Friends of the New York State Library | New York State Library News

New York
State Library News

For the People, the Government and the Libraries of New York State
Spring 2005


The New York State Library now brings you the full text of the Wall Street Journal online. You can read it daily or check issues back to 1984 without charge. It's all on the ABI/INFORM database, which you can access remotely with your State Library borrowers card. All State Library patrons are welcome to read the online Journal at the Library. For more information, go to


Trouble was brewing in 1777 at Camp Van Schaick on Van Schaick Island, located where the Hudson meets the Mohawk. The transfer of command from General Philip Schuyler to General Horatio Gates was going badly. Gates did not want to accept command of the ill-fed, ill-clothed army, and the troops were grumbling about being under Gates' command. On August 22, Governor George Clinton went to Camp Van Schaick to settle the problem. With the help of General Schuyler's loan of $10,000 for supplies, Governor Clinton negotiated the transfer, and left the island on August 27. That was roughly six weeks before October 7, when the American soldiers captured General Burgoyne at the second Battle of Saratoga, and turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.

This is one of the many significant stories that emerge from the Van Schaick Family Papers (1661-1863).

To consult these or other State Library documents, check the finding aids at or visit the State Library.


Black and white photo of Senator Hugh Farley.       Black and white photo of Janet Welch.
Senator Hugh T. Farley and State Librarian Janet M. Welch

State Senator Hugh T. Farley and State Librarian Janet Martin Welch are on the American Library Association (ALA) Advocacy Honor Roll for their outstanding work in strengthening library services in New York State. The New York Times is also named. The Association for Library Trustees and Advocates also sponsors the Honor Roll.

Senator Farley, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Libraries since 1978, sponsored all significant library legislation adopted over three decades. He was a member of the Governor's Commission on Libraries, an elected delegate to the White House Conferences on Libraries in 1979 and 1991, and a recipient of the New York Library Association President's Award. As prime Senate sponsor of the New Century Libraries legislation, he led successful efforts to restore library funding to the State budget. Senator Farley also supports libraries in the communities he represents. Recently, he saved the Gloversville Public Library when the city withdrew funding.

Janet M. Welch, a nationally recognized expert in library advocacy, public awareness, and coalition building, has been New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries since 1997. She led a coalition of libraries in obtaining a $17 million grant from the Gates Library Initiative, bringing computers and training to New York's Libraries. She also worked with the Regents to develop the New Century Libraries Initiative, which includes NOVEL. As Chair of the Legislative Committee for the New York Library Association (NYLA) from 1982 to 1985, Welch helped advance bills totaling $31 million in new funding for libraries. As president of NYLA, she also organized its Public Awareness Project, and obtained foundation support for library advocacy. These initiatives became national models.


Seventy-five percent of New York households use public libraries each year. That's far above the national average. In response to New Yorkers' thirst for information, Sandra Galef introduced the New Century Libraries Bill (A8086) in the Assembly, and Senator Hugh T. Farley introduced it (S4193) in the Senate. When passed, this legislation will increase State funding enabling all New Yorkers to obtain the information they need to succeed in the 21st century; it will help libraries fund much needed improvements in physical and technological infrastructure; and continue development of a skilled workforce.

This bill will also enable libraries to provide essential services to students, parents, educators, recent immigrants, job hunters, and business people.

For names and addresses of your Legislators, visit or

Similar bills were introduced in the previous legislative session, but were not enacted. Thanks to the determination and advocacy of Legislators, Friends of the State Library, and other pro-library organizations and individuals, another attempt is being made to pass this important legislation.


Mary Redmond, Interim Director of the State Library, recently announced names of the 2005 Research Residents and their projects. Out of 27 applicants, the following four were selected:

Each winner receives a $1,000 grant funded by the Anna K. and Mary E. Cunningham Research Residency Program in New York State History and Culture, established in 1997. Resident scholars will conduct original research at the State Library and give a brief public presentation about their work. To apply for a future research residency, go to


Search Excelsior, the online catalog of our 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:
For more information, call (518) 474-7920 or e-mail:


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


Dr. Charles T. Gehring, Director of the New Netherland Institute, will be interviewed on the PBS program "History Detectives" in conjunction with a story about Manhattan land owned by a former West India Company slave. WMHT will air this episode September 12, at 9 p.m.


Black and white photo of Norman Rice and Bruce Barnaby at the Friends' booth.

Norman S. Rice, Governing Board, Friends of the State Library, and Bruce Barnaby, State Library Staff, talk with visitors at Friends' exhibit.

An enthusiastic response greeted Friends at the recent 2005 National Library Week Celebration on the Empire State Plaza Concourse. The Friends' exhibit, staffed by Friends volunteers Jane Schneider, Norman S. Rice, and Clesson Bush, and State Library staff, displayed membership brochures, the New York State Library News, and information about coming events. Exhibit visitors voted for their favorite books. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell topped this year's list. Other favorites included Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White, and The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Ten other exhibitors from New York State libraries and pro-library organizations joined the celebration. Legislative Library Chairs Senator Hugh T. Farley and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef cosponsored arrangements for this annual event.


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 bookstores. Select:

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Black and white photo of a section of the book jacket, showing images of clusters of grapes on the vine, a portrait of a Native American, and a mountain scene.
courtesy of James Fenimore Cooper Museum
©NYS Dept. of Economic Development/Darren McGee

Detail from book jacket of new Encyclopedia of New York State.

In October 1998, the Encyclopedia of New York State opened its Albany office in the Cultural Education Center. Seven and a half years later, the Syracuse University Press released the first edition of this beautifully illustrated, 2-million-word book about New York State, and distributed 780 free copies to libraries throughout the State. "One of the most complete works on the Empire State to be published in a half century, this single volume captures the impressive complexity of New York State as a historic crossroads of people and ideas, as a cradle of abolitionism and feminism, and as an apex of modern urban, suburban and rural life. It is a crucial reference for students, teachers, historians, and business people," says the book's publisher.

The New York State Library and the Cultural Education Center played a major role in the development of the Encyclopedia. "It was the great good fortune of the Encyclopedia to have been located at the Cultural Education Center in Albany. Close proximity to the magnificent resources of the New York State Library, New York State Archives and New York State Museum was a continual boon," says Peter Eisentadt, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia. "The staff members of the State Education Department were unfailingly gracious hosts, starting with Carole F. Huxley, Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Cultural Education."

"Learning about New York State is a never-ending quest. For the student, for the casual viewer and for the expert alike, the Encyclopedia provides a new way of looking at and reading about New York State," says Mrs. Huxley in the foreword.

"Entries by experts chronicle New York's rich cultural, ethnic, and political history in a cornucopia of subjects," says the publisher. Detailed entries in fields ranging from sociology and the arts to geography and history include articles about sculptor David Smith, artist Rockwell Kent, and upstate literature, by Miriam Soffer, editor of the New York State Library News. Her son, Jonathan Soffer, a history professor and author of General Matthew Ridgway, From Progressivism to Reaganism, 1895-1993, wrote the entry "Reform Democrats."

"The wealth of materials available at the State Library and the skills, sagacity and constant good humor of Library Staff helped enormously in researching topics," says Mrs. Soffer. You can explore the remarkable new Encyclopedia of New York State, at your local public library or the State Library.

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 the collections and services of the 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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