RPL Employees Receive City Award

Please join me in congratulating our colleagues listed below who have been selected to receive a City Employee Recognition Award!

The following staff have been selected to be honored at the 2016 City of Rochester Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, July 20, at 5:30 p.m. at Hochstein School of Music and Dance, 50 Plymouth Avenue North, Rochester, NY 14614:


  • Bruce Wilbur – Meritorious Service Award
  • Leesah Zink – Public Service Award


  •  Literacy – Customer Service & Meritorious Service Award
    • Alexandra Haehn
    • Marvin Iverson
    • Shelley Matthews
  • Self-Published Book Festival –Customer Service Award
    • Mary Fraser
    • Jennifer Lenio
    • Jeffrey Levine
    • Susan Meyers
    • Carol Moldt
    • Kirstra Otto
    • Robert Scheffel
    • Judith Schewe
  • Frederick Douglass Photo Preservation
    • Kristy Bauman
    • Cheri Crist
    • Christine Ridarsky

A congratulatory letter from Mayor Lovely A. Warren has been mailed to the home of the award recipients. The ceremony on July 20 is open to any and all who would like to come out and support & celebrate the people being recognized. Light refreshments will be served and free parking will be available at the Sister Cities Garage. Hope to see you there!

RRLC Library of the Year

RRLC Library of the Year – The Rochester Regional Library Council held its annual meeting on June 2, where three MCLS libraries were honored in the Public Library of the Year category. The Sully Branch of the Rochester Public Library received the award, with Fairport and Irondequoit receiving Honorable Mentions. RRLC Executive Director Kathy Miller shared this about each library:

  • Sully: Our panel of judges – Debby Emerson, President of the New York Library Association (NYLA), Barbara Stripling, President-Elect, NYLA, Marion French, Assistant Vice-President of Education for WXXI, and Todd Butler, President and CEO of Causewave Community Partners – said about Sully: “The nominations for Sully are so authentic. There is so much respect for the librarians. They clearly have an impact on people’s lives. It is seen as a safe place, where everyone is helpful. It really is a community center. And we learned a new term! Mr. Carter is very “wavy!” Sully is part of the Thomas P. Ryan, Jr. Community Center. Its focus is on teens and young adults and sparking their interest in reading. But it is most especially a place where all feel welcome and safe. People commented on the staff especially. “I love coming to this library,” Jordon a frequent library user says. “The man known as Mr. Carter is my new best friend. He does everything for me in time of need.” Cori’ahn adds “I love my library because everyone here is friendly. Also I love it because I get to chill with friends at the manga club they have here. The librarians are James, Schuyler, Tim, Adrian, Carmen, Maria, and Dennis. They all have a special purpose here such as watching kids, talking to them and making sure they are safe. That is why I love the Sully library and think they should win.” “No doubt about it,” says branch manager Dennis Williams, “we are the friendliest library in the county!”
  • Fairport: “Fairport had hundreds of nominations, more than half the volume of public nominations. They serve all age groups, not only kids and teens. One person even said that Wegmans comes in second in comparison to how the Fairport library staff and its volunteers take care of every single individual who comes into the library. People loved the library before the renovation and they love it now. And they don’t just love the library. They love the staff. As one person said, ‘FPL is one of my happy places.” And one of the nominations: The Fairport Public Library has been and still is an incredible asset to our community…. Fairport’s library continues to be an active place of community services for all to utilize and enjoy.  Additionally, the Fairport Public Library just recently completed a $4 million renovation to enhance the already great experiences and services they provide.  Our library is fantastic and our community, investment in knowledge and life learning would not be where it is at today without assets such as our library.”
  • Irondequoit: “There are repeated comments of the new library being a unifying force for the town. The library became a community center. It has made a real difference in the community! The library is seen to be the “place to be!” And one of the nominations: Our town has an imaginary division based on two school districts in the town. That should be the only difference but it pops up in every town conversation (east vs west). Now we have one beautiful town library that is helping to stop some of the east/west talk. One gathering place for the town with meeting rooms, helpful librarians, and a great children’s area. It’s starting to feel like a town that was getting old and tired is revitalizing itself and the library was a big step toward that in my opinion!

Please join me in congratulating all three libraries on this achievement!

New Strategic Plan for Rochester Public Library

It’s been awhile. Fourteen years, precisely, since the Rochester Public Library has had a meaningful strategic plan. After several months of diligent work by a team of really smart and caring people, the RPL Board of Trustees will see (and hopefully approve) a new strategy and plan tomorrow.

