Tag Archives: Libraries

My First Year As A Local History Librarian

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2015-12-12-ScannersIn mid-October, I marked my first anniversary as the “local history librarian” at the White Plains Public Library. Four years earlier, I was a library clerk at an urban public library trying to figure out how to make a job out of my seemingly varied interests. I liked direct service, helping people, but I also valued more solitary, research driven work. I knew Intellectual freedom and a progressive, supportive community were a necessary part of any job I might hold, but I did not want to obtain a PhD or set out on my own for the wilds of self-employment. I knew I loved education, but I didn’t want to be a teacher. So the world has another librarian.

Through a friend, I began working at Albany Public Library as a Library Clerk and found the public library united my passions for working with people and knowledge in a democratic, autonomous space. Librarians can be educators without being constricted by the bureaucracy that comes with teaching. Librarians can also be historians, but don’t have to work within the traditional academic or museum systems, where publishing requirements or institutional obligations can take up lots of time. Attracted as I am to intellectual autonomy and the propagation of alternative historical voices, working as a local history librarian looked like a perfect opportunity to see if I could manifest some of these values. Continue reading

Does Your Community Have A Literary Landmark?

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Empire State Center for the Book Literary LandmarksHotels, bars, a lighthouse and a windmill are just some of the sites in New York State that have been declared Literary Landmarks by United for Libraries (formerly known as Friends of Libraries USA). The literary landmark program began in 1986 to encourage the dedication of historic literary sites.

The first literary landmark to be designated in New York was The Algonquin Hotel in 1996, home of the legendary Algonquin Roundtable  There are currently 15 landmarks in New York State with two more planned in the near future.  The Wilder Homestead in Malone, NY was made famous by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her book Farmer Boy will be dedicated this summer and The Robert Louis Stevenson Cottage in Saranac Lake , NY will receive its designation this fall. Continue reading

A NY Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer

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NY Research Guide front coverThe New York Genealogical and Biographical Society has published the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer (2015), a comprehensive, 856-page reference book for researchers of not just genealogy, but any type of history in the State of New York.

The book massive volume, considered unprecedented in its breadth and depth, covers New York State records for all the major ethnic and religious groups, and each county. Continue reading

2015 Preservation Week Begins April 26

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Preservation Week 2015New York Times best-selling author, television host and library advocate Brad Meltzer will serve as 2015 Honorary Chair of Preservation Week, April 26 – May 2, 2015, a time when libraries throughout the country will provide information and expertise on how to archive and preserve individual and institutional treasures.

During Preservation Week, themed “Pass it on,” participating libraries will offer special programs and services to help connect library users with preservation tools; promote the importance of preservation; and enhance knowledge of preservation issues among the general public. Continue reading

Lecture: NYC Carnegie and Branch Libraries History

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Untitled1The Historic District Council of New York City will present a lecture, “The History and Endurance of New York City’s Carnegie and Branch Libraries”, by Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 5:30 pm at the Yorkville Branch of the New York Public Library (the first Carnegie Library built in New York City), 222 East 79th Street (between Second & Third Avenues).

In 1899, industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated the funds which would build 67 architecturally distinctive libraries in the five boroughs between 1901 and 1923. These buildings, of which 54 still function today as libraries, have been community landmarks ever since. Together with the more recently built branch libraries, and the famous main branches, they make up the three library systems that serve the dynamic population of New York City. Continue reading

Columbia Announces Library Research Award Funds

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a columbia university libraryThe Columbia University Libraries (CUL) invites applications from scholars and researchers to a new program designed to facilitate access to Columbia’s special and unique collections.

CUL will award ten (10) grants of $2,500 each on a competitive basis to researchers who can demonstrate a compelling need to consult CUL holdings for their work.  Participating Columbia libraries and collections include those located on the Morningside Heights campus: the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Butler Library, the Lehman Social Sciences Library, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, and the Libraries’ Global Studies Collections. Continue reading

NYS Library Clearing Thousands of Items From Stacks

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TU StoryPaul Grondahl at the Albany Times Union is reporting that the New York State Library is rapidly discarding tens of thousands of items in the stacks of the old State Library beneath the State Education Building.

State Librarian Bernard Margolis, who is overseeing the reduction of the stacks, blames years of State Library budget cuts and an increase in state Education Department paperwork.  Opposition from State Library employees, who remain anonymous out of fear for their jobs, has gone unheeded.

Here are some of the details from Paul Grondahl: Continue reading

NY Libraries Joining Digital Public Library of America

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indexThe Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) announced the addition of three new Service Hubs  – Empire State Digital Network (New York), The Portal to Texas History (Texas), and the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (North Carolina) – that are expected to bring hundreds of thousands of new digital materials into the DPLA collections in the coming weeks and months. Continue reading

The Hillary Clinton Presidential Library:
Where Would You Build It?

