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Sustainability Appreciation

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The Mid Hudson Library System’s 56th Annual meeting was held on Friday October 16th, 2015.  It is a time for all 66 member libraries, spread out over the 5 counties of Columbia, Greene, Ulster, Dutchess and Putnam  to gather their director’s and board of trustee members to  vote  on various topics, including new trustees members at the systems level, approve the system’s financial audits and recognize good works.  I look forward to attend each year.  It is a relaxed atmosphere in which to catch up with directors and trustees whom I do not normally see.

The event is held at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.  Upon each visit, I marvel at the Chilluly glass light fixtures.  Very jazzy sight to see,  particularly at  8.30 am each morning.

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Before the business meeting gets underway,  we catch up, informally discussing library issues over coffee and breakfast with  our fellow directors. And eat bacon.  Apparently, New York Librarians have a thing for bacon. I can neither confirm nor deny this, though perhaps my good friend Liz from Phoenicia Library might clarify this.IMG_2012baconliz

The meeting got underway with a few opening remarks from Tom Sloan, our Mid Hudson Library System director.  I cannot say enough nice things about Tom,  such a smart fellow with great insight into public policy and library issues.  We are fortunate to have him in our organization.  Next, a few welcoming remarks from our local political leaders, including Mrs. Sue Serino and Mrs. Didi Barrett.

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Through membership vote, Camilla W von Bergen was recognized as the incoming MHLS Board President.  A formal thank you to outgoing president Roland Paterson for his dedication and leadership was shared.  


Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, our MHLS Coordinator for Library Sustainability, presented awards  in recognition of recent member achievements in library sustainability.

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12087701_10206759438119093_306924620258202947_oWe started the award ceremony with the recognition of the herculean achievement of the Highland Public Library who passed a building referendum earlier this year. Their community voted to invest $4.85 million into building a new library. This was the library’s second referendum attempt. After being voted down this library did not give up. They knew something needed to be done. They worked like crazy to get community input and come up with a new plan,  $2 million less than the original but one that still will meet the needs of their community for decades to come. Pictured here Julie Kelsall-Dempsey, Library Director of Highland Public Library.

12079925_10206759436719058_9103481586981738864_oThe Starr Library bravely set out to follow the NYS Board of Regents recommendation to become a special district library. They did so in good faith and were confronted with a Governor who, in an unprecedented move, vetoed the legislation the legislature approved. Effectively blocking the right of the voters of Rhinebeck from democratically deciding the fate of their library. This alone would be cause for them to be awarded today. However, this library went above and beyond on behalf of all libraries in New York and tried again. A second attempt to do the right thing. Expending their resources, the time and energy of their director and board to do what was right. They worked with a coalition of library advocates from across the state to attempt to right the wrong of the Governor’s first veto. The result? A second veto.
While you may think it strange that we celebrate this seeming defeat of a sustainable library what we are truly celebrating is the gumption, bravery and attitude of the Starr Library to pursue what was right. As a System, as part of the larger New York library community, we thank the Starr Library. Pictured here, Steve Cook, Starr Library Director.

12139989_10206759436759059_6401614156055763045_oAfter a devastating fire that gutted their perfectly located Main Street location the Phoenicia Library literally rose from the ashes with a Hallmark-movie-of-the-week quality. The entire community pitched in to raise the funds to rebuild and expand on the main street footprint. The library fought through fire, a flood, a lawsuit and against all odds rebuilt. Opening earlier this year in true Phoenicia spirit, these people don’t quit and we saw an entire community acknowledge that it isn’t really a community without a library.

The library took this tragedy and turned it into opportunity, building a highly energy-efficient facility that is slated to be rated the very first Passive House public library in the United States. Bravo , Liz Potter, Phoenicia Library Director.

12068861_10206759438519103_2823786134407943861_oThe team from Kingston accepted a 2015 Outstanding Accomplishment award in the Sustainability Initiative category for their groundbreaking work as the first library to modify the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s Climate Smart Community Pledge to align library operational and facility choices with the City of Kingston’s pledge, resulting in a prioritized facility plan to address areas of common concern to the people of Kingston – energy conservation and storm water runoff management. Their efforts were recently featured overseas in an Austrian library journal for their trailblazing efforts!  Accepting the award, Margie Menard,  Kingston Library Director.

And lastly,  me. And my awesome team at Lagrange Association Library.

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The LaGrange Library received the MHLS Outstanding Accomplishment award in the Sustainability Initiative category for being just the second library in the country to switch to receipt paper that uses vitamin C in place of phenol-based (BPA) thermal formulas .  While I did not see it as a huge ‘thing’, apparently it is.  A simple little decision with a big ripple effect. We are thankful for the recognition.

IMG_2025 (2)Finally, in the theme of sustainability,   we hosted Riverkeeper Paul Gallay, who spoke about the power of grassroots activism and the critical importance of clean drinking water, which is the life blood of the Mid Hudson Valley area. Thank goodness Riverkeeper is out there fighting the good fight.

Another great meeting. Another great year.


Author: spotwin

While I am a librarian , I am a reading cheerleader. The purpose of this library blog is to better promote reading and information literacy to my community. I love books, reading with my son, properly placed apostrophes, canoeing, locating the nearest Starbucks, cheering the Montreal Canadians, and Cherry Garcia ice cream.

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