New York
State Library News

For the People, the Government and the Libraries of New York State
Spring 2000

Legislators:We're Just a Click Away

If you need facts fast, e-mail the State Library at We check the address several times each business day and will respond to you by e-mail or telephone, depending on your preference.

Mark Your Calendar

April 28-July 9. Exhibit: Theodore Roosevelt: Popular Image and the Collector. Selections from the State Library's Theodore Roosevelt Collection feature memorabilia recently acquired from Lyall D. Squair. At the State Museum.

May 23. Celebration. The New York State Newspaper Project marks the microfilming of its two millionth page with a talk by Walter Auclair, former newspaper publisher. Free and open to the public. State Library, 5:30 p.m.

June 8. Reception for Volunteers and Friends. State Library, 3-4:30 p.m.

Grant Update

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently announced that the State Library has been approved for the second round of the five-year Gates Library Initiative which could bring a $7.7 million grant to provide computers, software, Internet access and technical training for public libraries throughout the State.

Change and Constancy at the State Library

By Lee Stanton

Photo Caption: Lee Stanton, Principal Librarian for Public Services at the State Library, retired in 1999.

When I came to the State Library in 1968, in many ways it was a much different institution than it is now. The most obvious change, of course, is its location and organizational structure. For over 60 years the Library was in the State Education Building. In addition to the beautiful Main Reading Room (modeled after the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris), there were several specialized subject libraries including Law, Medicine, Legislative Reference, and Manuscripts and Special Collections. Each library had its own stack area, circulation system, and staff, and each served a particular clientele.

However, as staffing declined, the difficulties of maintaining so many systems became more and more apparent. So when the Library moved to the Cultural Education Center in 1978, many units and functions were consolidated. Additional consolidation occurred in 1989 because of further erosion of staffing.

Another major change is the vast increase in the use of automation. For many years, one of the most well known spots in the State Education Department was the rotunda where the State Library's catalog held the millions of cards describing the Library's holdings. Additional catalogs were maintained for serial check in, ordering material, and government documents. Separate maintenance of each made it difficult to track down information.

This system changed gradually. First bibliographic information microfilmed, then computerized, and finally in 1995, united in one system called Excelsior All of these developments made it faster and easier for patrons and librarians to find information. In addition, the explosion in computerized databases, CD-ROMs and the Internet opened up many new sources of information and increased the complexity of the librarian's job because so much is available.

The third major change that I observed during my 31-year career at the State Library is the continued decline in financial support. The staff has gotten smaller and smaller. Every indication is that the trend will continue. The Library's acquisitions budget has not kept pace with the inflated cost of library materials. In fact, its purchasing has been cut in half over the past ten years. Consequently, the Library has had to cancel thousands of journals and cut way back on the purchase of books. It was a great source of frustration to me that the Library is not able to provide as high a level of service as it would like and its patrons need.

While there have been changes in the Library over the years, there has been one constancy. The staff is committed to providing the highest level of service to the people and the government of New York. That is why I am proud to have worked there and have many fond memories that I will carry with me the rest of my life.

Jim Corsaro Retires

Jim Corsaro, Associate Librarian in Manuscripts/Special Collections, retired April 26. His career with the State Library spanned almost 34 years. Jim has had the pleasure of helping such well known figures as author John Updike, historian James MacGregor Burns, and Congressman Hamilton Fish. But he has also, quietly and without fanfare, worked with thousands of lesser known family historians, students, government employees and many others.

Jim's knowledge of the collections, his inexhaustible energy, and his constant striving to make the State Library an even better institution will be sorely missed. Although he will no longer be working here, we're glad to report that he'll be continuing to use his many talents in his new position as part time librarian for the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

Visit the State Library's Web Site

An image of the Cultural Education Center, which houses the New York State Library

Search Excelsior, our online catalog of holdings, and access national and regional databases. Use the State Library Web Site to:

  • Think spring. Find dates and locations for flower shows throughout New York State.
  • Improve your health. Learn about the benefits of folic acid in your diet.
  • Visit the U.S. Capitol. Stroll through the halls of our nation's government.
  • Learn about other countries. Check out statistics on dozens of nations in the World Factbook.
And Much More

Instructions for reaching these sites are available at:

If you don't have Web access from your computer, dial into our catalog at (518) 474-9851 or telnet <>. For more information...

