Author Archives: Maurice York

Town Hall Meeting

Below is a video of one of the three “Town Hall” meetings that the library hosted online between February 8th and 9th. In it we discuss the history of the library, the new vision that’s forming, and the types of partnerships that the library is seeking within the anthroposophical community. The Town Hall is an invitation to hear what’s going on and to get involved! We received great commentary and questions from those who attended which we will organize and share, in the near future, as seeds for further conversation. As a follow-up to the Town Halls, we will begin engaging associations, institutions, and communities who are interested in becoming partners in creating the new vision for the library. Over the next two months we will be gathering together everything we’ve learned from the Town Hall meetings, last fall’s member survey, online conversations from the blog and social media, our meetings with potential partners, and the many conversations we’ve had, and will continue to have, with the whole anthroposophical community. From all of these thoughts we will form a basic proposal for a new, sustainable structure for the library – an agile structure that can continue to be built up and engaged by the larger community as we move forward – and a bit of a road map on how that engagement will look. Please watch the video and join in the process! The library has great potential at this moment. It can be a house where all our anthroposophical work is actively living, a place where we continually return in order to meet each other and build this work anew. And we are the ones who will imagine what that house looks like and how wide its walls are. We welcome your thoughts, time, and talents!

The Move Accomplished, and We Pause

The move of the library is now fully accomplished and we have been at rest in the new building for about two weeks. The move was so all-consuming in the logistics and effort required to pull it off that we haven’t been able to post here to keep everyone updated on the progress. Now that we have a little space to breathe, it’s time to catch up, reflect on the events that got us here, and look forward to the work to come. Watch this space for frequent updates and musings on the activity at the library, the transformation it is going through, and its role in the life of the Society through research, study, and community.

On Tuesday January 8th, after three months of planning and preparation, we began to roar forward with the library move by building shelving in our new location at 139 Main Street in Philmont, NY. We had a number of facilities-related delays that pushed back our move from December and quite a complex logistical dance to perform. Yet in reflection, everything happened for a reason and just as needed. The story of this move will likely take several postings to tell, which we will weave together through series of updates, stories, video, and photos of about the move and the new space..

Preparing the collection to move has took weeks of intensive activity by Judith Kiely, the Society’s Interim Librarian, and Seth Jordan, our Transition Manager. On December 1st, the library suspended lending services so that the move team could focus on the great task of preparing the collection to leave its home of thirty years. Hundreds of linear feet worth of loose journals and papers needed to be boxed, closets of archives and materials needed to be organized, books needed to be reordered and straightened, and the general accumulation of three decades of serving the membership needed to be swept up and tidied. The original targeted move date was December 21st, with the goal of having the old building clear and empty before the holy nights, leaving a scant few weeks that began to make a steady cleanup operation seem more akin to a herculean task. We’ll post more stories about what it takes to move 36,000 books, journals, and archival papers from their home of 30 years; but for the present, on the excitement of the last couple of weeks.

The library moved from its home on Fern Hill in Ghent, NY just four miles down the road to 139 Main Street in the heart of Philmont, NY. Here is a map of the two locations, and the route that the moving trucks took. (Note that Google mistakenly thinks the address is 147 Main Street.)

139 Main Street

The stone church at 139 Main Street after a snow storm in December.

139 Main Street is a 112-year-old brick church originally built in 1902 for the Catholic Reformed congregation in Philmont. A history of the building tells the background of the building and a little of the story of the congregation. About ten years ago the congregation dispersed and the building remained vacant for some years until it was purchased by the current owner in 2007, who began renovations with the intent of converting it to use as a part of the village’s economic or cultural life. When we discovered the property, the altar and pews had been removed, the roof repaired, and mechanicals updated, and a final phase of renovation was beginning on the floors, kitchen, and bath. The building has the feel of being stout and indomitable, with massive solid brick walls and a foundation made of local field stone. The floor is an southern heart pine with a solid plank subfloor and girders ten inches on center–just right for supporting two thousand linear feet of steel shelving and the weight of 36,000 books and journals.

Moving day at the old library

On the first morning of the move, the Arnoff moving truck in front of the library preparing to move the first wave of books.

Our mover was Arnoff Moving + Rigging, a professional mover based out of Albany, NY, that specializes in moving library, archival, and special collections. A crew of four arrived Tuesday, January 7th, and worked through Thursday to build 112 units of steel book shelving and 8 units of box storage in seven rows across the church. Seth worked with the movers for three days to build the shelving that soon would receive the steady stream of books to roll in from the Carriage House on Saturday. That story will fill our next post.

The Library is on the Move

Philmont church panorama-weblg

Starting in just a few short weeks, the Rudolf Steiner Library will begin a monumental once-in-a-generation journey. Books, journals, pamphlets, manuscripts—all 36,000 items in the library’s care must be raised from the old wooden Carriage House, with its three floors and narrow stair cases, and moved down the road to a stone building with a single, open floor plan—an old church in the heart of Philmont, just four miles away. Once in this new space—where all of the materials can be arranged and seen at a glance in a common area, and where proper work areas can be set up with sufficient space for processing large quantities of material at the same time—the massive project to arrest the forces of decay can begin. Every item will be cleaned, journals will be re-housed in sound boxes, brittle materials will be tested for acidic paper and set aside for deacidification, cataloging will be completed on materials that are currently invisible to the membership, and the whole collection will be reorganized. Of chief importance to ongoing efforts to increase access, the library will make a push to digitize all one-thousand linear feet of journals, which provide an unbroken record of anthroposophical thinking and research dating back to the 1920s.

In order to allow the staff of the library to focus their attention and will on accomplishing this great task, the library will need to close its lending and research services temporarily. The window of opportunity to move the library is rapidly closing—the goal is to have the library completed relocated before the holy nights begin—so we must move quickly.

To meet our goal, library lending and research services will be temporarily suspended on December 1st and the doors of the Carriage House will close to visitors. The library’s intent is to reopen services as quickly as possible. In order to accomplish this mission, library staff need to focus all of their energies on cleaning and caring for the collection, a process that may take from six months to a year. Once the collection is settled in Philmont, the doors will be open to visitors and volunteers, though lending services will remain suspended because of the active cleaning and preservation activities.

We encourage you to request any books that you would like to use over the next year before December 1st. All requests received by the end of the day on December 1st will be honored and shipped immediately. Books will be shipped free of charge with a one year due date. All books that are currently checked out have automatically been extended to a one year due date.

For more information about the planning  behind the transition, please download the transition plan booklet. You will soon receive the Annual Appeal letter, which is focused on support for the library move and preservation activities. The next issue of being human will contain an article about with additional information and context about the library’s move. You can follow every step of the library transition on this blog.

This is an exciting time in the history of the library, a turning point that will provide a renewed foundation for expanded programs, services, and collections to support  research and study in the Society and in the broader anthroposophical community. Thank you for your patience and support as we undertake this endeavor.