Spot the Empire Librarian's blog

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

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New York State Library Lobby Season

What did your library director do today?   Niagara Falls Public Library hosted NY Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (Assembly District 145th) to discuss the need for state funding of libraries.  We discussed the distinct services we offer, the empowerment we offer New York citizens,  the necessity of building up infrastructure through construction aid grants, as well as funding many of our programs and services, such as summer reading programs.

Librarians from Niagara University, Lewiston Public Library, North Tonawanda Public Library, Nioga Library System,  and Western New York Library Resource Council attended.

Write to your  New York state representative to express your support for library funding and of the importance of libraries in your community.  #nylalad18

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Lobbying New York State for Library State funding.


I can say with pride that my ‘opposing views’ column appeared in the Buffalo Newspaper recently. I feel that I am doing my part to lobby for much needed support for our NYS community’s libraries. See you in Albany on Library Advocacy Day, Feb 28, 2018.  Tell   lawmakers that you value library services by  clicking on…

As appeared in Buffalo News, 2/7/2018

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s recent executive budget proposes a 3 percent cut in state library aid. Speaking as the executive library director of the Niagara Falls Public Library, I fear this cut will hurt Western New York libraries.


After a near decade of underfunding libraries, the governor’s proposed fiscal year 2019 cuts bring library funding to 2002 levels. However, libraries of today are now operating in a high tech climate expected by our citizens. To maintain technological services mandates trained staff with high-level expertise and a continued investment in new and emerging technologies.


Despite constant threats to funding, Niagara Falls Public Library as the Central Library of the Nioga Library System collectively strives to offer innovative services to our community. Last year, we began offering a “one on one” tutorials to demonstrate the ease our free e-book/audiobook/e-magazine download services. I am proud to say that the Niagara Falls Public Library users benefited.


Since October 2017, we increased our local history hours from nine hours to 20 hours realizing a 86 percent increase in patrons served. The Niagara Falls Public Library, through our shared membership within the Nioga Library System, is able to participate in an intricate automated library catalog system, aid in the coordination of digitizing world-class local history resources, join in the internet networks of 22 libraries, access shared databases in a cost-effective manner and be serviced by Nioga Library System onsite support to maintain each library’s technology.


Our neighbours, the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library System, offer an equally dynamic service through their 37 libraries as well as their innovative activities.


Nioga Library System’s cooperative services guarantee equitable access to technology across the Niagara, Orleans and Genesee Counties. Because of our system, a resident of Corfu (population 709), a resident of Albion (population 2,500) and a resident of Niagara Falls (population 50,000) all have equal access to up-to-date computers, resourceful databases, adequate bandwidth and a modern collection of digital books and downloadable magazines.


Although libraries like Niagara Falls Public Library are modelling the benefits of shared service, the increased costs of delivering technology services are outstripping realized efficiencies. If the state is unable to provide funding to support local libraries and their library systems, our services will falter and stagnate. Thus, access to technology will lag in the communities that need access the most.

If we truly value equity, education and opportunity, then New York needs to place libraries at the top of its agenda. Libraries are how we guarantee that every New Yorker has access to the lifelong education they need to participate fully in this information economy. For libraries to maintain this critical role, we need to support the massive shift to a technological model of service. I urge all New Yorkers to speak up in favour of library funding. Reach out to your New York State representatives. It is my hope, and that of many New York library leaders, that we will secure full funding for 2018.


Sarah Potwin is executive library director at the Niagara Falls Public Library.

As found

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Partnering with local buisness to honor local history

Thank you to business owner Matt Greene for touring myself and Courtney, our local history librarian, around his new hotel, The Courtyard Marriott of Niagara Falls, NY. This modern hotel celebrates the local history of Niagara Falls by incorporating historic photos from the Niagara Falls Public Library in the decor of the building. The hotel itself is located in the historic Niagara Chocolate factory building which later became Moore’s Business Forms. A photo of the outside of the newly renovated building will be forthcoming.  Due to a recent winter storm in Western New York,  outdoor photography is challenging as that our landscape is covered by four feet of snow.

The above historical photo of the Chocolate Factory greets visitors in the entry foyer, with a plaque explaining the partnership between the Hotel, Niagara Historical Society.  Each photo is cited as originating from the Niagara Falls Public Library.  Courtney, our Local History Librarian was integral in pulling the images from the Library’s collection.

The lobby’s decor, as much of the hotel, is decorated in a contemporary look, yet retains the grittiness of the industrial use of the building, such as the cement pillars in the lobby.

Each image, in the form of a  wall mural at the elevator landing of each floor, or a galvanised burnt aluminium image hanging in the guest room hallways,  offers an authenticity of experience of place.


Our thanks to Matt, one of the hotel’s owners and developers for honouring Niagara Fall’s local heritage.

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Lois McCloskey’s Make way for (Patriots) Duckling

In preparation for the upcoming Super Bowl 52 game, Boston’s most famous ducklings certainly appear to be getting in the spirit. The Boston Public Garden’s iconic bronze Make Way for Ducklings statues are decked out in New England Patriots gear, with “Mrs Mallard” repping New England’s post-season slogan: “One More.”

The Patriots street team is to thank for the stunt, part of a campaign before this weekend’s game promoting Pats fandom and merch. The mother duck wore a scarf around her neck and a beanie atop her head, and the eight ducklings wore baby-sized Patriots jerseys.

Go Pats, go!