August 18, 2017

 East Greenbush Community Library

Sometimes it’s hard not to be jealous.  To be held up against something and found wanting is very hard, even when it’s an “apples and oranges” thing.  I’ve explained to my library board that we’re a Stewart’s Shop, and this library is Target, and there’s nothing wrong with being either until you demand that Stewarts starts carrying furniture.  But I digress.  The East Greenbush Library is a special district library that covers a sprawling township with no real center.  They are next to the Greenbush YMCA, and the night I visited they were hosting a farmer’s market in the parking lot between their buildings.

 Fancy entry hallway has large meeting rooms on both sides, and built in display cabinets currently showing off a scout display, kid’s creations and ads for summer programs.

Front desk (with “trap” decoration above).

Inviting entry into the children’s area sucked my offspring right in.

Picture books pulled into different subject areas for fun browsing (but not sure how it affect retrieval of a specific item?)





Such an awesome idea for the teen program- a scratch-off ticket and raffle entry display.


Yep.  Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When the kids aren’t at my library, they’re at this one.







Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)




August 15, 2017

Bethlehem Public Library

I think this is my favorite library in the system. I’ll give you a definitive answer when I’ve visited them all. It’s in a beautiful suburban area Northeast of Albany (on the Western side of the Hudson).  It’s very well-funded, but it’s not just about that.

“People think innovation is about one massive change, but it’s not, it’s many little changes, over time,” said Director Geoff Kirkpatrick. It’s experimenting, accepting failure as a part of growth.  Trying new things like 3D printers, charging stations, mini golf in the library, wifi at the pool and lending out things like fishing poles and metal detectors.  Even under-funded libraries like mine can get that mindset, and experiment with things like traveling story times, seed libraries and appliance repair nights.

Let’s start outside. A beautiful landscaped area includes a parking lot, drive-up book drop, donation bin and lots of seating (including a covered bus stop). Banners are “Read” posters.


Inside, the building hosts a community television station.  The long hallway has seating and a gallery, as well as a vending machine, bulletin board and brochure display.

The whole library is on one floor.  There is a set of stairs leading off to back offices, which really should be better marked.

The children’s area has its own service desk and computers.

I LOVED this sign.  Such a classy, tactful way of nudging parents to clean up with their kids.

A charging station- put your device in with a combination, pick it up later- no worries about someone going off with your stuff!  I am predicting this will be in a lot of places soon- I just saw one at the Capital Repertory Theatre.


There’s a cute little plastic couch next to the check-out desk, a place for little ones to sit out of the way when they’re waiting for parents to get their books.


If I was pressed to come up with negatives for this library, I’d say that the teen area was bland (but well-stocked).

Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)











Library Tour- Albany’s many branches

The Albany Library serves over 97 thousand people, so they get more than one library branch. Seven total, in fact.  Getting to all of them was a challenge all by itself.  The Library Director completed a “bike to work day” by reaching them all by bike (and bus) in one day, and I am just now realizing what an accomplishment that was.  Well done, Scott!  They are very dedicated to bike and bus transportation. They have bike-care stations at each branch and sell bus passes.

Albany- Arbor Hill

“No bicycles allowed” is for the lobby, there was a bike repair program going on in the conference room.  (By the way, as I was leaving someone brought in their bike and left it in the lobby!)

There are lovely partitions using plants to break up the industrial look.


Bach is in a suburban area.  It has beautiful landscaping in front and a garden in the back.  There are some odd quirks I noticed for it being a new building- like the book drop is not next to the circulation desk. Rolling shelves make changing the children’s area for a program easier.  The place was airy and light, with a large teen area off to one side.       I noticed “shopping baskets” at several branches.  An interesting idea (though personally I try to keep my selections to what I can carry). Automated Fax machine would cut a lot of my staff’s work… unless they would have to help patrons use it?

Albany- Delaware

The Delaware branch is across the street from the Spectrum Movie theater.  I parked at a Taco Bell, not realizing that the place had its own parking lot!

