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Showing posts from January, 2019

NJ Historical Literature

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In addition to its copious collections of books, audio and video discs, periodicals, reference materials and ephemera, the Mercer County Library has a panoply of reference and historical materials that offer glimpses into the life and history of Mercer County, its towns and environs, stretching back to the earliest days of settlement, commerce, and social and political life in what was to become Mercer County.

A sizable collection of monographs, indexes, catalogs, directories, and photographic compendia are available at branches of the Mercer County Library System, especially at the Hopewell and Lawrence Branches, all of which are available to the general public for consultation, research, and just plain enjoyment.

The central part of New Jersey has a rich and vibrant history that spans several centuries and has witnessed many important developments in U.S. history.  In this blog entry, we will examine some of the works that have helped to preserve elements of our history, including s…

Happy National Winnie-the-Pooh Day!

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National Winnie-the-Pooh Day is celebrated annually to remember the birthday of author Alan Alexander Milne, better known as A. A. Milne, born on January 18, 1882.(1)  This year he would have been 127 years old.  He is best known for the Winnie-the-Pooh books which are based on stories that he wrote for his son, Christopher Robin Milne, born August 21, 1920.  Many have already heard that bit of Pooh history but did you know that Winnie the Pooh is based on a real bear?  The name Winnie comes from a bear that Milne’s son visited at the London Zoo.(2)  Pooh stories were largely made up from A. A. Milne observing his son while playing with his mother.  Using the stuffed animals, Christopher Robin spoke through Pooh and his mother spoke through Piglet and Eeyore.(3)  Milne’s four children’s books were published between 1924 and 1928.  They include the following:


When We Were Very Young (1924)Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)Now We Are Six (1927)The House at Pooh Corner (1928)

The books were preceded …

Resolving Conflicts

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I have been practicing Raja Yoga meditation for 11 years, taught by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization. This has brought me to feel that when there is peace in the mind, everything else runs smoothly. I offer guided meditation classes at the Hightstown Branch at lunch time on Mondays and Wednesday evenings. Many people who come to my classes share their experiences about finding peace and how meditation has improved their relationships. I take up a different theme each time, such as acceptance, kindness, peace, happiness, overcoming anger and many more.

In my experience, conflicts most often happen with the people we interact on a regular basis. We set up expectations for others that may not be met; we become attached to our own opinions and cannot always see others sides.

Brahma Kumaris teaching tells us that our true identity is not the physical form, but the spiritual being which embodies love, peace, purity and understanding. Their wisdom includes keeping our mind hea…

A Maker's Dozen

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“Making” and “makerspaces” are popular buzz words in schools and libraries and for good reason. “Making” is a hands-on activity that encourages exploration and investigation. “Makerspaces” are spaces that provide children or adults a variety of open-ended materials with which to experiment and create. A makerspace can be high tech and include things like 3D printers, laptops, tablets, materials for coding, etc. or it could be low tech and include arts and crafts supplies, recycled materials, tools, building materials, LEGOs, etc. Whether high tech or low tech, one thing that should not be overlooked is books. Books not only serve as a source of information, they also have the potential to inspire and provoke meaningful maker experiences. Read on for reviews of some great picture books that inspire making and are available through the Mercer County Library System.

The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing, created by award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires, is abou…

Exercising with Electronics

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Exercising and playing video games or watching TV initially appears to be in stark contrast of one another, right? Wrong! Several video games now encourage players to get up and interact with their video game consoles, resulting in imaginative and stimulating exercises. At the same time, fitness videos have long provided viewers with engaging instruction and guidance designed to maximize their fitness potential.
For example, the Nintendo Wii (2006) is a video game console featuring a multitude of video games that make use of the Wii Remote (also known as a Wiimote) and the Nunchuck Controller (both pictured below). The remote and controller allow players to virtually walk, throw, run and catch depending on the game’s instructions. The addition of this physical element to common gameplay mechanics is most noticeable in the Wii’s premier game title, Wii Sports (2006). Wii Sports offers players with a plethora of interactive sports, such as: Baseball, Bowling, Boxing, Golf, and Tennis. S…

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The next time I walk into any of the branches of the Mercer County Library System, I will be a patron – on the other side of the desk. Of course, I look forward to being a patron at any of the MCLS branches: to be greeted by the welcoming staff at the circulation desk, who are happy to checkout my library items; to have access to the resources I may need, including the many books and DVDs I can take home; and to be able to ask just about any question and have staff at the reference desk find the right answer. But, I am also sad and nostalgic as I say my goodbyes to my staff and to all my colleagues and friends.

I have always believed that work was the panacea to all ills and saying goodbye to it is not easy, especially leaving a job I love. For a book lover, the library was the perfect place to be. In fact, one of the perks of the job was getting to see all of the new books and putting as many as I could on hold for myself. Working in the library suited me perfectly. It offered me amp…

Reading Challenges

In 2018, I challenged myself to read 150 books.  As of writing of this post, I have read or listened to 136 books and I’m currently reading 2 books and listening to an audiobook, which I hope to finish before the end of the year. While I’m not making my goal of 150 books, I came close again this year and read some really great books along the way, many of which I may not have picked up had it not been for the variety of reading challenges I took on during the year.

The last few years I’ve taken part in the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge.  Though I have yet to complete it, it has expanded my book selection.  Each year the staff of Book Riot puts together a list of 24 book prompts for you to complete. Some of the prompts can be pretty easy to fulfill like reading a western or a bit more challenging like finding a book with a female protagonist over the age of 60 (this is not one I completed this year).

Since I don’t always complete my Goodreads Challenge or the Read Harder Challenge I …

Passings of 2018

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With the start of 2019, let us look back at some of the notable people who passed away last year.  When possible, I have linked to works in our catalog for the individuals. 
Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, two legends of comics, primarily known for their works for Marvel.  Lee was considered by many to be the face and voice of Marvel (“Excelsior!”). He created or helped create many classic super heroes—we would have no Marvel Cinematic Universe without him.  Ditko co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Lee, but also contributing to competing publishers Charlton and DC. 
The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin was not only an amazing singer, she was an activist for civil, women’s, and Native American rights.  She had numerous hits throughout the years, and made appearances not only in shows and concerts, but sang patriotic songs for such varied venues as President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and Wrestlemania III back in 1989.  I will bet that you will hear her voice in your head should you…