Monday, August 31, 2009

Albany Wi-Fi Gets Boost

WNYT: Free internet access within Albany is growing from 32 small circles of coverage to several whole neighborhoods.

When you visit the Albany Public Library, you can log on to the internet through any of 16 desktop computers.

Or use the wireless connection...

Tiny librarian is hell on wheels

Librarian Beth Hollis breaks stereotypes and, occasionally, bones
After failing at knitting, she tries her hand (and elbows) at roller derby
"MegaBeth," age 53, is among the fittest players on the team, coach says

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Bernard A. Margolis, New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries announced this week that New Yorkers searched the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library over 35.5 million times since July 2008. This represents a 20 percent increase in the number of searches over the prior year.

NOVELNY is a "virtual library" that connects New Yorkers in every community to state-of-the-art online information without regard to economic, geographic or physical barriers. This convenient online library includes a wide variety of full-text resources - books, magazines, newspapers, research and reference resources and is available to New York State residents with no fees.

New Yorkers can access NOVELNY 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by logging on with a public library card or with a New York driver license or non-driver ID. Over 5,600 libraries across the State now participate in this statewide pilot project, which is coordinated by the New York State Library located in Albany, New York.

The NOVELNY pilot project is supported with temporary federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds provided to the New York State Library by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Questions about NOVELNY? Please email or call the NOVELNY Help Desk at 1-877-277-0250.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Library Workers: Facts & Figures

Thought the following data showing average salaries and employment for librarians, library technicians and library assistants would be of interest to folks considering entering the profession. (Originally posted to NYLINE.

Library Workers: Facts & Figures - Fact Sheet 2009
Source: AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees

For more information on library careers in New York State,

Alexandria’s new library shelving scholarship for profit, say critics

From the Guardian Article:

The $220m Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened seven years ago in Alexandria, Egypt. It was meant to be the library that recaptured the ancient glories of Alexandria, providing a new home for the world’s knowledge almost 2,000 years after its predecessor was burnt to the ground.

But whereas the old Egyptian library offered a rich diet of philosophy and history to the greatest thinkers of its age including Euclid, Archimedes, and Herophilus, the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina is coming in for harsh criticism for serving up a very different kind of fare.

A row has erupted over the decision to build a food court at the heart of Egypt’s self-proclaimed “window on the world”, with campaigners accusing the Bibliotheca’s trustees of selling out the library’s venerable legacy for short-term profit.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Self-Service to the People

Self-Service to the People

The California State Library GoLibrary Project uses automated materials vending to aid underserved populations in new ways

By Susan Kantor-Horning -- Library Journal, 8/15/2009

It’s called GoLibrary in the United States and Bokomaten in its native Sweden. Patrons know it as Library-a-Go-Go in Contra Costa County, CA, but whatever its name, the automated lending service this materials handling machine provides has proved a tremendous aid in addressing underserved segments of this sprawling community.

Commuter and resident benefits

It’s not hard to imagine that nightmarish daily commutes might leave residents with little time or inclination to visit community libraries. Though not necessarily a point of pride, a recent national report indicated that Contra Costa County workers have the tenth worst commute in the nation and the longest commute west of the Mississippi River. The library can’t help with the commute, but it does have a ton of materials that could make passing the time a little more pleasant—if patrons can get their hands on them. That’s where the GoLibrary machine enters the picture.

The Contra Costa County Library’s (CCCL) strategic plan conducted in 2004–05 identified residents as looking for a library experience that was fast, available at convenient hours, welcoming, easy to use, and customer-focused. Luckily, a former deputy county librarian of public services saw the book vending machine in operation at the Stockholm Public Library in 2006 while traveling to her native Sweden. According to Distec, the Swedish company that created the machine, GoLibrary could fit CCCL’s needs, requiring only a location, a dedicated high-speed Internet connection, SIP2 (Standard Interchange Protocol, version 2) integration with the ILS, and RFID tags on books circulated from the machine.

Thanks to a generous 2007 Library Services and Technology Act–funded grant through the California State Library, commuters taking Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and residents living in an underserved area of the county will have immediate access to a wide variety of books at three locations (with a fourth in the works). Two of the current library materials vending machines have been installed at BART stations in the district and a third machine at a well-trafficked shopping center, which was additionally paid for in part by a grant from the Bay Area Library and Information System (BALIS). Two out of the three machines are accessible 24 hours a day.

Vending nuts and bolts

The Library-a-Go-Go service consists of a stand-alone machine, with access to a self-contained collection of approximately 400 paperbacks, that handles both checkouts and returns to authorized cardholders. The customer logs in to the system with a library card and uses the touch screen to make a selection, which is delivered by a robotic arm. The item arrives in a plastic case through an open slot, with a receipt. To return materials, the process is reversed, and the item is returned in its case through the same slot. A second-generation machine installed at the Sandy Cove Shopping Center does not require the plastic cases.

