Tompkins County Public Library

Friday, December 27, 2013

Celebrate the New Year and TCPL’s 150th Anniversary - Create a special Library Card for Diary of a Library

 TCPL is one of the oldest public libraries in the country having been
Ezra Cornell
founded 150 years ago in 1864 by Ezra Cornell. 

To celebrate our 150th anniversary we are inviting the community to participate in a special project: fill the drawers of a special card catalog with library cards created by all of us! You are invited to write/draw a card to tell your story/memory of the library – or any library.  Together these cards will become the Diary of a Library. Stop by the Welcome Desk next time you are in the Library and pick up a flyer with a blank library card.  Go to for information about our Anniversary Celebrations and to find more details about Diary of a Library and download a library card template.  Send a photo of yourself in your favorite library spot, or with your favorite book, together with your comments and library story to and we will create a card for you. 

Do you remember what card catalogs used to look like?  This is the card catalog when TCPL was located on Cayuga Street.

Here is the card catalog we need your help filling now. Go to for a full list of drawer topics.
Check out some of the cards we have received already.

We have a drawer for volunteers to fill.

Olympia McFall has been a volunteer for many years and has many stories to tell.

Local author, Anne Mazer, is a longstanding Library Lover and has contributed several cards.
Library Director Susan Currie, and Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen contributed this card and promise to send more.

Some of our youngest patrons are sending us cards.
Send your unique card as soon as possible to TCPL Card Catalog, 101 East Green Street, Ithaca, NY 14950, or drop off at the Welcome Desk in the Library.  Diary of a Library will go on display in the Library on April 4, but cards will be accepted and added to the catalog throughout the year.

For more information email

Monday, December 16, 2013

Books Re-Purposed and Book Covers Re-designed join “BANNED!” books at the Library’s Gallery Opening Night on Friday, January 3, 5:00 – 8:00 PM.

Two new book exhibits created by the 6th grade students at Boynton and 7th and 8th grade students at DeWitt Middle Schools provide a fascinating new presentation of books in the Teen Services Department at the Library.

Looking through the eyes of talented young artists from the classes of Caitlin Chan (Boynton) and Aubrey Hetznecker (DeWitt) the viewer is given a completely new insight into the way people view books. This exciting new exhibit perfectly complements the exhibit “BANNED!” curated by Suzanne Onodera which has been left on display especially for the January 3, Gallery Opening Night.

The sixth grade students of Boynton Middle School created new covers for favorite books.
Students read their chosen literature, identifying symbols, themes and characters that best represented the story they were to illustrate. In the classroom, a variety of media was available for them to use. Students selected materials that they were interested in exploring more deeply and independently. As a class, they discussed the connection between visual art and literature. Students researched illustrators who worked on book jackets and studied how illustration styles change.

Each new book jacket is successful because the students, responding to the art materials and story, were motivated to create a more visually compelling cover.

The seventh and eighth grade students of DeWitt Middle School created a variety of sculptural and poetic works using discarded books.

Students folded, tore, glued, collaged, cut, sculpted, and reshaped the books to create  new works of art. These artworks are as varied as the contents of the books themselves, reflecting the unique talent of each student.

After discussing ideas regarding function and form each student selected the book they wanted to rework and used their own strategy to create their altered book. Some used the content or theme of the actual text to guide their work, while others chose to base their artwork on their own interests and to use the book accordingly. Regardless, all of these works create a beautiful display of new narratives that rethink the relationship between function and form.

Gallery Night access to the Library will be through the BorgWarner Community Room door behind the TCAT bus shelter on Green Street. 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Ithaca Waldorf School Puppetry Exhibit Opens in Avenue of the Friends

TCPL is pleased to announce the opening of the Ithaca Waldorf School's Holiday Puppetry Exhibit in the Avenue of the Friends featuring many beautifully crafted marionettes and other puppets.

Rudolf Steiner, philosopher, educator, and founder of Waldorf education said "We must do everything in our power to help the children to develop fantasy.”  As a result Waldorf Schools around the world employ puppetry in their classrooms, to enrich and to enliven learning, particularly for their most impressionable students ages two to seven.

As young children experience the world through their senses, puppetry is a natural medium.  For their classroom “productions,” teachers bring narratives with archetypes of human beings, of fantastical creatures such as gnomes, of personifications of nature and animals, who exhibit qualities they wish to explore. Among them are courage, compassion, and perseverance in the face of adversity.  Puppet shows allow the young child to absorb the lessons being taught, from an unthreatening vantage point, as a play’s action unfolds.

