Trailblazer Spring 2001

The Newsletter of the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System
Spring 2001, Volume 3, Issue 1
In This issue:

  Library Legislation 2001
  Adult Literacy Grants 2001 - Get Yours Today!
  Celebrate @ Your Library
  Akwesasne Library First in Region to Receive Gates Grant
  And the Winner Is:
  Bill Smith Presents "Tall Tale" Encore in Seven Libraries
  Member Library News
  Websites for Computer Enthusiasts
  Try EBSCO Masterfile Select!
  Oprah Book Club Author to Speak at CEF Annual Meeting
  Annual NYSLAA Conference
  Library Automation - Does it Make Sense for You?
  Murder on the Menu
  Grant Roundup
  Up to the Minute Audios Online!
  How Does Your Garden Grow?
  New and Noteworthy

Library Legislation 2001

This is a very exciting year for libraries. For the first time in decades the State Legislature is supporting proposals for new programs for library service. The Report of the Regents Commission on Libraries has been adopted as policy and work is afoot to implement its recommendations. We are calling it New Century Libraries. 

Our trip to Albany on Library Advocacy Day, March 20th, was very successful. Elaine Monroe and Diana Kahler, President and Vice President of the Hammond Library in Crown Point; Steve Graf, President of the Plattsburgh Public Library, Sara Kelly Johns, President of the Saranac Lake Free Library and Fred Smith, Chazy Library Trustee and President of CEF, led our delegation. They were joined by Kirk Peterson, Saranac Lake Trustee, Betsy Whitefield and Anne O’Donnell, Directors of Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh respectively, and CEF staffers Betsy Brooks, Mary Brown, Tracey LaBarge, and Kathie LaBombard. 

We met with our Assembly representatives Betty Little and Chris Ortloff, and with Peter Repas, Senator Ronald Stafford’s Chief of Staff, all three of whom expressed interest in library needs and issues. The folks from Crown Point and Plattsburgh presented compelling needs for construction funds, one of the Regents Commission’s important recommendations. 

We also showed them how every library in the Clinton Essex Franklin Library System will benefit from this proposed new funding. 

It is going to be a long haul to a new State budget. If we keep working and stay in touch with our three representatives, we have a good chance of putting some more money in the pockets of each library – and all of us, and our communities, will benefit from that!

 We need some help: we are asking each Library Board to pass a resolution urging the Legislature to fund New Century Libraries. Send copies of your resolution to your Assemblyperson and to Senator Stafford. We’d appreciate a copy at CEF, too. And try to arrange a visit with them this spring or early summer in one of their local offices. Thanks for your help. -- Mary A. Brown, Director

Adult Literacy Grants 2001 - Get Yours Today!

The NY State Library has announced the 2001 Adult Literacy Services grant. This competitive grant program funds public library literacy activities and services that involve collaboration with at least one literacy organization such as Literacy Volunteers or a public school. Public Libraries may apply for grant amounts between $5,000 an $20,000. Application packets were sent to member library directors in recent van deliveries. The application deadline is Wednesday, May 9. For more information, call Julie Wever at 563-5190 x 18 or check the New York State Library Website at


Akwesasne Library First in Region to Receive Gates Grant

The Akwesasne Library not only straddles several cultures, it also straddles the Canadian border, which recently put the library in the unique position of receiving two offers from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates Foundation’s Canadian program approached the library before the U.S. program, and ended up granting more equipment, explained Carol White, library director. 

Part of the Akwesasne Library’s service territory lies in two different provinces of Canada, and the library is a member of the Southern Ontario Library System as well as a member of CEF. 

The library held an open house on Valentine’s Day to celebrate the installation of six new public access computers it received through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Altogether, the library received six Gateway computers packed with educational software, a content server, a laser printer, networking equipment, and installation of a dedicated 56K telecommunication line for Internet access. 

Being part of the Canadian Gates program was not without its difficulties. The application was more difficult than for the U.S. program, and Carol remembers gathering statistics on Internet access to make her case to the foundation. Although the children of the area had some Internet access at school, she found that they had very little access after school hours. “I estimated that for every one hundred students in this area, there were two computers with Internet access available,” she recalled. 

