The Strip District has been more than the “vegetable capital” of Pittsburgh for a long time, though it retains that title nicely. If you’ve never been to Pittsburgh, this is the place to find everything under the sun, from exotic spices, flowers and squeaky fresh seafood, to Steeler T-shirts, antiques, an all-night diner…
In the 1930’s, the Strip District’s low slung shantytown, Hooverville, symbolized the crux of President Herbert Hoover’s brand of laissez-faire capitalism, waiting to take care of the Depression the way time takes care of wounds. By the late 1980’s, a nightclub called Metropol had redefined the warehouse, and vegetable trucks began colliding with flashdancers. Ever since, the sidewalks spill over by day with shoppers, foodies and chefs; as the sun sets, they seem refreshingly thick with the age group that everyone claims has left town.
As of Friday, April 15, what started out as an advocacy push for local libraries at the Pittsburgh Public Market last December has become an experimental new dimension in the overall atmosphere of the Strip, with a tiny, 225 square foot library branch in the Public Market, “most likely the first time a U.S. library has provided full services in a public market,” according to Molly Krichten, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh LYNCS (the library in your neighborhood, community and school) coordinator.
“Sit on the floor and browse books, or check out something from the collection and sit at a café table with a cup of coffee, biscotti, even a Greek salad.
“It looks like a real library, with carpets on the floor and books on the shelves,” says Krichten “In just the first few days, LYNCS has been flooded with people borrowing from the collection and paying old fines to register for new library cards.” Besides its small collection and library card registry, the express computer hub also offers a pick-up/ drop off depot, 2 public access computers for Internet services and an online library catalog. And, since neither the Downtown nor Lawrenceville libraries have weekend hours, this shoebox branch will provide a bridge in that gap.
In the enduring Strip District, where the infamous Hooverville is invisible but for the rails which once brought out-of-work boxcar riders in, what could be more delicious than one of the things human beings are especially good at–paging through a great book and munching a homemade cookie?
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh LYNCS, 2100 Smallman St., 412-877-8357 email CLPLYNCS@carnegielibrary.org. Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m.