Interview #64: Shannon McNeill

Shannon McNeill Pittsburgh

Brassy, sassy, and classy ... meet Pittsburgh's favorite librarian, Shannon Mcneill! 

Shannon is smart and forward thinking. She is an avid promoter of children's literacy, and is dedicated to making going to the library super exciting for all children that walk through the doors. 

Shannon leads creatively-themed story time sessions at the Green Tree library.

In fact, when we met she was telling me all about her Halloween costume from her last session. Check her out:

Shannon Mcneill Pittsburgh Librarian Greensburg

Can you imagine how much fun it would be to have Shannon read you a story? This picture says it all ...

I'm so glad I got to get to know Shannon a bit more, and I think the work she is doing in Pittsburgh is so important. Our libraries are sacred gems—I'm so glad amazing people like Shannon work so hard to make sure libraries will be around for generations to come.

Enjoy Shannon's Q&A!

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Name: Shannon McNeill

Job title: Children's Librarian/Assistant Director/All-Around Librarian, just depends on the time of day

Twitter: @BrassyLibrarian

Blog: A Librarian's Lists & Letters

Neighborhood you live in: Mt. Lebanon

Coffee Shop Drink of Choice: Tea: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Chai

Current Shampoo Preference: Garnier Fructis. It was on sale.

Why do you choose Pittsburgh as your home?
I grew up in Pittsburgh but when I was younger I never thought I would settle here. After moving to Greece for some time, I came home to Pittsburgh because I was offered a teaching job here and it was then that I really started to fall in love with the city. By the time I left teaching to start my Masters in Library and Information Science at Pitt, I loved Pittsburgh more than I ever thought possible. We have such a large and fantastic library system in our county (All of the libraries in Allegheny County are connected through the Allegheny County Library Association) and now that I'm a librarian I love that my history with Pittsburgh helps me build relationships. I am always meeting new people in Pittsburgh with interesting stories and individual passions that it often feels like I'm constantly rediscovering the city that's been my home all of my life. Pittsburgh is such a vibrant place to build a life and I'm so glad that I can live in a city that cherishes learning, reading, history, sports, and so much more.

Who do you spend your time with?
I spend a lot of time with friends I met while going to library school at Pitt. Most of my family including my parents and brothers, and more than 20 aunts and uncles, and 30-some cousins live in the area too. I'm very fortunate to spend most of my day with a dedicated and funny library staff. Oh, and I just adopted a kitten named Radley.

What are your favorite aspects of your job?
There is just so much variety at my job. On any given day I may host a storytime for babies or preschoolers, assist someone in filling out a job application, help a school-age child find a perfect book, edit content for Questyinz, and order new releases for my library's collection. Working at a public library is a completely different adventure every day and I just love it. I love that my position allows me to create opportunities for lifelong learning, lets me to be a part of so many different people's lives, and gives me the chance to work with emerging technology, Plus, I always know what books are coming out in advance! I woke up one morning just knowing that I needed to become a librarian and it has been such a thrilling and rewarding journey ever since. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wake up excited to go to the library.

Do you have a soul food?
My Dad's chili. I've tried to recreate it a few times, but what I put together never even comes close.

What are some of your recent personal goals?
I want to go back to school.
I want to write a book.
I want to start practicing yoga.


What are your favorite Pittsburgh restaurants?
This question intimidates me because I am by no means a foodie. I've eaten at quite a few of our city's trendier restaurants tut I usually go for more down-home places like Bado's in Mt. Lebanon. Also, my best friend has twin boys that aren't quite two, and we tend to find ourselves at Eat 'N Park with them a lot and I will never complain about that.


Describe your ideal day.
My perfect day starts early with a good book and a hot cup of tea. I'd go for a walk in my neighborhood in the cool chill of the morning then I'd like to have a long brunch with my best friends. After brunch maybe we would explore a museum, go for a bike ride, or cheer on the Steelers/Penguins/Pirates, depending on the season. I'd like to also buy a new dress and get a pedicure. And then head off, feeling pretty, to a dinner date with a man who likes to read, makes me laugh, and loves Pittsburgh. We'd wrap the night up talking about our favorite things over a beer or two. And when the day was almost over, I'd top it off with a hot bath and finish the good book from the morning.

What is the most memorable live show you have seen in Pittsburgh?
Wilco, Carnegie Music Hall, April 2010. I was in my first year as a full-time librarian, spring was in the air, they played for nearly 3 hours, and sang just about every song I would have ever hoped to hear. It was the perfect combination of music and life happiness.

What do you think Pittsburgh will be like in ten years? What do you love most about the city?
In ten years, I think Pittsburgh will continue to be the friendly and hardworking city that is now. I hope it's a city where people of all ages and walks of life find something that they can explore and somewhere they belong. I'd like to discover more people writing and creating, supporting each other in the arts alongside all of our amazing technological and medical advances. I want everyone in Allegheny County to have a library card and I want our library system to be known as one of the best in the country. Pittsburgh has a unique way of embracing the past and looking forward to the future, and I think this can only benefit our library services. Perhaps we may find a new museum dedicated to the history of libraries and reading and how a man from Pittsburgh, Andrew Carnegie, shaped libraries around the world.

What I love most about Pittsburgh is that we're all proud of this place we call home, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. People will brag that they are from Pittsburgh all over the globe, cheer for our sports teams louder than anyone else, and shout from the rooftops anytime we're awarded an accolade. But we also embrace Pittsburghese, hold doors open for one another, smile when walking down the street, and we always throw our support around any Pittsburgher in need.