There was the problem of getting the grant in Canadian currency, and of computers going back and forth through customs. An 800 number for technical support that only worked in Canada was an unexpected wrinkle. The final hurdle was getting the telecommunication line installed, which took months longer than expected. 

When asked if she had any advice to offer the libraries waiting for their Gates computers to come, Carol said that when the boxes arrive, the most important thing is to open them and check that everything listed is included. It will be easier to get any missing items if you do it right away! 

Now that the computers are installed and online, they will be a welcome addition to the library and the community. Carol and her staff have already been offering one-on-one and group instruction to the public on how to use them. “Kids really enjoy the children’s software, and they jump right in and learn it themselves,” Carol added. 

--Betsy Brooks, Automation Librarian


And the Winner Is:

Now is an ideal time to capitalize on interest generated by the recent OSCAR awards – if Hollywood can, libraries can too! This year’s National Library Week theme, which is “Celebrate @ your library” can be used in a variety of ways. Here is one idea from ( that will appeal to fans of the Big Screen. 

Big name feature films are appearing on VHS and DVD faster than Erin Brockovich can track down toxic polluters. In light of the recent OSCAR awards, savvy librarians can appeal to movie fans with some “OSCAR @ your library” promotion”. Here are some of this year’s winners, with suggested literary tie-ins: 

Movie  Literary Tie-In Topic 
Erin Brockovich Try The Killing of Karen Silkwood by Richard Rashke. Equivocal Death: A Novel by Amy Gutman, features a female lawyer. Related topics include women’s rights, toxic waste, and single moms.

 Gladiator The Way of the Gladiator by Daniel P. Mannix covers everything you want to know (and then some) about the life of a gladiator. Steven Saylor, author of Arms of Nemesis and Roman Blood takes a historically accurate look at ancient Rome in this mystery series that features Gordianus the Finder. 

The Patriot The movie is based on the book of the same name by Stephen Molstad. You might also try books on U.S. history, British history, and family relations. A Mad Max video retrospective would lend perspective.

The Contender  Check out Framing a Life: A Family Memoir by Geraldine Ferraro and topics like government, Constitutional law, and women in politics. 

Chocolat The movie is based on Chocolat, a novel by Joanne Harris. Try Sweet Death, Come Softly, a mystery by Barbara Whitehead, or indulge yourself with The Gourmet’s Guide to Chocolate by Lesley Berger.

Traffic If you don’t want to wait for the book, which will be published in May, check out China White by Peter Maas, or PBS Video’s ‘Traffik.’ 


Thanks to Tracey LaBarge ( who hasn’t seen any of these movies either) for her help in researching additional materials on these topics. -- Julie Wever


Bill Smith Presents "Tall Tale" Encore In Seven Libraries

Bill Smith, the Adirondacks’ favorite “tall tale teller,” will present his always popular program of music and a tale or two in four libraries this spring. If you can’t bring yourself to venture out in the evening even though the clocks have sprung forward, you can catch Mr. Smith’s program at three libraries in May, June and July. 

Bill’s “Cabin Fever” program that was scheduled to be held at the Hammond Library, Crown Point on March 30 was cancelled due to snow and will be rescheduled at a later date. The Plattsburgh Public Library celebrated National Library Week with Bill on Tuesday, April 3. Mr. Smith will visit his fans at the Schroon Lake Library on Friday, April 6 at 7:00 p.m. The Keene Valley Library Association will host Mr. Smith at the Congregational Church on Monday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. 

Bill will make his way to Franklin County to present a program at the Chateaugay Memorial Library at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 4. He will be one of the highlights of the Dannemora Free Library’s Open House on Saturday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. His last CEF sponsored performance will be held at the Paine Memorial Library, Willsboro on Friday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m. 

These programs, which are free and fun for all ages, are made possible with 2001 Coordinated Outreach funds.




