— Photo by Kathy Stempel

“Thirteen chefs and four brave judges participated at The Berne Public Library's sixth annual Jr. Chef Challenge,” reports Kathy Stempel, the library’s director.

Donations are being sorted, categorized, dusted, boxed, and piled. It’s a short few weeks before the Friends of the Berne Library’s book, multimedia, puzzle, and jewelry fundraising sale.

Mark your calendars for this annual two-day shopping blitz at the Berne Senior Center on March 28 and 29.

A drop-off date for donations is set for Saturday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.

Interested in getting involved? Stop by the Friends meeting on March 4 at 7 p.m. to learn more of their library-support story. Join as a member or just volunteer. All hands are appreciated.

Reading Celebrations

The National Education Association started the “Read Across America” movement in 1998. After choosing Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (aka Dr. Seuss) March 2 birthday for the annual starting date, reading celebrations kicked off across the country in libraries, schools and homes. 

Are you familiar with Dr. Seuss books about cats and things, and sneetches and whos and hortons wondering or running a zoo?

With all this in mind, March boots Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss storytime into the starting gate for March 3 at 10:30 a.m. Be a part of the positive reading experience for the 5 and under kids and their caregivers. Along with movement and a take home craft, the formula’s a winner week after week. Join in and be a part of “Read Across America” day.

March Mondays

Bowls to make, carve and glaze during March Mondays. Four pottery workshops are being offered by BKW art teacher Colleen Skiff from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the BKW Elementary art room on the first four Mondays in March. Sign up for one, or sign up for all. Each class can accommodate 23 bowl shapers. Please register at the Berne Library or call in to reserve your spot 518-872-1246.

Prepared bowls will be part of the Bowls for Books fundraising event on April 25.  This annual feast fills the library with enticing soup aromas and brightly colored pottery bowls to sample the offerings.

Census program

“Count Me In!” at 6 p.m. on March 5 in the library’s community room. You are invited to listen in on a census program facilitated by Robert Scardamalia, a Partnership Specialist for the United States Census Bureau. Learn what to expect when you receive the invitation to be counted in the 2020 census. Bring your questions and Mr. Scardamalia will have the answers.

Seed Library

While your garden plans are floating in your dreams, remember the Seed Library is open and ready for the picking. String Bean has filled the drawers with seed packets to get your plants ready and growing. Broccoli Spear has raked in several new donated varieties from amaranth to zucchini. The drawers are bursting with promise for your 2020 gardens. It’s time to rock those dreams to life.

— Photo from Carrie Needham

Crafty: All the kids at a recent Berne Library story time have a place at the table while their elders stand behind them to help with their projects.

Swoosh! Claire shot through the door with the other members falling in behind. 

Leigh, giddy with excitement, helped Eric splay out the finishing touches for The Word of the Month Club’s Leap Day celebration. 

“Okay y’all, it’s time. Gather round, please.”

Everyone folded into chairs and grabbed their virgin mimosas for the toast. Just then a paper plane sailed down from above. Claire sprang for it and March’s word leapt out.

“Raise your glasses to a March of Fascination,” Claire smiled, as everyone’s glasses clinked. 

Listen intently with fascination, plan a fascinating pocket garden, explore a fascinating new hobby — become, in a word, fascinated.

Incline your thoughts toward fascination as March slides you closer to spring. 


Knit Wits, Knit Wits tell a little tale

Purl one, drop three, add a drop of green

Hanging from the door frame

Seven skeins of blue

Cast off, bind on, yarn it, wrap and turn

The normal Sunday meeting

Was delayed for just one week

Time to now get busy 

And create, create, create

On Sunday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m., the Knit Wits welcome any interested yarners to their regular monthly meeting. 

Shining story time

Robot story time unfolds its shiny arms at 10:30 on Tuesday, Feb. 25. “Take me to your oil can,” Robot Dan says to the maître d’.

 Listen to “Ultrabot’s First Playdate” by Josh Schneider. A charming tale of friendship and sharing.

