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Did you know that your public library is a vacation planner’s paradise? April 14, 2014

Posted by cclddirector in Community, Director's Comments, District News, Recommendations, Reference, Technology.
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About a year ago my daughters and I were in the process of planning for their first trip to Europe. Seeing that all three of us were recent college graduates we balked at the thought of signing up for a group tour package. Deciding to set our own itinerary meant we would have a whole lot of work ahead of us.

Fortunately my daughters figured that since dad was paying for the trip they wouldn’t complain at where he wanted to go (amazing how that works out). We decided to use library materials as our “travel agent” to give us tips on where to go and what to see. So for a few months prior to our departure I checked out travel guides, books and DVDs to learn more about Europe. And borrowing from the library helped us save money. After all who can’t use extra cash when they are going on vacation?

In addition, the suggested itineraries helped us focus our sightseeing on the places we really wanted to visit while making sure we didn’t overextend ourselves. We also had copies of important phrases from different guide books so we could at least say “please” and “thank you” in the language of where we were (a hint- the good guide books will have an index of common foreign language phrases).  I had also checked out a French CD to brush up on my skills as well as used our Mango Languages program to make sure the phrases we were trying to use sounded reasonably close. If you are not familiar with Mango Languages, it is an online language-learning system, teaching conversation skills for over 30 languages including English. Mango uses real-life situations and actual conversations to more effectively teach a new language. Once again, this is a free database available at CCLD.  All you need is your library card and PIN to access Mango Languages.

We used the library computers to research the State Department website to make sure where we were going was safe, checked on flights and trains, and researched tricks to help save money on airfare and hotels. Fortunately, we had also downloaded a few library eBooks prior to departure which gave us something to read during the long flights and delays we encountered.

So the next time you are going on vacation come on in and give us a try. You will find a variety of resources to help make your trip more enjoyable.  Also, make sure to sign up for our vacation planning class next month at the Central Library:  Roadtripping – May 21 at 6pm.  Learn to plan, organize, and discover great places to visit this summer using roadtrippers.com and more. The Tech Lab Class is limited to 12 participants. Call today to register 733-9175.

Ronald W. Shaw
Director, CCLD

Colgan Air Flight 3407 February 12, 2014

Posted by cclddirector in Community, Director's Comments, District News.
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Five years ago today, Flight 3407 crashed Clarence Center, NY. As names were released to the public, there appeared, “John G. Roberts, III.” I felt a chill as I had served with someone by that name in the army. He was the Battalion Adjutant and I was assigned as the Assistant Adjutant. John was one of the finest officers I served with in my 29 years in the military.

Many years ago, we were in Germany and somehow John ended up in the Reichel building in Rheinberg (with heat, showers and hot food). I ended up in a tent in the middle of a field, (in January and in the snow), eating MREs and suffering from a lack of hygienic opportunities.

We were in the field for a couple of weeks when he drove out to drop off some material. When he saw us I think our appearance caused him to find a way to get us out of there and, on his own, he got us redeployed to Rheinberg and we were able to feel human again.

He also arranged a day trip for us to go to Cologne where we would have about 8 hours to see some sights. It was a great day for me as I got to tour the Cologne Cathedral. I spent the time wandering around the cathedral and the streets out front, just taking in the atmosphere and I bought a poster of the cathedral for my mother as I thought she would like it.

Back at the barracks later that evening, about 2 a.m., I heard a rustling as someone was looking for “Robert Shaw.” Even though the name was wrong I knew it was me they were looking for- but I didn’t get up. Somehow I knew the phone call was about my mother, and I knew it wasn’t going to be a good one. Eventually they rousted John out of his bunk and he came over to me. I was staring at the ceiling and I think he could tell by the look on my face that I knew what to expect when I got to the phone.

We went downstairs where I received the news my mother had died suddenly and I was needed back home. I don’t remember much of the next few hours except John taking care of all the arrangements to get me on the next flight out. He had me pack up my gear and I remember going from office to office with him as he tried to get me released. No one seemed able to help which only served to focus him even more. He cut through every bit of red tape that was thrown his way and secured the proper clearance from our unit back in the States, the unit we were attached to in Germany, and the airlines to get me home.

Because it took so long, the only flight I could get that day left in 3 hours. The only problem was the airport was over two hours away and you had to be there at least two hours prior due to security issues. Let’s just say that John set a land speed record of some sort. I remember him parking illegally out front and going with me to the counter. He waited as the agent took care of the ticketing and security went through their tasks. Finally he wished me well and I prepared to board my flight. I turned to say thank you but he stopped me in mid-sentence. We had worked together long enough to know there was no need to say anything.