A quick search of public library Web sites always nets a treasure trove of ideas and information. A recent favorite (it might have to become a regular feature) is “Oprahlikes” from the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library in Wakefield, MA. It seems that great ideas and “Oprahlikes” are all around us! The site lists recent recommendations by Oprah along with books that are similar in theme or style. Here are just a few: 

Oprah Book: Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell 
Oprahlike: Joe by Larry Brown (1991), The Wizard’s Tide by Frederick Buechner (1990), Purple America by Rick Moody (1997) 

Oprah Book: Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende 
Oprahlike: Daughters of the Dust by Julie Dash (1997), Ahab’s Wife: or the Star-Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund (1999), Sierra by Richard Wheeler (1996), 

Oprah Book: Gap Creek by Robert Morgan 
Oprahlike: I am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell (1985), The Rosewood Casket by Sharon McCrumb (1996), Black Mountain Breakdown by Lee Smith (1981) 

Oprah Book: Map of the World by Jane Hamilton 
Oprahlike: The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks (1991), A Boy in Winter by Maxine Chernoff (1999), Evening News by Marly Swick (1999) 

Oprah Book: Midwives by Chris Bohjalian 
Oprahlike: Bringing Out the Dead by Joe Connelly (1998), What Girls Learn by Karin Cook (1997), The Good Mother by Sue Miller (1986), Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons (1993) 

 Originally adapted from an annotated list printed in Booklist “After Oprah” (September 1997); updated on March 12, 2001 by the staff of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library.



In Clinton County:

Chazy Public Library 

Chazy Library has just installed a beautiful new custom built circulation and computer desk. It was made possible by donations to the library in memory of Bud Neverett (husband of our long time trustee Pat Neverett). It is a quite a change from our old oak library table, which I’m told was a discard from the New York City Library around 1932. 

We held a spring book sale on March 31 at the Chazy Town Hall from 9:00 a.m. to noon. -- Francie Fairchild, Director

In Essex County:

Keene Valley Library Association 

The Keene Valley Library has a great current event web page to which Lesley Paul directed me for news to include in this issue. I checked it out and was interested to note that the library building was added to the National Historic Register on January 11, 2001. 

Keene Valley is currently undergoing a building project that will result in restored woodwork and new lighting. Half of the library’s collection is now in storage to make way for restoration. As a result, no interlibrary loan requests will be accepted until further notice.

 The Library’s computer lab will remain open during the renovation process unless otherwise noted. The lab features six computers with public Internet and web e-mail access, newspaper and magazine databases, word processing, accounting spreadsheets, desktop publishing software, and a central laser printer. It looks like the folks at the Keene Valley Library have not let a little thing like winter slow them down! 

Keeseville Free Library 

I have finally driven the gremlins from the library (I hope!) Before we could install the new carpet, it was discovered that we needed a new boiler for the furnace. With that in place, we finished the children’s room just in time for the arrival of newly purchased juvenile books and the talking globe.

With everything settled, we were able to accept delivery of the new Compac Persario computer that Literacy Volunteers is housing in the Children’s Room. It will be used primarily by LVA tutors and students. However, we will be allowed to let children run the educational programs that were purchased with Coordinated Outreach Minigrant funds. The Library is hosting an Adult Basic Education Tutor Training workshop series on at a date to be announced this spring. This activity is part of a collaborative project among CEF, LVA and area libraries. 

Every cloud has a silver lining. During our time of “tribulation,” something wonderful happened. We received a $1,000 check from a summer patron to buy science and health books for our collection. What fun that was! It has really been an up and down winter at Keeseville Free Library. --Ann Garcia, Director 

(Editor’s note: Everyone is invited to visit the Keeseville Library to view the beautiful new blue carpet that was installed after the library was badly damaged by water this winter. I’m not sure if it will be necessary to remove your shoes, but be sure to admire the woodwork that Ann spent most of December painting on her hands and knees!) 

Schroon Lake Public Library 

The Schroon Lake Public Library is hosting two adult programs this spring. On April 6 at 7:00 p.m., Adirondack storyteller Bill Smith will present a program for all ages. On Friday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m., we will host the Adirondack Blue Bird Society. Topics to be covered include how to attract bluebirds to your yard, facts about their nesting season and instructions on how to build a bluebird house. A short video will also be presented. 

