— Photo from Kathy Stempel

The trustees for the Berne Public Library met outside for social distancing. From left are: JoAnne Brady, George Waldenmaier, Becky Waldenmaier, Ted Borys, Marion Burghart, and Lisa Raymond.

It was a 30-year collaboration between Alex and Dr. Irene Pepperberg. From the book, “Alex and Me,” written in 2008 by Dr. Pepperberg, the story of two colleagues partnering in animal language research unfolds to reveal a unique and special bond.

Alex, an African gray parrot, passed away unexpectedly on Sept. 6, 2007. His untimely death elicited an obituary in The New York Times, thousands of condolence emails, and crates of sympathy cards from around the world.

According to the obituary, Alex’s last words to Dr. Pepperberg that night when she left the lab were: “You be good, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

Read the book and fall in love with Alex just as the world did. He tricked student interns into giving him extra treats, liked to boss around other parrots in the lab, and sometimes just got tired of the daily work and would say, “Wanna go back.”

Add this book to your reading list just in time for the Berne Library’s launch of its 2020 summer reading program touted under the “Imagine Your Story” tagline. All age groups are invited to start the ride when summer hits the calendar page on June 20.

To hop on board the summer reading train, head to www.bernepubliclibrary.org to land on your summer reading destination at READsquared. Click on the READsquared logo located on the right-hand side and create your account.

Here you will find prompts for reading ideas, games, crafts, and adventures. Completed activities turn into earned points, badges, and personal “I did it” victories along the way. Welcome aboard and remember to have fun every step of the summer reading journey.

For our reading friends who are less than wild about computer usage, paper sign-up mode will be made available. Call the library at 518-872-1246 to submit your requests.


Who, What, When, Where, Why

A short story ...

Who you ask?

Library staffers echo back 

Whatcha been doing?

Library training and that’s a fact

Webinar listenings to learn much more

Six-foot tapings on the floor

Mask-wearing signage on the doors

Curbside pick-me-ups with books once more

Adding online programs to the page

With GoToMeetings all the rage

When is this happening?

Every day

You’re always thought of

In caring ways 

Where you be? 

At home 

In the car 

At the library parking lot 

Using wifi

Why carry on?

The library misses you and 

Hopes you’re well

Managing daily 

Feeling swell

When it’s library safe

You’ll be back

It’s guaranteed

Beginnings begin

With each new day

Trustees meet

A special virtual library trustees meeting is being held on Thursday, June 25, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. You can attend via your computer, tablet, or smartphone from the GoToMeeting app using the following address:Trustee Special Meeting, Thursday, June 25, 2020 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/805586989

You may also dial in using your phone: United States: +1 (571) 317-3122

Access Code: 805-586-989

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:


— Photo from Sandra Kisselback

Life inside the Berne Library with a healthy dose of blooming poinsettia watching over the community room.

Yoo hoo! Turn the page. Make the grade. Sing a song. June is here and this month the Berne Library honors dads and grads, Flag Day, and the first day of summer. But first and foremost, let’s get into news you can use now.

Curbside service has been activated. That’s right, library lovers. Items can be ordered from Berne’s collection and this includes seeds from the Seed Library. Get your orders in by calling 518-872-1246, texting 518-275-7916, emailing director@bernepubliclibrary.org, dropping a list in the drop box, or using Facebook messenger.

Available pick up times: Monday and Wednesday between 1 and 2 p.m. or 6 and7 p.m. And, starting on June 13, Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon.

Push the unpause button and peruse the catalog for books available from the Berne Public Library. It’s a pleasure to be able to serve you in whatever capacity allowed during this new lifestyle happening all around the globe.

Virtual ventures

Another couple of items to mention include virtual kickoff ventures. On the schedule for June 9 at 7 p.m. is a GoToMeeting for the writing group “Journeys on the Page.” People have stories to tell,  moments to share, ideas to verbalize.

Many times pouring these stories, moments, and ideas onto the page relaxes the soul and refreshes the mind. Give yourself the 30-day writing challenge of at least five minutes a day to throw your thoughts on the page. See where the journey takes you. Email sandra@bernepubliclibrary.org if interested in joining the writing journey. 

June 9 is touted as National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day according to nationaldaycalendar.com. And there’s also National Donut Day on June 5. Sounds like a good cooking story is about to unfold. “How Donuts and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Solved the Hilltown Conundrum.”

Ready your beverage of choice on June 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. for “Happy Hour.” Or is that happy two hours? Light conversation about literature, community and COVID-19. Find details on the Berne Library’s Facebook page for the meet-up and sign-in.

