In 2004, I went on a trip encompassing Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky.  One of the places we stopped was Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  I am not a big history buff and, although I enjoyed watching The Civil War when it first aired on PBS, I did not remember much about Gettysburg except for the Gettysburg Address.  Because we were only there for a day, we just saw a
few specific sights – the Gettysburg National Cemetery, the Pennsylvania State Memorial, and the Eternal Light Peace Memorial – as we walked and drove around the area.  I was happy to have been there but, to me at the time, it was just one of the spots we saw on the way.  Unfortunately, the photo with this post was the only one I took while I was there – it was pretty rainy and back then I had a camera that used film.

Fast forward 14 years…

I had seen Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels on many reading lists and always meant to read it.  I knew generally that it had to do with the Civil War and that it was …

Memoirs of a Public Librarian

I have wanted to work in a library since I was in middle school. I loved visiting the main library in Washington, DC where I grew up and marveling at the architecture and the volumes of books. My grandfather’s personal collection of classics like Huckleberry Finn, The Hunchback of Notre Dame,David Copperfield and many others sparked my love of reading and I would spend countless hours lost in the pages. Books opened a world far beyond my small bedroom - shared with my sister - and nourished my imagination. So, to no one’s surprise, I majored in English Literature with a minor in Classics when I went to college. I then went on to obtain my Masters in Library Science and specialized in Special and Public Librarianship. My first job was in a large corporate library for a Fortune 500 company.  I was responsible for reading articles from a variety of business journals, then indexing and writing summaries of the articles to be put into an internal database. This was all pre-Internet, of cou…

Music, Dancing, and Song in the Mercer County Library System

Most people would agree that music enhances their quality of life.  Music can relax us, or it can make us want to dance.  It can stimulate our imagination, make us laugh, make us cry, and bring us joy.  But how important is music to the healthy development of every human being, especially children?  If it is important, should we be looking for ways to incorporate music into our lives and the lives of our children?  What do you think?  Can the library help?

Many articles have been written on the importance of music in early childhood education.  Some of the benefits that I have read about include:

Exposure to music is beneficial to the left brain where language processing takes placeMusic fosters creativity, self-expression, and self-esteemMusic promotes parent-child bonding through rocking, swaying, singing and dancingMusic encourages movement, rhythm and timing, which aids in gross and fine motor developmentMusic fosters complex listening skills.

These are just a few of the benefits t…

Summer In The City

Alternative sightseeing, green space, and lesser-known museums…I love researching relatively unknown places to visit in New York City and I have come across some that I am definitely adding to my list of spots to explore! Here are a few of those places that I have found beyond the city’s more famous attractions:

A city like New York has many sightseeing opportunities but who wants to deal with the crowds? Or maybe you think you have seen it all. Trust me - there are endless quirky and unique spots to visit. I am always intrigued by the places that tell fascinating stories of a city with such a rich past.

What happens when land owners refuse to sell their plots to the city? Well, not many have done what David Hess’ heirs did. In 1910, the city wanted to demolish a number of buildings to make way for a new subway line. Instead of selling the tiny triangle of land, the Hess family estate decided to make a stand and fight back against eminent domain by installing a plaque on the site, dec…

Books To Get You Thinking

The Pulitzer Prize is one of the highest honors bestowed each year to outstanding works in journalism, the literary arts and musical composition. Its founder, Joseph Pulitzer, immigrated to the United States from Hungary and rose to become an eminent speaker, writer and editor, passionate about using the power of the press to launch a crusade against public and private corruption. Pulitzer had a vision that “the power to mould the future of the Republic will be in the hands of the journalists of future generations.” A year after his death, the Columbia School of Journalism was founded on Pulitzer’s ideals and the first Pulitzer Prize was awarded in 1917. Since then, prize winners in different genres of fiction, nonfiction, history, biography, and poetry are selected by the Pulitzer Prize Board and announced in a ceremony that has become a prestigious and highly anticipated annual event.  You can find many of the Pulitzer Prize winning titles in the Mercer County Library System!

Gulf: T…

Tech News You Can Use

Technology-related issues have been in the news the last few months, so we thought we would get you caught up on what you need to know.
Router hacking – The FBI has released an advisory to check your home WiFi routers to make sure they have the most up-to-date software and then to reboot them.The advisory cameat the end of May and was the result of the discovery that Russian hackers had attempted to take over WiFi routers as a way to force issues with internet service in Ukraine.Fortunately, most people are not impacted by this issue.If you have a WiFi router that is provided by your service provider (Verizon, Comcast, Optimum, etc.) then you do not need to do anything at all, the companies already pushed out the updates and forced a reboot overnight before the news even broke.If you have a store-bought router, then you will want to check a few things.First, see if the automatic firmware updates are turned on.This setting can usually be found on your router’s configuration screen and…

What’s with all the slime???

Every time I think the slime craze has passed, my kids come home with a new batch or start pulling out the glue and shaving cream to make their own.  Kids are making it, buying it and selling it to their friends or even on Etsy.  They are making it in different textures, colors and with extras added in.  I cannot help but wonder why this trend took off and seems to be staying around for a while.  Here is what I think: 

Most importantly, it is a pleasing, tactile experience.  Kids today spend more time interfacing with technology than I did as a child.  They use electronics for fun, communication, school work etc.  Slime gives them a different type of experience.  They are working with their hands in a different way than usual and there is something therapeutic about squishing that slime through your fingers.The ingredients are generally inexpensive and easy to get your hands on.  Many people already have what they need at home.  Ingredients usually include things like Borax soap, whit…

Hiking Adventures in New Jersey and Beyond

Summer is a great time to go hiking in New Jersey - but how do you find the best places to go? You may have some favorite hiking spots nearby, but even in a state as small as New Jersey, you can find new places to explore. The articleThe Ultimate NJ Hiking Guide from the magazine NJ Monthly gives you 36 exciting hikes all over the state.

Want to find still more hiking spots? These books in our library collection may help:

Hiking New Jersey by Paul E. DeCoste selects some of the best hikes from all over the state, with detailed maps and directions. 50 Hikes in New Jersey by Bruce Scofield details fifty outstanding hikes in the state, rated by difficulty. Many are in the northern part of the state, but there are several in the south and center part of the state as well.

If you are feeling a little more adventurous, look for trails in nearby states. You may discover some good hiking places you never knew existed in New York, New England, and Pennsylvania. For example, Best Hikes near Phil…

Easy Chapter Books for Series Readers

Recently, a patron asked me to recommend a new easy chapter book series that she could share with her kindergartener. This is a common request we hear at the library. Once a child finishes one series, they are eager to start a new one right away.  Easy chapter book series are a great option for children ages 4 to 8. At this age, children are ready to sit for longer stories but with fewer pictures and longer passages, easy chapter books can be more challenging for early readers to read alone. Therefore, these books are a great choice for reading aloud to your children.

When children read easy chapter book series they increase comprehension because each book in the series presents familiar settings and vocabulary. Children feel comfortable reading about the same people over and over and can build deeper connections with characters from book to book. Whether you are reading to your child or your child is reading on their own, easy chapter book series will engage your child in reading.