About Us

Annual Report June 2008 - May 2009

Trustees & Staff


Byron Bell
Laurence Bergreen
Charles G. Berry
Ralph S. Brown Jr.
Robert A. Caro
Lyn Chase
Henry S.F. Cooper Jr.
William J. Dean
George Frelinghuysen
James Q. Griffin
Shirley Hazzard
John K. Howat
Ellen Iseman
Anthony D. Knerr
Jenny Lawrence
Linn Cary Mehta
Jean Parker Phifer
Susan L. Robbins
Theodore C. Rogers
Constance Rogers Roosevelt
Daniel M. Rossner
Jeannette Watson Sanger
Barbara H. Stanton


Mark Bartlett
Susan Chan
Keren Fleshler
Jane Goldstein
Endang Hertanto
Janet Howard
Steven McGuirl
John McKeown
Laura OíKeefe
Patrick Rayner
Ingrid Richter
Diane Srebnick
Brandi Tambasco
Carolyn Waters

Harry Abarca
Ingrid Abrams
Joel Blaha
Arevig Caprielian
Timothy Conley
Andrew Corbin
Latria Graham
Andrea A. Griffith
Matthew C. Haugen
Sara Holliday
Marie Honan
Randi Levy
George Muñoz
Heather Paulson
Peri Pignetti
Linnea Holman Savapoulas
Harriet Shapiro
Carrie Silberman
Paulina M. Valdez
Stanley Weinman
Lawrence R. Yates
Joan U. Zimmett

Jules Cohn
Florence Ercolano
Nancy Newcomb
Benjamin Platt
EdmÈe Reit
Paula Webster


Library Committees

(June 2008 - May 2009)

Executive Committee

Charles G. Berry, Chair
George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Treasurer
Daniel M. Rossner, Secretary
Ralph S. Brown, Jr.
Barbara H. Stanton

Audit Committee

Ralph S. Brown, Jr., Chair
George L.K. Frelinghuysen
Daniel M. Rossner

Finance Committee

George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Chair
Mark Bartlett
Ralph S. Brown, Jr.
James Q. Griffin
Anthony D. Knerr
Daniel Rossner
Barbara H. Stanton

Development Committee

George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Chair
Mark Bartlett
Lyn Chase
William J. Dean
John K. Howat
Ellen M. Iseman
Anthony D. Knerr
Edward C. Lord
Roger Pasquier
Susan Robbins
Theodore C. Rogers
Daniel M. Rossner
Jeannette Watson Sanger
Barbara H. Stanton
Joan U. Zimmett

Nominating Committee

Linn Cary Mehta, Chair
Lyn Chase
Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr.
George L.K. Frelinghuysen
Jenny Lawrence
Jean Parker Phifer
Jeannette Watson Sanger
Barbara H. Stanton

Building and Renovation Committee

Jean Parker Phifer, Chair
Mark Bartlett
Byron Bell
Ralph S. Brown, Jr.
Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr.
William J. Dean
Jane Goldstein
Barbara H. Stanton

Lecture and Exhibition Committee

Jeannette Watson Sanger, Chair
Mark Bartlett
Lyn Chase
Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr.
William J. Dean
Sara Elliott Holliday
Ellen M. Iseman
Jenny Lawrence
Ada Peluso
Harriet Shapiro

Book Committee

Daniel M. Rossner, Chair
Marilyn Bender Altschul
Richard Aspinwall
Mark Bartlett
Lucienne Bloch
Lyn Chase
Jules Cohn
Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr.
Laura Cowin
Peggy Edsall
Benita Eisler
Helen Evarts
Linda Fritzinger
Malcolm Goldstein
Shirley Hazzard
Steven McGuirl
Sarah Plimpton
Cynthia Saltzman

Children's Library Committee

Susan Robbins, Chair
Andrea Labov Clark
Peggy Ellis
Carolyn Goodrich
Jan Grossman
Pat Langer
Randi Levy
Louise Monjo
Raul Piñeda
Jenny Price
Jeannette Watson Sanger
Carrie Silberman
Edra Ziesk

New York City Book Awards Committee

Constance Rogers Roosevelt, Chair
Lucienne Bloch
Barbara Cohen
Jules Cohn
Ellen Feldman
Laton McCartney
Roger Pasquier
Elizabeth Barlow Rogers
Daniel M. Rossner
Cynthia Saltzman
Meg Wolitzer

Member Relations

Linn Cary Mehta, Co-Chair
Jane Goldstein, Co-Chair
Richard Aspinwall
Mark Bartlett
Ralph S. Brown, Jr.
Jules Cohn
Peggy Edsall
J.S. Ellenberger
Gayle Feldman
Maggie Jackson
Edward C. Lord
Daniel M. Rossner
Kenneth Wang

