Now Open for Business: Phyllis Bornt Branch (Schenectady County Public Library)

The Phyllis Bornt Branch Library and Literacy Center at 948 State Street in Schenectady, New York is officially open for business. On February 27, 2016 Director Karen Bradley, Assistant Director Serena Butch, library trustees, Friends of the Library members, and local dignitaries attended the ribbon cutting. The best moments of the day came with over 1000 community members coming through the doors to participate in the activities and refreshments while exploring the new materials within the walls of their bright, new branch.

Phyllis Bornt for whom the branch is named and dedicated served her entire career as a system librarian and branch manager.  Upon her death with no heirs to inherit her estate, a large legacy was left to the Board of Trustees to be used for the branches.  This donation was used as a base for building the library as well as money from the Schenectady County Legislature.

The planning began in 2013 as part of a restructuring plan with the idea to merge the Hamilton Hill and Duane Branches both badly in need of upgrades.  Various sites were explored, but the conclusion was reached to construct a new facility. Many other sources of funding were awarded as well: New York State Construction grant; The Wright Family Foundation for technology needs; The Schenectady Foundation for materials and training for the library to follow the Family Place Library model,  The Friends of SCPL for materials.  Many area partners are also eager to have programs and services at the branch as well supporting its mission.

This branch has been truly embraced by the community as evidenced by the amount of grants and donations made towards it.  The focus of this branch will be on literacy in all its forms including digital, financial, health with a special focus on early literacy.  The programs will be be for all ages especially for family interaction and learning.

Written by: Cheryl Cufari; Trustee, Schenectady County Public Library & Trustee, Mohawk Valley Library System

Teen Space – Uniondale Library

Uniondale is a culturally diverse suburban community of over 30,000 residents located in central Nassau County, New York. Our population includes African Americans, Haitians, Hispanics, and Caucasians. We are a special district public library located within a mile of Uniondale High School. Our building is situated on a main street with local shops, a park, and surrounded by a residential area. We are also just down the road from Hofstra University and Nassau Community College. As a result, the Library sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic.

In 2012, the Library Board of Trustees, with community input, recognized the need for two additional services at the Library – an expanded Teen Space and a café. With the help of a New York State Department of Education construction grant and local taxpayer support, the new Teen Space and café were soon to become a reality. With the assistance of architects, the layout and design of the new Teen Space began to take shape.

One of the challenges of this project was to carve out a space large enough for the teens within the Library’s existing structure. The answer was to consolidate and relocate the Library’s audio visual section and move existing furniture to accommodate the new area. This solution more than doubled the square footage of the original space designated for teens.  The architects also designed the space with half walls and a suspended acoustical baffle system to absorb noise. Construction of the new Teen Space and café began in late 2013.

Prior to our new Teen Space, the original young adult area was a small L-shaped open space off the Children’s Room. As a result of not having a truly dedicated area, there was an issue with adult patrons using the already limited space. This situation led to teens not feeling as though they could be “teens”.
With an eye towards embracing the teen population, the Library now had a plan. We wanted to provide a safe and positive environment for teens where they could study, participate in activities and socialize. Technology also played a role in the space. Teens would have access to ThinkPads, iPads and MacBooks. A wall-mounted flat screen television was also part of the plan to enhance the teen user experience. Our Teen Services Librarian enlisted the assistance of our Junior Friends of the Library in selecting the furniture for the space. The teens chose a combination of high and low bistro tables and lounge style seating. The furniture and the some of the shelving in the Teen Space are movable to accommodate programs.

The new Teen Space had its grand opening celebration in October 2014. Many local politicians and school officials joined Uniondale residents at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Our new Teen Space has been a great success. More teens than ever are using the space and the positive impact has been immeasurable.


Live Streaming Library Events to Reach a Broader Audience by Nicholas Olijnyk

The North Merrick Public Library broadened public attendance for library events this year by leveraging the latest Internet technologies. Embedding video clips on websites is not new for most libraries. However, embedding a live video feed was an innovative step. Broadcasting live on the web is different than merely embedding a video. It requires the use of several technologies and techniques.

Chick Flick, for example, allowed the community to experience the birthing process for several chickens (starting from eggs, growing into adolescent chickens), all while being broadcast live on a 24/7 video feed embedded on the library’s website. The whole process, spanning several weeks, was shown to patrons through the live video feed. Patrons were able to sit back in the comfort of their homes and watch exciting moments, including the baby chicks breaking through the eggshells.

