about reading! And also, so that you don’t get any false ideas that Lucy was super well-behaved throughout the photo-taking process, here are her adorable outtakes:
Here’s to a great month of reading!