There were two basic rules that we followed: community is of the highest importance, and keeping it simple is crucial. We followed a pattern of What and How – What will be done and How we’re going to do it – and built the plan around three priorities:

  • Education & Engagement
  • Sustainability & Resources
  • Stewardship & Curation.

These priorities grew out of new mission, vision, and values statements, which grew out of extensive community and stakeholder feedback gathered over the last year.

I’ll be writing more about each priority after the Board approves the plan. All RPL staff and many members of the community will have a hand in fulfilling the promises made in this plan. In the meantime, here’s a peek at the Strategy Map the Board will consider tomorrow:

RPL Strategy Map_June 15, 2016

Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival 2016 Line-Up

Can I just say….LOOK AT THESE AUTHORS!!!!!TBF2016_GeneralPoster_8_5x11_F

Flower City AmeriCorps at RPL

RPL is a partner with the City of Rochester Flower City AmeriCorps project and has 12 volunteers engaged in a variety of early childhood education and financial literacy projects.  The volunteers have assisted in the Wee Read program at the Central Library, which was a good experience for the individuals new to working with children. It allowed them to see all the elements of a storytime with children and families. The FCAC program, which began in November, focuses heavily on training the volunteers, who are tasked with gaining and building skills that will make them employable when the project is over. Some of the training FCAC volunteers attended in December includes:

  • Early Childhood Development – Training done by Rochester Child First Network; introduced volunteers to information on brain development.
  • What WXXI has to offer! – Cara Rager spoke about the tools PBS Kids offers online, on tv, and programming that she offers for parents. We discussed collaborations (what they are, how they work), and how she can help our volunteers serve families. Training done by Cara & Tonia.
  • Volunteers attended system wide training for Every Child Ready to Read 2 -Training done by Tonia.
  • Active Shooter Awareness – Training conducted through City of Rochester and deemed necessary for staff and volunteers working in public service.
  • How to choose a picture book and intro to the importance of play – Training done by Tonia.

Volunteers working with Raising a Reader and Early Childhood Education performed their first storytime at Friendship Children’s Center. Friendship allowed our volunteers to team up in pairs and do a storytime for their 3 – 4-year-old classes. This was great practice and everyone had a great time. Many of the volunteers also joined the Sully and Lyell branches in December for their gingerbread house events, Lincoln’s Christmas Party for the Community, and the Noon Year’s Eve event at Central.

Early days of this project have been challenging, especially around helping our volunteers navigate their path out of poverty. Unlike other AmeriCorps projects, our volunteers have been hired from the neighborhoods where they will deliver their service, and many face daily obstacles such as dealing with eviction notices and cancellation of SNAP and other services they need to survive. Flower City AmeriCorps will help the volunteers to overcome their personal obstacles and gain skills they will be able to use long into the future while, at the same time, delivering critical services to people in need in our City neighborhoods.

Vietnam Learning Center at Rochester Central Library

Rochester Central Librarian Steve Nash was recently asked to write a blog post on the Central Library’s Vietnam Learning Center. He did such an excellent job that I wanted to share it here:


Steve and his colleagues on the 3rd floor at the Central Library have done remarkable things with this resource. Steve is an example of a “connected” librarian, where he is constantly creating connections with various segments of the Rochester community.

Thank you for your service, Steve. Well done!

MCLS 2016 Reading Challenge

RPL/MCLS Staff are invited to participate in an informal, year-long reading challenge designed to get you reading out of your comfort zone. You can participate as much or as little as you want. As you finish reading something from a category, email the title, author & category to me at puttaro@libraryweb.org. I will collect entries and do a drawing each month for a $25 Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift card. You can also participate and share your reading in the MCLS Reading Challenge group at www.GoodReads.com. (You will have to create a GoodReads account to participate there, though.)

Happy Reading!


