How communities value public libraries



St. Lawrence County is fortunate to have a strong and vibrant library community from the smallest branch libraries in Brasher Falls, Rensselaer Falls, and Morley to the larger libraries in Ogdensburg, Massena, Potsdam, and Canton.

According to the most recent Pew Research Center’s Library Services Survey, 90% of American adults say that closing their local public library would have a negative impact on their community, with 63% saying that a public library closing would have a “major” impact. The vast majority of public libraries in New York State are funded by taxpayer dollars whether via property taxes, school ballot referendums, or special legislative district taxes.

Within the same Pew survey, 95% of adults agree that materials and resources available at public libraries play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed and 95% also agree that public libraries are important because they promote literacy and a love of reading. As far as community benefits, 94% say that a public library improves the quality of life in a community and 81% say that a public library provides many services people would have a hard time finding elsewhere.

As technology changes, it’s true that Americans find libraries less essential for researching information, but libraries are particularly valued by those who are unemployed, retired, or searching for a job, as well as those living with a disability and internet users who lack home internet access. As a general rule, over 50% of library visitors are making use of these services and rank them as “somewhat important or “very important”.

Somewhat surprising, perhaps, is that 75% of visitors rate “having a quiet safe place” as the third most important aspect of a public library (after books/media and librarian assistance). As libraries add more social networking activities from coffee hours to craft workshops, the library is becoming a haven for persons seeking new friends, relaxing activities, and community connections.

Nationwide, 72% of adult Americans have used a public library in the past year, or live in a household where another family member or child is an active recent user of the library. Last year in St. Lawrence County, our libraries hosted 470,000 visitors who checked out 362,000 books, movies, and other items. We saw 178,000 people use our computers and wireless networks.

Library use in St. Lawrence County is a service valued by many - at a cost that is generally quite low relative to many other government-funded programs and services. In 2016, our county libraries received $2.8 million in local public funding, which amounts to about $25.58 per person, per year, for library service. Where else can we, as communities, receive so much - books, movies, technology resources, educational programs, and social activities, for so little?

Libraries support communities in many ways - but we need your support too! Make use of our services, tell us how we can service you better, and be sure to advocate for libraries when you have the opportunity - whether by voting yes for school ballot or local district referendums, by voting for library supporters at the ballot box on election day, or by reminding friends, neighbors, and politicians that libraries help everyone - not just those that read “dusty old books”. Keeping our libraries strong is a community effort, and we appreciate everyone who helps - thank you for supporting your local public library!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is also the Secretary for the Board of Trustees of the Ogdensburg Public Library, which just received a $50,000 funding cut in the 2018 City of Ogdensburg budget.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Library users have more online options


The North Country Library System (NCLS) Digital Catalog has recently added new features that allow users to manage their library account more efficiently. As of November, users may update their email address and phone number online, reset a lost or forgotten PIN, and pay outstanding bills with a credit card.

Library card holders have long since been able to search for items in our catalog, place items on hold, request items from other libraries, view a list of items checked out, and renew eligible items for an additional loan period. To access your library account from a computer’s browser window, go to the NCLS catalog, click on LOG IN in the upper right corner, enter the digits under the barcode on your library card, and enter your four-digit PIN number. Default PIN numbers are generally the last four digits of the phone number provided at the time of registration.

If you’ve forgotten your PIN, you may now request a replacement PIN as long as you have an email address on file. To reset your PIN, click on the “Forgot My PIN” link, enter your library card number, and click submit. You will be emailed a link to reset your PIN.

Under “My Account”, additional new options include the ability to edit your phone number or email address. To change anything else, please contact your local library.

Do you have bills to pay? The NCLS website now accepts credit card payments. Under “My Account”, click on the “Bills” tab to view and pay overdue fines or replacement costs for damaged/lost materials. Select the bills you want to pay, then click “Pay Now” and enter your credit card information. Although credit cards are now accepted online, not all libraries are able to accept credit cards in-person at the circulation desk.

These new online account features are available via a web browser; not all features and services are available on our mobile apps. Questions may certainly be answered at your local library - give us a call or stop in and check out what we can do to make your library experiences better!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She’s happy to see more library patrons making use of digital services as small libraries work to expand their reach beyond traditional methods.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Help us reach our checkout goal


As we approach the end of 2017, St. Lawrence County Libraries are looking to increase eBook circulation as part of the Overdrive Digital Dash incentive program. If we can reach our check out goal of 59,670 books by the end of the year, we are eligible to win Overdrive content credit - which means free eBooks for our community!

Overdrive is a service that allows library users to download and read digital books and audiobooks to a computer, tablet, eReader, or smartphone. EMedia may be borrowed for free with your library card and downloaded to your device from the internet.

The Digital Dash is a checkout challenge issued by Overdrive to the North Country Library System (NCLS), which includes libraries in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Oswego, and Lewis counties. So far in 2017, NCLS library users have checked out 49,444 eBooks. For the contest, users need to check out an additional 10,226 books by the end of the year. To reach that goal, our readers need to boost the average monthly checkouts by about 200 items - a very attainable goal for the combined sixty-five libraries in our system.

There are eighteen prizes up for grabs, to be drawn randomly from all library systems that subscribe to Overdrive content. Prizes range from a $500 content credit up to a $5,000 content credit. If we reach 100% of our goal, NCLS will be entered into the random prize drawing in January 2018.

If you’re already taking advantage of library eBooks, please help us reach our goal by checking out and reading an extra book or two! If digital books are new to you, please give them a try. For phones and tablets, you can choose either the older Overdrive app or the newer Libby app, both of which are available for download at no charge from the various mobile app stores including Google Play and iTunes. EBooks may also be downloaded for free from our digital catalog directly to Kindle devices.

In related news, Overdrive recently set up a partnership with Google to help facilitate searching for and locating digital books. Now, if you search for a book title in Google, the Knowledge Panel on the right side of the screen will show not only a summary of the book and retail options for making a purchase, but information about your local library and a link to the Overdrive catalog entry for that book title. Once you click through to the Overdrive catalog, you can read a sample of the eBook, check out the item, or place it on hold. If NCLS doesn’t own a downloadable copy, you won’t see a link in the search results, but there’s still a good chance a printed book or audio CD is available via our regular catalog.

If you need help obtaining a library card, setting up your eReader, or downloading books to Overdrive or Libby, stop by your local public library and ask for assistance. Our entire catalog is searchable online at or via the free NCLS mobile app. Or, visit the library and check out the new arrivals on our shelves!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She always has at least one book downloaded to her Nook or iPad for reading, and at least one book downloaded to her smartphone for listening.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Libraries celebrate 'Picture Book Month' in November


Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates print picture books during the month of November. Our St. Lawrence County libraries have over 48,000 picture books on the shelves, with over 89,000 more available through interlibrary loan from other libraries in the North Country Library System.

Not surprisingly, our larger libraries have the largest picture book collections: the Massena Public Library has the largest collection in St. Lawrence County with over 7,600 picture books; the Potsdam Public Library is a close second with just under 7,000. The Ogdensburg Public Library and the Canton Free Library have 4,700 picture books on the shelves in their children’s rooms. The Reading Room Association of Gouverneur and the Hepburn Library of Lisbon round out the top six with 3,537 and 3,052 respectively.

Picture books are a valuable resource for young readers. They enrich children’s lives and help prepare them for chapter books and advanced literacy skills. Most picture books contain around 500 words and are geared to children between ages two and seven. Some books contain simple words that encourage early reading skills while other picture books contain more complex words that help expand a child’s vocabulary. The illustrations in picture books can both enhance the story and encourage children’s imaginations.

Illustrated books encourage children to expand the story with new ideas, develop creative problem solving, and answer questions about how characters feel and think. Wordless picture books allow children to create their own narratives and develop their own storytelling skills.

Picture Book month is a great opportunity to introduce children to illustrated books. Every day in November, there will be a new post at from various well-known authors and illustrators explaining why he/she believes picture books are important.

So far in 2017, our St. Lawrence County libraries have circulated over 105,000 picture books, which is about 12.6 percent of the total cataloged items circulated in the same period of time. Libraries circulating the highest number of picture books are, in order, Potsdam, Canton, Massena, Ogdensburg, Gouverneur, and Lisbon. Narrowly missing the Top 6 by only 450 items is one of our tiniest libraries in the county: the Badenhausen Branch of the Massena Public Library. The library in Brasher Falls owns only 761 picture books but has lent them out 1,221 times so far this year.

Our libraries have amazing collections of picture books that range from the classics to the newest releases. Our picture books include almost any topic imaginable from lighthearted books about animals and tractors to more serious books about complex feelings and life’s challenges. There’s sure to be something for everyone - from newborns to those of us who are chronologically much older, but young at heart. Stop in at your local public library during November, and check out a picture book!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. The library in Lisbon has over 3,000 picture books in its collection, and will circulate over 2,000 picture books this year.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

It's time to start prepping for the
annual Library Battle of the Books competition!


Every year, the North Country Library System (NCLS) hosts the annual Battle of the Books competition for children in grades four through six. St. Lawrence County libraries are always well-represented, and our local teams have done well every year.

The program is a great opportunity for children to work together while answering book-related trivia questions. Titles are selected by a committee of library staff who read twenty books and write over 1,000 questions for local and regional battles. Teams consist of up to four children who read and study the selected books throughout the fall and winter in preparation for local library competitions in late March to early April. Winning teams from each library will compete against other NCLS public libraries on May 5th in Gouverneur.

The 2018 book list is already available at public and school libraries, and consists of twenty chapter books geared to children in grades four through six. This year’s titles include several books that focus on children coping with neuroses, cystic fibrosis, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, children experiencing life and social challenges at home and in school, and a young girl who survives Hurricane Katrina. There is a book with a talking cat, a book with a silent swan, and a book with a fox cub that just might be part human. Several books focus on magic and fantasy including ghosts, a magic pencil, a wizard’s apprentice, and a princess who runs away to live with a dragon. Geographically, the books take place from Northern California to the Gulf Coast to Upstate New York. Another book has a European background and yet another takes place on the high seas. There is sure to be something for everyone!

Interested children should contact their local public library for more information and to sign up. Team members and coaches should visit the North Country Library System’s Battle of the Books page at for the 2018 title list and coaches guide. The books for this year’s battle are already available on the shelf at many libraries, through interlibrary loan, or downloadable from our Overdrive collection - grab your library card, check out out a book, and start preparing for the 2018 Battle of the Books!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She’s a member of the Battle of the Books committee and is in the midst of writing questions for several of the books in this year’s competition.

Check out your library’s 'Friends' group!


National Friends of Libraries Week will be celebrated October 15-21, 2017. Many of our St. Lawrence County libraries have a Friends group that helps support the library’s mission and goals.

Traditionally, many public libraries were established by community members who understood the value of libraries and the need for libraries to have support for long-term survival. Within our own community, there are many examples. All of the Hepburn libraries (Colton, Edwards, Hermon, Lisbon, Madrid, Norfolk, and Waddington) were formed only after each town’s residents voted to provide continual financial support for the libraries Mr. Hepburn offered to build. Other libraries have similar agreements with financial benefactors and groups who came together to create a public library in their community.

All of our public libraries are chartered through the New York State Education Department and are guided by a local Board of Trustees that is either appointed by the municipality or elected by registered voters. Trustees determine the mission of the library, set policies and procedures, obtain sustainable funding, and oversee the general management of the library. Many, but not all, of our public libraries also have a Friends of the Library group that advocates for the library, helps fundraise, volunteers time, and provides information to the public. Friends give their time, energy, and financial support to help ensure their local library is relevant to people in the library’s service area.

So what do our local Friends groups do? Many Friends groups help fundraise by hosting periodic book sales, selling concessions at special events, and soliciting donations from both community residents and local businesses. Most Friends groups are designated as non-profit organizations, which allows them to collect charitable donations and remit them to the library on an as-needed basis. Friends groups often set specific goals where a certain amount of money collected will go to support specific programs or services within the library. In some cases, Friends groups help the library purchase new equipment or furniture, or cover the cost of supplies and materials for the summer reading program. Friends groups may also help the library find volunteers for special events or workshops, and promote the benefits of the library to community residents.

In recent years, many Friends groups have enrolled in a program called Amazon Smile which directs 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charity of your choice. Locally, you can choose to support the libraries in Canton, Colton, Cranberry Lake, Gouverneur, Hammond, Hermon, Heuvelton, Madrid, Massena, Morley, Morristown, Norfolk, Norwood, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, Richville, Russell, and Waddington.

Looking for a way to support your local library? Libraries of all sizes have Friends groups - stop in and check out the group at your local library. Joining a Friends group is easy, and provides an opportunity to meet new people while supporting a valuable community resource. Even if your library doesn’t have a Friends group, there are plenty of ways to provide support - just ask your local library staff and they will be happy to give you more information!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She supports several Friends groups through Amazon Smile purchases.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Elaine Dunne of the Massena Public Library wins the Innovative Library Director Award


Last Thursday, the North Country Library System held its Annual Meeting and handed out three awards to library staff in St. Lawrence County. Elaine Dunne, the Director of the Massena Public Library, was honored with the Innovative Library Director Award. With sixty-five libraries in the system, being chosen as the best director is a true honor.

During dinner, I was sitting at a table with representatives from the Ogdensburg, Massena, Canton, and Potsdam libraries. As the awards portion of the evening began, the presenter began by describing the purpose of the Innovative Library Director Award, and the criteria that led to selecting the winner. As the various criteria were listed, Elaine Dunne commented, “My library does those things!” Recognition dawned as she realized that, not only does her library do “those things”, but they were introduced to the library under her direction.

