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North suburban libraries participate in How-To Festival

Bobby Cherry
| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:04 p.m.

From raising chickens, to making craft beer and a host of other projects and activities, seven community libraries will offer a day of “how-to” try something new.

“It's a day where people can learn how to do almost anything at their local library,” said Sewickley Public Library librarian Meghan Snatchko, whose library joins those in Avalon; Fox Chapel; McCandless; and Hampton, Shaler and Richland townships for the daylong How-To Festival on June 22.

A chicken will help a retired librarian show participants how farm fowl can be raised in suburban environments at the Shaler North Hills Library, adult services director Marie Jackson said.

“She was auditioning her chickens to see which one would be a good performer for how-to day,” Jackson said.

If backyard farm creatures aren't an option, participants at the Northland Public Library in McCandless will have a chance to learn a kinetic meditation called Zentangle, spokeswoman Donna Rau said.

The abstract drawing technique uses repetitive patterns that can act as a calming mechanism, she said.

The festival is a chance for libraries to strut their stuff, Rau said.

“The library can be a community center, as well as a place of books and learning,” she said. “More and more, libraries are becoming an integral part of the community.

“These different programs open up people to the library.”

The event also gives people a chance to explore other areas and libraries, said Jackson, of the Shaler library.

“For me, the key is that we're collaborating with other librarians in the north region,” she said.

“This type of event emphasizes that for all of the communities. People are very fiercely loyal to their library, and that's great, but an event like this shows that libraries everywhere have their strengths, (and) it's really cool to visit another library.”

While someone can take out a book on learning to do a variety of items, said Diane Illis, assistant director of Northern Tier Regional Library in Richland, said some hobbies are learned through seeing, not reading — especially learning to play the flute or use sign language, which are two of the events planned at the Richland Township library.

“If you want a book, you go to the library, but that's not always how people learn,” Illis said. “You want to learn how to Zumba (a Latin-dance fitness program), we'll show you. It's more of a hands-on way of doing things.”

Gone are the days when patrons came to the library exclusively for reading material, Rau said.

“We're bringing people to the library for very unconventional reasons,” she said. “Libraries are an exciting place to be.”

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or

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