State Library News
For the People, the Government and the Libraries of New York State
The New York State Library offers many special services to legislators and their staffs. When you return in January, we would like to visit your office and explain what the State Library can do for you.
We will get in touch with your office to request an appointment after the first of the year. We look forward to meeting you.
If you have any questions at any time, please call our Reference Desk at (518) 474-5355.
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision outlawing segregation in public schools. In the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Court declared that "separate educational facilities" were inherently unequal.
The decision reversed Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case that established the constitutionality of "separate but equal" accommodations on trains. This led to segregation of schools and all other public facilities with an accent on "separate" and no attention to "equal."
How did such a major change come about? Look for answers at the State Law Library. You will find that the segregation doctrine began to crack in the mid-1930s, when the N.A.A.C.P. initiated lawsuits requiring tangible evidence of equivalence. These cases culminated in Brown v. Board of Education. The Court's momentous decision galvanized the Civil Rights Movement and "changed the face of American society by enforcing the civil rights of minority groups and the poor and enlarging the civil liberties of all citizens," says Stephen A. Siegel, DePaul University Law School.
But prejudice still haunts American society, says Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School: "thirty-five years after the Supreme Court's landmark decision, Linda Brown, the little girl for whom the case is named, herself became a parent alleging that her children's constitutional rights were violated by a state's failure to desegrate fully its public schools."
If you are interested in these and other Civil Rights cases, check out the State Law Library. "Our 400,000-volume legal collection includes cases from the 1790s to the present, statutes, law reviews, and a great many other materials," says Lee Stanton, Principal Librarian for Reference Services. For information, call the Reference Desk at (518) 474-5355.
(Liz Lane is Director of the New York State Library's Research Library Division.)
This issue of the New York State Library News includes several items about access to electronic information. "Visit the State Library's Web Site" spotlights a few of the many resources available over the Internet through the State Library's Government Information Locator Service. And the item on Electronic Doorway Libraries reports on statewide progress toward making electronic information available in all libraries throughout New York State.
The recent growth of the Internet and the "information superhighway" has brought about dramatic changes at the State Library and elsewhere. But the use of technology in the New York State Library goes back more than one hundred years.
At the end of the last century, time consuming handwritten catalog cards gave way to printed cards produced by the linotype. Typewriters were a fixture in the Library as early as 1904.
Melvil Dewey, Director of the State Library from 1888 to 1905, recognized the potential of the telephone. "The rapid spread of the telephone makes it important to be open long hours and ready to answer all reasonable inquiries by telephone from any part of the State," he wrote.
During the 1960s, an early experiment with Facsimile Transmission (FACTS) connected the State Library to fourteen other large libraries in the State, well in advance of today's more powerful fax machines. And the State Library was the first major research library to close its card catalog when in inaugurated its original online catalog in the 1970s.
These early examples of the New York State Library's leadership in the use of technology were major changes for their time, but current developments are even more dramatic. Once again, the State Library is shifting its focus toward an ever more sophisticated use of electronic possibilities to deliver information to its clients.
What's different about our new efforts? Soon, people will be able to sit in their homes, offices, or schools, and get full texts of information delivered right to their desks. The "library without walls" is closer than ever to becoming a reality here in New York State.
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 <email@example.com>
"The State Education Department awarded grants totaling $200,000 for Adult Literacy Services to eleven public libraries and six public library systems," State Librarian Janet M. Welch announced recently. "Activities funded by the grants reach out to residents of homeless projects, families of men in detention centers, low-income, female head-of-household families, Even Start parents, the learning disabled, and other hard-to-reach adults who read below the sixth grade level," said Maureen Read, the State Library's Program Officer for the Adult Literacy program. Conducted in conjunction with other organizations such as school districts, BOCES, and Literacy Volunteers of American affiliates, these projects are held in eighteen counties throughout the State.
E.J. Josey, Professor Emeritus of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and a member of the Friends of the New York State Library, received the $1,000 American Library Association's 1998 John Ames Humphry/OCLC/Forest Press Award. The award is presented annually to a librarian or other person who has made significant contributions to international librarianship. President of the American Library Association in 1984-85, Josey was Chief of the Bureau of Specialist Library Services at the New York State Library from 1976 to 1986.
New York State Library News is produced by The Friends of the New York State Library and the 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.
Search Excelsior, our online catalog of holdings, and access national and regional databases. Click "Information Location Service" for:
And Much More
If you don't have Web access from your computer, dial into our catalog at (518) 474-9851 or telnet <nysl.nysed.gov>. For more information. . .
You can also access our Web Site from many public libraries.
