WLS Trustee Institute re Open Meetings Law

June 11th, 2015 No comments

On Wednesday, June 3, a WLS Trustee Institute was held at the Greenburgh Public Library entitled, Everything you always wanted to know about Open Meetings Law (but were afraid to ask) with Robert J. (Bob) Freeman, Executive Director of New York State’s Committee on Open Government.  Mr. Freeman—Bob—has been with the agency since its creation, and he came willing and able to answer all questions on the subject – and he did!

Here are some of the questions that were answered:

Bob Freeman at 6/3/2015 WLS Trustee Institute

Bob Freeman at 6/3/2015 WLS Trustee Institute

  • What is a meeting?
  • What needs to be included in minutes?
  • What is Executive Session?
  • What is a public record?
  • Does everything have to be disclosed for a FOIL request?

The Committee on Open Government’s website is also a great resource.  Not only does it have videos of Bob answering the questions above and many others; but it also has an index where you can look up advisory opinions on Open Meetings Law and FOIL by key phrase.  Yet the best resource of all is Bob himself.  As those who attended the event know, his passion regarding this subject is palpable, and his knowledge and understanding of the spirit of the law is impressive.  He’s written over 25,000 advisory opinions!

In the days following the event, I realize what a special privilege it is to have a State (New York is one of the few) who recognizes the need for Open Government (in the general sense) and its uniqueness to our Country.  With privilege, though, comes responsibility; and I am also realizing the extraordinary responsibility taken on by the library trustees in our County.  Trustees volunteer their time and talents not only to ensure that the resources of their own libraries are being used efficiently towards the library’s goals, but they are the ones who must keep the bigger picture in sight to ensure Open Government and fairness for all in their communities.  I would like to thank the over 300 library trustees in Westchester for their commitment to this unique and vital cause.

Library Advocacy Day 2015

March 13th, 2015 No comments
Library Advocacy Day – February 25, 2015
 A group of 13 library supporters from Westchester joined the New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Library Advocacy Day in Albany on Wednesday, February 25.  The group was made up of directors, trustees, staff, and advocates representing the following libraries:  (Armonk) North Castle Public Library; Bedford Free Library; Eastchester Public Library; Irvington Public Library; Mamaroneck Public Library; Mount Pleasant Public Library; Mount Vernon Public Library; New Rochelle Public Library; Pound Ridge Library District; The Warner Library (Tarrytown); Westchester Library System.
Pictured (L-R): Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, 37th District, and Chair of the NYS Assembly Libraries & Education Technology Committee; Maureen Petry, Director, The Warner Library/Tarrytown; Pamela Bernstein, Librarian, and Carolyn Gallagher, Head of Children's Services, Irvington Public Library; Patricia Fontanella, Trustee, Westchester Library System & Library Trustees Association of New York State; Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System; joined by Ric Swierat, Trustee, Mid-Hudson Library System (standing) and Joanne Sold, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti

Pictured (L-R): Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, 92nd  District, and Chair of the NYS Assembly Libraries & Education Technology Committee; Maureen Petry, Director, The Warner Library/Tarrytown; Pamela Bernstein, Librarian, and Carolyn Gallagher, Head of Children’s Services, Irvington Public Library; Patricia Fontanella, Trustee, Westchester Library System & Library Trustees Association of New York State; Elise Burke, Executive Assistant, Westchester Library System; joined by Ric Swierat, Trustee, Mid-Hudson Library System (standing) and Joanne Sold, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti

We visited all the offices of the 14 legislators who represent Westchester County in the following order:

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Our main ask of the legislators was to have Library Aid funded to the full extent of Education Law or $102.6 Million.  This year’s proposed Executive Budget for FY2015-2016 included only $86.6 Million in Library Aid, an amount which reflects levels equivalent to 1997.  The cost of living alone has risen 47% since then!  Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, Chair of the Assembly’s Libraries and Education Technology Committee, has sent a letter to Carl Heastie, Speaker of the Assembly, and Herman Farrell, Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, in support of additional aid for libraries.