The Library was also having a bike repair class while I was there.  My impression of the place was “cozy” and “sleek”.

It is one story, with a dividing wall separating the adult and children’s area  in the middle, which then opens up again for the computers, teen area and children’s services desk.  I found it quite pleasant.

and it’s a Pokemon gym.


I didn’t feel quite as comfortable in the Howe branch, even though it had lovely architecture and many great features.  It was busy, and while it made excellent use of small spaces, I felt like I was invading the people reading papers, using the computer and playing in the children’s area.  I was surprised to find the back entrance led to stairs and an elevator (the bottom floor is a large meeting /program room).

I really liked the large, attention-grabbing signs.

Beautiful windows, woodwork and shelving.

I want one of these closed bulletin boards for our front foyer.


This is the secret library.  It is cunningly camouflaged from every angle, and you have to know it’s there to see it.  Give the special password, and it will shimmer into existence.  Or in my case, find the Pokestop and look around in utter confusion.

But…it’s just a set of stairs, leading to a YMCA!



Oh! There it is! Access to the secret room led to treasure, one of the few copies of “Fantastic Beasts” available in the system.. Thank you!


Albany- Pine

I interned here.  In 1995.  Apparently it’s changed a bit.  It’s still across the street from the police station, where Washington and Western branch off in what I call “the veering”.  Now it has two floors and a lot more space.

I see that kids leaving out toys doesn’t just happen at our library.  I think they need that sign that Bethlehem has, about getting a sticker for cleaning up.

The display for new books was small, which made me feel like there wasn’t much choice (it’s more likely that these were just the newest of the new, but I’m talking about emotional response).

Albany- Washington

This will always be known as “Main” to me (just like I always think of my brother as his full name and not a nickname).  The Director would like it to be seen as just another part of the whole, and not the center.  But it is a four story building next to the capitol buildings, dude.  Albany M-, I mean, Washington, is next to the Armory building.  The builders of the library shunned that aesthetic, going for the “futuristic” box shape.  It’s been recently painted to blend more with the brick next door, however.

Street parking is tricky this close to the capital buildings, but there is a parking lot behind the building.  The street behind the building is one-way, so you’ll want to turn down Dove street to get to it.

The library has a dedicated Maker Lab, with items such as sewing machines, 3-D printers and digital production tools.

A flock of construction workers comes to rest on the brick sidewalk in front of the building.

Of course, there is so much more I could add, I think I will revisit different topics like signage, categorizing and placement later.  I still have so many more libraries to visit.  ( I feel like I’ve just done a marathon doing these 7!)

Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)















Tour of Libraries: Guilderland Library

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to define areas by where you can shop, but if I was to describe where the Guilderland Library was to my friends I would say “near Crossgates Mall”.  It’s also close to SUNY Albany’s main campus.  This particular library is one of my favorites (but I think one other is my absolute fav).


I wish I had paused to read the sign to find out why there is a life-sized cow (bull? didn’t check) in their foyer.

Self check-in station.

 They have a library of things, Go-pros, Kindles and so forth, but I was too intimidated to take out the VR glasses set.  Maybe next time.

Story-time crowd.  They had something going on in the big program room, then a librarian led a parade through the library, holding a giant ball over her head, into the children’s area.



A well-stocked English learning section, including Launchpad players with a descriptive sign.


This one gave me a giggle.  Klingon? Elvish?

They separate out fantasy from science fiction.  I would prefer if all speculative fiction was together, as there are crossovers like the Dragon Riders of Pern, and authors who write both, like my favorites, Lois Bujold and Terry Pratchett.

While we’re talking about preferences, I really wished they filed graphic novels by series, rather than by author.  Comic books are a collaborative effort and many authors can work on one series over the years.

Nice teen lounge area.

Book club shelf.  Printer station where patrons pay BEFORE the print comes out, removing the everlasting debate of “but I didn’t mean to print that, so I don’t have to pay for it”.  There are many interesting sections and innovations all over this library.



Wait, what?  You pick up your own requests? What’s to stop nosy people from seeing what you’ve ordered?  