Elaine was given this award for her hard work and dedication, and for the innovations that have been added to the library in recent years - a new coffee bar, a beautiful outdoor garden, a viewing room, creative programming, and lendable outdoor games. Elaine has also applied for, and received, two New York State Construction Grants. One grant is for the construction of a Patron Businesses Services Center adjacent to the current computer lab. Work on the business center is scheduled for this fall, and it will provide many resources and space for entrepreneurs, small business owners, and the general community. The second grant is for updating the memorial garden, replacing the front walkway, and replacing some exterior and interior doors. The work on the garden has begun and construction will begin on the front walkway in the next few weeks.

In recognition of her leadership, dedication, and commitment to library service and innovation, Elaine Dunne was awarded the Innovative Library Director Award. The library goes far beyond traditional library books and media - it has become a location where the community can participate in innovative programs for all ages, or just relax with a cup of coffee and the latest magazine. Please stop in and check out everything the Massena Public Library has to offer!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She was honored at the North County Library System Annual Meeting with the Outstanding Library Advocate Award.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Valerie White of the Canton Free Library wins the Excellence in Customer Service Award


On Thursday, September 28, the North County Library System (NCLS) held its Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner. Valerie White, the Youth Services Specialist at the Canton Free Library, was awarded the Excellence in Customer Service Award. Back in August, I had the pleasure of nominating Val for the award, and wish to share what I wrote:

I am submitting a nomination for the Excellence in Customer Service Award on behalf of Valerie White, the Youth Services Specialist at the Canton Free Library.

I first met Val when I began volunteering at the regional Battle of the Books in the spring of 2013. At the time, I was impressed by her kindness and her knowledge of children’s literature. In the fall of 2013, I accepted a part-time position helping out in the children’s room at the Canton Free Library, and have had the opportunity to observe Val and how she operates on a weekly basis.

Val is responsible for a very busy children’s room, with a full schedule of youth programs four days a week during the school year. In the summer, she hosts a full month of programming, including innovative and creative crafts, stories, and events that tie in with the annual summer reading theme. Val juggles programming for babies, toddlers, pre-schoolers, and early grades. She is always a professional, showing enormous patience with children and caregivers who want Ms. Val to squeeze one more child into a class that’s already full, with a long waiting list.

Val has an incredible handle on what items are in her library’s juvenile collection, rarely needing to look up anything in the catalog. Whenever a visitor asks “do you have anything on…. ”, Val asks a question or two to clarify the need, and then heads straight to the correct shelf to locate a book that fits the young person’s criteria.

To describe Val as “kind” would be a true understatement as she is the most caring and compassionate person I have ever encountered in a library. Val knows and addresses by name almost every child and caregiver that enters the children’s room. She often says to children who come to the library, “I’m so glad you’re here, my friend.”

Val is the type of person who strives, very naturally, to make the world a better place. Val’s mom passed away last year, and a large quantity of books were purchased in Roberta’s memory. Val selected the books, many of which are about children experiencing life’s challenges - children from diverse families, situations, religions, cultures, and circumstances. I was returning some of those books to the shelf one day, and said “These books are so nice, you did a really good job selecting books in your mom’s memory. She would be so proud of you”. Val’s response back was something along the lines of, “I don’t know that she would have picked those books herself, but she’d be proud of me for being the person I am, and for believing what I believe”.

It is from the bottom of my heart that I nominate Valerie White for the Excellence in Customer Service Award. She is a colleague, a co-worker, and a friend. The Canton Free Library would not have the fine reputation it does for quality children’s outreach, programming, and services if not for the very exceptional Ms. Val.

If you have never had the opportunity to visit the Canton Free Library, please take the time and check them out. They have a robust children’s program, plus a strong teen program. Their materials collection is stellar, with a wide diversity of topics and genres that will suit a variety of interests. While you’re there, be sure to congratulate Valerie White on her award!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She also works part-time in the children’s room at the Canton Free Library and is thrilled to see Ms. Val recognized for her hard work and dedication to the children and families in the Canton area.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County libraries recognize 'Banned Books Week' from Sept. 24-30


Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. It is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and is typically held during the last week of September. The First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to our Constitution is the basis for the ALA’s Freedom of Information and Freedom to Read statements. According to the ALA, intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves and to self-govern themselves with regard to what information they seek.

Banned Books Week is an opportunity for libraries, bookstores, publishers, writers, teachers, and readers to highlight the value of free and open access to information, and the freedom to seek and express ideas. Some of those ideas and topics are sometimes considered unorthodox, unpopular, or offensive to some people, and as a result book titles may be challenged and/or banned within a library or school. Censors pressure libraries to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so the rest of the community no longer has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it.

Since 1990, the American Library Association for Intellectual Freedom has published an annual list of the Top Ten Most Challenged Books using information from censorship reports and public challenges reported in the media.

In 2016, there were 323 reported challenges nationwide, of which about 10% were removed from the shelves of the classroom, library, or bookstore. In 2016, challenges were evenly split between schools and public libraries and most challenges were made by parents (42%) or library patrons (31%). Books may be challenged for more than one reason, as were most of the titles on last year’s list. Of the ten titles, eight were challenged for being sexually explicit or having sexual content, five were challenged for containing LGBT characters, four were challenged for offensive or profane language, two were challenged for having offensive political viewpoints, one was challenged for drug use, and one was challenged due to criminal sexual allegations against the author.

Last year’s challenged books included two titles for adults (Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction; Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk), four titles for young adults (This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki; Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan; Looking for Alaska by John Green; Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell), two books for middle grade readers (Drama by Raina Telgemeier; George by Alex Gino), a series of books for early readers (Little Bill by Bill Cosby), and a picture book for young children (I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel).

Our public libraries have policies and procedures in place regarding the freedom to read, the freedom to view, and how we go about purchasing books, accepting book donations, and discarding books that are no longer circulating. We also have policies in place regarding the procedure for challenging a book - generally this requires a person outline their objection in writing and submit it to the individual library for review.

With regards to books and young readers, it is always the responsibility of the parent or caregiver to help children choose and check out age-appropriate books and materials. Children’s reading abilities and maturity levels vary greatly from one individual to the next, and libraries make an effort to group materials as such within the library. We usually separate picture books from early readers and chapter books. Many libraries have tween, teen, or young adult sections that allow for books and materials containing potentially sensitive content to be shelved in different areas based on reading and maturity levels.

In St. Lawrence County, our public libraries have nine of the ten books on last year’s Top Ten Most Challenged Books list. For anyone wishing to read a specific book, the titles and owning libraries may be found in the North Country Library System’s online catalog, or by inquiring at your local public library. Our libraries also have most of the books from previous lists, many of which are considered classic novels or contemporary bestsellers. Be sure to stop by your local public library and check out what we have to read!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. The Lisbon Library has five of last year’s ten most challenged books on the shelf.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Manage your library card account with a new app


The North Country Library System recently released a new “app” for managing library accounts on mobile devices. The free app is available for Android, Apple, and Kindle phones and tablets, and is a must have for anyone in St. Lawrence County and the rest of the North Country Library System.

I’ve download the app to my Android phone and my iPad, and there are a lot of great features packed into the relatively small file size - it won’t take up a huge amount of valuable space on your device. The obvious benefit to the app is the ability to manage your library card account: review what items are checked out, renew items with upcoming due dates, and place items on hold. Beyond the basics, there are a couple of interesting and useful features.

To log in for the first time, you need your library card number and your PIN (the default is usually the last four number of the phone number on file with your library card application). Once logged in, you can review what items are checked out, when items are due to be returned, and what items you have on hold. If a title is eligible for renewal, you can easily renew it with a few taps.

The entire North Country Library System catalog is searchable, and you can locate titles or authors of interest and see what libraries have the item available on the shelf. Basic search categories are for books, audiobooks, movies, or music - the search function isn’t quite as advanced as the desktop version but it certainly worked well for a couple of random searches I made to test it out. You can place a hold, and pick up the item at the library of your choice. One of the nice features under Search is the ability to scan an item’s ISBN barcode with your device’s camera. If you see an item in a store, or at a friend’s house, you can easily scan the ISBN barcode and search the NCLS catalog without needing to type in the full title or author.

If you’re interested in library events, you can search for events by county and see a combined event calendar, or you can narrow down your search to a single library. Events are listed chronologically and you can select individual events to view more detailed information.

Looking for information about a specific library? With a few taps, you can access the library’s address, and optionally tap to access Google Maps and directions. Another tap on the phone number will connect to your phone’s dialer and you can make a telephone call. A tap will take you to the library’s website where you can review additional information about the library’s policies, programs, and services. Another tap will connect you to the library’s Facebook page.

Other NCLS services are available with a quick tap - access to our Overdrive downloadable ebooks, America’s Historical Newspapers, Consumer Reports Magazine, Artist Works, Universal Class, Beanstack, and reference databases.

The app also generates a digital barcode of your library card that can be used at the library to check out books. This is a great feature for users who may not carry their wallet to the library, but do have a cell phone in their pocket.

If you have a smartphone or tablet, be sure to download the new app and give it a try. It’s available for free on Google Play, iTunes, and Kindle. Download the app and stop by your local public library and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She has installed the North Country Library System app on her Android and Apple devices, and is actively using both versions to manage her account.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Meet Duffy Ashley, director of the
Hepburn Library of Waddington


Duffy Ashley is the director of the Hepburn Library of Waddington, one of the seven Hepburn libraries in St. Lawrence County. She is dedicated to her library and very well respected for the innovative and interesting ideas she brings to her community.

A Madrid native, Duffy graduated from Madrid-Waddington Central school. She lived in North Carolina and Syracuse, but returned to the North Country where she now is living, working, and raising a family. Duffy started working at the Waddington Library in 2012 when she was looking for a part-time job while her two young boys were attending school. Within five months, she was offered the position of library director. Never one to back down from a challenge, Duffy accepted the position and now, five years later, is a leader in her community.

Every day is a different adventure for Duffy. As the director of a small library, she is responsible for a wide variety of day-to-day tasks that include conducting community programs and working with library visitors. She infuses every day with fun for everyone involved - from story time for children to adult programs, visitors are sure to have an enjoyable experience. Much of Duffy's day is spent interacting with library patrons, whether she is helping someone select the perfect book, write a resume, or learn how to download ebooks to a newly acquired Kindle. In between, Duffy finds enough quiet time to take care of the behind-the-scenes administrative functions of running the library: ordering books and programming supplies, planning future programs and activities, and interacting with other county libraries and community organizations.

Duffy appreciates all of the incredibly amazing and diverse people she has met through the library. She loves connecting people to other people, and credits both her community and staff for making it truly enjoyable to come to work every day. Her co-workers are knowledgeable, great with patrons, and "a ton of fun". She speaks wistfully of some great patrons that her library community has lost, saying that it's like losing a family member.

Over the past five years, Duffy has been striving to change the public perception of what the library does, and what the library offers to the community. For example, children's story hour is based on reading, of course, but it also give children a chance to meet other children, make friends, and socialize. Adult programs such as the library’s book club, knitting club, and friends group provide diverse opportunities for adults to get a break from everyday life, and socialize with others who share similar interests. The library is a resource for visitors searching for jobs, and figuring out how to use electronic devices.

Currently, Duffy is working to implement a tween program with a safe environment for tweens to convene and be themselves. She's hoping to show them career opportunities and what's out there as they grow into teenagers and young adults. Maintaining the old, historic building is always a priority too, there have been some discussions about adding central air conditioning via a future construction grant.

On a personal level, Duffy is a wife, a mother of two active boys, a cleaner, a cook, a chauffeur, and a member of the Madrid-Waddington Central School Parent-Teacher Organization. As a very active family, they love to kayak, hike, drive their motorcycles, and visit with grandparents and other family throughout New York state. Of course, Duffy enjoys books - mostly thrillers, mystery, and non-fiction. She's currently reading The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

When asked what library-related thing makes her most proud, Duffy's response was, "I'm most proud when I hear people say they love this library." If you haven't visited the Hepburn Library of Waddington recently, please stop in and check it out. The Waddington community is fortunate to have Duffy Ashley at the helm of their beautiful library, as is our entire St. Lawrence County library community!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is grateful to have Duffy as a colleague and friend, and enjoys collaborating and discussing library projects together.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

September is library card sign-up month
in St. Lawrence County libraries


This September marks the 30th anniversary of Library Card Sign-Up Month - a time when the American Library Association (ALA) joins 17,566 public libraries nationwide to highlight the value of a library card. Originating in 1987, Library Card Sign-Up Month is held each September to mark the beginning of the academic year.

Obtaining a library card is the first step for many children when it comes to academic achievement and lifelong learning. Our St. Lawrence County public libraries encourage families to obtain library cards for children in conjunction with our preschool storytime and other youth programs. In addition to books and other materials that may be borrowed with a library card, our local libraries offer free literacy programs, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities, educational programs, homework assistance, technology workshops, and more throughout both the school term and the summer months.

For individuals without a library card, one may be obtained for free at any public library within the NCLS system. As a general rule, adults must present a form of photo identification, and children will need permission from a parent or other adult caregiver. The minimum age to obtain a library card varies from library to library, with some libraries issuing cards to children as young as three, while others prefer children be at least five years old, entering kindergarten, or able to print their first and last names on the back of their new library card.

A library card obtained at any library within the North Country Library System (NCLS) may be used at any other library in the system. In St. Lawrence County we have nineteen libraries and three branches: Brasher Falls, Canton, Colton, Cranberry Lake, Edwards, Gouverneur, Hammond, Hermon, Heuvelton, Lisbon, Madrid, Massena, Morley, Morristown, Norfolk, Norwood, Ogdensburg, Potsdam, Rensselaer Falls, Richville, Russell, and Waddington.

Information about individual libraries may be found at on the NCLS website, as well as a catalog of all items available at our participating libraries. Whether you’re thinking of the start of a new school year, or the upcoming chilly days when it’s enjoyable to relax indoors with the latest best-seller, please visit your local library and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She looks forward to issuing new library cards to young readers every September and throughout the year.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

It’s time to nominate your favorite children’s book titles!