Through the efficient, centralized services provided by the public library systems, like Westchester Library System, millions are saved:

            • Facilitating sharing of library materials across the 38 libraries in Westchester
            • Ongoing maintenance of technology services including computers and wireless
            • Cataloging collection holdings for easier discoverability
            • Centralized purchasing of databases
            • County-wide collaboration and innovation

For those who could not attend Library Advocacy Day in Albany, a postcard campaign was held at the libraries in Westchester.  Over 1,700 postcards were sent to our Legislators.

2015 Advocacy Day Postcard-Image

            • Ardsley Public Library
            • Briarcliff Manor Public Library
            • Bronxville Public Library
            • Chappaqua Library
            • Croton Free Library
            • Dobbs Ferry Public Library
            • Eastchester Public Library
            • Harrison Public Library
            • Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library
            • Irvington Public Library
            • Lewisboro Library
            • Hendrick Hudson Free Library (Montrose)
            • New Rochelle Public Library
            • Ruth Keeler Memorial Library (North Salem)
            • Ossining Public Library
            • Pound Ridge Public Library
            • Somers Library
            • Tuckahoe Public Library
            • Yonkers Public Library
            • John C. Hart Memorial Library (Shrub Oak/Yorktown)

Thank you to this year’s dedicated group of Library Advocates—for all the ways in which you participated!   Library Aid is only 1/10 of 1% of the total State budget, and you helped to make our voices heard!

To quote a recent article by Joe Queenan in March 2015 edition of The Rotarian:

The public library is an indispensable institution that somehow manages to get taken completely for granted. Like the clouds above us, like the birds that fill those skies, it is a glorious creation that is hiding in plain sight. Society pays little attention to it, even though society cannot survive without it. Not any real society.

Let’s not take our libraries for granted.  The deadline for an on-time budget is March 31st, so there is still time to contact your legislator and ask them to sign on to Thomas Abinanti’s letter.  You can also click here for NYLA’s Online Advocacy page to send an email message to our legislators that libraries are an excellent investment in New York’s educational and cultural infrastructure.

Elise Burke
Executive Assistant
Westchester Library System
 

 

 

Westchester Library System Learning Ambassadors – Where Awesome Teens Spend Their Saturdays!

March 3rd, 2015 No comments

On Saturday February 28, 21 teens started their training to be summer Library Learning Ambassadors at 9 library locations and 2 childcare centers. What a great group – smart, funny, talented – and eager to do work that engages young children in literacy.

Like every training day for this program, we crammed in the content. This first day was focused on why the work is important, what is expected, how libraries operate and their role in the community, and exploration of types of programs and techniques for engaging children of different ages.

Learning Ambassadors from 2014 came and demonstrated some of their successful programming (which included one of the funniest limbo competitions I’ve ever seen….and a blend of stories and card tricks that worked even when the cards flew to the floor). A 2012 Learning Ambassador returned to teach methods for incorporating math concepts into story-programming.

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Favorite moments: (1) After the teens brainstormed a mix of things that could and should be part of library activities, I noted what an amazing collection of services these were to offer “free” in a community (form childcare to maker labs or job search) – and one teen said “but it just makes sense.” (2) In reviewing the library system’s downloadable resources, one young man said excitedly, “oh my god, I didn’t know, I need to do this!”

Libraries….there when you needs us, and when you want to be amazed.

Got Numbers?

February 13th, 2015 No comments

As we start to collect data for the New York State Annual Reports, I thought I would have a little fun with the numbers from 2013, as shown below.  The numbers really do tell a story, so even though completing these Reports can be boring and annoying, let’s try to think of the unlimited possibilities for using all of these facts and figures to convey the importance of libraries and how they can impact the world!

Fun Stats Blog Picture

WLS 55th Annual Meeting – 11/20/2014

December 3rd, 2014 No comments

Librarians, library directors, library trustees, government officials, and friends of libraries gathered on November 20 for the 55 Annual Meeting of the Westchester Library System (WLS) at the Sheraton Tarrytown.

