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Showing posts from August, 2017

Keep Up With MCLS With NextReads

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The Mercer county Library System recently began a new campaign designed to keep our patrons up to date on the latest programs and collections offered at our branches.  New newsletters have been added to our popular NextReads eNewsletters, which patrons can subscribe to on our website.  The newsletters are free, you can subscribe or unsubscribe to any newsletter whenever you wish, and we never share your email address with anyone, so all you get is what you sign up for, no spam or sales pitches from outside vendors.

There are two types of newsletters, featured programs by branch and suggested titles in different genres for books, movies, audiobooks, and music.  If you want to get an idea of what type of information is included in each newsletter, we have back issues available on our archive page.

The featured program newsletters come out on the 20th of the month and spotlight programs that will take place at our branches in the following month.  Each branch has a newsletter, so sign u…

Graphic Novels: A Different Way to Read

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Graphic novels have been taking center stage as books that help reluctant and expert readers alike. I started getting into graphic novels a little late in the game. I was in a science fiction course at college, and we were required to read Watchmen, a graphic novel that covers a variety of themes including morality, vigilantism, chance, fate, and what life is worth. I was hooked. It had the same complex storyline as any of my other books, but the images gave me more information than what text alone could. Facial expressions, body language, and other clues that we use in everyday situations created a depth to the story.

More recently, with the popularity of the Marvel and DC cinematic universes, I have gotten into a variety of comic-style graphic novels—particularly Wonder Woman’s newer series: the New 52 and Rebirth. Girl power! Am I right? While often comics and graphic novels have been seen as a male-centered pastime, I have come to realize this is not true. I, myself, was proof th…

Digging up the Past

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Have you ever wondered where we come from? What lies in the past? We can learn about today and what the future holds by studying the past. But where do you start? First, let us begin by defining archæology. Archæology is the scientific study of the human past. Archæologists obtain a greater knowledge of lost societies and their behaviors by studying human history, prehistory, antiquities, artifacts and other physical remains through the excavation of sites.

Archæology is so much more than just digging up and cataloging artifacts. When in the field, an archæologist works to find a connection to the past. Archæology is not limited to recorded history but to all aspects of past cultures. Archæology can provide a deeper understanding of history that cannot be found in written documents. Archæologists study everything from tiny artifacts to DNA. Searching through the history databases and other Resources on the Mercer County Library website will assist you in learning of the anci…

Downton Abbey…Down Under?

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Just recently I finished watching four seasons of A Place to Call Home, forty-five episodes of a period drama set in post-World War II Australia. Since the Mercer County Library System owns all four seasons of the DVD, all I had to do was check them out and view them at my leisure. Needless to say, I binge-watched!

A Place to Call Home is the story of the wealthy Bligh family who live in a grand estate named Ash Park. A benevolent upper class hero, an indomitable heroine, a judgmental and strong-willed matriarch, secrets and intrigues, romance and betrayals, replete with sumptuous costumes and period décor makes the comparison to Downton Abbey inevitable. There are certainly some superficial similarities: Downton Abbey has the benign and upright hero Robert Crawley similar to George Bligh; instead of the stately Downton, there is the idyllic Ash Park and, of course, the Dowager Countess Violet’s doppelganger in A Place to Call Home is the hardnosed matriarch Elizabeth Bligh, who mean…

Books to Get You Thinking

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Digital technology innovations, along with the proliferation of large computers and networking, have transformed industry and the workforce over the last quarter century. Perhaps the most striking transformations have been the speed of information processing and the global scope of communications. The emergence of cloud computing has enabled the processing of vast amounts of data at lightning speed and the capacity to distribute information to millions of smartphones and mobile devices. This has helped create disruptive innovations such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. Big Data Analytics, with the capacity to analyze massive amounts of non-structured data including text, images, maps, and video, has found applications in many different industries—notably medicine and e-commerce. While automation and artificial intelligence have changed the way companies operate, helped solve complex problems, increased productivity and efficiency, and in many instances helpe…

True Crime for Mystery Fans

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If you read or participate in Mercer County Library’s Wednesday evening Facebook book discussion posts, you will know that I am a big fan of mysteries. I read a lot of mysteries and I watch a lot of mystery TV—it started with the original (and subsequent variations of) Law & Order television show up to Criminal Minds and many, many British series. Recently, I have been interested in true crime documentaries, specifically ones where you are not really sure whodunit, even if someone has been found guilty. It is fascinating, and often disturbing, to watch how the crime is investigated and tried. You learn about procedures followed by the police and lawyers and quickly sees the difference between fictional television shows and real life. You also learn that the film-makers’ bias needs to be remembered when deciding for yourself what the evidence shows. Most are available at the Mercer County Library System or are free online. Without giving anything away—some that I have found…

Jane Austen

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July 18 marked the 200th anniversary of the passing of Jane Austen. She died in the early hours of July 19, 1817, after a long illness. This year, Janeites (fans of Jane Austen) around the world have been and will continue to celebrate her life. I would like to share with you my background with Jane and her works and then suggest to you some books you may be interested in reading if you have already read or re-read her novels for this year.
My first Jane Austen novel was Emma. I had to read it for a history class in college. I was not thrilled, but it sounded better than Silas Marner, and my professor made a point of telling us that the movie Clueless was based on Emma. I will not say I fell in love but I did not hate it, so that summer when I was looking for some audiobooks to listen to at work, I decided to try another one of her novels. This time I went with Persuasion. Now I can tell you I fell in love—with Captain Wentworth. This began my journey into the world of Jane Auste…

Sixty-Five Is the New Twenty-One, or Not

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I was young. That is my excuse.

I was about 25 years old and working at my first library job. My supervisor, about twice my age, was talking about the crammed weekend she had ahead of her, wondering how she was going to fit everything in and manage to make an appointment with her hairdresser. Her gray roots were showing (or so she said; hair has always been somewhat under my radar so I had not noticed). It seemed like an easily solved problem to me; “So why do you bother?” I asked. I mean, wouldn't it be so much easier to just let nature do what it wants and have one less thing to jam into her free time?

She looked at me with surprise, amusement, and a bit of an eyeroll, hesitated, then shook her head and said, “All I can say is, you will know why when you are my age.”

The conversation turned to other things, but in the back of my mind was the question: Will I really change that much as I age?

And here I am, 40 years later.

Have I changed? I sure hope so.

First of all, you know…

A Special Event to Promote Attendance During the Summer Reading Program: The Annual Family Fair and Petting Zoo

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The annual children’s Summer Reading Program (SRP) is one of the most popular programs that libraries offer their patrons. Each year, when school lets out and summer begins, libraries all over the United States present a variety of reading programs. The two main purposes are to keep children reading during the time they are out of school and to connect them with their local public library. The American Library Association (ALA) prepares a wealth of materials to support this effort. They choose an annual theme, make suggestions of how to implement it, offer workshops, and design promotional materials. These are available to any library nationwide that chooses to participate. The Mercer County Library System always participates.

The West Windsor Branch begins planning in January for our SRP that lasts six weeks during the summer. There are many elements to this preparation. We plan programs and activities for the entire six weeks. As well as offering our regular weekly programs…