First of WNYLRC’s 50th Anniversary Events: Milestones of Science by Jaclyn McKewan

November 24th, 2015

On November 18th, WNYLRC held the first of six events for our 50th anniversary, which will include one in each of our counties. For Erie County, we went to the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s Central Library to see their new exhibit. Titled Milestones of Science: Books that Shook the World! It includes 35 books of the library’s larger “Milestones of Science” collection.


We gathered on the library’s 2nd floor, where the library has created an exhibit space, as well as a “STEM Education Center” with activities for younger patrons.



WNYLRC staff and members enjoyed some refreshments provided by Fables Café as we chatted and checked out the space. Then librarian Charles Alaimo gave us a tour of the exhibit and discussed the background of the project.


The Milestones of Science Collection is comprised of 197 rare editions of seminal works in science, such as Nicolaus Copernicus’ “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres,” and Galileo Galilei’s “Dialogue Concerning Two Chief World Systems.” The collection was originally collected and owned by the Buffalo Museum of Science but later traded to the library system in the 1990s. This exhibit only shows a fraction of this large and rich collection.

The exhibit will be running for 2 years, so if you didn’t make last week’s event, be sure to check it out. Sunday’s Buffalo News also did a nice write-up of the exhibit. And be on the lookout for updates on the rest of our 50th anniversary events running in 2016.




A Review of “Semantic Web and Google’s Knowledge Graph: The Changing Landscape of Search” by Mark Bialkowski

November 18th, 2015

As computing power increases, the amount of data collected, and the relationships that can be drawn from that data, have continued to evolve. In Ken Fujiuchi’s Semantic Web and Google’s Knowledge Graph: The Changing Landscape of Search workshop at WNYLRC we discussed how that continued evolution is not only changing the way we search but how it is changing the way information about us is searched for and used.

Based on how metadata is arranged and how much it can now be sifted and sorted through by computer programs, there are now search engines, applications, personal assistants (like Siri and Cortana), and other data aggregators that are becoming increasing aware of the relationships between the data in one place, or record, and the the data that exists in other places. It almost goes without saying that this use of linked data has, in many cases, enabled faster and more relevant searching. The advent of the semantic web has basically enabled the automatic generation of see also references on almost any subject, including yourself.

However, what stands in the way of some of the technology’s full potentiality being expressed has been the lack of standards in regards to how data is put online. Ken Fujiuchi continued our discussion on the semantic web by highlighting how RDF (resource description and framework), the RDF Query Language, BIBFRAME, and RDA may offer opportunities to make the arrangement of metadata, and the metadata itself, more useful. Adding an element of standardization will make it easier for programs to retrieve information in a more relevant, timely, and, most importantly, a relationally meaningful way, unlocking all sorts of capabilities.

A quick demonstration of Google’s Knowledge Graph and Wikidata by Ken Fujiuchi quickly illustrated the point of how data that is actually created by us and data about us, aggregated from multiple places by metacrawlers, were all interacting with each other in such way as to reveal relationships. In the near future, if not already partially in the present, Siri or Cortana will not only know who your contacts are but will easily be able to determine what your favorite genre to read is, who your favorite authors are, what your favorite journals are, what your favorite color is, all without you, personally, entering much data at all. Perhaps more importantly, a future Siri or Cortana product may even be able to tell you why you, seemingly, like the things you do.


WNYLRC Announces New Board Members

November 16th, 2015

The membership has spoken and the result of that is WNYLRC is pleased to announce the winners of the vote for openings on the Board of Trustees.

Returning for a second term is Kerrie Fergen Wilkes who will be filling the Academic Library representation. Kerrie is Associate Librarian and Coordinator of the Research and Information Literacy Service (RILS) Department at the Daniel A. Reed Library, State University of New York at Fredonia. Kerrie is currently President of WNYLRC’s Board of Trustees.

New to the Board will be Eli Guinnee, Executive Director, Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System, representing Public Library Systems. Eli’s experience leading a system of 36 member libraries will surely bring the perspective of all of our public libraries into the conversation.

