Execute Director's Report
by Jeremy Johannesen, NYLA Executive Director
#NYLALibraryTour17 Round Three, Here We Go Again
For the third consecutive year, my son Jack (now 13 years old) and I geared up our 1978 VW Camper and headed out to tool around New York State, visiting as many libraries as possible along the way. Details on our previous tours are available: 2015 and 2016
They say the third times the charm, and we would agree – with our running total now topping 150, we have learned a thing or two about touring libraries. For example, minimize the number of Sunday’s you are on the road, since so many libraries are closed that day over the summer.
We set out on Friday, July 28, with our first stopping being Bethlehem Public Library, not only our hometown library but also being the only library to have been visited by the tour twice. It didn’t hurt that they also had a WiFi hotspot for us to borrow to use on the tour. With the hotspot secured, we headed north hitting a couple more Upper Hudson Library System libraries, before crossing into the Southern Adirondack Library System. By the end of our first day we had seven libraries under our belt, and endured a ‘rustic’ night of camping amid a near-lethal swarm of mosquitos.
Saturday found us continuing further North to the shores of Lake Champlain and the Wadhams Public Library, where the board president made a trip in to open the library so that we could have a look around! Not surprisingly, the driving distances between the libraries in the Adirondack State Park are significant, so we spent a good chunk of the rest of the day driving. When we made camp in Saranac Lake, we found that we were joining a campground that was nearly entirely populated with players from the ongoing statewide Rugby tournament.
Knowing that we would not find any open libraries on Sunday, Jack and I took the opportunity to be tourists and visited the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY. This site was featured as one of the local tours during the 2015 NYLA conference, and I had always lamented not being able to go. Should you have the chance, I highly recommend a visit, we thoroughly enjoyed it! The remainder of Sunday was used to make our way South down Route 28, headed out of the Adirondacks. (At one point, I got a full-fledged eye-roll form Jack for pointing out the ump-teenth ‘beautiful lake’! ?)
On Monday morning, we hit the ground running and turned West. By noon we were in the Utica Public Library – which without a double was the library with the most marble on this tour! Meandering around, we carefully made it to the Baldwinsville Public Library on the Northwest side of Syracuse, without actually crossing into the city. (The VW is not keen on city driving…) Meg VanPatten welcomed us in B’ville – setting us up with a place to park and a much-welcomed place to plug in and charge our devices! By the time we called it day, we had visited eight more libraries.
Still headed Westward, our first stop on Day Five was the Fulton Public Library – which has the distinction of being the only library I have ever seen that has a flowing natural spring in the basement! The balance of the day was spent in the Pioneer Library System, including a picnic lunch on the shores of Lake Ontario, and ending with us camped in the parking lot at Pioneer. During our time at Pioneer, we spotted a deer and her twin fawns, a red fox, and enjoyed the most beautiful sunset and sunrise of the tour.
With Day Six upon us, it was time to turn back Eastward. Our path took us Southeast between the Finger Lakes, and into Ithaca for a stop at the South Central Regional Library Council. After clearing the lakes, we turned more directly East, and got to visit the Southworth Library in Dryden, NY. As you may recall, they sold a handwritten copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and it was wonderful to see their renovations that were possible because of that sale (as well as the museum-quality reproduction of the document).
After another night of camping, Thursday found us in ‘familiar’ territory. During my youth, I spent a fair amount of time exploring the Catskill State Park – but visiting all the libraries there was a treat. We especially enjoyed the new Mountain Top Library in Tannersville – a former church with the biggest ceiling fan you have ever seen! By the end of the day, we had crossed the Hudson River, turned North, and ended near Claremont, NY, where a friend let us camp.
Admittedly a bit road weary, it was good to know we would be home for dinner as we started out on Day Eight. In the MidHudson Library System at this point, we had no trouble racking up another eight visits. The Tiffany stained glass window in the Chatham Library is worth stopping to see if you are in the vicinity. And we are looking forward to attending the ribbon-cutting of the doubling-the-size renovations at the Kinderhook Memorial Library. It was about 4:30 when we rolled into the driveway at home; another tour behind us.
Lessons learned -
Thank you to all the libraries that welcomed our visit, and to all those who invited us (even if we weren’t able to make it). No matter how many libraries I visit, I still learn something new at each one; it is a special blessing to be able to visit so many. New York’s libraries are vibrant and diverse; and each strives to meet the needs of their patrons in their own way.
Our adventures are far from over, there are so many more libraries to see and place to visit. We’ll be on the road again, whether part of an official summer NYLA Library Tour, or just traveling around the state; if I’m in town, I just might stop by!
Day One – Friday, July 29
Day Two – Saturday, July 30
Day Three – Sunday, July 31
Day Four – Monday, August 1
Day Five – Tuesday, August 2
Day Six – Wednesday, August 3
Day Seven – Thursday, August 4
Day Eight – Friday, August 5