Annual Report June 2010 - May 2011
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 L.K. Frelinghuysen • James Q. Griffin • Shirley Hazzard • John K. Howat • Ellen M. Iseman • Anthony D. Knerr • Carol Collins Malone • Linn Cary Mehta • Ada Peluso • Jean Parker Phifer • Susan L. Robbins • Theodore C. Rogers • Daniel M. Rossner • Jeannette Watson Sanger • Betty Kelly Sargent
Mark Bartlett • Susan Chan • Jane Goldstein • Matthew C. Haugen • Endang Hertanto • Sara Holliday • Janet Howard • Steven McGuirl • John McKeown • Laura O'Keefe • Patrick Rayner • Ingrid Richter • Diane Srebnick • Brandi Tambasco • Carolyn Waters
Harry Abarca • Alan Behler • Matthew Bright • Arevig Caprielian • Anastasia Chiu • Bobbie L. Crow • Caleb J. Fountain • Katherine L. Fricas • Andrea Griffith • Rachel Henry • Marie Honan • George Muñoz • Heather Paulson • Peri Pignetti • Linnea Holman Savapoulas • Harriet Shapiro • Carrie Silberman • Derek Stadler • Paulina M. Valdez • Stanley Weinman • Julia Weist • Lawrence R. Yates • Joan U. Zimmett
Jules Cohn • Edmée Reit
(June 2010 - May 2011)
Charles G. Berry, Chair
George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Treasurer
Daniel M. Rossner, Secretary
Ralph S. Brown, Jr. • Barbara H. Stanton
Ralph S. Brown, Jr., Chair
George L.K. Frelinghuysen • Daniel M. Rossner
George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Chair
Ralph S. Brown, Jr. • James Q. Griffin • Anthony D. Knerr • Daniel M. Rossner • 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 • Barbara H. Stanton
George L.K. Frelinghuysen, Chair
Mark Bartlett • Charles G. Berry • Lyn Chase • William J. Dean • John K. Howat • Ellen M. Iseman • Anthony D. Knerr • Edward C. Lord • Roger Pasquier • Susan L. Robbins • Theodore C. Rogers • Daniel M. Rossner • Jeannette Watson Sanger • Betty Kelly Sargent • Diane Srebnick • Barbara H. Stanton • Joan U. Zimmett
Ada Peluso, Chair
Lyn Chase • Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr. • George L.K. Frelinghuysen • Ellen M. Iseman • Jenny Lawrence • Linn Cary Mehta • Jean Parker Phifer • Jeannette Watson Sanger • Barbara H. Stanton
Daniel M. Rossner, Chair
Marylin Bender Altschul • Richard Aspinwall • Mark Bartlett • Lucienne Bloch • Lyn Chase • Jules Cohn • Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr. • Laura Corwin • Peggy Edsall • Benita Eisler • Helen Evarts • Kerry Fried • Linda Fritzinger • Malcolm Goldstein • Shirley Hazzard • Steven McGuirl • Sarah Plimpton • Cynthia Saltzman
New York City Book Awards Jury
Roger Pasquier, Co-Chair
Mark Bartlett, Co-Chair
Lucienne Bloch • Barbara Cohen • Jules Cohn • Andrew Dolkart • Joe Drape • John Hargraves • Bobbie Leigh • Mark Magowan • Cynthia Saltzman • Meg Wolitzer
Lecture and Exhibition Committee
Jeannette Watson Sanger, Chair
Mark Bartlett • Lyn Chase • Henry S.F. Cooper, Jr. • William J. Dean • Sara Holliday • Ellen M. Iseman • Jenny Lawrence • Carol Collins Malone • Ada Peluso • Betty Kelly Sargent • Harriet Shapiro
Children's Library Committee
Susan L. Robbins, Chair
Andrea Labov Clark • Peggy Ellis • Carolyn Goodrich • Jan Grossman • Pat Langer • Louise Monjo • Raul Piñeda • Jennifer Price • Carrie Silberman • Julia Weist • Edra Ziesk
Member Relations Committee
Linn Cary Mehta, Co-Chair