CCCL decided to test the service by circulating books only. For the machine at the shopping center, the library agreed to a “no compete” clause concerning video or audio materials in deference to the nearby Long’s drugstore and Blockbuster. However, anything could potentially be put into the plastic cases, such as iPods, DVDs, etc.

While holds cannot be placed on materials in the machines, CCCL hopes soon to allow patrons to renew materials checked out from the machine through their accounts. However, there are concerns that the range of materials available to other patrons would be even more limited if renewals are allowed from a unit that holds only 400 titles.

The collection is updated every quarter. In terms of collection development, Library-a-Go-Go customers demand a greater range of titles than expected, and thus money needs to be allotted for refreshing the collections. Still, because all items are paperbacks, refreshing collections costs far less than expected. To stretch the collections further, the library no longer orders large quantities of a few titles but rather one to three copies of many titles.

Positive response

So how are patrons taking to the Library-a-Go-Go service? “Now the library has come to me!” said one satisfied patron. “I find that I am able to read more now,” said another, “since I commute to San Francisco daily. Thank you!” According to a small survey at the time of the first launch, 67 percent of respondents said they use the service primarily for materials to read during their commute, and 84 percent rated the service as excellent. Seventy-three percent even said they consider a machine their main “branch”!

In its first year of operation, the initial Library-a-Go-Go machine launched at the BART station has seen 1,624 circulations, an average of 135 per month. At any given time, 25 percent of the items are checked out at this location. The second machine, launched in late May at the shopping center, had 333 circulations during its first month of service. The third, which debuted in June at a major transit hub for over 8000 daily commuters, had 468 circulations during its first two weeks in operation and 30 percent of its collection checked out at any given time.

Rural benefits, too

Though urban and suburban commuters were the initial inspiration for installing the machines, the potential of automated vending doesn’t end there. Susan Hildreth, former California State Librarian (now at Seattle Public Library), seeing the benefits of GoLibrary for rural libraries with few or no branches, invited the Yuba County Library (YCL) to participate as one of the beta testers and the second recipient of the grant. With over 600 square miles of service area and a population of just over 70,000, YCL’s one facility along with a bookmobile strains to meet residents’ needs. YCL director Loren McCrory enthusiastically agreed to participate in a project purported to require a minimum amount of staff time to maintain and very little overhead. Although McCrory had no prior experience with SIP2 or RFID, she and her one staff member were able to get up to speed with technical support from the CCCL staff.

Califa, a membership-based California library consortium, spent considerable staff time negotiating the contract with Distec on behalf of the project libraries and coordinating the purchase of the GoLibrary machines. (As of April 2009, Evanced Solutions has reached a distribution and service agreement with Distec to resell the machines in other parts of the country). Califa is the sole supplier of this equipment to California libraries and gave various levels of support such as mediating between the libraries and the vendor and working with a U.S. customs clearance agent to expedite the shipments to each delivery point. The machines were flown to California after being manufactured to specifications in Italy.

Technical hurdles bound

The grant project provided significant technical challenges for the pilot libraries since it was the first implementation of a European-developed technology for dispensing books. It did not integrate with any ILS that either Yuba County or Contra Costa County used. Prior to the arrival and installation of the units, there was some general concern about Distec’s ability to program SIP2 to work with each library’s ILS—TLC’s Carl.Solution for CCCL and SirsiDynix for YCL. Yuba migrated from a hosted ILS, through the local community college, to a stand-alone client-server solution and upgraded to SirsiDynix Symphony in order to include enhanced content needed for helping patrons make selections from GoLibrary’s touch screen.

Thanks to the libraries’ efforts, the project extended the capabilities of the original dispenser design by connecting in real-time to the library systems so customer accounts are automatically updated, and books returned are immediately available to others. However, while the improved ILS allowed YCL to establish the SIP2 connection, the networking modifications have been tricky, causing considerable service downtime. CCCL has also experienced intermittent problems with SIP2, including certain titles automatically renewing multiple times, resulting in unreliable statistics and indefinite due dates. While CCCL has been able to deliver the service successfully, one of the units has seen more than 23 days of downtime. Although Distec works at resolving software problems, it still does not have flawless quality assurance testing, which means that new operational “bugs” still crop up and require on-site troubleshooting.

Lessons learned

There have been a slew of other hurdles, too. After the equipment arrived, CCCL staff learned that an RFID tag was required not only for the book but also for the plastic case needed for the first-generation machines. This means that when the tags overlap physically they cannot be read, and the machine rejects the book from being checked in or added to the collection. Getting the RFID reader inside the machine to read the 3M tags has been a challenge since the tags use alphanumeric encoding, but the machine only reads tags using numeric encoding. The manufacturer is working on fixing the problem. Meanwhile, CCCL has installed a remote camera inside the machines for closer monitoring and troubleshooting of site malfunctions.

