Tag Archive | "JJML"

John Jermain Memorial Library Accepts Vast Collection of Native American Research Books

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Mac Griswold, Richard Buckley and Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley's collection at the library's storage unit.

Sag Harbor Historian Mac Griswold, Collector Richard Buckley and JJML Director Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley’s collection at the library’s storage unit November 12.

By Tessa Raebeck

As a child growing up in Little Falls, New York, Richard Buckley was eager to learn about the Native American tribes that lived nearby, but the materials he could find were minimal, ill advised and uninformed.

“It didn’t seem right to me the way they were describing it,” explained Buckley, who, rather than settling for subpar information, spent the next 40 years compiling an extensive collection of books, journals and other research on — and by — Native Americans.

On November 13, Buckley and his wife, former United States Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, packed his entire collection of 23 boxes into the back of their pick-up truck and drove from their home in Northern Virginia to Despatch Self Storage in Bridgehampton, where Catherine Creedon excitedly awaited their arrival.Richard Buckley

After a deliberate screening process of potential libraries in New York State, Buckley decided to donate his collection to the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor, where Creedon is director, because he knew they would be appreciated, complemented and, most importantly, used.

Buckley, who worked as a lawyer before concentrating primarily on his research and academic lecturing, estimates his collection includes some 350 materials. The most historically significant part of the collection is the inclusion of four journals on Native American history, to which Buckley has subscribed since their respective inceptions.

He began subscribing to the American Indian Culture and Research Journal when it was first published in 1979, and the journals now fill four boxes.

The journals “give an incredible amount of new history,” said Buckley. “History that had never been written from the viewpoint of American Indians.”

“These journals,” he continued, “have covered everything from the history to the current preservation of Native American tribes throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s. If someone were to read those journals, they could write a thesis.”

The collection also includes 15 boxes of books on Native Americans, separated by topics such as women, Iroquois and “Excellent/General Overviews.”

In compiling his collection, Buckley first tackled the Native American history of New York State, moving on to the entire continental United States and eventually to Alaska and Latin America. The collection also includes extensive documentation of the present condition of Native Americans.

“That is probably the underlying value of the collection,” explained Buckley, “to have that approach of — both historically and currently — the ongoing evolution of American Indian history…. The collection’s value is to show that American Indians are not only here, but they’re living out their history, they’re living out their story.”

Once his collection was complete with an extensive variety of viewpoints from both men and women across different regions, tribes and cultures, Buckley faced the daunting task of deciding where his work belonged.

“What I did was,” he explained, “because I didn’t want these to go anywhere, I wanted them to be in a certain library — when I contacted [the libraries], I’d then know whether it was the right fit.”

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

At first, Buckley put a notice in the regional library system of central New York, where he grew up. Without any quick responses, he sent the notice to the statewide system.

Within a few days, he was on the phone with Cathy Creedon.

“By the initial interest,” he said, “I could see that she was really interested and they were looking for something to complement the new renovation and the newly restored old beautiful building.”

Since JJML opened in 1910, the History Room has been an integral part of the library. It started with rare materials from the personal library of William Wallace Tooker, a Sag Harbor pharmacist who was also an ethnographer with an interest in Algonquin history. Tooker’s collection in JJML includes the Eliot Indian Bible, a bible in the Algonquin language that was the first bible printed in the colonies.

After unloading the 23 boxes into a storage unit, Creedon gave Buckley a tour of the new building, including the history room, which once completed will be climate-controlled, humidity-controlled and temperature-controlled.

“The tour of the library was the final proof that my donation will ‘fit’ with the future use of the library — particularly the special research room,” said Buckley. “The primary reason for donating the collection to [JJML] is Cathy. She will ensure that the collection is used in the most effective manner.”

In a message to Creedon, Buckley envisioned his collection in Sag Harbor.

“I imagined,” he wrote, “that you would have at the opening of your beautiful library — a researcher would be reserving the special room and using the American Indian collection. She will complete a new powerful book about the contributions of Indian women.”

“I thought that was a real tribute to the role of a public library,” said Creedon.