Jane Goldstein, Co-Chair
Richard Aspinwall • Laurence Bergreen • J.S. Ellenberger • Gayle Feldman • Maggie Jackson • Betty Kelly Sargent • Kenneth Wang
Project Cicero Executive Committee
Laureine Greenbaum, Co-Chair
Susan L. Robbins, Co-Chair
Lynn Abraham • Rona Berg • DeDe Brown • Caroline Cherston • Andrea Labov Clark • Amanda Edelman • Roz Edelman • Peggy Ellis • Susan Fisher • Linda Gelfond • JoAnn Goodspeed • Stephen Goodspeed • Christopher Gorman • Penny Gorman • Nicholas McCombe • Ellen Hay Newman • Jimmy Peraffan • Christy Porter • Cynthia Rothman • Chloe Rouhandeh • Carrie Silberman • Jenna Spitzer • Allison Trief • Silda Wall • Matthew Weinstein • Julia Weist • Jennifer Wendy
(June 2010-May 2011)
The Fifteenth Annual New York City Book Awards, 2010
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.
AWARD FOR PHOTOGRAPHY:
Harlem: A Century in Images, Thelma Golden and The Studio Museum in Harlem (Skira Rizzoli)
AWARD FOR MEMOIR:
Two Cents Plain: My Brooklyn Boyhood, Martin Lemelman (Bloomsbury)
AWARD FOR HISTORY:
Rochdale Village: Robert Moses, 6,000 Families, and New York City's Great Experiment in Integrated Housing, Peter Eisenstadt (Cornell University Press)
The Ninth Annual Young Writers Awards, 2010
The Young Writers Awards honor excellent writing by young Library members. Entries this year include essays, short stories, and poems on a variety of topics. The 2011 Young Writers Awards were generously underwritten by Jeanette Sarkisian Wagner and Paul A. Wagner.
- Jamie Gelman, "My Heart is as Big as My Fist"
- Katherine Franco, "Proud"
- Eliza Fawcett, "Give me a little sweet sustenance"
- Sarah Yeoh-Wang, "Koi Pond"
- William Tomlinson, "Ashboy: A Native American Cinderella Story"
- Gabrielle Herzig, "At Play With Roget: My Friend the Thesaurus"
- Eliza Fawcett, "Days of Night"
- Emily Gaw, "Divinity"
- Alana Eiland, "Rage"
- Arthur Potter, "Ski Race"
- Tess Solomon, "Cell Concerto: Sir Edward William Elgar: Movement I"
- Mary Ben Lee Apato!, "Down in the Dumps"
Report of the Chairman
Charles G. Berry
(June 2010 - May 2011)
This year has been one of visible achievements and less tangible accomplishments. We have successfully completed important renovations that have enhanced our physical plant, increased our ability to serve our members, provided for future expansion, and lifted our spirits. We totally renovated the fifth floor and the facilities for our many member writers, who have already filled the expanded space to capacity on a regular basis. We look forward to formally dedicating the Hornblower Room and are grateful for the generous gift made possible by our former Board member, Jenny Hornblower Lawrence, which has also supported important writer programs.
Through the Naumburg bequest we have been able to provide handicapped access to our entrance in a way that preserves the gracious sweep of our marble stairs while accommodating wheelchairs and an automatically opening front door.
The filling in of the lightwells on the third, fourth, and fifth floors, also funded by the Hornblower gift, has already enabled us to provide more and better planned space for the buildout on the fifth floor, and gives us important growing room - and funding opportunities - on the third and fourth floors.
