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Showing posts from August, 2009

Recycled Art

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Kid-friendly projects using stuff you were about to throw away:

The really Big Book of Amazing Things to Make and Do
Create everything from friendship bracelets to balloon animals. These projects are short and color photographs accompany each step of the instructions.

The Cardboard Box Book: 25 things to make and do with an empty box
By Danny Walsh
The best part of these projects is that you can play with them when you’re done, such as rockets that really fly, potato bowling lanes, and ring toss boards. The instructions are kid friendly and each project states how much time will be needed to complete it.

The Kids’ Guide to Building Cool Stuff
By Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt
Make butter, have balloon rocket races, or build a bird house out of a milk carton. Each project can be made in an afternoon and the instructions include many color photographs. The materials are all common household items.



Steve Caney’s Ultimate Building Book
By Steve Caney
This book has projects ranging from simple (dried pasta sna…

Books to Get You Thinking

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Biographies and memoirs can make fascinating reading – a step back into history, to a different world, a different era. Through them we are witness to the lives of the writers, their sorrows, their joys, and their innermost reflections. Here are some picks from our collection you may enjoy:


American Irish author and Pulitzer Prize winner Frank McCourt passed away on July 19, 2009. He leaves behind chronicles of his life in the form of three notable memoirs that have made an indelible mark on contemporary literature: Angela’s Ashes, ’Tis and Teacher Man. Set in Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s, Angela’s Ashes is a compelling, heart wrenching story of the author’s poverty stricken childhood, of his alcoholic father, his siblings who died from starvation and his mother Angela who struggled to take care of her family amidst the poverty and destitution surrounding them. The book won the 1997 Pulitzer, staying in the best sellers list for two consecutive years. In an equally engaging sequel, ’…

What’s New at MCL: The Best is Yet to Come

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Are you tired of wasting precious reading time on the 2nd Best, 3rd Best, or not Anywhere-Near-Best? Then take a look at these MCL titles where editors have culled through mountains of published essays, stories, poems, to create compact collections of the Best-est stuff out there.


Want to read something unpredictable? Check out The Best American Non-Required Reading 2008. Among the essays and short stories, peruse the quirky lists of
Best American New Band Names (ever hear of Harry and the Potters?)
Best American Last Sentences in Books of 2007 (my favorite “At least now you know what you’re eating"- which is from?)
And what kind of list does this ‘best name’ come from – Avater’s Crusader of Bayshore and Lonestar’s Ava Ava Bo Bava?
(Check the comments to see THE ANSWERS).

Other bests are-

The Best American Travel Writing 2008 – sail or fly or hike in your imagination, while your body remains in the comfy armchair to Tibet, Georgia, Brighton Beach and exotic locales. Feel thrifty & r…

New Jersey-Based Books: What Do You Think?

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Flashlight Worthy is a site dedicated to "[r]ecommending books so good, they'll keep you up past your bedtime." It is no surprise that Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series made it onto a list of “flashlight worthy” New Jersey-based books, which was posted earlier this year by Jarrett Brown a self-proclaimed avid reader in the Garden State.



Take a look at the submitted titles. Personally, I enjoy seeing that the list of titles includes suggestions of fiction for both young adult and adult readers. Do you agree that they are flashlight worthy? Are there New Jersey-based books that you consider flashlight worthy, but they are not included on this list? Are there titles from the list you haven’t read? No worries! Click on the title from the list below, and you can request the book(s) you wish to read.

In Hoboken by Christian Bauman

Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

Creepers by David Morrell

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

Swallowing Stones by Joyce McDonald

Home of the Braves

Show Some Style!

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If you want your Word document to look great, but don’t want to spend time on formatting it, use the Styles feature in Word 2007. With just a click you can create a document with a lot of pizzazz. A style is a set of formatting characteristics, such as size, color, font name, spacing and paragraph alignment that can be used to customize the appearance of your document. By using a set of coordinated styles, you can make sure that your document is formatted consistently throughout.


To use the Styles feature, click on the Home tab, and then go to the Styles group. Make sure to select your document, or the part of it that you want to apply the style to. Then, scroll over the different styles that are offered in the gallery of Styles. You’ll get a live preview of what your document will look like if you choose a particular style. Find the one you like and then simply click the button and Viola you have created a document with a lot of flair. Make sure to select the text before you apply a s…

Software on a Budget

We may be in a weak economic cycle, but that doesn't mean you have to forgo upgrading your computer's software. You can keep up with the latest technology by using a wide variety of freeware, shareware, open source software, and free services on the web. I've outlined a few popular options below and invite our readers to submit your favorites as a comment. Interested in learning more about open source and other free software options? Keep an eye on the Lawrence Branch computer class calendar this fall, as Office Guru and I will be offering some new classes covering a variety of software and services.

Office Options. Sure we all need to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint at some point in our work or school lives, but did you know there are two high-end alternatives that let you create new documents as well as open and edit MS Office files? One choice is Google Docs, which lets you work and store your files online. Google offers three applications - documents, spreadsheets, and p…

You Can Bring the Whole Family and You Don’t Have to Go Far

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Are you looking for some fun family trips to take this summer but don’t have the time or money to go too far from home? You are in luck because there are plenty of things to do and see and none of them are more than a few hours away. Check out the following guidebooks for some great ideas:










New Jersey
New Jersey Family Adventure Guide: Great Things to See and Do for the Entire Family by Chuck Lawliss, 1996 New Jersey Day Trips: A Guide to Outings in New Jersey and Nearby Areas of New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware by Barbara Hudgins and Patrick Sarver, 2004 Family-Friendly Biking in New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania by Diane Goodspeed, 2005 Best Hikes with Children: New Jersey (2nd ed.) by Arline Zatz, 2005








New York
Let’s Take the Kids: Great Places to Go in New York’s Hudson Valley Including the Catskills, the Capital Region, the Adirondacks, Lake George, the Berkshires and Cooperstown by Joanne Michaels, 2005 The Grownup’s Guide: Visiting New York City with Kids: The most comprehensive …

The State of New Jersey Can Help You With Your Job Search

Did you know that there are two excellent websites created by the State of New Jersey which list job opportunities?

The website of the New Jersey Department of Personnel provides information about job openings at the state, county, and municipal levels. Its step-by-step guide to the job announcement and application process arms you with a better understanding of how to launch a career in the public sector. Open job announcements can be searched alphabetically by county, title, issue date, and closing date, and each position includes education and experience requirements, salary, and other details.

Another good web site, created by the New Jersey Department of Labor, is the Workforce New Jersey Public Information Network, which touts itself as “New Jersey's Virtual One-Stop.” This site allows you to post your resume as well as scour “Real Time Jobs in Demand,” which groups jobs by training and education requirements.

A wealth of valuable information is contained in the booklet “How to…