Execute Director's Report

Jeremy and Alex start the tour!
Stop #1 - Capital Region BOCES
Stop #2 - Altamont Public Library
Stop #12 - Waterville Public Library
Stop #13 - Dewey the degu at the Oneida Public Library
Stop #14 - Osceola Public Library

Stop #22 - Your Home Public Library

by Jeremy Johannesen, NYLA Executive Director


Alex is my Co-Pilot

2018 marked year four of the annual NYLA Library Tour - The first three trips included my first son, Jack, who is now 14 – and this year he was ready to pass the torch on to his brother Alex, age 11.  During the weekend leading up to our trek, Alex and I loaded supplies into the 1978 VW Westfalia camper that has proven to be the (mostly) trusty vehicle for the excursions.

We hit the road on Monday, July 30, and started our adventure by visiting the Capital Region BOCES School Library System, including newly elected soon-to-be President-Elect Jen Cannell and her staff.  One downside of our summer-time adventures is that school libraries are closed – so we did the next best thing, and visited a school library system!  Jen and her staff gave us an amazing send off!  (Shout out to Otisville Elementary Library, which stays open to serve the community during the summer one day a week – sadly our timing didn’t work to be able to visit!)

Library director Joe Burke gave us a personal tour of the former-train station now library building at the Altamont Public Library – the train still rolls right past the library (and sometimes stops so the engineer can get coffee next door!)  We visited the Scotia Branch of the Schenectady Public Library, which sits within a town park, and rounded out our third stop, all before lunch!  We stopped for a picnic beside Loch 9 of the Erie Canal.  Our afternoon took us further West and North, with stops at three Carneige libraries – Amsterdam (with their newly re-opened children’s room), Johnstown, and Gloversville.  Director and former NYLA Council Member Barb Madonna, provided us with a hard-hat tour of the very much under construction renovation project in Gloversville.  Visit them in November to see the finished product – I promise it will be worth the ride!  Barb got a rare ride in the VW over to the temporary venue for the library, and we did a quick tour there.  Our first day wound to a close at Caroga Lake State Park, the rain held off while we cooked dinner, grabbed some ice cream and called it a day.

Our second day got an early start and we beat the librarians to the first library we passed (Dolgeville Manheim Public Library), but by the time we reached Little Falls, they were open for business, and hosting a music-based story time performer!  As a rule of thumb, we don’t go to libraries that we have already visited, but I made an exception for the Utica Public Library, because I needed to see the newly over-hauled Children’s Room – and that was the right call – it is fantastic.  After a quick park picnic for lunch our afternoon route wound South, and West and North again with stops at the Kirkland Town Library, Clayville Library Association, and Waterville Public Library.  Jeff in Waterville wowed us with the only observatory we have seen housed on library property – and this one has a sliding roof that opens!  Our visits ended the day on a high note at the Onedia Public Library, where Alex was elated to meet Dewey the degu – one of the few library pets we encountered.  Another NYS campground was home for the night, this time Verona Beach State Park.

Every single year that I have gone out on tour Leona Chernowski has invited me to come to her library – and this was the year it finally happened.  Leona is the director of the Osceloa Library, located north of Onedia Lake, and the library is open only two days a week – but we called, and Leona agreed to meet us a time library for a visit.  It was well worth the ride off the beaten path to get to see this beautiful church turned library, and Leona beamed as she told us about all the many renovations.  We did a rare bit of backtracking, stopping in at Camden Library Association along the way.  Before lunch we had visited Canastota Public Library (another Carniegie) and the Cazenovia Public Library (which also houses a full-on museum complete with Egyptian mummy!).  Our visit to the Morrisville Public Library surprised us, a gorgeous new library building is nestled behind a historic Victorian ‘façade’ – which still house part of the library.  The afternoon took us sharply Southward with stops in Hamilton (where we missed the Harry Potter party by 15 minutes – but Alex still got sorted), Sherburn and Oxford.  The trend continued with another NYS campground – this time the somewhat waterlogged Chenango Valley State Park.

Day four started bright and early and we had to do a bit of highway driving to jump over to Binghamton.  Our first stop of the day was the Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, where director Ben Lainhart gave us a grand tour spanning from the tippity top of the attic, to the darkest corner of the basement – we were very impressed with the library’s one imprinted China!  Next up was a short hope across town to Binghamton University and the Glenn G. Bartle Library – far and away the largest library of the tour – with well over one million items in the collection and over 70 members on staff.  Thanks to Sarah Maximiek for showing us around (and hooking us up with some much needed wifi).  After a lunch in the van (it was raining), a goodly chunk of the afternoon was consumed with driving East-South-East over hill and dale.  We were redeemed for our highway driving by traversing some of the twistyest roads I have encountered in NYS, as we made our way to the Western Sullivan Public Library’s Jeffersonville Branch.  It was about 5PM when we rolled into the parking lot of the Ramapo Catskill Library System, where the staff gave us a very warm welcome.  Their new staff kitchen has just been completed and we were happy to be the first to use the stove to make our dinner.

After thanking our RCLS hosts, we headed out, but didn’t leave town before visiting the Middletown Thrall Library (our second former train station library of the tour) – such a magnificent space!  As our path turned back Northward we made stops at the Josephine-Louise Public Library in Walden, NY, and at the Newburgh Public Library.  Knowing we were getting near to the end of our adventure, Alex and I indulged in a dinner lunch (plus we had run out of lunch meat).  Full to the gills with dinner food, we stopped as saw the newly opened Highland Public Library, and continued on to the South Eastern Library Resources Council.  Our visit interrupted the entire staff at the Council and we had fun checking out that space and showing off the VW.  There were grand schemes on making a last few stops along the final leg home, but strong rains had other plans.  Succumbing to deluge we pulled into the driveway at home around 5:30PM.

Determined to get in ‘one more stop’ Alex and I hopped into the still fully loaded VW and ran over to the Bach Branch of the Albany Public Library.  This one is right in our backyard, and yet I have never been inside.  It was a relatively new library building (and it is beautiful) – and offers a fantastic garden space that you don’t see from the road.  After chatting with the staff we logged our visit and declared the tour done.  Thirty-three libraries in six days, 668 miles covered, and countless memories.

Thank you again to everyone who invited us to visit (and our apologies that we couldn’t make it everywhere), and to all who followed along and cheered us on via social media!  I learn something every time I set foot in a library, something about the building, the operations, the staff, the community, or sometimes myself.  These annual journeys of discovery renew my spirit – thanks again.


Day 1 – July 30 (7 stops)

Day 2 – July 31 (7 stops)

Day 3 – August 1 (8 stops)

Day 4 – August 2 (4 stops)

Day 5 – August 3 (6 stops)

Day 6 – August 4 (one stop)


To view all the photos from #NYLALibraryTour18, click here.