Project Cicero Organizing Committee

Laureine Greenbaum, Co-Chair
Susan L. Robbins, Co-Chair
Silda Wall, Co-Chair
Lynn Abraham
Rona Berg
Liz DeSario
DeDe Brown
Andrea Labov Clark
Roz Edelman
Tory Edelman
Emma Edelson
Peggy Ellis
Claudia Gelfond
Linda Gelfond
Taylor Goodspeed
Pat Langer
JoAnn Goodspeed
Penny Gorman
Carolyn McGown
Ellen Hay Newman
Stephanie Perassan
Cynthia Rothman
Jeryl Rothschild
Carrie Silberman
Sarabeth Spitzer
Matthew Weinstein


Library Awards

(June 2008-May 2009)

The Thirteenth Annual New York City Book Awards, 2008

The New York City Book Awards, established in 1995-96, honor books of literary quality or historical importance that, in the opinion of the selection committee, evoke the spirit or enhance appreciation of New York City.

  • Book of the Year:
    The Skyscraper and the City:
    The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York
    Gail Fenske (University of Chicago Press)


The Seventh Annual Young Writers Awards, 2009

The Young Writers Awards honor excellent writing by young Library members. Entries this year included essays, short stories, and poems on a variety of topics.


  • Gabrielle Herzig, "Lin Lin's Silk Road Diary"
  • Katherine Franco, "I Meet My Sister"
  • Noah Engelmayer, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"
  • Remi Khaghan, "A Moment I'll Never Forget"
  • Sarah Mei Yeoh-Wang, "Strings"
  • Martha Jean Epstein, "Alzheimer's"
  • Shon Arieh-Lerer, "Poultry Poetry: Polemic"


  • Asher Liftin, "The Pomegranate"
  • Mary Miller, "Assignment"
  • Elissa Watters, "Leda and the Swan" 


Report of the Chairman

Charles G. Berry
(June 2008 - May 2009)

The past year has provided both challenges and opportunities to reaffirm the value the Library has for all of us.

While our endowment has suffered, like those of so many not-for-profits, we are weathering the economy's storm reasonably well. We have avoided catastrophic losses and are taking prudent measures to brace for longer-term effects on our budget In the face or hard times ahead, it is heartening that our Annual Appeal this year surpassed all prior records. It is a testament to the dedication of our members. Equally heartening have been the expressions of appreciation and gratitude from our members who enrich their lives with our books, scholarship, and programs. In these times of economic distress, it seems particularly important that the Library sustain our members intellectually and spiritually, as they help to sustain the Library.

Our members' enjoyment and benefit are largely a function of the hard work of our marvelous staff. They continue to provide the high level of intelligent and thoughtful service we all have come to expect and appreciate. Crowding in the building has increased, particularly in the study and writing rooms, but our staff continue to do what they all do so well with good humor and tact.

We owe our Head librarian, Mark Bartlett, no small part of the credit for this. He has been a calm and diligent leader with a strong sense of service to our membership. He has an excellent working relationship with the Board and serves as an effective representative for the library with other institutions, particularly among membership libraries.

Mark's role was especially key in securing a wonderful gift to the library last year. In 2008 he was contacted by the executors of the estate of Marian Naumburg, who died in 2007 at the age of 101. Mrs. Naumburg was a great reader and supporter of libraries large and small: her late husband's family donated the Naumburg Band shell in Central Park. Her estate's executors, who were given discretion to select charitable beneficiaries of her estate's funds, informed Mark that they were considering a gift to the Society Library and asked him for proposals for the use of hypothetical grants in the amounts of S75,000, $125,000, or $250,000. I worked with Mark on our suggestions, and for many months we waited anxiously for a response. You can imagine our delight when we heard that Mrs. Naumburg's executors wanted to fund not just one of the alternatives we had presented, but all three - with an additional $50,000 - for a grand total gift of $500,000. The grants directed toward enhanced events programming and offsite

storage initiatives are already at work, and we are developing plans to make our building wheelchair-accessible.

As with the wonderful gifts in 2007 from the Peluso family and the Marshall Hornblower Trust, we are fortunate to receive these magnificent grants. They will improve our facilities and programs at a crucial time, while setting a magnificent example for other benefactors whose generosity is vital to our continued success.

In all these efforts, the contributions of Director of Development Joan Zimmett have been invaluable. Her experience and good taste have increased and improved our fundraising efforts over the last two years. Her department's work has created an atmosphere of giving that welcomed all our recent major gifts as well as the contributions of all our supporters.

This year we bid farewell to one longtime Board member and welcome a new one.

