Monday, July 31, 2006

New Databases at the Library

The Berkeley Heights Public Library has added two new online databases to its online research collection: Alexander Street Press Music Online and Learn-a-Test are available free to library patrons from our website at

Music Online from the Alexander Street Press offers Berkeley Heights Library patrons three distinct music collections. African American Song includes jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folksongs and narratives. Classical Music Library has more than 50,000 recordings from various labels. Smithsonian Global Sound/Smithsonian Folkways includes music from around the world. Patrons can create an account and collect their favorites in a playlist. A recent post to this blog mentioned listening to Chaucer recited in the original Middle English from the Smithsonian database. This internet-based resource can be accessed from home computers by Berkeley Heights Library patrons or from the public access computers at the Berkeley Heights Public Library. These databases are really fun to browse through and listen to single tracks or whole albums, spoken-word (poetry and other recitations) or natural sounds (animal sounds, beer drinking, the office, the ocean and, get this, a frog being eaten by a snake!)

Learn-a-Test from Learning Express gives Berkeley Heights Library patrons remote access to a wide range of practice tests for the SAT’s, Advanced Placement, ASVAB, Civil Service, Real Estate, Postal, Police, Paramedic, Nurses Aid, TOEFL and more. Set up a free account, start a test anytime and finish it later if desired. The library's book collection has test books, but they always seem to be out when you need them, so this database ensures that you have no excuse not to study for those pesky SAT's etc.

To access these databases, go to and click on “Remote Databases.” You will be asked for your BHPL barcode and pin. Call the Reference Desk at (908) 464-9333 for more information.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pop Goes the Library: Summer Reading Lists

Take a look at this extremely thorough and well-reasoned response to a Wall Street Journal piece about the quality of summer reading lists: Pop Goes the Library: Summer Reading Lists
The WSJ editorial was a tired and formulaic lament about how kids just don't read the classics anymore and why don't teachers and librarians put those fondly remembered books on summer reading lists? As Liz B. points out in the blog piece, actually we do recommend classics, but we also recommend lots of other kinds of books too. Be honest with yourself - do you always read classics and great literature? Do you sometimes read for entertainment? Well, children do that too and many grow up unscathed by the experience of reading books that have little literary merit. But don't get me started - read the blog piece linked above. Then cut your kids a break and let them enjoy summer.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Quill Awards

The first Quill Awards for literature was broadcast last fall. It was supposed to do for books what Oscar does for movies, that is: nominate best books in various categories and announce the winners on a television broadcast of the awards. The second annual Quill Awards will be on October 10 and broadcast on NBC on October 21. For more information , go to the the PW (Publishers Weekly) website where you will be able to vote for the Quill Awards at some point in the future. The site lists last year's winners. You can also subscribe to one of PW's e-newletters for email updates on the publishing world in the area of childrens literature, religious publishing, comics or just general book news.

In other book news this week, A Dress for Diana by Elizabeth and David Emanuel is the story behind Princess Diana's wedding dress and the authors have been making the rounds of TV shows to promote it. Some other most-requested new or upcoming books this week at the library were: Fiasco: the American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas Ricks, The Language of God by Francis Collins, The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, and for kids, riding on the wave of Pirates of the Caribbean - Piratelolgy by Dugald A. Steer a beautiful book that you might want to keep in mind for birthday or holiday gifts.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Janet Evanovich Read-a-Likes

Say you've read everything about Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovich's numbered series about the hapless (she is always described as hapless, sorry) bounty hunter from an urban but cozy neighborhood of Trenton, New Jersey: now what can you read while you eagerly await the next title in the series? I just finished Dirty Laundry by Tori Carrington. Carrington is actually a husband and wife writing team who created Greek American bounty hunter, Sofie Metropolis who operates in the Greek-American part of Astoria, Queens. Everything about her mirrors the Stephanie Plum novels. Ethnic? check. Thirtyish and single? check. Mysterious exotic potential lover? Check. Ditsy and clumsy? checkcheck and check etc etc. But this doesn't mean the book has no merit, it's just very derivative. Greek recipes included at the end. I checked BHPL's database Novelist to see what other books might appeal to Stephanie Plum enthusiasts and here is the list of authors as given by readers' advisor and columnist Joyce Saricks.
Nancy Bartholomew's stripper/detective (!) Sierra Lavotini featured in The Miracle Strip.
Sarah Stohmeyer's hairdresser/detective Bubbles Yablonsky from Lehigh, Pa.
Anthony Bruno's Loretta Kovacs novels, especially Devil's Food.
and for the more romantic, Jennifer Crusie's Welcome to Temptation.
Thanks as usual to Joyce Saricks who must read instead of sleeping. To access the Novelist database which has book reviews, book lists by theme and genre, book suggestions, go to our home page and click on Remote Databases.