Starting September 1st, St. Lawrence County children and teens can nominate their favorite books for the 3 Apples Book Award, an annual award sponsored by the New York Library Association. Launched in 2007, the award was developed to encourage the joys of reading for pleasure. The nominated titles are selected, and eventually voted on, entirely by participating youth throughout the state.

A book by any author, in any genre, may be nominated as long as it hasn’t been a winner in previous years of the contest. Children are often encouraged to read based on book displays, school assignments, or their peers. In the case of the 3 Apples Book Award, children are encouraged to select their own favorites, many of which are popular or best-selling books, but also may include hidden gems found simply by browsing the shelves at the local library.

Nominations are accepted in three categories: Young Reader’s Choice (UPK-grade 2), Children’s Choice (grades 3-6), and Teen’s Choice (grades 7-12). Youth may submit nominations from September 1st through October 31st online or at their public or school library. A statewide ballot of the top fifteen titles in each category will be announced on November 13, 2017.

From November 2017 until April 2018, children should read or listen to at least three of the nominated titles prior to voting for their top choice. Eligible children will be able to cast one vote online or at their local public or school library in April 2018. Final results will be announced in May when winning titles and authors are honored with the presentation of the 3 Apples Book Award.

Last year’s nominees included books by Laura Numeroff, Stuart Gibbs, and Laurie Halse Anderson, a North Country native. After receiving over 6,000 votes from youth, the 2017 awards went to The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (Young Reader’s Choice), The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Children’s Choice), and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Teen’s Choice).

Other previous award winning titles include "Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type" by Doreen Cronin, "Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus" by Mo Willems, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw" by Jeff Kinney, "Divergent" by Veronica Roth, and "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins.

Let’s encourage our St. Lawrence County youth to participate in the 2018 awards. As our area children head back to school this fall, please encourage them to visit the library and discover some new and interesting books - our libraries have thousands, and in some cases, tens of thousands juvenile books waiting for a new reader to check them out!

The 3 Apples Book Award is a joint program of the Youth Service (YSS) and School Library (SSL) Sections of the New York Library Association (NYLA). More information may be found on the 3 Apples Book Award website, or at your local public or school library.

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is a New York Library Association member and will be encouraging children in Lisbon to submit nominations for their favorite books.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Libraries offer online music and art instruction


The North Country Library System offers a program entitled “ArtistWorks for Libraries” which provides St. Lawrence County library patrons with self-paced online video lessons from music and artistic professionals. Lessons are geared for novice to intermediate users, all at no charge with your library card.

Classes are suitable for youth and adults, with beginner to advanced lessons covering an array of instruments, music theory, scratching, and art. Classical music topics include piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, french horn, trumpet, and violin lessons. Bass lessons include electric bass, jazz bass, and bluegrass bass. Additional bluegrass classes include banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and bluegrass guitar. Other guitar lessons include rock, flatpick, dobro, fingerstyle, blues, and acoustic. Additional lessons are available for harmonica, percussion instruments, and piano. Singing and scratching classes are also available. Art classes include the basic fundamentals of drawing, building skills in drawing, advanced drawing and painting, portraits, and the business of art.

Accessing ArtistWorks is simple and requires a library card, internet access, and a computer or mobile device. For mobile devices, no app needs to be downloaded as ArtistWorks is only available through a browser such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. If you don’t have a library card, just stop by your local library and fill out an application. While you’re there, be sure to check out the music and art books on the shelves, and any upcoming music or art programs on your library’s calendar of events.

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is not musically inclined, but dabbles in the visual arts from time to time. Her library routinely hosts guitar lessons for youth and oil painting classes for adults.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County library
users have a new e-reader app available


St. Lawrence County library users have access to downloadable e-books and audio books via Overdrive, a service we implemented in 2011 that allows users to read (or listen to) books on their mobile phones, tablets, Kindles, and dedicated e-reader devices. All you need is a device, a library card, and your PIN number to sign up for Overdrive or access your account.

Overdrive has recently added a new application (app) to their offerings - users now have a choice between the original Overdrive app and the new Libby app. Both apps are developed by Overdrive, provide users access to all of the e-books books in our catalog, and provide the basic features and functions necessary to read or listen to books, place holds, create wish lists, and manage accounts.

So, what’s the difference? At first tap - the Libby promotional video focuses on “One Tap” as their theme - there’s a world of difference. Libby is bright and modern, with a strong visual component that encourages users to tap and swipe throughout the app. Overdrive is more subdued in appearance, and sometimes requires the user to delve more deeply into the menus to make changes to search parameters, settings, and other functions.

Both apps allow users to store library card information for more than one library, but with Libby, you can be signed into multiple libraries simultaneously and switch seamlessly between them. Libby also allows users to input more than one card for each library, which may be useful for family members who share devices, yet wish to use their own library card to maximize checkout and hold limits.

Both apps allow users to download items for offline reading, select whether to download using mobile data or only wi-fi, or read in a browser to save space on your device.

All loans and holds are consolidated on a single shelf, which makes it easier to keep track of checkouts, loan periods, and what’s available to borrow. A new feature is the Activity tab which keeps track of your reading history, so if you tend to jump from one chapter or section of a book to another, the history remembers where you’ve been so you can return to a previous section. Positions, bookmarks, and notes are kept in sync across all devices.

What’s there not to like with the new Libby app? Not much, at first glance. The user interface is more friendly, and there’s a lot more to explore and learn for users who wish to take advantage of the improved and expanded features. For a bare-bones user, the system is intuitive and easy to navigate.

I tested the app, briefly, with my Android smart phone and my iPad. Both versions worked well and were similar, although, as with any app, the experience varies from platform to platform, and from phone to tablet. Upon initial set-up, the first library it chose for me was Morristown, based on cell towers, not GPS. It was easy enough to search for my home library and select Lisbon. As long as you select a library within the North Country Library System, your library card will provide the same access to the Overdrive catalog.

When I added a second library system (I have a card for the New York Public Library, which all residents of New York State are entitled to obtain), the app did as promised and consolidated my checkouts into one list. Switching between NCLS and NYPL was also easy. Downloading books was no different between apps after selecting the wi-fi only option. Having the app installed on two devices simultaneously was no problem and everything was updated as I switched between one device and the other.

I recruited my daughter (thank you, Abigail) to test the app as well, and to test its compatibility with her Kindle Fire. She installed Libby on her iPad and was immediately impressed with its user interface compared to the Overdrive app. With a few taps, her newly checked-out book appeared on her Kindle. Thus far, she prefers Libby and reports that it is considerably more feature-rich.

At this point in time, Overdrive reports that both apps - the original Overdrive and the newly-released Libby - will co-exist side-by-side on all three platforms: Android, Apple, and Windows. I suspect, however, that Libby will eventually replace Overdrive as the only choice. For now, e-book users can choose which app best suits their needs.

If you have questions about Overdrive, Libby, or how to access e-books with your NCLS library card, please stop by your local public library and let us know how we can assist you. If you don’t have a library card, you may obtain one at any public library. If you haven’t visited your local library recently, stop in and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She prefers her second-generation Nook Color as her e-reader of choice, but uses whichever mobile device is most readily available.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Potsdam Public Library’s
Cleveland Computer Center continues growing


The Potsdam Public Library’s Cleveland Computer Center is one of the most valuable resources in our St. Lawrence County libraries. The computer center offers a variety of classes focused on computers, the internet, and other technologies.

The center opened seven years ago when the Potsdam Public Library was one of only thirty libraries in New York to receive a Federal grant for the creation of a computer center. In addition, the family of Fred W. Cleveland, a former Potsdam Library Trustee and Fiscal Officer, donated funds to establish the center. Although the center has always been named after Mr. Cleveland, it is only in recent years that the official name has been widely used. Previously, it was known simply as the Potsdam Public Library Computer Center.

The center offers a wide selection of technology classes ranging from basic computer use to accessing the internet and learning various computer software programs. Classes are taught by work-study students from Clarkson University, volunteers, and occasionally library staff. Last year, the center offered 140 classes for community members.

Some of the most popular topics include learning how to use a new computer, upgrading to Windows 10, selling on eBay, and mastering software such as Word, Excel, or Skype. Many people arrive at the computer center with no experience at all, and through classes and individual sessions, they learn the basics of computer operation, email, word processing, and other basics. One novice participant expanded his computer use to include shopping, following sports, and purchasing his own computer online.

Upcoming classes include “Introduction to Computers” on August 9th from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm, “Introduction to MS Word” on August 16th from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, “Basic Excel” on August 23rd from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm, and “Document Scanning Essentials” on August 29th from 9:30 am to 12:30 p.m.

In September, the St. Lawrence Arts Council will offer two workshops instructing participants on the use of lighting equipment. After attending the training, artists and artisans will be able to use the Arts Council’s recently acquired equipment to photograph art or create self-portraits.

In October, a series of classes will be offered for people who have some background in Spanish, but who’d like the opportunity to practice speaking the language. In the fall, a small group workshop will be offered for people learning to speak English as an additional language. The facilitator will use podcasts, YouTube clips, and other online sites to enhance listening skills and improve fluency.

Other programs in development include a class to help people choose a cruise destination, select a cruise line, and find the best deals online. “Movies Made Easy” will teach participants how to create short informational videos using Adobe Spark. Classes are in development to teach people how to utilize social media sites such as Snapchat and LinkedIn for both personal use and for developing an online business presence.

Most classes are offered at no charge to participants. Pre-registration is required to allow for small class sizes, which usually range from five to seven participants. When classes are in high demand, the center works to offer additional sessions. Individual instruction is also available, and is useful for participants who are more comfortable in a one-on-one setting, for those with specific questions but who don’t require an entire class, or for those who need additional time to understand specific topics from a regular class they’ve already attended.

Individual instruction may also be customized to a participant, such as filling out a job application online, creating a resume, or learning a specific technology for which no classes are scheduled. Participants may schedule individual instruction by contacting the computer center and indicating what help is needed. An instructor is matched to that participant and a mutually agreeable date and time is scheduled.

According to Bobby Gordon, Digital Literacy Coordinator, participant satisfaction is high, with comments including, “Always learn something I didn’t know” and “Finally, I feel confident enough to go home and start!”

In addition to computer and technology classes, the Cleveland Center has meeting space available for agencies and organizations. Smaller rooms accommodate groups of two to three people, and a larger room is available for groups up to twelve people. Computers are available for the public to use at no cost. Reservations for meeting rooms, computers, classes, and individual instruction should be arranged in advance.

The Cleveland Computer Center welcomes the assistance of volunteers interested in facilitating classes, especially those knowledgeable in youth programming. Check out the library’s website at, their Facebook page, or other social media platforms to learn about classes, meeting space, and individual instruction.

Michelle McLagan is the director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. As a person interested in multiple technology platforms, she frequently refers library visitors to the Cleveland Computer Center for various programs and classes.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Thirteen County Libraries Are Grateful
to Senator Patty Ritchie for Her Support


 Senator Patty Ritchie has been a long-time advocate of our local public libraries and library staff, trustees, and patrons are always thankful for Senator Ritchie’s support. As Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Libraries, Senator Ritchie visits our libraries often to see first-hand what we are doing in our communities, speaks out in favor of libraries both locally and at the state level, and helps secure special funding for individual libraries every year.

St. Lawrence County libraries are funded almost entirely by local funds - whether the funding comes from a local municipality, a local school district, a special legislative district, or a combination of sources. Libraries in St. Lawrence County have received no funding at the county level since 2012 when county legislators decided to eliminate library support from the county budget. Libraries do receive a small amount of state funding on an annual basis, and are sometimes eligible for private or public grants that are usually targeted to specific programs or projects.

When Senator Ritchie is able to procure special state funding for our libraries, it is a very much appreciated “extra” that allows libraries to rehabilitate older buildings, update technology, expand programs, offer new services, and ultimately, provide a better library experience for our communities.

This year, Senator Ritchie has obtained special legislative funding for thirteen of our county libraries, along with other North Country Library System libraries in both Jefferson and Oswego counties. Locally, the total she secured is $28,500 for public libraries and $5,000 for the Northern New York Library Network which is based out of Potsdam.

Laurel Murphy is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Madrid. She states, “Public libraries should be, and are, a repository of knowledge for all age groups and for all citizens, therefore the Hepburn Library of Madrid hopes to use funding from Senator Patty Ritchie to increase our Supplemental Education collection.” Madrid’s collection will include a circulating microscope, science kits, educational board games, curriculum materials, and catalogs. The collection will be available to all patrons during library hours, and she hopes the homeschooling community in Madrid and the surrounding area will benefit from these new materials. In addition to the items for the Supplemental Education collection, Madrid hopes to purchase additional items for other library programs.

The Morristown Public Library will be using their $2,000 in funding toward the construction of 995 additional feet of floor space. Bridget Whalen-Nevin, Director of the Morristown Public Library, is looking forward to the increased space which will allow for an expansion to the patron computer area and a conference space to host library programs and services.

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon is expanding its Makerspace and STEM programing and will be using the $2,000 in funding to purchase equipment and supplies for both adult and children’s programs.

Several libraries will be using the special funding to upgrade computer and technology services, which are in high demand at every library in the county. Adults visit the library to search for jobs, complete job applications, print tickets, perform genealogical research, communicate with family, and stay informed on current issues. Children’s computers are also in high demand as older children visit the library to complete school homework, and younger children take advantage of various literacy and education-based websites and programs. Staying up-to-date with computer technology is critical to every library’s mission.

According to Elaine Archer, Director of the Hepburn Library of Edwards, the library will be using Senator Ritchie’s generous $2,000 contribution to purchase three computers for the library. Providing up-to-date computer service is a project that is important to the Edwards community.

