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“Name That Fish” contest at the Van Etten Library November 7, 2015

Posted by CCLD in Van Etten.
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fishThe Van Etten Library has adopted a pet fish. He is a red Beta fish and has quite a personality. Right now he is celebrating Halloween, as seen in the picture. (He is so photogenic, and he loves getting his picture taken!!)

I could not believe how excited the younger patrons became when they learned that the library now had a fish. They would walk in the door and run right over to look at the fish sitting on the shelf at the circulation desk. So many questions about the fish; “Where did he come from?”, “What does he eat?”, “How old is he?” Once, I took the fish home on vacation with me. While I was away so many young ones asked where the fish had gone. My sub, Ms. Doris Jean, simply told them that he went on vacation with Ms. Michelle. On one occasion, a mom came rushing in to check if the fish was here, and she then said, “Oh good the fish is here!” She then shared with me that her two children were so excited about seeing the library fish that it was all they talked about the entire car ride to the library.

So we began a contest to name the library fish. We had some very creative entries; Red, Beto, Nemo, Kitty, Beanie, Sunflower, Brutus Buckeye, Bubbles, and the list went on with 25 potential winners. The difficult part was choosing the best name for the library fish. We really wanted to pick a name that would reflect some of the character of the Town of Van Etten and its residents. The most popular name on the list was ‘Finn’, with three entries. Since this was the most popular entry, I decided to go with it. But, not just because the fish literally has fins…the town of Van Etten actually has many residents of Finnish descent.

According to the Tioga History website, around 1909 the Finnish people began to move into the Van Etten area and purchased impoverished farms. They then created the Spencer Cooperative Society which sold everything from groceries and feed to farm equipment and hardware (Alve, tiogahistory.org/Site/Spencer.html).

The New York Folklore website explains how many of the Finnish that settled in the Finger Lakes region were leaving the mines and factories of the Midwest in search of farm land. Over the next few decades about five hundred Finnish landowners arrived in the Finger Lakes. As dairy farming began to decline in the area, the Finnish revitalized farming in the region by starting chicken farms (http://www.nyfolklore.org/tradarts/archcoll/flarch.html). With the poultry industry in the Spencer/Van Etten communities becoming such a very large business, the Spencer Cooperative Society also began buying and selling eggs (Alve, tiogahistory.org/Site/Spencer.html).

I recently spoke with a Van Etten library patron who recalls working for the co-op years ago. She stated that the co-op was a vital part to the community in supporting the supply and demands of that time. She also explained that during WWII due to the rationing of other meats and with chicken being very viable and plentiful, the Van Etten community thrived with its chicken farms.  In fact, if you were to take a drive down the main road through Van Etten today (NY 224) you can see the many abandoned chicken houses used decades ago by the Finnish chicken farmers.

So, if you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, you will know exactly what those big abandoned white buildings with many windows are, and you will remember their great importance to the Van Etten community at one time. You can also stop in and say hello to our Van Etten Library fish…Finn.

Works consulted:

New York Folklore Society


Jean Alve, Town/Village Historian



Michelle Erickson
Van Etten Library
Chemung County Library District

Small Library, BIG on Relationships June 18, 2012

Posted by metzgerd in Community, Van Etten.
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Alyssa and pet chick at Van Etten LibraryI accidentally locked myself out of the Van Etten Library a few weeks ago. I walked to the neighbor’s house and tried calling all the town officers to see if anyone could let me back into the municipal building. It was a Saturday, so no one was home. The neighbor realized that everyone in town was probably at a memorial service at the church. Feeling rather embarrassed, I followed the neighbor over to the church where the memorial service was ending. We found the Town clerk, who cheerfully announced to everyone as she made her way through the crowd, “the librarian has locked herself out of the library; I have to go let her in!” Now practically the whole town knew I was in a silly predicament!  It was embarrassing, but also very funny. And this is why I love rural librarianship in a small village. Getting to know everyone, building relationships, and helping patrons, is integral to being a good librarian. That’s true of librarianship in every setting, but it is especially noticeable and vital in a small community.

More reasons I love rural librarianship: I feel needed, and I get to know almost everyone. Re: feeling needed:  One woman called in a panic on Friday evening, “You’re the only one that’s open in the village! My water pipe burst & I don’t know who in the village to call!! Do you have the number of the person in charge of village water???!  (I didn’t, but I knew someone who knew who WAS in charge of water and they passed on the SOS call.)

I get to know almost everyone (who walks in the library door). And they know me! Alyssa raised a fluffy black chick in school (pictured above); she brought it to the library in a hot pink bag to show me. I was thrilled. Jacie regaled me with tales of riding the zipline at the Girl Scout’s camping weekend. Cathy overheard me saying that I wished I had an old wooden ladder for my container garden. She showed up at the library next week to surprise me w/ a rummage sale wooden ladder poking out of the back of her car!

All of this reminds me how important, and reciprocal, relationships are. I’m very fond of my library patrons because I got to know them over time. Knowing who they are, their likes, dislikes and needs help me provide programs, services, and information tailored specifically to them.  Whether it is a burst water pipe, a school project, rewriting a resume, (see JobNow ) how to prune old apple trees, or surviving a zombie attack, I’m here to help this community who in turn, helps me by creating meaning, hilarity, and joy in my life.

Doris Jean Metzger, MLIS
Van Etten Library

Loving Librarianship August 8, 2011

Posted by metzgerd in Van Etten, Youth Services.
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Big Rabbit's Bad MoodI love being a librarian. Here is an example of one of the reasons why:

A six-year-old girl just came in with her grandpa. Tayla couldn’t find any picture books to suit her, so Grandpa & I selected books we thought she might like.  At random, I pulled out one called: “Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood.” I laughed inwardly, because I happened to be in a Bad Mood myself, although I was successfully acting cheerful on the outside.  On impulse, I plopped down and read part of the book to Tayla, making growly voices for the Big Bad Mood as he followed Rabbit, “stuck to him like glue.”  I wanted to get Tayla interested in the story, but I also wanted to know how Rabbit got rid of his Mood, for me!  Just as Rabbit got a “very, very brilliant idea” about how to get rid of his Bad Mood, I clapped the book shut.  I told Tayla that she should take the book home to read and then tell me what Rabbit did about his Mood so I could get rid of mine.

I was rewarded with a small, shy smile. Tayla decided to take the book home.  Grandpa told me that Tayla often pretends she’s a librarian and makes him check his books in and out properly at home.  I beamed at Tayla, amazed that I had made any impression on this quiet little girl, who has barely looked me in the eye or said three words to me in all the time I’ve known her.

I still don’t know what Rabbit did to get rid of his Big Bad Mood. But Tayla, her grandfather, and finding the right book for them (and myself), rid me of mine.

The thrill of finding the right book, (or information), at the right time, for the right person.  I love being part of that, and this library profession that holds that process at its center.

Doris Jean Metzger, MLIS
Van Etten Library

Read to Me! March 6, 2011

Posted by metzgerd in Van Etten.
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Van Etten LibraryVan Etten Library extends a heartfelt thank you to Ralph Moore and the Family Reading Partnership of Chemung Valley for the new “Read to Me!” banner now gracing the library exterior wall.  The banner features artwork by Elmira children’s book author Tedd Arnold.

Van Etten LibraryVan Etten library patrons and staff love the new look!  The banner improves the aesthetics of the library exterior and conveys the presence and location of the library to the community.

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