Jenny Lawrence stepped down from the Board in April after 15 years of dedicated service. In 1994 Jenny singlehandedly launched our newsletter, now a mainstay of communications for our Library community. She and former Board chair Henry S.F. Cooper Jr. co-authored the marvelous book observing our 250th anniversary - an essential reference that I keep close at hand. Jenny was also responsible for arranging the extraordinary gift of $1 million from the charitable trust established by her father, Marshall Hornblower. The Board and I sincerely thank Jenny for all she has done for the Library, and we look forward to continue working with her on projects related to the Hornblower gift.

At the same time, we are pleased to welcome to the Board someone who is already very much a part of our community, Ada Peluso. Ada and her brother, Romano, made a landmark gift in 2007, and we were delighted to name our beautiful exhibition gallery in their honor and in memory of their parents Assunta and Ignazio Peluso. Ada is chair of the Mathematics and Statistics Department at Hunter College and serves on our Lecture and Exhibition Committee.

In closing, I reiterate what a pleasure it is for me to serve as Chairman of the Library's Board. We have a wonderful group of trustees and a supportive staff that I enjoy knowing. Most rewarding, however, is being part of a community of readers, writers, and lovers of literature, history, and culture. I value the positive responses I have received to the occasional letters From the Chair published in our newsletter. They reinforce my conviction that the Society Library is an institution with unique relevance to our time. We will carry on with equanimity and creativity through decades and, I am confident, centuries to come.

Charles G. Berry,


Report of the Librarian

Mark Bartlett
(June 2008 - May 2009)

When I became Head Librarian, a trustee sent me a note of congratulation that said, "Break some windows, Mark. Let the fresh air in." The 2008-2009 year has been a year in which some fresh air has blended with our beloved traditions in exciting ways. It has been a productive and positive twelve months in many areas, including collections, events, exhibitions, member services, and, increasingly, development and fundraising.

Collections: Acquisitions, Cataloging, Rare Books, Conservation and Systems

Our collections and their use are the reason we exist and the basis for all our activities, and I am happy to report good health in this area. In terms of the growth and development of the collections, 2008 was a satisfying year. Compared to 2007, total collection additions rose by 9%, yet spending was down and the collection grew less in physical size than it has for several years-a fortunate occurrence in our crowded stacks. The broad subject areas cataloged the most (from greatest to least) were history and travel; literature and criticism, poetry, and drama; social sciences; the arts; and biography, showing a continuity in taste from previous years, although literature surpassed social sciences, and the arts topped biography.

The Acquisitions Department acquires high-quality titles that are popular with our current members and will continue to educate and entertain readers for decades to come. While this may sound like a straightforward and simple goal, disappointingly few new books fill both needs, and the department staff - Head of Acquisitions Steven McGuirl, Janet Howard, and Carolyn Waters - must remain diligent and discerning in their efforts to evaluate each new purchase or gift. Acquisitions staff examine review sources including Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Bookforum, and the New York Review of Books both to find out about new titles and to assess those requested by our members. The reviews provided by major daily newspapers across the country are checked regularly, as well as those in the UK's Economist, The Spectator, The Literary Review, and the Times Literary Supplement, among others. Publisher's catalogs and electronic mailing lists from publishers and book dealers also offer up-to-date information.

Every week also yields 15 to 40 slips from members requesting a wide range of titles, as well as messages through our online catalog and by e-mail. Mr. McGuirl evaluates each request individually, and the department is working harder to let members know when we will not be purchasing their requests, often with an alternative offer for interlibrary loan from circulation assistant Brandi Tambasco.

As well as being a member of the Library's Book Committee (chaired by Dan Rossner), Jules Cohn has collaborated with Acquisitions staff as a volunteer since 2006. Dr. Cohn energetically evaluates current publishing activity, particularly among university presses, and sends thorough, informative memos to the department with his recommendations. Through his efforts, the Library has acquired many fine books.

Bibliographies, member requests, and references in book reviews bring us overlooked titles from past years, as well. We identify thin subject areas and improve them. We update not only essential reference sets, but also updated and revised editions of older circulating works and classics made newly available. Major new translations also appear in the collection, including quality translations from parts of the world past librarians may have overlooked.

An unusually high number of book donations were added to the collection this year, about 23% more than in 2007. These came from a few large donations. The dependable stream of small donations handed to circulation staff at the desk, and a large backlog of gifts from past years. The aid of Marie Honan, Jane Goldstein and Arevig Caprielian was invaluable in organizing and evaluating these items. In 2008, we received notable donations from Daniel Leab (especially enriching our holdings on film studies and the performing arts), George LaBalme, Marion Edel and Rosanna Anderson, among others.

A wonderful newcomer in the audio book section was the complete "Arkangel Shakespeare," a set of full-cast, unabridged readings of the plays, 38 in all. Most of the actors trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and the set has been widely acclaimed. We were also pleased to purchase several titles in the British Library's "The Spoken Word" series, consisting of archival recordings of authors such as Auden, Waugh, Shaw, Wells, Graham Greene, and Ted Hughes reading their work and being interviewed. In early 2009, the Library purchased a set of 1908 campaign speeches by William Jennings Bryan and William Howard Taft. These recordings were originally played from Edison wax cylinders at public meetings in order to "broadcast" a debate, and they have survived for us to hear a century later on compact disc.