The Ogdensburg Public Library will be spending $5,000 on new computers for patrons and some new materials in various areas of the library. According to Penny Kerfien, Executive Director, "Patty Ritchie is a very strong library supporter who has helped Ogdensburg, specifically, immensely. I am very grateful for what she does for libraries."

Duffy Ashley, Director of the Hepburn Library of Waddington, is happy to be receiving $2,000 from Senator Ritchie. Library trustees are evaluating their options on how to best utilize the new funds. Under consideration are computer upgrades and an air conditioner.

In addition, the following libraries will be receiving $2,000 each: the Heuvelton Free Library, the Hammond Free Library, the Hepburn Library of Hermon, the Reading Room Association of Gouverneur, the Richville Free Library, and the Rensselaer Falls Branch of Canton. The Morley Branch of Canton will receive $1,500.

Please visit your local library and check out what it has to offer - and when you have the opportunity, please thank Senator Patty Ritchie for supporting the library in your community!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is grateful to Senator Ritchie for securing $2,000 for Lisbon this year and looks forward to offering more programs and services to the Lisbon community.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Head Outdoors for the Morristown Public Library’s Plein Air Festival


I recently attended a library dinner with Bridget Whalen-Nevin, the Director of the Morristown Public Library. After debating the merits of various ingredients in the stuffed mushrooms, conversation turned to the upcoming Plein Air Festival.

Bridget’s enthusiasm regarding the Plein Air Festival is incredible. She is absolutely dedicated to expanding the library’s programs and services, and this will be the library’s fifth Plein Air Festival.

Plein Air, a French term simply meaning “in the open air” is often associated with Impressionistic painting, which is a style of art well suited to the beauty of Morristown and the surrounding communities. Between Thursday, August 3rd and Sunday, August 6th, thirty-one incredible artists will be setting up easels and painting the beautiful water and landscapes throughout Morristown, Hammond, and Ogdensburg.

In 2013, the library lost a significant amount of financial support when St. Lawrence County legislators eliminated all library funding throughout the county. Morristown decided to step up and find a new source of funding, while at the same time creating a program that provides education, entertainment, volunteerism, and a true sense of community pride and togetherness.

The 31 artists will be arriving on Thursday, August 3rd from all areas of New York State, including one from St. Lawrence County, Mark Keller (Norwood). Eight artists will represent Jefferson County communities: Drina Connors Kay (Cape Vincent), Linda Palmer (Redwood), Cheryl Simeon (Three Mile Bay), Robert Hedden (Wellesley Island), Jan Byington and Faye Ingerson (Clayton), and William Christopherson and Amy Forgit (Watertown).

During daylight hours on Friday, August 4th, artists will be painting “en Plein Air” at various locations in Morristown, Hammond, and Ogdensburg. A map will be available at the Morristown Public Library, directing you to each artist’s location. On Saturday, artists will be painting within the Morristown Village limits between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. The general public is encouraged to visit the artists and collect door prize tickets that can be used at Sunday’s Art Show and Sale.

Friday evening at 6:00 pm, the Iva Smith Memorial Gallery of Fine Art in Hammond will host informative lectures, gallery tours, light refreshments, and an opportunity to view displays from this year’s artists.

Saturday continues with the opportunity to observe the artists painting within the village from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. From 8:30 am to 10:30 am, there will be a “Chapman’s View” Paint Out at the Chapman Mansion in Morristown with a $200 cash prize for best in show. Stop at the Morristown library for their Annual Book and Bake Sale from 9:00 am to noon, and finish up the day at 7:00 pm with a Meet and Greet Artist Reception at the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg. Laura Foster, Executive Director of the Remington, will present “Remington as a Plein Air Artist”. Admission to the evening reception is $5.00 at the door and will include Laura’s presentation, music, snacks, and a cash bar.

On Sunday, August 6th, be sure to attend the Silent Auction and Reception ($1.00 admission fee) at the Bella-Brooke Vineyard and Winery in Hammond from noon until 3:00 pm. Each participating artist will submit up to three paintings for the judging of awards and silent auction. Live music and refreshments will be available throughout the auction, and door prizes (don’t forget to bring your entry tickets!) will be drawn throughout the afternoon. You must be present to enter your tickets and to pick up any prizes you might win.

The Plein Air Festival has become a true gem in our North Country as it offers a sense of community spirit with over one-hundred volunteers and sponsors participating, brings in visitors from outside the region, showcases many regional artists, and benefits the Morristown Public Library. Financial proceeds from the event help support the library’s mission to provide access to the world of information, social, and cultural ideas.

I encourage you to check out the Plein Air Festival this summer, and to stop by the Morristown Public Library and meet Bridget Whalen-Nevin. I guarantee that her enthusiasm and passion for the Morristown Public Library will be more than evident! More information about the Morristown Public library, the Plein Air Festival, and other library programs and services may be found on their website or on Facebook.

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She will be attending the Plein Air Festival, helping to support the Morristown Public Library.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Get Ready for Fun at the Ogdensburg Public Library!


Mark your calendar for Sunday, July 23, rain or shine, and join everyone for a day of fun. The Friends of the Ogdensburg Public Library and the Ogdensburg Garden Club have joined forces to host a Funfest in Library Park. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. and wrap up at 2 p.m.

It promises to be an exciting day and there are activities for all ages. Do you like animals? Be sure to stop by the petting zoo and say hello to some furry visitors you normally wouldn’t find in Library Park. Keep your eyes out for Sophie, the library’s Red Eared Slider turtle, who promises to make an appearance, weather permitting.

Do you like laughs? Cubby the Clown will be entertaining visitors throughout Library park. Plus, there will be a bounce house, a bean bag toss, and a fish pond game - all of which are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Be sure to grab a delicious lunch across the street at Fred’s Wild West BBQ, a fundraiser benefiting the Frederic Remington Art Museum. Wild West BBQ tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for kids under age 13 and include pulled pork, chicken, salt potatoes, corn on the cob, macaroni salad, watermelon, assorted Lipton Teas, and museum admission. The BBQ is catered by Parker Piercey, of PCP BBQ, and sponsored by Lipton. After lunch, head back to the library and pick up some popcorn or snow cones for an extra snack or dessert.

For book enthusiasts, there will be a storyteller and a storywalk outdoors in Library Park. Inside the library, the annual book sale will be held in the auditorium with the following prices: $1 for hardcovers, videos, and DVDs; 50 cents for CDs; 25 cents for paperbacks; 10 cents for magazines.

Creative kids will find a coloring table, an opportunity to make picture frames, and a rock-painting activity.

Adults will find a barn quilt demonstration and raffle for a 12-inch by 12-inch barn quilt. There will also be a raffle for a twin-size Star Wars/Angry Birds quilt. Raffle ticket prices will be $2 per ticket, or three tickets for $5.

Fundraising activities such as the bounce house, bean bag toss, fish pond game, snow cones and popcorn will require tickets that may be purchased individually or in bulk. Ticket prices will be one ticket for $0.50, three tickets for $1.00, or fifteen tickets for $5.00.

Other activities across the street and benefiting the Remington Museum include Buck Ridge Chainsaw Carving, face painting, lawn games at Kid’s Place, and caricatures by Nicki Ryan (at a cost of $15.00 for black & white and $20 for color). Musical entertainment will be provided by the Don Woodcock Band, followed by Big Papa and Margarita Mike.

The Friends of the Ogdensburg Public Library are sponsoring the bean bag toss, fish pond, storywalk, quilt raffle, book sale, and refreshments. The Ogdensburg Garden Club is sponsoring the bounce house, petting zoo, clown, storyteller, crafts, coloring, and barn quilt demonstration. All proceeds from both organizations will benefit the library.

The block of Washington Street between State Street and Caroline Street will be closed from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm during the festivities. There is so much fun in store for everyone, be sure to check out all the activities in Library Park, and support the Ogdensburg Public Library too!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She will be attending the Funfest on July 23rd, helping to support the Ogdensburg Public Library.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Libraries Rock!


Many of our St. Lawrence County communities are participating in the “Painted Rocks” activity that has gained popularity in recent weeks. If you’ve noticed painted rocks and stones hiding in plain sight, and aren’t familiar with the premise, it works basically like this: people paint rocks and distribute them around the community - in parks, along sidewalks, in retail stores, in community buildings, and public libraries - for other community members to locate. When someone finds a rock, there will be a message on the bottom similar to “post to Ogdensburg Rocks on Facebook”, or “post to Heuvelton Rocks on Facebook”. People snap photos of the rocks and post them to the referenced Facebook group, then re-hide the rock in another location. When someone finds a rock they wish to keep, they are encouraged to paint a new rock and hide it in a new location for someone else to find.

The program is appealing to all ages, and all abilities. It encourages physical activity and a sense of community. Libraries are finding themselves involved, as we are discovering a huge number of rocks hidden (usually in plain sight), among our flowerbeds, entryways, and even on our bookshelves! Some libraries are noticing an increase in foot traffic, as more families are visiting the library to search for, and hide, rocks. While at the library, children are exposed to our Summer Reading programs, new book displays, and the sense of community we offer within our buildings.

Duffy Ashley is the Director of the Waddington Hepburn Library and a member of Waddington Rocks. She has noticed many community members painting rocks at home, and then leaving rocks in and around her library. According to Emily Hastings, Director of the Canton Free Library, painted rocks have appeared at the library in recent days. According to her observations, the Little Free Libraries in town are stocked with not only free books, but painted rocks!

Penny Kerfien, Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Public Library and a member of Ogdensburg Rocks, has noticed a definite increase in library visitors as kids and families are searching for and finding new rocks within the building and outside in Library Park. The Ogdensburg Public Library will be hosting a rock-painting activity at the Funfest on July 23rd from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Funfest includes dozens of other activities, so be sure to stop by, paint a rock, and see what else they have to offer.

The first painted rock at the Lisbon Hepburn Library showed up in early June and there has been a continuous rotation of creative and colorful rocks showing up on a daily basis. Lisbon will be hosting a rock-painting activity for all ages on July 12 from 10:00 am to noon. In addition, every person who brings a painted rock to the circulation desk between July 10th and July 14th will receive a free bookmark to color.

Looking for inspiration as you paint your own rocks? Within St. Lawrence County, the following libraries have books about rock and stone painting: Morley, Norwood, Colton, Massena, and Canton. Many more books are available within the North Country Library System and may be borrowed through inter-library loan, and shipped to your local library for pick up. All you need is a valid library card.

Join our local communities in rock hunting - it’s lot’s of fun. While you’re out searching for and hiding rocks, stop by your local library and check out everything we have to offer. You might just find a special painted rock hiding among the books!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon and a member of Lisbon Rocks. While writing this article, six families stopped at the library to exchange rocks, take photos, and post them to various Facebook groups.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Celebrate Local History At Your Library


Happy Independence Day from your local libraries! As we celebrate our nation’s history, it’s a good time to reflect on the local history that surrounds us every day. Our St. Lawrence County libraries are a great place to start your research.

Our local libraries have a wealth of history housed in each building. Many libraries have a variety of local history books and publications that may be browsed while visiting the library, and in some cases, borrowed to read at home. Some libraries, such as the Ogdensburg Public Library, have a local history expert on staff, a local history room, and a vault filled with archival materials. At the Hepburn Library of Lisbon, the Town Historian maintains an office with extensive local history records. In Colton, the Director of the Hepburn Library of Colton is also the Town Historian!

Libraries have many books about New York State, St. Lawrence County, the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Adirondacks, and local municipalities. Books in the local history section may include historical non-fiction, books about local personalities, books written by local authors, school yearbooks, and books specific to each town or village.

The Northern New York Library Network, based out of Potsdam, has collaborated with the Empire State Library Network to create the NYS Historic Newspapers database which provides free online access to a wide range of newspapers dating back to the mid-1800’s. Other free historic resources may be found on the North Country Library System’s website, including Newsbank (recent and current newspapers), and the Grolier Encyclopedia for elementary, middle, and high school students. A library card is required for free access to Newsbank and Grolier.

Genealogical resources are also available through our libraries, including access to NYGenWeb, New York Heritage, and - the latter may be accessed from within the library at no cost.

Of course, our libraries have plenty of books and DVDs that chronicle United States history. Stop by your local library this week as we celebrate our nation’s independence, and pick up a book about the Revolutionary War, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, or a biography of a historic figure. All you need is a library card, so stop in and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, and has always had a strong interest in our nation’s history.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Libraries Strive to Build a Better World This Summer


School is out and summer has officially begun at St. Lawrence County Libraries! This year, our Collaborative Summer Reading Program theme is “Build a Better World” and our county libraries have special programs and events geared for children of all ages.

Each library has its own calendar of activities which may be found at the library, on the library’s website, or the library’s Facebook page. Here are some highlights:

The Gouverneur Library is hosting the Thompson Park Zoo on July 10th, a Lego Build Off on July 18th, Professor Klutzo’s Great Inventions of the World on July 19th, a week of drawing instruction from July 24th-28th, and a Monsterology program on August 16th.

The Heuvelton Library will be hosting a summer reading program for grades K-4 in early August on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon is hosting programs at the library and Lisbon Beach throughout the month of July. Daily activities include self-directed makerspace projects for kids in grades K-6. Other programs include storytime for toddlers and preschoolers along with craft projects, board game, and Lego days for school-age children.

The Hepburn Library of Madrid is hosting a Summer Reading Club for children in grades K-12 with prizes to be awarded at the End of Summer Celebration of August 25th. Other children’s programs run from July 10th to August 25th and include crafting on Mondays, Lego Club on Wednesdays, and storytime programs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

The Morristown Public Library will be offering programs for all ages on Tuesdays from July 11th through August 8th. This year they are building Faerie Houses and hosting a goat for storytime.

The Hepburn Library of Norfolk is hosting programs for children ages 3-14. Their big highlight is a Park Day to be held in the park across the street from the library. There will be storytime followed by a scavenger hunt, bubbles, Frisbee playtime, and a trip to the ice cream parlor for an ice cream cone.