Meet some books, move and play, transform a craft into a take-home treasure.


Spanish for Beginners, session cuatro, meets at 6 p.m. on Feb. 25. A lively hour of teaching, learning and sharing the language and culture of Mexico will include word sheets, practice, and take-home tools to reinforce those basics.

Sew smart

Are you thinking of alternate grocery-lugging containers? With the plastic-bag ban just around the corner, starting on March 1, a workshop is scheduled at the library.

This Thursday, Feb. 27, at 4 p.m., sew yourself a reusable grocery bag. On-the-street reporter, Cindy Leigh, asked a local shopper what she plans to do when the plastic bags go away: “Just put it all back in the cart, thank you.” 

Sign up for the workshop with Claire Nolan and have a reusable grocery bag ready for packing. Better yet, make one to donate to the resource center.

“Bowls for Books”

Flip open your calendar-events page to March. You have the opportunity to sign up for one of four pottery workshops being held at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Elementary art room.

This is in conjunction with the Friends annual “Bowls for Books” event happening April 25. Workshop dates are March 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Learn the fascinating art of making, carving, and glazing pottery bowls.

Also happening in March is the Friends annual “Book, Jewelry, Media and Game Sale” on Saturday, March 28, and Sunday, March 29. Donations are greatly appreciated toward this yearly fundraiser.

Helllllooooo Valentine’s Day weekend. Wear a swizzle of red, a splash of purple, or a whisper of gold while visiting the library on Feb. 14, 15, and 17. Colorize your trip and add some flair to the library’s Fine Free February celebration. Dig out any overdue Berne library items hanging around corners or under piles. Then, return them to the library fine-free.

While you’re here, check out over 50 new photos on display in the community room. The Friends of the Library are asking you to vote for your absolute favorite in both the adult and junior slate of entries. Winners to be announced at the 10 a.m. photo reception on the 29th.

Healthy Families  Story Time

Moving to Healthy Families Story Time on Tuesday, Feb. 18, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This special collaborative event invites parents or caregivers and youth to a multi-topic interactive educational program.

Be part of a hands-on food demo and taste-testing. Bring home new recipe ideas.

There will be a sharing of activities for whole family participation.

Also, get a clear picture on calming the storms that includes healthy self-care planning tools. 

Finally, find out how to safe zone your house and your family. Lunch and a Healthy Family Giveaway bag is included in the program.

Learn Spanish

Tuesday evening, session three, Spanish for Beginners, takes hold from 6 to 7 p.m. 

From learning the Spanish alphabet to greetings and word development, take advantage of this free class. Gracias and buen dia.

Junior Chef Challenge

Junior Chef Challenge is bracing for a wholly creative session of foods you may never thought to combine. Using a secret ingredient, aspiring future chefs are challenged to throw out their best efforts to tantalize the judges. 

Sign-up sheets are at the front desk for the Feb. 20 event. Questions? Call 518-872-1246.

Get Cozy

Get Cozy@Your Library participants will be meeting on Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. to view three short TedMed Talks. Geared toward health topics and engagement, a reaction discussion follows. Healthy refreshments will be served.

Reading Challenge

The 2020 Winter Reading Challenge is at the halfway mark. There is still time to sign up on READsquared, which can be accessed via the library’s website at www.bernepubliclibrary.org. Challenge yourself to the 500 minutes reading goal by March 31. Then kick it for another 500. Earn badges, gain a completion certificate, and slide into the end game for prizes at the wrap-up event.

Museum passes

Museum passes are one of the many items available with your library card. Berne has two MiSci museum passes and it is a popularly borrowed item. From Feb. 15 to April 19, the “Butterflies and Blooms” exhibit comes to life at MiSci. There is an extra $2 per admittance to experience this special setting. 

— Photo from Sandra Kisselback

Books about Valentine’s Day are ready to be read at the Berne Library.

Another week is dawning at the Berne Public Library. The magic think board is activated and ready to launch programs of inconceivable delight. Lower the lights, raise the curtain, and run the film.