Also new will be Charles Lyons, Associate University Librarian for Discovery and Delivery, University at Buffalo, representing the Academic Library with Largest Collection. Charles’ diverse background including scholarly communication and publishing will be an asset to his views on the Board in the coming years.

Their terms will run from 2016-2020 and we thank them in advance for their willingness to serve all of our members especially in facing the challenges and exciting projections that the rest of this decade is shaping up to offer. Congratulations and welcome to a Board which has always had the membership’s best interests at heart.

Also in the vote were changes to the Member Dues Schedule for Governing Members and for the three levels of Patron Membership through 2019. Those changes will be viewable at

WNYLRC’s 50th Anniversary Events Outline

November 13th, 2015

It’s WNYLRC’s birthday and we’re taking the whole year to celebrate!  After all, 50 years is a huge accomplishment and we want to share the festivities with you, our members, who have made these first 50 so noteworthy and who have laid the foundation for the next 50.

So we’re spreading the gaiety around and hope to visit all corners of our geographic region and ask you to will stay tuned for additional details in the coming months.  Remember, all are welcome at all locations but we’re coming to your particular backyard and hope to see you there for certain.

We’re kicking it off next week so be sure to register for this event at

Erie – November 2015

Location: BECPL Milestones of Science Exhibit Tour & Reception

Nov. 18, 2015 from 4-6pm

Stay tuned for more details on these upcoming destinations:

Niagara – March 2016

Location: Niagara Power Project Visitors Center

(Located at 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston, NY, 14092-2199. Call 716-286-6661 for more information.)

Date: March (end of) 2016????

Theme: The Power of Niagara (will include displays from the Niagara County History Center and the Niagara Falls Public Library)

Orleans County – April 2016

Location: Hoag Library, Albion

Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016 from 6-8pm

Theme: Military History – WWI and Civil War collections at Hoag

Genesee County – June 2016

Location: Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia

Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 from 6-8pm

Theme: Burned Over District (William Morgan Affair)

Speaker: Patrick Weissand, former Director of the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia

Chautauqua County – August 2016



Theme: Holland Land Office Company Records at Fredonia

Cattaraugus County – September 2016

Location: Ellicottville Public Library

Date/time: Friday September 30, 2016, 10am?

We’ll be covering all of Western New York to honor all of our members in all reaches of our region and to acknowledge all the contributions made for a dynamic 50 years!

The Rise and Fall, and Rise Again, of WNYIndex

November 10th, 2015



In October 2015, WNYLRC and the University at Buffalo completed the addition of the Western New York Index to New York Heritage, making a wealth of information available to researchers of local history. While the digitization and upload only took a couple of weeks, it was the culmination of a project that began over 30 years ago as a print publication of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. The project, with a goal of indexing local news publications of the time, was spearheaded by Mike Lavin and Mary Schnabel. Mary has since passed away, but Mike, who is semi-retired and now works part-time as a reference librarian at Canisius College, graciously agreed to tell me about how it all began (with additional info provided by Ann Kling and Maureen McLaughlin).

In the early 1980s, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library had been indexing local newspapers in-house for many years. Each department did their own indexing, for example, the music department indexed music-related stories. These were all done by hand, transcribed on index cards, and each department had a cabinet full of these cards. Then the library system switched to an electronic catalog system, DRA (Data Research Associates), which was internally referred to as TOLIS (Total Online Library Information System). This software included an indexing package that could be used to print your own indexes, so a decision was made to use it for a local news index.

It took a year of planning to get the index officially up and running. This included discussions of exactly what articles would be indexed and how the headings would be constructed. As editors of the publication, Mike Lavin and Mary Schnabel came up with the headings and the indexing structure.

There was some disagreement about whether to have broad or specific headings. A compromise was reached in which the index would have broad headings, but these would be subdivided into more specific headings. The publications that were indexed included:

Buffalo Business Journal
The Buffalo News
Buffalo Spree
Business First of Buffalo
Business New York
WNY Genealogical Society Journal
Western New York Magazine

Because it was a print publication with limited space, they had to decide just how much indexing would be done. General policies were created, such as indexing local news only, with state news included if it had local impact. Syndicated stories and columns were not included. Sports scores were not included, but stories with something significant about the team or local economy were. Death notices were not indexed, but obituaries were. See this page from the first annual edition for more info.


