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Showing posts from May, 2019

Good grief?

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The great Michael Scott once said, “Society teaches us that having feelings and crying is bad and wrong. Well, that's baloney, because grief isn't wrong. There's such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown.”

I recently lost a very good friend and the news still has not sunk in. I spoke to him a day before he passed and thought perhaps it was an awful April Fool’s Joke on Facebook. Unfortunately, it was not. Waves of sadness, anger, confusion, and longing swept over me, and continue to, at the thought of losing such a dear friend. Apparently having these feelings is normal.

In times of grief, you kind of feel like you are losing your mind. Experiencing the four, five, seven, or million stages of grief is intense and not linear. The mind starts to wander into unfamiliar territory, leaving you to feel uncomfortable with your emotions and thoughts. Questions begin to permeate your mind as you wonder:

What could I have done?Are they at peace? Why did they have to leave m…

Extra! Extra!

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I’m excited to announce a unique local history resource now available through the Mercer County Library System’s website. For the first time, entire issues of the Hightstown Gazette and other historical newspapers are available online as PDF documents.

The Move to Digital
For some time, both the Hightstown Memorial Branch and the Hightstown East Windsor Historical Society have been saving newspapers and other historical documents in various formats. We have original copies of many of these papers. However, even under the best conditions—away from light and extreme temperatures - paper doesn’t last very long. For example, we have several surviving issues of the weekly Hightstown Independent ranging from 1883-1900. In the digital format you can see the paper has turned yellow and crumbled. For some issues, only fragments remain. The best scanners and cameras can’t restore the print that has been lost.

The images of the Hightstown Gazette are more complete because the issues were scanned…

We Get By With a Little Help From Our Friends

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The majority of funding for the Mercer County Library System comes via a dedicated tax paid by residents or persons who own property in member municipalities.  These funds provide the bulk of the monies that allow for purchasing items for the collection and facility maintenance.  A lot of what you see in your local branch and think about as your library is provided by these funds.  But, these funds are not the only ones that help support MCLS - most branches also have a group that they can look to for support. These independent registered 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, for the most part known as “Friends,” tend to focus their efforts on funding library programming for children and adults.  Amazed at everything happening monthly at your branch?  Those programs are supported by Friends.  Kids crafts?  Friends support.  Summer Reading Club prizes?  Friends support.  Exercise sessions, yoga, music concerts, author talks?  All supported by Friends.

The support these groups provide is b…

The Toy You Never Outgrow--LEGO

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Chances are there are some in your house.  They might be scattered about a kid’s room, or in a storage tub (or three) in the basement, not having seen the light of day since the last youngling moved out.  We can still feel the sharp pain in the soft bottom of our feet from stepping on one hidden in the carpet.  It’s LEGO!

Started as a wooden toy company in 1932, LEGO (taken from the Danish “leg godt” meaning “play well”) switched to plastic in 1947.  Last year LEGO marked the 60th anniversary of the ubiquitous plastic brick’s patent.  Originally a handful of colors, the range of hues (including chrome, metallic, and translucent varieties) has increased and decreased over the years, and currently stands at around 63 colors.  It’s not only the billions of bricks manufactured over the years--LEGO also is the world’s biggest tire manufacturer, by sheer number of tires produced!

The great variety begins for young children, with DUPLO (a general parts box lists “age 1 & ½  - 5”) through…

Calling all Sci-Fi Geeks: 2019 Hugo Award Finalists, Part 2

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A few weeks ago, we covered the 2019 Hugo Award nominees for the Best Novel and Best Young Adult Fiction categories.  Today we conclude our review of the nominees by looking at the finalists for Best Graphic Novel and Best Movie and Television Series.

Graphic Novel Nominees

Abbott written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivelä, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Jim Campbell. While investigating police brutality and corruption in 1970s Detroit, journalist Elena Abbott uncovers supernatural forces being controlled by a secret society of the city's elite. In the uncertain social and political climate of 1972 Detroit, hard-nosed, chain-smoking tabloid reporter Elena Abbott investigates a series of grisly crimes that the police have ignored. Crimes she knows to be the work of dark occult forces. Forces that took her husband from her. Forces she has sworn to destroy. Hugo Award-nominated novelist Saladin Ahmed and artist Sami Kivelä present one woman's search for the truth that destro…

Operation Apache Snow: A Personal Recollection

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This post contains personal recollections of the May 13, 1969 battle in the A Shau Valley region of Southern Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. It may be upsetting to some readers.

2019 marks a year profoundly laden with military anniversaries. June 6 signifies the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulting in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from the control of Nazi Germany. Code named Operation Overlord, the battle began when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces crossed the English Channel and landed on five beaches along the heavily fortified coast of northern France. The battle signified the beginning of the end of World War II, as by late August northern France had been liberated, and by the spring of 1945 the Allies had defeated the Germans, declaring an end to the Nazi invasion.

The Battle of Hamburger Hill is another famous turning point from 50 years ago, during the Vietnam
War. Fought by United…

Project LIT Hightstown

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One of the things I love about being a Youth Services Librarian is the variety of my job. I spend my days doing story times for babies and preschoolers, helping elementary school students with science experiments and finding new books, and working with teen volunteers. During this past school year, I have been fortunate enough to focus more on our teen patrons through my participation in the local high school’s Project LIT (Libraries In The) Community book club.

According to its Twitter profile, the Project LIT Community is a “grassroots literacy movement empowering readers and leaders in hundreds of schools & communities across the country.” Project LIT was founded by Jarred Amato, a high school English teacher in Nashville, TN in 2016. He says the idea began as a class project when he asked his students to collect donated books to be placed throughout their community as a way to increase the community’s access to books - especially those that feature diverse characters who would…

May Is National Stroke Awareness Month

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When was the last time you got your blood pressure checked? With the recent death of Luke Perry due to a stroke, many are wondering what the risk factors are for strokes and how they can be prevented. May is National Stroke Awareness Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the American Stroke Association, along with many other groups, are encouraging people to monitor their blood pressure and to take steps to get active and lower their risk for having a stroke as well as other conditions. According to the National Institutes of Health, hypertension might even be linked to increased risk for dementia. Now is the time to educate yourself and others about the risk factors and preventative measures that can be taken to lower your blood pressure and reduce the chance of stroke.

First, it is important to define “stroke.” A stroke occurs when blood fails to…

Utter Nonsense!: The art of made-up words

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My kids are amazing mess-makers.  A few years ago, they coined this term to describe their most impressive messes: “disasterpiece.”  It’s a masterpiece of a disaster, an amazing mess.  The term made me laugh and has stuck.  We use it in our house all the time whenever there’s a big mess (too often).   Kids are especially good at making up words and phrases and I know we’re not the only family who has had a made-up word become part of our everyday speech.

It’s no surprise that a good author will have a way with words, but I’ve always been especially impressed by authors who make up their own words.  Some words we use all the time were originally made up by authors.  The word “nerd” for instance, first appeared in the 1950 Dr. Seuss book If I Ran the Zoo.  J. R. R. Tolkien is credited for first using the word “tween,” although he was using it to refer to hobbits in their “irresponsible twenties,” rather than preteens as we do today.

     There are many authors whose made up words might …