The Cataloging Department staff consists of librarians Endang Hertanto and Matthew Haugen, Rare Book Librarian Arevig Caprielian, bibliographic assistants Peri Pignelli and Timothy Conley, and the Head of Cataloging and Bibliographic Maintenance, Laura O'Keefe. The Library was sorry to bid farewell to Keren Fleshler, a staffer since 2004, but pleased to fill her vacancy internally through the promotion of Mr. Haugen. 4,752 titles were added to the catalog in calendar year 2008.

Among the rare books cataloged in 2008 were fifteen unique items, including George Sand's A Young Girl's Confession (New York: Frederick A. Brady, 1865) and Oscar Wilde's Poems (London: David Bogue, 1881). The latter included Wilde's presentation inscription to the Swedish opera singer Christine Nilsson and a laid-in letter from him, reenacting his esteem for her and referring 10 this volume as "the first copy of my volume of poems." Ms. O'Keefe is working on original cataloging of the Hammond Collection, approximately 2,000 volumes once part of a social library designed for commercial profit, representing the reading tastes of New Englanders from 1783 until about 1860. A number of these books are even rarer than anticipated: in many cases, we hold the only North American copy.

Notable readers who used our rare book holdings in 2008 included the Herman Melville scholar Steven Olsen-Smith, who examined a number of volumes that Melville consulted for his project "Melville's Marginalia Online."

The Conservation department saw a steady influx of books from circulating, closed and rare slacks. Conservator George Muñoz treated over 250 items in 2008. Treatments included such things as paper repair, map lining, board reattachment, encapsulation, re-backing, rebinding and re-housing.

Circulation numbers for 2008 prove that reports of the death of the book have been greatly exaggerated. The Library fell just shy of circulating 90,000 volumes, a 7% increase from 2007. Among the most popular titles for fiction fans were Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, and Out Stealing Horses by Peter Pellerson. Mystery and thriller fans enjoyed known authors, especially P. D. James with The Private Patient and John Le Carre's A Most Wanted Man, alongside recent discoveries like Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Talloo and Teresa Schwegel's Person of Interest. The Julian Barnes memoir Nothing To Be Frightened Of, Jeffrey Toobin's profile of the U.S. Supreme Court, The Nine, and member Simon Winchester's biography of Joseph Needham, The Man Who Loved China, were just three of the myriad nonfiction books that found many readers at the Library.

The Circulation Department works diligently to unite readers with the books they seek under the supervision of Patrick Rayner. Our 2008 circulation total was close to 90,000, and I am pleased to report that the Children's Library accounted for sixteen percent of this figure. Most members can simply consult the catalog, and then find their titles in the stacks. For those who cannot come to 79th Street, Susan Chan covers our books-by-mail program, dispatching more than 350 parcels to 57 households in 2008. For materials outside our collections, Brandi Tambasco reaches out through inter¨library loan. In 2008, we borrowed 311 items from 164 libraries in 36 states - a 65% increase from 2007. Our own resources new to the aid of fellow libraries to the tune of 180 loans to 141 libraries in 31 states.

Another way for uniting patrons and books in 2008 was the first large-scale NYSL book sale in a number of years, held November 22 in the Reference Room. Since most of the books were priced at $1 or less, our profit suggests that we sold at least 600 books to roughly 80 shoppers. Marie Honan did the heroic job of organizing and administering the book sale. The front desk lost Marty Seeger, Randi Levy, and Mike Hyziak this year, but welcomed Latria Graham and Andrew Corbin.

Head of Systems Ingrid Richter and systems assistants Matthew Haugen and Derek Stadler had a very busy year. Book cover images from late 19th and early 20th centuries were added to almost 800 records in the online catalog and an accompanying author, title, and call number web page was created. This was also the year that the Library launched its wireless network. It is currently available on the building's upper floors and receives heavy use from the fifth-floor study and writing rooms. Members are very pleased.

Systems and other Library staff offered a variety of technology and library workshops, including new classes on Microsoft Word 2007, Researching on the Internet, Microsoft Excel 2007, Digital Organization, Project MUSE, Finding Articles on the Web, Social Networking Sites and Alternative Word-Processing Programs. Instructors last year included Keren Flesher, George MuÒoz, Patrick Rayner, Ingrid Richter, Brandi Tambasco and Carolyn Waters.

Happenings: Events, Celebrations, Awards, and Exhibitions

In events, this season has seen some of the most popular events of the past eight years, as well as a number of stimulating topics and formats, and some joyous celebrations.

