Viral Facebook post revives Pittsburgh Manchester PreK-8 library
The library at Pittsburgh Manchester PreK-8 School deteriorated so much and for so long that students stopped going into the room.
“There were very few books, and many of the books in the library were old — even when I was in school,” said Principal Theresa Cherry, a 1984 graduate of Franklin Regional High School.
How quickly a viral social-media campaign can change things.
On Thursday, the school's 275 students will find a vibrant library, renovated by dozens of volunteers and filled with 1,000 books donated from all over the world.
“It has gone from being a bleak, inhospitable room to one filled with empowerment, wonderment and possibilities. The students will go stir crazy when they see it,” said Craig McDonald, an interior decorator for PerLora, a South Side furniture store.
McDonald designed the library. He replaced the carpet, repainted bookshelves and secured a mural by Dave Klug, a local illustrator of children's books.
The school on Manhattan Avenue in the Manchester neighborhood of the North Side had no librarian for years.
“There has not been equitable funding among the schools. That has changed,” Cherry said.
Last month, Sheila May-Stein, a librarian assigned to Manchester this year, posted a photo on Facebook with a comment that the library had only 40 usable books in its fiction section.
She wrote: “Feeling overwhelmed and despondent when I see pictures of iPad labs and brand-new books and all the other privileges white suburban kids have when I compare it to what the kids at this school have. They are learning every day that they aren't worth clean, fresh paint and unstained carpets and books that aren't 65 years old.”
May-Stein's posting went viral, drawing donations from as nearby as Bethel Park's Lincoln Elementary School, where students raised money to buy books about football, and from as far away as Manchester, England, where a woman said she felt an affinity with a neighborhood with the same name.
May-Stein compiled a wish list for the library on Amazon.com.
British science fiction writer Neil Gaiman tweeted about the school, which garnered more attention and donations.
“It's amazing what the Internet can do,” said Shane Haynie, manager of Sam's Club store in Ohio Township, who along with several co-workers donated more than 40 hours of work in less than a week to renovate the library. “Every school should have a good library.”
Sam's Club paid for the bulk of the project, estimated at thousands of dollars.
The school's student body is 90 percent black, and about 80 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, said Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh.
Having a good library is more imperative at Manchester PreK-8 than at more affluent schools, Cherry said.
“Many of our students have no books at home — none. And they need to read outside of school, like all students. This is a state-of-the-art library, and everyone will want to check a book out,” Cherry said.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- Man shot in McKees Rocks
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Donora native at forefront of scientific research
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers
- Murrysville woman apologizes for scholarship fund theft
- Special events planned as part of Kennywood’s 2015 season
- 2 Hempfield Area students charged with sexting
- Belle Vernon students advance to state history competition
- Ringgold band members march to different beat