As the absolutely ridiculous weather of this past month continues unabated, it is, maybe, some consolation that, over the past week or two, we here at the Altamont Free Library have started thinking ahead to planning our Summer Reading Program. Some might say that planning so far in advance is a kind of coping mechanism, to help us focus on warm thoughts to get us through this cold spell.

I, on the other hand, think that we are just super enthused by the theme of the Summer Reading Program: Every Hero Has a Story. I invite you to start thinking about it, too.

Who are your heroes? What makes a person a hero? Do you have a story of heroism to tell? Which would you choose: flight, invisibility, or weather control?

If you’d like to be involved in our Summer Reading Program, please get in touch to let us know what your super library power is.

Until then, we’ve got some great programs and events coming up at the library.

T(w)een Night

On Friday, Feb. 27, we’ve got a double header of events for teens and tweens. First up, our old friend Ryan Black will be in to lead out teen gaming program, The Dojo at 6 p.m. From board games to card games to video games, we’ll have something for every high schooler (or near high schooler) to get into.

After that, Erika Peterson will be leading our teen book discussion group in a dialog about Dave Egger’s The Circle at 8 p.m. Come on in and bring a friend.

Staff Appreciation Day

Here’s a note from my bosses: On Sunday, March 1, the library board of trustees will host a staff appreciation reception from 2 to 4 p.m.  Everyone in our community is invited to join us at the library on that afternoon to visit with our staff and thank them for all they do to help make the library such a vibrant and welcoming place.

Refreshments will be served. We look forward to spending time with you on March 1.

Well that’s very nice, isn’t it? To add my own thanks to the trustees’, I’d just like to say that the staff here at the library is the best I’ve ever worked with. Deserving special praise is Mary Beth Mulligan, our wonderful assistant director. I hope to see you all there.

Book discussion

At noon on Monday, March 2nd, the library will host a discussion of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. This beloved 1997 novel tells the story of Dinah, portrayed as an almost insignificantly minor figure in the Old Testament, but whose story is expanded and brought vividly to life along with the stories of many other women who appear at the periphery of famous Bible stories.

Our noon book discussion group always has an interesting spin on the books we read, so even if you’ve read The Red Tent already, you’ll be sure to leave with a new perspective on an old story. 


Originally scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 25, our Pinterest Craft Night will now be held on Wednesday, March 11, at 7 p.m. Jan Hornbach will demonstrate and assist us in the very cool technique of felting. Please join us. 

— Photo by Joe Burke

Fun for all ages: Christine Carpenter leads a yoga class for kids and adults at the Altamont Free Library on Take Your Child to the Library Day, Saturday, Feb. 7.

Another amazing “I Love My Library! Gala” is in the books and a wonderful time was had by all. I’d like to wholeheartedly thank everyone who came out last Saturday evening to support their library.

Special thanks are due to Amy Martin and Erika McFarlane, the principal organizers of the gala, our honorees for the evening; Pat Spohr and Tony Kossmann, our trustees; and all of the volunteers who helped out keeping the show running smoothly. We were honored by the presence of Congressman Paul Tonko, State Senator George Amedore, Albany County Legislator Travis Stevens, and Altamont Mayor James Gaughan, among many other Altamont luminaries.

I have said it and I’ll say it again: I have never, anywhere, seen a library so warmly embraced by its community as the Altamont Free Library is. It is the community’s support that makes the Altamont Free Library the special place that it is and allows us to continue hosting all of the story times, potlucks, book clubs, craft nights, and summer reading programs we all enjoy so much. Thank you.

After all of last week’s excitement, we have yet another busy and exciting week to look forward to. The young folks will be out of school, so please bring them on down to the library to keep them learning and growing over the break.

Valentine’s crafting

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. This year, instead of the usual Hallmark card, make a card by hand at the library! It’ll mean so much more to your loved ones.

This Friday, Feb. 13, at 4 p.m., we’ll be holding a card-crafting session for people of all ages. We’d love it if you’d join us.