I guess I need to re-read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” as pictured here.


Staff members wondering what on earth I’m doing. Some Awesome ideas here, from having a consumer health area to decorating with giant paper quilling.



Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)


Tour of Libraries: William K Sanford Town Library (AKA Colonie Library)

The William K Sanford Town Library, next door to the Times Union Newspaper building, lies at the end of Wolf Road, a shopping/restaurant destination for the Albany area, and close to the Albany airport.  When approaching from Wolf Road you have to make a slingshot around a roundabout.

From what I can tell, this low brick building is technically one story, with a second story wedged in by sheer willpower.  They have done a lot to make what they have attractive and useful, but it could really do with a renovation. (Update: They are planning renovations. “We will be repairing the roof, then renovating. We will moving departments to better use our space, and we’ve been getting input from the community,” said Library Director Evelyn Neale ) As I was trying to take pictures, I found it difficult because there were people everywhere, tucked into every nook and cranny, reading, studying, working on laptops, tutoring and browsing.

They have a beautiful garden patio at the entrance of the building.

The teen area has its own computers, a lounge and separate collection of movies and audiobooks.  It seemed to be having a roof leak on the day I came in.

A rack of brochures about teen issues was discretely placed in a corner for private browsing, and there were also displays about suicide prevention with hotline information.

The second floor of the main room of the library doesn’t appear to have wheelchair access. Tall people could reach up and touch the ceiling.



Looking down from second floor to circulation desk.



The signage on the second floor was very helpful. I think every desk on the second floor was in use (one woman even had a blanket and was ready for serious studying).

Magazines can be circulated and it has clear signage explaining how.



I don’t know what’s going on with the science fiction section.  It has been shunned from the rest of the genres, which are at one side of general fiction, and has been placed with travel books.  Oddly, one shelf of “A” stands alone, followed by empty shelves, then it continues.  While there was a lot of signage about other collections in the library, this was not explained.  (“You caught us mid-project!” said the Director) The magazine area has seating with signage that it is a designated quiet area.

The children’s area has been recently updated, the shelves moved to make a play area and a better traffic flow.  I like it!  I also liked the lego-themed decorations for “Build a Better World”.  They had some inspiring displays for how to put the word out about their program.    

Next to the children’s area was a small courtyard completely surrounded by the building but open to the sky.  While I was there, a little boy and girl squealed with delight and talked back and forth to each other through the tube.

I think I need to do a little digging to find out a few things, like who was William K Sanford and what is going on with the teen room’s ceiling, but there are 30 libraries left to go, I can’t slow down!


Jane is visiting all 36 locations of the Upper Hudson Library System (see introduction)



Library Passport Challenge: Rensselaer Public Library

This building used to be a pharmacy, but now is a modern library.  It’s right next to the Amtrak station, which is known as the Albany station even though it is in Rensselaer.  Possibly because Rensselaer is hard to spell- it’s Dutch.

This library, in Rensselaer county, NY,  is not to be confused with Rensselaer Polytech Institute, which is in Troy; or Rensselaerville Library, which is in Albany county; or the Jasper County Public Library, which is in Rensselaer, Indiana.  (They apparently get some strange phone calls).

Small collection, one room layout with very nice toddler play area.  Two small tutor rooms and one large conference room. Genres are mixed together in fiction sections.  Large public computer area, wifi, loan of laptops within building.  Friendly staff.

1 library checked off  of my  passport.

July 13, 2017

Tour De Bibliothèque

I have issued myself a challenge, to visit all the libraries in my library system.  There are 29, with 36 in all when you count the branches.   It’s 62 miles between the two furthest away from each other!  Will I get to them all this summer?  Probably not, but the endeavor will be a stress-busting adventure, letting me see many different libraries and get ideas.

I created a passport for myself.  I am considering making this an adult summer reading program, giving out prizes for a certain number of libraries visited (like Kickstarter levels, I guess!).  I sent copies of the passports to the staff of the library system, to share what I’m doing.

