City Cast

6 Things You Didn’t Know Your Library Card Could Do

Francesca Dabecco
Francesca Dabecco
Posted on July 25
Locally-designed Carnegie Library cards. (Carnegie Library)

Locally-designed Carnegie Library cards. (Carnegie Library)

When Andrew Carnegie began opening libraries in southwest Pennsylvania in the 1890s, he wanted to bring books and knowledge to everyone — not just those who could afford to pay. Now local libraries are taking that spirit beyond the printed word. Check out these six unique things you can do with your library card:

Borrow Power Tools

Millvale Community Library has a tool library with a collection of over 900 hand and power tools for building, home maintenance, gardening, plumbing, cars, and bikes — you name it.

Digitize Your Photos & Videos

The Recollection Studio's DIY Digitization lab has hardware, software, and documentation to digitize VHS tapes, audio cassette tapes, documents, photographs, slides, and negatives.

Borrow Bakeware

The Library of Things has an entire cooking and baking catalog where you can find everything from popcorn, ice cream, and waffle makers to holiday cookie cutters and cake pan shapes for any themed birthday party.

Dig Into Your Family History

The main branch of the Carnegie Library in Oakland has a local history and genealogy section where you can book an appointment to research your family tree. They have old newspaper clippings going back to the early 1900s, a microfilm collection with census records and city directories, and books that teach you how to do cemetery research. Plus, their collection of more than 100,000 negatives and prints can give you an incredible visual history of Pittsburgh.

Pick Up A New Hobby

Music lovers can borrow synthesizers, beatmakers, sequencers, effects pedals, recording equipment, instruments, and more. Sports and outdoors enthusiasts can check out equipment like pickleball and tennis racket sets, bocce ball, corn hole, and a fishing rod kit. Artsy folks can access a wide array of online crafting tutorials through Creativebug like quilting, embroidery, bookbinding, and sewing, plus tools like a full pottery wheel.

Get Discounted Tickets

If you have an Allegheny County library card and are over 18, you can access free or discounted tickets to a bunch of cultural attractions — like all the Carnegie museums, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and Pirates games — with a RAD pass. Reserve one here.

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