Spot the Empire Librarian's blog

Welcome to a librarian's online musings on libraries, literature and information media.

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Mid Hudson Library System’s 57th Annual meeting – FDR style

Today, October 14, 2016,  all 66 member library directors, trustees and  administrators gathered  at the (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) FDR Presidential Library & Museum in Hyde Park, New York, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Over 150 attendees enjoyed breakfast, awards, and an informative keynote address by FDR Library/Museum Director, Paul Sparrow. FDR called a library “an act of faith” and we celebrated his words today.

Our MHLS Director, Tom Sloan,  and  MHLS Trustee Chairwoman Camilla von Bergen,  began the meeting by welcoming  attendees, giving  our local library supporters NY Assembly woman Didi Barrett and NY Senator Sue Serino  the floor to speak of the importance of libraries.  I was particularly pleased to meet Ms. Serino,  to thank her personally for her support which will benefit Lagrange Library directly.  This week, I received a New York State Bullet Aid grant of $10 000, which is being used to support  our Library’s STEM programming for all ages,  expanding  our museum  pass program and updating our public technology.

MHLS employee’s longevity was also celebrated.  I was particularly proud of Tom Finnigan and Chris Herron’s 25th  and 20th  milestones.  Both work extremely hard and long hours ensuring  that the MHLS delivery system  works efficiently shuttling 1.7 million  library items between 66 libraries (2015) and that the MHLS physical plant is run in a safe and healthy manner. Yes, I have been known to call Chris’s cellphone at 4am  due to  library alarm activation during an early morning Lagrange delivery.

After appointing new MHLS Trustees,  recognition awards were given to member libraries who have demonstrated  exemplary  activities of civic engagement.  I am proud to say that  I was present to accept a MHLS  Outstanding accomplishment award  in the Civic Engagement category for recognition of the active partnership between the Library and the Town’s Parks and Rec Department.  Our combined efforts by both  groups benefit our community through our movie nights in the park, summertime library story walks in the Stringham Park, cross-marketing of each department’s summer programming, and our Little Free Library structure in the Freedom Park.  Both Sandy Washburn and I work congenially together,  serving our Lagrange tax payers by creating public  ‘coming together’ opportunities in a cost effective manner.

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FDR Library Director Paul Sparrow addressed the group, speaking of  their current exhibition ” 24 hours after Pearl Harbor” in recognition of the 75th anniversary of December 7, 1941. Currently, the FDR library houses 171 million primary sources (presidential papers, speech drafts, artifacts etc.) ;  50 000 books in its collection, 23 000 of which personally belonged to Roosevelt. Mr. Sparrow  spoke of the role of  presidential libraries in history,  the advantages / challenges of technology and of Roosevelt’s  view of libraries as “an act of faith” which promoting civic engagement in our communities.img_3644

Upon the wrap up of the meeting,  we were invited to tour the FDR museum and library.  One of their security personnel  was required to search my hand bag.  I offered it to him, explaining that I was a librarian and he was most likely to find an overdue library book.   “I’ve heard about your type. Have you seen the Seinfield episode about the library police?”  Ugh.    However, I do appreciate his quick comeback….me and my good time buddies.

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It was a good day, enjoyed by me and my fellow library professional co-horts….my good time buddies.

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The true measure of the recent Republican / Democratic conventions.

Whether your political leanings are of the left or right of the spectrum,  no one can debate the power of the recent  conventions. …..the power to question what it means to be a citizen of America, the power  to believe in the foundation of America.


Khizr Khan, a Virginia resident whose son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in Iraq in 2004, became an unexpected sensation at the Democratic convention on Thursday as he railed against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Mr. Khan, who stood on stage with his wife, said they were “honored” to be there “as patriotic American Muslims, with undivided loyalty to our country.” Mr. Khan next laid into Mr. Trump, saying that if it were up to the Republican nominee, his son “never would have been in America.”

“Donald Trump, you’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you, ‘Have you even read the United States Constitution?’” The audience roared in approval.

“I will gladly lend you my copy,” he said, taking a small copy of the Constitution from his pocket.

Noted on Amazon recently,  copies of the  United States Constitution are on back order.


ACLU does offer a pocket version of the Constitution  for 5$,  or for free until November 8th, 2016 using coupon code  POCKETRIGHTS.