Waldorf teachers have found that students’ awareness of and sympathy for others, for animals, for the natural world, and for themselves are bolstered through the use of puppetry in the classroom.  At the same time listening, observation, comprehension, and vocabulary skills are being developed.

These puppets were created by Ithaca Waldorf School teachers and others of its community. Most were created for pre-school and kindergarten programs, are handmade from felted wool and other natural materials, and tell magical folk tales in their puppet theater. 

Join Ithaca Waldorf School on December 17 in the Thaler/Howell Program Room when they present a puppet theater program of mystical folk tales.

The Ithaca Waldorf School is located at 20 Nelson Road, Ithaca, NY 14850.  For more information on Waldorf education and the Ithaca Waldorf school please contact Erin Fitzgerald, Director of School Administration, by telephone at 256-2020, by email at, or by visiting

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Behind the Lens: A Snapshot of Propaganda at the Turn of the 20th Century Opens November 8, 2013

TCPL presents a new exhibit in the Avenue of the Friends sponsored by The History Center and Ithaca Motion Picture Project with support from the Tompkins County Tourism Program, HiWay HiFi, Moving Box Studios, and Cayuga Radio Group. 

The exhibit Behind the Lens A Snapshot of Propaganda at the Turn of the 20th Century is a free-form installation illustrating the use of propaganda during the silent film era.

At the turn of the 20th century, radio, movies, and the printed page were the tools used to propagandize war, politics, religion, and eventually, The corporate program in America.  These tools of psychological warfare were colorful, dramatic, and often outrageous in scope and statement.  With the advent of film, mental manipulation became subtler, and thus even more insidious in nature.  In any form propaganda targets emotions more than intellect.  Nothing illustrates this better than what Americans were fed at the brink of World War I.  Whether national, or right here in Ithaca, politically correct or not, the message was always loud and clear.  Local filmmakers Theodore and Leopold Wharton wove pro-American rhetoric throughout their later films and audiences were insatiable.

Tompkins County Public Library is pleased to partner with The History Center and The Ithaca Motion Picture Project, in presenting this exhibit to the community. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Craig Williams and Jon Crispin discuss Willard Suitcases, October 24, at 6 PM

On Thursday October 24, at 6:00 PM in the BorgWarner Community Room, Craig Williams, Senior Curator of History at New York State Museum and one time Director of the DeWitt Historical Society and Jon Crispin, Professional Photographer who has embarked upon a major project to photograph all the Willard Suitcases now preserved by the New York State Museum, will present a discussion of the Willard Suitcases which are the subject of the exhibit The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic.

Craig Williams will discuss finding the suitcases in the attic of one of the buildings at Willard Psychiatric Center, when he visited the facility after it closed in 1995.  Williams first tried to return the suitcases to their original owners or too their families but over 400 of them are now preserved in the State Museum.  He then worked with Darby Penney and others to create the exhibit which is now on display in the Library.  He will talk about the importance of preserving these artifacts for future generations to see and learn from. 

Jon Crispin will discuss the importance of photo documentation of this collection.  He has been a full-time, self-employed photographer since 1974, dividing his time between freelance assignments and longer-term photo documentary projects.  Crispin has been photographing at Willard for the last three decades and in 2011 was granted access to the suitcases and began to photograph them and their contents.  He has shot over eighty of the cases so far.  He received funding for this work from a successful Kickstarter campaign.  His main concern throughout his documentation has been to maintain a respect for the integrity of the residents' lives, and to tell their stories through his photos. They can be seen at his wordpress site.

This promises to be a fascinating discussion, which you will not want to miss. 

This program has been made possible by grant support from Nami-Finger Lakes, The De Luca Fund for Hope and Recovery, the Finger Lakes Independence Center and the Tompkins County Public Library program fund.


TCPL is able to display the Willard Suitcases and Jon Crispin’s Photographs

Having learned from the New York State Museum that for legal reasons the Library would not be able to display the actual Willard Suitcases, arrangements were made to borrow artifacts from the Romulus Historical Society museum instead.  And professional photographer Jon Crispin, who is currently working on a documentation of the Willard Suitcases and their contents, very generously loaned prints for us to display.