Broadcasting this type of event was challenging because the stream had to last all day and night, uninterrupted for weeks- likely too much to use an iPod. The hardware setup, therefore, was more robust and included a retired Dell desktop computer running Windows XP and a Microsoft web camera. Wi-Fi was thought to be less durable for streaming of this magnitude, so the computer was hardwired to the library’s network using Ethernet cabling. YouTube was selected as the video platform and Adobe’s Flash Media Encoder was used to manage the stream upload.

Although free of charge, the software requires knowledge of streaming configurations. The technical details for encoding depend on many factors, and adjustments have to be made to meet each system’s unique requirements. It is important to note that broadcasting live for an extended period of time requires a safe, constant power supply, a solid network connection, adequate bandwidth availability, and YouTube Live events exceeding 8 hours cannot be captured.

Using YouTube, is free and fairly stable for the long term, but can be more technically complex than alternative broadcasting methods. The North Merrick Public Library has experimented with other technologies and techniques to broadcast live events. During a Meet the Candidate Night event, the library used an iPod Touch mounted on a standard camera tripod using a JOBY GripTight GorillaPod mount. This setup was less technically complex than the previous event.

It cost approximately $99: the cost of a month subscription to Ustream, an online video streaming platform that works well with iPods through the Ustream app. A free version of Ustream is available but it includes proprietary advertisements playing throughout the broadcast and videos will not be archived for free subscriptions. The Ustream app takes care of all the technical encoding details normally needed for streaming. All the library had to do was embed the video HTML code directly in its homepage, physically set up the iPod, and have ample Wi- Fi. The iPod’s battery life was more than sufficient for the two hour event.

With little to no cost, broadcasting live events on the web provides a great return on investment and gives libraries a cutting edge avenue for outreach.

Nicholas Olijnyk is the Systems Librarian at the North Merrick Public Library.

A Big Event for a Small Library: Norwood Public Library’s Wellness Fair

Norwood Public Library organized its first Wellness Fair in the summer of 2014. The idea was to reach out to our patron base and fill a need in this small St. Lawrence County community. The library’s Outreach Committee, headed by Library Trustees Raelee Simcox and Caitlin Wilson, planned the event and held it in the Municipal Building, attracting around 50 people to browse the tables, take a Zumba class, and pick up health-related information. Using the feedback from the fair’s participants, the library decided to try again in March 2015 on a bigger scale.

The event was moved to Norwood-Norfolk Central School’s elementary and high school cafeterias, and more than 50 vendors and agencies were invited to participate. In one cafeteria, representatives from county SNAP and WIC services had tables alongside domestic violence prevention programs, reiki practitioners, gluten-free bakers, and adult literacy tutors. Canton-Potsdam Hospital and Massena Memorial Hospital gave free health assessments. In the upper cafeteria, a local Tae Kwan Do instructor gave demonstrations, a dance school provided entertainment, and the high school drama department gave a preview of its upcoming musical.

Live radio coverage was provided by a local station. Including participants, 329 people attended the fair, making it the largest event the library has ever organized. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and people encouraged the library to repeat the event.

The dramatic increase in interest and attendance at the second fair was due to lessons learned from the first fair. The library expanded its marketing of the event, distributing more flyers and talking up the event in person. PR went to the usual print and radio outlets, and for the first time, the library bought newspaper and radio ads, thanks to donations from the two hospitals that participated in the event. Word spread, and the Courier-Observer contacted the library to run a feature on the day of the fair.

The first fair was held in summer, when families are never at a loss for things to do. Holding the second fair in March helped thin the competition, and inviting the high school musical cast to perform attracted families that came to see their kids and stayed to see what else was on offer.

After seeing the response from the community, the library plans to hold the Wellness Fair everyyear, improving the organization and marketing of the event and increasing the visibility of the library.

As the role of libraries changes, Norwood Public Library is asking itself what its community really wants and needs, and clearly the Wellness Fair is part of the answer.

140 Adults Celebrate Their High School Graduations Through Queens Library

[NYLINE] Queens Library Fetes Its 140 High School Graduates

 New York’s Libraries Information Network [NYLINE@LISTSERV.NYSED.GOV]; on behalf of; King, Joanne [Joanne.King@QUEENSLIBRARY.ORG]

They Prepped for Diplomas atQueens Library; Now They Are Rocking Their Mortarboards!