With all this talk about virtual, sign-up, GoToMeeting, Zoom, ebooks and all things wifi, internet, and computer savvy, what about the folks without a connection to that world of devices?

If you know of someone in your community in this situation, safely reach out to them in a meaningful way. Send a “thinking of you” note or “hello how ya doing” letter, pass on a funny story, or call to share a few caring words. 

Thank you and happy reading.

Sandra Kisselback created this word-search puzzle for readers of her Berne Library column.

By June is drawing near with mini changes in sight. Gear up to flip that calendar page and reveal the Word of the Month Club’s June word submission. Take it away, Roxanne.

“Well, using our dart-board theme, five balloons are anchored to the board with one word in each. Here’s to success in 10 darts or less.” Members, with glasses raised to their monitors, smiled with a collective “Cheers!”

After three attempts, a fourth dart made contact with a resounding pop. Roxanne retrieved the slip and shared the winner.

“Kindness” is our word for June. Write kindness boldly on your notepad, share kindness in your interactions, treat yourself with gentle kindness. Raise your glasses to all the kindness we can muster this June everyone.

A tinkling of glasses and a “Here’s to kindness” spread across the airwaves.

Thinking caps sizzled

June welcomes formulas for conducting library services in the new-now, alongside the familiar-then worlds. In mid May, a new Virtual Trivia Night experiment was held. Kathy Stempel built the event using PowerPoint, Facebook, and GoToMeeting platforms.

Thinking caps were sizzling as participants typed answers into a chat box. One technological wrench tossed that night occurred when the laptop decided it was time to do computer updates two minutes before go time. Ooops. Didn’t see that coming.

All wrenches aside, the experiment successfully landed.

Summer Reading

With summer fast approaching, the library is gearing up for summer reading. “Imagine Your Story” is this year’s theme. There will be lots of new stories imagined this year. All age groups from wee readers to adults are invited to participate. Going forward, details of library launch pads are being reimagined.                    

Berne Library’s summer reading challenges will be using the familiar READsquared program to sign up and record reading minutes. Prizes and badges still apply. You can find READsquared on the library’s website. Activity packets are typically bundled to hand out for each age group. Stay tuned for more details.

Call 518-872-1246, check the library’s website www.bernepubliclibrary.org, email for help with any questions. The director will do her best to answer your queries.

— Photo from Sandra Kisselback

“Hey, what about bringing to life your very own nature journal?” asks Berne Library correspondent Sandra Kisselback.

Dust clumps build up in areas of stillness. Kind of like brain activity. Sometimes you need to shake those dust clumps loose.

There are a million small ways to clear the mind for a reboot. If you’ve never read a book, read a book. Write your lockdown story. Draw a self-portrait, draw your pet, draw that bowl of grapes hanging out on the kitchen counter.

Learn how to say “What do library trolls eat?” and, “Thank you so very much” in Pirate, Japanese, Swedish, or Greek. Practice being a sumo wrestler for the day.

Be a tree. Possibilities are limitless.

Starting a hobby could give those dust clumps a good whomping. Hey, what about bringing to life your very own nature journal?

Jumpstart the journal today for a relaxing zen activity. Gather some pencils, crayons, markers, and tape. Pull in pages of paper to record your observations. Craft your pages to your personal interests.

Here are a few ideas to fire up the brain grill:

— Timeline your pages with day and date;

— Do a daily weather report. Like snowflakes in May, sun, hazy sky or rain;

— Record animal and bird sightings; 

— Draw nature scenes on your pages;

— When did you spot the dandelion’s yellow bloom pop?;

— Include pictures of your pets;

— Describe those indescribable pinkish, glowing, magical sunsets;

— Add greenery to your pages in the form of ferns, clippings, leaves.
Be a plant detective;

— Identify poison ivy and steer clear; and

— Share your findings at a future library program.


Wifi is a continued parking lot feature. It is a privilege to serve you. 

Thank you to all the fans out there enjoying Miss Kathy’s virtual story-time reels on the Berne Library’s Facebook page. Check for updates on the website www.bernepubliclibrary.org, Facebook, and the library’s weekly Altamont Enterprise blurbles. Looking forward to seeing some of those nature journalings.

Keep reading, k?

Forty-two days. That’s how long it’s been. Announcements were made. Lines of reality shifted. Everyone was told to stay — home, work — from home, learn — at home, eat your meals — at home.