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hillaryrushmoreThis summer New York Times op-ed columnist Frank Bruni wrote: “NBC recently announced plans for a mini-series about Hillary Clinton, whose current exaltation seems bound to end with her visage on Mount Rushmore. The network would do as well to consider a docudrama devoted to Weiner.”

While there is no doubt that her presidential campaign train has left the station (soon to approach warp speed), his mention of Mount Rushmore got me thinking. The well-known dictum: “If you build it they will come” is the goal of visitor centers at all tourist sites. But where would you build it? Where should her presidential library be? Continue reading

Opposition Vigil Planned at NYPL Fundraising Gala

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New York Public Library (NYPL)The Committee to Save the New York Public Library will hold a vigil in opposition to the plans for the NYPL’s  42nd Street and Mid Manhattan Libraries on Monday, June 3rd, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at the 5th Avenue entrance to the 42nd Street Library.

The vigil will coincide with the New York Public Library Spring fundraising gala.  The event is co-sponsored by Citizens Defending Libraries, and will feature an appearance by Rev. Billy and his choir. Continue reading

Advocates Respond To New York Public Library Claims

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New York Public Library (NYPL)The Committee to Save the New York Public Library has just released a point-by-point rebuttal of claims made by the New York Public Library (NYPL) administration over a controversial plan for the library’s 42nd Street branch.

Previously, the Committee issued a document entitled “The Truth About the Central Library Plan,” which it calls an “analysis of the NYPL’s plan to gut the 42nd Street Library and sell the Mid-Manhattan Library and Science, Industry and Business Library.” The latest volley in the battle over the library is a response to NYPL’s recent “Setting the Record Straight,” an attempt to counter critics. Continue reading

Collaboration Nets Tech Funds for Adk Libraries

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A grand total of $95,000 has been granted to the Chazy Public Library and the Plattsburgh Public Library, thanks to a collaboration organized to help Adirondack libraries win state funding for technological upgrades.

The Charles R. Wood Foundation, the Lake Placid Education Foundation and the Adirondack Community Trust (ACT), worked together to support the expanding role of libraries in the Adirondack region.

Libraries exist to serve the public. In difficult economic times, they are a particularly valuable community resource, available to all residents regardless of economic status. “Our libraries are now called upon to support technological literacy and skills development,” said Bobby Wages, President of the Board of the Charles R. Wood Foundation. “That means they need electronic hardware and software, and librarians need to know how to use it and teach others to use it.”

”In May, ACT convened a meeting of the region’s library systems, the state’s library system, and these two regionally-focused foundations to explore the changing roles of libraries and what we could do to help,” said Cali Brooks, ACT Executive Director. As a result of the meeting, the Charles R. Wood Foundation and the Lake Placid Education Foundation offered funding for libraries already seeking funding for technological upgrades through the Public Library Construction Grant Program of New York State Public Library. The New York State Public Library had opened a $14 million competitive grant to regional library systems for a range building renovation projects. In order to qualify for a grant, a library would have to supply at least 50 percent of the funds that would be matched through the Public Library Construction Grant Program.

Working in partnership with the Clinton, Franklin and Essex County Library System, ACT reached out to libraries all over these counties to encourage them to apply for funds and offer assistance. Once a library’s technology project application was approved for the Public Library grant program, the Charles R. Wood and Lake Placid Education Foundations matched each other’s grants to qualify each library to receive the funds.

“Our goal is to strengthen the technological capacities of the Adirondack North Country libraries to make them even more vital community centers of initiative,” said Fred Calder, President of the Lake Placid Education Foundation. “We are committed to helping these libraries gather funds through matching grants and to do so in collaboration with the Charles R. Wood Foundation and others whenever possible.”

“Since ACT’s inception, we have considered libraries important community partners. We manage 12 library endowment funds and have made over $500,000 in grants to support Adirondack libraries,” Cali Brooks reported.

The Chazy Public Library is converting a former physician’s office building into a technologically sophisticated, rural public library. Grant funds will be used to transform the basement into a Community Room for multimedia applications and training/retraining for life skills. Many Chazy residents rely on the services of the public library to fulfill technological, academic, and leisure needs. With the new Community Room, the public will have access to state-of-the-art multimedia equipment for job-preparedness workshop presentations, special training sessions, tutoring by Literacy Volunteers, and more.

The Plattsburgh Public Library is the central library of the Clinton, Essex, Franklin County Library System, better known as CEF. It provides online reference help to residents throughout the three-county region. Grant funds will be used to create a private computer interviewing cubical in the public computer room for video and interviewing by residents searching for jobs. In recent years, Plattsburgh Public Library has become increasingly involved in literacy and skills development initiatives. The Library also provides a career center, where job seekers use technology and learn computer skills to obtain gainful employment. The computer interviewing cubical will enhance support to those patrons.

