Archive for December, 2012

eBooks are great, especially at your library!

December 27th, 2012 No comments


Digital content is everywhere you look and as it continues to grow, print media is falling by the wayside.  Many small local newspapers have already closed and the most recent big announcement of Newsweek ending its print operation soon, only highlights this more.  This is also being felt in the book publishing world and has a major impact on libraries.  It is significantly cheaper to produce and deliver an electronic book to a consumer then with a print book.  It is also far more convenient and cheaper for the consumer.  Considering the average bestseller is about $10.00 cheaper in electronic format than in print, and that a major brand name eBooks reader can be purchased for less than $100, a regular reader can quickly realize savings without having to cart around the heavy paper book or store when they’re done.

It wasn’t long after eBooks hit the mainstream that library users wanted the same convenience.  In Westchester, libraries are delivering this service to their patrons and it is being met with overwhelming popularity.  There are more than 13,000 eBooks available for patrons to download.  All they need is a library card from a library in Westchester.  And how popular is it?  In 2011, library patrons downloaded just over 87,000 items from our catalog.  This year, we’ve already circulated well over 120,000 as of the end of September.

As wonderful as it is to be able to offer the service, it is not without its challenges.  All of this material must be licensed from the publishers.  It comes at a significant cost, much more than print media.  The library must pay the publisher for each simultaneous use of a book in electronic form.  Therefore, if we want to make it possible for two people to read the same book at the same time we must purchase two licenses.  Sometimes it is challenging to explain why someone must wait for digital copy of a book.  However, we have found that once people understand that the material is licensed and that they have to wait in order for the checkouts to not violate the publishers rules, they are happy to wait their turn.  In 2013, WLS is undergoing an even further expansion of its eBooks offerings to the public.  It is also begun a more complete integration of eBooks into its online catalog so that people can find what they want for one simple search.  We launched a new online catalog in October!

It’s often asked if this means the end of print books and of the physical library building.  I don’t think so.  Libraries will likely always have some books and sometimes nothing beats holding a print book in your hand.  I also don’t think the physical library is going extinct.  However, it is evolving.  The concept of the library as community center is already becoming a reality.  Visit your local library and check out the programs that they are offering the public.  It has been a long time since the library is only a place for print books.  It is now a place where people go to experience books.  Story times, book groups, and the like, are commonplace in every library.  Libraries are a center for innovation, a place for research, a portal to discovery and much more.  Part of that discovery and innovation is the introduction of eBooks into the library model.

How to Gift Wrap your Holiday Gift

December 21st, 2012 No comments

Gift-wrapping always triggers a tension between my arts & craftsy skills, and vivid memories of once small kids tearing through carefully wrapped presents like rabid wolverines.

Slowing them down became a bit of a past time.  Starting with rolls of Penny Saver end roll paper (really, why buy fancy paper for them?), the best trick was gluing favorite wrapped candies to the paper (needed to remove them first), pulling the old box-within-a-box trick, and lots of double knotted ribbons.

But for special gifts, it is fun to get creative.  Origami boxes are always good – and crazy simply to make.  (For big items, find any nice paper that you can cut into a square; make two for the top and bottom.) Nice packaging is an appropriate showcase for the thought and time invested in homemade gifts.  It doesn’t take a lot – plain paper, brown kraft paper, or white end rolls (call Penny Saver in Yorktown to see if they have them available) or fabrics (think cloth napkins). You can cut out shapes, and use markers, sprigs of pine or dried herbs, along with contrasting ribbon.
To get ideas:
  • If you’re in the library, head to Dewey # 745.54 – that’s where we’ve cataloged books on gift wrapping, making homemade cards, and other paper crafts.
  • Do a Google search and look at the image results.  It’s always amazing to me just how specific you can be; for example “gift wrap ideas for large gifts” or “wrapping food gifts”.
  • Go directly to the online photo sharing virtual bulletin board Pinterest for a quick visual feats.
  • And then there’s always Martha.

Happy Holidays!

— Elena Falcone, Director, Office of Community Connections


Gifts for the Foodie with a Library Card!

December 20th, 2012 No comments

The best decision I ever made was to marry a man who loves to cook.  Not surprisingly, I’d say the second best decision may have been to take up running.  Aside from amazing tomato sauce he makes some of the best bread.  When that is matched with a flavorful olive oil – it’s matrimonial heaven.

I’ve decided to share that joy this holiday season; he’s making the bread and I did the “hard” work of buying the olive oil.  My go-to place is Pure Mountain located at 11 North Broadway in Tarrytown.  In addition to being able to sample their flavorful oils, they have amazing balsamic vinegars that make a feast of anything from meats to salads, pears to poundcake.