These improvements - almost all installed over the summer months of 2010 with minimal disruption to the Library - were crowned in a real sense by the uncovering and caring restoration of the skylight, or laylight as it is more correctly called, above our main stair. Funded by two of our generous patrons, trustee Ada Peluso and her brother Romano I. Peluso, this skylight provides a bright, cheerful, and inspiring beacon to the center of our building and architectural unity to our beautiful exhibition gallery, also generously funded by the Peluso Family.
These tangible signs of the vitality of our Library have been matched by a number of significant gifts that have focused on building our unique collection and supporting our superb programs. One in particular that I would like to mention is from our longtime trustee Lyn Chase, former president of the Academy of American Poets. Lyn has generously committed to give us a significant collection of poetry books as well as a fund to support further purchases of books of poetry and programs by and about poets and their craft. We hope to install this remarkable collection in the Whitridge Room, where it will be readily accessible to all our members and where we plan to hold some of our poetry related events. We are most grateful to Lyn, one of the leading lights in the world of poetry in this country, for this thoughtful gift.
Our trustees are a remarkably talented and dedicated group that it is a great pleasure to work with, and I would like to thank all of them for the true caring spirit they have for the Library. I would also like to mention two in particular. As you know, my predecessor as Chairman is Bill Dean, who has taken on the leadership of the Goodhue Society and continues to be a valuable resource in many ways. As some of you may also know, Bill was the recipient last month of the 2011 Brooke Russell Astor Award, bestowed by the New York Public Library on someone who, in the words of the award, is "an unsung hero or heroine who is relentless in his or her dedication to the City and who has contributed substantially to its enrichment." Bill exemplifies the dedication to public service that has for so long been a feature of the trustees of the Society Library, since our founders had the vision to establish an institution that they termed a "Publick library [that] would be very useful as well as ornamental to this City." The recognition that Bill Dean received for his dedication to serving the underprivileged and his leadership of Volunteers for Legal Service (one of the city's preeminent facilitators of pro bono legal services) brings honor to all of us at the Library and reminds us of the public service that is a major component of our work.
I must also mention Jim Griffin, who is retiring as an active member of the Board, having served since 1984, including over 20 years as Treasurer. We are delighted that he will continue to serve as an emeritus member of the Board. His steady hand guided us through difficult financial times and kept us on a solid path, and we are grateful for his consistently sound advice and cheerful spirit.
The past year has been full of many accomplishments and milestones for us. Our writers' services have been galvanized by the energetic and imaginative supervision of Carolyn Waters, who includes Writers Services Librarian among her other responsibilities. With the support of Jenny Lawrence and the Hornblower gift, we continue to strengthen our community of writers with imaginative programs such as "Open Mic Night" where member writers read from works in progress. Our association with great writers from Washington Irving to Herman Melville to W.H. Auden, Willa Cather and Tom Wolfe is stronger than ever as we serve as an inspiration and incubator for a wide range of writers of fiction, history, poetry, and criticism.
Equally vibrant are the activities of our Children's Library, which welcomed 103 new families last year. Under the guidance of Carrie Silberman, Julia Weist, and Anastasia Chiu, we offer a superb collection of books and range of programs for children from toddlers through grade school. The work of our Children's Librarians was celebrated recently in a delightful short poem by Mary Ann Hoberman, who is the Children's Poet Laureate. On the occasion of "Poem in Your Pocket Day" in April she offered this tribute to children's librarians, which she shared with Carrie and her colleagues:
You made the choice
To work with kids
And spread our voice.
I know we all share that sentiment.
We are also fortunate to have the energy and resourcefulness of our Head of Systems, Ingrid Richter. She was instrumental in the launch in November of the digital copy of our First Charging Ledger, which records borrowing activity at the Library between July 1789 and April 1792. This invaluable historical document has been made available online through our dynamic website along with a trove of fascinating data about the reading tastes of our members during the earliest months of our Republic, including many of the Founding Fathers. This offering has met with critical and popular acclaim: on a single day in December, there were some 2,000 page views or "hits" on this remarkable historical resource.
