Fifty libraries in ten days. That is the feat father and son Jeremy and Jack Johannesen have set themselves this summer.
In an old green 1978 Voswagen camper van that Johannesen has had since he was 20, the pair left from their hometown library in Bethlehem on a sunny Monday morning.
Their trip will take them all across the state. The only rule, said Jack, is to stop at every library they pass. “Every library has its own magic,” he said.
Though the old van Johannesen is driving has gone through considerable repairs throughout the years, he’s sure it will be able to make the trip. The van has been with the family for decades, providing the post-wedding getaway vehicle for Johannesen’s parents’ wedding.
Jeremy Johannesen is the executive director of the New York Library Association (NYLA). Jack, an avid reader himself, was happy to tag along with his dad on the trip, which left July 20. Jeremy said he came up with the idea for the trip to raise awareness of the different work that NYLA does across the state.
He hoped their trip will raise awareness of the different libraries that exist throughout the state, and help get funding donations for New York State libraries.
The group cites that New York State Library funding is currently below 1997 levels. The organization is working to raise those funds for individual libraries.
The goal of the trip is to visit 50 libraries, but the Johannesens are trying to visit as many libraries as possible.
“There are so many smaller libraries across the state and I thought it was time to stop and see what they’re doing that’s new and exciting,” said Jeremy.
He described one such location where a town’s high school library stays open all year – even in summer – because the town does not have its own public library.
Jack said he was particularly excited to see some 3D printers.
Some of the sites the plan to see are a library in Round Lake built from a former house. At the Crandell Library, there is a large machine that automatically sorts books, and at the Tupper Lake Library, there is a stuffed fox on a shelf, watching readers from above.
In all of the libraries they hope to come across, Jack and Jeremy Johannesen think they will find communities of people who love their local libraries, however small or large it may be. Each is unique and each typically well-loved.
The pair planned to return Wednesday, July 29, but you can see all of their strange and magical librarial finds documented on the NYLA’s twitter. NYLA advocates are also encouraged to contact their local elected officials to increase their library’s funding.