New York
State Library News

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

Legislators: What Do You Need to Know Today?

For the first time, you can search for information about one state, any combination of states, or all 50 - from a single, comprehensive Web source: CIS State Capital Universe. Find out about bills and laws, constitutions, proposed and enacted regulations, legislature membership, and newspapers of record, most updated daily. You can also obtain abstracts from the Martindale-Hubbell (R) State Law Digest, public policy analysis from State Capitol Journal, and the NCSL Legisbrief.

It's never been easier to:

O Compare law and public policy developments;

O Monitor proposed and enacted state laws;

O Get facts about legislators.

For more information, call the State Library's Reference Services desk or e-mail <>.

Friends Elect Directors

The Friends of the New York State Library elected Robert J. Freeman and Jeffrey W. Cannell to two-year terms as Directors at the March 30 annual meeting. Other officers, whose terms continue from 1998, are President Norman S. Rice, Vice President Zebulon S. Robbins, Jr., Treasurer Coreen Hallenbeck, Secretary Lewis C. Rubenstein, and Directors Dr. Philip B. Eppard and Ursula Poland.

Ex-officio members of the Friends' Governing Board include Janet M. Welch, State Librarian; Liz Lane, Director of the Research Library; Carol Ann Desch, Coordinator of Statewide Library Services; and Joseph F. Shubert, State Librarian Emeritus.

New Head for Assembly Library Committee

Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow, Chair, Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education

"As the mission of libraries expands into the digital age, financial support has become more of a challenge than ever," says Assemblywoman Naomi Matusow, the new Chair of the Assembly Committee on Libraries and Education Technology. Matusow, a lifelong library user, pledges support for the vital role of libraries and library systems in schools and communities.

"The new technologies and ever-widening information sources are allowing libraries, and library patrons, access to information at a speed and with an ease undreamed of in the past," she continued. "Enabling New York's libraries to take advantage of these opportunities has been and will continue to be an important part of the Committee agenda."

Matusow plans to use the resources of the Committee to highlight programs being offered by libraries in New York's communities. "It is important to inform everyone about our libraries as repositories of New York's cultural heritage as well as active agents of educational opportunity."

"I also intend to facilitate cooperative ventures between the business and library communities," says Matusow. "The positive impact of library services on economic development must be acknowledged and encouraged."

She replaces Assemblyman Martin Luster, who chaired the Committee from 1997 to 1999.

Guides to Internet Safety

The State Library has just sent libraries throughout the State two items on Internet safety. One is designed for parents and the other for trustees of public and association libraries.

Kids and the Internet tells parents how they can help their children use the Internet sensibly and safely. It also lists other sources for guidance and library-designed web sites for children.

Using the Internet Safely and Effectively addresses trustees of libraries about why libraries need an Internet policy and how to develop one.

Rockefeller Biographer Speaks

Author Joseph E. Persico will present "Nelson A. Rockefeller: Confessions of a Biographer", a lecture at the New York State Library on Tuesday, June 15, at 4 p.m. Mr. Persico will talk about his experiences and insights gained during eleven years as chief speechwriter for New York's Governor and later U.S. Vice President, Nelson A. Rockefeller. The program will take place in the Museum Theater on the first floor of the Cultural Education Center of the Empire State Plaza. Admission is free and open to the public.

Speedy Service

Want to speed up your next transaction with the State Library? Use Excelsior, our online catalog, to request items and have them ready for you to pick them up. And if you are eligible to borrow from us, you can also use Excelsior if you want us to send the materials to your office or have them waiting for you in the Library. Call our Circulation Desk at (518) 473-7895 to find out more.

Librarians in the News

State Library staff star in many roles. Here are a few examples:

Liz Lane, Director of the Research Library, and Barbara Stewart, Latin American Cataloger at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst), coauthored the chapter "The Evolution of Technical Services to Serve the Digital Academic Library," in Recreating the Academic Library.

Scott Hughes, Library Development Specialist at the State Library, is one of twenty "promising young practitioners" featured in a recent issue of American Libraries. He was cited, among other things, for his work with the American Library Association.

Christine A. Bain, Associate Librarian for Reference Services, joined Ian Bartky, retired from the National Bureau of Standards, and Norman S. Rice, President of the Friends of the New York State Library, in writing "'An Event of No Ordinary Interest' - The Inauguration of Albany's Dudley Observatory," published in the June 1999 issue of Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage.

Terry Strasser, Senior Librarian for Reference Services, is the author of "Geographic Information Systems and the New York State Library: Mapping New Pathways for Library Service" in Library Hi Tech, issue 63, 1998.

Edward T. Gillen, formerly on the staff of the State Library, was named the 1999 Outstanding Supporter of Support Staff by the magazine Library Mosaics and the Council on Library/Media Technicians. Gillen is now an Agency Training and Development Specialist for the State Education Department.

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

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.