When my wife realized my concern over seeing the name in the paper, she asked me what it was about John. I then told her about him and how he helped me. She told me that I had never talked about what happened that day. She also told me she finally understood why I had an old, framed poster of the Cologne Cathedral hanging in the hallway. Every day when I enter my house, I look at it. Instead of making me sad, it reminds me of someone who knew the right thing to do, when to do it, and didn’t expect to be thanked for doing what needed to be done.

To say that he will be missed is an understatement.

Ronald W. Shaw
Director, CCLD

New Year’s Resolutions January 3, 2013

Posted by cclddirector in Community, Director's Comments, Uncategorized.
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Once again we have made it through the holidays. With the coming of the new year it is a time to reflect on changes we want, or need, to make and resolve to follow through with those changes.

Like many people I was curious about the resolution my friends and family made. So I started asking people and these seem to be the most common- they are not listed in any particular order-

1. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
2. Get in shape/lose weight
3. Quit Smoking
4. Enjoy Life More
5. Quit Drinking
6. Get Out of Debt
7. Learn Something New
8. Help Others
9. Get Organized
10. Take a trip
11. Fall in love

Perhaps you see some of your resolutions on this list?

“Weeding” Good for the Library October 4, 2012

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When my wife and I started packing before we moved into our current house I used to think we had a couple boxes worth of books. I was wrong. When we finished packing everything, I discovered we had 39 boxes of books, books, and more books.

These days I try not to buy so many and, if I want to read something, I get it from the library. And if I can’t find it on the shelves here, I get it through interlibrary loan from a bunch of different libraries. Otherwise, I know that sooner or later I will once again have to carefully select those I truly need to have in my life to fit the available space. I hate that. I get enough of it at work.

Deciding which books not to keep is the most painful task a librarian faces. Most of us got into the profession out of a basic desire- our love of books. But unlike most everyone else, we don’t presume that once a book makes it to library shelves, it will be there forever. Our experience has taught us libraries not only collect books, but they have to get rid of them too.

We call this process “weeding,” and we do it for the same reason a gardener weeds. We need to make room for fresh, healthy growth. Just because a book makes it to the library shelves, doesn’t mean it stops getting old. Over time, and despite our best efforts, the paper yellows and turns brittle. The binding begins to deteriorate. Dust collects. The lettering on the spine starts to fade. Old books eat up shelf space. After a while, they actually scare people away from the new books.

Particularly in the non-fiction areas, we can’t afford to keep books more than 5-8 years. In some areas, even five years is pushing it. Old books, particularly medical and technical books, have outdated information in them.

How do we decide what goes? Well, it’s kind of like the electoral process- the people decide. Every time someone checks out a book, it counts as one vote. Popular books get a lot of votes. So whenever we weed, we re-elect them to our shelves.

But sometimes we find that a book hasn’t been checked out in a long time. And in the public library, as in politics, a book that hasn’t gotten a single vote in awhile gets kicked out of office. It’s democracy in action.

Even when the “People Have Spoken,” it doesn’t make it any easier on librarians. Some books – classics, for instance – we may choose to replace with newer copies. In our innermost hearts, we still believe that every book has its reader, and every reader his or her book. It’s sad when one of our books goes unloved.

But here’s the other thing, verified by countless libraries around the world. When we get rid of the older growth, the use of the newer material takes a big jump. Now patrons can find what they’re looking for.

So where do new books go when they’ve been weeded? Often, they wind up in library book sales. From there they pass to precisely the places that please us most. They find good homes, with people who will love them.

Ronald W. Shaw


Washington D.C. – National Museum of Natural History September 28, 2012

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As part of my Washington trip, we also went to the natural history museum. My main focus was to see the extraordinary collection of gems and minerals as I have been fascinated with them since I was a child. Of course, no visit would be complete without visiting the Hope diamond- which started out as 112 carats and was cut through the years to its present 45 carat size. For more information about the Hope diamond visit the Smithsonian’s website and encyclopedia that will satisfy your curiosity about the history and legends of the diamond.

The other main reason to go is the David Koch Hall of Human Origins– that tells the story of human evolution and how humans evolved over six million years in response to a changing world. The exhibit allows those who choose to visit the chance to explore the evidence for human evolution, come face-to-face with unforgettable representations of early humans, and arrive at a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.

While there I came across an exhibit regarding an incident that I had largely forgotten about- the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners trapped in the San José mine after it collapsed on August 5th, 2010.

For 68 days family, friends, and the world waited to hear of what could only be described as beyond belief. More than two months after the mine collapsed, the world watched as the men emerged one by one from a specially designed rescue capsule, aptly named the “Phoenix.” This capsule, symbolically painted red, white and blue to honor the flag of Chile, was equipped with an oxygen supply, communications equipment, and wheels that would retract as needed to provide a smoother ride through the half mile of solid rock it was passing through.

