Showing posts from August, 2016

Picture Book Favorites of 2016… So Far…

What makes a good picture book? For me as a librarian, I read and look at picture books and ask the question, would this be a good book to read aloud during story time? Are the illustrations appealing? Is there too much text? A cohesive storyline? And most important, will it engage kids? It can be hard to find a quality picture book with a blend of all these key elements. Luckily, 2016 has proven to have produced a crop of picture books that I can see kids enjoying for years to come.
Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!) by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller
Snappsy the Alligator is just trying to go about his daily routine, but is constantly being interrupted by an invisible narrator. We do not find out who the narrator is until the end of the story. This is one of those laugh-out-loud picture books that both kids and parents can really enjoy. It is silly and fun, and a great book to read out loud.

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli
Pizzoli is not new to writing a…

A World Wide Web Milestone

Twenty-five years ago this month, the world's first website went live to the public. The site, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was a basic text page with hyperlinked words that connected to other pages.

Berners-Lee used the public launch to outline his plan for the service, which would come to dominate life in the 21st century. The Web has evolved into a massive information platform: there are more than one billion web sites, and about 40% of the world’s population—and over 80% of the United States’—has an Internet connection. The number of Internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013.

Learn all about this revolutionary invention with books like these from the Mercer County Library System:

The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data by Michael P. Lynch
We used to say "seeing is believing"; now googling is believing. With 24/7 access to nearly all of the world's information at our fingertips, we no longer trek to the library…

IFTTT At First…

If you are like the majority of computer, phone, or tablet users, you probably have had the experience of using a program or app and thinking, gee, I wish there was an easy way to just make it do this or that.  Well, there is, with IFTTT.  The service lets you select from “recipes” other users and service providers have created, or you can go ahead and create one yourself.  Basically, the “recipe” is a way to ask one app or program to do something you really wish it could do, to interact with another program, or to send you alerts without having to learn how to code.  In some cases, using a recipe is as easy as entering in you username and password.

IFTTT gets its name from the common computer programming command of if/then, where a programmer will code a program to do one task based on a trigger.  For example, if the user presses the power button, then put the device to sleep.  In the world of IFTTT (If This, Then That), these if/then statements are used to control a variety of thin…

Welcome to Story Time!

One of the staples of any public library is story time. Each week (or several times a week), children’s librarians anticipate the pitter patter of several little sets of feet bringing children in for stories, songs, and sometimes games and crafts. The noise level may go up a little for a short time, but so does the joy! My mother took me when I was a child, I took my kids, and there is a good chance that someday they will take their own.
Some of you may be story time regulars, but have you ever stopped to think about story time from the librarian’s perspective? How does a librarian plan story time? What are the objectives? What are we thinking when your kid is a little more fidgety than the others?

Every librarian will have a slightly different philosophy and routine for story time. Here are some of mine.

In order to plan story time, we need to remember why it is important. First, and in my mind foremost, story time instills a love of books in children. It provides fun and acce…

Books to Get You Thinking

Following last month’s column on books that analyzed the historical trends in standards of living, stagnant wages, and mounting inequality in the United States, this month’s book selections focus on whether a viable solution can be found to break this trend and put America back on the path of a vibrant economic system delivering equitable growth, steadily improving living standards, education and healthcare for all segments of the population. Looking for a solution from the vast canvas of America’s economic history, the books examine the vital role played historically by a mix of government guided economic policies (strategic investments), and business decisions guided by free market forces in supporting technology, science, innovation and economic growth. The argument that the authors make here is that a strong central government that invests and sets up appropriate economic policies for private entrepreneurs and innovators to flourish and thrive under is critical to ensure long ter…

Coney Island – What a Ride!

A great way to spend a summer day with the family is by visiting an amusement park along the boardwalk at the shore. My family and I recently went to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. Although we are not all fans of wild rides, there were many thrilling sights and sounds for everyone to appreciate. We saw hundreds of people relaxing and laughing, playing games of chance and enjoying the sea breezes and sunshine. And do not forget about the surf, sand and boardwalk!

Coney Island has long been a popular tourist destination for city-weary families looking for a little relief during the hot summer months. This small strip of land along the Atlantic Ocean was first discovered by Henry Hudson in 1609Note 1 Eliot, Marc. Song of Brooklyn: An Oral History of America’s Favorite Borough. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2008. Print.. It is believed that the name for Coney may have come from the dutch word konijn meaning wild rabbit Note 2 Robbins, Michael and Palitz, Wendy. Brooklyn: A State of …


A few months ago, I was relaying a story to a friend and she commented that she could envision a time in the near future when there might be therapy for people who have developed complexes because of their devices. While I am still a bit skeptical that we may start plunking down good money for 45 minutes to vent to a professional about how Siri treated us today, these devices are becoming a big part of everyday life and have the potential to get even more ingrained into our daily routine as more companion devices and skills are developed for them.

While I am not one to promote a specific brand or retailer in this column, this one centers on a device unique enough to not have any real competitors at this point in time (more on that later), but is an example of where technology is headed, particularly in terms of SmartHome devices. The device is the Amazon Echo and its mini assistant, Dot. The story that prompted my friend’s comment is about their main personality, Alexa. For those…

Thank You, Mo Willems!!

Saying goodbye is hard. Especially when you have to say it to two fictional characters that have brought you such happiness and laughter as Gerald and Piggie have brought to me and countless other readers over the years. Not familiar with Gerald and Piggie? They are the main characters in the popular “Elephant and Piggie” book series created by author and illustrator Mo Willems. Elephant and Piggie have stolen the hearts of many readers (both children and adults) with a friendship that is so honest and true and relatable. Everyone wants a friend like Gerald or Piggie, so it is understandable that so many of us were upset by the news that Willems was making the last Elephant and Piggie book. The Thank You Book was published in May 2016. Our beloved characters go through their last adventure—a “Thank-o-rama”—trying not to forget everyone they need to thank. They bring back all the characters from the previous books in the series, including the snake (with no arms to catch a bal…