The Norwood Public Library is offering a Read-at Home program from July 5th through August 11th where children track their reading at home to earn prize books. On Thursdays, the library will be hosting Storytime on the the Norwood Village Green. On July 25th, the library will host a visit with Batman and Wonder Woman, along with a screening of the new Lego Batman movie. A summer reading program for adults will include the chance to win gift certificates to the Ashley House in Norwood, the Hometown Cafe, or movie tickets.

The Richville Free Library will be offering a Reading Challenge with prizes, along with a field trip to the Agricultural Museum in Madrid. On Wednesday mornings, a reading activity and craft will be held. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the library will host recreational activities at the playground.

The Hepburn Library of Waddington is collaborating with the Waddington Beach morning recreation program on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from July 5th through July 27th. Activities are geared for children in grades 1-5 and includes storytime, art projects, and an independent reading incentive program. Special Wednesday programs include Crafts for All Seasons, a DEC representative to talk about local fish and wildlife, a blacksmith presentation, and a visit from the Highway Superintendent who will bring equipment for the children to explore.

Please contact individual libraries for more information, including specific dates and times for all activities. Many programs require pre-registration due to limited facility space, or to ensure that library staff have sufficient supplies available for projects and crafts. While visiting your local library, be sure to check out what else they have to offer - it’s the perfect time to get a library card, borrow an exciting new book, and help us all Build a Better World!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Her library will be busy throughout the month of July hosting summer reading activities for children of all ages.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!


Get Ready for Summer at Your Local Library


Wednesday, June 21st is the first day of summer, which kicks off one of the busiest seasons at our St. Lawrence County libraries. Libraries are typically busy in summer as many of our communities have a large influx of seasonal residents looking for books, movies, and internet access. In addition, our local residents are looking for summer programming for kids, rainy day activities, and a place to relax with the latest bestseller.

All of our libraries have computers, printers, fax machines, and internet access. Feel free to use our computers, or bring your own laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Library cards are free and may be obtained at any library: adults will need photo identification, and children will need an adult present to apply for a card. Once you have a library card from a library in the North Country Library System, you may use it at all of our libraries and branches.

Early summer is a popular time for book publishers to release new titles, and our shelves are currently brimming with new fiction and non-fiction for adults, teens, and children. Looking for a movie to brighten an otherwise rainy day indoors? We have plenty of those too, and some libraries have board games and jigsaw puzzles that may be borrowed and played at home for a week.

Sunny days in the forecast? Check out a museum pass and enjoy a discount on admission to The Wild Center or the Adirondack Experience. Or, download a book to your Kindle or iPad, and relax in the shade for the afternoon. The Clifton Community Library in Cranberry Lake is in the process of adding two adult and two children’s tennis rackets to their collection, and the Reading Room Association of Gouverneur will be adding fishing rods and tackle boxes. Tennis rackets and fishing rods must be borrowed and returned at the owning library.

As summer progresses and fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful, be sure to check out the canning tools and supplies available at the Norwood Public Library and the Canton Free Library. Both libraries have an assortment of water baths, pressure canners, tools, and books about canning. Tools and supplies may be borrowed and returned at both libraries by St. Lawrence County residents with a valid library card.

Many of our public libraries offer additional programming for children during the summer months, and many of our libraries participate in the Collaborative Summer Reading Program which has a yearly theme - this year our theme is “Build a Better World”. Stay tuned for next week’s column where we’ll share some of our upcoming summer programs - there’s a lot of activity scheduled for kids of all ages throughout the county.

In the meantime, stop by your local library and check out what’s on their schedule - each library is unique in the programs and services offered. Many of our library visitors make use of multiple libraries, which is easy to do and always encouraged!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Her library will be hosting a variety of programs for all ages throughout the summer.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Seven Reasons to Take Your
Child to the Library This Summer


St. Lawrence County Libraries actually have 130,695 reasons to take your child to the library this year - that’s the combined total of juvenile items we have available for checkout in our local public libraries. The vast majority of items are printed books, but our libraries also have juvenile books on tape/CD, downloadable print/audio books, DVDs, music CDs, magazines, puzzles, and games.

Warmer weather has finally (hopefully) arrived and the school year is almost complete. Why should you take your child to the library in the summer? Let’s look at some of the reasons:

Frequent library visits lead to increased recreational reading. Exposure to the library’s wide selection of books encourages children to pick something that’s not school-related, whether it’s a picture book with a cool cover or a chapter book that sounds awesome.

Reading in the summer helps prepare kids for school. Casual reading during the summer months help children maintain literacy skills and prevent academic slide. Kids who visit libraries are better prepared in all subjects when returning to class in the fall.

Libraries are free. Children are exposed to a huge selection of materials at no charge, and can browse the shelves with no pressure to make a purchase. In our region, bookstores are far and few between, and buying books online isn’t quite the same as flipping through an actual book on the shelf.

Library staff can recommend books that are hidden treasurers and may pique the interest of a reluctant reader. Children may find a new book series, a new genre, or a new interest just based on a simple recommendation from library staff.

Reading incentives are commonplace. Many of our local libraries participate in the Collaborative Summer Reading Program which may include incentives such as gift bags, treats, or prizes. Generally, kids are asked to maintain a reading log and keep track of the number of minutes or pages read, or book titles and authors.

Summer programs go far beyond books. Libraries tend to offer more programs including storytime, crafts, digital literacy, and special visitors that encourage families to explore library facilities and services. Many of the activities tie in with our Summer Reading Programs - this year our theme is “Build a Better World” which promises to be engaging, informative, and fun!

Library cards teach kids responsibility. Children can sign up for their own library card, and learn how to be responsible young borrowers by checking items out, treating them with respect, and returning them on time.

No matter what reason your family has for visiting the library, there is sure to be something exciting for all ages. In addition, many of our libraries have discount museum passes that will allow you to take your children for a minimal charge to either The Adirondack Experience or The Wild Center. Most libraries have a website or Facebook page where we announce upcoming programs - find us online, or stop in and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Her library has an active Summer Reading Program scheduled for the month of July.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

June is National Audiobook Month
at St. Lawrence County Libraries


 Audiobooks were first envisioned by Thomas Edison in 1877 when he invented the phonograph. One of his ideas was to provide sound recordings of books to the visually-impaired, and his first recording was of the poem, Mary Had a Little Lamb. Early efforts to produce “talking books” were restricted due to maximum recording length, and very little was produced until the mid-1930’s when the Books for the Adult Blind Project and the American Foundation for the Blind produced excerpts of Helen Keller and O’Henry on long-playing records.

Over the years, improved technology has taken the audiobook industry from vinyl records to cassette tapes, compact discs, MP3 players, and now, to digital downloads. We have gone from requiring a dozen or more vinyl records for a single book to a digital file that may be downloaded to a smartphone in less than a minute. Audiobooks became mainstream in the 1980’s and 1990’s when cassette and CD players became commonplace in vehicles - according to one survey, 52% of audiobook consumers listen to books while traveling to and from work or school.

Although audiobooks were initially developed for the visually-impaired, today’s audiobooks are attractive to consumers of all ages and abilities. Libraries have read-along books with accompanying cassettes or CDs geared to early readers, as well as audiobooks for children, teens, and adults audiences. Our library system also offers an audiobook outreach program for visually-impaired library patrons.

The North Country Library System (NCLS) has over 12,000 audiobooks in our catalog, with the vast majority (over 10,500) of titles available on CD. Titles include all genres including romance, western, mystery, biography, and self-help. In addition, NCLS has over 700 digital titles that may be downloaded via our Overdrive system to a computer, tablet, or smartphone. So far in 2017, NCLS libraries have circulated over 17,000 audiobooks to our patrons, including 5,000 audio downloads through Overdrive.

A complete list of audiobook titles is available at, or stop by your local library and check out what’s on the shelf. All you need is a library card - the same card may be used at all libraries in St. Lawrence County. If you don’t have a card, you may obtain one by bringing photo identification to any public library and signing up!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She downloads audiobooks to her smartphone using her library card and the Overdrive system.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County Libraries Sweep
Top Three Prizes at Battle of the Books


The North Country Library System annual Battle of the Books competition took place Saturday, May 20th in Gouverneur. Fifteen teams of 4th, 5th, and 6th grade children from St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis Counties competed in a double-elimination competition consisting of trivia questions based on twenty books the children read and studied in depth.

Congratulations to The Bookie Monsters from the Canton Free Library for bringing home the first place trophy! The team included Griffin Scafidi-McGuire, Maya Thomas, Natalie Todd, Claire Waters, and Coach Heidi Todd.

Second place went to The Book Rebels from the Morristown Public Library: Connor Flack, Eliza Hodgdon, Ivan Kring, Jimmy Rainville, and Coach Jane Kring. Third place went to the Book Bros from the Potsdam Public Library: Miles Atteman, Erik Heintzelman, Liam Langstaff, Graham Rozler, and Coach Martin Heintzelman.

Every year, the North Country Library System collaborates with local public libraries to host a reading competition for middle-grade students. A book list is published in September, and children are given the fall and winter months to form teams, read books, study the details, and practice answering questions with fellow team members and coaches. While children are studying, library staff work behind the scenes to read the books, write questions, and make sure no questions may be answered with multiple book titles.

In the spring, participating libraries host a local battle to select a winning team who advances to the regional competition. Competition is fierce, as there are many details to remember and the questions become progressively harder from the local to the regional level. There is little room for error as teams are only given twenty seconds to provide an answer before the competing team has an opportunity to steal the points. Many battles are tied on the twentieth question, go into a tie-breaker round, and are won by a single correct answer!

If you have a child who will be in grades 4 to 6 in the fall, be sure to stop by your local public library and ask for the 2018 Book Battle title list. A committee of NCLS and library staff will select titles in late summer and publish the list in early September to allow teams plenty of time to read and study in preparation for battle in late Spring 2018!

Thank you to everyone who helped out this year: NCLS and library staff who selected the books, wrote questions, and coordinated all the details at both the local and regional levels, the children who read and studied the books, the parents and coaches, the volunteer judges and scorekeepers, and the various venues that hosted our competitions - in particular St. James School in Gouverneur who continues to graciously host our regional battle. We couldn’t do it without everyone’s support and involvement!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She’s a member of the Battle of the Books committee and has been a volunteer at the regional battle for four years.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County Libraries
Lend Over 15,000 Items Through Interlibrary Loan


Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is a free service provided by our local libraries in conjunction with the North Country Library System (NCLS). ILL allows libraries to share items through the NCLS delivery system, giving patrons easy access to a diverse collection of materials.

Thus far in 2017, NCLS has transported 42,802 books, movies, and other items between 65 public libraries in St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Oswego, and Lewis Counties. In St. Lawrence County, our public libraries have lent 15,486 items through interlibrary loan. Local libraries that have lent over 1,000 ILL items are Potsdam, Massena, Ogdensburg, Canton, Colton, and Lisbon.

Although the majority of items shared among libraries are adult books, about twenty-five percent of items sent through ILL are for children. In St. Lawrence County, Lisbon and Norwood have the largest percentage of juvenile ILL items: 40% (Lisbon) and 32% (Norwood) of the materials sent via ILL are for juvenile audiences.

DVDs and Blu-Rays are also a significant part of our ILL service. Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Massena, Colton, Canton, and Lisbon have lent a combined total of 2,390 DVDs - the highest six libraries in the county.

Interlibrary loan is available to anyone with a North Country Library System card. Loans may be requested at any public library, or from home or your mobile device. All you need is a library card which may be obtained from and used at any library in the NCLS service area. To place a hold online, visit, log in with your library card and PIN numbers, search for the item you wish to borrow, and click on “place hold”.

The default location to pick up your hold will be the library associated with your library card, but you can select any of our libraries or branches as an alternate pickup location. Users with an email address on file will receive an automated message when holds are available to pick up; users without an email will generally receive a telephone call from the library. Holds without a wait list are usually available within a week, depending on where the items is located and when the next pickup/delivery is scheduled.

With such a large geographic area, interlibrary loan is a wonderful resource that allows patrons to obtain materials without needing to drive long distances. The NCLS delivery van travels a different route five days a week, delivering and picking up gray plastic bins filled with books, movies, audiobooks, and other items. Every library has at least one pickup/delivery per week, with the larger libraries having two slots in the delivery schedule.

If you have questions about interlibrary loan, please stop by your local library, or give them a call. Almost all items may be sent via ILL, although some exceptions do apply to new releases, reference items, museum passes, and special collections. So, if you’re looking for the next book in a series, or a special movie for date night, consider placing a hold and borrowing it through interlibrary loan… visit us online, or stop at a local library and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. The library in Lisbon lends about 240 items per month through interlibrary loan.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Please Support Libraries on Tuesday, May 16th


 If you live in a St. Lawrence County School District that has a referendum for public library funding on this year’s school ballot, please support your local library by voting on Tuesday, May 16th, 2017.

Libraries in St. Lawrence County receive the majority of their funding from local sources. Most libraries receive funding from their municipality - a town, village, or city. In many cases, this is the library’s only source of local funds, and support comes directly from taxpayers who live or own property in the municipality.

A few libraries have formed special legislative districts and receive funding from a particular set of residents, which often spans across part, or all, of the municipalities located within a library’s service area.

The third major source of funding for some county libraries is via a referendum on the school district ballot. The procedure begins when a Library Board passes a resolution to pursue funds via a school district vote, obtains twenty-five signatures from area residents, and submits the petition to the School Board.

Library funds will appear as a separate line item on the school ballot. Library funds are not part of the school’s budget, and have no effect on the amount of money the school district receives for its own budget. Once the voters approve a specific amount of funding, it is considered an annual appropriation until changed by further vote.

Libraries that serve residents outside of their municipality benefit greatly from a school ballot referendum as everyone in the community provides financial support, rather than a small group of taxpayers taking on full responsibility.

