Altamont Free Library

— Photo from Joe Burke

I Love My Library! Gala celebrants on Saturday night included, from left, Congressman Paul Tonko, Altamont Free Library Director Joe Burke, AFL Board of Trustees President Christine Carpenter, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, and Altamont Mayor James Gaughan. They are standing behind Guilderland High School students who volunteered to help for the evening.

Altamont Free Library Gala

— Photo from Joe Burke

Going, going... Linda Cure, an Altamont library trustee, displays a painting by local artist Joan Johnson  as Tony Kossmann serves as auctioneer Saturday evening at the library’s annual fundraiser. This year, the Train Station Quilters were honored.

Another gala is in the books! I have to extend a huge thank-you to everyone who attended the 10th annual I Love My Library! Gala last Saturday night. I hope everyone had as fantastic a time as I did.

Many, many people contributed to the success of the Altamont Free Library event, but a by-no-means-exhaustive list would include Robin Love, Meghan Connelly, Yvette Terplak, Steve Terplak, Pat Spohr, Sally Dague, Sharon Forman, Michelle Stevens, Vicki Vattimo, Christine Carpenter, Ron Ginsburg, Mike Seinberg, and Linda Cure, among many, many others.

I’d also like to thank the many donors of auction items, appetizers and desserts; the great volunteers who kept everything running smoothly; and Bella Fleur and Elegant Touch Catering for their phenomenal work. Finally, many thanks are due to our honorees for the evening, the amazing Train Station Quilters for all their hard work and dedication. Thank you all for your time, energy, and creativity.

We’ve got some pretty great events coming up over the next few weeks.

Juice and Jammie

Tonight, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. put on your PJ’s and join Ms. Erika for a pre-bedtime story, snack and craft! This storytime will be just the thing to prepare your kiddos to count sheep.

Keough signs his book

Please join us for a very special event on Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. Local author James Keough will be discussing and signing copies of his book “The First K-9 Trooper in the NYS Police.”

Mr. Kough served on the New York State Police from 1965 to 1998 and has collected stories over three decades worth of stories with partners both human and canine.

Syria potluck

Every month, we hold a wonderful event called the Eat Around the Word Potluck, where members of our community come together and prepare and share foods from a different culture or country each month. In February, we’ve decided to add another element to the mix. On Monday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m., we will be sampling the cuisine of Syria.

In the Capital District, we have seen many people who have escaped the recent violence in Syria and are now trying to make a new life for themselves among us. Often, these refugees come to the United States with only the proverbial clothes on their backs, and they need help.

To that end, on the night of our potluck and in the week before it, we will be accepting donations of household goods to be distributed to groups that work to resettle refugee populations. Making a donation is by no means necessary to attending the potluck, but if you are inclined, we have wish lists of household and personal goods here at the library that would warmly and gratefully received.

Every month, we hold a wonderful event called the Eat Around the Word Potluck, where members of our community come together and prepare and share foods from a different culture or country each month. In February, we’ve decided to add another element to the mix.

On Monday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m., we will be sampling the cuisine of Syria, a nation that has been much in the news over the past two years as a devastating civil war has upended that nation and created a refugee crisis that has affected the entire world. In the Capital District, we have seen many people who have escaped the violence in Syria and are now trying to make a new life for themselves among us.

Often, these refugees come to the United States with only the proverbial clothes on their backs, and they need help. Whatever one might think of the United States accepting refugees from war-torn nations, they are our neighbors now and they need help.

To that end, on the night of our potluck and in the week before it, we will be accepting donations of household goods to be distributed to the local chapter of the United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) and similar groups that work to resettle refugee populations. Making a donation is by no means necessary to attending the potluck, but, if you are inclined, we have wish lists of household and personal goods here at the library that would warmly and gratefully received.

Trivia night

On Thursday, Feb. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m., our monthly Trivia Night is back. Make a team, study up, and BYOB to this mind-twisting trivia contest. Entrance is $5 and the winning team takes half of the door. Contestants must be 21 and up, please.

