State Library News
For the People, the Government and the Libraries of New York State
LEGISLATORS: HAVE YOU CHECKED ROOM 105?
A new service makes it easier than ever for legislators to keep abreast of the data they need to make informed decisions. Room 105 on the Concourse Level of the Legislative Office Building is now staffed by a Reference Librarian and furnished with a computer to provide legislators with convenient access to the vast resources of the State Library and the Internet. During the legislative session, this Library Access Point will be staffed from 12:45 until 4:45 p.m. weekdays. Hours are reduced when the Legislature adjourns.
Each legislator's office has received a key to Room 105 so that legislators and their staffs can use the facility even when a reference librarian is not present. Questions? Call (518) 474-5355 or (518) 432-2649.
This September, the Library's Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit on the eleventh floor reopened Wednesday mornings. All other areas of the State Library are still closed Wednesday mornings. Hours at the New York State Library are:
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
For more information, call (518) 474-5355 or e-mail <email@example.com>.
WHY DO WE NEED A PUBLIC RESEARCH LIBRARY?
By Joseph F. Shubert, State Librarian Emeritus
[PAPER COPY HAS PHOTO OF JOSEPH F. SHUBERT PORTRAIT]
This portrait of Joseph F. Shubert hangs in the "Melvil Dewey-Joseph F. Shubert Room" of the State Library. Mr. Shubert was State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries from 1977 until his retirement this summer. In July the State Board of Regents honored him by authorizing the portrait and renaming the Library's premier conference room. Like Dewey (who was State Librarian from 1889 to 1905 and inventor of the Dewey Decimal Classification System), Shubert is known for his leadership and advocacy for library services in New York State and throughout the nation. He earlier served as State Librarian in Nevada and Ohio.
In A Room of One's Own, published in 1929, Virginia Woolf expressed her anger and sense of injustice at being denied entry into Oxbridge, a term referring to Britain's great universities and their private research libraries. She wanted to study a Thackeray manuscript and other documents held within these prestigious institutions. But she was stopped at the library door, by "a deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman" who indicated, "Only the Fellows and Scholars were allowed." She then protested: "Gate after gate seemed to close with gentle finality behind me."
In 1818, over a century before publication of Mrs. Woolf's outcry against private research libraries, Governor DeWitt Clinton established the New York State Library. He called it a "public library for the use of the government and people of the State." With remarkable foresight, Governor Clinton understood the importance of a public research library and its impact on intellectual freedom for all New Yorkers.
What Makes the New York State Library a Research Library?
The New York State Library is one of 120 American libraries that meet the rigorous criteria of the Association of Research Libraries. Most members of this association are university libraries. The eleven exceptions, in addition to the New York State Library, include the Library of Congress, the National Libraries of Agriculture and Medicine, the New York Public Library, the Boston Public Library and the National Library of Canada.
With outstanding collections in medicine, law, sciences, New York and North American history, and rare documents such as Lincoln's draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, the New York State Library is the nation's only State Library in the Association. In addition to its unique collections, the State Library is eminently qualified as a research library because its highly skilled staff and programs help people mine the Library's extensive collections.
Who Benefits from the State Library?
Government personnel need information to make intelligent decisions. The State Library makes that information readily available. More than half the people who visit the State Library are government officials. Independent researchers such as historians, authors, business people, lawyers, doctors, family historians, are about a quarter of the users. Students are the next largest group of people who use the State Library. Many people come from all across the State to use this Library. Others -- from the smallest villages to the largest cities -- use the State Library without ever leaving their communities. Some telephone or make requests by going to their local libraries and asking for interlibrary loan. But more and more people use the State Library directly from their homes or offices on the Web.
Many people, including those of future generations, will also read publications produced by writers who do research at the State Library. They will also benefit from State Library programs dedicated to the preservation of endangered resources about our State and national heritage. They include the New York State Newspaper Project, which locates and microfilms newspapers, some so fragile they are on the verge of disintegration; the New Netherland Project, dedicated to translating colonial New York documents from seldom-read Dutch to more readily understood English; and the Library's nationally recognized publishing program.