Despite the ability of rescuers to provide oxygen and food to the trapped miners, it was an especially memorable moment as each of them stepped from the capsule looking healthy. The credit for this must go to the extraordinary team of experts and officials from Chile and around the world.

Washington, D.C. – The National Archives September 24, 2012

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During my recent visit to Washington, D.C. my son and I had the chance to visit our nation’s records keeper- the National Archives. If you have never been there it is a place I highly recommend.

During our visit we had the opportunity to see two special exhibits. The first was a copy of the 1297 Magna Carta, one of only four originals believed still in existence. The document, which is on loan from Mr. David M. Rubenstein, was on display in the West Rotunda gallery. Mr. Rubenstein also underwrote the conservation treatment of the document and the fabrication of its special air tight case machined out of two solid blocks of aluminum. The case is filled with the inert gas argon as oxygen would be a detriment to the condition of the document. I was thrilled to be able to see it on display as I had watched the documentaries regarding the preparation of the exhibit several months ago.

The other special exhibit was in the East Rotunda and was the “Resolution of Transmittal to the Continental Congress” often referred to as the fifth page of the Constitution. This document, on display for the first time, was only on view from September 14-19. It provided the procedure for making the Constitution the law of the land. Each State would call a convention, whose delegates would be elected by the voters. After nine of these groups ratified, the new Government could begin operation.

Of course, not to be overlooked was the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom- the permanent home of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, and Bill of Rights. These three documents, known collectively as the Charters of Freedom, have secured the rights of the American people for more than two and a quarter centuries.

As an American, I was humbled to be in the presence of such a collection of documents that provide for the basic rights and liberties of all. The Magna Carta established important individual rights that have a direct legacy in the American Bill of Rights. Throughout our history these rights have been expanded through amendments to the Constitution and the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. However the constant theme has been the protection of individual freedom through the due process of law.

Washington D.C. – The Pentagon September 20, 2012

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This past weekend I visited my son in Washington, D.C. where he is working as an intern with a non-profit organization that deals with stability operations. For those of you who don’t know- stability operations are the various military missions, tasks, and activities conducted outside the United States to maintain or reestablish a safe and secure environment, provide essential governmental services, emergency infrastructure reconstruction, and humanitarian relief.

As my son is a political science major focusing on international relations, and I spent approximately 20 years in Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations it is a topic that we can enjoy discussing in detail.

I was especially looking forward to the visit as we were going to the Pentagon. A few quick facts- the Pentagon is the world’s largest office building. It has approximately 30,000 military and civilian workers. Ironically, construction started on September 11th, 1941. Legend has it that the small café in the center courtyard was mistaken by the Soviets for the main headquarters as they noticed people constantly going into and out of the building.

Several of my friends from the Army work in different areas of the Pentagon. It was good to see them again and we had a great time talking about the things we had done throughout our careers. There is a special bond that is formed when you share experiences with a select few who can truly comprehend what you felt at the time. After reliving a lot of the really humorous incidents the discussion turned serious as we started to reminisce about good friends we have lost throughout the years.

The day was made even more somber when we paused for a few minutes in the chapel that was built on the site of the 9/11 attack. Later we went to view the Pentagon Memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the western side of the building, killing 189 people (the five hijackers, 59 others aboard the plane, and 125 working in the building). Seeing the displays of that dreadful day and the portraits of those who have lost their lives since only served to further my belief in one main constant-

During both my time in the service and in the past few years since I retired, what sticks with me the most is looking in the eyes of a warrior and knowing they are prepared to execute any mission and give it their all in defense of the United States.

Ronald W. Shaw

Thermopylae September 7, 2012

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At Thermopylae in the late summer of 480 the Spartan king Leonidas held out for three days with a mere 300 hoplites against thousands upon thousands of the best of the Persian Empire of Xerxes I during the second Persian invasion of Greece.

Romantic notions of the battle praise the sacrifice and discipline of the Spartan hoplites, citizens renowned for their lifelong combat training and almost mythical military prowess. While the crucial role of the Spartans cannot be denied what is often lost in modern depictions- in movies such as The 300 Spartans and 300 is the fact that after Leonidas dismissed the bulk of the Greek army there remained 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans and perhaps a few hundred others, most of whom were killed.

Thermopylae’s location was of great strategic importance as it was a chokepoint of the coastal road that allowed travel. Leonidas believed that the narrowness of the pass could negate the numbers advantage of the Persians (between 100,000 and 300,000 troops) and that holding the pass would delay the Persians long enough for other Greek city-states to prepare for battle or even keep the Persian at bay long enough so they would have supply issues If the position had been held for even slightly longer – the Persians might have had to retreat for lack of food and water.