We have started a quilting club which has been a huge success. We meet on the last Saturday of each month for a few hours. Experienced quilters either bring a piece to work on, share, or give a hand to those who need assistance with a project. We are fortunate to have a quilter who loves to teach. She comes each month and starts the less experienced quilters on a project that they take home to work on during the month. It has been a treat to learn a new skill and make new friends! -- Jane Bouchard, Director 

Black Watch Memorial Library, Ticonderoga 

The Black Watch Memorial Library is in the first stage of an expansion project. We plan to add 2,000 square feet to our present building. Nolan Lushington, a library planning consultant from Hartford, Connecticut, has been working with us to plan the best use of this additional space. After he completes his report, we will hire an architect to work with Mr. Lushington on the actual expansion. -- Maureen Johns, Director 

Wells Memorial Library, Upper Jay 

The Wells Memorial Library’s next “Tea and Talk” will be held on Wednesday, April 11. The topic will be “Some Characters I have Known” which should prove to be interesting!

We will be breaking ground for our new addition on Saturday, April 14 at 11:00 a.m. This will be a “community dig” so everyone is encouraged to bring a shovel and bring the family. Refreshments will be served to all thirsty diggers. We will be raffling a beautifully framed Nathan Farb print entitled “Spring Ice Storm” for $1.00 per ticket (or 10 tickets for $8.00). The drawing will be held this fall at the grand opening of our new addition. -- Carole McDowell, Director 

Wadhams Free Library 

Wadhams Library staff and volunteers are busy with “kid stuff” lately. Our Thursday afternoon story hour is usually attended by 12 children (impersonating 24 children). We start with a story, and then break into groups based on age. Some make a craft project, while the older children are working with Board President Ted Cornell on public speaking. The littlest ones run around and jump up and down. We try to keep things calm but fun. This has also become a good time for the mothers of the smaller children to get together and talk. 

Library trustees Judy French and Bridgette Blemel have started an after-school homework program. On Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00 to 5:00, kids come to the library and work on their homework, get help if they need it, or read quietly. It’s about the only time here when we say “Shhh!” 

We’re happy to have been selected to receive 50 volumes of “The Library of America” through the Millennium Project for Public Libraries. We are planning several public programs – one will involve kids and poetry- for the spring. -- Liz Rapalee, Director

In Franklin County:

Saranac Lake Free Library

Betty Pratt, library volunteer, has compiled a useful new resource entitled “Civil War Veterans Who Resided in Saranac Lake, New York.” It includes the townships of Harrietstown, North Elba and St. Armand. 118 veterans are listed, along with biographical data such as birth place, date of death, occupation, census and Civil War information. The work is indexed and may be used in the Adirondack Room. Anyone with further information on Saranac Lake’s Civil War veterans is invited to contribute to the book. The Adirondack Room is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 am to 12 noon and from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Curator Michele Tucker is available to answer questions and to assist with research projects. 

Brown bag lunch programs for April include a talk about “Chapels in the Woods” by Geri Wright (April 12). Ellen Maroun will introduce the new Ethics Committee for the Adirondack Medical Center on April 26. These free, informal sessions begin at noon in the library’s Cantwell Community Room. Dessert and beverage are provided by library volunteers. -- Pat Wiley, Library Assistant 

Volunteers sent up for the Winter Book Sale at the Saranac Lake Free Library. Photo: Pat Wiley 

Franklin Correctional Facility 

At Franklin Correctional Facility Library, Black History Month was commemorated with several videos from the CEF collection. Among the most popular was African Origins: Black Americans, America’s Dream and A Woman Called Moses. A special collection of books celebrating Black American history and cultural diversity was displayed for loan. In April, we are looking forward to hosting programs by recreational therapist Beth Grafals and financial planner John Kroner. Inmates, counselors and teachers enjoy participating in these workshops on communication, family skills, and saving and managing credit. -- A. Jones, Librarian, Franklin Correctional

Websites for Computer Enthusiasts

Buy Computer and Network Equipment: 

Find “How-to” Computer Articles: 

Find Out if Your Computer is Vulnerable to Hackers: (click on Shields Up, then Shields Up again). 

-- Betsy Brooks


Try EBSCO MasterFile Select! 