Oscar Movie Sunday

There are only two Sundays left until the Oscars! This Sunday, Feb. 15, at 3 p.m., we will be showing the Oscar-nominated How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Best Animated Feature nominee is a family-friendly tale of heroism, bravery, and, above all, dragons! We’ll make the popcorn.

Second-Grade Book Club

If you are in (or around) second grade, you’re probably not reading this. But if you know someone who is, and who would like to join our young folks book discussion group led by Erika Peterson, please send them our way.

This month, the group will be meeting on Sunday, Feb. 15, from 2 to 3 p.m. to discuss The Magic Tree House #2: Knights at Dawn. Should be a great time.

Book Club madness!

We have two different book clubs discussing two different books this coming Monday, Feb. 16.

First up at noon will be our snow-delayed discussion of Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague. This widely hailed 2001 historical fiction novel is set amid an outbreak of the plague in 17th-Century England.

Next up, at 7 p.m., is our discussion of Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  This novel examines the causes and consequences of a school shooting and should provoke a fascinating conversation. Please join us.

Bird walk

Break out your long underwear and dust off your binoculars (we’ll bring extras), because it’s time for winter bird watching. Led by our resident birder Dan Capuano, this much-beloved event is sure to make you chirp with joy.

On Thursday, Feb. 19, the group will leave from the library at 9 a.m. for a one-hour trek around the village to see what birds there are to be seen. The kids will be home from school, so, if there are any junior members of the Audubon Society out there, bring them along. First-timers are welcome.

Teen Trivia

Are you in grade 6 or older? Don’t let your brain cells get weak over winter break.

Come strain your brain at Teen Trivia, hosted by our very own Mary Beth Mulligan, on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. We’ll provide the snacks and the questions; you bring your friends.

It is going to be a big week here at Altamont Free Library with two of our favorite events of the year.

Take Your Child

to the Library Day

For many children, the library is their first window to a larger world and their first educational experience outside the home. Saturday, Feb. 7, is Take Your Child to the Library Day. This is a wonderful opportunity to bring your kiddos to the library, especially if it is their first time.

We will have all kinds of neat things going on from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. First, we will have a special kid/adult yoga class led by the fabulous Christine Carpenter. Then we will have a special story time with stories and songs all about libraries.

After that, make your own cool necklace or stretch bracelet out of book beads. It will be a lot of fun, so please join us.

The I Love My Library!


Also on Saturday, Feb. 7, our biggest fundraiser of the year is coming up. The I Love My Library! Gala will take place at the Altamont Community Room at Village Hall from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and will feature a fantastic dinner and dessert, entertainment, neighborly camaraderie, and live and silent auctions.

This year’s honorees are two of AFL’s guiding lights, Pat Spohr and Tony Kossmann. You will get to hobnob with friends, neighbors, and friendly, neighborly elected officials. Our community's involvement is what makes AFL unique among libraries, so please come on down to support your library. See you there.

Oscar Movie Sundays:

The Boxtrolls

Every Sunday in February, join us for a viewing of a family-friendly Oscar nominated movie. This coming Sunday, Feb. 8, we will be showing The Boxtrolls, a stop-motion animated movie from the makers of Coraline.

The Boxtrolls was nominated for Best Animated Feature, so it must be pretty good. We will make the popcorn.


YA Book Discussion Group Postponed

Our Young Adult Book Club discussion of The Circle by Dave Eggers has been postponed. Please join us on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. for a discussion of this widely lauded novel about technology, privacy, and the role of social media in our lives. 

Story time

As always, we will be holding story times on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. for preschoolers and on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. for toddlers. Come on by and check out the nifty new shadow puppet theater we made.

Program Guide

Our February Program Guide is out. You can pick a copy up at the library or find it on our website at to check out all the neat events we have coming up this month. 

Boy, oh boy. We’ve got such great stuff coming up here at Altamont Free Library. Let’s get right to it.