Book Club

An oopsie doodle dropped last week when someone thought the book club members would be meeting on Feb, 2. That was Super Bowl Sunday! Of course the meeting had to be moved to the following Sunday. 

Same book- “Educated” by Tara Westover, same time 7 p.m., same place the library, different date- Feb. 9. Glad that’s been straightened out. 

Next month’s selection takes on “Lost Roses” by New York Times bestseller Martha Hall Kelly. Happy reading. 


Valentine storytime features hearts of many flavors waiting for the five and under sweethearts and their caregivers. Valentine books are ready to share, the bubble machine’s been filled with care and moving to the craft table is a noisy action packed affair. Wear your best shade of red and join your friends for Valentine storytime on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 10:30 a.m.

Spanish for Beginners

Hola! Moving toward evening, on Tuesday Feb. 11 at 6 p.m., is the second installment of Spanish for Beginners. Open your hearts and enlarge your world as instructor Mary Hass shares different facets from her home culture. 

Soak up new words, phrases and sentences throughout the month of Febrero. Aplaude a todos! Cheers all!  

Board meets

It’s that time again. Trustee Thursday is set for Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m. All Library Board of Trustee meetings are open to the public. 

Special Activities

Now open up your library events calendar to pencil a couple of special activities happening in a couple weeks during school vacation. There’s a family education program coming on Tuesday Feb. 18 called “Healthy Starts at Home.” This healthy family event is brought to you by Cornell Cooperative Extension/Albany County and Blue Fund.

The talk centers around food, activity games, relaxation and safety. Parents, caregivers and youth are invited. Lunch will be provided at this gathering from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Look for more details next week. A sign up sheet stands ready at the front desk.

Jumping over to Thursday, Feb. 20  the annual Jr. Master Chef challenge. This is where the youths whip up a specialty with ingredients provided. Generous creativity sprouts abundantly during this event. Questions? Call the library at 518-872-1246. That’s it for now folks. Roll credits.

Will you be part of the $1.8 billion in chocolate sales on Friday the 14th?

— Photo from Sandra Kisselback

Little people hold up the mustaches they made at the Berne Library.

Belvedere rolls in, waving her purple flyer. “Yoo-hoo! Everyone!” she sings. “There’s an extra 24 hours of play time this year. Hats off to Leap Year and cheers to the 29th.” 

Laughter bubbles as everyone settles in to hear Word of the Month February. Clink, clink clink. Pause. And the winner is: Inconceivable. Try the ease of throwing it into conversation for all 29 days this month. 

“It’s inconceivable so many people are storming the library for Fine Free February on Fridays when every February day is inconceivably Fine Free.” 

Search low and high for those overdue Berne items and take advantage of Fine Free February. A dose of  “Princess Bride” anyone?

Celebrate with your child

Take Your Child to the Library Day, Feb 1 A celebrated day locally and internationally to share the joy of library with a child. Special crafts for the youngsters. Books, magazines, music and DVD’s for the grownups. 

Book Club

Berne’s Sunday Book Club members recently read  the memoir, “Educated” by author Tara Westover. Westover shares her life intervention by pushing beyond what she was raised to believe about the world. A journey from ignorance to earning a PhD. Join the discussion Sunday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.


Welcome to Shadow storytime on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. Puppet shadows, Groundhog Day shadows, shadow escorts across the lane. Chase your shadow at storytime after listening to a shadow speak. What will the shadow reveal?

Spanish for Beginners

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 6 to 7 p.m. a Spanish for Beginners class is being offered to all interested participants. Classes will be held for four consecutive Tuesdays in February. Guiding you along is Mary Hass who has an expert command of the language. Sign-up at the front desk, por favor. Gracias.

Friends meet

The Friends of the Berne Library are forging ahead with plans for their 2020 fundraisers. Interested in helping the library shine but not sure how? Join them at their next meeting Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. Come discover the joy of volunteering.