Two libraries are seeking funding on May 16th. The Canton Free Library is seeking an additional $65,000 as they work to switch from three funding sources to one. Proposition #3 increases the CFL levy from about $0.50 per thousand of assessed value to $0.68 per thousand. More information may be found at The vote will take place at the Canton High School Library on May 16th, 2017.

The Ogdensburg Public Library is seeking $50,000 in funding after receiving a reduction, or no increase, in support from the City over the past three years. Ogdensburg City School District residents will pay between $8.83 and $10.51 on a property valued at $65,000. School district residents living east of the Oswegatchie River can vote on Proposition #3 at Ogdensburg Free Academy. Residents living west of the Oswegatchie River can vote at Grant C. Madill Elementary School. More information may be found at

There are many ways to support your local library: visit us, tell us how we are doing, and make use of our services. This week, make your voice heard by casting a vote. Our county is fortunate to have many wonderful libraries…. stop in and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. The library in Lisbon serves the seventh largest community in St. Lawrence County with a service area of 4,102 residents.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!


St. Lawrence County Libraries
Offer Computers and Internet Access


All libraries in St. Lawrence County offer free internet access to visitors. Some libraries offer desktop computers while others also have laptops or tablets that may be used throughout the library building. A few libraries also allow patrons to borrow e-readers to take home for a limited period of time.

Libraries offer wi-fi access for your smart devices or laptops. Wi-fi range is usually throughout the entire building, and may extend outside to the parking lot or lawn where it may be accessed after hours. If you want to relax and surf the internet or check your email, library wi-fi can help save on mobile data charges.

Computer and internet access is a valuable resource to many of our residents who don’t need or can’t afford high-speed internet access at home. Using library computers provides job-seekers with resources to search for jobs, update resumes, apply for positions online, or take job-placement tests. Students use library computers to do research, complete homework, and take practice exams outside of the classroom. Young children use our library computers to access educational software programs that promote reading and math skills.

Library computers are also connected to many resources and databases such as, America’s Historical Newspapers, Overdrive (eBooks), and Consumer Reports Magazine. Library visitors can use of these programs at no charge while visiting the library.

Even residents with internet access at home often make use of our computer and technology resources. For people who rarely have need to use a printer, visiting the library can be a true cost-saving measure. Libraries typically charge a small fee for printing, but that fee can be minimal compared to the cost of purchasing a printer, paper, and ink or toner cartridges. As more people eliminate landline telephones, the library can help with scanning and faxing documents for a small fee.

Computer use and internet access is provided at no charge by your local public library. Next time you need a computer, printer, copier, or fax machine, stop in your library and make use of our services. Printing, copying, and faxing service fees are minimal and can save you the cost of having those devices at home. We are here to provide access and information to everyone - be sure to stop and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. The library in Lisbon offers four desktops and two laptops for patron use. Services in Lisbon include printing, copying, and faxing in black and white or color.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County Libraries
Offer Discount Museum Passes


Did you know that many of our local libraries offer discount museum passes that may be borrowed with your library card? This summer, libraries are lending passes to The Adirondack Experience and The Wild Center.

The Adirondack Experience (formerly the Adirondack Museum) is located in Blue Mountain Lake and provides 121 sprawling acres and over two dozen buildings and exhibition spaces to explore. A visit to the Adirondack Experience is action-packed, entertaining, educational, and fun for the entire family. From feeding trout, to bird watching, to interacting with craftsmen as they ply their trades, to strolling gallery after gallery of Adirondack art, photography, furniture, tools, cabins, boats and more, the Adirondack Experience has something for everyone.

The Library Pass for the Adirondack Museum provides a 50% admission discount for up to four adults, or two adults and all children age 17 and under. Regular admission prices are $20 for adults and $12 for children.

The Adirondack Experience opens for the 2017 season on May 26 and is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. More information may be found at

Adirondack Experience Passes are available from the following libraries: Canton Free Library, Clifton Community (Cranberry Lake) Library, Colton Hepburn Library, Lisbon Hepburn Library, Massena Public Library, Ogdensburg Public Library, and Norwood Public Library.

The Wild Center is located in Tupper Lake and consists of an 81-acre campus with forests, a winding river, a trout-filled pond, and trail walks. The Wild Walk takes visitors up a trail of bridges to the treetops of the Adirondack forest. It’s designed to transform the way people see into the natural world. Exhibits help visitors develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the inner workings of nature in the Adirondack region.

The Library Pass for The Wild Center provides discount admission on two adults at $10 each and free admission to children under age 17. Regular admission prices are $17 for adults and $10 for children.

The Wild Center opens for the 2017 on May 5 with weekend hours until Memorial Day weekend. Starting May 26, they are open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. More information may be found at

The Wild Center Discovery Passes are available from the following libraries: Canton Free Library, Clifton Community (Cranberry Lake) Library, Lisbon Hepburn Library, Massena Public Library, Ogdensburg Public Library, and Norwood Public Library.

Museum passes may be borrowed from the owning library and are not available through interlibrary loan. As a general rule, museum passes may be borrowed for three to seven days, although users should confirm details with their local library. Contact information for all libraries in the North Country Library System may be found at - check us out online and see what else we have to offer!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is a museum junkie and visited six museums in the past year.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County Libraries Offer
Many Options for Children’s Storytime Programs


 Children’s Storytime is a mainstay of public libraries and continues to be a popular program in many St. Lawrence County libraries.

Libraries host storytime for a wide variety of reasons that may include entertainment and community outreach. Beyond the fun, however, are the more serious goals of engaging children in the written word, helping children develop creative imaginations, and encouraging early literacy skills.

Reading aloud to children helps enhance language proficiency by introducing new words and phrases. Many stories are written in rhymes or use repetition to help children model pronunciation, recall what has been read, and predict what is coming on the next page. Reading aloud helps children see the way a story develops through structure and sequence, broadens horizons by exposing children to different cultures and stories, and creates real-world connections.

Storytime helps promote communication skills by encouraging children to sing, repeat rhymes, answer questions, and talk about their ideas. Listening to a story helps children focus, and allows them to improve their memory by engaging in meaningful conversations about the characters and actions in the story. Looking at pictures and talking about what they see encourages imagination and creativity.

Depending on the target age, storytime activities often include singing, rhyming, and playing with musical instruments. Other activities include finger plays, flannel board stories, and simple crafts that tie into seasonal or holiday themes.

Storytime at the library lets children of similar ages get together and play before or after the event, allows parents to meet and socialize, and introduces families to the wide variety of library books and other materials geared specifically to children and families.

Within St. Lawrence County, we have a wide variety of early literacy and storytime programs at our public libraries. Some programs are drop-in, and others require pre-registration. Please contact the individual library for more information.

On Mondays at 10:30 am, the Canton Free Library offers Toddler Storytime for ages 18-35 months. Children and their caregivers enjoy books, flannel board stories, finger plays, music, and craft activities.

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon offers Storytime on the third Monday of each month at 6:00 pm. The focus is on reading several books and doing a craft.

On Tuesdays, the Hepburn Library of Waddington offers Tot Time at 10:00 am for ages 0-2. Everyone gets to hold their own simple board book which they read. After the story, the children get to play, color, and put a puzzle together.

Also at 10:00 am on Tuesdays, the Ogdensburg Public Library offers Music and Movement for toddlers age 2-4. The program focuses on teaching social skills and following directions.

A third choice on Tuesdays at 10:00 am is at the Canton Free Library. Baby Storytime is geared for birth-18 months and a caregiver. Participants read books, perform bounce rhymes, sing songs, do finger plays, and socialize.

One Tuesday a month, the Canton Free Library offers Books and Beyond for Kindergarten-2nd grade. The program features books, games, and crafts.

The Hepburn Library of Norfolk offers storytime geared for ages 3-5 every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The program includes stories in flannel or book form, coloring sheets, songs, rhymes, poems, finger plays, and crafts.

On Wednesdays at 10:00 am, The Reading Room Association of Gouverneur offers a storytime with stories and crafts. Their program targets babies to pre-schoolers.

At 10:30 am on Wednesdays, the Hopkinton Reading Center hosts a preschool storytime for ages 2-5. They sing songs, read stories, do finger plays, and flannel boards. There is a craft related to the theme each week plus time for free play and picking out books to take home.

The Canton Free Library offers Preschool Storytime for 3-5 year olds and a caregiver every Wednesday at 10:30 am. The program includes books, flannel board stories, songs, finger plays, movement, and crafts.

Also on Wednesday at 10:30 am, the Potsdam Public Library hosts Storytime (ages 2 and up) where they enjoy stories, songs, and movement activities that match the ages and attention spans of the children attending.

Another choice on Wednesdays at 10:30 am is at the Ogdensburg Public Library. Storytime for ages 3-5 starts with playtime and includes books, songs, and crafts.

On Fridays at 10:00 am, the Waddington Library offers a Pre-K Storytime for ages 3-5. After a story is read aloud, the children do a craft, followed by time to play, color, and work puzzles.

The Norwood Public Library offers a weekly Read, Sing, Play program on Fridays at 10:30 am. All ages are welcome and they read books, do fingerplays, flannel boards, songs, and sometimes use simple instruments.

Also at 10:30 on Friday, the Potsdam Public Library hosts Storytime where children ages 2 and up are introduced to books and reading.

On Saturday at 10:30 am, the Ogdensburg Public Library offers Storytime for ages 3-5. The program strives to encourage a love of reading in young children. .

The Potsdam Public Library offers Library Babies on Saturdays at 11:00 am. This program is for infants aged 6-24 months and their caregivers. Caregivers sit with babies and actively participate in songs, fingerplays, tickles, rhymes, and simple books. Following circle time, children play while adults have time to chat.

Some libraries offer special programs throughout the year. The Waddington Library offers a Family Story Hour on certain Wednesdays. The Lisbon Library offers extra storytime activities during school breaks or holidays. Many libraries offer additional literacy programs during the summer.

We encourage you to visit the library for early literacy programs - there’s something almost every day at one of our county libraries. Each library offers something different, targeting different age groups and interests. Most libraries maintain program schedules and registration information on their website or Facebook page. Check us out….there are plenty of activities for all ages at your local public library!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Her favorite read-aloud storytime books focus on animals and transportation.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

100 Years Ago, A. Barton Hepburn
Offered Lisbon the Gift of a Library


 In mid-1917, philanthropist and financier, Alonzo Barton Hepburn approached the Town of Lisbon with a proposal to build a library for its residents. Mr. Hepburn was a locally born philanthropist and banker from Colton who gifted libraries to seven St. Lawrence County communities: Colton, Madrid, Lisbon, Hermon, Norfolk, Waddington, and Edwards.

The conditions of the gift were quite simple: Mr Hepburn would pay to erect a “substantial and credible Library building”, furnish and equip the Library, and provide a small endowment. In exchange, the Town of Lisbon would need to pass the proposition by a two-thirds majority of its residents, and agree to maintain the library through taxation or other means of “appropriate support”. Subsequent to the agreement, New York State library laws and regulations have changed, but the fundamental purpose of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon has remained the same as envisioned by A. Barton Hepburn one-hundred years ago.

In late 1917, the cornerstone of the library was laid in Lisbon as the third of the Hepburn libraries. However, Lisbon was the last of the seven libraries to be completed as it took three years to construct, finally opening on April 3, 1920. Mr. Hepburn’s philosophy was that the library would serve as a repository of books and other learning materials, yet also contain facilities for meetings and large gatherings. Although the library’s collection, programs, and services have grown and changed with the times, the library’s community aspect has remained much the same.

Although the Hepburn libraries share common features - all were constructed with first floor community rooms and second floor reading rooms, the Hepburn Library of Lisbon is architecturally unique among its peers. The library in Lisbon is the only building that mixes a Colonial Revival influence with Richardsonian and Tudor motifs. In addition, the yellow masonry chosen for the Lisbon Library is not only unique among the Hepburn libraries, but rarely seen in St. Lawrence County. Much speculation abounds with respect to the anomalies in Lisbon, but certainly the choice of a different architect was a major factor.

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon was designed by Samuel Williams of Ogdensburg, whereas the other six Hepburn libraries were designed by Erick Rossiter of New York City. Mr. Williams envisioned a first-floor entry with a single, stout Romanesque column rather than the monumental exterior staircase with imposing columns seen in other Hepburn facades. It is believed that Mr. Hepburn was quite pleased with Mr. Williams’ work on the Hepburn Hospital in Ogdensburg and wished to continue working with him on other projects, including the library in Lisbon.

In June 1918, the contract for constructing the library was given to the lowest bidder, J.D. Flack of Heuvelton, in the amount of $26,000. Mr. Flack’s bid undercut that of C.E. Castle of Ogdensburg, the builder of the Hepburn Libraries of Waddington, Hermon, Edwards, and Madrid. Unfortunately, Mr. Flack encountered trouble finding regular workers and, in late 1918, relied on the volunteer townsfolk of Lisbon to help ensure the library was covered by a roof before winter set in. In total, construction of the library took almost two years from start to finish.

Once completed, however, the library thrived. A large number of book donations were given by Jennie Purvis of NYC and the Ss. Philip & James Church Altar and Rosary Society of Lisbon. According to Librarian Esther Smith in her 1920 report to the state, the library possessed 2,585 items. Today, the library possesses over 19,500 physical items and over 6,000 downloadable e-books. In 1920, the library hosted the Fathers and Sons Banquet, a series of lectures on Americanization, a Red Cross sewing circle, a girls’ home project club, the Boy Scouts, a baby clinic, and many social functions. In 2017, the library’s community room continues to be busy with civic and social groups, arts and crafts programs, and private parties of up to 100 people.

St. Lawrence County is fortunate to have so many beautiful, historic libraries. If you have the opportunity to visit Lisbon, stop by the Hepburn Library and check us out - we are always happy to talk about the history of the library and give visitors a tour. Or, visit another of our county libraries for what is sure to be an adventure!