Mike and Mary did a lot of the indexing themselves, with assistance from the librarians in “Area 6” (History/General Information) and “Area 8” (Business/Science/Technology). The indexing software included 2 sections: subjects and personal names, so the Western New York Index was structured the same way. However, the librarians had to be judicious in who was included – the article had to really be about the person in order to index it under their name.

For each heading created, there would be an alpha-numeric code. For a subject heading, it was 2 letters and 3 numbers, so for example, “shopping malls” might be coded as SH100. For personal names, it was 1 letter and 4 numbers. Instead of writing out each heading, a librarian would just use the code.

Beginning in 1983, the library published a print index every month, and then every year they would accumulate them into an annual edition. The primary purpose was for the indexes to be available at each library in the system, but paid subscriptions were also available to other libraries. About 30 other libraries, including area college libraries, the New York State Library, and WNYLRC, purchased a subscription to these spiral-bound volumes.

This publication was a big boon to local researchers at the time. Mike remembers that while later working at the University at Buffalo libraries, they would often direct patrons to it.

The WNY Index ceased publication in 1996. Mike Lavin was no longer with the library system at the time, but says that it most likely ended because by this time, there was direct access to the Buffalo News and many of the other papers online.

From here, the story picks up with Buffalo State College. Randy Gadikian is now the Library Director at the State University of New York at Fredonia, but in the mid-90s he was Coordinator of Systems & Technology at Buffalo State College. I talked to him about the next incarnation of WNY Index.

About a year or two after the print version stopped, Randy had the idea to put it online. The paper version had been used a lot at Buffalo State, and he felt people could benefit from another way of accessing it. He applied for a state Electronic Doorways Libraries Grant through WNYLRC to fund the project, and remembers receiving a lot of encouragement from WNYLRC and Buffalo State’s library director at the time, Mary Ruth Glogowski.

Randy acquired the tapes from the library system that had the WNY Index data, which he took to the college’s computing center, because many of the tapes were in an obsolete format. The computing center read them and put them into an electronic file, which the library was able to turn into a workable index. To do this, Randy worked with undergraduate Computer Science students, and a library school student. The process took several months.

The site, located at (no longer a working address) originally ran as a beta server on campus at Buffalo State, before being transferred to the WNYLRC office. It just included the text, with no scanned images as we have now on the New York Heritage Collection.



Randy remembers having a “grand opening” event for the site, held at the Council, to which members of the county legislature and state government were invited. Mugs and t-shirts with the site’s logo were also printed up for the event.

WNYLRC promoted the site to our members, as you can see in this flyer from 1999.

WNYIndex flyer

From here, the details get a little fuzzier. According to the Internet Archive, the WNY Index site was around through at least 2001, but I was unable to find what happened after that or why the site was taken offline.

So let’s fast-forward to 2013. WNYLRC’s copies of the bound WNY Index were looking beat up, and we began to explore the idea of fully digitizing them for inclusion in New York Heritage. We got quotes from vendors, although the project was stalled a bit during staffing changes at the Council. In 2015, Ron Gaczewski at the University at Buffalo stepped in to help. He offered to arrange the digitization with a vendor, first copying the print version to microfilm for archival purposes, and then digitizing them.

UB also has their own paper version of WNY Index, and Don Hartman, Lockwood Library Reference Coordinator, tells me that it is still used by University staff who remember it. Nothing else indexes that time period, and if someone at the library is looking for local news/information from the 1980s, that’s the publication to use. Since the online version of the Buffalo News (through library databases or the News’ website) only goes back to 1989, it fills a gap from that time period.


In October 2015, the vendor uploaded the digitized files to New York Heritage, and after I reviewed the metadata, it was ready to go live. Now, for the first time, we have both the scanned images and searchable text of the Western New York Index online at . We hope this will continue to be a useful tool for researchers for years to come.

Thank you to everyone who contributed information to this article:

Grace Di Virgilio
Ron Gaczewski
Randy Gadikian
Ann Kling
Mike Lavin
Sheryl Knab
Maureen McLaughlin
Cynthia Van Ness