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Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was snowy. Yes, it was icy. And yet nothing could thwart the waves of warm enthusiasm for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's first ever Winter Read-a-Thon.

From January 8 to February 19, library supporters from across the region donned their reading caps to make this event one of the Library's coziest fundraisers.

Participants picked their reading material, lined up their sponsors and pledge amounts, and started logging their reading hours. The more they read, the more money they raised. No surprise, fiction was a popular choice, but other favorite materials included magazines, newspapers and comics.

Kaarin VanAusdal, Department Head at CLP - Main, developed the idea for the Winter Read-a-Thon and oversaw the fundraiser. With circulation typically declining during winter months, it was the perfect time to promote and reward reading.

"Just like a walk-a-thon, this is the kind of thing families can do together and kids can get involved," says VanAusdal.

A number of Community Read-Ins kicked off the Winter Read-a-Thon festivities, inviting customers to bring blankets and lawn chairs to their neighborhood library, curl up with a cup of cocoa and read. Local authors, personalities and community members, including WTAE morning co-anchor Mike Clark, local author Kathleen George and drama students from Carnegie Mellon University, read from their favorite books.

The Winter Read-a-Thon attracted readers from nearly every CLP location, an impressive showing for a first-time fundraiser. Readers ranged in age from children to senior citizens.

Kelly Lynn Thomas of the North Side, an ardent library supporter, took part in the Winter Read-A-Thon. CLP - Allegheny is her go-to branch. "I wanted to give something back to my favorite public institution," Thomas says.

"When I moved from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh one of the first things I did was get a Carnegie Library card."

Not only did she commit to reading 50 hours to raise funds for the Library she loves, Ms. Thomas went so far as to blog about her experience at With eight pledges on the books, she read a total of 50 hours and raised $250.

Thomas shares, "Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is one of the oldest public library systems in the United States, but it's facing some major financial issues. We need to make sure our state government knows how much the Library means to us and how important it is to our community."

By day, Thomas is Assistant Editor of the Northside Chronicle. In her free time she makes a habit of reading three books at a time. There's always an audio book for the car, a serious work for thoughtful consideration and something fun like a comic book.

According to VanAusdal, "The Winter-Read-a-Thon has been a successful pilot program. I hope that we can make this an annual winter event."

>> Let's keep those pages turning.


A City of Champions, A Most Livable City
... and a Most Literate City!

A study released by Central Connecticut State University ranks Pittsburgh one of America's most literate cities, citing library resources, newspaper circulation, number of bookstores, periodical publishing resources, educational attainment and Internet resources among its criteria. Pittsburgh is hot on the heels of Cleveland and St. Louis - ranking 3rd overall in terms of library support, holdings, staffing and utilization.