Explore Pittsburgh’s Rich History

Calling all history buffs! Historic Pittsburgh, found on the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s website, contains a wealth of primary and secondary resources about the city’s history and surrounding areas. This is a great tool for those who are interested in the general history of Pittsburgh.

historic Pittsburgh text

This resource includes features such as:
City directories
Maps of Allegheny County and its surrounding boroughs
Historic photographs
Letters and memorabilia from prominent local figures

historic pittsburgh homepage

You can browse the site by clicking on one of the six boxes on the homepage or choose to perform a general or advanced search.

The side links that appear on the results screen allow you to explore related topics and other collections.

One feature that I found interesting was the Exhibits section, which features articles on past exhibits by partner organizations such as Chatham University.

suffrage women and horse

Have fun exploring!

Erin Weaver, Bridgeville Public Library

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Pics Or It Didn’t Happen


Helping a patron search for images of dress styles from the turn of the century for their school report? Want to see what an electric car looked like in the 1970s? Or maybe you need photographic evidence of a building that you swear used to be somewhere so you can win a bet with your friends?

Look no further than the Library of Congress (LOC) Prints & Photograph collection!

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs

This collection has records for over 1 million photographs, prints and drawings dating back over 1,000 years. The majority of the collection is primarily from the 19th & 20th centuries and covers a large span of topics, including: architecture, portraits, military, sports and daily life.

Quickly narrow down your search by subject, format, collection, date, contributor, etc., with the easily-accessible filters in the left-hand column. Then download high-quality versions of the images you find – from JPEG to PNG to TIFF.

And when you find one image you like…

…scroll down for additional suggestions for images related to that record.


One downside of this valuable site that must be mentioned is how often this message appears:

“Full online access to this resource is only available at the Library of Congress.” Records with this message are such a tease, though sometimes the metadata included in the record can be very helpful. Other times, these listings can link you to additional useful images or collections that are available to view full-scale images online.

Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this dreaded message altogether: use the “Access Condition” filter on the left to select “Available Online.” This narrows the results to show only records that have viewable images. Huzzah!


While the LOC Prints & Photographs collection is helpful to search, it is equally as fun to browse.

There are curated collections available. Some are cumbersome to navigate (e.g. the Lewis Carroll Scrapbooks and Prairie Settlement collections) but others are very easy to access (e.g. African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition & Aaron Copeland Collection). In the image below, you can see that certain collections have links below the descriptions that say “Collection Items.” Those are the collections that are easier to navigate.


I personally enjoyed searching for historical images of the Pittsburgh region. My favorite record find: “Quack doctor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”

I am dying to know: who wrote the caption card from which this item was named? When? What led to this description?

Hopefully your research leads to more answers than questions! Happy searching!

Richelle @ Sewickley Public Library

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Quick Reads with Flipster

Need something quick to read but you don’t want to commit to a whole novel – Flipster has you covered with magazines! You can use Flipster to read many different magazines on your phone or tablet.

You can browse the most recently published magazines, or you can browse the titles from A to Z. You can even create a bookmark in a magazine and give it a name with meaning to you so you can easily spot an article you want to come back to and read later.

Flipster‘s sorting function
Naming a Bookmark in Flipster

Whether you are looking to read Vanity Fair or find something for your niece to read in Cricket Flipster will have something for you!

-Adrianne

Northland Public Library

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Some (hopefully) New-To-You Titles To Read and Listen to This Winter

Winter is such a generous reading season – it lends itself so well to staying in bed, cozying up on the couch, grabbing a favorite wintery warm beverage and getting lost in a book. While many of us reach for familiar titles and genres (I happily re-read Rosamund Pilcher’s Winter Solstice every winter!) this season, consider trying something out of your normal reading zone. I’ve been participating (loosely, I admit) in Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenges for 2 years now and they’ve gotten me into titles I’d never have picked up on my own. Here are a few that may move you into some exciting and unfamiliar territory:

  • Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf. I know, I know, it’s poetry, but stay with me. I know that’s very, very scary. But this is one of the best books of poetry I’ve read in recent years (I’m a poet and I read a lot of it!) and it’s highly accessible. The entire book is about Akbar’s journey with alcoholism. It’s deft, thought-provoking, mysterious and beautiful. This is NOT your high school English class poetry! If you dig that book, try Ada Limon’s The Carrying (available on Hoopla). 
Calling a Wolf a Wolf
  • Some of us read all fiction and some of us read all nonfiction! I place myself in both camps, but if you’re a real fiction lover and want to dip your toe into the world of nonfiction, try World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks and Other Astonishments. It’s a short book of very beautiful, poetic essays by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (available on Hoopla). Or really lean in and try a graphic novel memoir! You can do this! The Best We Could Do is a perfect entry into the world of comic-strip -form books. It’s a memoir about Vietnam immigrants after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s by Thi Bui. She’s also illustrated a gorgeous picture book, The Pond that I’d highly recommend for both the kiddos and their grownups! And finally, try The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog by Rick McIntyre, also available on Hoopla. Fascinating story of the abundant return of the once-rare wild wolves to Yellowstone National Park. 
World of Wonders
  • If you fall solidly in that other camp (geeks unite!), try Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit. If you loved The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (and who didn’t!) you’ll love Savit’s beautiful and heartbreaking Holocaust novel. The audio (which won ALA’s prestigious Odyssey Award for best audiobook for children in 2017) and the e-book are both currently available. In the too-scared-to-go-to-sleep fiction sub-genre, Zoje Stage got some fame for her unnerving book, Baby Teeth (great book!) and her newest does not disappoint. Wonderland is a true wintery tale that will chill you to the bone. Finally, give Ann Patchett a spin. All of her books are heart-eyes! Her newest book, in audio-form, The Dutch House read by Tom Hanks is perfection.
The Dutch House
  • 2020 has been quite a year and there are plenty of suggestions out there on how to soothe and calm yourself during this very trying time. I find listening to and reading children’s books to be one of the most soothing. Remember bedtime stories? Or storytime at the library? I actually never was read to OR taken to storytime (and my father was an English teacher and a librarian, for shame!) but I can imagine how nice it would have been and so I happily create that sensation for myself now as an adult. I recently listened to Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan, a classic children’s book (and a beautiful film starring Glenn Close as Sarah). Close is also the narrator of the whole collection (3 books total) available on Hoopla. The Anne of Green Gables series is another sure-to-soothe set. Various audio versions available here on Libby and on Hoopla aren’t my favorite (truly, the Audible version read by Rachel McAdams is the very best and it’s currently free!) but the others will do in a pinch. Right now I’m listening to Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary read by Stockard Channing (brilliant and available on Hoopla!) I’d also highly recommend Pax by Sara Pennypacker, a sweet little book about a boy and his fox also on Hoopla. Set the handy timer on the Hoopla app and drift off into a dreamy sleep. 
Pax

Hope these titles help you create some warmth, delight and joy this winter!

Continue Reading Some (hopefully) New-To-You Titles To Read and Listen to This Winter