Library Construction Progress Report, 16 August 2015

On August 13 Raimond Flynn, Nathaniel Williams, and I visited 351 Fairview Avenue in Hudson to view the progress on our new library space. Nathaniel and Raimond have been instrumental in securing our new location in the Berkshire-Taconic region.

We were pleased to see the many developments:

  • all exterior walls, along with the meeting room and interior office have been framed, and most of the sheet-rocking completed
  • the shared entryway with lavatories has been framed, and the sewer line installed
  • the front windows and door have been cut out.

Here’s a view from just inside the space, by one of the new front windows. The emergency exit door you see will be filled in, and a new 6-foot doorway will be installed to the left of this existing door.


In the photo it looks positively leafy outside beyond the dumpster, but don’t be fooled. Beyond that one tree is an enormous asphalt parking lot whose future the property owners have not yet decided upon. Send us your ideas, and we’ll share them with our landlord.


Unlike at the carriage house in Harlemville and our temporary location in Philmont, parking will be ample as you can see; and we won’t have any hazardous hills to contend with in the winter—all the more reason to come visit when we re-open this fall!

Thank you again for your support.
Donations may be made online at:

Library update: Re-opening Fall 2015

Coming Fall 2015 — Our new location at 351 Fairview Ave, Hudson, NY


The library is still closed, but our staff is eagerly looking forward to re-opening in the fall
of 2015.

We will be moving to 351 Fairview Ave, Suite 610, Hudson, NY, 12534, as soon as the construction of our 2500-square-foot suite is completed. Our new landlord, Premier Riverview LLC, has begun construction of the space, which will be part of a mixed-use plaza.

Our local Berkshire-Taconic community has so far donated nearly $10,000 to help fund the cost of rent and utilities at the new space for 2015-16. That’s $1800 more than we appealed for this year, so these additional donations will be set aside to fund facility expenses for 2016-17.

Thank you for all your support and your patience!

We will be posting updates on the construction as it progresses, and plan to have a re-opening celebration once we get settled in.

Check our online catalog for the new books that will be available when we re-open.

Although we’ve had to change the shelving layout, here’s the floor plan of our new space.
We hope you will visit us when we re-open in the fall.




Temporarily closed

The Rudolf Steiner Library is temporarily closed; we hope to resume lending and research services within a few months. All materials currently checked out have been renewed.
If you need to return your books now, our mailing address is:
Rudolf Steiner Library, PO Box 800, Philmont NY 12565-0800.
Our phone number will not be in service while we are closed; you may contact the librarian at
Thank you for your patience, and we look forward to being able to serve you again soon!

GERMINAL CELLS – reflections on our first work week

“Little thoughts will get us nowhere, so we must pluck up the courage to think big thoughts.”    ~ Rudolf Steiner

Germinal Cells are all that physically remain of a caterpillar in the midst of metamorphosis.  Small clusters of cells swim in a sea of liquid, enclosed in the cocoon.   The form of the butterfly will manifest upon this foundation.  Nature’s wisdom lies with the beings that stand behind her forms.  Contraction, dissolution, redistribution, flow, movement and unconditional surrender to the process are part of metamorphosis.  This is the image I hold when I consider the Library in this time of transition.  We know its present form quite well, but its future form is still a mystery.  The being(s) that stand behind the library guide a process to which we surrender our preconceived ideas, our beloved, and habituated forms, trusting that the ‘germinal cells’ of the library will remain to hold the center.   This became very clear to me during the library’s recent Youth Section work week.


Fresh from the inspiring InPower conference in Spring Valley, these young men and women spent a week at the library, repairing books, discussing non-violent transformation and the future of the library.   Accomplished in their own rights, as musicians, educators, scholars, social reformers and initiators, it was heartening and touching to experience their collective energy, the freshness of their perspectives, their enthusiasm and commitment to bring anthroposophy into practical life.   We accomplished a great deal in terms of book repair, but more importantly we conversed about the future of the library with a generation through whom that future will manifest.

“Sending many books off to the book sale and removing all but the most helpful of old markings felt like a controlled forest burn or deadheading of garden flowers. The library is poised for new growth, though the specific forms have not yet sprouted. What intangible deeds underlie this transformation? With what forces are we working when we care for these old books and the space that now houses them? There is an amazing archive of writings in the library, the documented heritage of our movement, and it must be living.”  ~Elizabeth Roosevelt

Wonderful social events filled the week: community dinners, conversations amidst beautiful waterfalls and natural beauty, shared meals among participants and library staff, and more.   The week’s theme engaged a global perspective; and one could see  how it related to regional, local and even personal matters.  Non-violent transformation.  How are forms and relationships changed while holding to the sacred integrity of the other?  To the necessity of the relationship?  How has humanity made the large transitions from violent overthrows and resistance to non-violent, socially dynamic, life-affirming processes of change?   How will we change ourselves and our own relationships through processes that value and recognize the inherent integrity of individual destiny and freedom?  It is a fitting theme within which to also explore the library’s transition.