This database of 771 full text periodicals is the newest online offering purchased by the New York State Library for all New York public and school libraries.

Best of all, EBSCO trainers will be coming to Plattsburgh to offer free training! The tentative date is May 23, 2001, with both morning and afternoon 90 minute sessions available. We’ll let you know when the details are finalized.


Oprah Book Club Author to Speak at CEF Annual Meeting

Save the date and be sure to join us for the 2001 CEF Annual Meeting which will feature old friends, food, and a famous author. Chris Bojahlian, author of Midwives, will be our guest on Wednesday, July 18 at the Lake Forest Senior Retirement Community. Bojalian, who resides in Vermont, is also the author of The Law of Similiars, Water Witches, and Hangman. His latest book, which was published in 2001, is Trans-Sister Radio. CEF owns most of his works in hard cover and audiobook formats. Mark your calendars now and look for more details in the next issue of the Trailblazer.


Annual NYSLAA Conference

Come and join us for the 23rd Annual NYSLAA Conference "Facing the Challenges of the 21st Century: Soaring to New Heights!" This year's conference will be held at St. John's University in Jamaica, NY on June 13-15. Whether you attend one the many workshops, talk to Judy Sibio about NYSLAA's Certificate of Achievement, or network with other library assistants from around New York State, you can be sure that you'll have a great time. For more information about the conference or the Certificate of Achievement, check out NYSLAA's web site: -- Tracey LaBarge


Murder on the Menu

Since pre-swimsuit season can be murder, we’re taking an untactful look at food-inspired mysteries. All of the titles below are available from CEF and member libraries. Some are even available on audio tape so you can indulge while in line at your favorite drive thru. 

Churchill, Jill

  • Fear of Frying
  • War and Peas
  • Silence of the Hams
Davidson, Diane Mott
  • Dying for Chocolate
  • The Cereal Murders
  • The Last Suppers
  • Prime Cut
  • The Grilling Season
King, Peter
  • Spiced to Death
  • Dying on the Vine
  • The Gourmet Detective
Laurence, Janet
  • Death and the Epicure
  • Recipe for Death
  • Death at the Table
  • A Tasty Way to Die
Myers, Tamar
  • Crepes of Wrath
  • No Use Dying Over Spilled Milk
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth (includes recipes!)
Pickard, Nancy
  • The Secret Ingredient Murder
  • Mom, Apple Pie and Murder
  • The Blue Corn Murder
Temple, Lou Jane
  • Bread on Arrival
  • A Stiff Risotto
  • Death by Rhubarb


Library Automation - Does it Make Sense for You?

Here in northeastern New York, we have a variety of libraries with different sizes, budgets, and needs. Library automation software has been around for years, but for many of our libraries it has not been a priority. The largest of our libraries have gone ahead with it, and have seen an improvement in service and efficiency. Most managers of smaller libraries are apprehensive about the time and cost involved. How can you judge whether an automation project makes sense for your library? 

Step one is to assess how you currently do things. How much time is spent checking in, checking out, and renewing books? How much time is spent maintaining a card catalog and shelf list? Are these systems in good order? Could you hand over library operations temporarily or permanently to another person and expect them to quickly understand where items in your collection are and how to maintain the system? Does your current system allow you to look at statistics on how the collection is used? Is it giving your patrons the best possible service? 

Recently, CEF sent a copy of the new automation contract to every library director for perusal. It’s a legal document, written to protect both parties. In this document, the current costs for joining our centralized automation system are stated. We tried to make those costs as low as possible, because it benefits the whole system to have more libraries involved. However, we need to ask libraries to pitch in financially, so that the automation system will be self-sustaining over time. 