These are just a few of the many services electronic doorway libraries offer. Equipped with computers and other technology, they provide access to information that goes far beyond the library's holdings.
Criteria for designation as an electronic doorway library were developed in 1993. In 1994, the Board of Regents launched a statewide initiative. In keeping with our tradition of equal access for all, our goal is that every library in the State become an electronic doorway library. Although State funding is critical to this initiative, the Governor vetoed $3 million for electronic library services in this year's budget.
Is your library an electronic doorway library? For more information contact your public library or call the State Libray at (518) 474-7980.
Future generations will be able to hear the songs of rare and extinct birds. Thanks to the New York State Program for the Conservation and Preservation of Library Research Materials (CRL), hundreds of field recordings in Cornell University's Library of Natural Sounds have been transferred from fragile sound reels to newer, archival audio tape. This is one of thousands of resources now available because of the efforts of CRL, a statewide consortium of the State Library and ten other research libraries dedicated to the conservation and preservation of research materials. For more information contact Barbara Lilley at (518) 474-6971 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
It's called the Battle of Bennington, but it was fought in Walloomsac, New York on August 16, 1777. Advancing from Canada, General Burgoyne and his British troops had captured Fort Ticonderoga in June. As they tramped southward, supplies diminished severely. Tories informed Burgoyne of provisions stashed in Vermont. On August 11, he sent Lt. Colonel Friedrich Baum and about 800 men to raid Bennington. After a 35-mile hike, Baum positioned his troops and two cannons on and around a hill overlooking the Walloomsac River, about four miles from their destination. Meanwhile, concerned about the vulnerability of Bennington, The Vermont Council of Safety sought help. Brigadier General John Stark came forth and led about 2,000 men to Baum's troops. When the Americans attacked, they were beaten back repeatedly but ultimately scaled the hill and defeated the British forces. It was "the hottest fighting I ever saw in my life," reported General Stark.
The victory brought hope to the American cause, increased enlistments, and left the British weakened and in need of supplies less than two weeks before the Battle of Saratoga.
But much — such as how patriots infiltrated Baum's troops — has been left out of this story. For details use the State Library's in depth resources on the American Revolution.
"Great Start," "Science Wizardry," "Time to Read," — these are some of the innovative projects at 121 libraries throughout the State made possible by Parent and Child Library Services Grants awarded by the State Library. "These programs assist parents in becoming the first teachers and nurturers of their children and help every child enter school ready to learn," said State Librarian Janet M. Welch. Projects offer preschool, after-school, weekend and summer learning programs for children. Programs also involve other cultural resources such as museums, historical societies and environmental centers. "These grants help libraries launch programs that could not be conducted previously because of lack of money. With only $300,000 to award, many worthy requests were not funded," said Anne Simon, State Library Program Officer.
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.
Marion Blauvelt, Acquisitions & Documents Librarian at the F.W. Crumb Library, SUNY Potsdam, talks about ways the State Library enriches North Country resources.
Fortunately for us here at the F.W. Crumb Library at SUNY Potsdam College just west of the Adirondack mountains, the State Library is virtually local although geographically distant. Since the early '90s, our online access to Excelsior has enabled us to search the State Library catalog and borrow materials our patrons need. This is an especially rich source of information about New York State history and government.
The State Library's Web page featuring a Government Information Locator Service named NYS ILS has also proved invaluable. It makes it easy to locate State legislative, judicial and agency Web pages. Here are some examples of questions we answered just this summer using NYS ILS:
The State Library also enables us to help local scholars obtain needed data without leaving town. For example, a researcher who lives in this area is studying St. Lawrence Coounty's voting patterns in national, state and local elections over the last 25 years. The NYS ILS path to the Board of Elections Web page provides current information. Crumb Library also has the annual reports of the New York State Board of Elections, received over the years from the State Library.
So you see, although Albany is a four-hour drive away, the New York State Library is with us (as long as the network is up)!
The State Library has the world's largest collection of New York State documents. Since it was created in 1818, the Library has been collecting publications of New York State Government.
Holdings of this material now number more than 60,000 titles, with over 1,000 new titles added every year. For more information, call (518) 474-5355 or e-mail <email@example.com>.
The State Library has one of the State's largest collections about firefighting. Ranging from a rare 17th century Dutch publication to presentday documents, the vast collection was assembled by Thomas Walsh, a well known Albany area doctor. Because of staff shortages, portions of this material are not cataloged, and so are inaccessible. To make this major resource available to all, we are asking firefighters, historians and others interested in this topic to help — one hour, one day, or one week. If you would like to volunteer for this important work, call Jim Corsaro, (518) 474-5963 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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