Barbara Morrow, President of the Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, and Sue Feir, Director, Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, Co-Winners of the 2014 WLS Trustees Award

Barbara Morrow, President of the Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, and Sue Feir, Director, Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, Co-Winners of the 2014 WLS Trustees Award

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the second WLS Trustees Award. A total of 14 people representing 9 Westchester libraries received nominations for the Award, which was given for a commitment to provide open access to information and resources that foster innovation, inspiration and lifelong learning based on broad impact, innovation and collaboration. This year’s Award was presented to co-winners: Sue Feir, Director of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, and Barbara Morrow, President of the Friends of the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library.  A number of their accomplishments were highlighted.

Sue Feir:  

  • Spearheading a small yet transformative project to expand the library’s community room;
  • As creative advocate of collaboration, Ms. Feir recast the library as a host facility for school testing, local artist exhibits and free career counseling and fostered synergy between the library and Hastings Farmer’s Market;
  • Deployed the library to meet a public health need and began an annual blood drive, which in partnership with the New York Blood Center, became a regular library event held three times a year.

Barbara Morrow:

  • Organized various events to celebrate the library’s 100th Anniversary as well as a lecture series titled, Dewey on the Hudson—completing the celebration with a bang-up party and marching band through the streets.
  • Stayed on as President of the Friends to oversee new capital campaign, Above and Beyond: Expanding our Point of View, to extend the community room and build an outside deck overlooking the Hudson River.

The co-winners were presented with a check in the amount of $1,000 to the Hastings-on-Hudson Public Library, funded by the WLS Trustees. New York State Legislators Thomas Abinanti [92 AD] and Steven Otis [91 AD] were on hand to congratulate the co-winners; and Westchester County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky [12 CLD] declared November 21st Sue Feir and Barbara Morrow Day.  All of those nominated (as shown below) were recognized for their outstanding contributions:

Nominee Nominated by Library
Robert Cartolano Tracy Wright Eastchester Public Library
Lillian Hecker Patricia Perito Town of Pelham Public Library
Ann Hein Jeffrey Ault Dobbs Ferry Public Library
Haina Just-Michael Emery Schweig New Rochelle Public Library
Brian Kenney Paul Schwarz White Plains Public Library
Jenny Kolesar Jill Davis Hendrick Hudson Free Library (Montrose)
Gary Page Mary Shah Lewisboro Library
Charlotte Schachter & Ruth Shire, Co‑Presidents of the Friends of the Mount Vernon Public Library Carolyn Karwoski Mount Vernon Public Library
Heide Shilstone Elin Sullivan Bedford Hills Free Library
Tamara Stewart Hafeezah Basir Mount Vernon Public Library
Na’im Tyson, PhD Chris Hansen Mount Vernon Public Library

During the business portion of the evening, presided over by WLS President Chris Hansen, the following trustees were re-elected to a 5-year term expiring as of December 31, 2019:  Mary Amato of Yonkers representing WLS District XV [Yonkers]; Hope Furth of White Plains representing WLS District XI [White Plains]; and Dave Donelson of West Harrison representing WLS District VII [Harrison, Purchase].

WLS Report 2013-14WLS Report 2013-14-Highlights

Terry Kirchner, WLS Executive Director, gave an overview of WLS’s accomplishments in 2014, many of which were noted in the distributed WLS Annual Report 2013-14.

One important task of 2014 concerned the Integrated Library System (ILS).  WLS will continue with the current vendor SirsiDynix and further educate staff about open source products. This well thought-out decision represented a huge time commitment by all who participated on the WLS-Public Library Directors Association (PLDA) ILS Committee.  Other key areas for 2015 identified in conjunction with PLDA include:  providing more eContent; supporting program initiatives such as Creative Aging workshops and Makerspace activities; expanded marketing and further promotion of services available at local libraries; enhanced wireless services with printing options; and of course, training for the ILS and exploring open source products.

