Spot the Empire Librarian's blog

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

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Anthony Bourdain, the passing of a mastermind chef

Yeah yeah yeah, I know. I’m a crank. But the word “royals” just …will never go down easy. Only person I ever felt comfortable referring to as “Prince” came from Minneapolis.
Anthony Bourdain

Chef, author and media personality Anthony Bourdain was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. He credits an early family vacation in France for his love for food and curiosity about local culinary traditions. While attending Vassar College (nearby from my previous employer, LaGrange Library, NY), he worked in restaurants and decided to pursue a career in cooking. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 (another Poughkeepsie, NY educational facility).

He documented his experiences in his memoirs Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly and Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.

The sometimes abrasive, always interesting Bourdain became a success on television as well with A Cook’s TourNo Reservations, The Layover and Parts Unknown.

Bourdain never seemed to stop working, writing and moving, until June 8, 2018 when he stopped everything.

Anthony Bourdain died in Kayersberg-Vignoble, France on June 8, 2018. Initial reports indicate that he died by suicide. He was 61. Barack Obama paid tribute on Twitter saying

“[Tony] taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”

Some of his books available within the Nioga Library System:


Appetites by Anthony BourdainAnthony bourdain's les halles


Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking




Bobby goldBone in the throatThe Bobby Gold Stories

Bone in the Throat





Graphic Novels:

Get jiro      Get Jiro







A Cook's Tour In Search of the Perfect MealKitchen confidentialMedium raw

A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

If you are in crisis, please remember that there is help available:

The  Suicide Prevention Lifeline service is available 24 hours a day by phone or chat:

Call 1-800-273-8255

Online chat



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Community annual report — done.

Who’s library’s first community annual report came off the printing press this morning?   This girl’s!  Thank you to CompuMail for working your graphic magic.  This document contains information from our New York State Annual report which is filed with the Department of Education each Spring.  It is hoped that this inaugural Niagara Falls Public Library community report will educate our taxpayers of the services and resources we offer with the gracious support of their community’s tax dollar.  Check out the document by clicking here   NL_May_AUG_Setup or pick up a paper copy from the LaSalle or Main Branch counters.


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New York Budget—-DONE!

One of my tasks today was to write notes of gratitude and appreciation to my New York State representatives:  Senator Robert Ortt (62nd district) and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (District 145).  I, along with the  New York State library Community are happy with the outcome of the ratified 2018-2019 state budget.   Libraries and the communities we serve will see an increase in support.

State Library System Aid

This year’s enacted budget contains the first system aid increase since 2016. Governor Cuomo proposed a $4M cut in system aid in this year’s Executive Budget. The FY2018-19 enacted budget reversed this proposed cut, and allocated an additional $1M – total State Library System Aid will be $96.6M.

State Public Library Construction Aid

In 2016, New York Library Association  (NYLA) pursued an increase in construction aid after a decade of stagnant funding at $14M. Despite repeated attempts by the Governor to cut funding for this program, we have successfully fought for increased funding. This year, the Governor proposed a $10M CUT in capital funding – from $24M back to $14M. This would have erased two years of hard-won gains.

The FY2018-19 enacted budget includes $34M in public library construction aid. This is $10M more than we received last year, $20M more than was proposed in the Executive Budget, and in excess of what we asked.   Sadly the reduced matching provision (90/10) is NOT included in the budget, and we will continue our efforts on that item as the Session continues.

Finally, there is a sizeable pot of “bullet aid” in this budget, and  NYLA will continue helping libraries and library systems claim an increasing percentage of this pot in the coming weeks.

I will admit to feeling that I am a small part of something much bigger.  My letters to the editor, op ed newspaper articles,  letters to my state reps,  Facebook postings and an ultimate visit to Advocacy Day at the State Capitol in Albany is a small contribution but a much bigger collective of library leaders throughout the state.  It is a day of elation. A day of celebration. A day to express thanks and gratitude to our state government representatives for demonstrating that they recognize that libraries are engines for empowerment in our communities.

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Touring the future Underground Railroad Museum

What did your library director do today?  As part of making a decision to loan out a priceless item from the library’s local history collection, I toured the future Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Museum with our local history librarian, Courtney, and Ally Sprunger,  museum coordinator.   We navigated around electricians who were running wire,  wrapped exhibition panels, and tour guide training sessions.

