Libraries offer books, yes, but much, much more
By Haeshah Z. Cooper
Michael Traficante has lived in Beechview for 12 years, and he’s feeling extremely angry about the library.
Every since losing his job, he has counted on the library for not only books but also for checking the Internet and for other community events.
Now library officials are saying they plan to close the Beechview branch and three others in a bid to save $1.2 million next year.
“A library represents opportunity and hope, since I’m jobless , I can’t afford books, so I utilize the library much more without a job,” Traficante said.
People use the Carnegie Library of Pittsbugh system for books, checking out 1,095,486 million titles last year, but they also rely on it for everything from Spanish lessons to family reading time to computer access. When libraries close, those things go away too, according to Carnegie Library website.
The Beechview branch, along with other branches provides all types of programs, especially to entertain the children and adults. The library is a place for children to come after school and early Saturday morning. The teen librarian even offers special events and programs for the community, said Audrey Iacone, librarian of 8 years at Beechview.
Phyllis DiDiano has volunteered at the Beechview branch for 25 years. DiDiano’s children have followed their mother’s footsteps by voluntering in the library as well.
DiDiano also explains how the Board of Friends has raised at least $6,000 from community donations and library supporters.
“Outreach is mainly what we do, personally and professionally, it’s a sad day for neighborhoods. I believe a neighborhood is enhanced by having a library there. I hope the city elected officials will take a closer look and spend more time and devote more time and resources to develop and try to make the area more livable for citizeens and taxpayers,” Iacone said.
The last day for the Beechview branch is scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2010, unless board decides to delay.
“We’re working on a plan in order to make sure that the community is served through library services, especially children and families. We have a number of ways to do that. A couple of years ago, one of our buildings was hit by lightning in the North Side and we started this initiative to go out to head start programs in middle schools and elementary schools with library services and doing outreach efforts. So I think you’re going to see a greater number of that happen. We’ve also applied for some federal grants with the stimulus package that would allow us to bring computers into the area whether that’s through a van of some kind or whether that’s partnering with other organizations. But there is a plan,” Suzanne Thinnes, the Carnegie Library spokeswoman said.
It’s something about being in a library that says “community” and having the opportunity to learn beside your neighbor is a good thing, Traficante said. We’re seeing now how important libraries are, he added.