Need an amazing Christmas gift – try the basil infused olive oil and the lemon balsamic vinegar, which together make a salad an event.  Or nab a small bottle of chocolate balsamic vinegar and pack it with a homemade pound cake.  Or make up a few loaves of bread using my husband’s latest favorite recipe (thank you New York Times)  no-kneed, 18 hour ciabatta-type bread (which has as it’s base this amazing New York times sourced recipe); bag each loaf with a nicely-wrapped bottle of peppery olive oil.
Library Lovers Alert:  Pure Mountain says they’ll give 10 percent off to anyone who shows their library card at check out.

And the librarian recommends… Quiet!

December 19th, 2012 No comments

Looking for the perfect book to buy someone? I highly recommend Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. The author provides a fascinating and quick read about the experiences of introverts in an extroverted world.

This book is a great gift for both introverts and extroverts alike – each can learn something about the other, and how to communicate better with each other, by reading this interesting and at times humorous book.

As an introvert working in a profession dominated by introverts, I found it very helpful to think about how extroverts might tackle many of the daily challenges that I face at work. And for extroverts, this book would provide insight on introverted approaches to problem solving – there are some advantages to the introverted approaches.

And if you want to give yourself a gift, check out the book at your local library!

Happy reading.

Terry Kirchner, Executive Director


Give the gift of literacy!

December 18th, 2012 No comments

The gift giving season is upon us.  As a technology expert, I’m often asked for recommendations and gift ideas.  As is usually the case, there’s no shortage of new techno gadgets and gizmos on the market this year. However, I also like to recommend gifts that have a practical purpose, in addition to being fun to use.

Literacy rates in New York are frightening.  Statewide more than 20% lack basic literacy skills.  While in Westchester County the statistic is slightly better at 13%, there’s still much to be done.  Giving children a great tool to help them learn to read at as early an age as possible, while also giving them a toy they’ll love to play with, seems a perfect fit. This year, for children ages one through eight, I recommend Tag and Tag Jr.  Reading System Products from Leapfrog.This product is nothing short of amazing;  it teaches everything from the very basics of letter identification, phonics, and sounding out words, to reading their very first full book!

So this year, consider giving the gift of literacy to a child you know.  This also would make a great gift to donate to the many wonderful toy drives such as Toys for Tots. Here is a link so you can find the nearest Toys for Tots drop-off center.

Happy Holidays!

Robert A. Caluori, Jr., Director of Information Technology

The Gift of Dance

December 17th, 2012 No comments

Shall We Dance? 

One of the best gifts I ever bought myself was a dance lesson to learn how to waltz.  It’s hard to believe that purchase was over 10 years ago – because I have been dancing ever since!  Dancing is fun; you get to move to great music; anyone can do it; and it’s fantastic exercise.   I can’t believe how far I’ve come—not only do I waltz but I now do all 5 Latin dances as well (cha cha, samba, rumba, Paso Doble, and jive)!  This is all thanks to two of the best teachers in the field, Dmitri and Svetlana Ostashkin of New York Dance Center in Ardsley.  If you know anyone who would want to move to the music and not just watch “Dancing with the Stars,” why not call New York Dance Center  at 914-478-8844 and give a gift certificate for a dance lesson?


For those who might be shy about moving to the music, there are several great DVDs that would make great gifts, but my favorites include all versions with the same title, Shall We Dance?  [although the Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers’ version does not have the question mark and is a very different story].  All can be found at Amazon or you can even check them out from your local library!

– Elise Burke, Executive Assistant


Gift Idea for the Nature Enthusiast

December 15th, 2012 No comments

NO wrapping paper? NO ribbon? NO giftbox? NO problem!

For that hard to please recipient, consider a donation in their honor to a charity. As a nature enthusiast, I donate to support the local environment for both wildlife  and future generations through the organization, Nature Conservancy. Their local office is in Mt Kisco. Check out their excellent rating!
– Melanie Carnes, Enterprise Application Administrator

Peace on Earth, Yoga and Pilates

December 14th, 2012 No comments

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, the festivities bring with them a fair amount of stress. Its easy to overlook taking care of yourself during the holidays.  Take a moment to breathe deeply, drink plenty of water ( yes it really works and counteracts the bubbly stuff you may be indulging in) and download some free soothing music with your library card.  (I just downloaded Beethoven’ s 5 Secrets on Freegal – Amazing).  For added measure –  give yourself the gift of YOGA.   Check out  Melissa Tatge’s Restorative Yoga on Friday, December 14 and December 21. Learn more and sign up for yoga or pilates. Two hours of true peace on earth.  Even a beginner can do it!   It’s on Santa’s list with your name!