Special thanks to Pyperanne Bender, a ninth grade student at Lisbon Central School, who tirelessly researched the library’s archived files to earn her Silver Award as a Girl Scout Cadette in 2016. Pyper is a dedicated library volunteer who likes drawing and reading.

Additionally, special thanks to Matthew Shoen, a former Lisbon resident now working in Buffalo as an architectural historian. Matt worked for many months researching old newspaper articles and historic documents while writing and submitting a very detailed application to the National Historic Register on behalf of the library.

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. A copy of Pyper and Matt’s research is available in the library for anyone interested in reading it, and Michelle is happy to give library tours to interested visitors.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County Libraries
Observe National Library Week


 National Library Week will be observed April 9-15, 2017 with the theme, "Libraries Transform." First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

St. Lawrence County libraries will be offering a variety of special programs in addition to regular activities and events.

Several libraries will be offering amnesty on library fines. The Massena Public Library will forgive overdue fines when library materials are returned. The Lisbon Hepburn Library will waive fines on their long-overdue materials when a patron returns the lost item to the circulation desk along with a donation for the Girl Scout Disaster Relief Project. At the Ogdensburg Public Library, bring your overdue item along with an item for the food pantry to have your fine waived.

The Ogdensburg Public Library and the Norwood Public Library will be offering free coffee and refreshments all week. Ogdensburg will also be offering a “Book Tasting” where visitors can borrow a specially wrapped book, sight unseen, in order to get a taste of a new book series.

Other activities scheduled throughout the county include:

Monday, April 10: The Lisbon Hepburn Library and Massena Public Library will be hosting Patron Appreciation Day with free snacks. At 3:30 pm, seniors can join the Silver Sneakers exercise program at the Ogdensburg Public Library.

Tuesday, April 11: The Massena Public Library will be hosting a Storytime Easter Party at 10:30 am and a Book Sale from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. At 1:30 pm, Paul Hetzler from the Cornell Cooperative Extension will be leading a Seed Saving workshop at the Ogdensburg Public Library. The Lisbon Hepburn Library will be building Lego projects from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

Wednesday, April 12: Massena Public Library’s Book Sale continues from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. At the Ogdensburg Public Library, stop in at 10:00 am for their Adult Coloring Circle and at 10:30 for their Senior Social Hour. The Waddington Hepburn Library will be hosting a family story hour from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm, followed by a cooking class from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Thursday, April 13: At 2:00 pm, the Waddington Hepburn Library will be presenting “Growing Up on Ogden Island”, the Massena Public Library will be showing “Hidden Figures” on their big screen, and the Ogdensburg Public Library will be teaching a class on Kanzashi Flower Making. At 6:00 pm, children at the Lisbon Hepburn Library will be making Easter crafts. The Norwood Public Library will be hosting an author visit at 6:30 pm when Paul Graham, SLU professor and author of In Memory of Bread: a memoir, will speak about his experience developing celiac disease and giving up gluten.

Friday, April 14: The Lisbon Hepburn Library will be coloring bookmarks from 10:00 am to noon. At 10:30 am, the Norwood Public Library will be offering their Read, Sing, and Play program. The Waddington Hepburn Library will be making Easter Crafts.

Saturday, April 15: At 11:00 am, the Ogdensburg Public Library will be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt.

Some programs require pre-registration, so be sure to phone your local library, or visit their website or Facebook page for more information. There are plenty of activities happening during National Library Week, so be sure to check us out… there’s something for everyone!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Stop in and say “hello” during National Library Week!

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!


St. Lawrence County Libraries Offer More Than Just Books


 Have you ever thought about the value your local public library brings to your community? We all pay for library services in some manner - through federal, state, and local funding. In St. Lawrence County, the vast majority of library funding comes from local sources - through our towns, villages, school districts, or special legislative districts. So, what kind of value are you receiving for your money?

Our communities benefit from libraries every day as we strive to serve all residents in different capacities. As one would expect, all of our county libraries offer printed books and magazines for children, teens, and adults. Most libraries also have newspapers, books on CD or tape, and Blu-Ray or DVD videos available to borrow. If you’re looking for a specific title that isn’t at your local library, you can often borrow it through inter-library loan.

In addition to traditional materials, our libraries offer e-books, audio books, and e-magazines that can be downloaded to your phone, iPad, or Kindle device. Our St. Lawrence County libraries also lend non-traditional items such as tools, cake pans, canning supplies, board games, jigsaw puzzles, and fishing poles.

All of our libraries offer internet access and business services such as printing, copying, and faxing. Some libraries offer scanning, laminating, and 3-D printing. Kindles,Nooks, and assistive devices are available at a few libraries. Many visitors use the library as a resource for completing homework, accessing tutoring services, taking tests, writing resumes, and applying for jobs.

Our libraries are also social and educational resources in our communities. Many libraries offer a variety of programs that promote early literacy - we have baby, toddler, and pre-school story-time programs that feature a combination of music, reading, and craft projects. Libraries offer STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and makerspace programs for tweens and teens, plus book clubs, Lego clubs, cooking classes, and board game days. In addition, some libraries host puppet shows, musicians, movie nights, reptile, and zoo program.

Adult activities often include book clubs, craft days, paint nights, informational lectures, and computer learning programs. Several libraries lend discount passes to area museums. Many libraries have conference or community rooms that can seat anywhere from a dozen to one hundred people - some libraries offer space solely to non-profit community groups and some rent space for private parties and events.

What value can you place on the services you receive? There’s an online calculator at that helps quantify the dollar value of the library for those who use library services - whether as a frequent or infrequent user.

To give an example, a family of four can save a minimum of $2,408 a year just by visiting the library once a week. How are they saving that much money? Imagine this: one adult borrows a book a month, the second adult borrows one magazine a month, each child borrows a book a week, the family borrows a DVD once a week, and the kids attend a monthly youth program. Considering the cost of an average hardback book ($17), a magazine ($5), a downloadable movie ($4), and an hour of entertainment ($7), the potential savings earned with a library card adds up quickly!

Even those who never visit the library benefit from its services. Libraries are the hub of community-building where people of all ages meet, socialize, discuss, and share among themselves. Libraries educate residents on not only academic topics, but on social and political issues. Libraries are a great equalizer in bringing information and resources to all people, and libraries are champions of information access and intellectual freedom. By sharing materials, libraries are economically efficient with a high return on investment (ROI) where a single item (a book or even a fax machine) is used multiple times and shared by many households. Libraries benefit everyone in our community through direct or indirect means.

I challenge you to calculate the value of your library card, or to visit your local library and see what it has to offer. There’s a lot to gain from just checking us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She estimates her library card value at a minimum of $2,124 per year - primarily in the form of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and adult programs.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Seed Libraries are Sprouting Up in
St. Lawrence County Libraries


 Spring is officially here, and it’s time to start thinking about summer gardens! Several libraries in St. Lawrence County offer what is commonly called a “Seed Library” where community members can borrow, share, and donate all varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seeds.

The benefits of a seed lending library are many: it is a way to have fun, build relationships with fellow gardeners, and share resources among neighbors. Seed libraries offer an efficient and sustainable way to share community resources. They encourage experimentation, affording gardeners (or aspiring gardeners) a low-risk way to try something new.

The way a seed library works is very simple: in the spring, gardeners “borrow” seeds from the library and donate unused or surplus packets of commercial seeds for others to share. At the end of the growing season, gardeners save seeds from the plants they’ve grown and return a portion of the seeds to the library. The library stores the seeds for the winter and makes them available to users once spring arrives.

Locally, two libraries have established seed collections: the Ogdensburg Public Library is on its fifth year and the Hepburn Library of Lisbon is on its third. Both libraries offer an assortment of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seeds. Some seeds are organic, non-GMO varieties, and some are hybrids or heirlooms, depending on what has been donated by local gardeners.

The Potsdam Public Library is in the process of implementing a seed library this year and is hosting a “Seed and Plant Sharing” event on April 15th from noon to 2:00 pm. Potsdam is also planning to host a program on seed saving later in the season.

Other libraries participate in gardening programs. The Morristown Public Library has a youth garden club that worked with local volunteers and businesses last summer to design and build a raised 4x8 foot garden bed. The children planted vegetable seeds and cared for the garden throughout the growing season. At harvest time, a local volunteer helped the kids prepare a meal using fresh vegetables from the library’s garden.

The Canton Free Library offers a tool library that has more than a dozen garden and lawn tools that may be borrowed by county residents with a library card. Items include a bulb planter, garden cart, pruners, clippers, shears, and more.

The Norwood Public Library offers a variety of canning equipment that may be borrowed by county residents with a library card. Norwood has several canning guides, multiple sets of canning utensils, and both pressure and water-bath canners.

Libraries are a great resource for books and magazines on gardening, landscaping, and food preservation. Most books and some magazines are searchable in our online catalog at For example, the Canton Free Library subscribes to MaryJanesFarm, Cooking Light, and Cook’s Illustrated. The Hepburn Library of Colton subscribe to Country Gardens, Northern Gardener, and Rodale’s Organic Gardening. The Reading Room Association of Gouverneur subscribes to Garden Gate and the Ogdensburg Public Library subscribes to Better Homes & Gardens.

Many of our gardening and food magazines are not cataloged, but may be checked out by visiting the library that subscribes to a specific title. For example, the Hepburn Library of Lisbon offers Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times, and Veg(an) News. The Norwood Public Library subscribes to Fine Gardening.

For more information about seed libraries, gardening, food preparation, and food preservation, contact one of the libraries above, or stop in and see what’s available. Your local public library is a great resource…. so check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She plants a variety of herbs and flowers every spring, but relies heavily on the farmers market and local roadside stands for most of her fresh summer produce.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County Libraries Offer
Free Access to Consumer Reports Online


 Many libraries offer the print edition of Consumer Reports magazine for patrons to read in the library or to borrow and take home. What if the issue you need is checked out to another patron, or your library doesn’t have the space to store last year’s back issues? Unlimited access to Consumer Reports Online is available for free simply by using your library card.

Doing research takes time. Choosing the wrong product wastes money. Consumer Reports Online provides the user with a comprehensive archive of expert, unbiased reviews to help the reader make the right purchasing decision every time. Online access is normally $35.00 per year, but is free to library card holders.

The online site provides access to articles and blog posts, as well as video, slide shows and other multimedia features. All of the features are available on a computer, mobile browser, or smartphone app which makes it easy to check reviews from home or while shopping in a store. Access also includes ratings, reviews, expert buying advice, product comparisons, consumer user reviews, and video clips for over 7,000 items including electronics, appliances, home & garden, automobiles, baby gear, and food products.

To access Consumer Reports Online, go to the North Country Library System’s website at and click on the Consumer Reports button. You’ll be prompted to enter your library card and PIN numbers.

In addition to Consumer Reports Online, the library offers sixty-seven digital magazine subscriptions via our Overdrive Magazine service. Magazine titles that include product reviews are Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Sound & Vision, PC World, and Macworld. A link to the Overdrive Magazine collection is also available from the NCLS home page.

Access to our online subscriptions is entirely free as long as you have a library card - if you don’t have one, visit your local library and sign up - all you need is photo identification and proof of address. While you’re there, check out all your library has to offer - you’re sure to find something new!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She actively uses Consumer Reports prior to making purchasing decisions for work and home.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Meet Penny Kerfien,
Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Public Library


I recently had the opportunity to sit and chat with Penny J. Kerfien, the Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Public Library. We met in the second floor auditorium which provides visitors with a sweeping vista of historic Library Park, the waterfront, and the St. Lawrence River.

Penny was supervising dedicated library volunteers who were stuffing and addressing fundraising letters for library card holders in the Ogdensburg service area. Penny and her Board of Trustees are spearheading a combination of fundraising initiatives and an upcoming ballot referendum to help support the library’s goal to provide materials, information, services, and programs for the enrichment of the Ogdensburg community.

I’ve known Penny for a number of years as a professional colleague - Penny is well-respected among her peers as a dedicated library advocate, mentor, and champion of children's literacy.

Penny is a native of Oswego County and grew up in Volney, a small town near Fulton. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in library science because she is a true bibliophile, enjoys working with people, and delights in connecting readers with a book that they love. Penny holds a Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from Syracuse University and has worked in the library field for most of her adult life. Her first library job was working as a librarian and computer teacher at St. Mary’s School in Oswego, and she is the former director of the Fulton Public Library.

Penny came north to St. Lawrence County in 2014 to head up the Ogdensburg Public Library where she is seen most days interacting not only with staff, but with the many visitors who stop by the library to check out a book, use the computer, or just relax with the daily newspapers. When the position of library director became available, Penny knew she wanted to work here because she enjoys the quiet community environment of small town and rural living. She is fortunate to have family living in Potsdam, including two great-nephews and a great-niece, all of whom she adores and visits as often as possible to watch them grow up. In fact, Penny’s office has a number of photos featuring the kids.

Penny enjoys not only reading, but photography and the outdoors. She vacations in the Adirondacks, at a friend’s camp, or in Maine. She reads a mix of fiction and non-fiction, and is currently torn between reading Hidden Figures or The Cellist of Sarajevo. She also has a large collection of vintage Nancy Drew books.

Penny is the primary caretaker for Sophie, the library’s pet red-ear slider turtle who was rescued in December 2015. Recently, Penny was helping set up Sophie’s new habitat and almost fell head first into the miniature pond. Penny laughs when telling the story, and is grateful for the bevy of patrons who would have been happy to rescue her! She reports that Sophie has an interesting personality that is both stubborn and inquisitive, and that Sophie has brought much joy to library visitors as they observe and interact with her on a daily basis.

Most mornings, visitors will find Penny taking a quick tour around the library, assisting patrons, answering questions, and ensuring that everything is running smoothly. Lunchtime will find Penny walking Sophie around the park, or grabbing a quick meal with friends at a local restaurant.