MAICA, NY, May 5, 2015-NYC Council Member I. Daneek Miller; other government and community leaders; Queens Library’s Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey and proud family and guests celebrated the graduations of 140 adults who prepared for, and successfully earned, their high school equivalency diplomas using the free resources of Queens Library’s Adult Learner Program. The graduates participated in a processional to “Pomp and Circumstance” dressed in academic regalia. Keynote speakers included the chair of Queens Library’s Board of Trustees, Carl Seldin Koerner, and Bishop Mitchell Taylor of Urban Upbound.

Queens Library turned out nearly three times as many high school graduates as in the previous year. Queens Library’s Adult Learner Program helped these adults succeed by giving them the free educational resources, special tutoring, peer support and the computer skills that they needed to take this courageous step and achieve. Many were English Language learners in addition to acquiring the subject skills they needed to pass the test. Some are already enrolled in the next phases of their educations.

Five students spoke on behalf of their classmates and spoke about their journeys and their challenges.  Kareem Ahmad, for example, spent his whole adult life lying about not having his high school diploma, until now. Christopher McKenzie grew up economically disadvantaged, got in with the wrong crowd and dropped out of school. After the tragic loss of his father, he found his way to the library, and has now gotten his life back on track with a diploma to prove it. Chenyan Yao was born in China and originally came to the library to improve her English skills, while also working six days a week and caring for a baby. Using the resources at Queens Library’s Adult Learner Program, she earned her high school diploma. Now she is on her way to college and nursing school. Maureen Greco tearfully told the crowd that she needed to get her diploma so she could make a good life for herself and her 7-year old son. Nagat Almatare spoke about her struggle against a culture that discouraged!

education. Now she has a high school diploma, a job and is enrolled in community college. There are 140 graduates and 140 inspirational stories.

In addressing the graduates, Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said: “I hope this is one step on a long road of moving forward. I promise that wherever you choose to go next, Queens Library will be here to help you.”

Queens Library offers English for Speakers of Other Languages, Adult Basic Education, pre-high school equivalency preparation, the high school equivalency exam online and a full spectrum of free programs to help learners enrich their lives at all stages of their learning careers.



Poughkeepsie Public Library Branch Renovation

The Poughkeepsie Public Library District embarked on a three-phased facilities plan in 2005.  The first phase was the expansion of the parking lot at Adriance Memorial Library, the Library District’s main library.

 In 2007, the second phase began with a two year expansion and renovation project of Adriance Memorial Library from a 20,000 SF inaccessible Beaux Arts building to a 42,000 SF fully accessible public space that respected the traditional Beaux Arts architecture while providing modern spaces with all of its accoutrements.

The third and final phase of the plan was begun in 2012 with the purchase of an old IBM power plant as a replacement for our branch library.  The branch had been situated in an office building that was located in a commercial corridor, along with its three lanes of arterial traffic.  The new branch is in a more suburban setting on six acres and designed with potential expansion in mind.

Every project provides its challenges for a variety of reasons.  Whether it be municipal planning, zoning, or permitting or the default of a contractor, it seems like the first two phases of our plan went relatively smoothly only to hit us full-force in the third and final phase.  Eventually, all of the issues were worked out to everyone’s satisfaction without lingering animus but it is interesting to note that the project with the apparent easiest site issues proved to be the most complicated to complete.

The Library District’s facilities plan has been funded primarily with voter-authorized borrowing.  All three projects had public referenda on General Election Day.  In total, the voters approved nearly $22.5 million dollars for the plan over four separate votes, including a vote for $700,000 authorizing funding for all of the pre-referendum planning expenses.  The balance was financed with New York State construction grants, naming opportunity gifts, and $500,000 from the Friends of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District.

The new branch, the Boardman Road Branch Library, was celebrated with a family concert by Tom Chapin and Friends on Sunday, April 12.  Over 650 people attended the event on the first beautiful spring day after a long, hard winter.

It’s been a long, nine-year journey but it has been worth it.


Trustee Education Survey (iLead Program)

Could you please take a moment to fill out a short survey to help improve trustee education in NYS?

Deadline: June 15
Link for survey:
HATS Trustee Training Survey

Please read the information below to find out more about: the team which is organizing this survey, the goals of their project, and how your input will help.

Thank you!

Help Shape Public Library Trustee Education in New York State!


A big part of what makes New York’s libraries strong are the citizen boards that govern them. Neighbors helping neighbors. However, with increasing regulations, the tax cap and rapid changes in our society related to technology, economics, education and the environment – public library trustees have never had more to contend with.