Subsequently we learned from the State Museum that arrangements had been made for us to borrow a suitcase and the possession of two patients. These are now on display in the exhibit cases in the Avenue of the Friends together with artifacts from the Romulus Historical Society and Jon Crispin's prints. The two patients, Ethel and Margaret, both had ties with Ithaca which brings the history this exhibit has to tell very close to home.

The exhibit will be on display until November 6. 

Two programs are planned on October 5 when Darby Penney will talk, and October 24 when Craig Williams, curator at NY State Museum, and Jon Crispin will talk about the exhibit and the importance of keeping a detailed photographic record of these suitcases.

Friday, September 27, 2013

TCPL Features two important exhibits at October, 4 Gallery Opening Night

Tompkins County Public Library offers after-hours access to two powerful exhibits during Downtown Ithaca’s Gallery Night on Friday October 4.

From 5 to 8 p.m., art, history and literature enthusiasts as well as members of the human services community are invited to view The Lives they Left Behind:  Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic and BANNED!, an exhibit celebrating the freedom to read.

 A humbling and heart-wrenching glimpse into the forgotten lives of residents of Willard Psychiatric Center, The Lives They Left Behind is a traveling exhibit featuring photographic and written profiles of patients whose stories were uncovered when 400 discarded suitcases were found in a hospital attic after the Center’s 1995 closing.  In addition to the traveling exhibit, some of the actual suitcases preserved by the New York State Museum will also be on display. 

The Lives They Left Behind was developed by The Community Consortium and is circulated by the Exhibition Alliance, Inc. of Hamilton, NY.  The Library exhibit is presented by the National Association on Mental Illness—Finger Lakes, and co-sponsored by the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County and The History Center in Tompkins County.  It is made possible with grant support from Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

BANNED!, curated by Suzanne Onodera, offers a thought-provoking look at banned and challenged books throughout history.  Its 17 artists, poets and librarians were asked to comment in words and images on censorship and the banning of books in this country. 
Werner Sun
This timely exhibit features artists as young as 9-years-old and draws attention to the current and growing issue of censorship, challenging and banning of books and free and open access to information.  Artists will be present at the opening.  Take advantage of the opportunity to meet them and discuss their choice of books.

The exhibit has been made possible by the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation with grant support from the Community Arts Partnership.

Gallery Night access to the Library will be through the BorgWarner Community Room door behind the TCAT bus shelter on Green Street.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The exhibit “The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic” comes to TCPL

Tompkins County Public Library, together with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Finger Lakes, presents the exhibit The Lives They Left Behind:  Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic. The exhibit will be on display at TCPL from September 30 until November 4.  An opening reception will take place in conjunction with Gallery Opening Night on Friday, October 4, from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.

In addition to the exhibit some of the actual suitcases and their contents, on loan from the New York State Museum, will be on display in the Avenue of the Friends' exhibit cases.  Darby Penney, one of the developers of the exhibit, will be present at the opening reception and will give a talk at the Library on Saturday, October 5 at 1 PM.  On Thursday, October 24 at 6:00 PM, Craig Williams, a curator at the New York State Museum and one-time director of the History Center at Ithaca, will give a presentation about the exhibit and the finding of the suitcases.

This is an emotional exhibit which paints a tragic portrait of the forgotten lives of the people who lived at Willard Psychiatric Center.  For a hundred and twenty five years, from 1869 to 1995, the hospital housed thousands of people who were, for various reasons, separated from society.  Some were homeless, some could not communicate in English, some suffered from depression or other illnesses, most were poor. Many spent the rest of their lives there, ignored by society and in many cases by their families.
After Willard closed, Craig Williams visited the hospital and found, in an attic, over four hundred suitcases that had been left behind when their owners moved on or died.  The New York State Museum has preserved these suitcases and their contents.  In 1998, Williams teamed up with psychiatrist Peter Stastny and Darby Penney, former director of recipient affairs, who both worked at the State Office of Mental Health, together with cinematographer Liza Rinzler, to piece together and record the stories and lives of the owners of these suitcases.
Two exhibits and a book resulted from this partnership:  Stastny and Darby Penney co-authored the book The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic; Craig Williams was instrumental in developing the New York State Museum exhibit Lost Cases, Recovered Lives: Suitcases From a State Hospital Attic which featured the suitcases and possessions of 12 former Willard patients; and the traveling exhibit which will be on display at TCPL.

The traveling exhibit The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic was developed by The Community Consortium and is circulated by The Exhibition Alliance, Inc., Hamilton, N.Y. 

