Heinz History Center, Allegheny County libraries team up to offer free museum admission
This summer, nearly 20 Allegheny County libraries are offering patrons free staycations.
The libraries — Millvale Community (MCL) and Shaler North Hills (SNHL) among them — are partnering with the Sen. John Heinz History Center and its Affiliate Program to provide library cardholders free admission to the Sen. John Heinz History Center and its associated museums, Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Quecreek Mine Rescue Site in Somerset, Historic Harmony Museum in Harmony and The Bradford House Museum in Washington.
A patron may check out an Experience Kit to gain free admission for up to four people to each site.
The program is available at MCL starting June 1 and SNHL on June 12.
“It’s a way to do things with friends and family that gives you a different type of experience, and they’re all within a day’s drive of Pittsburgh,” said Beth Lawry, SNHL adult services manager.
Robert Stakeley, History Center Affiliates Program coordinator, said the kits also contain directions, regional tourism information and fact sheets about the sites. Because some sites are not open all year or every day of the week, Stakeley encourages patrons to research when specific programming is available.
Library employees can customize the kits.
“For the Quecreek (Mine Rescue Site kit), they might choose to put a DVD, or a book — children’s book or adult book — as it pertains to mining. The David Bradford House, they may choose to put books or DVDs that they already have in their collection that relate to the Whiskey Rebellion,” Stakeley said.
The Experience Kit program stems from a 2017 collaboration between the History Center Affiliates Program (HCAP) and Whitehall Public Library. Stakeley said librarian Sarah Scott, a Pittsburgh transplant, “quickly understood that there are a lot of neat, quirky and interesting places in and around Pittsburgh and our rewgion.” Together, they developed the initiative to promote the “great sites, stories, museums that are in our area and region.”
The HCAP comprises more than 125 regional historical societies and organizations in the tri-state region.
“We gather the feedback from the previous year as far as the patrons and what they enjoyed and where they may enjoy going the next year, and we try to come up with sites that represent the compass. So, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is the center, and we try to pick a site that is north, south, east or west,” Stakeley said.
Susan McClellan, MCL executive director, noted some kits offer a value up to $100.
She added the kits are an example of how libraries including the MCL currently loan much more than books.
“The libraries, the patrons, the institutions who are participating in this — it’s a win-win for everyone,” Stakeley said.
Other participating libraries include:
Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall
Braddock Carnegie Library
Carnegie Free Library of Swissvale
Carnegie Library of McKeesport
CC Mellor Memorial Library
Cooper-Siegel Community Library
Crafton Public Library
Jefferson Hills Library
Northern Tier Regional Library
Oakmont Public Library
Pleasant Hills Public Library
Robinson Public Library
South Park Township Public Library
Springdale Free Public Library
Western Allegheny Public Library
Whitehall Public Library