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Showing posts from June, 2012

Summer Vacation Books for Children

Summer vacation is the best time of year. Beautiful weather, a chance to spend time outdoors, and plenty of fun activities like going to the beach, having picnics outside with friends, enjoying theme parks, and running around at camp!  The library is a great summer location for both learning and fun. Take your children to the library once or twice a week to select new books they can enjoy, or attend fun and educational programs. Your kids will not only enjoy their time at the library, but will also reap the benefits of keeping their reading skills polished over the summer break.

Picture Books Summer Days and Nights by Herbert Yee Wong
A little girl enjoys the activities of a warm summer day and night.

The Summer Visitors by Karel Hayes
During the summer a family of bears enjoys the comforts of life at a cottage by a lake, alongside the human visitors.

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach  by Melanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel doesn't like crowds so he doesn't go to the beach, he builds his o…

Books To Get You Thinking

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One of the rarest predictable events in the solar system made history on June 5, 2012. The orbital planes of both the planets Venus and Earth moved into perfect alignment so that the image of Venus (a solid black circle) could be seen travelling across the face of the Sun. The event happens in pairs eight years apart separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The next transit is now set to occur only in 2117. For those of us who missed witnessing this spectacular sight there are some dazzling images of the Venus transit on the NASA website.

The distant skies and the universe beyond have always held a deep and eternal fascination for mankind. As early as the 1500s, astronomers as Copernicus and Galileo had already started investigating the concept of a heliocentric universe and discovered the earliest version of the telescope. Advances in the science of astronomy allow us today to trace the history and map out the size and structure of the universe through sophisticated telescopes…

Make Sense of the Census (USA, 1940)

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One morning recently my eyes caught a blurb in a magazine article mentioning June 14th being the anniversary of the “birth”  of the Univac I computer (61 years on) – famously used to calculate data from the 1950 US Census. As I sipped my coffee I began to reflect on my experience as an Address Canvasser working for the 2010 US Census – a major part of this job involved going from door to door in several cities in Mercer County using a hand-held GPS device to mark dwelling locations on an electronic touch screen (the data was uploaded through wireless technology to servers used by the US Census). I pondered how much technology has truly changed since 1951 (the UNIVAC 1 operated via vacuum tubes and magnetic tape and probably ran very hot!). My thoughts then naturally gravitated to the recent news about a new US Census milestone  - the 1940 US Census records are available online to download for free (since April 2, 2012). As a librarian and a former US Census worker I felt compelled to …

Enjoy Summer Fun, But Remember Basic Safety Rules and Tips

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Many people look forward to the longer, warmer days of summer so they can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities. However, by following a few basic tips, you can prevent your fun from being spoiled by small problems or even avert a real tragedy.

Of all the summer activities that people enjoy, swimming is probably the most common.  The International Life Saving Federation will give you basic facts and statistics on swimming safely and drowning prevention.

Toddlers and younger children are particularly at risk. The Mayo Clinic is a good site for valuable information.
Our library also has a number of materials that may also be helpful:
Swimming and water safety Author:  American Red Cross. ISBN:  9781584801863 Pub Date:  2004
and for young children, this title is available:
Safety at the swimming pool  Author:  Raatma, Lucia. ISBN:  9780736801911 Summary:  Discusses the safety aspects of swimming in a public pool, including such topics as having a buddy, listening to the lifeguards, shall…

The Importance of Summer Reading

The summer is fast approaching and with it comes the Library’s Summer Reading Program.  Each year our youth librarians put together a Summer Reading Program packed with programs and prizes for children and teens.  One of our goals is to make the library a fun summer destination, but our motives go beyond that.  Learning should not stop once school ends in June.  In fact, kids who do not read during the summer will start school behind students who do.  This summer learning loss often has a cumulative effect as well, meaning kids who start the school year behind, rarely catch up to their class mates, but instead, fall further behind.

The Summer Reading Program encourages both enthusiastic and reluctant readers by rewarding them for reading throughout the summer and by drawing them into the library with programs, including book-themed programs as well as magic shows, musical performances, crafts and more.  Participants can read whatever is interesting to them – novels, nonfiction, comic…

Have Fun with Charts in Excel 2007

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You can create an appealing, professional-looking, attention-grabbing chart in Excel in just a few minutes. Don’t believe me? Keep reading and find out how you can easily: generate a meaningful, 3D chart with a title and data labels and with enough oomph to make your dry as dust numbers look anything but boring!.

First, I must tell you that the Excel chart wizard has long departed. And second, you cannot create a chart, interesting or otherwise, without data. After all, a chart is nothing more than a pictorial depiction of your data. So make sure your data is completely accurate. Then it’s a simple matter of selecting the data and plugging it into a chart. Here’s how:

After you have checked your data for accuracy, select your data. Then click on the Insert tab. You will see a wide variety of charts in the Charts group. Make sure to pick the right chart type: the chart should reflect your data precisely and be easy to understand. Once you decide on the chart type, just click on it and…

June is National Caribbean-American Heritage Month

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Browse Mercer County Library’s collection of works by several renowned Caribbean-American writers, including:

Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers At Home and Abroad
Edited by Elizabeth Nunez and Jennifer Sparrow
This anthology gathers the major and emerging women fiction writers from the Caribbean, including Dionne Brand, Michelle Cliff, Merle Collins, Edwidge Danticat, Jamaica Kincaid, Paule Marshall, and Pauline Melville. Similar themes grace their stories of life at home and abroad. In some, the sexual exploitation of Caribbean girls and women becomes a metaphor for neocolonialism, a biting rejoinder to enticing travel brochures that depict the Caribbean as a tropical playground and encourage Americans to "make it your own." Other tales deal with the sad legacy of colonial history and the ways in which race, skin color, and class complicate relationships between men and women, parents and children.

But whether writing about childhood or adulthood, life in…

Building a Digital Storage Shed

We have all had our version of a digital nightmare, the one where you just know you couldn’t possibly have deleted the only copy of your favorite vacation photo or what you thought was only an old back-up copy was indeed the only copy of the great novel you were writing.  How do you make sense of all the digital stuff out there so you can avoid living this nightmare again?  Back-up everything, twice if need be.  Here is a run-down of some options you may consider to avoid your next digital disaster.

Cheap, simple and temporary.  If you need to make extra copies of files for the short-term and won’t need a durable back-up, the easiest thing to do is burn the files to CD/DVD or use a flash drive.  Of the two, flash drives are the longest lasting and easiest to use.  Both of these methods are considered temporary because flash drives are pretty easy to lose and writable CDs/DVDs do not have a long shelf-life, particularly if they are actively used and not stored in a proper environment.

R…

Hungry for more like the Hunger Games?

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You may have noticed the recent craze for all things Hunger Games. For the uninitiated, in a dystopian future, teens are forced to fight to the death in a setting that is mix between the Roman coliseum and American Idol. The movie is setting all kinds of box office records. You can join the waiting list to read the book and its sequels HERE.

If you want more like The Hunger Games, read on. Most of these reads could fit into any of the three categories below, but one characteristic stands out more than the rest. You can access summaries and reviews of all of these books by clicking on the titles.

If you want more like the dark future world of Panem:

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
In the future, Nailer works on a scavenging crew, breaking down grounded ships for now scarce materials like copper and oil. After a hurricane Nailer finds a wrecked luxury yacht with one survivor—a teenage girl. If he takes all the goods on the ship, he will be rich enough to leave his dangerous scavenging j…