Exploring Unseen Libraries of Pittsburgh

IMG_1885As was expected, I’ve been dreadfully bad at this blog since school. Let’s be real, I was bad before. My graduation resolution will to not be bad. I’ve said that before, so let’s just accept that I’m terrible at blogging and move on.

Grad school and diving into all things library has been incredible. I’ve been enjoying my classes and the new things I’ve been learning, despite my being completely overwhelmed and overworked (my own fault, as is the norm). A very cool event that I was lucky to attend last month was a small tour of usually unseen library and special collection spaces in the Oakland area. We started off in my University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences building. We have an interesting media commons on the 3rd floor that includes collaborative work spaces with large flat screen TVs, hookups, and comfortable seating. The space also accommodates quiet study and large events such as speakers, classes, and colloquiums.After refreshments and some chatting, we migrated across the street to CMU’s Mellon Library. The Mellon Library has been featured in several films (remember, Pittsburgh is a pretty big film city), most notably The Mothman Prophecies and The Dark Knight Rises. Richard Gere discusses some paranormal happenings with an expert in the reading room. And while their paranormal collection isn’t really existent, CMU does have a very valuable industrial hygiene collection that dates back to the 1930s. Librarians didn’t realize what they had on her hands until pieces started going missing. Lawyers were stealing them to help with cases dealing with asbestos and the like. They now keep the collection under lock and key, and if a lawyer calls to request the materials they are redirected to CMU’s legal team.


Researching precognition (or industrial hygiene)? This is the place to do it.

Our last visit was to the Stephen Foster Memorial Museum, located on Pitt’s campus next to the Cathedral of learning. The museum now includes more 19th century American music and has developed into the Center for American Music. We were shown the extensive collection of Foster scores and related items and artifacts. We heard some hilarious stories about discovering fraudulent portraits and saw Foster’s actual notebook with lyrics and rough drafts of famous songs. Take a look at the gallery for pictures of this amazing space and the 3rd floor collaboration space in SIS.

This fun event was really a great way to get to know my new communities: Pittsburgh and libraries. People have a very narrow view of what a library is, and if I’m only learning one thing during this degree it is that libraries cover a vast expanse of purposes, functions, shapes, sizes, and user bases.

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