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Allentown Pop-Up Library looks to improve life for residents

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has one core mission: to engage the community in literacy and learning.  And while the new Allentown Pop-Up Library doesn’t deviate from those principles, it does seem to go above and beyond the traditional role of a library.

Located at 1206 Arlington Avenue, in the hilltop neighborhood of Allentown, the new pop-up is part of an effort to reach city neighborhoods that fall through the cracks in terms of existing library branches.

Molly Krichten, of CLP, says the goal is to determine what services the neighborhood lacks, and what outlets—creative, informational, or otherwise—residents desire.

“We’ll ascertain what is life in Allentown like, and how can it be better, and how can the library act as a connector between the people and the resources that are available,” Krichten says.

The storefront library is small, just 750 square feet, but it offers numerous services and programming.  In addition to books, the library has an emphasis on technology—including iPads and notebook computers—as well as low-tech favorites like story time readings for kids, and board games.

Krichten says children in the neighborhood were the first to embrace the new library.

“It’s a fun place to be—it’s not a quiet library,” she says.  “It’s a place for exploration and for play and for community building.”

Because the pop-up is designed to learn what residents of Allentown actually want in their community, programming is expected to change.  On Thursday, February 7th, the pop-up will host an open house, from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.,  where its staff hopes to learn what other services—for adults and youth—residents would like to see.

The library is temporary, and will close in 2014.  But when that happens, Krichten belives the library will have learned enough about Allentown that, through work with other organizations, it can continue to improve life for Allentown residents.

The Allentown Pop-Up is part of the Library in Your Neighborhood Community and Schools (CLP-LYNCS) initiative launched by CLP in 2011.  The first pop-up library was imbedded within the Pittsburgh Public Market from 2011 to 2012.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Molly Krichten
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