The exhibit at TCPL is made possible by a grant from Janssen Pharmaceuticals and has been co-sponsored by the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County and the History Center.  TCPL is grateful to Jean Poland for her work in obtaining this exhibit and to Craig Williams for making the loan of the suitcases themselves possible.

BANNED! A new exhibit opens at TCPL on September 21, 2013

What have the following books got in common?  Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling and Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut; the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Lolita by Validmir Nabokov; James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and I Write What I Like by Steven Biko; To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Forever by Judy Blume; Black Beauty by Anna Sewell and Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger; and Liar by Justine Larbalestier, Native Son by Richard Wright and 1984 by George Orwell.  

They are all “Banned Books”. That is they have been banned from some school or library somewhere or challenged as appropriate reading material for kids and adults at some time and are now featured in a new art exhibit at TCPL. Curated by Suzanne Onodera. The exhibit BANNED! opens in conjunction with the National Book Community’s annual Banned Books Week (September 22 – 28, 2013) and celebrates the freedom to read.

The intention of this exhibition is to call attention to the banned or challenged book throughout history in the United States. 

Claire Lesemann

BANNED! asks the question, “What sort of society would we be without freedom of access to information, freedom of ideas, and the freedom to read?”  It brings together 17 artists, poets, writers, librarians and community members who have been inspired to illustrate a challenged or banned book in a variety of different ways.

Carol Clune


The contributors, who vary from experienced artists and poets to those who have never exhibited publicly before, and range in age from as young as 9 years old, were charged by curator Onodera to draw attention to the current and growing issue of censorship, challenging and banning of books, and the threat to free and open access to information. They include Kenny Berkowitz, Duffy Berkowitz, Steve Carver, Carol Clune, Jane Dennis, Ariel Bullion – Eckert, Amy Emerson, Claire Lesemann, Tyi Mc Cray, Bridget Meeds, Tim Merrick, Trisica Munore, Suzanne Onodera, Barbara Page, Terry Plater and Werner Sun. 
Ariel Ecklund

BANNED! will be on display September 21 – December 19, 2013 at TCPL.  An opening reception will take place on Friday, October 4, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM during First Friday Gallery Night.  

This exhibit is made possible by the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation with grant support from the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

TCPL presents two exhibits at Ithaca's Gallery Night, Friday, August 2, 2013

Two new exhibits are presented at August's Gallery Opening Night on Friday  2nd - "Through Their Eyes: Grandparents and Grandchildren" curated by David Watkins, Jr., and "The Barn Story: A Woman's Building Adventure",  a memoir written and illustrated by Deborah Jones.
Keifer on the Carousel by Renee Freed
Lucy Reading by Elizabeth Mount


Many of the artists whose work is included in "Through Their Eyes" will be present to discuss their work, together with curator David Watkins and author Deborah Jones.

This is a wonderful opportunity to view the work on display in the peace and "gallery quiet" of the Library after it is closed for regular business.  After 5 PM entry to the Library is through the BorgWarner Door behind the bus shelter on Green Street.

For more information about these two exhibits please read my previous blogs. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Through Their Eyes: Grandparents and Grandchildren

The focus of the exhibition is how artists see their grandchildren - or their grandparents - in reality or abstraction. It is best described in the words of some of the participating artists.  "I try to create images that go beyond snapshots".  "Our innate creative connectedness is a source of wonderment and joy."  "I've tried to capture the mischievous gleam in my grandson's eyes." "My grand daughter is an amazing bundle of smiles, joy and daily discoveries."

The Curator's aim has been to present a show which is both a visual reminder and a celebration of the very special relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.

An opening reception is being held in conjunction with Gallery Opening Night on Friday, August 2nd from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.  After 5:00 PM please enter through the BorgWarner door adjacent to the bus shelter on Green Street.

This exhibit is made possible by the Tompkins County Public Library Foundation with grant support from the Community Arts Partnership.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gallery Night at TCPL 5:00 - 8:00 PM on Friday, July 5, 2013

Ithaca High School Art Students and the Ithaca League of Women Rollers share the spotlight at TCPL during July Gallery Night, 5:00 – 8:00 PM on Friday, July 5.

The High School presents Visual Culture with four projects, AP Studio Art, BJM Portraits, The Artful Garden and Fashion, Design and Illustration, displayed through out the library.  