Modifications that Distec has made since the premiere of the Library-a-Go-Go service include programming the interface to show only available copies, the ability for borrowers with blocked cards to return overdue books to the machine, and the elimination of plastic cases to hold materials so users do not have to be responsible for them. This will also negate the risk of failed reads caused by overlapping tags. The size of the plastic cases used for the first-generation machines and the plastic trays inside the second-generation machines proved to be more of a challenge for the libraries than anticipated, as the service was designed to work with books according to standard European publishing sizes and not with the wide range of sizes for books published in the United States. The calibration of the trays that dispense the books in the second-generation machine has also been an issue.

Distec provides a customer checklist for the site arrangements libraries need to make, such as getting the necessary approvals from land and premise owners, finding a location protected from the weather, securing a supply of power, and establishing a dedicated high-speed Internet connection. In addition to the costs of the unit itself and the custom programming required to integrate it with the library’s circulation system, other costs may be associated with changes required at the installation location. Renovations are often needed in order to place the machine in the best possible place for visibility and convenience. Such structural, electrical, and architectural costs vary with each location and must be taken into consideration with each individual implementation plan.

In addition, everyone involved in the project agrees that it is essential to have experienced library IT professionals, preferably an in-house IT department, to support the service.

The right staff

CCCL’s Library-a-Go-Go service was introduced in May 2008 and received intense media coverage. Marketing has been crucial to its success. An internal subcommittee led by the county’s public information officer identified key messages, established a marketing campaign, and brainstormed an opening event. In the days leading up to launch of the first machine, library staff were on-site at the BART station to promote the service, and local television stations carried teasers about the upcoming unveiling. The service continues to attract widespread interest from other libraries and media; the library won the California State Library PR Excellence Award for the project.

Library-a-Go-Go has its own page on the library’s web site, and its holdings are included in the library catalog, where each machine is listed as a separate “location” so users can identify the material they can access there. Community outreach staff give hands-on demonstrations to promote the service, answer questions, and provide on-the-spot library card sign-ups.

These on-site registrations have been very successful. For all Library-a-Go-Go locations this year, CCCL has a combined total of 868 registrations. The library signed up 378 new members at the original BART station site, and the second BART installation has proven even more successful, with 150 on-site registrations within the first ten days of service. Also, having staff on-site allows them to witness the kinds of problems people encounter and to assist them in using the machine.

Future plans

The fourth and last CCCL installation is planned for early 2010 in an upcoming transit village, consisting of high-density housing, offices, and retail space on 7.5 acres. This machine is being funded through Contra Costa County’s Redevelopment Agency and will be a built-in unit.

YCL is currently researching the possibility of obtaining additional technology products to support the county’s efforts in covering its many underserved districts. (See Automated Materials Vending Options for info on a variety of products.)

While pioneering this new service has not been easy, everyone involved feels it has been worth the time and effort to deliver needed new services in areas where they previously did not exist.

Vendor Brodart Libramation Evanced Solutions* Frich Corporation
Product Lending Library
LibraMate GoLibrary
Library-To-Go** AfterHourHolds.aspx
Installation Freestanding with overhang Freestanding or built-in; unit is customized Freestanding with overhang Freestanding, customizable
Uses RFID No Yes Yes No
Plastic cases needed No Yes Versions exist for both scenarios Yes for browsing collection; not for holds pickup
Capacity Hardcover, 180Paperback, 360DVD/Audio, 400 From 600–1000 items, depending on media mix From 435–2000 items, depending on media mix Customizable; price-per-unit-storage from $25–$50 depending on style, quantity
Accepts returns No Yes Yes No
Accepts holds No Yes No Yes
ILS integration Yes Yes, via SIP2, NCIP, or direct via an API Yes, via SIP2 Yes; proprietary software links to catalog
Base cost Machine price under $20,000, including hardware, software, first-year maintenance support, freight, and installation; sold with McNaughton subscription (extra cost) NA Book system is $100,000–$120,000 for machine; AV version costs less $80,000 for three units, including software and installation
Support cost After first year, approx. $2000/unit 1st-year parts and labor warranty, thereafter an extended warranty is available at 10% of cost one-year warranty, service agreement costs will depend on service level After first year, $1000 for all units
More info Allows patrons to view actual materials through the glass, as opposed to selecting from a list on a screen Company also makes MediaBank, a standalone dispensing and return unit for AV media has different models with capacity from 500–3100 discs AV-only units are available that don’t require RFID Customer chooses title, takes receipt to be scanned into collection/holds unit, which allows correct box to be opened
*Info provided by Evanced, which has exclusive rights to sell the machine in most of the Northeastern quarter of the United States. Califa is also an authorized reseller in California.
**Developed for Mid-Continent PL, Kansas City, MO, adapted from Lock-a-Shelf™ Disc Storage into TwentyFour7™ Patron Reserve Systems
In addition to the products listed here, mk Sorting Systems says it will be debuting a similar materials vending option at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Boston in January 2010. According to the company, the product will hold 800–900 items depending on type of media, won’t require any special containers, and will accommodate both holds and returns.

