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Foodie Fiction

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I love food. From appetizers to dessert and soup to nuts, I love it all. I devour food blogs for new recipes to try, I love to browse the newest cookbooks for gorgeous pictures that make my mouth water and, while traveling, I am always seeking the perfect meal. From eating elaborate five course meals around my Italian grandparents’ dining room table or discovering new and exotic foods late at night while living in Manhattan as a frugal college student (I lived on lots of hummus and pho), some of my best memories revolve around food. It is my love language. Food has a powerful way of igniting all five senses to create meaningful connections between people. So, when I am not cooking for my friends and family or dining out at my favorite restaurant, I find myself taking my love of food from reality to fiction. Foodie fiction feeds both my brain and my soul. Here are some of my favorite mouthwatering reads: Little Beach Street Bakery  by Jenny

Museum Pairings

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Perhaps you’ve heard that our Museum Passes are back! I so enjoy talking with patrons who are participating in the program, and recently I spoke with a woman and her son as they returned from Battleship New Jersey. The son was so excited, and wanted books about Battleship New Jersey and ships in general. This is what libraries are for! Inspired by their enthusiasm and curiosity, I went hunting through the catalog and can now offer some suggested book pairings for each of the institutions that are part of our Museum Pass program. For the pair that had just gone to Battleship New Jersey , I found USS New Jersey (BB-62): From World War II, Korea, and Vietnam to Museum Ship . This book, with hundreds of photos, documents the ship’s building, its use during three wars, and its preservation and transformation into the museum we know today. Here is a curious one to pair with Eastern State Penitentiary : a book on silence . Silence: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements

NaNoWriMo Inspiration @ MCLS

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If you’ve recently visited our branches, the Mercer County Library System Event Calendar, or our website, you may have seen the odd-looking word, NaNoWriMo , featured on promotional materials. NaNoWriMo, formally known as Na tional No vel Wri ting  Mo nth, is a nonprofit organization which promotes creative writing. More specifically, over the course of 30 days every November, people from around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words towards a new novel. How many people? Last year over 400,000 writers accepted the challenge, and hundreds of thousands of people are expected to take on the same 50,000-words-in-30-days challenge again this year. Mercer County Library System is in full force supporting its local writers as they work towards the National Novel Writing Month goal. Writers naturally seek out libraries as a space to work. The doors of the nine MCLS branches are wide open during their regular operating hours, providing a change of venue, comfortable seating, neces

Celebrate the Holidays with…Mail Merge?

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With the holidays upon us, it may be time to start thinking about getting those cards ready. While the task of card writing may be daunting, we are often happy to do it because we know that for our loved one, friend, colleague, or whomever else, receiving a personalized, handwritten card is heartwarming and endearing. But why not ease at least some of the burden of card writing by using Mail Merge to print your envelope labels? Just purchase a packet of self-adhesive labels - in the store or online, put them in the printer, and let Mail Merge print the names and addresses of all your recipients directly onto the labels. It is quick and easy. Mail Merge isn’t just for labels, however. Following the steps below, I’ll show you how you can also create festive gift labels and place cards. The results will show off your computer savvy, creativity, and holiday spirit. Before You Begin Mail Merge You will have to purchase sheets of labels and/or place cards, depending on your project. You c

“Excuse Me, Do You Have Any Manga?”

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I’ve been fortunate enough to work as a Youth Services librarian at the Hightstown Branch for the past 10 years. In that time, I’ve seen the rise of so many trends in teen literature, from vampire novels to dystopian stories to mysteries. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with these trends, including the newest one here in Hightstown – manga. Manga is a form of Japanese storytelling through graphics and words. Think comic books and graphic novels, but read from right to left. Manga can be for readers of all ages and encompasses all kinds of subject matter; ranging from fantasy and romance to realistic fiction and horror/thriller to paranormal themes. In the summer of 2021, I began to get a lot of requests (mainly from teens) for various manga series. This is probably thanks in part to the fact that the anime version of many of these series can be found on streaming platforms. Since manga and anime are fairly new to me, I did what any good librarian would do - I

“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

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At the time of this writing, midterm elections were still on the horizon, with all of their accompanying anxieties. If you’re like me, politics can make you teeter between two things: 1) wondering why everyone doesn’t just rationally agree to disagree, without all the vitriol, and 2) trying hard to convince everyone of the correctness of our own opinions (or even, dare I say it, our own facts.) Talk about anxiety-producing discourse! One of the problems with such discourse is that it causes many people to simply choose not to engage at all. This harms everyone, as a healthy democracy needs citizens to come to the public square and hash out differences to find the best solutions. Otherwise, only the loudest or most thick-skinned among us will make all the decisions! Many of us feel we don’t have the skills to converse with people we strongly disagree with, or enough opportunity to practice those skills. One organization that works to change that is Braver Angels, which aims to bridge

Celebrate Native American Heritage!

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Public libraries cater to people of all ages, backgrounds, and cultures. That is the reason they are "public" libraries and not exclusive to any particular group. There has been much controversy about what should be read and what should not be available but I would like to look at it from a different perspective. I would like to focus on how amazing it is to be able to read a book and feel an instant connection to a story, situation, or character. Reading a fiction tale or a nonfiction piece and being able to identify with a character or situation creates a feeling of familiarity and kinship. You may have never met the author but it feels as if the author knows your background, your struggles, your thoughts, and even elements of your life. These feelings of recognition, connection, and validation are so meaningful and make our story - and our lives - understandable and relatable. This feeling of connection is imperative for people from al

Ease through the Holidays, with Help from MCLS

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Autumn – fall colors, crisp air, football, the rustle of leaves, the seemingly endless holiday marathon that starts for some with Halloween. This time of year is typically a time we try to brighten the darker days with our own festive sunshine, but the downside is it can often lead to more stress and less relaxation then we anticipate. Fortunately, the library is a terrific place to turn for advice, ideas, entertainment, and even some piece of mind. And while we do provide quite a variety in our physical collection, this is Tech Tips, so here is a rundown of how we can help you tackle the holidays virtually. First, if you have not yet delved into one of our newest databases, Creativebug , now is the time to do so! Sure, it’s packed with great hobby videos if you want to learn to paint or knit, but this time of year it is a bonanza of decorating, hosting, and gift ideas. Take a look and you will find Thanksgiving centerpieces, card making, gift bag and wrapping techniques, and even how

Adopting A Pet

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Would you like a furry friend or scaly creature to be part of your home? Adopting a pet is a good way as it can save an animal’s life while also enhancing your own health and wellbeing. Most of the pets in my life were strays or received from a household that needed to rehome a cat, hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig. I’ve adopted twice; once through a shelter and once through a pet rescue. Both of these sources can be found through basic Internet searches or using specific search engines. One example of a specific search engine is Petfinder.com . Here you can bring up a list of places that have animals available for adoption and use filters such as pet type, size, age, and location to further narrow your results. This site also provides a list of individual adoption links, so if you have a specific shelter or rescue in mind, you can look for it there. While shelters and rescues have a few differences, they have many similarities. In my experiences, both the shelter and rescue requir