Community Room display

The final days for viewing Noreen Powell’s art in the community room are counting down. Enjoy the blasts of color and quiet nature Powell has captured in her 18 featured paintings. Now through Wednesday morning. 

Historical Presentation

Ah yes, history. On Feb. 6 at 6 p.m., Ted Shuart, Schoharie County historian, shares knowledge gleaned from the diary of Civil War United States Army Signal Corps, 2nd Lieutenant William H. Hill. Hear details recounting the day to day of a company officer and Lieutenant Hill’s personal insights on the battlefield. The diary’s entries begin January 1, 1862. 

Everyone becomes part of history once each day turns anew. All interested are invited to attend.

Pikachu, where are you? Pokemon fans, time to pull all in for the Pokemon Tournament from 1 to 3 p.m. on Jan. 25. Name your top 10 electric, dragon, and generation 6 Pokemon. Gather your cards and flock to the library to join the fun. Refreshments are part of the plan.  


You’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen the pictures. Yeti climbing the mountaintop as day fades to night. Tall, hairy and sometimes scary. Yet helpful, caring and quietly sharing in their unique Yeti way. 

Storytime Yeti at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 28 invites those 5 and under, plus their caregivers, to join Miss Carrie as she weaves a Yeti tale, slombers around the room in a Yeti dance and yetis a craft of abominable proportions.  

Book discussion

Participants of the winter reading challenge, “Get Cozy@Your Library With Health Stories', meet for their first of four activities at 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31 in the library community space. A book discussion of “This Heart of Mine” by C.C. Hunter swims around Leah’s dealings with her ailing heart, transplant, teen romance and a murder mystery.

Upon receiving a transplanted organ, think about whether the receiver takes on some characteristics of the donor. Would you suddenly have a never before felt longing for friending a unicorn?

After the discussion there will be a lesson on how to use the MedlinePlus website to look up medical facts.

Planting Party

It’s just the right time to be dreaming about your 2020 garden. Broccoli Spear and the seed team have meticulously sorted through, catalogued and tagged a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers to help your garden grow.  Clean your starter pots, choose some seeds from the Seed Library and get this planting party sprouted. Berne’s Seed Library is open and ready for pick-me-ups.

Photo Exhibition

The photo submission deadline for the Friends Photo Exhibition is Friday, Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. A quick reminder of categories include Travel, Memories, Critters and Reflections on Water. You bring the pictures, and the Friends will happily hang them for February’s display.

Library Day

Heads up for the annual “Take your Child to the Library Day” on Saturday, Feb.1 from noon to 3 p.m. This will be Berne’s fifth installment welcoming children to explore special crafts and activities set up just for them. Swing by and let your kids creativity soar and use the library.

Three tiny knit wits baked up a pie. Skeins of red, yarns of gold threaded through the sky. Add some sugar-laden eyelets, round and round they go. A recipe for knit wits for their next successful show.

Join the Berne Library Knit Wits at their January meet-up starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 19. All yarn lovers are invited to join in, ask questions, and share projects.

Story time

Let’s hear it for story time mustaches at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Practice wiggling your upper lip where those whiskers like to hang out. Look around and see how many faces are donning a tash. 

Enjoy a few hairy stories, pretend play famous detectives sporting their lip dressing and make a mustachio craft for the ride home. Every week is a brand new show.


Generations of Pokemon have been coming on the scene since 1995. Players have their favorite dragon, water and adorable Pokemon. You can play video games, read Pokemon case files and order the “Pokemon Detective Pikachu” DVD from the library for your home viewing pleasure.   

Another Pokemon option is to grab your Pokemon cards and a few friends. Then head over to the library on Saturday, Jan. 25 to participate in this month’s Pokemon card game installment. Be here at 1 p.m.  to enjoy like minded Pokemon traders and players. Refreshments will be served.

Photo Contest

Calling all photo entries...the last day to enter your photos in the Friends Juried Photo Contest is Jan. 31. All entries will be displayed during the month of February with the option of viewing and voting for your favorite shot. Tick tock, click click, grab this opportunity to share a treasured scene. Questions? Call the library at 518-872-1246. 