“We gathered to brainstorm and prototype possible future forms and processes for the library. We wondered how this library could be renewed, revitalized, transformed. It is currently funded by the Anthroposophical Society in America and membership fees.  We wondered how the library could connect the books to the people who need them, who will use them, regardless of cost. How can we get the books to the people who will take the information in them and transform it into living knowledge within themselves? How can Anthroposophy become living knowledge within human beings, rather than stagnate and calcify…What form is needed? What processes would bring life and vitality to this organism? Many beautiful and creative ideas were put forward.”  ~Olivia Hanna

“We searched for certain common qualities that nonviolent actions and resisters seem to share. I noticed how leaders seem willing to commit to giving everything, even their lives, for the sake of gaining equality for their brothers and sisters….I wonder how I can connect with this truth forceand place of fearlessness within myself and apply it to what comes towards me out of the future in my own life?” ~Olivia Hanna

 YS work week gorge jump

The shared work of repairing books created an atmosphere imbued with intentionality, focus, rhythm and peace.   It invited dialogue, inspired questions, drew forth ideas and reflections, and brought diverse perspectives into relationship.  The ghosts of former readers resurfaced, through notes in the margins and underlined sections of text, offering questions and questings from past generations to the present.  It became clear that group engagement with the collection was an important aspect of keeping the dialogues alive and relevant, of bringing new life into concepts once delivered and codified many years ago.

“As we erased anonymous underlining in old books, striking phrases jumped off the page and echoed around the table. Through whose hands had these pages passed?Encountering each book, we wondered about its history and its previous readers”.  ~Elizabeth Roosevelt

In the picking up and sifting through of books and manuscripts, there was a space made open for questions to sprout and ideas to blossom.”  ~James Kuhn

Many participants expressed how wonderful it was to work together like a buzzing beehive, how enjoyable it was to work with their hands and craft something with care and attention to detail. I found this way of working together very nourishing and I wonder how this type of work can be expanded and applied to other project areas to create healthier communities where we can freely give our work to create something beautiful together.” ~Olivia Hanna


Relationship, community, conversation, connection, these are perhaps the “germinal cells” around which the new form of the library will manifest.   Can one unite inwardly with the process?  Can one offer outer support?   It can be as small as a donation, a “share” on social media, or a letter outlining your thoughts for relevancy in a quickly changing world.   You can come for a few hours when visiting the area, or join us for a work week and spend 20+  hours repairing books while participating actively in the processes forming the future.

One question that still burns in me is: WHO? Who is going to take these ideas and transform them into reality? Who is actually going to commit and do the work? I sensed that those of us sitting in the circle were inspired in some way to hold the library in our consciousness and to participate in small and large ways towards renewing it. Working on the books helped me to feel connected to the specific collection there. I am now curious to see what will happen with it, to stay in touch. I wonder how my generation….will be able to work with and renew the Anthroposophical organizations that exist, many of which were guided and guarded by individuals in the past who gave decades of their lives to caring for these social organisms.”    ~Olivia Hanna

The August and September work weeks hold the same promise as the Youth Section work week.  Participants will have opportunities to interact more deeply with the collection, meet and discuss significant matters related to the role books play in our biographies and the dissemination of ideas in the world, and support and participate in the transition with human will, intention, and openness to what is streaming toward us from the future.  It is an exciting time at the library.   We certainly hope you join us in the process.

I am grateful for having been able to participate in the library week. It seemed that, as participants, we were fed by the same forces of renewal that we strove to bring to this place.”  ~Elizabeth Roosevelt


  DSCN0514 library open doors

Lisa Damian

For more information on how you can participate in the RS Library transition, check out the August Work Week, the September work week, Book Repair Workshop, or fill out the Volunteer Form.

Our History

This notice was in the Anthroposophical Movement in America journal, Vol 1 #4. Easter 1928. (Click on it to see a larger version)

The Library’s opening announcement 86 years ago. In that time the library has grown from 60 books to 36,000 books, pamphlets, audio and video recordings, and various other treasures. A pretty incredible history.


Gearing up!

Spine repair

Well, things are underway at the library. We’re getting all the journals ready for digitization and getting all our systems in place for cleaning and repairing the books. We’ll be replacing spines and hinges, repairing corners and whole covers, tipping in individual pages, binding pamphlets, perhaps even de-acidifying some of the most brittle, but important books. How does one do all these things?

Last weekend was our first training in the repair work and it was a real joy. Maurice, who had a book-repair business locally for a couple years, gave Judith and me a basic tutorial. Now it’s time to practice on the very worst books (the give-aways, of which we have quite a few… we’ve been weeding our collection) and also get some additional training at the Camphill Copake bookbindery. By the time we open our doors for work parties later this month, and then for work weeks this summer, we should be all ready. Hope you can join us!

– Seth

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!

Video of the Library Move!

Here’s the video documenting the move of the library from its home of 32 years, the Carriage House in Harlemville, NY. The move was made possible by 175 hours of volunteer labor, the efforts of Judith Kiely (our interim librarian), and Seth Jordan (our transition coordinator). Our movers were the good people at Arnoff Moving & Storage & Rigging out of Albany, NY. Check it out:

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.