February 17, 2018

Ingrid Kalchthaler | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Activists

Ingrid Kalchthaler, Shaler North Hills Library, Glenshaw, PAInspiration

After Ingrid Kalchthaler got “hooked on libraries” at 14, working at the Shaler North Hills Library in Glenshaw, PA, she refused to quit her job—“even in college, seminary, graduate school, and as a full-time pastor,” she says. Ultimately, she got her MLIS and worked for seven years at the Bethel Park Public Library, culminating as head of youth services. “I see librarianship as a different kind of ministry,” she says.

Kalchthaler threw herself into her calling at Bethel Park with joy, humor, and enthusiasm. Her library partnered with the Allegheny County Homeless Children’s Education Fund to create libraries in 18 homeless shelters. She co-initiated a Bully Prevention Program, featuring an antibullying puppet show performed at over 50 schools. Because “homeschooling is huge in western Pennsylvania,” she and colleagues started bimonthly events for homeschooled kids. A teen- and tween-oriented Bethel Park Book of Records event included a “Text-Off.” Whoever texted fastest, won.

In January, Kalchthaler returned home to the Shaler North Hills Library—as head of youth services and assistant director. “It was very hard to leave” Bethel Park, she says. So hard, that she plans to get a new tattoo commemorating it: a drawing of a bookshelf and the words “Bethel Park Children’s Department 2001–2008.” It will accompany her “tat” of Roosevelt Franklin, the “Sesame Street” character, on her bicep.

She sees relationships between her two callings. While ministers are “the conduits through which people connect to God,” observes Kalchthaler, librarians “connect folks with information, entertainment, materials.” But libraries have emerged as the place where she spends most of her time doing her good work. “Now I preach a little on the side and perform some weddings, funerals, and baptisms,” she says, “but my full-time career is in the library.”


Shaler North Hills Library, Glenshaw, PA

POSITION Head of Youth Services and Assistant Director

DEGREE MLIS, University of Pittsburgh School of Library and Information Science, 1999; M. Div., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1996

TRUE CONFESSIONS Pastor; self-professed “Judy Garland freak”