Photo: Kelly Sexton, Local History Librarian, and David Robinson, Library Page at the Plattsburgh Public Library.

Adk Museum Library Honored by State Archives

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The Adirondack Museum Library, Blue Mountain Lake (Hamilton County) has been selected as the recipient of the “2010 Annual Archives Award for Program Excellence in a Historical Records Repository,” by the New York State Archives and the Archives Partnership Trust. The award was presented to Director Caroline M. Welsh and Librarian Jerry Pepper at a luncheon ceremony at the Cultural Education Center in Albany on October 12, 2010.

The award commends the library for an outstanding archival program that contributes significantly to the understanding of Adirondack history. The award further recognizes the facility for well-organized and managed archives and for efforts to provide access to documentary heritage through extensive collections and excellent education programs for teachers and school children.

The Adirondack Museum Library is the largest and most comprehensive repository of books, periodicals, manuscripts, maps, and government documents related to the Adirondack region.

Supported by private funds, the library is administered by the museum and fulfills an independent mission as a library of record for the Adirondack Park.

Schenectady County Public Library Local History Collection Unavailable

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Due to an asbestos abatement project on the second floor of the Central Library, the storage collections of the Schenectady County Public Library will be unavailable from now until approximately the middle of June, according to Bob Sullivan of the Schenectady Digital History Archive.

The shutdown will affect the bulk of the libraries local history collection, including most of their yearbooks and some of their city directories. The newspaper microfilm and the city directories on the main floor will remain accessible, as will the library’s Ancestry and HeritageQuest subscriptions.

NY Awarded $9.5M to Exapand Library Broadband

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The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has been awarded $9.5 million in a matching grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to expand computer access in public libraries across New York State. The funding is being provided through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

The grant will support the State Library’s Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary project to help low-income, unemployed, underemployed, and other vulnerable populations in upstate New York. High unemployment rates, a distressed economy, and a lack of affordable public access to high-speed broadband services, education, training and technical support have been particularly acute in geographically isolated upstate communities. The grant will enable the State Library and its public library partners to purchase equipment to expand the public’s access to computers and teleconferencing.

Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary will provide more than 860 computers in 30 libraries and five mobile training centers across 41 economically distressed upstate New York counties with populations totaling 6,655,824 (2008 census). This grant will allow libraries to extend hours, provide 24/7 access to job search resources, and serve an estimated 50,000 additional users per week system-wide.

New York State Education Commissioner David Steiner said, “Libraries are vital to our communities and our economy. The increased broadband capacity, training and online resources funded through this grant will provide more New Yorkers with access to essential online information for work, healthcare, education, and citizenship as well as E-government resources.”

“What librarians and libraries do everyday is vitally important work,” said State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries Bernard Margolis. “Yet, even though New Yorkers turn to their public libraries more in difficult economic times, libraries themselves have suffered cuts and reductions to their valuable services. This grant will enable our libraries to continue to do critically important work and to expand the opportunities, education, and services that high speed Internet provides to the unserved and underserved in our communities.”

The New York State Library, within NYSED, worked with partner libraries throughout the state and the New York State Office of the Chief Information Officer/Office for Technology (CIO/OFT) to submit the proposal for the grant. In order to participate in this matching grant, partner libraries must make an in-kind contribution to support the project. The total in-kind match is $5.4 million. (A list of partner libraries accompanies this release.)

“CIO/OFT is very proud to continue supporting the innovative Broadbandexpress@yourlibrary project,” said Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York State CIO, Director of the Office For Technology, and Chair of the Broadband Development and Deployment Council. “In these tough economic times, access to free resources is critical for New York’s citizens. Many times, computers located in libraries are the only point of broadband contact for many citizens. Those who do not own a computer or have access to the internet often go to the library, where it is available for free. And for those who have never used a computer help is available. These grants will help ensure our libraries can continue to provide high-speed, reliable internet services and digital literacy training programs for our communities.”

The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, funded by ARRA, provides matching grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. Funded at $4.7 billion, BTOP will also advance ARRA’s objectives to spur job creation and stimulate long-term economic growth and opportunity.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to fund projects that will expand access to and adoption of broadband services. NTIA plans to announce all grant awards by September 30, 2010.

The New York State Library is the largest state library in the nation. In addition to its research collection of more than 20 million items, the State Library provides leadership and support to libraries and library systems throughout the state, maintains a Talking Book and Braille Library serving more than 39,000 New Yorkers, offers 24-hour access to an online catalog, and provides residents with 24/7 access to NOVELNY, New York’s first virtual library. The State Library is located in the Empire State Plaza in Albany. For information call 518/474-5355 or go to www.nysl.nysed.gov.

