It’s a little like looking into two mirrors facing each other – objects keep reappearing.

There’s a railroad train going by out there, and next to it is a station recently turned into a library.  And inside the station/library is more railroad track with another train.

The second train is an HO scale model. It consists of an engine, a caboose and a flatcar. It was installed by its owner, Michael Decker, 16 years old and recently arrived in Altamont with his family.  Michael has been keenly interested in model trains for 10 years.  He is currently setting one up in his new home.  Its layout is 12-by-14 feet.

The Altamont Free Library indoor train runs along the middle of the children’s book section’s back wall. When it reaches the end of the track is stops, reverses, backs up to its starting position, and begins another run. It accomplishes this by switching polarities.  Michael didn’t explain what this meant, and we suspect it’s just as well he didn’t.  We appreciate his generosity and the time he spent laying out the track and overseeing the many test runs.

Best of the rest

Don’t forget next Monday, Oct. 28, is Potluck in Paris.  The lusty dishes will be uncovered starting at 6 p.m.  The signup sheet is rapidly filling. We have a great many French cookbooks at the library to help get you started. 

Haunted side

On Tuesday, Oct. 29,, teens and adults are invited to join the ghost of Jacob Van Aernam for an exploration of Altamont’s wilder, haunted side.  The spirits of many of the village’s more colorful, memorable characters are expected to appear, disappear, appear, disappear, and provide those attending with equal amounts of information and jitters.  Please sign up at the library.

— Photo by Ruth Anne Burby

“The Dean of Children’s Nonfiction Books enchanted his audience with narratives.  Seymour Simon shared a selection of his almost 300 book titles with Altamont Elementary School’s students and staff,” reports Betty Ahearn, the school’s librarian. Using comparisons with grains of sand, he helped intermediate-grade students understand the magnitude of the universe.  With younger children, he described the mammoth size of a blue whale by comparing its tongue to the weight of an elephant. In his autobiography, Simon reports that children ask him if he will ever run out of ideas for his books, and he replies, “I can’t imagine that ever happening.” He shared his insights with teachers at an after-school workshop on Oct. 4. Simon’s website,, describes his visit to Altamont and lists the winners of his writing contest.

We were pleased to learn that North American author Alice Munro was the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Altamont Free Library has copies of two of Ms. Munro’s books and can get many more from other libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System.

Munro recently noted that “the constant happiness is curiosity.”  If that notion appeals to you, please get in touch with us and we’ll happily put you in touch with more thoughts and wisdom revealed in her stories.


A woven basket waits on top of a bookcase near the library entryway. It is our hope that soon it will begin filling with donated daffodil bulbs. The flowers are intended to commemorate the 96 years that a public library has been serving the village of Altamont and its surroundings.

The basket will be in place until the end of October.


The library will have the following events:

— Kid’s craft on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m.;

— French Pot Luck on Monday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m.;

— Tour of Altamont’s haunted side on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m.; and

— Story time every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.

A good rule for all public libraries:  Don’t take your volunteers for granted.  Thank them often.  Occasionally thank them publicly. 

We are grateful for the help we receive from Elfriede Erickson, Sarah Killian, Brenden Testa, Nina Kryzak, Christine Cardona, and Adam Hoffman.  We hope our Altamont Free Library patrons will show their own gratitude.

Adult craft

The first ever Adult Creative Hour will begin on Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.  We’ll be making dictionary necklaces.  The idea is to encase a word of true import to the necklace wearer in a handmade setting.


Would your young preschooler enjoy making some new friends?  If not, would it be good for her or him anyway? If so, story time at the library makes good sense. It’s a half hour of songs, stories, finger plays, laughter, and a craft. We get together every Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m.

There is a new display of artwork adorning the long wall of the Altamont Free Library’s meeting room and craft center.  It features the work of local library employee Ann Cartmell.

Cartmell makes quilt collages. This particular showing focuses on Irish landscapes. She is a long time member of two quilting groups, the Village Quilters, and the Train Station Quilters, and she has made a number of vacation trips to Ireland.  Her pieces are usually based on photographs, which are reconstructed using several layers of carefully chosen fabric.  This overlapping creates a vivid sense of depth and texture.

Book groups

For those book club members who appreciate an extended period of time to read and prepare for their monthly get together, here is a long look at upcoming events:

The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson, will be discussed on Oct. 7, at noon.

The Light Between Oceans, by M. L. Stedman, gets its turn on Oct. 21, at 7 p.m.

— The Woman Upstairs group meets on Nov. 4, also at high noon.

Food reminder

This month’s Potluck Around the World is stopping in Indonesia.  We’ll get there at 6 p.m., on Monday, September 30, and go home fat (a little) and happy (a lot).

There is a deep, historical connection between Indonesia and ourselves. Indonesia was what Christopher Columbus was looking for when he sloshed up and across our beaches instead.

So perhaps it will feel a little like coming home when the Altamont Free Library presents this month’s Potluck Dinner Around the World dinner, focusing on Indonesia. It promises to be a pleasant evening, and we can further promise that no diners will fall off the edge of the earth.

The date is Monday, Sept. 30, at 6 p.m.  Please sign up at the library.

Attempts to contact and invite descendants of Admiral Columbus proved unsuccessful.

Advance notice

The library will be presenting its first ever Adult Creative Hour on Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m.  Here’s how it works: Visit our Pinterest Board on line and “like” the craft that most interests you. The project with the most “hearts” will be our first craft and will be announced a week in advance. 

This is designed as a fun grown-ups’ evening out with all that this entails, of course.