Click on

At 11 a.m. EDT Sunday, a 52-page pocket Constitution published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies was #2 on the best-seller book list on Amazon. On Thursday, Google Trend data showed a sharp rise in the number of searches for the term “pocket constitution” in the U.S. after Khan’s speech. Google searches for the term also showed a spike on Friday and Sunday morning.

At, a pocket Constitution is available to print, along with a video tutorial on how to fold it into a pocket-sized document.

A byproduct of the political arena is a new movement of American citizens who are looking to re visit the writings which are foundations of America.  These writings,  studied by elementary aged students as now being revisited as electoral voters   plan to vote for the 45th President of  the United States.

No matter your political  views (and it is not the purpose of this post to sway  voter’s decision one way or the other),  it is  a smart voter who educate himself as to what he wants in their next president.  This increased demand  for copies of the U.S.  Constitution are proving  this desire to make the smart choice on November 8th, 2016.   Visit your local library for copies of  the  Bill of Rights, Constitution,   Declaration of Independence.  Lagrange Library does offer copies of US Citizenship test flash cards, as well as  testing information  to prepare for the US Citizenship process.


as cited from





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Catching ‘Em All at LagLib with Pokémon GO

Admittedly, I spent very little time in my youth playing video  games.  My brother, on the other hand was World of Warcraft  and Dungeons and Dragons all the way. I knew of others in my neighborhood who were obsessed with the notion of  travelling the world finding Pokémon, making friends, and battling for glory. Others watched the show or traded Pokémon cards . Their adventures echoed from over backyard fences.

So, yes, I have been experimenting with the new phenomenon of  Pokémon GO.  And now, I get it. I get the excitement , the obsession  the lure of the quest.

To explain to non gamers, Pokémon are creatures with assorted special powers and attacks, and in the game, you are their trainer. Your goal is to “catch ’em all” (using a device called a pokéball), train them to be more powerful, and win battles against other trainers and their Pokémon for money, badges, and experience points. There’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist. You can watch the TV show’s opening theme for a classic montage explanation.

Pokémon GO is  a completely new take on the classic. Available as a free app on iOS and Android, the game merges Pokémon with the real world.  Gamers are img_3185challenged  to physically walk around their neighborhoosd to find Pokémon and supplies in order to play the game. On your screen is a Google Maps-like layout, and your phone’s GPS keeps your character moving in real time around this map. To gather supplies, you have to walk to PokeStops (the cubes on the map). To catch a Pokémon, you must find one nearby and skillfully throw a pokéball at it – your phone’s camera is used to show the Pokémon in your actual surroundings, sometimes with comedic results. A Spearow appeared to sit on my key board on my desk this morning!

What’s really amazing about this game, beyond the childhood dream aspect, is that it encourages both exercise and an awareness of the tiny, missable, beautiful details in the world around you. In Lagrange, New York, PokeStops included a  Vassar College campus, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Arlington Firehouse, Lagrangeville Hanafords.  A tour of Vassar College campus  in search of  characters encourages visitors to take a more detailed look at teh campus’s architectural beauty.
img_3181So, I was excited to get to work today to see what  stops appeared around our library.  Our library is a Pokestop.  Drop by and load up on your pokeballs using our wifi. If you visit the Lagrange Library while playing the game, be sure to post your fun shots and tag @LaGLibrary on Twitter and Instagram @lagrange_library !I look forward to seeing how this game gets people outside seeing their neighborhoods in a whole new way.


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After vacation, back to work.

While Vermont family holidays are relaxing and a treasured memory,  it feels good to get back to work, to tackle  tasks which have been piling up and see my co-workers.  I have trusted and talented co-workers  who know their jobs and can handle my absence,  though I am always appreciative of the  Baker and Taylor boxes left  for me to open.  This is my favorite part of the job: to handle the new items  before they are cataloged.

Thank you, Mr. Brown for delivering  8 heavy boxes of shiny new materials.

Vermont, we’ll see you again in 365 days.

Summer 2016

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What library directors (and their families) do on holidays while enjoying the lullaby of Lake Champlain waves lapping against the shoreline? Happy Summer 2016 from Saint Alban’s, Vermont.  I was asked for a list of titles. Items were selected based on  what was available on the new book shelf, as well as a handful of ARCs ( Advanced Reader Copies).

  • Here’s to us by Elin Hilderbrand
  • Game of crowns by Christopher Anderson
  • The food of a younger land by Mark Kurlansky
  • Mother Daughter Book club by Heather Vogel Fredrick
  • The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith
  • Dangerous Age by Kelly Killoren Bensimon ( No relation, by the way)


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