If the costs seem high in comparison to your budget, think about how they compare to buying computer equipment. For the same cost, about $3000 over 5 years, you could buy two computers. For your automation funds, you will receive one computer, a barcode scanner, barcode labels for your collection, a telecommunication link to our central database, lots of help from CEF, and all of the benefits of automation which are:

· More powerful ways to search for information 
· Access from home for your patrons with computers 
· The ability to quickly locate materials 
· Elimination of the work of maintaining a card catalog and shelf list 
· Quick and accurate check in and check out of materials 
· Streamlined patron accounting 
· Detailed statistics that help in collection management 

If you look at the costs and benefits over the long term, automation starts to look more and more attractive. If you have questions about whether to go ahead with an automation project, we’d be glad to provide you with more information. We can visit informally, or address your board’s concerns at a meeting. -- Betsy Brooks, Automation Librarian


Grant Roundup

It’s the time of year when our thoughts turn to green – in more ways than one. Now is the time to start thinking about local and state aid funding opportunities for your library. Below is what I hope is a handy reference to application deadlines for upcoming grant initiatives. If you have questions about any of the information listed here, or want to share your favorite funding sources and success stories in an upcoming issue, please let me know. 

Adult Literacy Services Grant Program: 
Application deadline: Wednesday, May 9, 2001 
Purpose: Applicants can request grants between $5,000 and $20,000. 
Projects must include direct coordination with one or more local adult literacy provider. Application materials have been sent to all member libraries. For more information, check the New York State Library web site at or contact Julie Wever. 

Parent Child Services Grant: 
Application deadline: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 
Purpose: This state aid grant funds library programs and services for children and parents/caregivers that collaborate with at least one local partner organization. 
Competition is usually quite keen. More information and an application can be obtained at the New York State Library website.

Public Library Construction: 
Application deadline: Fall 2001 
Purpose: State aid is available through this program for a variety of building related projects. 
Libraries in the CEF service area share a piece of the state aid pie that is approximately $23,000. Seven libraries submitted applications for a special spring funding round. Watch for information from CEF in early fall. The Wadhams Free Library, Wells Memorial Library, Upper Jay, and the Black Watch Library, Ticonderoga are just a few of the libraries that have undertaken successful multi-year projects with construction funding. You might consider contacting their project coordinators for inside information on these funds. For application information, call Julie Wever at CEF. 

Coordinated Outreach Mini-Grants: 
Application deadline: Friday, June 15, 2001 
Purpose: A maximum award of $500 is given to member libraries, correctional facilities, and reading centers to serve one or more of the eight outreach “target” populations. 
Watch for 2001 application materials in an early May van delivery. 

--Julie Wever, Outreach Coordinator


Up to the Minute Audios On-Line!

Catalog? Who needs an audio book catalog when you can get an up-to-date listing of the audio books in the CEF collection on Icepac. There’s only one drawback: descriptions are not available. We do realize that this list isn’t really a substitute for a new catalog complete with our pithy and profound descriptions. We hope to have a new audio catalog out by the end of the year. Meanwhile, check out our recent additions on Icepac. 

Here’s how: 

1. Use the Icepac website at

2. Choose “Search Icepac” on the top left hand side. 

3. Select “CEFL” in the first blank by clicking on the small “down arrow” on the right, finding CEFL on the list, then clicking on it to select it. 

4. Leave the second blank as it is. 

5. Select the options “All Fields” and “Keyword” by clicking in the circles beside them. 

6. In the blank labeled “Enter Search Terms,” type the words sound recording. If you click on “Go” at this point you will be given a list of all of CEF’s sound recordings (over 1000, so be patient). If you prefer a shorter list, enter another word or phrase after sound recording, for example you could search for sound recording crichton for a list of sound recordings of books by Michael Crichton, or sound recording career for a list of sound recordings about careers. You can use the same trick to find videos, by substituting the word “videorecording” for the words “sound recording”.


Here are some of our favorite Web sites for your on-line edification! - this site enriches the lives of grandparents and grandchildren with fun games, coloring pages, mazes, freebies, discounts, contests, articles, conversation starters and more. 

--Kathie LaBombard 

Kathie also recommends:, a site full of clipart on lots of subjects for all ages.—the web site of the New York State Library Association. Check it out for NYSLAA’s June 13-15 conference details. 

--Tracey LaBarge (Regents Commission on Library Services) – Visit this web site to see the complete report by the Regents Commission, related information, and updates on legislative initiatives. – this nuts-and bolts guide to writing a winning grant proposal is excerpted from The Foundation Center’s Guide to Proposal Writing by Jane C. Geever and Patricia McNeill. - Penny Cowan, the Yankee’s No. 1 fan says, “It’s that time again!”