A team of public library system staff has been formed to develop a consistent trustee education framework to facilitate knowledge creation among public library trustees in New York. The team, Helping All Trustees Succeed in New York State (HATS)*, is working through New York State Library’s ILEAD USA** program. Through that program the team identified their primary target audience – they will focus on public library system staff who would organize and facilitate educational sessions for trustees in their region. The team’s goal is to increase the confidence of system staff to provide regional trustee education.

HATS recognizes that many in the New York Library Community have a stake in trustee education. The team is clear that the curriculum included in the education framework we plan to develop for System staff will be stronger with input from key community stakeholders.

Stakeholder groups include:
The Public Library Systems (PULISDO)
New York State Library (NYSL)
Library Trustee Association of New York (LTA)
New York Library Association (NYLA)
Public Library Directors (PLS + beyond)

The team firmly believes in tapping into the collective wisdom in the New York Library Community and will be working to collect feedback from all stakeholders.

To that end, the team has developed a survey to collect input from stakeholders from around New York State. The goal of this survey is to gain a general understanding of trustees’ confidence level in board related topics, preferences in receiving information, and limitations in the area of trustee education.

Input will help shape the next step in this project; please answer as honestly as possible. All responses are anonymous.

*HATS Team Members:
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Coordinator for Library Sustainability, Mid-Hudson Library System
Lisa Erickson, Communications, Advocacy and Outreach Librarian at the Nioga Library System
Jennifer Ferriss, Assistant Director at the Southern Adirondack Library System
Ron Kirsop, Assistant Director at the Pioneer Library System
Grace Riario, Assistant Director at the Ramapo Catskill Library System
Amanda Travis, Member Library Liaison at the Onondaga County Public Library

Link for survey:
HATS Trustee Training Survey (Deadline is June 15)

Please encourage your peers to fill our the survey:


The public libraries in Larchmont and Mamaroneck recently completed a successful and innovative Community Read.  During the entire month of October the program “One Book-One Mamaroneck” sought to unite the community through reading.  Hosted jointly by both Libraries, the program was the brainchild of Susan Riley, Director of the Mamaroneck Public Library and Laura Eckley, Director of the Larchmont Public Library.  The selected book, I AM MALALA: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, was the focus of over 20 events and numerous book groups. The events were aimed at bringing residents of Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Rye Neck into a common dialogue that was both thought provoking and educational.

A year in the planning, the month long initiative invited the numerous service organizations throughout the community of more than 33,000 residents to participate.  Over 20 organizations answered the call and planned programs around the book, while addressing their own organization’s focus.  Participating organizations included the Mamaroneck High School, the League of Women Voters, local Rotary Clubs, Girl Scouts, Senior Centers, local cable tv and a wide variety of additional groups.  Each program was unique and focused on one of the many themes highlighted in the book that spoke to their own organization’s mission; the empowerment of women, courage and bravery, peaceful resistance, international politics, the power of education, activism, and the role of fear in oppression.  The month culminated with an essay contest for High School students sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

A highlight of the program included a program held for students at the Mamaroneck High School by Judy Clain,  Editor in Chief at publisher Little, Brown and Company, who discussed working and traveling with Malala and her family.  Judy discussed what life is like today for Malala and her hopes for the future.  Judy also told the story of accompanying Malala and her father to an appearance on John Stewart’s Daily Show.  The high school students had many questions for Judy about Malala and her ongoing work.

The idea for “One Book-One Mamaroneck” began when Susan Riley, Director of the Mamaroneck Public Library, selected I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, by Malala Yousafzi (Little, Brown: 2013), as the book to read. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one young girl chose to speak out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at the age of fifteen, she nearly paid the ultimate price when she was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school. Few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery took her on an extraordinary journey from the remote hill country of northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At seventeen, she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and is the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history.

The ONE BOOK – ONE MAMARONECK program celebrated the best of the human spirit with over 1,000 residents attending one of the programs.  The Libraries plan to continue hosting the Community Read on a biennial basis.

You can reach either of these library directors at their emails if you would like further information:,

Mamaroneck and Larchmont Public Libraries host a Community Read

The month of October saw two Westchester libraries, Mamaroneck Public Library and Larchmont Public Library combine efforts for a Community Read. And it was timely! The book chosen to be read was “I Am Malala”, by Malala Yousafzai. Less than two weeks into the month long event, Malala was chosen as the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Many activities were planned in both communities and the attached Event Guide for Programs, the Readers Guide for the Book and the Essay Contest for High School Students gave opportunity for the whole community to find a way to participate.

Event Guide

Reader Guide

Essay Contest