The Dojo

This coming Friday, Jan. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m., AFL will host The Dojo, our young adult gaming club. Whether you’re into card games, board games, video games, or any other kind of games, there will be something cool for everyone. As a special inducement, our recently departed (like, he got a new job departed) Library Assistant, Ryan Black will be back to lead this monthly event. Black is Back!

Book discussion

As we enter the thick of winter, when spring feels like it will never come and you can’t remember the last warm day, there’s just nothing better than curling up with a good book that put things in proper perspective. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks fits the bill nicely. This novel is set in a small mountain village beset by the plague in 15th Century England. This reminds us that things could be much worse in our own small mountain village. But really, this is a wonderfully written and widely acclaimed book that should provoke a fascinating discussion. Please join us at noon on Monday, Feb. 2, for the discussion. Unless you’re sick. There’s no sense in tempting fate.

YA book discussion group

One last event for Saturday, Feb. 2 is our Young Adult Book Club, we will be discussing The Circle by Dave Eggers. This novel is set in a social media company and will undoubtedly provoke an interesting conversation about the roles of technology and privacy in our everyday lives. If you’re in middle school or high school and love reading, please join us at 7 p.m. for this event.

Take Your Child to the Library Day

This is going to be fun! Saturday, Feb. 7, is Take Your Child to the Library Day here at AFL. This is a great opportunity to bring your young folks to the library and let us introduce them (or reintroduce them) to all the library has to offer. Festivities kick off at 10 a.m., as we stretch our muscles and our minds with adult kid yoga led by the fabulous Christine Carpenter. We’ll also have crafts and story times throughout the day. It’ll be a hoot and a great way to start off a library filled day, ending with…

The I Love My Library! Gala

Our biggest fund-raiser of the year is coming up, also on Saturday, Feb. 7. It sells out every year, so get your tickets at the library while there are still a few left. The I Love My Library! Gala takes place at the Altamont Community Room at village hall from 5 to 9:30 p.m., and will feature a fantastic dinner and dessert, entertainment, neighborly camaraderie, and live and silent auctions. Our community's involvement is what makes AFL unique among libraries, so please come on down to support your library. See you there!

— Photo by Joe Burke

Selfie: The enthusiastice new director of the Altamont Free Library, Joe Burke, is eager to meet the community.

Hi. I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Joe Burke and I’m incredibly proud to be the new director of the Altamont Free Library.

The Altamont Free Library is unique among the libraries in the Capital District. I have never seen a library so wholeheartedly embraced by its community. So many volunteers contributed to the 2012 renovation of the Altamont train station. So many continue to donate their time, energy, and expertise to making the library the vibrant, dynamic institution that it is. This dedication inspires me and many others throughout the Capital District.

I am excited to now be a part of this incredible organization.

The welcome I have received so far in my few days on the job has been overwhelming. I already feel the support — and responsibility — of such a unique library that means so much to so many. I look forward to getting to know all of you better as we work together to make sure your library is meeting your expectations.

I would like to acknowledge library’s former director, Judith Wines, for the incredible job she has done here. I know that I have big shoes to fill.

I’d like to thank Mary Beth Mulligan and the rest of our staff for the superb job they have done, and continue to do, in holding the library together day in and day out. Finally, I’d like to thank our trustees who give so much of themselves to shape the ideal library for the village of Altamont.

Together, we will build on the incredible work already done, and continue to push for new and exciting ways your library can be a part of your life and your community.

Now, let’s get to work!

First up, we will be holding a book club meeting on Monday, Jan. 19, at 7 p.m., with discussion about Tracy Chevalier’s historical fiction, Last Runaway.

Please join us for our monthly Around the World Potluck on Monday, Jan. 26, at 6 p.m. This month, we will be highlighting food from Scotland, so bring a dish to share!

Our eighth annual I Love My Library! Gala will be held Saturday, Feb. 7, at 5 p.m. at Village Hall. Tickets will soon be available at the library, and donations for the silent auction are still being accepted. I hope you will join us, and please make sure to introduce yourself.