For Shaler North Hills Library’s ‘Miss Ing,’ serving others is her passion

Monday, October 7, 2019 | 12:01 AM


The Rev. Ingrid Kalchthaler, known affectionately as “Miss Ing” to many, sees her jobs as Shaler North Hills Library’s (SNHL) youth services coordinator and North Hills Community Baptist Church’s pastoral care director as remarkably similar.

“People are at the heart of both. Service is at the heart of both. And both the church and the library are about empowering people. A librarian doesn’t hand someone the answer or the key to success; a librarian simply points the way to resources. A pastor does not save someone; a pastor simply points the way to Christ,” she said.

Kalchthaler, 47, has held her SNHL position for more than 10 years and works part-time at the church.

Shaler Area and North Hills School District educators regularly inspire Kalchthaler during her weekly school visits.

“I love bringing stories to people,” she said.

“When I go and visit schools, I often say you might think that as a librarian, my most favorite thing in the world are books. That’s not true. I do love books and stories. But my most favorite things in the world are people.

At the library, she is so devoted to leading toddler preschool dance party sessions that she has opened the facility on holidays for the group of approximately 70 youngsters and their caregivers who dance along to everything from disco to The Wiggles. She also enjoys guiding “Book Babies,” programming featuring songs, rhymes and stories for newborns to 18-month-olds, at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. Tuesdays, and teaching preschoolers basic math at 1:15 p.m. Wednesdays.

“Ing is a beacon of light for our community,” said Sharon McRae, library director. “She is hopeful, compassionate and generous of her time and her talents. I have never known a more remarkable human being. The library transformed upon her arrival in 2008; she constantly reminds us all that the library is a destination place, but it also belongs to everyone and we must reach out and bring the library to those who are unable to visit,” .

Kalchthaler grew up in Shaler as a child who “hardly spoke” until she was about 16. A couple of years prior, she talked with Elfinwild Presbyterian Church’s then-associate pastor, the Rev. Dave Brewer, about a ministry career.

“About that time, I realized God was calling me into the ministry, and I knew I would have to talk in front of people for that, so I signed up for Speech and Debate, an elective at Shaler High. Mr. David Fortun was my teacher, and man, he was just incredible. And it is kind of his fault that I haven’t shut up since,” she said.

Following high school, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Duquesne University. Thereafter, she earned her master of divinity from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

She worked in full-time ministry as North Hills Community Baptist Church’s associate pastor from 1994 to 2001, while pursuing her master of library and information science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1998 to 2000. After she left her first stint at the church, she continued to preach at assisted-living and nursing homes.

“The people of the North Hills Community Baptist Church are wonderful, loving, diverse children of God,” Kalchthaler said. “And back then and now, I am inspired by them.”

As Bethel Park Public Library’s head of youth services from 2003 to 2009, she worked with her brother and fellow librarian Rob.

“We had great times in Bethel Park and created some neat programs. We got to speak all over the country about the things that we did with the homeschooling population and intergenerational programs,” she said.

The late local comedian Linda Duty inspired Kalchthaler to perform stand-up comedy in her spare time.

“I have done some private parties lately, but I am always looking for a place to stand up and make a fool out of myself,” Kalchthaler joked.

Kalchthaler resides with her mother, Greta, in McCandless.