In honor of National Library Workers day, we chatted with Adaena Tray, who has been the director of the Green Tree Public Library for 12 years. When she’s not stocking the shelves, planning events, and managing employees, you can catch her over on Instagram at @endless_hacienda, where she shares her adventures with fixing up a 1924 Craftsman in Oakwood.
What made you choose this career?
I did not set out to be a librarian. I earned my BA in English Writing and was then unsure what my next move would be. I Googled “Jobs for English Majors” and librarian was on a list. The more I researched the profession, the more I realized it was the perfect fit for me: a place where I could be creative, build community, and surround myself with literacy and learning.
What are some of your favorite things about your job?
No two days are the same at the library, and I dabble in a little bit of everything. Today I’m onboarding a new employee and compiling a monthly report of library usage, then tomorrow I’ll be launching our new website and promoting upcoming library programs. The stereotype of a librarian passing the hours reading at her desk is far removed from reality. When we opened our doors today, the phone was ringing non-stop by patrons looking to reserve one of our craft kits, and we had a line of patrons wanting to pick up their holds. There’s never a dull moment!
In the before times, what were some of the events that you hosted at your library? How have you had to adjust during the pandemic?
Green Tree had a robust programming lineup prior to COVID-19. On the day we closed in 2020, we had an Introductory Italian Language Class and a Cookbook Club planned; I remember sensing these would be the last events we would hold for a long time. In the past, we offered book clubs, craft programs, storytimes, educational seminars, a read-with-dogs program, an art history program, STEM workshops and more. We have scaled back programming during the pandemic. Each week, we set out “grab ‘n go” crafts for kids, which are so popular they are usually gone in under an hour! We’ve also been hosting virtual programs, including a trivia night, book club, and tech training.
Librarians and workers are known as the “keepers of knowledge” and “knowledge creators.” What does that role mean to you?
As a librarian, I am more a “connector” of knowledge than a keeper or creator. My job is to connect people with the resources they need. For example, when someone stops in for resume help, we will not write their resume on their behalf. But we are happy to point them in the direction of what they’ll need to succeed, whether it’s a computer to use, a book on writing resumes or a referral to a resume building class with one of our community partners.
Throughout the month of April, The Incline is featuring sustainable practices and businesses. Tell us about the Kitchen Utensil Lending program at your library.
The Kitchen Tool Lending Library allows cardholders to borrow common kitchen tools and equipment, including an InstantPot, air fryer, cookie cutters, KitchenAid attachments and more. Unfortunately, we’ve had to suspend the service due to COVID concerns, but we hope to relaunch in the future. Our goal with the lending library is to encourage users to experiment with new gadgets before buying, borrow seldom-used items rather than having to own and store them, create memories and learn new skills through cooking and baking, access tools that might be financially out of reach, and reduce the amount of tools purchased and eventually entering the waste stream.
When you’re not managing the library, what else do you like to do around the ‘Burgh?
I enjoy walking around city neighborhoods and taking pictures. I really miss hanging out in local coffee shops!
What local business do you think deserves a shoutout (and why)?
Green Tree has an awesome papercraft business called Brutus Monroe, right on Green Tree Road. It’s a crafting paradise!
Favorite book about Pittsburgh or by a Pittsburgh author?
“Out of this Furnace” by Thomas Bell should be required reading for all Pittsburghers. Our city was built on the backs of immigrants working in the steel mills, and this book chronicles their struggles.
What’s a project you’re working on (big or small) and how can The Incline readers help you with it?
During the pandemic, a lot of our users found new ways to fill their time and access resources. We are working hard to win them back. Libraries across Allegheny County could really use your business right now. Dust off your library card, download an eBook, attend a Zoom program, and tell your new neighbor about the local library.