But Ingrid's contributions go far beyond that. In an institution that prides itself on its history and traditions, she has ensured that we are current technologically and poised to meet the growing expectations of our members to avail ourselves of all that is offered by the rapidly changing landscape of technology. This past year has been reported as the first year that the sale of electronic books surpassed those of hardcopy books, and the publishing world is going through unprecedented upheaval. We will always cherish, guard, and develop our distinguished and thoughtfully selected collection of books. But we will also be mindful of the needs and demands of our members to expand our electronic services and offerings. Last year our online resources, whose access is facilitated by Ingrid's good work, were more popular than ever: we recorded over 100,000 uses of the online Oxford English Dictionary; over 150,000 uses of JSTOR, the electronic compendium of academic journals; and over 40,000 uses of Project MUSE, another database of journals in the humanities and social sciences. Many of us use and enjoy the convenience of ebooks, and many communicate through social media which are increasingly part of our lives. I am confident that the Library will assimilate these technological developments while preserving its unique character and importance for all of us.
Finally, let me thank Head Librarian Mark Bartlett, Assistant Head Jane Goldstein and Treasurer of the Board George Frelinghuysen for all the hard work they have done this past year. It is always heartening for me to hear from members how much they enjoy the Library and how well things are running. Mark, Jane, George, and the entire staff are key to the success we have achieved. Thanks to them all, and to all of our members for their continued support.
Charles G. Berry,
Report of the Librarian
(June 2010 - May 2011)
It is a pleasure to write about the many things the Library can be proud of from the last twelve months. 2010-2011 will go down in history as the year of a major renovation. We were closed to members for six weeks in midsummer, and the fifth floor reopened on November 1, 2010. There were some particularly busy days after the Hornblower Room and six beautiful new study rooms finally became available. A January 2011 special edition of Library Notes featured a selection from the over 1,000 photographs of the building interior and exterior before and after the renovation. The Library's digital archive also holds many photographs from events and receptions, and I will start with events in giving you a few highlights of the last year.
Programming for Patrons of All Ages
In 2010-2011 we hosted some of the richest and best-attended programs of the last decade. The season started in September 2010 with beloved author Roy Blount, Jr. on Mark Twain's travels, celebrating the publication of the 200th volume in the Library of America series. We are grateful to trustee William J. Dean for facilitating the arrangement with the Library of America, the co-presenter for that event. Our popular Author Series with WNET.org continued at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. Speakers included Stacy Schiff on Cleopatra: A Life, Robert D. Putnam on American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Annette Gordon-Reed on Andrew Johnson, a recent volume in the American Presidents series.
Members' Room lectures were well attended and reflected the breadth of our collections and members' interests. Literature was amply represented by a conversation between renowned author Shirley Hazzard and Professor Robert Harrison and by Susan Cheever speaking on Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography. Biography and history included programs on Joseph Pulitzer, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and George Washington's maps. Richard Panek discussed the cutting edge of physics and Laura J. Snyder went back to the discipline's roots at Cambridge University in 1812. Nor did we neglect New York City or other places. The urban landscape was brought to life by Robert F. Gatje on Great Public Squares: An Architect's Selection and Lynden B. Miller on Parks, Plants, and People, while NYC historian Kenneth T. Jackson introduced the second edition of The Encyclopedia of New York City. As Head Librarian, I have a handful of events I am particularly proud of; one such was the very successful evening in January with the erudite Simon Winchester, who evoked the scope of the ocean's narratives with his book Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories.
The Library is fortunate in its associations with creators and performers in the arts. In the fall we hosted an Ira Gershwin celebration with musicologist Michael Lasser and three musicians. Member and actor Bill Connington organized two beautiful presentations of the works of A.R. Gurney, A Cheever Evening and Love Letters, and Ruth Wolff brought together several major talents to give scenes from her collection Notable Women-And a Few Equally Notable Men. These and other performance events were made possible by the Estate of Marian O. Naumburg.
