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Showing posts from February, 2020

Making Improvements

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If you’ve read or watched the news lately, you know that climate change is a common topic. Here are a few ways you can help slow it down.

First, recycling! Be sure to follow your municipality’s instructions as to what can be recycled. In Mercer County, residential recycling is done at the county-level (not counting apartment complexes, who often have their own contractor). Mistakes are commonly made. Many may been seen during a simple drive on pickup day. Can pizza boxes be recycled? NO. Yes, it is cardboard, but cardboard cannot be recycled if contaminated by food. When was the last time you saw a used but completely unstained pizza box? Don’t put it in your recycling container. Other cardboard or paperboard items? Absolutely. Don’t forget those paper towel or toilet paper rolls!

To recycle plastic, first look for the number in the triangle. Plastic recycling in Mercer County is limited to types 1 and 2. These are fairly common - type 1 (PETE, polyethylene terephthalate) are items li…

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker Movie Review (No Spoilers!)

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The Star Wars franchise is nearly as cosmic as the cinematic universe it inhabits; bursting at the seams with impossible technology, mesmeric world-building and heart-pounding moments, all showcasing timeless themes of courage, family and destiny. Even those who have never watched a Star Wars are aware of its massive cultural footprint on cinema. For many like myself, Star Wars is a cathartic movie-going experience featuring genre-bending action, adventure, comedy, drama, and sometimes even horror, that services the formation of an immensely entertaining piece of fantasy fiction.

Star War: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) attempts to achieve the improbable in acting as a wholly satisfying footnote for the entire “Skywalker Saga” (Episodes I through IX) while also operating as a three-act story with purpose, structure and coherence. Star Wars is beloved for its charmingly delightful characters, incredibly rich settings and spectacularly emotional resonance; however, it is also…

“[Beyond] These [Lifeless] Things”

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I am not a big fan of Procol Harum; in fact, I usually have to remind myself to check to make sure I am not misspelling it “Procul Harum”—the supposedly Latin phrase from which the band derived their name—which, incidentally, does not mean “beyond these things” (or “far from those things”), even if Gary Brooker, the founder of the band, thought it did. To bring a quantum level of nitpicking accuracy to bear, the group’s “Latin-inspired” name is even more error-laden: In addition to the misspelling, the Latin demonstrative pronoun “hic” is declined incorrectly, “'harum' being the feminine genitive plural 'of these things'” when it ought to be the ablative, “his”. In other words, to make sense in Latin, Procol Harum’s name ought to be “Procul His”.

Be that as it may, there are a couple of Procol Harum songs I like, my favorite being, no, not “A Whiter Shade of Pale” but rather “Conquistador”. I have nothing against "AWSoP" other than that it is overplayed and …

Why Wednesday is My Favorite Day of the Week…

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Wednesday, better known as “hump day,” is right smack in the middle of the work week.Most people like Wednesdays because it means they are halfway to Friday, but for me Wednesdays mean so much more.Wednesday is the day of week when I teach my Baby and Toddler Time classes.A room full of babies and toddlers may sound like someone’s worst nightmare, but for me it’s one of the best things about my job as a youth services librarian.

These classes are filled with music, singing, fingerplays, scarves, shakers and board books (some of my favorites are attached to the end of this post), but that is just scratching the surface. In many cases, these classes are a child’s first exposure to the library and books; the very first step in early literacy! These classes are also the place where babies have taken their first steps, said their first words or clapped for the first time. These classes are some babies’ first exposure to the English language. These classes are a place for our tiniest patrons…

Utopia in Our Backyard: Jersey Homesteads

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Here in central New Jersey, we benefit from easy access to major museums in both Philadelphia and New York City - many of which can even be accessed for free through the Mercer County Library System’s museum pass program. But even very close to home, cultural resources are above par. Local museums offer a great opportunity to shake off the winter blahs and expand one’s perspective.


On a recent Sunday afternoon, I checked out one of our system’s newest museum passes and visited Princeton’s Morven Museum and Garden, where the current exhibition Dreaming of Utopia: Roosevelt, New Jersey fills several rooms on the second floor. Displaying over 100 objects from various private and public collections, the exhibit tells the story of Roosevelt, a borough that lies just past the eastern border of Mercer County. Renamed for President Franklin D. Roosevelt upon his death in 1945, the town had been founded as Jersey Homesteads in 1937. Jersey Homesteads was conceived as a communal utopia, whe…

History, Biography, and More at Your Fingertips

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If you have been following my monthly entry on this blog, you know that I feel the word databases should probably be history by now.  It is not a case of the databases losing their meaning or usefulness, just that they are so much more than what they used to be “back in the day.”  Part of the point behind this continuing series (if you missed the previous editions, you can find the links at the bottom of this page) is to draw attention to the many topics and helpful everyday information that can be found in our databases.  This month we will take a look at databases that cover history and biography, but go beyond just journal articles to supply users with reliable information in the form of articles, video, and audio resources.



February is African American History month, so let’s start there.  Infobase offers us the African-American History Database, which is a pretty rich resource in that it goes beyond basic articles by incorporating primary resources, maps, videos, photos, and timel…

Reading Outside of Your Comfort Zone

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“I read everything. The No. 1 thing I tell my students is read diversely. And I’m not talking about demographics, though that’s part of it. Aesthetic diversity, genre diversity. It matters because it just makes us better informed, and it protects us from our worst instincts.” Author Roxanne Gay, in a 2018 interview with The Guardian.



Most of us read in a rut. We’ve discovered several books we love in a genre or format (or even by a certain author) and henceforth think of ourselves as “mystery readers” or “history fans” and seldom stray. My own preferred ruts are Science Fiction and Graphic Novel. So how do we break the habit and read outside our comfort zone?



February presents an easy solution. At your local MCLS branch right now, you’ll see a display for Blind Date with a Book. Librarians have carefully disguised beloved books, hoping you’ll take a chance to judge a book without its cover. It’s a great way to try something new!


Another idea is to join a book group. Having someon…