Coming in Just a Few Days: Library Card Sign-Up Month

This announcement from the American Library Association reviews some of the ways libraries are using to get people to register for a library card. Here’s one of several examples:

The Wauconda (Ill.) Area Library Distict partners with local businesses every year to show library users just how valuable a library card can be. Library users can receive discounts at over 60 local business when they show their library card. Services include everything from a round of free bowling at Wauconda Bowl to $500 off closing costs from Re/MAX. Also, during the month of September, libraries users that check out 10 items or more will be entered in a drawing to win gift cards and gift baskets donated by area businesses.

Source: ALA

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Each year, in order to maintain its eligibility to administer certain federal funds for affordable housing and community development, New York State must prepare an Annual Action Plan and submit it to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Annual Action Plan describes, for one specific Program Year, the State’s proposed use of available federal and other resources to address the priority needs and specific objectives in the Consolidated Plan; the State’s method for distributing funds to local governments and not-for-profit organizations; and the geographic areas of the State to which it will direct assistance.

The Plan also describes New York State’s planned use of approximately $86 million in federal fiscal year 2010 funds for: the NYS Community Development Block Grant Program ($47 million); the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (approximately $34 million); the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program ($1.9 million); and the Emergency Shelter Grants Program ($3.2 million).

New York State encourages public participation in the development of its Annual Action Plan. To provide an opportunity for that participation, New York State invites interested persons to review and comment on the draft Annual Action Plan for 2010 during an upcoming public comment period.

This 30-day public comment period will begin on Thursday, September 10, 2009 and extend through close of business on Friday, October 9, 2009. Beginning on September 10, 2009, New York State’s draft Annual Action Plan for 2010 may be viewed on and downloaded from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) website at In addition, copies can be requested by e-mail ( or by calling 1-866-ASK-DHCR (275-3427).

Comments should be mailed to: NYS DHCR, Attention: Brian McCarthy, 38-40 State Street, Albany, New York 12207 or e-mailed to Comments must be received by close of business Friday, October 9, 2009.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

City of Albany Primary Elections: Tuesday, Sept 15

Primary elections will be held in the city of Albany on Tuesday, September 15. Polls will be open from noon to 9:00 PM.

Primary elections will be held for the following City of Albany offices:
COUNCIL MEMBER (D-districts 1-5, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15; R-district 7 (write-in), WF- district 7)

Absentee ballot applications can be obtained from the Albany County Board of Elections, 32 North Russell Road, Albany or online here.

If the application is being mailed to the Board of Elections, it must be mailed not later than Tuesday, Sept. 8th. If this application is delivered to the Board in person, it must be delivered not later than Monday, Sept. 14th. Once you receive your ballot, the ballot must be marked and returned to the Board as follows: if returned by mail, it must be postmarked by the US Postal Service (or a foreign country's postal service) not later than Monday, Sept. 14th, and received by the Board not later than Sept. 22; and, if delivered to the Board in person,
such delivery must occur before the close of the polls on the day of the election.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Candidate Debates and Meet the Candidates Event

Save the Pine Bush is holding a Vegetarian Lasagna Dinner and Meet the Candidates event on Wednesday, August 26th, at the First Presbyterian Church, State and Willis Sts. Albany. Dinner is at 6 PM, $10 per person, reservations required, call Rezsin Adams at 462-0891. Candidates will speak beginning at 7 PM, open to all. At this time, Mayoral candidate Corey Ellis and City Treasurer candidate Kathy Sheehan are expected to attend.


Wednesday, August 26 - Sheehy Palmer VFW Post, 525 Delaware Ave. Albany
6:30-7:30 PM 1st WARD COMMON COUNCIL CANDIDATES Dominick Calsolaro and Scott Mannarino
7:30-8:30 PM 7th WARD COMMON COUNCIL CANDIDATES Catherine Fahey and Susan Tobin

Wednesday September 2nd - Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave.
6:30 PM MAYORAL CANDIDATES Jerry Jennings and Corey Ellis, sponsored by CANA and the League of Women Voters

Tuesday, September 8th - Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Avenue
6:30 PM CITY AUDITOR CANDIDATES Darius Shahinfar and Leif Engstrom, sponsored by the League of Women Voters

Thursday, September 10th - Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Ave.
6:00-8:00 PM COMMON COUNCIL PRESIDENT CANDIDATES Lenny Richhiutti and Carolyn McLaughlin, sponsored by the NAACP

Monday, August 24, 2009

Community Coalition to Prevent Violence

The Community Coalition to Prevent Violence will meet Thursday evening, August 27th at 6:00 PM in St.John's St. Ann's Hall, 88 4th Avenue, Albany, corner of Franklin St. (One block east of South Pearl St, in the converted firehouse). All are welcome.