People also benefit from the Library's use of new technologies to speed and expand service to individuals, businesses and libraries, to preserve brittle documents that cannot withstand ordinary use, and to save the time of the Library's clients. Today the staff is breaking new ground in digitizing information and linking disparate data sources for researchers.
Every New Yorker benefits directly or indirectly from the services of the State Library. And with today's technology, its treasures become available to millions of people in ways undreamed of by Governor Clinton. I hope that he and Virginia Woolf would approve.
Use the State Library's Electronic Doorway
Access information resources from your home or office
The New York State Library's Web site is located at:
On the Library's Web site you can find the following information about the Library's collections and services 24 hours a day:
And much more!
If you do not have WEB access from your computer, you can dial in (518) 474-9851 or telnet <nysl.nysed.gov> to State Library resources. For more information. . .
Lifestyles of 19th century Mohawk Valley families are the focus of Cory Munson's research. A museum exhibit developer, Munson plans to use this information to help students learn about family traditions. Munson is one of the four 1996-97 winners of New York State Library's competition for Research Residency Awards. According to the State Library's Interim Director GladysAnn Wells, "The State Library offers these awards to encourage scholarly research. Research Residents receive special privileges at the State Library. Their projects generally develop into books, articles, or lectures." Thus the awards ultimately serve not only researchers but also the general public.
Other 1996-97 winners include:
Alexander M. Cole, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Gerard L. Marten, retired police officer and writer.
Shawn M. Phillips, Ph.D. candidate at the University at Albany.
Applications for 1997-98 Research Residencies are due by March 1, 1997. For information, contact Research Residency Committee, New York State Library, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230; e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Tell us... Send us your questions and suggestions. Tell us about your reaction to the articles in this newsletter. What would you like to read about? What do you want to know about the State Library? How do you use the State Library? We want to serve you, but to do it right, we need to hear from you. Send your comments to: Mary Redmond, New York State Library News, Cultural Education Center, Albany, NY 12230.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER: JOIN US
In 1991 and 1992, budget constraints kept the State Library from purchasing books for months at a time, forced cancellation of hundreds of journals, and made it necessary to cut the staff by 25%. To halt this alarming reduction of one of the State's major resources, a group of concerned citizens and Library users organized the Committee for the State Library in 1993.
In these three years the Committee helped secure legislative appropriations to restore some funds. It also helped install Excelsior, the always available online catalog of State Library collections, and helped restore some cutbacks in hours.
Despite these hard-won victories, the State Library still needs supporters in the ongoing battle of the budget. The Library continues to be understaffed; funds for new acquisitions are still inadequate; Library hours are still curtailed. As long as budget constraints continue to restrict services and prevent updating of the State Library's outstanding collections, the sources of knowledge that empower each of us slip away.
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.
STATE LIBRARY'S PIG TRIAL PICTURE ILLUSTRATES NEW BOOK
In 1497 a French court condemned a pig to death for eating the chin of a child. A picture of the pig's trial appears on the dust jacket of a new book about animal rights, a 1996 addition to the Law, Meaning and Violence series from the University of Michigan Press. The State Library's Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit is the source of this picture.
Although trying a pig might seem silly to us, it was serious business in the 15th Century. "There were trials of all sorts of animals during medieval times," said James Corsaro, Associate Librarian for Manuscripts and Special Collections at the State Library. "Even insects such as locusts and caterpillars were condemned by medieval courts, particularly when they had done extensive damage to crops."
The Library's Manuscripts and Special Collections Unit has 11 million manuscripts, plus rare books, maps, atlases, prints, photographs, posters, sheet music, and ephemera that document New York State and American history from the 17th Century to the present. Items such as this graphic link past and present and help shed light on current concerns.
[ILLUSTRATION OF MEDIEVAL PIG TRIAL.]
Medieval Pig Trial. The new book, Unleashing Rights: Law, Meaning, and the Animal Rights Movement, by Helena Silverstein, features this illustration from a 19th Century periodical.
New York State Library News is produced by The Committee for 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
New York State Education Department
Albany, NY 12230
MARK FEBRUARY 27, 1997 ON YOUR CALENDAR. The Committee for the New York State Library will hold its Annual Meeting on February 27. A special program will be free and open to all. For information contact Christine Bain at (518) 474-5957.