Showing posts from July, 2015

The Taste of Summer

Summer cooking at its best should be an effortless and uncomplicated affair. A fresh, colorful salad, gazpacho soup, grilled kabobs, with some sliced mangoes and melons for dessert. Yum! Celebrate summer during the month of August by preparing meals that are light, tasty, and refreshing. Our batch of cookbooks are full of inspired recipes. So make the most of the glorious sunlight and the warm weather and entertain your family and friends with some of the easy-to-prepare treats from the cookbooks below.

The Summer Table: Recipes and Menus for Casual Outdoor Entertainingby Lisa Lemke comes replete with beautiful, mouthwatering color photographs that will definitely whet your appetite. The author provides plenty of creative marinades and sauces to make the dullest grilled fare taste deliciously exotic. For example, the Sticky BBQ Marinade containing garlic, cherry marmalade, Hoisin sauce and Fresno red chili peppers can certainly liven up an ordinary chicken breast. Or try the Hot Honey …

Apps @ MCLS

Announcement: Before getting to our blog post on apps you can use with our databases, we would like to announce that the hoopla digital materials service now offers DC Comics, graphic novels and eBooks from select publishers. We hope to see more publishers added in the coming months. All titles are always available and can be borrowed for 21 days.
The staff of Mercer County Library System recently started using iPad minis to work on tasks such as shelf reading, inventorying books and pulling holds to ship to other branches. Each branch received an iPad and when we thought of ways to maximize their use, we realized they are the perfect way to teach you, our patrons, how to use our online services via the various apps that our database providers make available to us. Some branches are even offering classes on how to use the apps, in addition to one-on-one instruction, so do check with your local branch to see if they can do a demo of an app for you or have a class you can attend. …

Jon Stewart, Mercer's Favorite Son Funnyman

In a few short weeks, Jon Stewart will host his final episode of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, with the last episode airing August 6. This is significant news in Mercer County, since Stewart hails from Lawrence Township and has been developing his talents since childhood. I should know, he was my neighbor. Now, I cannot claim that I know Mr. Stewart (who is eleven years older than I am) or have some great stories to tell. The fact of the matter is my greatest claim to any aspect of Mr. Stewart’s fame is that his mom’s driveway served as my school bus stop for about 5 years and I would occasionally say hi to her when she came out to pick-up her newspaper or put out her trash. No, my only memory of Jonathan (as the neighbors still call him) was the time he and two of my other neighbors scared the living daylights out of my sister, my friend Kelly and myself after a night of trick or treating. I was probably in 2nd grade at the time and the trio of high school seniors had put on…

Books To Get You Thinking

April 2015 marks twenty-five years since the launch of the historic Hubble Space Telescope by NASA. The idea of studying astronomy from space was first conceived in 1946 by the Princeton astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer (1914-1997). It took many more decades for the idea to evolve into the reality of a telescope in orbit around our planet. The Hubble space telescope was finally launched into space, three-hundred and fifty miles above the Earth’s surface, by Space Shuttle Discovery, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center on April 24, 1990. According to the Space Telescope Science Institute, since its launch, the Hubble telescope has orbited more than three billion miles at 17,000 miles per hour. It has made over one million observations and more than 700,000 images. Undoubtedly one of the most important scientific instruments created, the Hubble has played a critical role in our understanding of the Universe around us. To view the stunning images and delve into the mysteries of remot…

Infinite Quest: Public Libraries as the People's University

Everybody looks forward to finding some time to kick back - at the beach, say - and read that blockbuster novel it seems everyone else is reading or has already read. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Novels that are sometimes dismissively (and erroneously) deemed “mindless reads” can feature inventive plotting, fully-developed characters, and elegant prose. So-called “mindless reads” can be great reads, which is why public libraries typically own hundreds, if not thousands, of such novels.

But public libraries also strive to serve as the People’s University. In that role, libraries actively collect more “literary” novels because the beach (or anywhere) can also be a good place to tackle those Great Works of Literature that you have always been meaning to read but, for one reason or another, never got around to.

In the spring of 2009, I decided to re-read just such a novel: David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. While I was reading it, I ran across, by sheer coincidence, a b…

Summer Food and Fun

As a child I have great memories of summer. Whether it was just hanging out with friends, playing kickball or softball, swimming, or going to the beach, all of my days were filled with fun and scrumptious outdoor summer cookouts. Back then it really was all about hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, and watermelon. Wanting to preserve those memories but change it up a little, I searched the catalog to get new ideas from some summer cookbooks. I was not disappointed as we have quite an impressive selection to choose and salivate from. Here is what I found:

The Summer Table: Recipes and Menus for Casual Outdoor Entertainingby Lisa Lemke
"Summertime—and the outdoor entertaining is easy! Fire up the grill, whip up some sides and sweets, and share these simple, delicious dishes with people you love. The festive menus include a Mexican Grill Party with a whole chipotle chicken; a Father's Day Barbecue, featuring Campari melon crush, strip steak, red beet gratin, and cabbag…

Summer Reading Programs & Your Child - Why is all this fun so important?!

Acrobatic dogs – Puppets – Super Magic – Scavenger Hunts – Legos – Ice Cream Parties – Art – Music – Bugs & Lizards – Kindness to Animals & more…

Our branches provide myriad opportunities to excite, stimulate and encourage children, from the youngest to teens, to enjoy and explore the pleasures of literacy through science, art, engineering, music, drama, hands-on inquiry and stories and reading all summer long!

But why all the fuss about summer reading? Why is summer reading important?

The importance of summer reading cannot be underestimated! Research shows that children who do not read during summer vacation months may lose, on average, two months of school gains, known as the “summer slide”. And between third and fifth grade, children’s reading vocabulary will increase exponentially.

Let us look at some of the research. “No matter what instructional methods we employ, students must spend substantial time applying the reading skills and strategies we teach before they de…

July Is National Ice Cream Month

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! We all know the slogan and most of us would agree with it. In 1984, Congress passed and the President of the United States signed a proclamation proclaiming July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.

The beginnings of the sweet treat can be traced back to the 5th century BCE, to ancient Greece and Rome, where snow or crushed ice was mixed with different fruits. The Roman emperors would have runners go up into the mountains to bring back snow in order to make this sweet, fruity dessert in the hot Italian summers. Perhaps this is where Italian Ice originated. Today we do not need to run into the mountains, we have Rita’s around the corner as well as other purveyors of ice cream and water ices.

The United States is second in the world when it comes to ice cream consumption. Believe it or not, little New Zealand gobbles up more ice cream than we do!

If you are interested in the history of ic…

Happy Birthday, America!

Celebrate the birth of our nation with these recently-published books owned by the Mercer County Library System:

Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past
By Ray Raphael
This book examines 13 well-known American stories, including those about Paul Revere's legendary ride and Thomas Jefferson's pivotal role in the establishment of American equality, contending that many of their surrounding myths are not supported by recent scholarship.

“While addressing teachers, in particular, Raphael relays so much forgotten or never-known history and argues so well why it, not the legends, should be remembered that virtually any American will profit from reading this lively, intelligent book.” --Booklist

“Author of A People's History of the American Revolution, Raphael once again turns to that period, aiming to punctuate popular perceptions deriving from the 19th century's penchant for solitary romantic agents. He focuses on 13 stories revolving around either mythical or g…