Tonko Town Meeting tomorrow on Health Care

Congressman Paul Tonko will hold a Town Meeting, Tuesday, August 25th, on Health Care Reform, at the Elm Avenue Park in Delmar, Town of Bethlehem. Meeting will take place in the large pavilion at the far end of the road in the park.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Nominations Open for 2009 I Love My Librarian Award

Nominations opened Augus 17th for the 2009 Carnegie Corporation of New York/New York Times I Love My Librarian Award.

The award invites library users to recognize the accomplishments of librarians in public, school, college, community college and university libraries for their efforts to improve the lives of people in their community. Nominations will run through October 9 and are being accepted online at

Up to 10 librarians will be selected. Each will receive a $5,000 cash award, a plaque and a $500 travel stipend to attend an awards ceremony and reception in New York, hosted by The New York Times in December. In addition, a plaque will be given to each award winner’s library.

Each nominee must be a librarian with a master’s degree from a program accredited by the ALA in library and information studies or a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. Nominees must be currently working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or at an accredited K-12 school.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Library Workers: Facts & Figures - Fact Sheet 2009

NEW -Library Workers: Facts & Figures - Fact Sheet 2009
Source: AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees

For more information on library careers in New York State, visit:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Public Authority Payrolls, School Labor Contracts Posted Online

Payroll files for 384 Public Authorities have been posted on, the Empire Center's government transparency web site for taxpayers. The new data includes names, titles, base pay rates and total pay received for most of the 44,320 public authority employees added this month. For the full text of the press release, click here.

Also, earlier this month, updated school labor contracts for 77 teacher unions and 86 school superintendents were posted on the site. For the full text of the press release, click here.

Contact: Tim Hoefer 518.434.3100

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

45% of Employers Use Social Networking Sites to Research Job Candidates

Source: MarketWatch

As social networking grows increasingly pervasive, more employers are utilizing these sites to screen potential employees. Forty-five percent of employers reported in a recent CareerBuilder survey that they use social networking sites to research job candidates, a big jump from 22 percent last year. Another 11 percent plan to start using social networking sites for screening. More than 2,600 hiring managers participated in the survey, which was completed in June 2009.

Of those who conduct online searches/background checks of job candidates, 29 percent use Facebook, 26 percent use LinkedIn and 21 percent use MySpace. One-in-ten (11 percent) search blogs while 7 percent follow candidates on Twitter.

The top industries most likely to screen job candidates via social networking sites or online search engines include those that specialize in technology and sensitive information: Information Technology (63 percent) and Professional & Business Services (53 percent).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Albany's All-America City Fall Festival

The Downtown Albany BID is planning to host a family Fall Festival October 17. Are you interested in being a food or craft vendor? If so, please contact or 518-465-2143 ext. 17.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Message from the State Librarian -- Update #5

New Commissioner: The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has a new Commissioner and the University of the State of New York (USNY) has a new President. Dr. David M. Steiner, currently Dean of the School of Education, Hunter College at the City University of New York (CUNY), will begin his new duties on October 1st in both of these capacities. In introducing him after the Regents vote of appointment, Chancellor Merryl Tisch made special note of the Regents role in cultural education and the new Commissioner’s interest in this area. I join many others in feeling great excitement about Dr. Steiner’s appointment. His credentials are remarkable and include a stint as Director of Arts Education at the National Endowment for the Arts. Clearly books and culture have played an important role in his life and career. While you can Google the many articles about/by him, I want to especially call to your attention the autobiographical piece he wrote for the National Association of Scholars simply titled An Education Lived. It is not only a great read but also an insightful piece about the person who will give important leadership to all matters about education and lifelong learning in New York, including libraries.
P.S. I would encourage you to add Dr. Steiner to your mailing lists and
include him on your invite lists. Thanks.

Cultural Education Fund: The fund which supports the State Library, State Museum, State Archives and the Office of Public Broadcasting is still bankrupt. Legislation to improve this situation is not moving and we continue to face the realities of a dismal state funding picture. Adding to this situation is the expected impact of the voluntary severance program now being implemented in order to reduce the state
payroll by at least 4,500 employees. It appears that over 10% of the State Library staff will participate in the program which provides a $20,000 cash incentive to the employee and results in the elimination of the position which they vacate. We expect to lose up to 18 members of the State Library staff, most with many years of service and knowledge. We will need to reorganize our work and assess the impacts on our
services. The dollars saved by the State will have a negative impact on our federal funding situation because the result will be a reduction in the State’s required "maintenance of effort". It’s a rollercoaster ride and we are just trying to hold on through a series of steep and fast turns.