Amp up learning opportunities with online webinars — at home. School’s closed. Grab your chromebooks, power up your devices, and raise the bar to keep up your studies — from home.  

Story time cancelled. Check out virtual story time with Miss Kathy online — from home on Facebook. Gardening program cancelled. Plan your garden, plant seeds, find a sunny window, water, grow, feel the power of your garden — at home. 

Photography club cancelled. Checkouts cancelled. Journeys on the Page Writing group cancelled. Library closed until further notice. Everyone is told to stay — home. Forty-two days. That’s how long it’s been. But —

Is everyone doing OK? At home? With your puzzles and movies and inventive genius minds? You can take pictures, write stories, get your garden on. You can write letters to mail out and surprise all the special people in your life.

Learn to play oatmeal box drums, draw, practice kickboxing, play scrabble, paint, dance.  

You are resilient, tough, adaptable and probably baking more than you have done in a long time. Sounds like a good idea for a future library program. A baking sampler night.

Is your brain percolating with unique combinations of flour, lemon, sugar and chocolate? Write that down on the Kaizen board before all the cheesecake disappears.

While the physical library continues with lockdown mode, library-card holders are enjoying the many tools available online. Books, movies, and magazines can be borrowed through the Hoopla, Overdrive, Libby, and Flipster apps. Find information on the Berne Library website at www.bernepubliclibrary.org or call with questions at 518-872-1246. The director will get back to you. 

Check out DayByDayNY Family Literacy Calendar on the library’s website. Or Upper Hudson Library’s useful information and Old School Games for Kids links.


“I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” Really? There are lots of ideas to explore. Now get outside and start exploring. And remember the library’s parking lot has wifi to razz-a-mattazzle your internet connections day and night.

Mother’s Day

This weekend we salute mothers. Time to get out the card stock, crayons, markers, and magazines. Clip pictures, write a special message, and hand over that homemade card to Mom. Happy Mother’s Day 2020. Thanks a million to all the moms out there from the Berne Public Library.

It’s been 42 days. One day at a time till we meet again.  

Director’s note

Drive through the library parking lot and check out the perfect foundation to the upcoming shed. Thank you Town of Berne Highway Department.

They celebrated their one-year anniversary. That’s 12 months in most regions of the world. April 2019 launched the Word of the Month Club at the Berne Public Library.

With April 2020 a mere wink ago, members made at-home celebration magic. Some created vision boards, others baked up a storm, and the majority spent time penning reflections.                                                                            

Starting the club’s journey was excellent. The most recent word, adapt, led April’s mantra as the library landscape changed dramatically in mid-March. The physical building remains closed to the public. Sigh. But all your checked-out library material has been renewed through June. Smile.

So here it is, the turning of another calendar page with a new word waiting to spring. Cindy Leigh set members up with a Zoom meeting to present May’s to-look-for and have-fun-with word.                                                                                         

Sharlee Ann took the lead. “Greetings everyone. How are y’all doing?”

Screen after screen showed their glass raising A-OK sign.

“It’s wonderful to see everyone. Outstanding set-up, Cindy Leigh. Thank you so much! And many thanks for sharing all the creative celebratin’ y’all did with our one-year anniversary.”

“Now for the moment of truth.”

Sharlee Ann carefully opened the purple folder and beamed to the team: “The watch word for May is million. Look for it coupled with other words like: ‘Thanks a million,’ ‘Have a million-dollar day,’ ‘May a million kindnesses come your way,’ ‘You are one in a million.’”

Smiles and cheers of mission million in May erupted all around.

Sharlee Ann closed with a reading:

“Million” by Cindy Leigh

How are you doing?

Excellent you say

Or outstanding or awesome

Or maybe OK

But if asked how you’re feeling

And you just answer:


It makes little sense

So try it again

How ya feeling, old friend?

I’m alive and I’m kicking

I shelter in place

With my books and my pens

As a matter of fact

You might even say

I’m feeling like having

A million-dollar day

Look for “million” in your readings, “million” on your screens, and look for the million best moments unfolding around you.

Here’s a couple thinkers for you. If you walked 5,555 steps per day, how many days would it take you to reach one-million steps? How many pennies would you need for one-million dollars? When is a million not a million?

Virtual story time continues each week, starring the library’s director, Kathy Stempel

WiFi is available 24/7 in the library parking lot.

Many e-resources are available through Hoopla, Overdrive, Flipster, and Libby. Check for updates on facebook and the library’s website at www.bernepubliclibrary.org.                                                                

Keep reading, k? 

