I've been working on Pittsburgh's Northside for almost exactly one year now, and it has been very hard to get to a library. There has been no branch of the Carnegie Library here on the Northside for some time, as a new building was under construction. Some times I'd feel adventurous and take the bus back to Oakland to the main library, but this meant that I'd have to get off the bus, walk, and then by the time I got back on the bus, I'd get home at 9pm for a stop that could have taken ten minutes.
What I have been doing primarily for the last year is ordering books from interlibrary loan, and then picking them up at the Downtown branch. The problems with this is are multifold: the Downtown branch is only open for a half an hour after I get out of work, three days a week. I have about ten minutes to squeeze into the doors of the library to pick up my books from the desk, but only on Monday-Wednesday. The downtown library also doesn't have a bookdrop-I heard rumors of too much trash being thrown in the downtown deposit slot, and they took it out. So I can't even return books after hours if I wanted to.
Well, my life has been revolutionized. The new Allegheny Branch of the Carnegie Public Library has opened on the Northside. I can walk there from work in under ten minutes. It is open until 7 pm every weekday, and I can catch the same bus I normally do to get home! It's also a beautiful new modern building, with wooden slat walls and a bamboo courtyard, tree-lined walks, and an after-hours bookdrop.
What's even better is that when I went into the library, there were tons of young people already reading, using the computers, and chatting in the library. There's a whole room for youth books, and meeting rooms in the back, still being completed. I hope it stays a cool hangout for young people- much needed on the Northside. As an added bonus, a Crazy Mocha coffeeshop is opening on the corner of Federal Street and North Ave to quench all of its thirsty readers.
This is starting to sound like an ad for the Library, but if you get a chance to visit the new Allegheny Branch, I think you'll be impressed. Then you can wander to the museum and come visit me!