In the Whitridge Room, both seminars - along the lines of mini college courses - and reading groups drew much participation. Members lined up around the metaphorical block for literature seminars on Henry James and Dante, and B.J. Rahn led in-depth discussions of mystery fiction. Among reading groups, Carol Rial addressed books about nostalgia, and the Library was able to respond to many requests regarding a favorite author ó Blanche Siegal led Sunday afternoon conversations about Anthony Trollope, with tea.
The Events newsletter mailed to members roughly five times a year continues to be supplemented by monthly electronic newsletters to the general membership and to families with children. I must thank three staffers in particular - Julia Weist, Children's Librarian; Carolyn Waters, Writers Services Librarian; and Sara Holliday, Events Coordinator - for making these successful broadcasts to members. Once advertised, events could not take place without the steadfast work of Superintendent John McKeown and Porter Harry Abarca. The multi-talented Audio-Visual Squad, supervised by Head of Systems Ingrid Richter, ran the technical side for every in-house event. We are delighted to post so many of their excellent event recordings on the website and on YouTube.
Keeping up the trend of the past few years, the Children's Library welcomed 103 new families in 2010 and circulated 14,300 children's books, comprising 16.5% of the Library's total circulation. The year saw a major turnover in staff, as we bade farewell to Rachel Henry and Heather Paulson after two years of service and welcomed Julia Weist as Children's Librarian and Anastasia Chiu as Children's Assistant.
More than 300 children participated in programs with Children's Library staff, including storytelling for toddlers, preschool, and elementary-age children. Among the special events was a great Thursday afternoon in the Members' Room with Caldecott Award-winner Chris Raschka. Chris engaged children, parents, and guests in a presentation of his stories and art, helping us celebrate National Library Week. In addition, the Children's Library launched a stimulating bimonthly children's technology program, "Book Bytes," and a popular Mother-Daughter book discussion group.
More than 225 entries were received for the Ninth Annual Young Writers Awards. Author-judges Carol Weston, Robert Quackenbush, Edra Ziesk, and Dave Johnson selected winners and provided encouragement to all young writers at the awards ceremony in May.
Project Cicero, the city-wide book drive co-sponsored by the Library, once again racked up huge numbers of new and gently used books redistributed to those who need them in underfunded schools. More than 150,000 books were distributed to about 1,000 teachers. Books were generously donated by individuals, families, schools, publishers, and corporate supporters including Morgan Stanley and Proctor & Gamble. Both the Children's Library Committee overseeing the Young Writers Awards and the Project Cicero organizing committee are led by trustee Susan L. Robbins.
I can't leave programming without talking about the beautiful and thoughtful exhibitions that are now the standard in the Assunta, Ignazio, Ada and Romano Peluso Exhibition Gallery on the second floor. The 2010 exhibit, Literary Lives: The World of Shirley Hazzard and Francis Steegmuller, ran through early 2011 and had enthusiastic attendance from both members and nonmembers, including literature fans and scholars from Australia and other parts of the globe. On May 12, 2011, we opened Writing the Garden: Books from the Collections of The New York Society Library and Elizabeth Barlow Rogers. The exhibition combines colorful wall panels with handsomely illustrated historic Library books and more contemporary gardening and landscaping books from Betsy Rogers's collection. Betsy is the founder of the Foundation for Landscape Studies, with whom we are co-sponsoring the publication of an exhibition-related book from David R. Godine. Head of Exhibitions Harriet Shapiro worked tirelessly to research the topic, organize the included books, and participate in the design and setup of the exhibition.
The total number of memberships dipped slightly during the renovation period but then swelled when we reopened. More than 100 members new and old took advantage of the new individual study rooms between November 2010 and March 2011. The forty-two new lockers on the fifth floor are also popular for those with long-term writing or research projects.
We circulated 86,210 titles in 2010, a slight decrease from 2009 due to the renovation closing. At any one time, approximately one-third of members have one or more books checked out, and more than four thousand books are in circulation. New books account for more than one quarter of all books circulated.