JJML Board Adopts Budget

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Sidebar: The Library Budget


As the John Jermain Memorial Library’s Board of Trustees finalized its 2013 proposed budget, it always intended to stay within a state mandated two-percent property tax levy cap, which all school districts, municipalities and public libraries are subject to, according to Director Catherine Creedon.

“It is this board’s intention to have a conservative budget understanding that the economy is a factor for the community we serve,” says Creedon.

Last Wednesday, the JJML Board of Trustees adopted a proposed $2,158,915 budget within the two percent increase. That budget includes $905,000 in debt service for the $10 million bond school district voters approved over three years ago for the expansion and renovation of the historic John Jermain Memorial Library building on Main Street.

Creedon said that most line items are in line with the library’s 2012 $2,158,200 budget, which was approved by voters in the Sag Harbor School District although there have been a few notable changes. The library expects to generate less income from the Xerox copier, computer printer and through fines as people are more able to print and copy at home and can renew books online.

The library also plans to invest less in reference books and adult periodicals, but more in the virtual reference collection and digital books.

Custodial salaries will rise as a result of the move to 201 Main Street, which will be a bigger building. Buildings and grounds expenses will also go up, as will utilities, said Creedon. According to Creedon, those costs are expected to rise from $32,000 in 2011-2012 to $36,000 in 2012-2013.

Administrative expenses like newsletter printings and mailings will rise in cost from about $9,800 to about $10,860. Office supplies will rise from $12,000 to $12,680.

The next meeting of the JJML Board of Trustees will take place on Wednesday, July 18 at 6 p.m.

Library Embraces Its Future

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Emily J Weitz

For someone like John Jermain Library Director Catherine Creedon, who has been working in the library system since 1975, technology has revolutionized the job. But if you ask her how technology has changed the mission of libraries, she’ll tell you it hasn’t.

“John Jermain and public libraries in general have always been dedicated to making sure the public get the information they need,” says Creedon, “and making that information accessible to all segments we serve. What technology has changed is the way we implement and satisfy that mission.”

When Creedon started out in the field, card catalogues and the Dewey Decimal System were used to access that information. Librarians assisted patrons by helping them navigate thick reference books or calling organizations and businesses to get data. By way of example, Creedon pulls a thick, dusty green book off her shelf.

“We used the Readers’ Guide to Periodicals,” she says. “This is like an artifact now, like you’d keep your grandmother’s spinning wheel in your living room.”

Creedon notes that this has happened to a lot of tools that were standard research materials a quarter century ago, and are now all but obsolete. And it’s because of the dawn of the Internet.

At the same time, Creedon points out that not everyone has a laptop, not everyone has access to the Internet, and it is built in to the library’s mission that it help those people have access to information as well. As a result, John Jermain Library has purchased laptops for in-library use, increased the number of desktops available, and made wireless Internet accessible throughout the library. The library has also started offering classes in everything from Beginning PC and Beginning Mac (in partnership with local business GeekHampton) to Photoshop and How to Use an iPad. There are iPads available for young children in the children’s section of the library. The Teen Writing Group has its own online blog through the library (moss.johnjermain.org). The library has also added a copy machine that scans and faxes, and once the library moves back into the permanent space at 201 Main Street, there will be many more changes adopted.

“It goes back to our mission,” says Creedon. “It is the library’s mandate to make sure information is available to the community. So much information is only available digitally now. There are so many job postings that will only accept applications online.”

Creedon tells a story, with tears in her eyes, of a recent occurrence when a library patron who had been out of work for some time met the staff at the door as they were about to open in the morning.

“She was facing deadline for a job application, and didn’t have a computer,” says Creedon. “She got assistance in using a public computer from the librarian, and she contacted us later to let us know she got the job.”

But technology changes fast — so even as the John Jermain Library works to incorporate all these new technologies into its offerings, the staff also needs to keep an eye on the future. Construction of the new space has helped them envision the future.

“We will have a digital media lab,” says Creedon, “with music editing and movie editing software. We’re looking at 3D printers where you can use drawing software to print something that can be assembled. Ideas are not always two dimensional.”

Creedon has also been working with the library’s tech advisor Eric Cohen on the idea of becoming more of a resource for the local music scene.

“We hope local musicians can bring their CDs and we can make them available here,” she says. “People without recording contracts can still be heard.”