Keynote Speaker Kerri Willette, New York’s first Empire State Digital Network (ESDN) Manager

Keynote Speaker Kerri Willette, New York’s first Empire State Digital Network (ESDN) Manager

Keynote speaker was Kerri Willette, New York’s first Empire State Digital Network (ESDN) Manager.  Ms. Willette is responsible for coordinating activities of the ESDN, a statewide service hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which is being administered by Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) in collaboration with eight allied regional library councils collectively working as NY 3Rs Association, Inc.  Ms. Willette gave an overview of the DPLA, which was launched in 2013 with 7.1 Million searchable digital objects, and spoke about what it takes to share data with the DPLA, which is not merely another search engine but a new tool that will help library’s special collections be discovered.  One of the roles of the ESDN will be to contact regional libraries to find out what is being collected and making all libraries aware of how to contribute their content properly.  The DPLA’s progress can be followed via the ESDN website and social media [@NYSdigital]; and Ms. Willette’s presentation has been posted to the WLS website.

Save the Date – #GivingTuesday

November 14th, 2014 No comments

 

GT-STD-Web-Banner_300x2501#GivingTuesday is a first-of-its-kind effort that will harness the collective power of a unique blend of partners — charities, families, businesses and individuals — to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. Coinciding with the Thanksgiving Holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, #GivingTuesday will inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support and help create a better world.

Taking place December 2, 2014 — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — #GivingTuesday will harness the power of social media to create a national moment around the holidays dedicated to giving, similar to how Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days that are, today, synonymous with holiday shopping.

 

How is the Westchester Library System involved?

In advance of December 2nd’s #GivingTuesday, when nonprofits hope pre-holiday shoppers will consider making donations, The Journal News and lohud.com, in collaboration with Nonprofit Westchester, have compiled a searchable database of nonprofits in Rockland, Westchester and Putnam Counties.

Within this database are opportunities to support local nonprofits by donating money, or volunteering and donating your time to the organization — which is just as valuable, if not more.

#lohudcares database is now available here: data.lohud.com/lohudcares

 

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Upcoming Events At Your Local Westchester Library!

November 14th, 2014 No comments

 

Check out these FREE events going on today through Monday. For more information, please visit the library’s website, or call the number listed.

Wine Tasting - ArgentinaKATONAH VILLAGE LIBRARY:

Tonight, November 14: A Wine Tasting Journey through France. 7:30 PM. Admission is free, but please RSVP! Call us at (914) 232-3508 or e-mail our director, Van Kozelka, at vkozelka@wlsmail.org.

This free tasting is a fun and delicious way to sample and learn about two dozen remarkable French wines and enjoy delightful hors d’oeuvres!

This is also a convenient opportunity to order your top-pick wines and champagnes for Thanksgiving and holiday entertaining and gift-giving — while supporting your Katonah Village Library! (Half of all profits from your wine purchases will go straight to the Library; checks and credit cards only.)

resume-tipsRYE FREE READING ROOM:

Latest Trends in Resumes – Saturday, November 15, 11 am-12:30 pm

Join them for a free workshop conducted by a professional job counselor and learn to transform your resume into a marketing document. Find out about different formats, select which will work for you, and understand how to post your resume on job boards and social media sites. This program is brought to you by WEBS Career and Educational Counseling Service, a program of  WLS. Register in person at the library or at 914-231-3161.

 

 

gameonYONKERS PUBLIC LIBRARY – RIVERFRONT:

GAME ON! Stop by the Riverfront branch between 1-4 pm in the Event Space, on Saturday, November 15th for International Games Day. Play video games, board games, cards, word games and more! All ages welcome, children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, please call 914-375-7966.

 

 

STEAMFEST

RUTH KEELER MEMORIAL LIBRARY:

STEAM Fest
All science, all day for kids K+
Saturday, Nov. 15th from 11:00 -3:00

Some of this year’s activities will include, rockets, makey makey, soldering, vinyl cutting, 3-D printing, scanning and more.
Please register for this popular event by calling, emailing or coming into the library. This program was inspired and funded by the library Visiting Committee and the John R. and Dorothy Caples fund.

Note that library policy does not allow children under the age of 10 to stay alone in the library. Plan on staying with your child and have fun helping with the events.

