August 28, 2017

Castleton Public Library

I took a long drive down a winding, unlined road, questioning Siri’s navigational skills, to find the village of Castleton-on-Hudson.  I found the charming red building at the bottom of a steep hill.

The library is part of the  village hall.  The front door is not accessible, but the back door is.  I commented to the director that the back hall could be signposted  a little bit better.  Working with the town in a shared space is somewhat difficult (as is relying on their help, I can attest to that).

The library is one long room in the building, but recent improvements have made best use of the space.


Nassau Free Library

No, I didn’t go to the Bahamas, or even to Nassau County.  Nassau Free Library is out in the pretty countryside in Rensselaer County. The building is an old house, built upon over the years.  Their most recent renovation put in a meeting room in the basement.

Ramp entry in the back of the building.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.

Reading MonsterOne tried and true marketing technique for promotion is having a mascot.  Tony the Tiger, the Philly Phanatic, Ronald McDonald, and so on.  Libraries…. put their own spin on it.  (Buddy the Beaver, for example).  Some libraries dress up people in costumes related to book characters such as the Wimpy Kid or Clifford, but many libraries have a stuffed animal representing their library.  Our neighboring library has a giant Sulley (from Monsters Inc) who goes on tours of local businesses.  My enthusiastic library system youth services coordinator suggested our library should get on the bandwagon.  I suggested using our high school mascot (a sheep), but she said we should not ride on the school’s tail.  So, I decided to make my own- the reading monster.

This is a work in progress- I want to give him horns and permanent underwear.  I plan on dressing him up in a superhero suit this year, and then he can have costumes for different events and themes.


I cut it out of a large old t-shirt I had (I’m working on a t-shirt quilt, yes, I’ve been working on that quilt for many years now, don’t judge!) I made a freehand design on newspaper, then had to cut down the limbs a bit, as I was not going for an octopus look.  As well as stuffing it with poly-fill, I put a bag of beans in the base, to make it sit more steadily.

What will I do with it once I’m done, besides dress it up?  Hmm.  Send it on adventures, put it in “commercials”, stage tawdry scenes a` la the shelf elf, host a stuffed-animal party, and display it around the library.

April 25, 2015

I wrote a blog post for Mythic Scribes called “What Your Local Librarian Can Do for Authors”.  

IMG_1394I’d be happy to continue the discussion here, if anyone has questions about libraries.  Of course, I can only answer to my own experience.


Librarian’s Summer Reading List Challenge

I’ve decided to take on a challenge, to go over the school’s recommended summer reading list, read at least two from each grade, and blog about it.

Every year I, a public library director, chase down teachers and school librarians for their summer reading list.  I have to track down leads, hound sources and twist arms, and still, I sometimes get a redacted list!

I have found that 6th grade fluctuates the most, those poor in-betweeners not quite ready for YA, but so done with kiddy stuff.  I’ll think I’m ready to help students come in and get a book for their optional assignment, only to find the list has changed without being notified.  Then instead of calmly purchasing books in spring, I’m scrambling to buy books, catalog them and get them on the shelf, or doing lots of inter-library loans.  I hate that- I want to be able to get the right book in their hands immediately.  On the other end of the spectrum, some grade’s lists haven’t changed since I was in elementary school, which was …quite a while ago.  With that I have to contend with out of print books and books that aren’t great enough to become classics and have lost their relevancy.

Every year some ambitious parent marches their child into the library to read everything on the list.  They don’t understand that these titles are examples.  If one book in a series is on the list, another can replace it.  There are wonderful books coming out each year, heck each month, that are excellent for your child and would be approved by the teacher if asked.

I have a big concern with assigned reading.  It should be presented as “here are some ideas”.  My goal is to increase the number of people reading for pleasure.  We want kids coming in and finding the book that fits them, that appeals to them.  The book they stay up late at night reading, and continue while chomping down their cereal in the morning. I love reading, but I remember some assigned books with horror- tedious, out-of date, mother dying and Nazi death camp stuff that made me miserable.  There are some great literary classics out there that should be discussed in class, ones that shaped culture, that have deep meaning.  Some kids would happily read these on their own during the summer, and that is wonderful.  Other kids need support reading such difficult books, and definitely do not derive pleasure from reading them.

ANY READING IS GOOD READING!   Let kids read what they want.  Gently encourage them to discover new series and authors, suggest read-a-likes for their favorites that are slightly higher in reading level, but most of all, put books in front of them that they can choose from.

This week I’ll be going over the Kindergarten list.  Each grade list is by the grade the child is going into in the fall, so the Kindergarten list is for preschoolers who are age 5 before September.


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