About the Mid-Hudson LIbrary System
When she was just a teenager, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich's father was president of the Pleasant Valley Free Library Board.  He created the post of “Junior Board Director” and arranged for Rebekkah to attend all library board meetings, so she was off to a start with the library business. After college she went to work for the Mid-Hudson Library System, where she has been for the past 18 years. Mid-Hudson is a cooperative group of 66 regional libraries in the lower Hudson Valley that covers a region as big as the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  The two oldest libraries in the system—Starr in Rhinebeck and Grinnell in Wappingers Falls—have been helping their communities since the mid-19th Century.  By cooperating with each other, the libraries in the system save money and provide services beyond anything an individual library could manage. The core value of the system is that everyone in the community should have access to learning and education.  The online catalog saves $80,000 a year, but all anyone needs to access it is free library card, available at your local library. Some 3,500,000 books are borrowed in the system each year—but books are far from the whole story, since the modern library also provides audio, e-books, online magazines and newspapers, and a lot of items you might not expect, such as camping equipment and language lessons.  Libraries also have many community partnerships, especially with schools but also with other community centers, such as a local farmer’s market. Libraries may also provide outreach to the community with “little libraries” for book exchange scattered at key locations throughout the community. Mid-Hudson Libraries are at the forefront of sustainability, including the first passive solar energy library, which is in Phoenicia.  Other unusual examples of the efforts of Mid-Hudson libraries to be regenerative, resilient, and sustainable include the working beehive in the Olive library and a community garden run by the Patterson library.  COMMENTS: Charlotte wished there were a way to search beyond the Mid-Hudson system without physically going to a library (Answer: A phone call could get a librarian to make the search).  Bryan wanted to call attention to libraries as important community centers that provide meeting rooms and a refuge for students between school and parental pick-ups.  Several Rotarians thanked Rebekkah for a wonderful presentation.  Stephanie Harrison, Director of the Millbrook Library, was also present and could answer questions.