Library Aid Update: Thus far, the Division of the Budget has released $42 million of the $91 million appropriated for 2009-2010 Library Aid. The State Library immediately processed $42 million in basic aid payments to the 73 library systems. All systems should now have their basic aid payments. The Governor is asking the legislature to return in September to make further budget reductions in order to address New York's growing budget deficit, which is now estimated at over $2

Broadband: The State Library, working with a wide variety of State Education Department partners and libraries and organizations across the state will submit this week two (2) grant proposals under the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The grants request federal funding of over $34 million to support the role of libraries in providing public computing access and to fund major computer literacy and fluency initiatives as well as a major public awareness/marketing campaign. My thanks to all of the partner organizations for help with this. I believe, at last count, over 60 organizations representing hundreds of libraries and other organizations are included in the proposals. The timeframe was short and the application process filled with challenges, but a rather ambitious proposal was developed and will be submitted. The Public Computing Centers initiative includes expansion of capacity and the addition of the BroadbandExpress, a mobile public computing center capacity. The Sustainable Broadband Adoption initiative includes the creation of curricula, the creation of specialized training
for school and library professionals, the delivery of public training, the creation of Broadband Buddies and Cyber-Sages programs and a comprehensive public awareness and marketing campaign. The executive summaries of the proposals will soon be available online. We will keep you updated as we learn more about funding success.

Library Procurement: I had an opportunity to present testimony at a recent hearing hosted by Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, Chair of the Assembly Government Operations Committee and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Educational Technology. Michael Borges of NYLA, Jason Kramer of NYSHEI, John Smith of the Westchester Library System and Carla Rasmussen Chiaro, Deputy Commissioner of the Office of General Services (OGS) and her colleague Anne G. Phillips, Associate Counsel, (OGS) also presented testimony. The focus was on database resources. There was consensus that greater flexibility is needed for libraries to realize savings from aggregating the purchase of databases. I proposed, again, the idea of a New York State Comprehensive Information System (NYSCIS) with some state funding support. I have a follow-up meeting with Deputy Commissioner Chiaro to see if some of the State’s procurement rules could be helpful in lowering the cost of databases for everyone. You can read my testimony here.

New Netherland: The New York State Library and the New York State Archives are home to a treasure trove of early records of the Dutch in America. You may have seen a recent CBS Sunday Morning television piece on the New Netherland Institute here at the New York State Library. Library staff (Charles Gehring) have been at work for 35 years translating these early records. The Prince of Orange, the Crown Prince of the Netherlands and the Crown Princess Maxima will be visiting the United States and the New York State Library on Tuesday, September 8th to view our work and support our efforts.

Summer Reading: It’s not too late…to read just another one before the summer comes to an end!

Regulations on Deaccessioning: This fall, the Board of Regents will be considering converting what has been emergency rules on deaccessioning for museums and historical societies into permanent rules (Amended Rule 3.27). The permanent rules being proposed are only applicable to museums and historical societies chartered by the Board of Regents. While there is proposed legislation which would significantly
broaden the impact of deaccessioning requirements on more institutions, including legislatively-chartered museums and libraries, the proposed regulations do NOT include those changes. I know there has been great concern about the impact of any expanded law or regulations on libraries. We will continue to monitor this and keep you apprised of developments. The underlying public policy issues are significant and
important. When material is given to museums, libraries and historical societies does the "public trust" in which it is held have certain rules which must be followed? When times are tough is maintaining the collection more important than staying open? If material is no longer appropriate should another institutional home be found before it is sold? The ages old quandary comes to mind: do we save the painting or do we save the cat? There are good questions to be asked about how
materials are removed from collections, what transparency should be expected/required and what should the limits be on how the funds that might be realized could be used. The proposed regulations will be published on August 26 in the State Register and will be accessible here.

In a few weeks I hit the road again with visits to different parts of the state with workshops, speeches and library get-togethers including the important NYLA Conference in Niagara Falls. I look forward to meeting you and providing help and guidance. If we are now in the "dog days of summer," please enjoy them.

Bernard A. Margolis
State Librarian
August 13, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Inc. 500

The 2009 Inc. 500 and Inc. 5000 were released this week. Over on the ResourceShelf site are posted links to most of the new/updated lists, maps, slideshows, news releases, and the searchable database.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New U.S. Government Blogs

The ever expanding collection of U.S. government blogs on has grown again with the following new entries:

+ By the People (

+ DoD Live (

+ Rumors, Myths, and Fabrications (

+ Talking Faith(

+ The Blog @ Homeland Security (

+ USDA Blog (

Public Meeting - Sewer Problems




Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Moby headlining LarkFest

The DJ and musician Moby, whose 1999 album "Play" sold 10 million copies, will headline this year's LarkFest, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 19.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Underground Railroad Tour

Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.
Sunday, August 16th at 1:00pm
Meet at Albany Area Heritage Visitor's Center, Quackenbush Square
Phone: 518 432-4432

Friday, August 07, 2009

Work party at Myers Residence

Come one, come all! The FOURTH Stephen and Harriet Myers work party for the 2009 season!

Bring your friends and family!