Gates' Way to Computer Access for All

The State Library took a giant step toward computer access for all New Yorkers. The Gates Learning Foundation's recent approval of the Library's State Partnership Grant Application could provide $5 million toward the realization of this goal for eligible public libraries and their branches in New York. Eligibility for a grant is determined by the poverty level of the community a library serves.

Working with a Public Library Leadership Coalition, the State Library coordinated the process of submitting a Partnership Grant Application to the Foundation. The State Library will continue to play a coordinating role for the remaining two years of the initiative through March 2001.

With the approval of the State Partnership Grant Application, invitations will be issued to community libraries at the requisite poverty level to submit individual grant applications directly to the Foundation. Grant writing workshops will be held at six locations in the State in October.

Decisions about individual library applications will be made in November. Initial training will take place in the first quarter of 2000, and implementation will begin in April 2000.

For more information about this initiative, call or e-mail Fred Smith, Division of Library Development, (518) 486-4855.

In Memoriam

Renate Kupic, Reference Services, died January 19, 1999 after a brief illness. She came to the State Library in 1987, and often worked at the Local History/Genealogy Desk.

Deborah S. Parks, Collection Management/Network Services, was killed in an automobile accident March 8, 1999. On the State Library staff since 1997, she was often assigned to the Circulation Desk.

Music Collection Abounds in Surprises

This copy of the Elvis Presley classic Old Shep is just one of the thousands of sheet music scores in the State Library.

"Sheet music," says Senior Librarian -- and musician -- Paul Mercer "is one of the State Library's largest, and paradoxically one of its least known, special collections. Containing over 30,000 scores dating from the 1790s to the 1970s, the collection emphasizes New York State history and imprints."

"New York City is generally hailed as the heart of the nation's musical life and a center of the music business," says Mercer. "Yet our collection shows that for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century music and music publishing also flourished in Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, Troy and dozens of smaller cities and towns north and west of New York City."

Our rare collection drew musicologist Geoff Miller to the State Library to study music in the Hudson Valley prior to the Civil War. Miller, a 1988 library research resident, found evidence of a group of musicians closely allied to the Hudson River School of artists.

Recently the Library received a major donation of 20th century scores. Among the gems from this collection are early 1900s publications of the little known Koninsky Music Company of Troy, and an extremely rare copy of Scott Joplin's first published composition, Please Say You Will (printed in Syracuse in 1895, when Joplin was visiting the city as part of a touring music troupe).

The Library continues to seek out interesting additions to its holdings. "Lately we've been buying music relating to African-American history," says Mercer. "Our new Theodore Roosevelt memorabilia collection has added yet another batch of scores, and we're always on the lookout for unusual New York State imprints."

For further information about music in the State Library contact Manuscripts and Special Collections at (518) 474-6282.

Do You Know?

The New York State Library is the largest state library in the nation, with a research collection of more than 19 million items.

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.

A Special Room for a Great Collection

William C. Gotshall

"You can't judge a book by its cover," according to an old adage, but for book collectors at the turn of the century, packaging often counted as much as content. To some extent, this trend influenced the choices of book collector William C. Gotshall (1870-1935). An engineer, Gotshall was a man with broad interests in science, art, and literature. As his collection grew, he became increasingly interested in rare books. Gotshall amassed an extraordinary library, which he bequeathed to the State Library --- with three conditions: (1) an appropriate bookplate bearing his name to be designed and inserted in each book; (2) the collection to be cataloged; and (3) "The choice books, rarities, first editions, those in exceptional bindings, etc. to be kept forever as a separate collection, shelved in specifically designed bookcases in a special room..."

Following the will's instructions, about six hundred books of "exceptional rarity, high literary, artistic and historical value" were culled from Gotshall's original library of 1,353 books. First editions in mint condition include 120 volumes of Dickens, De Quincey's Opium-Eater, FitzGerald's translation of the Rubaiyat with a letter by FitzGerald; two volumes of Keats's poetry, and many other classics in exquisite tooled leather bindings. Jeweled bindings by the renowned firm of Sangorski and Sutcliff adorn some of these first editions.*

Today this magnificent collection, housed in beautifully crafted glass and brass bookcases, is the centerpiece of the Librarians Room. In this carpeted room of burnished furniture and grasscloth walls, portraits of former State Librarians Melvil Dewey and Joseph Shubert commemorate the Library's history. Portions of the Library's pre-computer classified card catalog also grace the room. Until the catastrophic 1911 fire, when the Library was in the Capitol, it was the largest classified catalog in the world. It is a unique record of the holdings of a major research library of that period.

*Sources of article and quotes: The State Library's Bulletin 84 (1954), by State Librarian Charles F. Gosnell and Memoir, prepared by James J. Reilly Esq. et al.

An Inventor's Delight: The State Library

Each of these people discovered a wealth of resources at the State Library, where staff frequently introduce inventors to materials for patent searches, and provide access to the Internet. Each year, staff at the two Patent Stations serve about 175 visitors and respond in depth to about 200 requests relating to inventions.

For further information, call Mary Woodward, Patent Coordinator, (518) 474-5355.

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

Go to New York State Library Home Page