You can also access our Web Site from many public libraries.

Special Access for Friends

You can now get information about your HMO, prescriptions, and other medical subjects on Health Reference Center-Academic database. Many of the articles listed are full-text. Anyone can use this resource at the State Library, but Friends of the New York State Library can access this site on their personal computers. For information, call (518) 474-5355.

Lawyers: Find Answers

Survey Sparks Interest

These comments are gleaned from a recent survey of people who use the State Library. Barbara Beverley, Chair of the Friends Membership Committee, suggested the project. Conducted by Hui-Lien Tung and Michele McGrath, students at the University at Albany, under the direction of Professor Deborah Andersen, the project has been very useful in expanding membership and can serve as a model for any Friends organization. If you want a copy of the survey, write Friends of the New York State Library, PO Box 2247 Empire Plaza Station, Albany, NY 12220.

Do You Know?

Any New Yorker can borrow circulating materials from the State Library. Talk to a librarian at your local library about interlibrary loan.

Rice Passes the Torch to Eppard

Photo caption: Philip B. Eppard

Philip B. Eppard, Dean of the School of Information Science and Policy at the University at Albany was elected President of the Friends of the State Library. He succeeds Norman S. Rice, whose two-term leadership brought great vitality to the organization.

Other officers are Vice President: Zebulon S. Robbins, Jr.; Treasurer: Jeffrey W. Cannel; and Directors: Diana S. Waite, Norman S. Rice, Mary Ellen Stewart, Robert J. Freeman. Treasurer Coreen Hallenbeck and Director Ursula Poland completed their terms March 31, 2000. Lewis Rubenstein recently retired as Secretary. Janet M. Welch, Liz Lane, Joseph F. Shubert, and Carol Desch serve Board ex-officio.

Be A Friend

Join the Friends of the New York State Library. In addition to the deep satisfactions of preserving your heritage and sustaining a world renowned public research library, you can obtain special discounts at local book stores.

Political Machines: A Double Edged Sword

Illustration caption: Thomas Nast's cartoons of Tweed became emblematic of political bossism.

William Marcy Tweed was a rising star in the mid-nineteenth century, a time when Irish and German immigrants were pouring into New York City. In 1790, the population was 33,131; by 1850, it was 515, 547 and still growing. As the water supply, sewage system and other city facilities became severely strained, the municipal government was expected to solve the problems. Tweed was an alderman. To his supporters, he was a Scottish Protestant fighting for Roman Catholics when "Irish need not apply" was a sign of the times. When the State Legislature granted the City control over its budget and police, and Tweed's power surged. Boss of a powerful political machine, he became a leading figure in the overhaul of New York City's infrastructure.

In the 1870s, accused of wide-ranging corruption, he was arrested and tried for kickbacks and other illegalities in connection with the "Tweed Courthouse." The amount of money Tweed stole, if adjusted for inflation, has probably never been equaled before or since by any political boss in American municipal government.

Thomas Nast's cartoons portrayed Tweed as the incarnation of evil and gave political bossism a bad name. Despite the potential for corruption, political machines continued to be a way of life. The story of Tweed's rise and fall embodies the complexities of political machines and the question they raise about the strengths and weaknesses, and about corruption and reform.

The Assembly and Senate Document Series, the official record of New York State government from 1831 through 1918, shines a bright light on these matters. Recent completion of a project to microfilm these documents makes them accessible to researchers for the study of this and many other significant issues such as capital punishment and women's rights. This valuable primary source is available at the State Library, or statewide through your public library. For information call (518) 474-5355 or e-mail

Building Better Libraries

A $90 million plan to improve deteriorating public library buildings was recently proposed by the Board of Regents. While New Yorkers' use of public libraries has increased 20 percent in the last 5 years, the condition of aging library buildings declined precipitously. This is occurring at a time when New York's public libraries serve 73 percent of the State's households; the nation's average is 65 percent.

Tell Us

Send comments and questions about the State Library and its newsletter to Mary Redmond, New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York 12230 or e-mail

New York State Library News is produced by The Friends of the New York State Library and the New York State Library to inform New Yorkers about collections and services of their State Library.

Editor: Miriam S. Soffer

This newsletter is not published at State expense.

New York State Library News
New York State Library
N.Y.S. Education Department
Albany, NY 12230

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