But Creedon notes for all the forward thinking that technology inspires, it also offers a great resource for preserving the past.

“I think technology supports our commitment to local history,” says Creedon. “The ability to scan rare historic documents, to make things more widely available, to collect in a digital format : it all gives us access to the micro-local.”

But change in a historic institution like a library doesn’t just mean the director needs to have an eye on the future. It means all the employees need to be willing to grow and develop their skills as the world demands.

“We view new technology as an imperative as part of the way we’ll be delivering service,” says Creedon. This means mandatory trainings, which the library has held, in which all public service staff have had to demonstrate competencies in a range of technologies from eBooks to posting on the library blog. In the future, she adds, the whole role of a librarian could change.

“We’re not sure yet what the future will hold,” says Creedon. “But there are public libraries who have done away with the checkout desk. Staff then go to other aspects of technology, like helping with downloads. We are looking at how technology will change not only what’s in the library, but how the staff is equipped to serve.”

When asked where in relation to other libraries John Jermain stands on the technology front, Creedon smiles.

“We’re not cutting-edge,” she admits, “but we are definitely early adopters. We have the benefit of a community that is intimately involved. Also because of the building project, we are on the lookout for things we might want to adopt. And we’re small enough to be able to experiment without a lot of investment. One or two iPads in the children’s room is easy to implement on an experimental basis, and we’re always willing to give it a try.”

Sag Trustees Aim to Control Parking During Construction at Bulova & JJML

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When the Sag Harbor Planning Board approved the luxury condominium development at the former Bulova Watchcase Factory three years ago, they probably never suspected that project would coincide with the expansion of the John Jermain Memorial Library.

But that is exactly what has happened.

The expansion of the historic library was only a glimmer in most Sag Harbor Village resident’s eyes when Cape Advisors — the firm approved to construct 65 condos in the factory building — was seeking permission to move forward with their plans. Flash forward three years, following the project stalling under the weight of the housing crisis, and both projects will likely begin just months apart.

On October 25, Cape Advisors, which has partnered with Duetsche Bank on their project, paid the Village of Sag Harbor’s Building Department just over $200,000 in order to obtain their building permit. Since then, the former Watchcase Factory property has been alive with activity as the company gets ready to break ground on their development, which in addition to condos will also feature townhouses along Church Street, the construction of an underground parking garage and a recreational center.

Meanwhile, the library, which is already in its temporary West Water Street home, is just months away from being able to apply for its own building permit for expansion. Restoration of the masonry on the exterior of the 101-year-old library has already been given village approval.

In an attempt to mitigate the traffic concerns associated with both projects, at Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, board members adopted temporary traffic and vehicle regulations that will remain in effect through December 31 of next year.

The Sag Harbor Planning Board in their approvals for both the Bulova condos and the library expansion has already adopted most of the regulations.

According to the resolution, parking will be prohibited on Washington and Church streets to Division Street.  Church Street will also be changed into a northbound-only street from Washington to Sage streets, and parking will no longer be allowed on Sage Street from Division to Church Street. Jefferson Street will be opened into a two way traffic street from Suffolk Street to the library while that road is closed directly adjacent to the library and parking and standing on Union Street next to the library is also prohibited under the resolution.

The village board also agreed to hire engineer Frederick S. Keith, at a rate of $120 per hour, to aid building inspector Timothy Platt in review of construction documents as the Bulova project moves forward.

According to Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, the village will use the building department fee furnished by Cape Advisors to cover the cost of having Keith under contract.

“It’s the biggest project the village has ever seen and I think the village needs that,” he said.

Geese & Septic Systems Targeted by State

Feeding geese on Sag Harbor Village property may soon be illegal, although don’t blame the village board of trustees— the new local law was introduced under a federal mandate to address stormwater runoff issues nationwide.

On Tuesday night, the board introduced two new local laws — one prohibiting the feeding of geese within the incorporated Village of Sag Harbor. The other requires homeowners to show, via an inspection, that their septic systems are operational every five years.

According to village attorney Fred W. Thiele, Jr., both are the result of a federal mandate administered through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) that requires local laws in an effort to mitigate stormwater runoff.

