New York
State Library News

For the People, the Government and the Libraries of New York State
Summer 2001

Legislators: Books Now Online

Want to know more about current issues in education or budgeting in the public sector? You and your staff can now read whole books on these and other topics online. You can even search books for specific subjects. The State Library recently launched this new service with 3,800 titles on a wide range of subjects. To find out how to use this new resource, visit

Friends Get New Benefit

At a recent meeting, the Governing Board of the Friends of the State Library changed the number of membership levels from three to two and got a new benefit. Along with special discounts and many other privileges, Friends may now borrow books from the State Library if they elect a Contributing Membership at $50 per year. This is a one-year pilot project. A Supporting Membership at $25 with its many satisfactions and privileges is also available. See page 3 of this newsletter for more information about joining the Friends.

Magazines On Cassettes

The State Library's Talking Book & Braille Library offers its registered borrowers subscriptions to 46 magazines on cassettes. For more information, call (800) 342-3688.

Director of State Library Retires

Liz Lane, Director of the New York State Library's Research Library Division since June 1997, retired in October 2001. Mary Redmond, Principal Librarian for Public Services, is serving as Interim Director.

Me. Lane initiated the Library's 21st century electronic services enabling patrons throughout the State to access the Library's copious resources. In 1999, she launched EmpireLink, a pilot project for NOVEL (the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library). EmpireLink provides statewide online access to commercial, full-text databases via libraries. More than 3,300 of New York's 7,000 libraries offer this service. Under her leadership, automation of the Talking Book and Braille Library increased access to services now used by more than 39,000 New Yorkers with disabilities.

The Director's many other contributions to the operation of the Library include continuing improvement of the Library's traditionally high quality of service and addition of the Lyall A. Squair Theodore Roosevelt Collection. She also worked tirelessly to strengthen the staff in the wake of the severe cutbacks in the early 1990s.

"Liz Lane's expertise, dedication, and hard work helped lead the State Library into the 21st Century. Her graciousness and good humor brought out the best in people, engendering teamwork and cooperation, and making the insurmountable do-able. She has been a great asset to the State Library," said State Librarian Janet M. Welch.

Ms. Redmond brings vast knowledge and years of experience to the position. She joined the staff in 1981 and since then has overseen the Reference, Circulation, Stacks Services and Manuscripts/Special Collections operations of the State Library. She has also been Acting Head of Collection Acquisition and Processing with responsibility for the State Library's Acquisitions, Cataloging, Government Documents and New York State Newspaper Project operations. She has also been Head of Legislative/Governmental Services and Public Information/Special Collections. Ms. Redmond was employed by the Illinois State Library from 1970 to 1981.

Ms. Lane and Ms. Redmond were also active in the formation of the Friends of the New York State Library and their constant and firm support have contributed greatly to its growth.

Making Life Easier

Always intent on doing it better, the State Library is reorganizing public service points to make your work easier. So far there have been two changes: (1) You can now sign up to use the Internet and query a reference librarian at one location. (2) Thanks to the second consolidation, you can get help with local history, genealogy and microforms at one desk.

Gates Foundation Aids Libraries

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $16.6 million to 520 public libraries in New York State. Working with the Public Library Leadership Coalition, the New York State Library obtained these grants to bring computers and Internet technology to public libraries serving low-income communities.

Visit the State Library's Web Site

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

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.

Donate a Slice of History

Check your attic. Do you have any old diaries, letters or other records that document the history of your family, a business, a religious or some other type of organization? If you do, consider donating it to the State Library. We welcome contributions that chronicle our State's heritage. For information, call (518) 474-6282.Do You Know?

The Electronic Reference Station at the State Library provides onsite access to almost 300 databases.

Do You Know...

· The New York State Library is the only state library in the nation reporting decreasing expenditures for agency operations? Other states report increases in agency operations ranging from 16 to 195 percent above their 1994 level.

· The New York and New Jersey state libraries reported the only decrease in serials subscriptions. New York reported a decrease of 7,035 titles; New Jersey, 100 titles.

These statistics are from a recent paper for the State Library Agencies Survey prepared by Joseph Shubert, former Assistant Commissioner and State Librarian.

George Washington's Dress Sword Graces State Library Collections

"From the oldest general of the world to the greatest."

This verbal message accompanied a dress sword sent to George Washington by Frederick II (the Great), the King of Prussia in 1780, according to descendents of our first President. The New Jersey Journal of August 2, 1780 carried the quote beneath a picture of the sword. Worn frequently on State occasions, it is one of five swords Washington bequeathed to five nephews. William Augustine Washington, the eldest, had first choice, and picked this one because of its history. He left the sword to his son, who bequeathed it to Col. L.W. Washington.

On April 26, 1871, the State Legislature enacted the "Supply Bill," to purchase the sword and other relics from Mrs. Ella Bassett Washington, widow of Colonel Washington, "for the sum of twenty thousand dollars or as much thereof as may be necessary." In addition to the sword, the purchase included the first draft of Washington's Farewell Address, a statement of household expenses, a pistol that belonged to General Lafayette during the Revolutionary War, Washington's surveying instruments and compass. The bill placed the sword and the other items with the State Library.

Tell Us

Send comments and questions about the State Library and its newsletter to Mary Redmond:

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. Select:

Every Friend also receives:

What's New In 2002?

Libraries throughout the State will celebrate the job of reading at the Great New York ReadAloud on Wednesday, April 17, 2002. Local celebrities, teachers, parents, and community leaders will read aloud and talk about the importance of reading. A poster for the ReadAloud, displayed on the left, is available in Chinese, English, and Spanish. For information, call Tiffany Allen, (518) 486-4863.

Strike Featured in Newspaper Project Packet

The Great Railroad Strike began on July 17 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. In protest against the second wage cut that year, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad workers would not let trains move. The Governor sent in the militia, but they refused to use force against the workers. And so federal troops were sent in. As it spread throughout the Northeast and Midwest, troops and workers fought bloody battles. Over 100,000 workers were involved and about 100 of them died. The strike ended a few weeks later without restoration of the cuts.

The Friends of the New York State Newspaper Project have prepared an instructional packet about this event. Designed for use by teachers and students, the packet uses 19th century newspapers. It tells how to present different points of view; shows effects of labor conflicts and compares this strike with the Homestead strike. Since newspapers were written for a broad readership with varying abilities, they are easily read documents that express emotion and events as they unfold.

Copies of the packet are free to teachers and for sale at $10 to others. Send requests to Friends of the New York State Newspaper Project, PO Box 2402 Empire Plaza Station, Albany, NY 12220, or for more information, call Vicki Weiss at (518) 474-2274.

Adult Literacy Grants

· Parents and children read together in a comfortable place while they visit a family member at the Brooklyn House of Detention.

· Non-English speaking Troy residents learn English at the public library.

· Adults with learning disabilities get help at libraries in Monroe County.

These are just a few examples of the 14 literacy programs made possible through the State Library's Adult Literacy Services Grants. Totaling $200,000, these awards enable adults who read below the sixth grade level or who are learning English as a second language improve reading and conversation skills. This year's programs include literacy and reading programs for inmates and their families; tutor training; computer and literacy workshops; preparation for high-school dropouts to take the GED exam; and materials including a website for learning disabled students.

For more information about next year's grant application process, call (518) 486-2194.

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

State Library Hours
Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call
(518) 474-5355 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

State Library Hours
Monday through Friday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call (518) 474-5355 or e-mail

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