As events continue strong, our methods of announcing and registering for them have undergone improvements. Events and features newsletters are now published separately, with Events following the previous September/ November/ January/ March schedule and Library Notes being released about three times a year. As of September, registration policies were changed to emphasize advance registration and payment by mail or electronically. This shift has streamlined Events Office activities, increased revenue, and increased retention for individual events.

The Author Series, co-sponsored with Thirteen/WNET, enjoyed a successful twelfth season focused on current events, topical history, and the practical. Bill Moyers' discussion in light of his book Moyers on Democracy had a record attendance of almost 600, causing us to use the Temple Israel mezzanine for the first time. Events by Library members Shareen Blair Brysac and Karl Meyer on Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East, Robert Thurman on Why the Dalai Lama Matters, past WNET CEO William F. Baker on Leading With Kindness, and Lynne Sharon Schwartz on Not Now, Voyager also garnered enthusiastic responses.

Members' Room lectures included the moving, the informative, and the massively popular. At the podium were journalist and poet Tom Flynn on his epic 9/11 poem Bikeman, with powerful readings by audio book performer Jim Dale; Frances Kiernan on her biography of Brooke Astor; ballet scholar Nancy Goldner and Balanchine dancer Merrill Ashley on Ms. Goldner's book Balanchine Variations; musicologist and composer facile Wallach on Handel's Messiah; Kwame Anthony Appiah on his inspiring ethical appraisal of contemporary cosmopolitanism; journalist Maggie Jackson on the modern culture of distraction, and D. Graham Burnett on his New York City Book Award-winning history Trying Leviathan.

Performance-oriented programs had the now customary flattering response. These included a Valentine's Day celebration of New York City involving musicologist Michael Lasser, singers Sara Holliday and Shad Olsen, and pianist Brenna Sage, and an energetic interpretation of Anton Chekhov's classic Three Sisters by Bakerloo Theatre Project. In December we had a warm reception for a rich dramatic reading by Affinity Collaborative Theater of W. H. Auden's For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio. Auden was a Library member in the 19605. The Library and ACT would like to continue this collaborative venture, and we have penciled in two encore presentations of For the Time Being in December 2009.

Reading groups in the Whitridge Room are always a popular offering, and this year was no exception. Carol Rial returned once again with two new topics: "Can Political Memoirs Be Literature?" and "Nobel Laureates for Literature." When Donald McDonough led discussions on Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, he had to repeat the set to fit in all the registrants; the same happened again this fall and spring with Virgil's Aeneid, We've also been pleased to offer one group in a new format and two on entirely new topics. In the former case, writer Sallie Bingham held listeners enthralled and elicited new insights on her own stories from the collection Red Car alongside Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find," in an intensive three-day formal. In the latter, professor John Koller demonstrated the overlap in seminal texts of Buddhism and psychoanalysis, and teacher and critic B.J. Rahn shared contemporary crime and mystery novels with some of our large population who are devoted to this genre.

A unique highlight this year was the Library's collaboration with the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, who is the NEA's designate in New York to run the Big Read, The Big Read is an annual national observance encouraging many members of a community to interact with one great book. This year's book was Henry James' Washington Square, and the Library joined in with an in-depth discussion led by scholar lames Kraft and a nuanced performance of The Heiress, the play adapted from the book, by Metropolitan Playhouse. We were proud to celebrate this classic novel and to work with our sister institution the Merc.

The New York City Book Awards enjoyed an enthusiastic turnout in May. The thirteenth annual award to the best book about New York City was presented by Christopher Gray to Gail Fenske for The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Budding and the Making of Modern New York. I extend many thanks to Connie Roosevelt, outgoing chair of the Awards jury.

The Members' Room, a great space for reading, lectures, and performances, also made a pleasant venue for receptions and parties this year. These included celebrations of the Annual Meeting, New York City Book Awards, Young Writers Awards, new exhibitions, plus the Celebration of Member Writers in September, and finally, a reception for those with forty years or more of membership in December. We were glad to start a new annual tradition with a welcoming party for new members in June. All this year's events have been greatly enhanced by the new sound system purchased for the Members' Room in the late spring of 2008. We now have professional-level wireless microphones, both handheld and lavalier, and audio and video recording capacity. This would not be possible without the major contributions of our "A/V Squad," led by Ingrid Richter and including George MuÒoz, Matthew Haugen, Mike Hyziak, and Latria Graham. Excellent recordings of nearly all the events since April 2008 are now available to all from our website - a wonderful offering from our Library and a nice tool for public relations. In addition to the A/V Squad members, Carolyn Waters has also gone beyond the call of duty to aid in many aspects of events, and the physical side would not be possible without our flexible building staff.