The Ithaca League of Women Rollers present a five-year retrospective exhibit in the Avenue of the Friends. TCPL's Teen Librarian Regina DeMauro Axel, otherwise known as Valerie Valkerie of the SufferJets, will lead a group of Rollers as docents during the evening.

Access to the Library after 5 PM on Friday is through the BorgWarner Community Room Door which is located behind the TCAT Bus Shelter on Green Street.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Visual Culture: An exhibit of art work in all media created by Ithaca High School Students during the 2012-2013 year and curated by Art Faculty

Every year, Carol Spence and the Art Faculty at Ithaca High School present Visual Culture an exhibit of artwork in many different media created by students in the different courses taken during the year.  This year, four projects are on display in the Library.

AP Studio Art requires students to produce a portfolio of 24 pieces of art that reflect issues related to drawing or design. Drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media, collage and photography are all appropriate media for expression in the development of the portfolio during the yearlong course.  In the “concentration” section, students develop a body of work that is derived from the investigation of an idea or theme that is of personal interest to them.   Aspects of the theme of the “concentration” are evident in these final portraits of the year.

On display are some of the designs and illustrations created by the first IHS Fashion Design & Illustration course this past year. Students explored fashion figure proportions, color theory, media techniques, illustration approaches and style development.  Students are encouraged to think outside the box, with reference to ready-to-wear and haute couture design. Inspirations for these designs include, wearable art, black & white trends and cultural influences.  

In a new project this year, IHS Drawing & Painting students decided to connect with younger students who attend Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, by interviewing the students and painting their portraits.

Digital photographs were used as references and the second graders answered a brief survey to provide more information about who they are and what they enjoy.  When the exhibit comes down, the portraits will be given as gifts to the BJM students by the IHS artists.  

Art faculty hope to expand on this project in the future but this is a start for helping students make connections across grades and between buildings, to share art making ideas and inspire each other in the creative process.

The Drawing & Painting students were introduced to botanical illustration
by illustrator, muralist and gardener, Kellie Cox-Brady. They have painted  botanical images in acrylic on the untraditional surfaces of cabinet doors & window frames and they will eventually be mounted on the
walls of the Artful Garden space. 

Through the new IHS Garden Club and with grant support from IPEI and FABG  IHS students are developing the Artful Garden, a community garden space  to grow produce, art, connection and refuge.  Students are investigating issues around planting and gardening, creating an outdoor art space, planting seasonally and designing a pocket park within the school community. With the Cooperative Extension’s Gardens for Humanity as our community resource, the students are planning, building, planting and decorating this atrium garden space adjacent to the school’s cafeteria.

The exhibit will be on display through July 19, 2-13.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Art in the Heart of the City starts at TCPL

TCPL is delighted to host the work of two artists in this year’s Art in the Heart of the City.

Outside the front of the Library you will Oval Keeper a monumental stone sculpture by Glenn Sweygardt.

Zweygardt is an emeritus Professor of Sculpture at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.  Zweygardt possesses an uncanny ability to fuse dissimiliar elements and concepts, naturally occurring and fabricated forms, into structures that command attention. More of his work can be seen at

On the Southwest corner of the building you will find the farmyard murals of Mary Beth Ihnken.  

Ihnken is a highly regarded local muralist who works on many different surfaces in many different locations.  She is the artist of the mural to be found inside the Thaler/Howell Program Room in the Youth Services Department of the Library.  

Check out the work of these artists and then come inside to check out our current exhibits - at the time of posting this blog they are Visual Culture by Ithaca High School Students and a five-year retrospective exhibit from the Ithaca League of Women Roller - and other Library programs.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ithaca League of Women Rollers present a 5-Year Retrospective

The Ithaca League of Women Rollers celebrates 5 years of hard hits and fast feet with a retrospective in the Avenue of the Friends at the Tompkins County Public Library. On display will be uniforms and flyers through the years, treasured equipment used in actual bouts, and other pieces of roller derby memorabilia.
SufferJets READ at the Library

Enjoy docent-guided tours of the exhibit with members of ILWR, possibly on their roller skates, during July Gallery Night on July 5, as they share memories and facts about the league.

The exhibit has been arranged by TCPL Teen Librarian Regina DeMauro-Axel, also known as Valerie Valkyrie of the SufferJets. TCPL sponsors Regina in all her roller bouts and in return Regina/Valerie Valkyrie promotes the Library and all it has to offer wherever she goes and particularly to teens.

The exhibit will be on display in the exhibit cases in the Avenue of the Friends through July 19.