We also looked at the area which the requested local history item would be secured and displayed.  A wall mural of the Cataract Hotel’s dining room (from the Niagara Falls Public Library’s Local History collection) has been mounted and a  fiberglass half table will be secured against the mural,  with chairs as if to mimic a dining room for the museum visitor.

We discussed security, insurance appraisals,  visitor behaviors, loan agreements.  The museum should be up and running within the beginning of April 2018 as part of the Niagara Falls Train Station building. It pays homage to  Niagara falls’ historical role within the gateway to freedom for slaves escaping to freedom in the early to mid-nineteenth century.

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Stephen Hawking (1942–2018)

stephen hawking books and movies

By now, you have likely heard of the passing of Dr. Stephen Hawking, one of the most celebrated thinkers of our time. Dr. Hawking was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, advocate for disability rights, and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge.

If you would like to learn more about his work or life, the Niagara Falls Public Library  and Nioga Library System owns several of his books, as well as biographical books and films written or produced about him by others.

brief history of time book cover A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holesby Stephen W. Hawking with an introduction by Carl Sagan and illustrations by Ron Miller Hawking, whose many contributions to theories of black holes and cosmology are considered brilliant, presents a history of cosmology for general readers and probes questions about the origin and nature of the universe. The result is a beautifully written volume that is not only informative but exciting to read.

• The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking Hawking returns with a lavishly illustrated sequel that unravels the mysteries of the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his acclaimed first book.

• A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking Hawking makes the contents of his first book more accessible to readers–and brings it up-to-date with the latest scientific observations and findings.

grand design book cover• The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow Along with Caltech physicist Mlodinow, Hawking deftly mixes cutting-edge physics to answer three key questions–Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other?–and explains that scientists are approaching what is called “M-theory,” a collection of overlapping theories (including string theory) that fill in many (but not all) the blank spots in quantum physics.

• Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays by Stephen Hawking These fourteen pieces reveal Hawking variously as the scientist, the man, the concerned world citizen, and-always-the rigorous and imaginative thinker.

• My Brief History by Stephen Hawking Hawking turns his gaze inward for a revealing look at his own life and intellectual evolution. This book recounts Stephen Hawking’s improbable journey, from his postwar London boyhood to his years of international acclaim and celebrity.

• Hawking directed by Stephen Finnigan  Told for the first time in Hawking’s own words and with unique access to his home and public life, this is a personal journey through Hawking’s world.

stephen hawing an unfettered mind• Stephen Hawking: An Unfettered Mind by Kitty Ferguson A remarkable look at how one of the greatest scientific minds of our time became a true inspiration.

 Stephen Hawking: a Biography by Kristine Larsen (Young Adult) This biography, written by a physicist, is geared toward young adults and provides an accessible introduction to the life and work of Hawking.

• The Theory of Everything (DVD) directed by James Marsh James Marsh’s biopic of the celebrated scientist Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything, stars Eddie Redmayne as the famous cosmologist.

 A Brief History of Time (DVD) directed by Errol Morris An adroitly crafted tale of personal adversity, professional triumph, and cosmological inquiry, Morris’s documentary examines the untrammelled broadening of Hawking’s imagination over the course of his lifetime.

• Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking Complete with exclusive photographs of the couple, this moving and engaging memoir written by Stephen Hawking’s first wife covers the turbulent years of her marriage with the astrophysics genius, her traumatic divorce, and their recent reconciliation.

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Annual Report 2017 …. done!

Another year, another New York State Annual Report under my belt. Surprisingly, it was very similar to other annual reports I have completed in previous New York State library jobs.  However,  this year, I had an extra section to report on to reflect  our branch library’s services as well as our Central Library role within the Nioga Library System.  It is always a celebratory occasion to be finished, though not a difficult task to complete.  Click here to read about the Niagara Falls Public Library’s 2017 adventures.  NFPLannual report 2017

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BTOP in the Niagara Falls Public Library

Recently, we hosted Anne Neville, an illustrious writer for the Buffalo News during one of Sara Taylor’s visits.  Sara, an employee of Nioga Library System, travels our membership service area of Niagara, Orleans and Genesee counties, teaching computer tech skills in each library she visits with her ‘coffin of technology”.  Above all else,  only her enthusiasm supercedes her skill of technology.   As a library system,  we are stronger from Sara’s services to our communities.

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