 

BRIARCLIFF MANOR PUBLIC LIBRARY:

What is 3D Printing? A Hands-on Workshop – Saturday, November 15 from 1-3 pm at the Briarcliff Manor Public Library . Registration required.

daeFrom healthcare to space travel, learn how 3D printing is changing the world. The team from The Digital Arts Experience will show you how to create your own objects! This workshop will be held in the Digital Arts Experience van which will be in the library’s parking lot.

There will be four sessions at the following times:
1-1:30 pm and 1:30-2 pm (for families with kids ages 5 & up)
2-2:30 pm and 2:30-3 pm (for adults/teens ages 13 & up)

Same day registration for one-30 minute slot is required and will take place in person, in the library, only starting at 12:30 pm. Space is limited. For more information, please contact Melinda Greenblatt, Library Director, at mgreenblatt@wlsmail.org or 941-7072 x6.

GREENBURGH PUBLIC LIBRARY:

Kaplan SAT Practice Test  - Sunday, November 16, 12:45 p.m.- 4:45 p.m.

Why take a free Kaplan practice SAT? A practice test is one of the best ways to get ready for the real things.

You will:

  • Know exactly what to expect on Test Day
  • Get a complete analysis of your results
  • Learn exclusive strategies to improve your score

Registration is required. Go to event details at greenburghlibrary.org

Call 721-8224 for further details.

 

ebolaNORTH CASTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY:

Join them for a presentation on Monday, November 17 at 1 p.m. presented by the Westchester County Department of Health on “Ebola: Facts Not Fear”.

WLS Legislator Breakfast – 9/18/2014

September 22nd, 2014 No comments

 

Over 60 library directors and trustees gathered together on 9/18 at the Westchester Library System (WLS) Headquarters for a Breakfast to thank our New York State Legislators for their support in adding back money to the FY2014-2015 Executive Budget for Library Aid and maintaining the $14 Million Public Library Construction Aid Program.

Nine legislative offices were represented as follows:

LegBreak_Legislators

NEW YORK STATE SENATE

  • John Tomlin from Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ office [35th Senate District]
  • George Latimer [37th Senate District]

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY

  • Amy Paulin [88th Assembly District]
  • Kevin Czerwinski from Amy Paulin’s office [88th Assembly District]
  • J. Gary Pretlow [89th Assembly District]
  • Shelley Mayer [90th Assembly District]
  • Debra Lagapa from Steven Otis’ Office [91st Assembly District]
  • Thomas Abinanti [92nd Assembly District]
  • Elisa Jacobs from Thomas Abinanti’s office [92nd Assembly District]
  • David Buchwald [93rd Assembly District]
  • Sandra Galef [95th Assembly District]

Pat Braja, Director of Development, welcomed everyone for vacationing Executive Director Terry Kirchner, and talked about the important role that WLS plays as one of the 23 public library systems established in 1958 by State Education Law.

By providing services out of one location, versus each of the 38 libraries in Westchester having to provide these services individually, taxpayers save money.  WLS empowers libraries through services that include:   maintenance of the online library system; cataloging; Interlibrary Loan; delivery; professional development; and consultation services.  Library systems are a good investment.  In fact, studies have shown that for each $1 invested, a return of $13 in services is gained.

A portion of Library Aid also goes to outreach for persons who may be unserved or underserved.  Elena Falcone, Director of WLS’s Public Innovation and Engagement (PIE), spoke of some of the unique programs helping to meet these needs including:

Senior Benefit Information Center (SBIC)

TASC Connect!  – New name for the Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED) that stands for Test Assessing Secondary Completion.

Learning Ambassadors

Cindy Rubino, President of the Public Library Directors Association (PLDA), focused on the State Aid received through the NYS Construction Grant Program.  Libraries have transformed into true centers of our communities; and library buildings also need to be renovated to meet new demands or simply to be updated with much-needed infrastructure projects.David Buchwald with Librarians

Originally, NYS included in its budget only $800,000 for the entire State for Construction Grant money [Westchester's portion was less than $34,000].  In 2006, this program was expanded to $14 Million, with Westchester getting approximately $654,000 (based on population).  Libraries can submit applications for their eligible construction grants and potentially receive up to 75% of the total project costs.  Over $5 Million has been awarded to over 90 library construction projects since this program’s inception; and posters were displayed for each Legislative District with that district’s construction project awards received.