2009's Man Booker Prize Winner, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, was the book most checked out in 2010, with multiple copies circulating 239 times. Other popular novels included The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Political and financial shenanigans were popular in nonfiction; the top two circulating titles were The Big Short by Michael Lewis about the recent stock market crash and Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about the 2008 presidential election.
We rely on Brandi Tambasco to circulate materials through Interlibrary Loan that our Library does not plan to purchase. In 2010 we borrowed 209 items from 135 libraries in 33 states, while our resources came to the aid of 145 readers at 96 libraries in 24 states. Our most popular books for outside lending tend to come from our collection of mysteries, particularly British mysteries that have failed to find an American publisher.
Finally, I thank Circulation Assistant Marie Honan for her ten years of loyal service to the Library. Along with organizing the books for sale in the front entrance and sorting through book gifts, Marie is one of the steadfast Circulation staff who keeps the Library running every day. It is also a pleasure to note that Patrick Rayner, who has served as Circulation Supervisor since January 2007, will now be called Head of Circulation. Congratulations to Patrick, with best wishes for many more successful years ahead.
Collections and Systems
In calendar year 2010, the Library bought over 4,300 books and added close to 600 gifts from members. We also added 94 audiobooks and three new magazine subscriptions, with a further four subscriptions donated by a generous member.
It was an important year for collection maintenance and judicious weeding of the Library's permanent collection. Head of Acquisitions Steve McGuirl describes the process: "We continued to run lists of duplicate books in the stacks and weeded unneeded copies conservatively (most of the work this year was done in Stack 6). We also focused on a more systematic weeding of little-used portions of the stacks, as well as those that are outside the traditional humanities and social sciences strengths of our collection, such as sports, library and information science, pet care, child care, and business management...
"No matter what the subject area, books are weeded with careful attention given to circulation count, long-term research use, area library's holdings, and so forth. The process begins with a list of books in a specific Dewey decimal range with two or less circulations to date. However, circulation count is never used as the sole criterion for deaccessioning a book. The Head of Acquisitions then reviews the list weighing a number of factors: other library holdings, books by the same author in the collection, price and availability via second-hand booksellers...age of the material, citation in bibliographies, book condition, whether subject coverage by other books in the collection renders the book in question obsolete or redundant, as well as other variables such as illustrators, binding, donor bookplates, and so forth.
"It is important to keep in mind that many books have research potential precisely because they are out of date and provide a window into the cultural attitudes of a previous time. It is an involved process, and it can take much longer to select a book for withdrawal than it can to select it for purchase."
Clearly, collection development staff do much more than buy books. They are Steve McGuirl, Janet Howard, and Carolyn Waters, with the assistance of volunteer Jules Cohn. We particularly thank Jules, who this year marks five years of reviewing university press catalogs and recommending titles for purchase. We are also grateful to Steve for his ten years of service to the Library, which was recognized at the Annual Meeting in April 2011.
Once purchased or gift books arrive, they go to the capable hands of the Cataloging Department under Laura O'Keefe. This year her department bid farewell to longtime bibliographic assistant Tim Conley and greeted Matthew Bright, a Queens College M.L.S. student. The department cataloged 4,815 titles in 2010, breaking all records since 2005. Special projects included reclassifying many history and travel books about Turkey, which were previously split among call numbers for Europe and Asia. Since Turkey is seeking membership in the European Union, we decided it goes with Europe. This project brought to light a number of prewired War II books with such enlightened titles as Turkish Delight, A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness Cries, and An Englishwoman in a Turkish Harem.