Valentine’s Day craft

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and instead of the usual store bought card, make a card by hand at the library! Please join us on Sunday, Feb. 12 from 3 to 5 p.m. We’ll have all the supplies you’ll need and all ages are welcome.

Juice and Jammie

On Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. put on your PJ’s and join Ms. Erika for a pre-bedtime story, snack and craft! This storytime will be just the thing to prepare your kiddos to count sheep.

Keough signs his book

Please join us for a very special event on Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. Local author James Keough will be discussing and signing copies of his book “The First K-9 Trooper in the NYS Police.”

Mr. Kough served on the New York State Police from 1965 to 1998 and has collected stories over three decades worth of stories with partners both human and canine.

Please join us for the second of our SongTeller Sessions Concerts this Friday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. In these concerts, each local performer will receive the same list of 10 questions that they’ll answer through stories and songs so that we can get an idea of their personal and creative journey. The questions are:

— What is a song your parents loved?

— What was the first album you bought with your own money?

— What was the first song you learned to play?

— What's the first bad song you wrote?

— What's the first good song you wrote?

— If you could have written any song, what would it be?

— What song do you love that other people seem to dislike?

— What's a traditional/folk/children's/church song that you like?

— What's a song that reminds you of home?

— What song of yours would you like to be remembered by?

Our performer this month is local folk rocker Plupen. Plupen is the stage name of multi-instrumentalist John Florussen. He has been creating music as Plupen since his time at film school in the early 2000s. In 2003, he met and fell in love with an American, and they subsequently traveled the world together. They now live in Schoharie where he continues to make new music.

Coffee and snacks will be available and all ages are welcome.

Gala

It’s nearly Gala time! Please join us at the tenth annual I Love My Library! Gala on Saturday, Feb. 11 from 5 to 9:30 p.m. at the Altamont village hall community room. Invitations are in the mail and can also be picked up here at the library. There will be dinner, dessert, live and silent auctions, and much more. This year we will honor the amazing Train Station Quilters who do so much to create the fabric of our community. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and in addition to being important for the library, it’s also a ton of fun. If you’ve never attended before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Please join us.

Book talk

On Monday Feb. 6 at noon the First Monday Book Club will meet to discuss “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. Based on the true story of the author’s unlikely attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his desperately out of shape friend, this hilarious story is a pleasure to read and to discuss. Please join us.

Trivia night

On Thursday, Feb. 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. our monthly Trivia Night is back. Make a team, study up, and BYOB to this mind-twisting trivia contest. Entrance is $5 and the winning team takes half of the door. Contestants must be 21 and up, please.

You may have noticed by now that your copy of The Altamont Enterprise this week is a little thicker than usual. That’s because this week, you’ll find a special four-page supplemental section of the paper dedicated to the 100-year history of the Altamont Free Library!

This extraordinary document is the product of countless hours of research, writing, and editing by the indefatigable Kristin Casey, to whom the library owes a great debt for all of the work that she voluntarily put into it. Kristin was ably assisted by numerous editors and contributors, including Linda Cure, Keith Lee, Christine Carpenter, and Ron Ginsburg among others. Thank you all.

The publication of this history marks the end of the celebrations of our centennial year. Throughout 2016, we have had many opportunities to reflect on the changes our library has seen over the past 100 years: Changes in our location; changes in our community; changes in reading habits, and changes in our role in the community.

We have grown from a rather exclusive dues-paying organization with 482 books for lending into a determinedly inclusive community resource with over 13,000 books, as well as movies, computers, and more to be borrowed and used by anyone residing in Albany or Rensselaer counties. From our home in the historic Altamont train station, whose renovation was perhaps the ultimate expression of the virtues of community, we look forward to a bright future in our 101st year and far beyond.

Many thanks are due to everyone who has played a role in the celebrations of our centennial. The list of names of those involved would require an additional four newspaper pages to print, but please know that you all have our sincere appreciation and the appreciation of the many generations hence for whom this library will exist.

The library will be closed on Sunday, Jan. 1, for New Year’s Day. From all of us on the library staff to all of you, we hope you have a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2017!