However, costs keep rising.  While the additional money put back into the budget brought Library Aid to a total of $86.6 Million [Westchester's portion is approximately $2 Million], this amount still does not equal what is prescribed by Education Law–and the $14 Million for Public Library Construction has remained the same for 8 years.

The Legislators wrapped up the event by sharing their appreciation for the services that libraries have provided through such challenging times over the past years, with minimal resources.  Many are themselves avid library users and have a good understanding of how libraries can change the lives of their constituents; and they will continue, as they are able, in their efforts to support library programs in Westchester.

Retirement of Rhoda Gushue

April 10th, 2014 No comments

 

Elise Burke, Maurice (Mitch) Freedman, and Terry Kirchner

Elise Burke, Maurice (Mitch) Freedman, and Terry Kirchner

I recently received this picture taken of me with former WLS Director Mitch Freedman and current WLS Director Terry Kirchner at the Jazz Reception held to honor Rhoda Gushue upon her retirement as Director from the Bedford Hills Free Library.  Although the event was held almost a month ago (3/13), it still resonates in my mind.  Rhoda served the library and community of Bedford Hills for 43 years!  That got me to thinking–will I be working for WLS that long?  In this day and age, when new models of computers and software come out faster than when you can get used to the last one, I think that longevity is often under appreciated.  Do we really understand the dedication and love that one must have to “go the distance”?

In my workings with Rhoda over many NYS Annual Reports, I knew first-hand that Rhoda had a special commitment and loyalty to her work and profession; but it was wonderful to see how this event captured Rhoda’s spirit and shared her love of jazz, and to hear how others were touched by Rhoda’s career as well. I commend all who took part in putting together such a wonderful tribute.

During this National Library Week, these thoughts lead me to say a heartfelt thank you to the many other library workers throughout this County that display true dedication and commitment to their profession.  Your efforts are long-lasting–and that’s a great thing.

For more photos from Rhoda’s Jazz Reception, click on the link below:

http://www.bedfordhillsfreelibrary.org/galleries/album/2937543

 

Comics Plus: Library Edition is the new digital revolution bringing thousands of digital graphic novels and comics are only a click away!

April 1st, 2014 No comments

We have some fantastic news for you: our library now has thousands digital graphic novels and comics available to read on any web-connected device.  We have recently partnered with iVerse Media to provide you with an incredible collection of titles via their Comics Plus: Library Edition.  This revolutionary digital collection includes every genre you could wish for: fiction, non-fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, indie comics, Sunday funnies, and mangaCPLE Standard Logo Web Image.gif

How do you find these books?  Simply click on the Comics Plus: Library Edition logo on our home page and activate your account.  From there you can fill your virtual bookshelf with any title you choose to read.  When you do place titles onto your bookshelf, you will see an orange banner running diagonally across the upper right corner of the cover.  This tells you how many days you have left to read the title.   When the seven days are completed, the book is automatically returned-and you don’t have to do a thing!

Please feel free to browse the collection as we are sure you will discover an entire world of storytelling you never knew existed!  Of course there are hundreds of titles and series that you will recognize:  Adventure Time, Lego Ninjago, Doonesbury, Bleach, Archie, Sonic the Hedgehog, Naruto, Dilbert, Cathy, Garfield, Red Sonja, The Shadow- it is a virtual tidal wave of digital graphic novels and comics.  Among the many publishers we have are Archie Comics, BOOM! Studios, Papercutz, Andrews McMeel, VIZ Media, Ape Entertainment, Dynamite, Graphic Classics and many, many more!

What’s even better is that you can read them from any place you have a web connection and on any device: tablet, pc, smart phone, you can even read them on gaming systems!

Be sure to log in to our Comics Plus: Library Edition collection today and get your collection created!