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Look, a library popped up in Allentown


Last updated 11/13/2012 at 6:19am

Libriarians Lauren Stuparitz and Maria Joseph staff the storefront library that “popped up” in Allentown. The pop-up, a mini-library, will remain in the Arlington Avenue storefront through February 2014 before moving on to another location.

Through Feb. 24, 2014, Allentown/Beltzhoover area residents will find library services like programs, a small collection of books and magazines, laptops and printers, audio books and DVDs, and a forum for social interaction and learning a mere walking distance away.

It is called the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) pop-up library, located in a storefront at 1206 Arlington Ave., next to the Zone 3 police station. The library is a project of CLP’s Library in Your Neighborhood Community and Schools (LYNCS).

“It is a program within Carnegie Library to make certain that communities that might not be served by a branch still have access to library services,” city Councilman Bruce Kraus, a five-year CLP board member, said of the pop-up.

It is open on Mondays and Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The pop-up library in Allentown has a two-way goal: while facilitating regular library service to the neighborhood, the staff will work to build relationships and learn about the needs of the community.

The staff will also connect with area residents and businesses spreading the word about library services and building relationships with individuals who are not currently library customers.

“Libraries are changing -- it is not just about taking books out,” Mr. Kraus said.

“One of the services important is job search; most data shows that the number one use of a computer in a library is job search.

“Having those kinds of services available, especially in underserved libraries, is one of the priorities,” he said.

Upcoming events and programs for youngsters and adults include:

Homework Club on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. for children of all ages to receive help with their homework;

Power Point Basics Workshop at noon on Nov. 15;

Silly Story Time at 11 a.m. on Nov. 16 for tykes and parents;

Board Game Club at 3 p.m. on Nov. 16 and every other Friday for children and adults;

Knitting instruction for adults at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19.

Molly Krichten, coordinator of CLP-LYNCS who also helps staff the pop-up library, said about 10 children come in on a regular basis to do arts and crafts, draw or practice writing on the blackboard, explore the Internet, and more.

“Allentown is somewhat geographically isolated.

“If your schedule does not work with the bus, or you do not have a car, it is great we are here to connect the neighborhood with technology and help kids develop through access to books and play,” she said.

To borrow materials, a free library card is required, and which can be obtained at the pop-up site with ID and proof of an Allegheny County address. Materials may then be returned to any branch including the pop-up. Requested items will also be delivered to the pop-up.

Mary Monaghan, assistant director for neighborhood libraries for CLP, said the pop-up library derived its name from its “popping down,” or closing at one site, before “popping up” elsewhere.

The first site was the public market in the old terminal building on Smallman St. in the Strip District. It closed just before opening again in Allentown.

The plan is that after 18 months a pop-up closes and pops-up elsewhere.

“We can’t build any more branches. The idea is to really get out of the libraries we are in and get into neighborhoods not necessarily served in the best way.

“We get to see what people are looking for from their library, and really try to connect them with the system and branches around them, provide service, and work with community groups to figure out what people are looking for and, hopefully, take those lessons to existing branches and run services out of those buildings,” Ms. Monaghan said.

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