CLP celebrates 125th anniversary with commemorative library cards designed by local artists | Visual Art | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

CLP celebrates 125th anniversary with commemorative library cards designed by local artists

click to enlarge Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh commemorative cards by Takara Canty, Cue Perry, DS Kinsel, and Janel Young - CARNEGIE LIBRARY OF PITTSBURGH
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh commemorative cards by Takara Canty, Cue Perry, DS Kinsel, and Janel Young
A library card is more than a piece of plastic — it's a key granting access to a world of free books, music, and other media, as well as workshops, classes, and events. And now the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is releasing a series of vibrant, limited-edition cards designed by local artists to remind patrons of that, and to mark a major milestone for Pittsburgh's public library system.

CLP revealed the designs for a series of special library cards meant to celebrate the library system's 125th anniversary. The cards, designed by Takara Canty, Cue Perry, DS Kinsel, and Janel Young, were inspired by the question, “What does 'Free to the People' mean to you?”

Both new and existing members can sign up for the cards while supplies last. To request a card, patrons can simply stop by an open branch — please be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing — or call to coordinate a curb-side pick-up.


Like with the normal card application process, patrons must also provide acceptable forms of ID. If a patron has an existing library card, their new card will have a different barcode number, and patrons will be asked to turn in their old, deactivated card when they pick up a new one. Changing the barcode does not alter existing account information, checkouts, or balances.

Kinsel, who co-runs the community art hub BOOM Concepts, says he wanted to find an “intentional intersection” for his card design and his Nothing But Love street art series, which features repetitive patterns of hearts.

“I have been exploring love songs and pulling lyrics from different songs to express different ways in which love can be expressed,” says Kinsel in a press release. “I really connected to the idea of ‘Free to the People’ and how CLP's history offering free art, music, and literature was a true expression of love. I believe the library allows for exploration of knowledge, culture, and love by being ‘Free To The People.'”

After researching different love song lyrics, he says he landed on the lyric “Everybody come together (Love is free)” from the song “Love Is Free” by Sheryl Crow.


“Free knowledge, free culture, and free love is a reason for folks to come together and the library is the perfect place for that action to happen,” says Kinsel.

Young, a Pittsburgh native who works as a painter and muralist, says “Free To The People” made her think of her experience reading, especially when she was younger.

“Growing up with my mom being a reading specialist, I always felt like reading books and stories were a form of liberation, an escape. So I wanted to show the transition to 'freeing the people' through literature,” says Young.

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