Can you feel it? Powers of the new year are filling the room with potential. Potential to read, watch movies, start a new hobby, make fresh recipes for those get-healthy resolutions, begin training for your marathon, sign up for some library programs.

You may embark on a journey to learn everything there is to know about figs. Or start an in-depth study of histoplasmosis. Begin exploring with your Berne Library card and fan the flames of  your most curious self.

Escape Room

If you are looking for something for your Tweens to do, how about the  Teen/Tween Escape Room? Friday, Jan. 10, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., 

Ten to 18 year olds are invited to try their puzzle solving skills in a safe and friendly space. Refreshments included.

Story time

Story time Tuesday is taking a vacay Jan. 14. Free play is on during the 10:30 a.m. time slot with legos, magnet play, and whales of books to choose from for your home story read parties. 

Regular story time is back on Jan.  21 featuring mustaches. Your assignment is to brush up on some of the most famous mustaches of all time. Create one for wearing at the next round up.

Photography Exhibit

In the photo realm is the fifth  Juried Photography Exhibit sponsored by the Friends of the Berne Library. Capture your best shot. Pick up some entry forms. Drop off your photos Jan. 11 through 31 during regular library hours.

Adult entries are $5 per photo. The Junior division entries are free.

Themed categories include Reflections in water, critters, memories and travel. Throughout the month, while dropping off your captivating moments, please enjoy the gallery of photos on display by Noreen Powell.


Woodworking 101 - A shelf. Do you have an appetite for building things out of wood? Is there sawdust in your blood? Brian Stempel, local wood guru, will be your guide on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. to navigate participants through the crafting of a simple desk shelf. This may be the start of a new hobby for you. Please sign up at the front desk. 

Reading Challenges

The all age reading challenge popped when 2020 opened its eyes. Jan. 1 to March 31 is the range and 500 minutes of reading is the game. 

Sign up on READsquared when you read this. And, say the second you read this is January 11. Read a hair over 6 minutes a day through March 31. Voila, challenge complete. Sign up today and become a winter reading champion. Questions? Call 518-872-1246. 

Health Stories

Get Cozy@Your Library with Health Stories is a challenge series for readers 50 and over. There are TEDMED videos, two “Laughter is the Best Medicine” drawing sessions led by artist Tom Payne, a zine creation and Medlineplus Ipad explorations. “This Heart of Mine” by C.C. Hunter is the feature for book discussion at 4 p.m. on Jan. 31. Be a part of this unique program.   

— Photo from Noreen Powell

Noreen Powell will share her paintings at the January art show at the Berne Library. Her  mantra is: “Creating art is my passion. Teaching art is my joy.” 

Noreen Powell is displaying her paintings at the Friends’ Art Gallery starting Jan. 7, 2020 at the Berne Library. Teaching art, creating art, and sharing art aptly describes Noreen’s career trajectory. When she was a child growing up in Tonawanda, New York, whispers of a future path showed up in early paint dabblings.

The artistic journey led her to build a graphic-design major at the State University of New York College at Buffalo. Moving east in 2002, she began teaching art full-time. At the University at Albany, she received a master’s degree in education with an art concentration and New York State teaching certification.

In 2012, Noreen spread her teaching wings to include painting workshops for adults. Venues include the Hudson Valley Home School Consortium, the Art Center of the Capital Region, and St. Agnes Cemetery. Continuing her involvement in the local art scene, she is the director of shows for the Colonie Art League.

She finds inspiration during long walks with her dogs and communing with nature. Noreen’s mantra: “Creating art is my passion. Teaching art is my joy.” Check out her virtual gallery at noreenpowellart.com, then treat yourself to the January show.  

Book Club

Sunday Book Clubbers meet Jan. 5 at  7 p.m. to mull over storylines from the November and December reads. Made into a movie to be released in 2020, “The Woman in the Window” by AJ Finn was the November pick. 

“Winter Stroll”, the second in the Nantucket “Winter” trilogy, left readers looking to digest book three after closing the last page. 