Penny is grateful for the warm welcome she has received in the Ogdensburg community. She brings a refreshing atmosphere to the library where everyone - children and adults - can feel at home. Penny and her staff are dedicated to providing the community with an inviting and responsive library that is integral to the city and surrounding environs. Her goals for 2017 are to increase library usage, help people find what they want, and showcase what the library has to offer. When asked where does she see the library in five years, her response is that the library will be a vital part of the community and the information center for everyone.

So, the next time you’re in Ogdensburg, stop by the library and say “Hello” to Penny, Sophie the Turtle, and the rest of the library staff and volunteers!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She has worked with Penny Kerfien on a number of projects within St. Lawrence County and the North Country Library System.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Libraries Offer
Book-Club-In-A-Bag Program to the Community


 Are you a member of a local book club? Looking to start one? Your local library’s Book-Club-In-A-Bag service can provide you with everything you need for your next discussion!

The North Country Library System (NCLS) has ready-made book club kits packaged and ready to lend to book clubs within our service area. Kits include a canvas bag containing twelve paperback copies of each title and a printed list of discussion questions curated by professional library staff.

Book Clubs are a great way to meet new people, expand your reading list, engage in stimulating discussion, and take a break from everyday life. Some book clubs are highly social while others are more academic. Book clubs may focus on a specific genre of books, or may choose a diverse set of titles from month to month. Each book club has a unique personality and vision.

Book-Club-In-A-Bag kits can be checked out for six weeks, and they can be picked up and returned at any NCLS member library. We currently have forty-three titles in multiple genres, including “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, The Martian by Andy Weir, The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan, and The Girls From Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. A full list is available online from the NCLS catalog by searching for Book-Club-In-A-Bag, or click here.

If you’re looking to start a book club or join an existing one, just ask your local library staff - many libraries host book clubs or can direct you to other groups within the community. If you’re looking for a Book-Club-In-A-Bag kit, you can place one on reserve at your library, or from home by logging into the NCLS catalog with your library card.

Whether you’re interested in a book club, or reading independently, there’s something for everyone at your local library… stop in and check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She is currently reading “A Darkness Absolute”, a detective thriller set in the Yukon wilderness, written by Canadian author Kelley Armstrong.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County libraries offer book

recommendations through Beanstack


Beanstack is a free reader’s advisory service that curates and recommends children’s books available within the North Country Library System. For many kids, figuring out what to read can be intimidating, especially since we have over 75,000 different juvenile titles within our sixty-five libraries!

Beanstack is easy to use - parents and caregivers create an online account and register children as participants. Although the program requires some adult contact information, children can be identified simply by a nickname and age.

In order to provide book suggestions, participants are asked to input their reading level and select up to three subjects, three genres, and three types of characters they enjoy reading about. Then, Beanstack’s algorithms select and suggest books that match the child’s preferences. Clicking on a title brings the reader to the North Country Library System’s online catalog where parents and kids can view more information, locate the book in a specific library, or request the item through interlibrary loan.

Kids can maintain a log of books read and earn badges as they reach incremental goals. Users can opt-in to receive weekly or bi-weekly book recommendations via email, and can change their preferences as children grow and interests change. Other features include a wish list of books to read, book list recommendations, and educational apps for Android and iOS devices.

In addition, there are over seventy-five themed guides covering a wide range of topics: seasons, animals, geography, history, culture, and many more. Themed guides typically include an extensive book list, activities, craft projects, and ideas to integrate reading with other forms of experiential learning.

Beanstack may be used in the library, at home, or on a mobile device. Beanstack is available and free to everyone with additional features unlocked for library card holders. To access Beanstack, go to the North Country Library System website at and click on the Beanstack graphic on the right-hand side of the page.

Explore Beanstack’s juvenile book suggestions and visit your local library… there’s sure to be something of interest, so check us out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She enjoys recommending books to young readers, and her favorite picture book is “We Are in a Book!” by Mo Willems.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

Hepburn Library of Lisbon lends 10,000 items in 2016


The Hepburn Library of Lisbon has been serving the community for ninety-six years and is committed to providing quality service to those who visit and partake in its programs and services.

In 2016, the library hosted 9,230 visitors who borrowed library materials, accessed the internet, participated in a library-sponsored programs, attended an event in the community room, or sought a quiet place to read, study, or visit with friends.

The library offered 84 programs to the community for all ages with an attendance of over 1,000 individuals. Library programs included story times, movie nights, craft days, nutrition classes, makerspace projects, fitness classes, informational lectures, and painting classes. The library participated in Halloween Trick or Treat, Train Day at the Museum, Homecoming Weekend, and the regional Battle of the Books competition.

The library hosted 87 community and private groups who used the community room for meetings, birthday parties, baby showers, and other social activities. The library routinely hosts meetings for the Lions, Trappers, and Sportsmen groups.

The library collaborated with the Lisbon Beach and Campground by providing paperback books to campers, the museum by reading books aloud to kids, the Lights on the River organization by providing a holiday display, and the school by actively participating in and promoting the FROGS program for young readers.

The library provided computer access for 1,200 individuals, many of whom filled out job applications, typed and printed resumes, and worked on homework assignments. Over 600 people accessed the wireless network with laptops and other mobile devices.

The library circulated 6,000 books, 2,000 DVDs, 900 magazines, 200 miscellaneous items, and 1,100 electronic materials for a grand total of 10,221 items. Circulation was evenly split between items geared toward children and adults.

The library houses 19,000 physical items that may be borrowed with a library card, plus 6,300 downloadable ebooks accessible through the North Country Library System’s Overdrive collection.

The Hepburn Library of Lisbon is open twenty-five hours per week: Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Wednesday from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, and Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

The library’s Board of Trustees includes Barbara Shoemaker, David Walker, Angela Martin, Maria Rockhill, and Carroll Roy. The Board meets most months on the second Monday at 6:00 pm.

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She began working at the library in 2009 and has been the the Director since 2010. Other staff include Malcolm Casselman as the library assistant and Scott Skiff as the building and grounds caretaker.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County libraries offer free
access to


 Did you know your public library offers access to at no charge? Ancestry’s Library Edition is a budget-friendly way to access most of’s collections and databases from within your local library.

Ancestry includes census, vital, church, court, military, and immigration records along with family histories, photos, and maps from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and other areas of the world. The collection contains thousands of databases, over 30,000 record collections, millions of historical photos, and over 11 billion names - all searchable with the click of a mouse. Record collections date all the way back to the 1500’s and include narratives, oral histories, indexes, and abstracts to other online and print resources.

The U.S. collection delivers hundreds of millions of names from sources such as census, birth, death, and marriage records, plus the Social Security Death Index, U.S. border crossing, and trans-ocean ship records. The Military collection provides over 150 million records containing information often not found elsewhere, from the colonial to the modern era. A search of the Multimedia collection produces millions of files ranging from family and gravestone photos to postcards and newsreels.

Ancestry has become a valuable resource in our public libraries for patrons just starting to research family history, or for those looking to expand existing family trees. Stop by any library in the North Country Library System to access our subscription.

The world of genealogical records library patrons can access at no charge is well worth checking out!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Her ancestors sailed on the Ship Patience from Germany in the early 1800’s and settled in Western Maryland, where many of them continue to live today.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County libraries offer
over 500 continuing education classes


Did you know that your library card gives you access to over 500 Continuing Education classes at no charge? Classes are available online and cover a wide variety of topics to enhance your personal life, expand job-related skills, or boost academic knowledge.

Universal Classes are self-directed with lessons, assignments, exams, discussion boards, and an instructor to help you master the content. Students receive actual grades and, upon successful completion of the course, a certificate and CEUs (Continuing Education Units). Most courses are worth 1.0 to 2.0 CEUs and require ten to twenty hours to complete.

Class offerings for parents, families, and individuals cover a wide spectrum. There are classes on parenting skills, wellness, home improvement, gardening, nutrition, hobbies, and caring for aging parents.

Business owners and employees can benefit from classes on life coaching, bookkeeping, internet marketing, business management, resolving workplace conflicts, and writing effective policy manuals.

Are you heading back to school and need to brush up on forgotten topics? There are classes on math, history, science, writing, and GED test preparation.

With a catalog of over 500 classes, there’s something for almost everyone. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn, for free, in the comfort of your home. If you don’t have an internet connection, no problem - every public library has computers and internet access available at no charge.

Classes are available to anyone with a library card and may be accessed online at - just look for the Universal Class banner on the right hand side of the page. You’ll need to register using your the barcode on the back of your library card. If you don’t have a card, just stop by your local library and sign up - library cards are free and may be used at all public libraries in St. Lawrence County and the rest of the North Country Library System.

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She’s currently enrolled in Soap Making 101 and looking forward to taking a class on SEO Copywriting.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County libraries offer
almost 30,000 DVDs to patrons


 Libraries have been lending movies and television episodes for many years and our collections have been growing steadily. Overall, we have 29,840 DVD and Blu-Ray discs available in our St. Lawrence County libraries, plus an additional 40,000 available through interlibrary loan from other libraries in the North Country Library System.

In many libraries, DVDs are very popular - last year NCLS libraries circulated over 178,000 DVD titles to North Country residents. Within St. Lawrence County, our largest collections are in Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Massena, Colton, Canton, and Lisbon.

Our catalog spans the entire history of filmmaking from classic black & white movies all the way up to this week’s newest releases. For adults, we have almost every genre available including comedy, horror, drama, action, thriller, and anime. We have family-friendly theatrical releases along with a wide variety of television characters from Disney, Nickelodeon, PBS, and more. Many of our libraries offer documentary, self-help, exercise, how-to, and other educational titles. We also own many popular television shows including Game of Thrones, NCIS, and Breaking Bad.

If you prefer the Blu-Ray format over DVD, our libraries are expanding our collections to include more titles in high-definition. Lisbon and Ogdensburg have the two largest selections of Blu-Ray discs in St. Lawrence County.

So… how does one borrow from this massive collection? It’s easy! You need a library card from one of the libraries in the North Country Library System. If you don’t have a current library card, just stop by your local library and sign up - library cards are free!

Libraries generally loan DVDs and Blu-Rays for one week, and many libraries lend them at no charge to the patron. Most titles can be shipped through interlibrary loan with an arrival time of a few days to a week. Each library has its own policies regarding DVD loans, so be sure to inquire for details the first time you borrow a disc.

The next time you’re looking for a movie for date night, or something to entertain the kids for a few hours, stop by your local library and browse our video collection. Or, go online to and plug in your search terms - you can search your local library’s collection or see what’s available in all sixty-five libraries in the North Country Library System.

Check out our video collection…you’re sure to find something of interest!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. Lisbon has 377 Blu-Rays and 1,580 DVDs, including 8 new titles added just this week.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!

St. Lawrence County libraries are gearing up
for the annual Battle of the Books competition!


Battle of the Books is a quiz-style program for young readers in grades 4 through 6. Each team of four children reads twenty books, studies, practices, and competes against other teams to answer questions in a “In what book did…?” format.

Titles are selected annually by a committee of library staff who reads the books and writes questions focusing on the who, what, and where of each book’s story and characters. By the time we are finished, we’ve written over 1,000 questions in preparation for our local and regional battles.

This year, our reading list contains books that focus on all types of interesting people, animals, cultures, and circumstances. We have books about chickens, dogs, foxes, robots, and twins who play sports, go to school, explore new frontiers, make new friends, and deal with family relationships all while coping with loss, growing up, and facing challenges with dyslexia, autism, and discrimination. Whew! That’s a lot of detail to remember, which is why it’s important for everyone to work together as a team to read and study each book prior to the competition.

Kids who are interested should contact their local public library for more information and to sign up. Individual libraries hold local battles (usually late April to early May), and then send their winning team to the regional battle to compete against other libraries from St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, and Oswego counties. This year, the regional battle will be Saturday, May 20 in Gouverneur.

Visit the North Country Library System’s Battle of the Books page at for the 2017 title list and coaches guide. The books for this year’s battle are available on the shelf at many libraries, through interlibrary loan, or downloadable from our Overdrive collection - grab your library card and check one out today!

Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She’s a member of the Battle of the Books committee and is currently reading her seventh title for this year’s competition.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!


St. Lawrence County Libraries
Offer Downloadable eBooks for Free


 Did you know that your local library has almost 6,000 eBooks, audiobooks, and magazines available for download at no cost? All you need is a library card, internet access (also available at the library), and a device capable of accessing the downloadable files.

 Our public libraries share an expansive collection of electronic media that can be accessed via the North Country Library System website or OverDrive app on your smartphone or tablet. We have a wide array of books that appeal to all ages, including mysteries, romances, westerns, cookbooks, self-help books, biographies, and more. New titles are added monthly.

We also have a variety of electronic magazines including popular titles such as Better Homes & Gardens, Discover, and Newsweek.

The OverDrive app is available for Android, Apple, and Windows devices. Various file formats are also available for download and used in conjunction with not only your smartphone or tablet, but stand-alone eReaders such as the Nook, Kobo Reader, or Kindle. Audiobooks can play directly from your device through the bluetooth speakers in your car, making for an entertaining commute to and from work or school.

Did you receive a new tablet or Kindle as a holiday gift? Not sure how to get started with eBooks? It’s easy! If you have a library card, you can access our digital catalog at You just need your library card and PIN numbers to sign in and check out titles for downloading.

 If you don’t have a library card, visit your local library and register for a free card - all you need is photo identification and proof of address. While you’re there, check out all your library has to offer - you’re sure to find something new!

 Michelle McLagan is the Director of the Hepburn Library of Lisbon. She’s an avid reader, and has been known to read an eBook on her iPad, while at the same time listening to an audiobook on her smartphone.

“Check Us Out…” is a column about our St. Lawrence County public libraries. Support your local library!