According to Thiele, the septic legislation differs from legislation proposed by the village earlier this year that required regular inspections of septic systems. He said the law does not demand residents show their systems are being pumped regularly, but rather just requires an inspection indicating the systems are functioning properly.

“These laws just get the village into compliance with federal and state regulations,” said Thiele.

Next April, the Village of Sag Harbor will be eligible for $26,000 in Suffolk County Development Block Grants. These are restricted for the construction of improvements like handicap accessible ramps, bathrooms and crosswalks, according to village clerk Beth Kamper.

On Tuesday night, the village board heard from John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon who said that many of her patrons have requested additional handicap parking spaces near the library’s temporary West Water Street home, as well as a crosswalk closer to the library.

Mayor Gilbride asked Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley to explore that possibility, as well as upgrading the bathrooms at Havens Beach.

JJML Has Four Vying for Three Seats Later This Month

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Craig Rhodes has been admittedly immersed in his position as a board member with the John Jermain Memorial Library over the last few years. He has pored over architectural renderings of the library’s renovation and expansion, keeping a close eye on the village’s review and eventual approval of that project, as well as the library board’s books, which he manages as the board’s treasurer.

Rhodes was so busy, in fact, that he says he did not realize he had served almost three years on the board, and — believing he had another year left in his three-year-term — failed to hand in his petition for a position on the ballot later this September.

“It was a total surprise,” said Rhodes on Tuesday. “I am really caught up in this whole project and I would hate to not be involved in what is going on as we are finally moving forward, in getting this building built and creating a great library for Sag Harbor.”

“I want another term to be able to see this through,” he added.

This is why Rhodes, an architect, is vying for his second term with the JJML Board of Trustees as a write-in candidate in what has emerged as a four-person race for three board seats.

The trustee election and budget vote will be held on September 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The library will host a special budget hearing and meet the candidate’s forum on Wednesday, September 21 at 5:15 p.m. before the library board holds its monthly meeting at 6 p.m.

In addition to Rhodes, incumbent trustee Jackie Brody, who was elected last year to fill the last remaining year of Tippy Ameres’ term after her resignation from the library board, will also seek a second term.

A Fulbright scholar, writer and editor, Brody said on Wednesday that her commitment to staying with the library board stems from her desire to continue her work on the fundraising committee. That group, said Brody, is critical to the overall success of the building project as the library attempts to raise millions of dollars beyond the public approved $10 million bond that will fund the restoration and expansion of JJML’s historic Main Street library.

Originally, noted Brody, the library’s fundraising committee set a goal of $2 million in additional funds to be raised over the bond. But after a lengthy, and expensive, review process to gain approval for the library project, Brody said the committee would likely seek $3 million in additional funds for the project.

JJML board member Christiane Nueville has reached her term limit with the board, and cannot seek another term. Therefore, joining Brody and Rhodes in the election contest will be Custom House administrator Ann Lieber. Lieber first began using the library as a two year old when her family visited the area each summer.

A member of the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library, Lieber has helped the library with the Friends’ annual House Tour to support the library’s programming, and will host the Friends’ benefit “One for the Books” this year as well. Lieber has also been involved in helping people gain their citizenship through tutorial classes at JJML.

A substitute teacher in the Sag Harbor Union Free School District, Lieber said while living in Indianapolis, she worked as a librarian for two religious institutions, which like JJML, were in the process of expansion.

“So I think I bring some expertise that would be important to the library at this stage,” said Lieber on Wednesday.

Toby Spitz is the fourth candidate on the slate, and is hoping to be elected to the board alongside her good friend, Lieber.

A graduate of the Columbia University School of Library Service, Spitz worked for the New York Public Library for a number of years before opening her own executive search firm for placing attorneys in corporations and law firms.

Spitz moved to Sag Harbor full-time to retire after summering in the village for seven years, and her first stop was the library where she was thrilled to offer her services as a volunteer. She took over running the library’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program after program director Martha Potter retired last year.

On Wednesday, Spitz said she would like to see the library expand its bi-lingual programming. Having grown up in Florida, Spitz said she has always had an affinity for the Latin communities. Recognizing that they are very much a part of the year round East End fabric, she feels libraries need to find ways to better serve that population.