Story time

Regular story time resumes in the new year on Jan. 7, at 10:30 a.m. with robots. Every week storytime promotes reading literacy with active listening and positive book reading experiences. Also, kids get up and move using dance, parading or parachute play. Rounding out the half hour is a take home craft.

Friends meet

Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. finds the Friends of the Berne Library storming the community room to prep for the 2020 fundraisers. First up is the fifth juried Photo Exhibit. Enter your best shots in the following categories: Reflections in Water, Critters, Memories and Travel. Photos accepted from Jan. 11 to 31, will be displayed for viewing during February. 

Board meets

The Library Board of Trustees have their first meeting of the year on Jan. 9 starting at 6:30 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.

Teen event

Escape Room 2020 unlocks its secrets at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10. This Tween/teen event for 10 to 18 year olds tests puzzle skills in a comfortable and safe environment. Bring your friends and your wits to try escape before the clock runs out of room.

Winter reading

Winter reading challenges are set up for any and all takers. Check into the babes to adults sign-up at READsquared found at www.bernepubliclibrary.org.

This 500 minute reading challenge goes from Jan. 1 to March 31. Earn badges, certificates and prizes. 

A second program, Get Cozy@Your Library, wants to reel in adults 50 and up. This menu offers reading, writing and drawing snippets with a focus on health. Take this winter, add a book, visit your library and get hooked. Sign up and join the reading circle.

Have you had your fill of spunky festivities? 

How about one more to add to the score?

Try an Eve Year Noon celebration

On December 31st

Twelve hours before the evenin’

10, 9, 8 — counting begins

Be here at 11:30 in the morn

For a family-friendly 

Noon Year Eve celebration

Feted as countdown to noon

This may well be your first

Party hats, confetti, crafts, and some food

You’re all invited 

To help the countdown begin

Library Celebration

Sign up or show up for the Berne Public Library’s Noon Year’s Eve Celebration at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31. This special program bumps story time. Mark your activity-tracking device, whatever that may be, and be here to get this party started.

Art Gallery

The Friend’s December Art Gallery features Eleanor Graves - traveler, explorer, photographer, artist. A 30 x 40 canvas print bringing you to an ocean view by following a rock tiered dive to the shore welcomes you. Add that to twenty six photos of exquisite scenery and you’ve struck art appreciation gold.

Take this opportunity to travel across the state and over into Maine, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and the Dakotas. Check out a snap of Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and the Corn Palace. See Lighthouses, an osprey taking flight, sunsets and peaceful waters. Now until the first week in 2020 visit the art gallery and experience part of Eleanor’s world.

Word of the Month

“Oooh! Oooh! Oooh!” Wiggling around in her seat, hand held high, Leigh wanted to be the first one to be heard. It was the Word of the Month Club’s huddle to kick off 2020 with a mighty Thor roar.

“There, there Leigh. Relax. We’ll be getting to the word in a minute” Sasha playfully responded. “First, a toast.” Raising their mocktails of pineapple and watermelon slush, Sasha proclaimed “Here’s to appreciating our energetic Festivus celebration this year. Now let’s hear the word for January 2020. Take it away Leigh.” Leaping out of her chair Leigh shouted Potential, Potential, Potential to a room full of smiles.

Reach for your inner potential this month. Scrawl potential on the top of your amaze me list. Look for potential as you read, write, actionate. Channel your potential in January from start to finish. 

Reading Challenge

Excitement is brewing! Winter’s reading challenge is at the starting gate. From Jan. 1 through March 31, all ages are invited to sign on for the 500 minute winter reading challenge. It’s a snap to sign up on Readsquared, which can be accessed from the library website: www.bernepubliclibrary.org.

Register, pick out some books, track your reading, earn a certificate. Questions? Call the 518-872-1246.

Get Cozy@Your Library, a separate reading program cycling in January, focuses on health and stretching your inner potential for 50+ humans. Details coming soon. Happy New Year, happy reading.