New York
State Library News

For the People, the Government and the Libraries of New York State
Fall 1999

Legislators: Join Us on State-L

You can now receive the latest information about our new collections, databases on the Internet, and changes in State Library services --- on State-L. It's a new electronic list for Legislators and others who have State Library cards. All you have to do to join us on State-L is e-mail

Access Library Law Fast

Instead of hopscotching through several volumes of McKinney's, you can now look in one place to research New York State statutes and regulations pertaining to public libraries. Robert Allan Carter's new book, Public Library Law in New York State, has just been published and the State Library has it. But you don't even have to come to the Cultural Education Center to use it. The State Library is distributing a copy to each public library in the State, presidents of the boards of trustees of public libraries, all types of library systems and to select State officials. Copies are also available at New York's 40 depository libraries for State documents.

If you would like to own a copy, order it from The New York State Library, Documents/Gift and Exchange Section, Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York 12230. Enclose a check for $50 made payable to the New York State Library. For more information, call (518) 474-7492.

Rice Fights for State Library

a black-and-white picture of Norman Rice Norman S. Rice

Editor's Note: Norman S. Rice, President of the Friends of the New York State Library, presented the following statement to the 1999 Board of Regents Legislative Conference, hold on September 15.

As we expressed to the Regents Commission on Library Services in June, we are concerned about the ability of the New York State Library to serve the government, the people, and the libraries of the State now, and in future years.

In our testimony (see summer 1999 issue of New York State Library News), we pointed out that lack of funds to acquire books and materials for the collection puts service at the State Library in serious jeopardy. It is no surprise if State Library staff morale is low as they see that this great research library now ranks among the lowest of Association of Research Libraries in acquisitions.

A few weeks ago, I talked with Jerome Yavarkovsky, the distinguished director of our New York State Research Library for nearly ten years. He spoke to me about the necessity for the Friends to advocate for acquisitions funds, and he described the support that he has been able to secure for acquisitions at Boston College, where he has been librarian the last four years.

In 1993-94, the New York State Library expended $2.5 million ($2,505,184) for acquisitions. Five years later, 1998-99, the State Library's acquisitions budget was $2.4 million ($2,426,000).

Think about this for a moment. After five years of continuing expansion of knowledge and publishing, the State Library had less to spend last year than in 1993-94.

The result of this deprivation in a once pre-eminent institution under the care of the Regents is fewer books, fewer current resources for the people of New York State. This year's acquisitions budget, I understand, is $2,426,000. Without more effective leadership from the Regents and the library community, we continue to have an increasingly marginalized collection.

On the other hand, at Boston College, the library in 1993-94 had an acquisitions budget of $3.8 million. In 1998-99, it was $5.5 million; and this year (1999-2000) it is $6.3 million, exclusive of endowment funds. I can understand why Mr. Yavarkovsky departed the New York State Library.

During the last five years, the Research Library lost 25 positions and in the Library Development Division personnel who resigned or retired were not replaced. Those of us who use the Library regularly see the effects of this situation and want to reverse the increasingly perilous situation in staff and acquisitions.

Our Recommendations for Regents Action

At the Commission's hearing on June 3, I heard many librarians and a few public library trustees talk about State aid and about public libraries, school libraries, and university libraries. I heard few people mention the New York State Library's Research Library services.

I know of your untiring advcacy for increased library aid and your concern for greater accessibility and quality of all libraries. As you prepare your legislative program to present to the Legislature in 2000, I strongly urge that you:

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:

  • Visit the Library of Congress. See artifacts of our nation's heritage in the online American Treasures exhibit.
  • Learn about affordable housing. Get the latest information from the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal "bookshelf."
  • Celebrate 2000. Learn about millennium activities in the White House and around the nation.
  • Go camping. Reserve a campsite in one of New York's State parks.
And Much More

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.

Finding Lost People

Tracking your family's past and think they moved to Boston? Writing a biography and want to check where your nineteenth century subject resided? Look in City Directories and Selected Telephone Directories on microfilm and microfiche at the State Library. For information call (518) 474-5355.

A Salute to Christine Bain

Christine Bain retired on October 27. In addition to serving the State Library with care and dedication for 20 years, she was a major figure in the founding of the Friends of the State Library, and quietly and effectively continues to contribute to its success. We shall miss her thoroughness and good humor in helping library clients, and her writing and editorial skills. She epitomizes the wise and gentle librarian who makes everyone she meets feel like it's their luck day.

Do You Know...

Membership in the Friends increased 20% this year?

New Yorkers Love Their Libraries

The number of New Yorkers who use their local public libraries is well above the national average and they consider these institutions an important ingredient in the quality of their lives. Furthermore, they want to see their taxes used to expand current services, according to a 1999 survey sponsored by the Regents Commission on Library Services.

Highest on the list of New Yorkers' priorities are: a statewide library card that gives cardholders access to libraries throughout the State; increased use of technology, including Internet access to their library from home and delivery of information by fax or e-mail; library programs in local community centers; database searching services; homework tutors for students; and non-English library programs.

The Regents Commission on Library Services was appointed in May 1998 by the Board of Regents to develop a plan to improve library services in the twenty-first century.

"The New York State Library has a long history of supporting expansion of local library services through grants and staff assistance," says State Librarian Janet M. Welch. "We agree with the public that local library services should be expanded even more."

Virtual Visits

A drawing of an 18th century fire engine, the first manufactured in the U.S.
Eighteenth century fire engine.

See historic pictures, posters and manuscripts from our vast collections without leaving home. Just make a virtual visit to the State Library. Visits feature the Firefighters Collection, one of the nation's most extensive collections on firefighting, Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Fourth of July Orations, and Bryologia Europae. Make a virtual visit to any of these exciting sites at and click on Virtual Visit.

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

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.

Foundation Endows New Netherland Project

Researchers seeking information about seventeenth century New Netherland will have a new resource. Prins Bernhard Fonds, the Netherlands most prestigious cultural foundation, awarded 50,000 guilders or approximately $25,000 to the New Netherland Project, a program of the State Library. This grant will help support the translation from Dutch to English of the Council Minutes 1656-1658. The Minutes are a segment of about 12,000 pages of the official records of the Dutch West India Company's colony. The National Endowment for the Humanities will provide matching funds.

The staff of the New Netherland Project has translated over 16 volumes of early Dutch records, providing primary source material vital to the study of the Dutch influence in North America during the Colonial period. Founded in 1974, this center for the study of New Netherland also collects copies of Dutch manuscripts held by other repositories throughout the world; sponsors the annual Rensselaerswijck Seminar; and publishes a quarterly English-language newsletter, De Nieu Nederlanse Marcurius.

State Library Grants Have Wide Impact

These and many other services for underserved populations are made possible statewide by two programs conducted by the State Library:

  1. Parent and Child Library Services Grants totaling $300,000 were awarded to 112 libraries and branches. "These low cost, high impact programs assist parents in helping their children enter school ready to learn," said Janet Welch, State Librarian.
  2. Adult Literacy Grants totaling $200,000 were awarded to eleven public libraries and five library systems throughout the State. These grants support activities for adults who read below the sixth grade level and, in some cases, their families.

These out reach programs would not exist without the grants.

100 Years Ago at the State Library:

"Staff (men and boys on duty in the public reading rooms) wear a uniform so that they may be readily distinguished from readers or other members of the staff. Also added rubber heels which add greatly to the quiet of the reading room. No one after our experience would be willing to go back to the old system where people were sometimes embarrassed by asking another reader for service and often waited needlessly because they did not recognize some person near at hand as a library attendant..."

1899 Annual Report
New York 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 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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