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Interview with Stephen, Teen Advocate

Stephen is a freshman at Pittsburgh Sci-Tech. He has volunteered at the South Side and Main locations since 2009 and has been recently active in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s advocacy efforts.

What do you love most about the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh?
Can it be more than one thing? It’s history, it’s branches, it’s staff, and it’s users. I haven’t been to any other major city’s library systems, but I feel that ours has a very unique history, and that it’s one that people appreciate. It seems special to me because I’ve been going to the library since I was a kid, and now I’ve moved onto the Teen department. I feel like I’ve grown up in the library, and that seems special. The staff is just amazing–really supportive. And every time I come in, I hear something different. During our advocacy day, I talked to families and PhD candidates. Just seeing and talking to the wide range of people who use the library is really astounding.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the library in the year 2012?
That’s tough, because I’m a person who looks at the glass half full, but I would have to say it would have to be funding–especially state funding–because the current governor has cut lots of funding to institutions like the library.

What do you think can be done to overcome that challenge?
I think users can step up and contribute what they can, either time or money. Also, we can advocate and raise awareness in our own neighborhoods about the library and its situation.

What does the library of the future look like to you?
When I think about the kind of library I want to use in the future, I think about still having brick and mortar libraries that people can walk into and have the same service that they do today, but also be able to have access to the same kind of services–and service–online, through the library.

What would you tell someone who doesn’t currently use the library to get them interested in what the library system can do for them and their community?
I would tell them about the variety of programs that the library has to offer, and also the availability of great books, DVDs, and CDs that you can get at any of the branches or at Main. It also has a lot of services that you can’t find anywhere else, all in one place, without having to go anywhere else.

In what ways can people get involved with the library in the future?
People can go up to any librarian, whether at a branch or Main, and ask them how they can get involved with what they’re interested in, whether knowledge-wise, time-wise, or money-wise. People can volunteer, teens can join teen advisory councils (a great way to know what’s going to be happening in the libraries), adults can join their local “Friends” groups, and everyone can get involved in the library’s strategic planning process at different community workshops throughout the city.

~Joseph
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

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