New York State Library Online Catalog Crashes

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A notice at the New York State Library’s home page reports that technical issues have crashed the state library’s online catalog. The catalog has been unavailable since yesterday. A simple notice reads: “The Library’s catalog will be unavailable until further notice. We are working with the vendor to resolve the problem and apologize for the inconvenience.” Visitors can still search the Library’s website but catalog access to collections is down.

‘Mapping the Adirondacks’ at The Adirondack Museum

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Adirondack Museum Librarian Jerry Pepper will present an illustrated presentation entitled “When Men and Mountain Meet: Mapping the Adirondacks” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake on Monday, August 10, 2009. Part of the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

A contested terrain amid warring nations, a frontier rich in timber and minerals, a recreational and artistic paradise and a pioneering wilderness preserve, the Adirondack Mountains are an intensively mapped region. Using rare and rarely seen maps, drawn from the over 1400 historical maps and atlases in the Adirondack Museum’s collection, “When Men and Mountains Meet: Mapping the Adirondacks” will chart the currents of Adirondack history, as reflected through the region’s maps.

The Adirondack Museum introduced a new exhibit in 2009, “A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks,” that showcases paintings, maps, prints, and photographs illustrating the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists, and photographers. The exhibition will be on display through mid-October, 2010.

Jerry Pepper has been Director of the Library at the Adirondack Museum since 1982, he holds Master degrees in both American History and Library Science.

Photo: “A New and Accurate Map of the Present War in North America,” Universal Magazine, 1757. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.

Libraries Protest Tax Collection Services

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The New York State Library Association (NYLA) called on Governor David Paterson and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance today to immediately end pushing tax form distribution and customer service duties onto local public libraries.

“Not only are you asking us to do more with less, but you are asking libraries to help collect the very tax dollars you are taking away from us,” said Michael Borges, NYLA’s executive director. “Our members are local community libraries, not state tax collection agencies.”

The NYS Department of Taxation and Finance has discontinued mailing out forms to NYS taxpayers, and a press release and postcard sent to New Yorkers informed citizens to either visit their public libraries to pick up tax forms or download them from the internet. The move was labeled a cost cutting move, saving the Department of Taxation and Finance roughly $1 million annually. However, the cost of handling tax form distribution has been largely dumped on New York’s libraries, which are now expected to print out tax forms and provide tax-related customer service.

“Libraries are responsible for not only providing the forms, but also for helping taxpayers fill out the forms and answering other tax related questions,” said Borges. “Library traffic is up, circulation is up, and the types of library services in high-demand continue to climb while our state funding is getting cut. Adding tax form services simply shifts the costs and administrative burdens from state agencies to local libraries, and we are in no position to accept these unfunded mandates.”

“In recent years we have had hundreds of state and Federal forms given to us by the state and picked up by local residents. There is absolutely no way that we could afford to absorb the printing costs if we are forced to provide these forms entirely on our own” said Kevin Gallagher of the Middletown Thrall Library. “Imagine the cost of hundreds of tax forms, considering our budget is already being cut. It’s just not feasible.”

”I don’t mind providing this service, as I consider anything which brings more people into the library, and which increases our value to the community, to be an asset. But, certainly, it is incongruous for the state to cut library funding while it is savings millions itself by shifting its responsibilities to the very libraries it is cutting”, said Ed Dunscombe, Director, George Johnson Memorial Library in Endicott.

“This year we have spent more staff time and effort on tax-related services than ever before, “said Barbara Nichols Randall, Director of the Guilderland Public Library, “We have a long standing partnership with AARP to help people in our community prepare their taxes but the mandate that local libraries replace the state in providing tax forms to the public is an added cost for the library itself. In January alone, our estimated staff cost for this service is almost $2,500, not to mention the overhead expense incurred by using our copiers and paper supplies to print the forms.”

“It’s a service we provide happily, but it takes staff away from serving patrons’ other reference needs and is having an impact on our supply budget,” added Mrs. Randall. “This year we estimated that we will save the community $42,000 with this service.”

The proposed 2009-10 Executive Budget reduces library aid by $18 million or 18% to $80.5 million, a level not seen since 1993. These cuts are on top of the two cuts already imposed on libraries in 2008, reducing Library Aid from $102 million in 2007 to $98.5 million at the end of 2008. The proposed cuts will also result in a corresponding loss of $2 million in federal funds for library services in New York, reducing federal aid from $9 million to $7 million by 2011.

About NYLA: The New York Library Association — America’s first state library association — was founded in 1890 to lead in the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship to enhance learning, quality of life, and equal opportunity for all New Yorkers. Today, NYLA is working stronger than ever to promote its mission of supporting libraries and information services.