  • A book by your best friend’s favorite author
  • A book written by an author born in Africa
  • The “classic” you’ve always wanted to read but never found the time
  • A children’s book published in 1987
  • A graphic novel
  • A book contained in the “What I’m Reading” folder outside the RPL/MCLS Director’s office in the Rundel Building
  • A book with a yellow cover
  • A book about the American Revolution
  • A book written by a South American author
  • A biography of a famous scientist
  • A book set in Rochester or the Finger Lakes region
  • A book from a New York Public Library reading list
  • A book by an author who has attended the Teen Book Festival
  • A book written by a woman
  • A science fiction novel
  • A book about animals
  • A book about mythology
  • A book written by an author from Alabama
  • A book about a king or queen who reigned during the Renaissance
  • A book about spies
  • A fairy tale
  • A book about the environment
  • A cookbook
  • A book written by an Asian author
  • A book about a holiday
  • A romance
  • A novel written for teens
  • A book of poetry
  • A book featuring magical realism
  • A book about war
  • A book by a local author
  • A ghost story

Making Things at Your Library

The Arts & Literature Divisions at the Rochester Central Library have totally embraced the current trend of “making” and have been super-busy offering a wide variety of free programs. One that I particularly love is the “Craft It Forward” program where people make things for others. Examples of past programs include making pet beds for shelter animals, and sewing dresses for little girls in Africa. An upcoming Craft It Forward program will make toys for homeless pets.

In addition to the arts & crafts related programs, there have been some excellent programs offered for people who want to “make” by writing. The Self-Published Book Festival and Writing Our Stories helped budding authors develop their skills.

These are just a few of the maker programs happening in libraries all over Monroe County. Check the Events Calendar on the library website for upcoming programs, or subscribe to one of the many newsletters offered by Monroe County Library System members.

Here’s a list of selected “maker” programs recently offered at the Central Library:

  • Pop-Up Craft Party: Decoupage Ornament – Participants learned how to decoupage with torn paper and ModPodge.  We put our new skills to use and each person left with a beautiful and unique holiday ornament.
  • Artist at Work: Gail Rivera – Rivera demonstrated mixed media painting with acrylics as part of the “Artist at Work” series.  She brought plenty of supplies so visitors could paint along with her.  Participants watched her program, painted, and talked about appreciating abstract art.  When the program ended, Gail responded with a little surprise when thanked for being welcoming and friendly to all.  “To me it seems like a very natural part of doing a demo.  I guess I don’t credit myself with my years in social work, doing workshops… I really liked the diversity represented in the group, and learning about them.  It was a joy for me.”
  • Making Little Dresses for Africa – Little Dresses for Africa is an littledressesorganization that was started by Rachel O’Neill in 2008. Using a simple cotton pillow case, many dresses are sewn, and then sent to girls in African countries.  Librarians Nanci Nugent and Kirstra Otto instructed participants in how to use the sewing machines and how to create the pillowcase dresses. The Arts Division provided the trim, ribbons, and notions for the class.
  • Self-Published Book Festival –  This festival was a free event for writers who want to learn how to publish their book independently, and for readers who want to discover some of the Rochester area’s finest self-published authors. It included a Book Fair, a Trade Show, a keynote address, and five programs on self-publishing. Participants said:
    • Thank you so much for putting on such a great festival!  It was an honor to be in attendance and I learned a great deal from the workshops.  I left feeling very inspired and encouraged.
    • The event is well-organized and I think a valuable service to local writers. I was very impressed by the library facilities and the range of services offered.
  • Writing Our Stories – A six-part, creative writing series that ran from October through early December. The series’ instructor, Lisa Kleman, is researching and writing about her relatives, the Dossenbachs, who were musicians and conductors in Rochester at the turn of the 20th century. This writing series was open to all, regardless of writing experience, and gave people encouragement, support, and instruction to help them write their own personal stories. Because of the popularity of this writing series, and feedback we received at the Self-Published Book Festival, we will continue to offer writing classes on a regular basis. Our next series will be on writing a novel, taught by Jennifer Blanchard.
  • Pop-Up Craft Party: Winter Snowflake Ornaments –  Participantspopupsnowflake made snowflake ornaments/window clings using puff paint and wax paper (when the puff paint dries on wax paper, it can be peeled off, and will hold its shape). Participants were able to make multiple snowflakes in a variety of colors to decorate their homes or to give as gifts.
  • Making Holiday Terrariums –  We invited Sigriet Ferrer back to do another terrarium program as they are always so popular, often requiring a waiting list. This one was no exception, and we had to turn several people away and schedule another class later in January.  Participants created a succulent garden with materials, including glass containers, succulent plants, red and green colored moss, etc., all supplied by Sigriet.  Sig is a patient and friendly instructor and she takes a step-by-step approach to teaching this class.
  • Pop-Up Craft Party: Holiday Cards –  Local artist and cardmaker Cheryl Olney provided a bonanza of materials and the know-how to guide participants through the process of creating beautiful and unique holiday cards. Patrons were each able to make several very personalized cards.popupcards

Looking Outward: RPL Local History Staff in the Community

Everywhere you look today, there’s an article or a TED talk or blog post about how important it is for libraries to look outward and engage community members wherever they gather. Rochester Public Library staff do that every day, so I thought I’d share an example of how one Central Library Division looks outward.

