Summer Reading Extravaganza. Image courtesy of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The town that gave America one of its earliest musical composers and radio broadcasts is now giving us cutting-edge technology to hear local acts.

On Feb. 15, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) launched STACKS, a free music streaming service focused on Pittsburgh music.

“Pittsburgh has always had a lively music scene, but changes in the industry have created many challenges for smaller musicians,” said Toby Greenwalt, CLP’s director of digital strategy and technology integration. “We hope this platform will be one way to help these talented individuals thrive starting in their hometown.”

STACKS is an online service based on open-source software from the startup Rabble, which has collaborated with public libraries in Austin, Seattle and Madison, Wisconsin, to launch similar civic-minded media projects.

Local artists were invited to submit their material to STACKS starting last fall and 40 artists were chosen out of 165 entries.

While Rabble, which has staff in both Pittsburgh and Madison, supplied the technology, a group of library staff and local music industry veterans curated the final list of artists.

The inaugural class of artists includes singer-songwriter Lindsey Dragon, pop-funk, jazz-fusion fivesome Starship Mantis, and country singer Slim Forsythe. Musicians are paid a flat fee of $200 for their albums, and new inductions to the catalog will be made at least twice a year.

“STACKS is a continuation of our goal to promote the individual achievement of our patrons while supporting the Pittsburgh music scene,” Greenwalt tells us.

The STACKS service is just one of several new library initiatives aimed at providing more web and technology-based services to their community services.

Music in the Stacks collection is free to stream with an embedded web player. Just click on a track to listen. To download a track, you need a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh card which can be obtained at any CLP location – or you can register online at the CLP website.

In October, the CLP announced that library cardholders can now borrow laptops and portable Wi-Fi hotspots for up to three weeks at a time at select branches. The program is funded by Grow with Google, an offshoot of the tech giant that promotes civic applications of Google technology.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.