Three of the more special occasions in the Library's history happened this year. These include the celebration of member writers in late September, the party honoring those with forty years or more of membership in December, and the launch of the exhibition The President's Wife and the Librarian. I thank everyone who worked so hard on this events, as well as Jeannette Watson Sanger, who chairs our Lecture and Exhibition Committee.

Acquisitions and reference librarian Carolyn Waters managed the celebration of member writers, planning it from six months before the special night of September 25. Thanks are also owed to Charles Berry, Chairman of the Board, and Susan Cheever, a dedicated Library member, for their remarks. The celebration recognized that the Library's community of writers - both today's community and its predecessors - is a vital part of our organization. Our current roster of writers includes journalists, editors, playwrights, television and film screenwriters, novel and short-story writers, poets, biographers, memoirists, and translators.

December 8 was a second memorable evening, when we celebrated members who have been with us for forty years or more. Thanks go to trustee Barbara H. Stanton for recruiting an excellent planning committee and ensuring the success of this first-time event, as well as to authors Thomas Fleming and Shirley Hazzard, our honored speakers. Forty-year member and journalist Barbara Lazear Ascher published an article about the celebration in the New York Times, just one example of the flattering press we have received this year. We intend to hold a comparable event every other year.

The exhibition The President's Wife and the Librarian: The Letters of Edith Kermit Roosevelt and Marion King, curated by Head of Exhibitions Harriet Shapiro, launched on April 2 with many members and guests, including a number of Roosevelt descendants, on hand. Ms. Shapiro, Wallace Dailey of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection at Harvard College Library, and Sylvia Jukes Morris, author of Edith Kermit Roosevelt: Portrait of a First Lady, gave remarks.

This exhibition was a big project, requiring almost a full academic year of work from Ms. Shapiro, including trips to Harvard College Library to examine the 588 letters Mrs. Roosevelt wrote to the Library's Marion King between 1920 and 1947. There are many fascinating elements to the story of the Roosevelt-King friendship; from my perspective, it is a reminder that the Society Library continues to allow a close bond between members and staff that is not common in many libraries, especially in this age of distraction. We were delighted to see Rebecca Mead's "A Roosevelt Reading List" in the "Talk of the Town" section of the New Yorker. As of this writing, the exhibition is still open to the public in the Peluso Family Exhibition Gallery, and its beautiful catalog is for sale at the circulation desk.

Members and Member Services: Readers and Writers Young and Old

Along with new book and event discoveries, the Library continues to attract new members: the end of 2008 topped 2007 memberships by 123, for a total of 3,183. The individual membership category, created in June 2007, grew by 130%; it seems to have both given longtime members a first chance to renew at the individual rate and to allow more people to join. Along with the individual members, the Library welcomed readers from the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction, while the Mere was closed.

Every year I like to collect a sample of the reference and research questions being asked at the desks and, increasingly, by e-mail. It is refreshing to hear the variety of information we help readers track down. Some questions were New York-specific: the history of lawn bowling in Prospect Park; the history of a carriage house at 118 East 83rd Street; information on William Gibson or Gibson Art Glass company; the rent stabilization code Subchapter B of Chapter VIII of Subtitle S of Title 9 NYCRR (New York City Rules and Regulations); and New York City weather conditions on a particular day in history. Other questions ran the gamut: pictures of Cary Grant; a Fortune magazine article about hedge fund CEOs supporting charities; how much Americans spend on exercise each year; resources for tracking down Norwegian relatives of a U.S. immigrant; the number of people imprisoned during the Civil War; where the weapons of the American Revolution came from; Martin Luther King's impact on the civil rights movement (this query from a high school student who was instructed to not use Internet resources); a literature review on the trends in philanthropy, especially leadership and accountability opportunities; and finally, "the name of a woman author who has a name that sounds like a man's and writes fiction set around World War I" (we figured out the answer: Pat Barker.)

Following last year's special report about our Children's Library, it continues to thrive, welcoming 145 new families in 2008. More than 150 families participated in programs with staff Carrie Silberman, Randi Levy, Ingrid Abrams, Rachel Henry, and Heather Paulson, including storytelling for toddlers, preschool, and elementary-age children, as well as author/illustrator programs for older children. After many years with us, Ms. Levy left the Library to found a new elementary school's library in Queens; Ms. Abrams moved to a full-time position at the Brooklyn Public Library. Seven-day-a-week coverage of the Children's Library is still intact with Ms. Silberman, Ms. Henry, and Ms. Paulson. The Children's Library expanded its vibrant book collection by 356 new titles in 2008 and circulated 14,500 books, an increase of 20% Over the previous year.

Special Children's events involved Laura Vaccaro Seeger sharing her award-winning picture books and leading participants in creating their own die-cut storybooks, and author Bruce Coville performing scenes from The Monster's Ring and engaging in lively discussion about the process of creating books. We've observed Holocaust Remembrance Day in April with survivor Lola Rein and author Lois Metzger, who spoke poignantly about the process of transforming memory into writing in their book The Hidden Girl. Last but far from least, we welcomed actor and audio book reader Jim Dale for a virtuosic performance of Eudora Welty's The Shoe Bird.