Scholars may debate the actual strategic results of the battle, but anyone with a passing interest in history no doubt knows the result of the battle. Leonidas and the troops with him held for three days but were eventually overrun and killed. Militarily, the battle was actually not decisive in the context of the Persian invasion, but is of great significance on the basis of the first two days of fighting.

The inspirational example of the rearguard as it unwaveringly faced certain death is used to this day as an example of the advantages of training, equipment, and good use of terrain as force multipliers.

If you wish to read more about the battle, I highly recommend the following books available to our patrons- Thermopylae : the battle that changed the world by Paul Cartledge; Thermopylae : the battle for the West by Ernle Bradford; or The Spartans : the world of the warrior-heroes of ancient Greece, from utopia to crisis and collapse by Paul Cartledge

Ronald W. Shaw

September is National Library Card Sign-up Month! September 1, 2012

Posted by cclddirector in Big Flats, Bookmobile, Community, Director's Comments, District News, Horseheads, Programs, Steele, Van Etten, West Elmira.
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When you go out to dine you might use a credit card to pay for your food. When you get gas for your vehicle you may use a debit card. But did you know that, when you want to pick up some brain food or fuel your imagination, you can use your library card? In fact, you can use your library card to go everywhere, meet everyone and do everything. There are no limits to the usefulness of a library card.

The Chemung County Library District is joining libraries nationwide in celebrating September as National Library Card Sign-up Month. Chemung County residents are invited to stop by their local branch and, if they don’t have a card, and get one. After all, they’re free to citizens of Chemung County.

As part of the activities for the month, patrons will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for an iPad, Kindle Fire or Kindle Touch. Entries can be made in any of three ways- get a new card, update your current information, or sign up for our electronic newsletter.

New York State residents, ages 5 and older, who come to the library qualify to receive a free library card. In order to get a library card, applicants are required to complete and sign an application signifying their agreement to adhere to CCLD policies. Children age 5 – 15 years must have their application co-signed by their parent or guardian.

Applicants must present identification before being issued a library card. Parents or guardians of children age 5 – 15 years must present proof of address on their behalf. The most appropriate form of identification is a New York State driver’s license. Also accepted will be a NYS auto registration, a personal checkbook with printed current address, a letter postmarked to one’s current address, or another official document with one’s current name and address.

Your library card allows you to partake of all the services CCLD has to offer—online database usage, eBooks, free entertainment and educational programs, homework and business help, and, of course, DVDs, CDs, print and audio books.

Another added benefit is that your library card may be used at any CCLD branch- the Central Library (Steele Memorial), Big Flats, Horseheads, West Elmira, Van Etten, and The Bookmobile. Your library card also allows you to access materials at all Southern Tier Library System Libraries throughout Alleghany, Schuyler, Steuben, and Yates counties.

Call or visit your local branch for information about programs scheduled in celebration of National Library Card Sign-up Month! To find your local branch, visit http://ccld.lib.ny.us./index.htm. Stop by your local branch during the month of September and get a library card—then you can stop by every month for the rest of your life to use it!

The Library: A Safe Port in Troubled Times August 27, 2012

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I’ve had several conversations with many of our patrons over the last few weeks, and we seem to agree on one thing- these are hard economic times for many of us. There are a variety of factors, ranging from the price of such staples as eggs, milk and bread to the lack of “disposable income” for such niceties as movies or lattes at our favorite coffee shop. We keep reading about unemployment and foreclosure rates and shudder as we look at gas prices.

I read recently that bad times in the economy means good news for libraries as use increases. As home budgets shrink, patrons come in to loan what they used to buy, or to read job ads, or to work on their resumes, or to meet people who also find themselves at liberty. It’s frustrating for us in the library profession as we know the demand for library services is going up while the actual buying power of our budget is going down.

I have to agree with the article as our monthly circulation has kept rising. We’ve seen many new patrons come in to get library cards. What surprises me most is the increase in the number of seniors, teenagers and younger adults getting library cards, many of them for the first time.

We have suffered along with our patrons as we try to stretch our dollars in order to provide the services so many of our patrons need in this current economy. Patrons coming into the library will note that we are attempting to do little things to stretch our budget.

Please understand, I’m not trying to plead poverty- well, not on a “public” level. Like everyone else who has had three kids go to college I know how to work with a tight budget. Since I have been here at CCLD, we have tried to work smarter, do more with less, form new partnerships, and reach out to the community and those wonderful philanthropists within it.

In times of crisis, Americans look to their enduring institutions to provide a certain level of stability. I just want to let our community know that we are here for them, always have been, and will continue to meet their needs as best we can.

Ronald W. Shaw

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