June 27, 2017

Figurine shelf

Let me just start by saying that this didn’t work.  In the night, it came down with a crash. Do not make this.

It started out with a few empty barcode rolls. I didn’t want to get rid of them, because they were significant to me.  Why?  Because every finished roll of barcodes mean that I had personally catalogued a thousand books.  I had a stack of them, trophies of war.  But what on earth was I to do with them?  Bracelets?

I do find myself in this position often.  I’ve kept something with the idea of doing something creative with it “someday”.  Bottle caps, large boxes, shower curtain rings… sometimes it pays off, like when I made catapults with bottle cap launchers.  Other times… well.  I had some great books I was going to make book crafts with, then we had a flood in our basement and they were damaged.  Then an idea came to me.  I collect plastic figurines.  I could display them in a unique way if I hung the empty rolls on the wall, and I could decoupage the book pages onto the rings to put them together!

This project was a lesson in learning from failure, and a test of my sense of humor.  While I am describing how to do it, it didn’t work. It would be much easier and more practical to just go buy a shelf!

I didn’t have enough rings just from the barcode rolls.  I tried slicing paper towel rolls.  They are very flimsy.  I happened to have several huge poster rolls (I admit I am photo-hoarding, let it be). Slicing these was much more difficult than I imagined.  Using a hack-saw took hours and the resulting rings were not very even or neat.  I tried out a jig-saw, which was better, but wouldn’t fit my larger tube.

Then I taped the rings together.  Next, I made strips of book pages and applied them with Mod Podge.  This took many hours and occupied my dining table for two weeks.  I used a “Where’s Waldo” book (the previous owner had enthusiastically circled Waldo in every picture, and I had planned to do something artsy with it, but when it got wet the pages stuck together and ripped when pried apart.). The paper is very sturdy and helped me to bond the rings together, but was awkward to work with.  I also used a reader’s digest condensed book, which was mid-weight, and an old fairytale book that was tissue thin and very easy to work with.  When I finally finished, the project doesn’t look very polished, glossy Mod Podge would have looked better. But, it is unique, I can say that!





New York, New York: a Guide to Guides

I am going to Book Expo, which is in the Javitts Center, and staying in a hotel nearby.  I took out a pile of guidebooks from the library, to give me ideas for what to do for the short time I’m not at the convention center or sleeping.  Every book I read defined neighborhoods of Manhattan differently, landing Javitts in Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, Midtown East, or  lower midtown.  Some just skipped the area entirely.



NFT (not for Tourists) Guide to New York City, 2015. This book is meant for the people who live in Manhattan or near it, or at least
pretend that they do.  TINY print, easy to put in your pocket.  A section for each neighborhood, with lots of maps.  They don’t solicit businesses for listings or opinions, they gather users ratings and recommendations on their website.  There is advice on city etiquette, street indexes, phone numbers, calendar of events and other useful information.  The descriptions are very brief.  They include a listing of essential books, movies and songs about NYC.

Lonely Planet Pocket New York City, 2016.  Regis St. Louis, Christian Bonetto.  A guide from a UK perspective, for a traveler out for a good holiday with a wad of cash in his pocket next to this little book.  It covers a lot of information in a small size. Includes a pull-out map, top sights, local areas, “best of” lists and a four day itinerary to
seeing the iconic sights.  It gives 2-3 choices for each neighborhood in the categories of sights, dining, drinks, shopping and entertainment.  A separate section gives walking tours, overviews of museums, fine dining, local eats, entertainment, night life, festivals, kids, free, LGBT, architecture, sports, parks and tours.  The last section, a “survival guide” lists hotels, restaurants, etiquette and transportation tips.

Walking New York: the Best of the City, National Geographic 2016 “You don’t really visit a city, you visit its neighborhoods.”- Keith Bellows.  Different walking itineraries through Manhattan- whirlwind tours, weekends, fun, sights.  Clear maps, definitely for athletic tourists used to walking 5-6 miles a day.  Includes transportation information as part of some of the tours.  It doesn’t mention the hefty fee for going to the top of the Empire State Building until the 3rd time it’s listed.