It was also an active year for the Children's Library Committee, chaired by trustee Susan L. Robbins. Close to 200 entries were received for the Seventh Annual Young Writers Awards, sponsored by the Committee, which honor excellent writing from grades three through twelve. Authors Robert Quackenbush, Dave Johnson, Carol Westoll, and Edra Ziesk judged the entries and gave prizes and literary encouragement at the May ceremony.

Many members of our committee also serve on the Executive Committee for Project Cicero, the annual not-for-profit book drive to benefit under-resourced New York City public schools. This year the Library worked with partner organizations to collect and distribute more than 150,000 books Lo 1,000 teachers. Individuals, families, schools, and corporate partners generously donated books. The Children's Library also continued its commitment 10 commu¨nity outreach through its partnership with the Abraham House After-School Program in the South Bronx. Children's staff made monthly visits to organize a lending library and 10 offer storytelling and crafts 10 more than 60 students.

A series of five daytime talks was held from January to May 2009. Open 10 both member writers and members, "The Writing Life" included Publishing 101 with Chris Evans; Screenwriting with Bill Finkelstein; The Market for Literary Magazines with Rob Casper, Ed Park, and Karen Gisonny; and Poetry and the Blending of Voices with Brian Bartlett. It was a good publishing year for Library writers. The 2008 list of their publications is impressive.

  1. Auchincloss, Louis, Last of the Old Guard
  2. Begley, Louis, The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head: Franz Kafka, a Biographical Essay
  3. Bingham, Sallie, Red Car: Stories
  4. Brenner, Marie, Apples & Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found
  5. Caws, Mary Ann, Provencal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France


  6. Cheever, Susan, Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction
  7. Darnton, John, Black and White and Dead All Over
  8. Delves-Broughton, Philip, Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School
  9. Evans, Chris, A Darkness Forged in Fire
  10. Feldman, Ellen, Scottsboro: A Novel


  11. Goldner, Nancy, Balanchine Variations
  12. Gordon, Meryl, Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond Reproach
  13. Gray, Francine du Plessix, Madame de Stael: The First Modern Woman
  14. Hantaver, Jeffrey, The Jewel Trader of Pegu: A Novel
  15. Harris, Mark, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood


  16. Hazzard, Shirley, The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples
  17. Jackson, Maggie, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age
  18. Keillor, Garrison, Liberty: A Lake Wobegon Novel
  19. Keogh, Pamela, What Would Audrey Do? Marilyn Style
  20. King, Gilbert, The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South


  21. Kirsch, Adam, Benjamin Disraeli
  22. ____, Invasions: Poems
  23. ____, The Modem Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry
  24. Koppelman, Amy, I Smile Back
  25. Levinson, Heller, Smelling Mary


  26. McCartney, Laton, The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding While House and Tried to Steal the Country
  27. Meyer, Karl & Brysac, Shareen, Kingmakers: The Invention of the Modern Middle East
  28. Miller, Sandy, Cafe Life New York
  29. Mitchell, Joyce Slayton, Belly Up to the Bar: Dining with New York City's Celebrity Chefs Without Reservation
  30. Nagel, Susan, Marie-Therese, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette's Daughter


  31. Park, Ed, Personal Daysï
  32. Peluso, Romano, Corporate Trust Administration and Finance
  33. Phillips, Louis, The Woman Who Wrote 'King Lear,' and Other Stories
  34. ___, Columbus & Freud Sail Toward America: A Sequence of Poems
  35. Quan, Tracy, Diary of a Jetsetting Call Girl


  36. Raurell, Lydia, The Year of Dancing Dangerously: A Woman's Journey from Beginner to Natural Leader in 365 Days
  37. Richey, Frances, Warrior: A Mother's Story of a Son at War
  38. Robbins, Liz, A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York
  39. Rosen, Jonathan, The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature
  40. Saltzman, Cynthia, Old Masters, New World: America's Raid on Europe's Great Pictures


  41. Shea, Ammon, Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages
  42. Shulman, Polly, Enthusiasm
  43. Tate, Lindsey, Kate Larkin: The Bone Expert
  44. Tuck, Lily, Woman of Rome: A Life of Elsa Morante
  45. Van Meter, Jan R., Tippiecanoe and Tyler Too: Famous Slogans and Catchphrases in American History


  46. Winchester, Simon, The Man Who Loved China: Joseph Needham and the Making of A Masterpiece
  47. Wineapple, Brenda, While Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  48. Wolitzer, Meg, The Ten-Year Nap
  49. Yezzi, David, Azores: Poems
  50. Zakaria, Fareed, The Post-American World

Collaboration and Contributions

It was an outstanding year for partnerships, collaboration, and development support. In last year's annual report, I predicted that the Annual Appeal would grow, and this has indeed come true. Unrestricted gifts from individuals, including matching gifts, totaled $372,000 in 2008. We gained other forms of support as well. The Gladys Krieblc Delmas Foundation awarded the Library a $15,000 grant to continue its work on the first charging ledger and other archives. In December, member William Bardel asked about creating a book fund to honor his wife's reading and educational interests. The Penelope K. Bardel Fund, with a donation of $25,000 over four years, will support the English and American literature collections.