On Tuesday, JJML Director Catherine Creedon said that she was excited to see such interest in the board, particularly as the library moves forward with its building project. She added that each candidate brings strong skills to the table that will no doubt benefit the library.

Creedon said Rhodes has been “instrumental” in moving the building project forward and with his architectural background has become a mentor to the director as the library worked on the design of the new library and waded through the approval process.

Rhodes, who first fell in love with JJML at the age of five, said he would like to continue his work with the library architects as building commences later next year.

Brody’s fundraising efforts have been critical, added Creedon. Lieber’s work on the library’s centennial, among other efforts similar to Spitz’s volunteer work with the ESL program at the library, is a prime example of the kind of people that make Sag Harbor the special community it is, said Creedon.

“We have four very strong candidates,” she said.

Possibilities at Church for Jermain Library?

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Last month the director of the John Jermain Memorial Library Catherine Creedon, library board president Christiane Neuville and board member Carl Peterson visited the former United Methodist Church on Madison Street in what Peterson called a “preliminary investigation” to see if the space could fulfill the library’s needs as it looks towards expansion.

According to Neuville, the visit occurred a couple weeks ago after a June 10 board of trustees meeting when area residents Stephen Longmire, Liz Joyce and Rob Calvert approached the board asking them to consider looking into the church as a possibility for the library.

Neuville stressed the visit has yet to be discussed with the full board and that the three were looking at the church as they would any possibility that presented itself, and nothing more at this time.

The ownership of the historic United Methodist Church building has been a source of community debate and discussion for over a year now, after the church first announced and then completed a sale to former Southampton Town Councilman Dennis Suskind for $2.9 million, who said he intended on converting the church into a private residence for he and his wife. Before a contract was actually approved by the congregation or church officials, a group of Sag Harbor residents reached out to the Town of Southampton and the Village of Sag Harbor seeking a public purchase using Community Preservation Fund (CPF) monies.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Greg Ferraris asked Southampton Town to perform the required appraisals on the property for a possible CPF purchase. While the appraisals were completed, because there was a signed contract in place and a willing seller is required by the legislation, the town chose not to move forward.

While that did not occur prior to the closing on the property, in the beginning of June Suskind announced he had listed the church for sale, although a price has yet to be determined, according to Scott Strough, of Strough Real Estate Associates, who is handling the listing. Strough says while he has had a couple of brief conversations with Longmire, he has yet to hear from anyone on the board.

“I think right now the village and the library should understand the property is on the market, we are receptive to listening to any proposals and will handle this as we would any other listing,” said Strough.

What Longmire suggested to the board, however, was the possibility that the library partner with the Town of Southampton, who could purchase the historic structure with CPF funds now that there was a willing seller, and grant rights to the building to the library. While CPF could cover costs associated with the purchase and rehabilitation of the historic structure, said Longmire, the library would be responsible for any costs associated with a renovation to upgrade the building to suit their needs.

According to CPF author state assemblyman Fred Thiele, Jr. the building is eligible for acquisition because it is a historic landmark, and it would also qualify for the restoration of the façade, as the law allows for that expenditure. The library could move into the space, although the town would own it, as it is a public use, said Thiele.

Peterson and Creedon have discussed the possibility of this option with Thiele, who said it was his impression one of the library’s concerns is whether the property will be suitable for the libraries needs.

On Wednesday, Peterson, the head of the board’s ad hoc building and grounds committee, said he had a number of other questions that had yet to be answered, and right now the board is simply working on finding out if this is a viable possibility at all.

The board has recently hired Herbert S. Newman Partners, an architecture firm from Connecticut, to find the appropriate solution to the library’s expansion. While the board has remained committed to the one library, two building plan with a second building planned at Mashashimuet Park, after they hired Newman, Neuville said they remained open to every option and would use Newman Partners as a resource in coming to a final solution.

On Wednesday, Southampton Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi said he believed in theory everyone would like to see the United Methodist Church preserved for a public use, but a community partner – whether the library or another organization – would be an important part of the puzzle to share in the investment, particularly what would be required outside of the purchase and restoration covered under CPF.

Both Nuzzi and Ferraris said a commitment from the library board or another community organization would be key to the issue moving forward.

As for Suskind, Strough said it was his opinion this could be a viable option, and that his clients are ready and willing to listen.