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Visiting the Libraries August 19, 2010

Posted by cclddirector in Community, Director's Comments.
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One of the occupational hazards we librarians have is the obsession to visit a library no matter where we go. I look forward to trips as visiting other libraries will remind me to read a book or listen to a record I meant to years ago but never did. However, since I’ve been a director, my visits have become more important as they also give me new ideas to work with.

I admit that most of the time, my visits are uneventful, but a few have been inspiring. I recently visited my daughter and went to the San Francisco Public Library. I have to admit I was awestruck as the main library is a six floor building. In response to changing demographics, their website is available in Spanish and Chinese.

Obviously the New York Public Library has to be a highlight; you’re not a real librarian if you don’t get your picture taken in front of Patience and Fortitude, the world famous pair of lion statues that have guarded the entrance since the building was opened in 1911.

And no visit to our nation’s capital is complete without a trip to the Library of Congress. It’s the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. I think it has to be the world’s greatest library. According to their website its collections hold 29 million cataloged books and other print materials in 460 languages. It has more than 58 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world’s largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings.

Traveling for the military has allowed me to see world class collections held in the West Point Library, the Nimitz Library at Annapolis, and the Army War College library at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania. Everyone knows the military has long understood the need for information, but I don’t know if the public realizes the hard work that the staffs of the Armed Forces Libraries put in to help keep our soldiers informed and our nation safe.

Going to libraries in other countries such as Korea, Germany, or any of the 20 or so other countries I’ve been to made me appreciate even more what we have here in the States. In many of the outlying areas they were still using paper card catalogs, had no cooperative lending agreements, and the collections were minimal at best. Still, these small libraries impressed me. They were there to offer a glimpse into a world of ideas that otherwise may have been unavailable.

Anyways, back to the original purpose of this column. First of all, I’ve changed the way I look at the collection. Instead of simply going to the catalog to find if a particular item is in, I now find that I spend much of my time browsing the aisles. It seems to give me a better feel for the community I’m visiting. More importantly, it helps me sometimes find a gem of an item that we’ve missed here in Chemung County. The second thing is that I now find myself browsing the collections at each of the branches. It gives a better sense of what our community likes, what the dislike, and helps our purchasing decisions.

So I’d like to invite all patrons to come in and walk around. Browse the shelves or the media bins. You may find a book you never thought you’d read, or an old book you have always wanted to but just never got around to. In other words, come in and discover some hidden gems.

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CCLD Bookmobile Dies a Textbook Death August 5, 2010

Posted by CCLD in Bookmobile, District News.
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CCLD BookmobileThere are few visions of library service that are more inspiring than that of a bookmobile and its staff providing books to young children. Therefore, with great sadness, it must be announced that the Chemung County Library District Bookmobile, which has served the community since 1985, has finally succumbed to a variety of ailments.

The bookmobile received her 25-year library service pin posthumously yesterday morning as she lay in state outside the Steele Memorial Library during a somber, open hood ceremony.  The venerable bookmobile died of a blown head gasket which caused additional extensive damage due to overheating and loss of lubrication.

The bookmobile had travelled more than 186,000 miles delivering materials to thousands of patrons throughout the county. Through various reincarnations, the bookmobile has been offering continuous service to Chemung County since 1949.

According to Library Director Ronald Shaw, “The district’s new bookmobile, scheduled to arrive in mid-October, faces the tough task of following in the footsteps of such a beloved member of the staff. But while we will miss our old bookmobile, we eagerly await the new one’s arrival. The Chemung County Library District is very proud to be one of the few in the state that  have maintained its outreach program bringing library resources to communities throughout the county, including schools, nursing homes, senior centers, and retirement communities. The new bookmobile will continue to bring library resources to homebound residents who cannot travel to the library.”

Instead of flowers, patrons are asked to visit the District’s Facebook page and share their memories.

Read the Star Gazette article here.