This coming Saturday, August 8th we plan a work day at the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence at 194 Livingston Avenue in Albany.

The work party will be from 9am to 1pm.

Bring your gloves and we will provide the clean-up bags.

We need to continue the clean up the lot at 190 Livingston Avenue that was once the home of Abram Johnson, the father of John Johnson and Harriet Johnson.
John Johnson built 194 Livingston. Harriet Johnson married Stephen Myers in 1827.

This would be a good opportunity to celebrate some important history and contribute to its preservation.

RSVP if posible to Paul or Mary Liz at 432-4432.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Testimony on Library Procurement


Last week, I provided testimony at a hearing on Library Procurement before the Assembly Standing Committee's on Governmental Operations (Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, Chair) and Libraries and Education Technology (Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Chair).

I am attaching the testimony below for your information.

Bernie Margolis

Testimony of Bernard A. Margolis
State Librarian, New York State Education Department

Before the The Assembly Standing Committee on Government Operations
And The Assembly Standing Committee Libraries and Educational Tech.

July 28, 2009

Good morning, Assemblywoman Destito, Assemblywoman Lifton and members of both committees. I am Bernard Margolis, the New York State Librarian.
Thank you for inviting the State Library, and the State Education Department, to present testimony today on the methods libraries use to procure goods and services.

Information is the oxygen of our economy. As key oxygen providers our libraries are struggling to keep the doors open and to provide information to fuel business development, create jobs, support community health and wellness, assist with research and development and, of course, support high achievement in teaching and learning. Improvements to the state’s procurement laws will help libraries and library systems continue to demonstrate a commitment to stretching their limited resources. With a long tradition of mutual support and collaboration libraries are well positioned to work together with others within government, as well as outside government, to maximize their investments. Changes to the state’s procurement laws that encourage these efforts are welcome as libraries deal with lines of people anxious to connect to this oxygen source. Libraries are vital to helping workers to keep their jobs or get new ones, students to do homework, writers and researchers to do research, senior citizens to get information about health and aging, and all of us to keep up with the news or check our e-mails through access to the Internet. For some, the library is their only source for the information they need.

Today’s hearing asks how libraries and library systems can use various methods, including the state government’s procurement system, to save money and, importantly for their customers, deliver more information resources. My remarks today are focused exclusively on the acquisition and licensing of on-line information resources. Libraries purchase books primarily through a commodity model. It’s simple. The more books they buy, generally at the same time, the lower the unit cost. There are not many variations. The vendors know that given the numbers of books sold they can predict their market and set their prices accordingly. On-line information resources are quite different in many ways and cannot easily be acquired using the same procurement model.
Today, as a result, each state agency, which may be independently licensing the information resources it needs, is often unknowingly and unnecessarily duplicating other agencies’ procurement and creating added expense for state government, and ultimately the taxpayers. This kind of duplication is happening at other levels of government as well.
I will suggest an approach that might be considered to address this matter.

The New York State Library currently uses $2.9 million in federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds for a pilot project called NOVELny. NOVELny is a widely accessible, highly efficient platform that offers over eight database families containing articles from thousands of published sources to every library in New York and directly to every individual, who can login using a driver license or non-driver ID. NOVELny is a form of 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week oxygen for every New Yorker.

Because NOVELny is a pilot project, the 8 percent reduction in the amount of state funds in this year’s budget for libraries may reduce the federal funds it also receives to support it. This maintenance of effort shortfall as well as possible changes in federal rules places this funding in jeopardy. I believe strongly that expanding NOVELny would enable the State Library to develop and administer what I have begun to call the New York State comprehensive information system (NYSCIS). At last count over 5,500 libraries (out of about 7,000) actively rely on the NOVELny databases regularly and continuously. These databases were used 29.6 million times last year. For many libraries these are the ONLY electronic databases they can provide to their users.
Libraries are required to buy a license to use or offer an electronic database. These licenses are expensive, often costing in the thousands of dollars. And, they must be renewed. Many libraries, especially our smallest, just do not have the money for these licenses. With NOVELny, the New York State Library buys the licenses so that libraries and the public can access these databases.

So, building on NOVELny as a foundation, how can our procurement system be tuned to permit state agencies, public libraries and library systems, school libraries and systems, BOCES, academic libraries and others to join together, with State Library coordination and administration, to build a far-reaching vision of the New York State comprehensive information system (NYSCIS) providing hundreds of databases, including commercial, state-created and state-supported, federal, community and “free”? Like the current NOVELny model, many of these databases would be available to any New Yorker at no cost, some would be subsidized with state or federal support and some would be wholly supported by contributions from libraries and library systems. This contributory or collaborative mode of database procurement would require changes to the state’s procurement rules.

