Check out an experience at Carnegie Library Oakmont, among others
Take more than books with you from the Oakmont Carnegie Library. You can now check out an experience.
An experience kit is available at select libraries around Allegheny County, including the Oakmont location. The libraries have partnered with the Senator John Heinz History Center and its “Affiliate Program” to offer library card-holders access to free admission to five unique sites: Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District (and its associated museums — Sports Museum, Fort Pitt and Meadowcroft), Old Economy Village in Ambridge, Quecreek Mine Rescue Site in Somerset, Historic Harmony Museum in Harmony and the David Bradford House in Washington, Pa.
This program offers families free admission for up to four people, as well as additional information and suggestions on other things to do in the area.
It’s basically “a preplanned road trip in a bag.”
Each kit can be checked out for up to one week at a time. This is the second year for the program at Oakmont Carnegie Library, says Beth Mellor, the library’s director.
“It was so well received, so they decided to offer it again,” she says. “The more access you can have to other cultural assets in your city, the better. This program adds value to your library card. School is out, so this is the perfect time to take advantage of this experience.
“You can never stop learning,” Mellor says. “We invite everyone to come into the library and see what we have going on and to take advantage of the experience kits, because it’s a new way for people to learn new things by visiting the various locations.”
She says each location offers something different for library patrons. Participating in such a program helps keep libraries relevant.
Oakmont, built in 1901, has 18 public computers and an inventory of 38,000 books, CDs and DVDs.
It hosts programs such as yoga, meditation and zumba for adults; book buddies and make-and-take for children, and comic art storytelling for teens and young adults. The library also has activities geared toward science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
Which libraries are involved?
Joining Oakmont Carnegie Library in offering experience kits are:
• Cooper Siegel in Fox Chapel
• Carnegie Library of Swissvale
• Robinson Township Library
• Northern Tier in Richland
• Pleasant Hills Public Library
• Western Allegheny Community Library in Oakdale
• Wilkinsburg Public Library
• Brentwood Public Library
• Millvale Community Library
• Shaler North Hills Library
• Andrew Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie
• Jefferson Hills Public Library
• Carnegie Library of McKeesport
• Springdale Public Library
• Oakmont Carnegie Library
• Crafton Public Library
• South Park Township Library
• Whitehall Public Library
“Libraries try to promote the region and activities in the region,” says Marilyn Jenkins, executive director of the Allegheny County Library Association, located in the West End. “And this is a great way to do this. When Andrew Carnegie built libraries, he envisioned them as community centers. A program like this brings libraries back to their roots.”
About the program
The program was originally called “Tourist in Your Own City,” and provides kits with information on interesting sites, as well as admission discounts to encourage library patrons to explore new places and stories, says Mariruth Leftwich, director of education at the history center. In its work with affiliate museums and organizations from across the region, the history center recognized that people often do not know what historical treasures are in their own communities.
“So we built an initiative that allows community members to discover the resources and institutions around them,” Leftwich says. “Libraries are hubs for communities, and we’ve been excited to partner with libraries to provide access to historical sites as a way of introducing people to the rich history of the region.”
The mission of the Allegheny Regional Asset District is to support and finance regional assets in the areas of libraries, parks and recreation, cultural, sports and civic facilities and programs, according to its website.
“We work with as many RAD assets as possible,” says Mellor. “Doing that makes programs like this one possible.”
The Regional Asset District receives one-half of the proceeds from the 1% Allegheny County sales and use tax and the other half is paid directly to the county and municipal governments by the state treasurer.
Since 1995 and through 2019, the 1% county sales tax paid by residents of and visitors to Allegheny County is expected to result in a more than $3.9 billion investment in the region.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .