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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

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May always makes me think of that line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 : “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May.” In honor of this month, here are my reflections on my favorite parts of that poem. (Here’s a quick refresher for those of us who haven’t been in a high school English class in a while: a sonnet is a poem consisting of fourteen lines, with each line written in iambic pentameter. That means each line is ten or eleven syllables with an emphasis landing on every other syllable. The kind of sonnets that Shakespeare wrote follow a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.) The tonal variance in Shakespeare’s sonnet cycle, of which Sonnet 18 is a part, is erratic. The speaker of the sonnets is sometimes playful, sometimes pensive; at one moment seductive, the next reticent and the next analytical. This variance is on display here in Sonnet 18. The question of the first line can be read as reverent, but it can also be read as flippant, almost whimsical. The speaker may just as much

Altered Books

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Readers often talk about a book changing their opinions, outlooks or lives. But what if we turn the table and change the book? The process of taking a book and changing it into something else can be fascinating. You could take a book and turn it into a box or a clock or some other object – or you could make its pages tell a completely different story. There are many ways to alter a book. You can treat it as a sketch book and fill its pages with art. Use it as a photo album or scrapbook. I have been working on one that collects quotations about books and libraries and another of mini collages. There are some great classes on CreativeBug – just search “altered books” to find them. YouTube and Instagram are also full of altered book content – so I am guessing that there might be a few altered book enthusiasts amongst our library patrons! I have been thinking about starting an Altered Book Club (or Workshop?) at the West Windsor branch. It would give you (and me!) a chance to meet oth

History on DVD

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It’s May, and I’m starting to think about summer and the holiday that unofficially starts it all off – Memorial Day. I’m not really into history, but I have found myself becoming more interested as I get older. I think it may be because I have a better perspective now than before - more time has passed from history meaning school projects and long days in class. But, back to Memorial Day – I recently learned about the beginning of Memorial Day by watching Henry Louis Gates’ The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross – an excellent series! Dr. Gates is such a pleasure to listen to. That made me start thinking about other documentary series that I have enjoyed. Another series by Dr. Gates is The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song . I learned so much about the importance and history of the Church in African American communities. I never knew that the Church was so much more than religion – a school, a place to prepare for a career, an extended family and support system.

“How to Write a Book” Book Recs

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Most people come to the library to read books, but did you know it’s also a great place to write them? First and foremost, libraries provide a wonderfully inspiring environment to sit down and write. And if you’re like me and you end up with pages and pages of notes, some of the big tables are really nice to spread all papers out on. It’s also nice to have access to research material if you’re writing anything to do with history or non-fiction. I don’t know about you, but something about a physical book makes the information stick in my head better, so I find it helpful to have access to just about every topic I could possibly want. Plus, when I’m browsing for one book, I see other similar titles around it that might also have information I’m interested in that I didn’t know about before. There are also groups who meet at the library. I participated in a ‘Write In’ for National Novel Writing Month a few years ago, which is where writers come, chat for

How to Grow Microgreens

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What are microgreens? They are young vegetables or herbs that are grown from seeds and harvested at the seedling stage. They can have up to 40 times more nutrients than mature plants. Microgreens are considered baby plants that look like sprouted greens, also called cotyledons. They differ from sprouts in that you cut off and eat only the stalks and leaves, not the seeds and roots. Microgreens are ready to be eaten after seven to ten days, depending on the seeds and the season. To grow microgreens, we need the following supplies: Two shallow containers of the same size (plastic yogurt cups, plastic trays, plastic fruit packages, disposable aluminum trays, or takeaway containers)  Microgreen seeds Potting soil Spray bottle  Spoon Sewing needles or forks to make the holes Plate to water the microgreens Instructions: At the bottom of each container, make 10-12 holes with a needle or fork.  Add potting soil to one of your chosen containers. Microgreens do best in loose soil. T

When Social Media is Positive

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The best part of being Social Media Librarian for the Mercer County Library System is knowing that every day I go to work, I’m going to be posting something positive about the great things going on in our community. In a world where so much of social media is filled with negativity and rancor this is, seemingly, a comparatively rare pleasure. When people ask me what I like best about my job I say: Showing all the good things people are doing in Mercer County. Our social media is not merely a promotion of the library. It’s a demonstration of what you – the patrons and employees of the MCLS - are doing to connect with each other. It’s a chance to show our youngest patrons taking their first steps into a wider world of dreams, what books and activities at the library can bring. It’s a chance to show their parents this as they look on with pride and remember their own fond memories of libraries of the past. Or, maybe, if they’re lucky, their memories of the same MCLS library they used to

Remembering Grunge

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This April marks the 30 th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, a cultural moment that shook the lives of people around the globe, especially younger folks - the angsty counter-culturists for whom Nirvana and their “grunge” contemporaries provided an emotional outlet. Cobain’s death happened to coincide with the more gradual decline of the grunge era, after having enjoyed roughly five years in the mainstream, from 1990 to 1994. But its influence lived on, and still lives on. While I was a bit too young to experience grunge at its pinnacle, the “Seattle Sound” still had a profound influence on my musical taste and, for better or worse, attitude. Whether I was passively listening to it on the radio, or blasting it through the speakers of my five-CD (yes, five!) stereo, grunge followed me everywhere. But what is grunge? Though that question has been debated since the scene’s beginnings, there seems to be consensus among critics, historians, and musicians that the single, unifying charac

Hi It’s Me, I’m The Poet, It’s Me!

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Hi, it’s me, I’m a Swiftie, it’s me. This April, Taylor Swift is taking on a new role, The Chairman of The Tortured Poets Department, a nod to her newest album, The Tortured Poets Department . Always happy to dig into the clues that Ms. Swift shares about her work, fans were very quick to notice something special about the release date of April 19th. Yes, it’s National Cat Lady Day, and Swift is a proud “Cat Lady”. But that’s not all - National Cat Lady Day happens to fall within National Poetry Month  “a special occasion that celebrates poets’ integral role in our culture and that poetry matters” established by the Academy of American Poets and celebrated since 1996. As the lyrics to “Mastermind” ask, “ What if I told you none of it was accidental ”? Smart marketing strategy? Likely. Perfect opportunity for Librarians to share poetry related resources? Certainly. So, whether you’re brand new to poetry or just looking for something new, I present to you Databases I’m fairly con