Other states have advanced different modes for the delivery of statewide access to information. Most now use state and federal funding for this critical part of the new information landscape. Even Colorado, with about 4.8 million people – compared to New York’s 19 million – spends $1 million in state funds for library database support.
Alabama, with only 4.5 million people, spends $3.5 million annually in state funds. Both Texas and Iowa have procurement structures that permit the public and academic libraries to contribute to the cost of statewide databases.

NYSCIS ideally would be built on a foundation of fully state-funded databases beginning with those now purchased by a wide range of state agencies and organizations, including databases in the law, medicine and health, and the environment. This would require the licensing of these databases for statewide use whenever possible. To provide coverage for the entire state, procurement would need to extend beyond the authority and scope of any single agency. As with NOVELny the State Library could be vested with oversight of these statewide resources. The State Library has begun to informally bring together many of the state agencies that purchase databases. This type of activity would need to be formalized to represent the widest range of input and discussion. Some central coordinating function would be required for efficiency and for communicating among agencies for this type of procurement. In this way the state’s existing investment would be leveraged to maximize access by everyone.

Database producers, publishers and distributors operate in a wide variety of business modes and models. These need to be understood for procurement to be quick, flexible, adaptable, transparent and efficient.
New databases are being created that offer enhancements over older ones. Vendors merge and databases morph as a result. Contracts and procurement rules need to allow for quick changes. Reassessment of a database’s value needs to be regular with changes made when required.
It needs to be clear to users what the databases include and where there is duplication and overlap. Broad assessment of their usability and reliability needs to be part of the on-going administration of the databases offered.

NYCIS would also offer a wide variety of information resources acquired at the state level for statewide use, both with state funds and funds from local libraries and library systems. New York’s 755 individual public libraries, 64 public and school library systems, nine Reference and Research Library Resources Councils, individual academic libraries, the state university libraries, and the state’s health science and medical libraries would all be asked to provide matching support.
Ideally, the procurement rules would permit any and all libraries to bring financial resources to the table to help fund statewide database access. By pooling these resources libraries would be able to acquire more access at a lower price. The delivery of these database resources from one robust state-supported platform would free individual libraries and library systems from the significant costs of negotiation and procurement as well as from some of the related technology costs. Having more database resources available on-line, while not a substitute for an accessible, open and inviting library facility, is nonetheless a welcome way to bring more oxygen into places now starved of information resources because of our economy.

The New York State Library is currently investigating how other states procure statewide database access. This information will help us work with the legislature and the library community to position New York to provide the type of access necessary for our residents to be competitive in today’s information economy. I know you will hear from the New York Library Association and the New York State Higher Education Initiative about their work, which builds on our efforts to maximize our state’s information resources for all. We applaud your interest and your efforts, now and in the future, to equip the library community with tools that will help it be efficient, resourceful and public service-focused in meeting our collective mission to provide the best, most up-to-date and valuable information to all New Yorkers.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pork-Barrel Spending Is Latest Addition To SeeThroughNY

This week, the Empire Center marked the first anniversary of its government transparency web site,, with the posting of $148.3 million in legislative pork barrel member items for 2009-10. The online database, which also includes $148.1 million in member items for 2008-09, is searchable by legislator, locality and recipient.

For the full text of this press release, click here. Contact Lise Bang-Jensen at 518.434.3100.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Restaurant Week

The dates have been set for Restaurant Week, so mark your calendars for October 4-10. Keep checking back to this website for details, participants and how to make reservations.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Study Finds Internet Content Filtering Ineffective, Harmful

Public Knowledge released a landmark analysis (PDF) showing that filtering of Internet content as advocated by big media companies will not work and will be harmful to the Internet.

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, said: “Our study, ‘Forcing the Net Through a Sieve: Why Copyright Filtering is Not a Viable Solution for U.S. ISPs,’ examines for the first time the complex topic of content filtering from the technical, economic and legal perspectives. Content filtering fails in all of these tests. Filtering will not be the ‘magic bullet’ that the media moguls want, but it could degrade and alter the Internet for everyone while invading the privacy of every Internet user. There is no reason that any Internet Service Provider or media company should even think about engaging in such activity.”

The report was submitted with Public Knowledge’s reply comments to the Federal Communications Commission (PDF) (FCC) in the proceeding asking for information on how to structure a national broadband plan. Several content-related parties suggested content filtering should be part of such a plan.

Those wild librarians! Such tales we could tell!

AUSTIN, Texas — So much for the stereotype. Texas librarians are baring their skin and revealing their tattoos – all to raise disaster relief money to help damaged libraries. Photos of the librarians and their body art appear in a new calendar sold by the Texas Library Association.

Librarian Shawne Miksa says it's a way to get people to notice library issues. As the model for November 2010, she shows off Chinese characters on her lower back that mean "wisdom" and "desire."

The "Tattooed Ladies of TLA" 18-month calendar is a follow-up to the successful "Men of Texas Libraries" calendar, which raised $9,000 to help libraries damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The TLA says libraries thrive on promoting diversity and free expression and the calendar exhibits that spirit.