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Showing posts from June, 2013

Sleep late. Read often. Enjoy your summer.

As the school year rapidly comes to an end, teens are eagerly anticipating a lazy summer spent hanging out with friends and catching up on books and television shows.  But…by 3:00 p.m. on Sunday…every teen will utter the two phrases most feared by those over the age of 30 – “I am bored. There is nothing to do.”  It does not matter that school ended only a couple days prior and the idea of blissfully sleeping late every day has already lost some of its luster. Teens have gone from overscheduled to unscheduled in a heartbeat. How to remedy this? Point your favorite teen towards the Mercer County Library (MCL).

Much has been made recently of “summer slide” – the loss, or backslide, of academic skills that may occur during an unstructured period of time such as summer break. School districts have generally assigned summer reading and some have gone beyond the Language Arts curricula and have assigned Math, Science and Social Studies summer work. In any of our branches, teens will find not…

Books to Get You Thinking

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A rapid proliferation of computing, communications and mobile smart devices is quickly changing the world we live in.  Our universe is becoming increasingly interconnected and instrumented. There is an explosion of data spanning many facets of business operations and social experience. Approximately 90 percent of stored data in the world is less than 2 years old. Big Data is a new discipline focused on the analysis of vast of amounts of data to create new insights and intelligence which will enable us to make smarter decisions and achieve operational excellence.  The invention of steam engines and the railway played a critical role in the rise and expansion of the Industrial Age, unleashing new levels of productivity and movement of goods.  In the Digital Age, Big Data is poised to play a similar role by fundamentally changing the way new products and services are created and delivered, and how knowledge is acquired and refined to drive innovations in a global economy. Here are three …

You’re Never Too Young to Appreciate (and Learn from) Art

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It is never too early to introduce children to art. There are a variety of children's books that incorporate basic
education components, such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, and shapes, into famous paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and textiles. With additional prompts, however, children can begin to interact with and interpret the pieces of art at which they are looking. Just starting out with some basic questions, one can generate some wonderful (and sometimes surprisingly insightful) responses from children:

•What do you first notice/see?
•What colors stand out to you?
•How would you describe the colors the artist used? Dark? Bright? Soft? Sharp?
•Do shapes/colors overlap?
•What would you call or what title would you give this piece of work?
•What emotions can you “see?” Happy? Sad? Excited? Scared?
•What do you like/dislike about the art work?

With a library card, it is especially easy to bring famous works of art home with you. Children can pick out colors in a Picasso, cou…

Milkweed to Monarchs

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Every year, spring’s arrival transforms the local landscape.  We admire the newly filled-out trees of green and anticipate summer pleasures such as vacations, warm days at the pool, and visits to the shore. Some become the architects of gardens and add their own displays of brilliant color to complement native greenery and blooming plants through summer and fall.  As for me, I look forward to the sight of growing milkweed plants in meadows and by the roadside.  The appearance of milkweed tells me it will soon be time to search for my first monarch caterpillar egg of the season.  The milkweed, with its large and simply-shaped leaves, is a humble plant few would call beautiful unless seen in full bloom.  However, as host plant for monarch caterpillars, milkweed is essential to the life cycle of the iconic monarch butterfly.  If you can find milkweed, you can find monarch caterpillars and eggs.  The native milkweed species common in New Jersey is known as Swamp Milkweed, or Asclepias in…

Happy Wild Thing!

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Maurice Sendak b. June 10, 1928

Much to the regret of his adoring fans, celebrated author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who brought us delicious children’s stories, died in Danbury, Connecticut on May 8, 2012.  He wrote memorable titles such as the controversial In the Night Kitchen, and collaborated on the beloved Really Rosie.

Best known for his most popular work, Where the Wild Things Are, Sendak’s ability to interpret the psyche of toddlers makes this a universal picture book.  When Max, the protagonist, does mischief of one kind or another and he is sent to bed without his supper, his toddler imagination goes to work creating a world far away from home.  It is full of wild things - benign, scary monsters who are immediately tamed by Max.  When his temper is back under control and his self-esteem restored, Max returns from his dream to his bedroom and finds his still-warm supper waiting for him.  This charming book, which draws upon a young child’s ability to soothe his own fea…

The Punk Experience at MCLS: Books, DVDs, and CDs in the Mercer County Library System about Punk Rock and Style

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For those of you planning to go to the Metropolitan Museum’s new exhibit “Punk: Chaos to Couture” or are just curious about the roots of punk music and style, here are a few books, DVDs and classic CDs available in the Mercer County Library System that highlight this “do-it-yourself” countercultural movement that continues to influence mainstream culture to this day.

Growing from garage-band roots in the late 1960s and exploding in popularity in the mid-1970s, the stripped-down sound of punk appealed to rock fans eager for music that expressed their frustration and anger with their dead-end everyday life. Punk continued to develop in the 1980s and finally achieved  widespread popularity with Green Day and other “pop-punk” bands. As punk music continued to grow and change, so also the punk aesthetic continued to influence mainstream culture in the form of do-it-yourself fashion and in-your-face graphic art.

Below are listed some books, DVDs, and CDs in the Mercer County Library System…

Memoir Out of Memory!

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How many of us enjoy reading about other peoples’ lives? Certainly there is a voyeuristic appeal to reading a tell-all about a person's life written by that very person. But more than that, a memoir written by the person who has survived a harrowing experience may make the reader feel that if anyone could survive that, then so can I. In fact, the trials and tribulations of the reader may pale in comparison with the memoirist's experience. Or we may look to find some positive affirmation in the memoirist's tale which bears certain similarities to our own life. Regardless of whether we feel an affinity with the author's life, or can identify with certain similar situations, some of us read memoirs to be amused, entertained and/or enlightened.
When I was young, I used to believe that memoirs were written by older people after they had lived, what then seemed to me, a lifetime qualifying them to construct a narrative of their extraordinary life. Laden with wisdom and rich …

More Then Megapixels, Part 2

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Last month we took a look the automatic modes on a camera and learned why it is important to understand how to set white balance and use an appropriate scene mode.  Today we continue our tutorial with a look at the manual setting options available on most advanced point and shoot and DSLR cameras.

Manual modes – exploring Aperture, Shutter and ISO
On your camera’s dial you will find a set of four letters blocked off from the rest of your options, usually spelling out MASP.  These are the manual and semi-automatic (sometimes called professional) modes on the camera.  They are the Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Program modes.
In order to understand the manual modes, it helps to understand the most basic aspect of photography, the exposure triangle.  In a nutshell, a photo will look great if the three aspects that control light exposure are set in the correct balance.  The three pieces of the triangle are aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  Photo Tuts+ has a terrific arti…