Are you looking for a gift to bring to your neighbors holiday party?

During Hurricane Sandy, they fed you warm meals, let the family take showers, and you did more than one load of laundry at their house.  Your annual cookie platter and  bottle of wine  just does not seem to be enough.   Go right now to Westchester’s most enchanting cultural and historical property that is right in our back yard.  There is something for everyone all year long at Historic Hudson Valley. You can download a family gift membership! No hassle at the mall!  You can shop in your pjs.   A family membership covers two adults and three children – with lots of goodies, gift shop discounts, discounts to the sites, including 5 passes to the BLAZE!  A family membership even includes 8 guest passes!  Add the wine and they just might ask you to join them at the Fabulous jack-o-lantern BLAZE next fall!.

Gift idea for your executive assistant:

Your executive assistant is always there for you, making sure your calendars are synced,  that you are on time for appointments, and double checking that the important proposal is typo free.  Why is it that buying a gift for the EA is always so darn hard?!  We have a suggestion.  Purchase a ticket to Westchester Library System’s Annual Literary Breakfast on January 18th at 8 am – 10:30, featuring Diane Brady, Bloomsberg Businessweek editor and author of “Fraternity”.  Give them the morning off to be inspired by this remarkable story of how one visionary mentor made a difference in the lives of five young men.  He/She will start the year with renewed commitment to keep you on track!  Tickets are still available online!

– Patricia Braja, Director of Development


Crazy & Cool Gadget Gifts

December 13th, 2012 No comments

Tablet computer floor stand

And the “Why Didn’t We Think of That?” award goes to adjustable floor stands that hold iPads, e-readers and other tablet computers hands-free. Set it up anywhere – near the couch, beside the bed, in the kitchen for reading recipes – and this clever device will hold its own. Available at Sharper Image.



Practical gadgets: iPlunge

This looks like a gimmicky joke, but it’s actually a supremely practical way to accomplish something we all sometimes need to do – prop up our smartphones. This extremely affordable (and utterly inventive) thingamajig goes under the heading – “the gift for someone who has everything.” It makes a great stocking stuffer! Available at Amazon.


– Kate Meyer, Director of External Relations


15th Annual African American Literary Celebration

December 12th, 2012 No comments

Sponsorship opportunities and tickets are still available for our upcoming 15th Annual African American Literary Celebration, which will take place on Friday, January 18, 2013 from 8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. The event, which will be held at Tappan Hill Mansion, includes featured speaker Diane Brady, author of Fraternity and Senior Editor with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Honoree Dr. Bettye Perkins, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT).  Kevin Plunkett, Westchester Deputy County Executive, College of Holy Cross alum, is also the Honorary Chair of the event.


For 15 years, WLS has presented this event featuring writers and individuals who have been inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and celebrates his legacy. Diane Brady, author and senior editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek will speak about her book “Fraternity” the story of five young African American men recruited by a visionary mentor at the College of Holy Cross in 1968.   Dr. Bettye Perkins, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers will be honored of her extraordinary innovative mentoring program that recruits and trains culturally diverse and economically challenged high school students for a careers in education.

“The story of “Fraternity” and the work of our honoree, Dr. Perkins, echoes a core value of WLS to open doors of opportunity through access to information resources and technology,” says Terry L. Kirchner, executive director.  “The resources throughout our library system serve to support all those seeking knowledge and inspiration, regardless of cultural or economic background.”

The Literary Breakfast’s theme focuses on access to education, social justice and mentoring. Brady’s book “Fraternity” is an inspiring true story of a group of young men whose lives were changed by a visionary mentor – Fr. Brooks of the College of Holy Cross. Fr. Brooks, who shared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of an integrated society, recruited, mentored and supported twenty African-American young men during the transformative time in our country and at College of Holy Cross in the 1960’s. Among the twenty students recruited that year were Clarence Thomas, the future Supreme Court Justice, Edward P. Jones, who would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for literature and Theodore Wells, who would become one of the nation’s most successful defense attorneys.   “Fraternity” is testament to the power of education and mentorship, and a compelling argument for the difference one person can make in the lives of others.

The Literary Breakfast is sponsored by Entergy, TD Bank and SirsiDynix and proceeds from this event will help support WLS’s Learning Ambassadors, a system-wide, summer training and employment program for teens that includes early career and college exploration, volunteer community service opportunities and the development of marketable job skills.

Tickets for the 2013 Literary Tea are $95 and include a networking breakfast and presentation. For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (914) 231-3241 or visit

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, spend your morning being inspired, help support our Learning Ambassador programs, and purchase your tickets today!