New-gadget assistance

Now that the holidays are behind us, many of us are left trying to figure out how the heck to use the new techno-goodies we’ve received. For everyone who takes to new technologies like a fish to water, there are five of us who are utterly befuddled by new devices.

But fear not; that’s what the library is here for. Call the library at 861-7239 to book an appointment to sit down with a librarian for up to a half-hour to sort out your gizmo issues.

Book discussion

On Monday, Jan. 2, the Noon Book Club will get the new year started by discussing “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats” by Jan-Phillip Sendker. We’ve got plenty of copies set aside, so please join us for what will certainly be a phenomenal discussion.

SongTellers sessions

In the new year, we will be starting a new monthly concert series that we are very excited about. We’re calling it the SongTeller Sessions and they’ll happen on the first Friday evening of each month.

Each performer will receive the same list of 10 questions that they’ll answer through stories and songs.

Our first performer will be local soul rocker Bryan Thomas on Friday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m. All ages are welcome.

Potluck postponed

We normally hold our monthly Around the World Potluck on the last Monday of each month. For the next potluck, we’ll be sampling the food and drinks of Venezuela. Please join us at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30, to join in the festivities and bring a dish to share. If you’d like some help in finding a Venezuelan recipe, swing by the library and pick up one of the cookbooks we’ve got on display.

Since February, we have been selling raffle tickets for a beautiful quilt specially made by the Train Station Quilters in honor of the Altamont Free Library’s 100th anniversary. Over the past 10 months, we have sold a spectacular number of tickets to support the library’s work.

At last weekend’s Victorian Holiday Celebration, we held the raffle drawing and the quilt was won by Train Station Quilter Melinda Beliveau! In what Quilter quarterback Ruth Dickinson describes as a “minor Christmas miracle,” Melinda has generously given the quilt to Don Scrafford, whose beloved late wife, Bobbie, contributed a panel to the quilt.

I think I speak for everyone involved when I say how grateful we are that the quilt has found such a meaningful home. Congratulations to Melinda and Don!

Many thanks are due to all of the Quilters who contributed their time, talent and creativity to this masterwork. They are: Judy Newcomb. Michelle Poulsen, Charlene Stevens, Barbara Quackenbush, Ann Cartmell, Yvonne Berschwinger, Melinda Beliveau, Jinny Ucci, Rebecca Hout, Sheila Galvin, Linda Chaffee, Jackie Perry, Susan Cable, Lois Ginsburg, Elinor Sutty, Irene Peck, Margie Jordan, Ruth Dickinson, Marie Viscio and Bobbie Scrafford. Thank you all!

Kids’ craft

With the holidays quickly approaching, we have so many people to get gifts for and there’s no better gift than one made by hand. On Wednesday, Dec. 14 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., bring your young folks to the library to make presents for all the special people in their lives.

We’ll have all the crafting supplies you’ll need and a bunch of ideas to spark their imaginations. Register in advance, please, by stopping in or calling us at (518)861-7239.

“Gratitude”

In December, both of our book discussion groups will be reading the same book, “Gratitude” by Oliver Sacks. Sacks was a beloved and respected author and neurologist who produced a short series of essays on the subject of gratitude in the last months of his life.

It is a short book and a quick read, but a profound one and one that will hopefully stick with you long after you’ve returned it to the library. We will next be meeting to discuss the book on Monday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. If you’ve ever wanted to join our book clubs, this would be an ideal opportunity.

Venezuela

It’s almost time again for another of our ever popular Eat Around the World Potluck dinners! Come broaden your culinary horizons and share a meal with a bunch of friendly people. This month we’ll be sampling the food and drinks of Venezuela!

Please join us at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 26 to join in the festivities and bring a dish to share. If you’d like some help in finding a Venezuelan recipe, swing by the library and pick up one of the cookbooks we’ve got on display!

I Love My Library Gala

Save the date! The always anticipated annual I Love My Library! Gala is coming up on Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Community Room at Altamont Village Hall. Invitations will be in the mail soon and tickets will be available at the library in the coming weeks.

 

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