Here is a sampling of the October classes presented outside the library by Local History staff:

  • Historical Researcher Michelle Finn led three Heritage Trail walking tours in October: two for the City’s River Romance weekend, and one for RPL Staff Day.
  • Genealogy Specialist Barb Koehler presented two public sessions on beginning genealogy at the Greece Public Library on October 5. The participants were a diverse group, both in age and ethnicity, and there was great interest in the resources available in Central’s Local History & Genealogy Division, as well as on the MCLS website. The library had 20 laptop computers set up for patron use in the conference room and all were filled at the end of each session.
  • Koehler also gave an introductory genealogy talk at the Pittsford Public Library on October 14.
  • Archivist Cheri Crist participated on a panel at RRLC’s Archives Month presentation on October 19.
  • Director of Historical Resources & City Historian Christine Ridarsky gave a brief overview of Rochester’s history at the opening reception of the Acid Rain 2015 conference at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center on October 19.

Additionally, Local History staff turns up in all sorts of places during a typical month, such as:

  • Ridarsky represented the City and the library at the Genesee Riverwatch Annual Meeting in the Brown’s Race Market, High Falls on October 1. PT Historical Researcher Amy Pepe had prepared a trifold exhibit on the history of the Genesee River and its influence on the development of Rochester, which was well received. Ridarsky met with a variety of people from several different environmental groups.
  • Ridarsky met with Kevin Indovino, a producer at WXXI, to discuss how the Division might further contribute to a documentary on the Rochester garment industry. Ridarsky will be helping to locate images; she had previously been interviewed for the film,
  • Ridarsky met with Al Smith, who represents several area veterans organizations, to discuss the possibility of erecting a monument or memorial plaque in Rapids Cemetery to name and honor the veterans buried there. Ridarsky and Smith will be meeting with neighborhood representatives in early November to discuss the matter further.
  • The Division hosted a film crew from the television series Long Lost Family, which is produced by Shed Media and airs on TLC. This will be the second episode of the series to be shot here. We do not yet have air dates for either episode.

While Central Divisions continue to serve thousands of visitors to the library every month, staff are connecting to many more people outside the library walls. What’s happening here is, I think, indicative of the changing role of public libraries which blends the old and new.

NYS Early Childhood Advisory Council

Last weekend, I received formal communication from the Department of State and Governor’s Office that I have been appointed to the NYS Early Childhood Advisory Council. Leadership of the Council has included me in meetings and communication for several months, so I have become familiar with the work being done by this group. Participation in the work of the ECAC will help me embed libraries in the conversations around early learning and family literacy happening at the state level. The importance of a strong early childhood system that includes literacy and libraries cannot be overstated. Research consistently proves that children who experience quality early learning perform better in school and go on to lead productive adult lives. As libraries focus more sharply on intentional, proven early learning strategies in program planning and delivery, and continue to reimagine children’s spaces, we strengthen our position as critical partners in the education system.

The Early Childhood Advisory Council was established in 2009 by the Governor and the commissioners of health, education, human services agencies to implement strategies to better meet the needs of young children and their families. Under the leadership of Governor Cuomo, the ECAC has implemented QUALITYstarsNY, developed and disseminated Early Learning Guidelines, strengthened New York’s early childhood education professional development system (New York Works for Children), and developed a number of resources to support professionals working with young children to meet their social-emotional development needs, among other efforts.

From the ECAC website:

The impact of a stronger early childhood system in New York is not limited to just parents and children. It affects everyone. High quality early childhood education can help communities supply a reliable, skilled workforce to attract good jobs and new employers. It also provides a return on investment, driving local economic activity while reducing the need for costly services as a child grows. A strong early childhood system is also important to New York’s future. As our state continues to compete in a more global economy, our workforce will be expected to possess the analytic and critical thinking skills that begin developing in young children.

All of this work blends with the approach to child-centered delivery of service being implemented throughout MCLS/RPL through the efforts of our Children’s Consultant Tonia Burton and our amazing cadre of Children’s Librarians. I am eager to begin work with the ECAC and am grateful for the opportunity to serve.