The project to digitize, transcribe, and make accessible the Library's first charging ledger is a group effort involving almost the full Cataloging and Systems staff, including Ingrid Richter, Alan Behler, Arevig Caprielian, Tim Conley, Matthew Haugen, George Muñoz, Laura O'Keefe, Peri Pignetti, and Derek Stadler. There are 504 people in the ledger and 1,176 books mentioned. The web hub for the ledger, www.nysoclib.org/ledger, went live in November 2010, and online reviews were enthusiastic: "An absolutely fantastic new digital offering from the New York Society Library" (PhiloBiblios, December 4, 2010). We celebrated the ledger with a reception on December 1. Head of Systems Ingrid Richter presented the site and how to use it, and historian Thomas Fleming gave remarks about the importance of this record for the study of early American reading and culture, along with anecdotes about the founding fathers mentioned in the ledger.
In the Conservation Department, George Muñoz was preoccupied not only with the 1789-92 ledger but with more than 70 of its counterparts from the 19th and 20th centuries, all of them large and unwieldy. George has rehoused them in archival enclosures, protecting them and making them much easier to transport and share with the research community. With Cataloging staff, George is surveying rare books in Stack 10 to create and implement a plan for preservation treatment and rehousing of selected items.
Along with their heroic daily work keeping the Library's technical hardware, catalog and internet up and running, the Systems Department engaged in several interesting projects in 2010-2011. Hundreds of new decorative cover scans have been added to the online catalog, enriching the experience of searching for older books. The Library's Digital Archives was also expanded with historic annual reports, high-quality event photos, and technology workshop notes, among other things.
Speaking of workshops, staff offered a broad roster of them, with continued strong attendance. Topics included the online marketplace Etsy, Gmail, the blogging site Tumblr, and an introduction to Apple computers and devices. Responses to the classes ranged from "Class was wonderfully presented" to "Thanks for answering some very ignorant questions."
Head Librarian's Activities
In April I was at Gluckman House at New York University to listen to a presentation by John Killen, Librarian of the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, Ireland. Linen Hall is the last subscription library in that country and is renowned for its unparalleled Irish and Local Studies Collection, ranging from comprehensive holdings of Early Belfast and Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in its Northern Ireland Political Collection. Linen Hall was founded in 1788 and will celebrate its 225th anniversary in 2013. There are other similarities between the institutions: they have a staff of 25, we 35; events, exhibitions, development, and the community are of increasing importance; and we are both doing modest digitization projects, with Linen Hall concentrating on their postcard, map, and cartoon collections. I came away from the evening with Mr. Killen feeling newly committed to the basic concept of concentrating digitization efforts on special collections and materials that are uniquely ours.
Every year I have a chance to pull an older annual report from the shelf in my office, and virtually every time I learn something new and compelling. In the 1929 annual report, Chairman of the Board Charles de Rham quoted the New York Law Journal of August 31, 1791: "The New York Society Library now consists of upward of 3,000 volumes. The Trustees are anxious to make a collection of all pamphlets and other publications that in any manner relate to the history or politics of this country before or since the revolution." It was interesting to find out that the Library's pamphlet collection was started with intent, since I am now learning that it is a real treasure.
We own 270 bound volumes featuring over a thousand pamphlets, with publication dates between1640 and1800. One special item in the pamphlet collection is Charles Brockden Brown's Alcuin: A Dialogue (New York: T. & J. Swords, 1798), recognized as one of the country's earliest works on women's right and divorce. There are only two other holdings of this edition of Alcuin in New York State.
Finally, I was invited to speak to the Rowfant Club in Cleveland, Ohio in April 2011. My talk was an overview of the history and current operations of the Library, with a special focus on the Sharpe, Winthrop, Hammond, and Da Ponte Collections. The Rowfant is a bibliophile club established in 1892 with a modest collection of 7,500 volumes, primarily books about books, paper - a complete collection of Dard Hunter - typography, publishing, other book clubs, and some notable first editions, including the first three editions of Samuel Johnson's famous dictionary. The Rowfant's original Code of Regulations gives the most succinct summary of their members' interest: "Books in the various capacities to please the Mind of Man."