2001: A Reading Odyssey 

Have you packed your bags yet for this year’s summer reading program? Some of our member library directors, staff and volunteers have! Approximately twenty people joined us in the auditorium of Plattsburgh Public Library on Monday, March 12 to get the summer off to an early start. It was an enthusiastic crowd with lots of ideas to share! We talked about the role that summer reading programs play in keeping kids’ skills up over the summer, as well as how we can help to share our love of reading for the fun of it with kids and their parents. The group was eager to share many successful strategies. 

Even the most reluctant crafters in the group did well during the short crafting time: In the photo above, Cheryl Blanchard from Paine Memorial Library, Carol McDowell from Wells Memorial Library and Sharon Bandhold from Plattsburgh Public admire their flower fairies. The group also made patchwork Elmer the elephant from tissue paper and a butterfly catching game. 

A highlight of the morning was when our guest reader, CEF Director, Mary Brown, shared Eric Carle’s The Grouchy Ladybug with us. As you can see, everyone got wrapped up in the story. Mary also drew for door prizes. Karen Rickertson, Sharon Bandhold, and Judy Harris won tee shirts designed for this year’s program. 

-- Kathie LaBombard, Children’s Services Librarian


How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wandering through the Internet maze is like weeding: it can be a relaxing and calming pastime or it can be exasperating and create great anxiety. Just in case the snow finally melts, here are some tips to help you prepare for the gardens you may want to plan (and maybe even actually plant). If nothing else, it’s fun to look at pictures of plants and flowers. 

The first challenge facing a gardener is determining what gardening zone a garden will be planted in. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has assigned hardiness zones to every area of the country. Being assigned a zone low in number is like having the coldest thermometer reading on a winter day: a dubious distinction that makes our lives more difficult but gives us bragging rights. I’ve always thought I was in Zone 3, where plants have to be hardy to –30 in order to winter over. The Zone Map has been revised, however, and according to some maps I’m now located in either Zone 4 or Zone 4a. Wait until my plants hear this! 

Some of the more interesting Web gardening sites include: 

NeoFlora ( Calling itself the world’s largest plant database, this site includes information on 38,000 plants. Profiles of the plants include characteristics, tolerances, planting and care instructions. One feature that distinguishes this site from all the rest is its “sounds like” search capability. This is really helpful when you hear someone brag about their lovely plant and don’t want to embarrass yourself by asking how it’s spelled. 

GardenWeb ( This one refers to itself as “the Internet’s Garden Community” and includes a wide variety of resources and information. Forums, gardening tips, botanical terms, a business directory and the inevitable Mystery Plant Contest can entertain you for hours. 

Organic Gardening ( This site is the home page of the well known magazine, and searching it is like reading the magazine except of course, it’s free. Soil testing, perennial gardening, seed starting, fragrant flowers are just some of the features that change from month to month. 

There are more sites, just as there are more plants, than we could ever deal with in a lifetime. Though hardly a replacement for thumbing through those wonderful seed catalogs, surfing the Web is a cheerful distraction from watching the piles of snow outside as they slowly (very slowly) melt. 

-- Elizabeth Rogers, Head of Reference and ILL


New and Noteworthy

Jeanette Hotchkiss, (Chateaugay Memorial Library), Edie Morelock (Mooers Free Library) and Mary Kay Rillahan (Peru Free Library) judged student entries in the Mountain Lake PBS Reading Rainbow contest on April 4. 

The new face on the van delivery is Dave Lyons. Dave has joined us as a front-line substitute driver for the van and the bookmobile and we are very glad to have him on board. He is a thirty year veteran of the NY State Department of Transportation and has driven “everything that the state has thrown at him!” Now if he just had a solution to those frost heaves! 

Barbara Wright has been appointed Director of the Hammond Library, Crown Point. Welcome, Barbara. 

Fred Smith, newly elected President of the CEF Board of Trustees, presents a plaque to Ann Choate at the January 29th board meeting. Mrs. Choate served a two year term as president and remains a CEF board member from Essex County.