Director’s note

Please visit the Little Free Libraries at the Knox Town Hall, the Berne Town Hall, and the Westerlo Town Hall. They are open all the time. If you see Liam Hanley, thank him for building the little book houses.

You can still do your census questionnaire at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo hotspots or in the library parking lot. Everyone needs to be counted.

Questions to ponder. Do you have favorite movie lines that make you smile, laugh, think?  How often do you quote those familiar words? To name your number-one movie, what kind of switches are your brain cells flipping?

While trying to pin down that choice movie you’d watch repeatedly, how about a trivia puzzler to relax with. Here’s the line, name the movie:

— 1. “You can’t handle the truth!”;

— 2. “I’ll be back”;

— 3. “Contrary to popular belief, I know exactly what I’m doing”;

— 4. “Have fun stormin’ the castle”;

— 5. “I’ll have what she’s having”;

— 6. “Go ahead, make my day”;

— 7. “They call me Mr. Tibbs”;

— 8. “Do, or do not. There is no try”;

— 9. “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

By now, you probably have a few more movie lines memorized with all those movies checked out from the library being renewed going on two months. Keep digging for movie quotes uproariously fun to say.

Speaking of digging, how are your stay-at-home archaeological digs going? As promised, the library trolls shared some of their recent finds.

Sporting their mini masks and gloves, they mined a few interesting items from the library’s inner sanctum. Fishing poles, a wall of cake pans, an open but unfinished container of Pringles barbecue potato chips, an ice-cream bar wrapper and three pumpkin seeds.

Take-aways from these finds?

Spend time with a favorite hobby or explore a new one. Bake and share when you can. Need a salty treat? Go for it. Plant seeds for your garden. And —it’s OK to have ice cream when the situation warrants it. Library trolls love ice cream.

While exploring e-content made available through the library with Hoopla, Overdrive, Libby, and Flipster, you have hundreds of titles to search through. Dive in and come out reading.

Books and movies are filled with wonderment. They take you to other worlds, open your mind to unique thoughts, allow respite pauses, float your happy ending within reach.

One such title reviewed this week: “Hope In a Jar” by Beth Harbison is a travel story between high school and adult years. Throw in a 20-year high school reunion, a less-than-nice classmate, and learning certain life truths. It’s a book to soften anxiety — a satisfying wrap to lift your spirits. Some days, you just need that happy ending.

— Photo from Sandra Kisselback

This poster at the Berne Library “is declaring the library’s appreciation of all our library fans, patrons, supporters. They are our rainbow in the storm,” says Sandra Kisselback.

With more hours spent at home, the time is ripe for that long-awaited archaeological dig you’ve always wanted to dive into. Point of reference: spare closet, under the bed, beyond the spaces of everyday living quarters. You get the drift. What wonders will you find? Share if you dare. 

While you continue living outside the library for now, library trolls are keeping things in check inside with their own dig. Of course they all have their PPE gear on. What have they come up with, you ask? They have promised to reveal their finds next week.


Stretch your arms up

Reach for the sky

Bend slightly forward

Pretend touch your toes

Slow roll up

Touch your knees

Your head

Your nose

April’s National Poetry Month

Write some lines

And hear the flow

 Hey everybody, it’s National Poetry month. Grab a pencil and paper along with your favorite beverage and have a go at unleashing your creative juices. Wait a minute. Do people out there actually use pencil and paper anymore? Anyway, listen to a few ponderings from the library’s poet laureate known only as Avery:

“When you write from the heart, it’s worth it

Experience the world in big bites or small

Engage your powers of observation

See the shimmering rainbow by the falls

Listen to the flowers blossom

Pull close to see the distance

Drop back to feel your roar

Inspiration pops in surprising places

When you try, you allow possibilities to soar”

 Share your prose, your poetry, and your adapt stories with family, friends, and your fans at the Berne Library Facebook page. When you write, as Avery suggests, try writing from the heart.

You may find inspirational titles and writing prompt books available on the new e-content app being offered to all member libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System. It’s new in town and it’s called Hoopla. Look for it on the library’s website at www.bernepubliclibray.org and sign up.

If you can’t find your library card, call 518-872-1246, leave a message and we will get back to you with your library number.

Watch for new virtual story-time installments with Kathy each week. Keep reading, k.

The following is a true story. Names have been changed just because.

“I might read a book someday,” said Sheree.

Annie, a confirmed bibliophile, gasped, “Seriously? You’ve never read a book?”