Gardening and the Library August 2, 2010

Posted by cclddirector in Director's Comments.
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Whenever spring decides to roll around, I never cease to be amazed. I look forward to seeing the crocus and irises emerge, the grass turn green, and the sight and sound of the first robin. But what gets me the most excited is the return of the caterpillars and butterflies to the garden. Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the thought that these two polar opposites are even closely related. I mean, how could you explain the “Jekyll and Hyde” of a long, squishy eating machine possibly becoming a light, delicate, colorful wisp of flight?

I’ve always wanted to invite these amazing creatures into our yard and last year my wife and I gave in to the urge- we decided to plant a butterfly garden. We did our research and found out we should provide a few basics such as food plants for the caterpillars and nectar sources for the butterflies. Butterflies are sun worshipers preferring a sunny spot away from strong winds. Sandy puddles of water for moisture and basking areas of rocks and logs are also favorite hangouts. Plus, butterflies are important plant pollinators and because of their specific requirements for certain plants, they are good indicators of environmental quality.

We wanted a wide variety of plants that would provide nourishment during the entire life cycle of a butterfly: egg, caterpillar (larva), chrysalis (pupa) and adult butterfly. So our perennial flowers include purple coneflower, liatris, sedum, butterfly weed, asters, and butterfly bush. Next year, once we have a better idea of the growth habits of our perennials, we may add a few annuals such as alyssum, zinnias, heliotrope, marigolds, or sunflowers.

I’m proud to say that we were more than adequately rewarded for our efforts as Monarchs, Viceroys, White Admirals, Aphrodite Fritillarys, and something I had never seen before- the Hummingbird Moth, filled our backyard. I enjoy sitting in the backyard with my wife just watching this new world unfold. Surprisingly, we also saw an increase in the number of birds that visited and our list now includes hummingbirds and the American Goldfinch for the first time.

I think what I like most about the garden is the simple beauty of nature. I have come to realize that, with the emphasis on endangered species and other environmental concerns, preserving nature is one thing and appreciating it is quite another. There is so very much beauty all around us to see, touch, and hear.  Nature is so miraculous because it is always changing.  No matter how many times you look at something, it is always different. Our butterfly garden has come to remind us of natural cycles and the delicate interconnection of all life.

The beauty found in nature is a common theme in life and in art. Whole sections of libraries and bookstores are filled with books on all aspects of nature. For me, the library is much the same as the butterfly garden, there is every bit as much color, vibrancy and joy to be found in the stacks. And if you add the two together, it gets even better- or in the immortal words of Cicero- “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

The Help August 2, 2010

Posted by roganp in Recommendations.
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The Help by Kathryn StockettBecause I select nonfiction for the library, I read reviews instead of books in my spare time, trying to find the best books in each subject.  But my daughter, who is a librarian also, told me I had to read a fiction book that was on the best seller list this summer, even buying me a copy when I said there were holds on our library’s copy and I would read it after the rush.  I gave in and read The Help by Kathryn Stockett and loved it!  I’m sure it will be a classic – well written, strong believable characters, compelling story. Can’t wait for more by this first time author and can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t love this book.  When I passed on my copy to a friend who works in the library, she in turn suggested I read Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott.   This was another thoughtful, well written book about people you might meet and like, struggling with everyday problems. And I was on a roll so picked up another fiction book, The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine.  This was a light, funny beach read with one of the three being a librarian and one being a literary agent. But it too, hit the mark with enlightening family and generational attitudes.

Of course, I have to encourage you to read at least one nonfiction book this summer.  My favorite this month was Switch : How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath.

It is a book primarily for businesses on how to make changes but tells about lots of recent, thought provoking studies and examples that show how change, sometimes unconsciously, happens.  It says “for things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently.” Then it lists step by step ideas to make that happen. Whether you want to change something about yourself or something about where you work, I think you will find innovative ways to do it in this book.

Phyllis Rogan, Reference Librarian
Steele Memorial Library

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