Showing posts from August, 2019

Keep Calm This Fall

As the temperature drops and the daylight gets shorter, we know the fall season is quickly creeping up on us, complete with its usual fun, yet stressful, array of holidays, family outings, youth sports, and back to school activities.  This year, head into fall with some calming apps to help soothe your over-taxed nerves and tired mind.  Many of the apps below are free, especially to start, but some may require a subscription if you want to try the advanced courses or features.

InsightTimer - This is perhaps the most robust free mediation app available, with a large library, tools, and unlimited use of the mediation timer.  Yes, they do offer premium subscriptions to unlock a larger library, but most users will find what they need in the thousands of free meditations.

Smiling Mind – An Australian app that is totally free and offers meditation with a twist – most of their guides are geared toward a specific topic, like being calm at work or school.  The company’s goal is to reach younger …

Put a MCLS library card at the top of your child’s school supply list!

It’s “Back-to-School” season and parents everywhere are hitting their favorite stores to buy all the things their kids need. However, I would argue that the most important thing your child needs before they go back to school cannot be bought in a store: a library card from the Mercer County Library System! September is “National Library Card Sign-up Month” so it is the perfect time to stop by your local branch to get your child a library card.

Top 7 Reasons to Get Your Child a Library Card… Getting a library card is easy and FREE!  Everything you need to know is right here in our online brochure [].To give them a sense of pride and responsibility. Getting your child their own library card will make them feel so proud.  Just look at the smiling face of our new cardholder who came in just this week. She could not wait to check out books on her very own card!  It is also a good way to teach responsibility.  They need to take go…

Beautiful Bees!

There are probably many people who think of bees only enough to avoid getting stung. As we realize that bees are declining in number, however, many of us are beginning to appreciate all that they do. Recently, a representative from the Central Jersey Beekeepers Association visited the Hollowbrook Branch and taught our patrons all about bees. She even brought a live observation hive and honey! Here are a few fun facts we learned about bees….

Bees do so much for us!  Bees are great pollinators.  Without bees we wouldn’t have many flowers, fruits and vegetables, including apples, almonds, vanilla and more.  Losing these plants would also mean losing the animals that eat their produce, so it would be harder to raise cows, rabbits and chickens as well.  We’d also be without items made from plants, such a cotton clothing.  Losing crops and livestock would, in turn, have a huge impact on the world economy.Bees do not hibernate during the winter.  We just don’t see them.  They cluster close to…

Puzzling It Out: Crosswords at the Library

At the Ewing Branch Library, like all of our locations, just about anything you take home will have to be returned.  But one of our most popular items is something you can keep -- you can even deface it! -- it’s a copy of the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle.  Every week our staff provides copies of the puzzle from the New York Times Magazine, and we often run out by mid-week.

I’ve been doing puzzles for most of my life.  It’s a daily routine that started in earnest when my uncle gave me a subscription to the magazine Games for my birthday when I was in middle school.  I enjoyed it so much, he renewed the subscription for many years.  Games was published ten times a year, and when it arrived, all schoolwork was set aside until I had worked my way through as many of the puzzles as I could tackle!  The magazine published many types of puzzles, all graded in difficulty from one to three stars -- spiral word puzzles, cryptograms, “What is it?” photo quizzes -- but the centerpiece of…

Can You Hear Me Now?

The day will always be etched into my mind – Tuesday, December 19, 2017.  It was less than a week before Christmas and I was in full holiday mode.  We had an early morning appointment with the Otolaryngology Department at CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) for my 7 year old son Aidan.  For a few months leading up to this appointment, Aidan would mention in passing that it felt like his right ear was clogged.  Each time I made an appointment at the pediatrician’s office and each time we were told it was nothing to be concerned about. So we took the proper precautions to try and open his hearing.  While he first said it helped a bit we were not a 100% sure.

Aidan had failed his 6 year old hearing test as well as his 7 year old test.  His doctor immediately told us to see an Otolaryngologist.  After a round of hearing tests, it was confirmed he had profound to severe hearing loss in his right ear.  Questions were immediately starting to form: Why Aidan?  Why now?  Was he born this…

Woodstock 50th Anniversary

The Woodstock music festival of August 15th-18th, 1969, was one of the defining events of 1960s counterculture.  In the days before the festival began, 500,000 music fans from all over the country descended on the small, sleepy town of Bethel, NY. The three-day festival included an enormous lineup of acts, some already famous and some relatively unknown. They included The Who, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, the Jefferson Airplane, and countless others. The very successful documentary Woodstock – 3 days of peace and music, which came out the following year, made many of these musicians world famous. 

If you want to read more about the Woodstock festival, the Mercer County Library System has many books that cover this historic event:

50 Years: The Story of Woodstock Live: Relive the Magic, Artist by Artist by Julien Bitoun goes through a very detailed rundown of the festival. It goes artist by artist, starting with Ritchie Havens at 5pm on Friday to Jimi Hendri…

Toni Morrison, 1931-2019

Earlier this week we lost one of the essential authors of 20th century America, Toni Morrison.  Renowned for her beautiful prose that vividly describes life as an African American woman and the search for Black identity in a country still confronting racism at the turn of the century, Morrison covered subjects including sexual violence against women, the Jazz Age, and life in the post-War South.  Her writing style utilizes a fair amount of simile to help the reader relate to the issues she describes in her works, making the writing accessible and easy to read because of her even flow and well-structured wording.  While Morrison covers some difficult subject matter, she often does so by incorporating fantasy through magical realism, lending an entertainment level to her novels.

Morrison was the 1993 Nobel Prize winner for literature and has also won a Pulitzer Prize (for Beloved), been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She spent …