Sheree laughed, leaving the question dangling, unanswered.

Sixty-two-year-old Sheree may have been kidding. Or, she was offering her truth without apology. Either way, 62 years of normal living can rack up a mountain of word exposure. Job applications, test questions, voting, census-form instructions, following recipes from a well-worn cookbook. Newspapers, magazines, devices spewing updates from life. 

Words are everywhere. Some kindle your inner warrior, others jolt you out of familiar routines, while many enfold you in a cloak of kindness when you need it most. Through it all, libraries are there to support pursuits of learning, growth, and entertainment.

Berne Library’s early literacy story-time programs, book club and writing groups, Knit Wit gatherings and special interest groups continue forward in spirit and online. Kathy Stempel, the library’s director, shared a story-time read using the library’s Facebook platform this past week. She’s our champion. Check it out!

 If Amazon shopping is part of your routine these days, you could be helping the Berne Library by using the Amazon Smile logo. Register and choose Friends of the Town of Berne Library Inc. Doing so donates a percentage to the Friends at no cost to you. These donated funds directly support the Berne Library. You can find the Amazon Smile logo over to the right on the library’s web page at www.bernepubliclibrary.org. Thank you!

Whether you “might read a book someday” or you devour books weekly, imagine all the ways a person reads in an unconventional fashion. Your ears “read” when listening to books on tape. With sketch pad in hand, you are “reading” the surrounding landscape while capturing scenes to the page. A series of pictures guides you to transform two flat pieces of cardboard into a box wearing a lid, with not a single word involved. As your brain interprets the diagrams, your mind reads the pictures and successfully manages the transformation.

Every month, every day look for chances to celebrate those victories: A new recipe; appreciation journal pages; check-in calls to family, friends and neighbors. This Wednesday, April 15, the library celebrates you. Check the library’s Facebook page for updates and library news flashes.

— Photo by Kathy Stempel

DVDs dry at the Berne Library after being decontaminated. Items from the drop box are quarantined for seven days then decontaminated. Requested items are placed on a table outside the library.

The Word of the Month Club had to do some fancy tech work to hook members in for April’s reveal. There were many entries and a long series of text messages but, after all the hoopla, one word kept rising to the top.

Thanks to Cindy Leigh’s excellent computer skills, everyone is ready with glasses raised. Roxanne is doing the honors.

“A toast to Cindy Leigh for making this digital connection happen for us,” beamed Roxanne. Clinking glasses were heard all around. “After less than a teardrop of fuss, our group unanimously lasered in on its word for April.”

After a slight pause, Roxanne raised her glass with a gleam in her eye saying, “Here’s to ADAPT for April and standing tough in these unique conditions we are experiencing.” Following everyone’s “Here, here,” Eric shared a short reading: 

Although our library’s closed right now

We adapt and look for e-content

With Overdrive, Libby, and Flipster 

While meetings are suspended

We adapt and make future plans 

As weekly programs stay in limbo

We adapt and blueprint more

Humans have been adapting 

For oh so many years

Keeping forward movement


We adapt and carry on

A round of applause led into greeting each other with weekly progress updates and agreements to keep check-ins with each other going strong. Let’s hear it for adapting in April.

Time to plant

Seeds in the library are calling you. However, you may have to wait a while until curbside service starts up again.

Broccoli Spear of Berne Library’s Seed Library fame shares a few tips. Find a sunny window and sow your own seedlings. It’s time. If you are a novice and want to get more involved in the zen of growing, start small.

Container gardening is a perfect beginning. Two or three containers with a few tomato plants and some herbs. Or simple 3 x 3 raised beds may be a good option.

Garden layout on paper is a way to organize what seeds you may want to try. Many gardeners keep journals each year, charting what plants worked well, and those that flopped. A big plus, besides having fresh food harvested and grown by you, is the relaxing and de-stressing caveats of time spent with your garden.

If you have room, plant some pumpkins this year. There could be a pumpkin-growing contest in the works.

How did you adapt this week?

Thank you to all who participated in the library’s winter reading challenge and Get Cozy@Your Library programs in January through March. Lots of minutes read, health stories experienced, and gatherings enjoyed. Kathy Stempel, director, and the staff look forward to more reading challenges together with you soon. 

Please hold on to all checked-out library items until after the library re-opens. You’ll be happy to know that all checked-out items have been renewed until May 5. Put that smiler in your pocket and write up a paragraph or two from your recent readings. Challenge on!

How did you adapt this week? Inquiring minds want to know.