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Showing posts from March, 2014

Lighthouses of New Jersey

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After a really tough winter, it is finally spring and we can start thinking about enjoying the outdoors again.  Something that is fun, educational and easy-to-do on the weekends is visiting New Jersey’s lighthouses.

There are many lighthouses in New Jersey, stretching up and down both the eastern and western coasts.  We have a variety of type of lighthouse from the traditional cylindrical tower to much smaller range lights.  At the top of the state, the Sandy Hook lighthouse is the oldest original lighthouse in America.  Way down at the bottom, we have the Cape May light.  Many can be visited and climbed.

One of the most fascinating things about lighthouses is their history.  Imagine being the person responsible for the upkeep of the lighthouse – every night ships rely on your making sure the light is lit.  It was often a solitary existence for the lighthouse keeper.  Find out more about the history of New Jersey’s lights by visiting the New Jersey Lighthouse Society.  For an overal…

Looking Forward To An Adventure?

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The onset of spring often brings with it consideration of vacation plans and destinations.  The smart traveler will wish to do some armchair exploring beforehand to decide on a destination, the highlights to take in while there, and what you will need for the trip.

The print, audio-visual and electronic resources available through the Mercer County Library System can help you with planning and preparing for your trip.

The Library System has an extensive collection of travel literature for destinations in virtually every part of the world.  Considering a trip to London with children?  Try Fodor’s Around London With Kids or Time Out: London for Children.  Or perhaps the Pacific?  There is Frommer’s Hawaii With Kids along with a number of other locations in its “…With Kids” series.

There are exotic locations galore, too.  We have guidebooks for Costa Rica, the Greek Islands, Jamaica, Los Cabos and the Baja Peninsula, African Safaris, the Virgin Islands, Vancouver and the San Juan Islan…

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss and The Hat Lives On!

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Theodor (Ted) Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as the beloved Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904, in Springfield, Massachusetts and died September 24, 1991.

In 1957, Houghton Mifflin and Random House gave him a challenge to write and illustrate a story using a list of the words children in first grade had needed to learn. With just 225 of the words, he wrote The Cat in the Hat.  Dr. Seuss soon became the definitive children's book author and illustrator. He also used the pen name Theo. LeSieg. In total, he wrote and illustrated 48 books.

If you’re new to Dr. Seuss, or just want to revisit some old favorites, stop-by your local branch of the Mercer County Library System.  All branches own a selection of Dr. Seuss’ books and most have audio and video adaptations.  As always, if you cannot find what you want, just ask at the Youth Services or Reference desk and a librarian will be happy to help.

Everyone is familiar with the Cat in the Hat’s hat!  Follow these simple instruc…

National Craft Month

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March is National Craft Month and there is no better time to try a new craft or hobby! The Craft and Hobby Association says that crafts:

Bring Families Together – Spend quality family time on a vast number of enjoyable activities that can save money, while producing handmade gifts, jewelry and home decorative items.

Relax and De-Stress – Pick a craft to sharpen your senses and focus your attention.

Create Lasting Memories – Create a special moment for a loved one, while highlighting achievements or performances in a scrapbook or display.

Make Family Connections – Frame-it-yourself photo montages can proudly display family trees and accomplishments for everyone to see.

Salvage and Reuse old items – Recycle and add beauty to any room by crafting discarded mirrors, windows or other household items into works of art.

Revive Clothing and Jewelry – Create beaded fashion necklaces and bracelets that match favorite clothing or school colors

Entertain Kids and Pets – Develop matching outfits and acc…

Banish Those Winter Blues!

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Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,
To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.
I've read, that things inanimate have mov'd, And, as with living Souls, have been inform'd,
By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.
By William Congreve from The Mourning Bride, 1697



It has been a challenging winter - walloped by snow storms and frigid temperatures, our spirit needs something invigorating.  Why not warm-up by listening to some uplifting Western classical music which is sure to lift your spirits, comfort your psyche and improve your mood?
If you, like many, believe that classical music is for elevators or the dentist's office, you are wrong. If you think classical music is for old fogies, you are mistaken. Chances are you have heard classical music in the most unlikely of places, and you did not even know it! A fan of the Simpsons? Then you have heard music by Debussy, Vivaldi and Beethoven. Watched anyLooney Tunes cartoons? Then you have heard the William Tell Overture

Laptops vs. Ultrabooks vs. Convertibles vs. Tablets

If you have ventured out to shop for a laptop recently, you were probably surprised to see a wide variety of confusing options, including standard laptops, ultrabooks, netbooks, convertibles and tablets.  The differences between them may seem subtle, but they all have distinct features that make them unique.  So what are those differences and how can you tell which one is the right type for you?  Here is a handy guide to help you navigate the laptop aisle at the local electronics store.

Laptops – The traditional laptop, with many of the features of a desktop computer in a smaller package.  If you are looking to replace a desktop with something portable or to save space on your desk, this is probably what you need.  The higher end laptops often include the same type of video cards and processors that are included in a desktop PC, so they can do all the same high-end work, like editing video or photos and playing detailed video games.  The traditional laptops also includes plenty of USB …

Teen Tech Week 2014 is March 9th – 15th

The Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) Teen Tech Week (TTW) encourages teens’ appropriate use of technology and provides an opportunity for libraries and teens to connect & share. In addition to electronic databases perfect for homework assignments, libraries offer downloadable audio- and electronic books, computer classes, and workshops designed to appeal to the creative and investigative nature of teens. Libraries are also the perfect outlet for teens to “give back” some of their tech-savvy knowledge by running workshops for other teens, younger kids, or even adults who claim to be “tech-challenged.”

This year’s TTW theme – DIY @ Your Library – is an opportunity for libraries to demonstrate their value to their communities by providing space for teens to get creative and extend their learning beyond a traditional classroom. Libraries have been unofficial “maker spaces” for quite a while, mostly in the arts & crafts areas. Lately, the maker movement has transf…

Books To Get You Thinking

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This month's column highlights a few of the many enormously gifted authors writing about the immigrant experience - Gary Shteyngart,  Edwidge Danticat, Mengestu Dinaw, Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Diaz.  With  their own unique style, they have made extraordinary contributions to contemporary  literature depicting  the struggle of those who have left their homelands behind and are trapped between the past and the present and at the same  time are striving to belong, to assimilate and  find a new identity in the midst of a new cultural environment.

Brother I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
A poignant family memoir revolving around the story of Joseph Dantica, the author's uncle and a Baptist minister who founded his own church and school in Port Au Prince, Haiti.  Much of Danticat's childhood was spent with her uncle but, at the age of twelve, she was sent to join her parents in Brooklyn, New York.  In 2004, when local gangs destroyed his Church, Dantica at age 81, plagued with se…