On that note, I reiterate how proud I am of the Society Library's various capacities and the ways they have pleased the mind of ëman' ómen, women, children, researchers, writers, casual readers, and event attendeesóin the past year. I thank my loyal staff for their good humor, fortitude, and member service. The Library is especially appreciative of the ongoing work of volunteer archivist EdmÈe Reit, who keeps very busy with ledgers, files, member shares, and much more. I also give special thanks to Andrew Corbin, the Renovation Projects Librarian and author of the special January issue of Library Notes. Assistant Head Librarian Jane Goldstein, trustee architects Byron Bell and Jean Parker Phifer, comptroller Stanley Weinman, John McKeown, and Harry Abarca were all instrumental in the year of renovation. Chairman Charles G. Berry, George L.K. Frelinghuysen, and my Board of Trustees have been immensely helpful, and I am pleased to have new trustee Carol C. Malone on board. I express many thanks to the trustees for their stewardship and support. Since the Writing the Garden exhibition has put gardens in the air, I suggest that we continue to tend our garden, this wonderful institution, in the coming year, as those who came before us have done so wonderfully for 257 years.
Report of the Treasurer
George L.K. Frelinghuysen
(January - December 2010)
For the year ended December 31, 2010 the New York Society Library recorded an operating surplus of $186,636 prior to non-cash charges. This result was slightly below that reported for 2009, largely due to a decrease in our endowment draw. Membership subscriptions declined slightly year over year due, in part, to a lower level of renewals so that membership at year-end stood at 3088 against 3147 the year before. New Library members in all categories were 401 in 2010 compared to 439 in 2009. The Library raised $465,771 through its annual appeal which represents an increase of 11.1% over 2009 and easily surpassed our budgeted goal. A total of 837 gifts were received in 2010 against 843 in 2009. The top three categories represented 68% of all funds raised compared to 65% in the previous year. On behalf of the Board, I would like to express our appreciation to all the membership for your continued generous support of the Library.
Operating expenses came in slightly below budget as lower expenses for building and library materials more than offset slightly higher staff and development expense. The establishment of several book funds in recent years provided welcome budget relief and helped to contain our book purchasing costs. As in years past, the Library continues to pay close attention to expense control.
Endowment income provides the largest source of support for the Library's operations. It covers about 61% of our operating expenses. In 2010 the value of our endowment increased approximately 6.0 percent over the course of the year with the strongest portfolio performance turned in by our international manager. Despite the higher overall value, the endowment draw will continue to trend lower over the next several years as it is calculated on the rolling average of the prior three years. As a result, the Library will be faced with ongoing challenges in 2011 and 2012. 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.
Last year as you are all aware, we undertook a significant construction program which involved the installation of a new handicapped lift, the renovation of the skylight and the fifth floor. The combined cost of these projects was approximately one million dollars. Thanks to the generosity of the George Marshall Hornblower Trust, and our trustee Ada Peluso and her brother Romano I. Peluso, as well as a gift from the Estate of Marion O. Naumburg, we were able to pay for the majority of this renovation without dipping into our endowment.
George L.K. Frelinghuysen,
STATEMENT OF REVENUE & EXPENSES UNRESTRICTED NET ASSETS
December 31, 2010 with comparative totals for 2009
|DONATIONS AND REQUESTS||465,771||419,292|
|LECTURES AND CONVERSATIONS||23,604||18,987|
|BOOKS REPLACED AND SOLD||13,550||14,421|
|COPIER FEES AND BOOK FINES||10,062||11,650|
|BUILDING (excluding depreciation)||263,669||331,401|
|INCREASE (DECREASE) IN NET ASSETS||2010||2009|
| BEFORE ALLOCATION OF |
FOUR AND THREE QUARTER PERCENT (4¾%)
| ALLOCATION OF |
FOUR AND THREE QUARTER PERCENT(4¾%)
|INCREASE IN NET ASSETS||$186,636||$236,755|
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.
The approximate market value of investments on December 31, 2010 was $28,982,000.