Walking Manhattan, Ellen Levitt, 2015.  This may be a great book, but the design was headache inducing.  The maps are dichromatic, a peach over a salmon color.  Some pages have background images, making them harder to read.  If you are considering trying to be artsy while creating a guidebook, just don’t.  Save it for your bathroom wallpaper.  I tried to give it a chance and chose a walk near where I was staying.  While it had interesting information about sights and architecture, it didn’t mention food, shopping or bathrooms (the reason I walk places).  In the back of the book it lists restaurants with locations and websites, no descriptions, price ranges or other details.

300 Reasons to Love New York, Marie-Joelle Parent, 2016.  This is not a quick-look-it-up guidebook, though it has some of the features of one.  It is a love letter to the author/photographer’s city, 300 places, people and things that have fascinated her.  She profiles different “characters” including several homeless people, and gives an authentic, gritty look into the real New York City.  The photographs are artistic, finding the beauty in everyday objects.  She mentions hidden streets, weird little stores, galleries, speakeasies, fine dining, authentic ethnic food and places to find.  A good book to read from start to finish, even if you don’t plan to go to all the places she mentions.

DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 New York City, 2016                                        I love DK books.  They always have excellent pictures, clear, succinct information, and interesting trivia.  Their maps are clear.  This guide comes with a laminated pull-out map of Manhattan.  This is a book for tourists, hitting the top ten of must-see destinations for iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.  It gives details about these places, like yearly events, historical tidbits, pricing, rules, nearby restaurants and more.  The book also has top ten lists of things like museums, restaurants, festivals, free activities and more.  It’s a small book, and a good read for a train ride.

So right now I’m trying to decide if I want to take a pilgrimage down to the Strand Bookstore, walk the High Line to Chelsea Market or shop 5th Avenue.

Get Fit for Disney Plan

Ok, if you arrived at this page because you are a serious athlete wanting advice for the Disney races like the Princess Run or the Star Wars Marathon (which to me is watching episodes 4-6), you want to go here.  We applaud you, but this is for the average couch person who wants to survive taking their kids to the parks.

You can enjoy the parks even if you have mobility issues, but that would be someone else’s blog.

Couch to Mount Everest

Evaluate your current level of fitness.  If you have a step tracker, what are your average steps in a day?  Do you work out?  If you don’t, start out slowly, the last thing you want to do is injure yourself.

If you average 5,000 steps a day, add 500 steps, and increase your step goal gradually to get to 10,000.  At Disney, our average step count was between 15,000-20,000 a day.

Encourage your kids to walk with you.  This will help you train for stopping, starting, complaints, and sudden requests for potty breaks.   If you bring along your undisciplined dog, that will help you train for unexpected tripping hazards and being stepped on.

Maybe you’re more of a treadmill person.  If so, vary your speed.  At intervals, increase your speed to “getting across the park before your fast-pass expires” or slow down to “everyone leaving after fireworks”.  Studies have shown that interval training is more effective than staying at a steady pace.

The mall can be a good place to work out.  Get a map of the mall and hold it in front of you.  Pick a store and label it as your favorite ride, then pick another store at the opposite end of the mall as your second favorite.  Get to store 1 and store 2 within a 15 minute period, reward yourself by visualizing having a great time for 3 minutes.  Bonus points if you end up in a Disney store afterward.

Determine the weight of any children you have between 1-9 years of age.  Work your way up to deadlifting them and sustaining the hold for 30-40 minutes.  Your actual children may not want to volunteer for this until tall people stand in front of them during fireworks.  Either put on their favorite tv show, or get a stand in.  (Note, your dog will probably not volunteer for this either).

You can work out at the office too!  Stand up at your desk to simulate standing in lines.  Add squats to increase leg muscle strength.

Wear the shoes you plan to wear at the park- do NOT bring new shoes.  Follow this plan, and you’ll be ready to have a great vacation.   Good luck!

*Dreaming of my next trip… and Dole Whips.


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