Our Development office has written a strategic plan for each of the last two years. The 2009 plan was ably completed by Director of Development Joan Zimmett and Development Assistant Diane Srebnick and reviewed by the new chair of the Development Committee, George Frelinghuysen. Overall strategies include building a major and planned giving program, strengthening and increasing the Annual Appeal, and bolstering a culture of philanthropy. Each of these strategies has goals and action items; we are busy and moving forward, and as Trustees, staff, shareholders, and Library members, we all have roles to play.

This year, the Development office heightened awareness of the Library's philanthropic needs and how donors can become involved in areas of interest to them. As a result, in addition to the very 1generous response 10 the Annual Appeal, we received underwriting for several key initiatives. The Library's good friends Ada and Romano Peluso provided first-time support for this year's Events and Library Notes newsletters and our website. Trustee Ellen M. Iseman and Frederick J. Iseman supported the New York City Book Awards, and Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner and Paul Wagner provided underwriting for the Young Writers Awards. Our trustee Constance Rogers Roosevelt and her husband, Theodore, along with Helen Roosevelt, Mary Kongsgaard, and Richard Williams, helped to underwrite the exhibition The President's Wife and the Librarian.

Since last year's report, the Library has been notified of three very generous bequests, from the estates of Marian Naumburg, Barbara Stern and June Teufel. We were also gratified to hear from six members that they have made provisions for the Library in their wills. These members and others will be honored with the inauguration of the Goodhue Bequest Society in the coming months.

Closing Thoughts

I express bountiful gratitude to the entire Board of Trustees and Library staff for their dedication, creativity, and good spirits. I might in particular mention the maintenance department - John McKeown, Harry Abarca, and Javier Solis - for keeping the building in order, setting up for events, and for all they do. At the Annual Meeting in April, we acknowledged the thirty years of service of Linnea Holman Savapoulas, whose talent and collegiality are an essential part of the Circulation Department.

It is a continuing honor to serve as your Head Librarian, and I thank each and every member for being part of the Society Library, now in its 255th year.

Respectfully submitted,

Mark Bartlett,
Head Librarian


Report of the Treasurer

George L.K. Frelinghuysen
(January - December 2008)

For the year ended December 31, 2008 the New York Society Library recorded an operating surplus of $153,224 prior to non-cash charges. This compares with a surplus of $6,600 budgeted for the year. On the revenue side there were several positive developments. The number of Library members continued to grow, reaching 3180 up from slightly over 3000 at the end of 2007. As a result, revenues from membership subscriptions increased year over and did better than budget. In addition, the annual appealincreased 8% over 2007 and easily surpassed our budgeted goat While the number of donors was down slightly, the gift per donor rose nicely. This was especially true for those gifts over $5,000.

Operating expenses were slightly below budget due to some savings realized in staff expense. The Library continues to pay close attention to expense control, especially in light of last year's drop in the value of the endowment.

Endowment income provides the largest source of support for the Library's operations. It covers about 60% of our operating expenses. Like other non-profits across the country, the Library's endowment did not escape unscathed in 2008. The value of our endowment declined by about thirty percent over the course of the year. Since the Library's endowment draw is based on a three year rolling average, the lower 2008 market value will impact the amount of funds available for operations in the years ahead. As a result, the Library will be faced with some very real challenges in 2010 and 2011. Much of the planning in the coming year will be on ways to meet these challenges without sacrificing the level of service that we offer to our membership.

Respectfully submitted,

George L.K. Frelinghuysen,

December 31, 2008 with comparative totals for 2007

TOTAL REVENUE$976,040$2,588,800
STAFF EXPENSES1,380,2701,249,662
LIBRARY SERVICES139,857127,171
BUILDING (excluding depreciation)284,386294,578
TOTAL EXPENSES$2,293,816$2,067,309
INCREASE IN NET ASSETS$153,224$1,813,491



The approximate market value of investments on December 31, 2008 was $24,666,000.
Note: This statement includes unrestricted revenue and expenses only. All other funds are accounted for separately. Fully audited financial statements are available at the library.

While the allocation from endowment was 4½% in 2007 the board passed a resolution to change the allocation to 4¾% effective for the year 2008.