Library Buzz News Update: Shakespeare in the Parking Lot

Yes, Shakespeare will be in the parking lot and kids' audiobooks are now downloadable from BHPL's website!

Supplement to Summer 2006 Buzz Newsletter

Downloadable Audiobooks Available for Kids Too!

Are you finished packing for vacation? Did you remember to download a new book from BHPL’s website? Over 260 downloadable audiobooks for children and young adults are now available for your listening pleasure. You can download them at any time – 24/7.
The title list is growing at ten titles every month.

Children will be delighted to listen to stories about Judy Moody, Horrible Harry,
Anastasia Krupnick, Ginger Pye, Mrs. Frisby and many other favorites.
Young adult authors Meg Cabot, Lois Duncan, Karen Hesse, Joy Hakim, Anthony Horowitz, Brian Jacques, Lurlene McDaniel, Joan Lowery Nixon, Ann Rinaldi, Gary Soto and Paul Zindel are all represented in the collection which covers biography, history, fantasy, fiction, romance, mystery and suspense.

To find a list of what’s available, search the subject “downloadable audiobooks for children” in the library’s online catalog. The online address is
Click on NetLibrary in the lower right hand corner of the home page. Be prepared with your library barcode and pin number (the last 4 digits of your phone number).
Downloadable Audiobooks can be downloaded to your computer and transferred to most, but not all, portable devices (MP3, laptop,etc – not iPod). If you have problems downloading, call 464-9333.


The Next Stage Ensemble of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will present The Comedy of Errors on Friday, August 4 at 7:00 P.M. in the parking lot of the Berkeley Heights Public Library. Suitable for ages ten and up, bring lawn chairs to the back parking lot to enjoy this free production. Call 464-9333 in case of rain for alternate location.

For library news updates, mark the library blog in your “favorites” list

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

3-Iron at the Thursday Night Movies

BHPL will show the Korean film 3-Iron on Thursday, July 27 at 7:00 P.M. The story of a homeless man who stays in houses of his clients when they are away and always leaves them neater than before he moved in, turns into a love affair with an abused woman. Review and video clips.

The library will host Shakespeare in the (Not Quite) Park on Friday, August 4 at 7:00 P.M. which will present The Comedy of Errors. This free progam is performed by the Next Stage Ensemble of the Shakepeare Theatre of New Jersey and is suitable for ages ten and up. Bring lawn chairs to the back parking lot. In case of rain, call 464-9333 for alternate location. For a schedule of other Next Stage Ensemble performances, click here. The main web page of the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey has the 2006 schedule of plays and a map to the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theater on the Drew University Campus in Madison.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Chorus, tonight's movie at the library

Tonight's movie the Chorus tells the story of a prep school teacher who inspires his students with the study of music. For more information, click on this link for Les Choristes at the Internet Movie Database for reviews, video clips and cast information. Showtime is 7:00 PM in the meeting room, the film is 96 minutes, in French, rated PG.

Union County Freeholders Fund Databases for Area Libraries

The Union County Freeholders , led by Chairman Al Mirabella, voted in March to fund three databases for local libraries. The databases are purchased from ProQuest and offer the New York Times in full-text and two genealogy databases, Heritage Quest and Ancestry Library. The first two of these are available from BHPL and remotely. Ancestry is available only from library computers. A library card is needed to access these databases from home computers. Go to the BHPL homepage and click on the Remote Databases link. Enter your BHPL barcode and pin and proceed from there. If you select Heritage Quest or the New York Times Historical from the database chart, the links take you to the Union County Library Connection page where you have to click on the database you want yet again. Sorry about the round-about route, but it's worth the trip to use these resources. The New York Times Historical has the full-text from 1851 to 2003. (More recent years of the NYT are available from the Newspapers Nine database. Heritage Quest and Ancestry Plus have the U.S. Census, thousands of genealogical books, papers and records. It's amazing to type in a family name and see what pops up. As usual, if you have any questions, call the Reference Desk.

Chaucer's the Canterbury Tales Discussed at Book Group

Recently, the BHPL First Friday of the Month Book Group discussed Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. To read the full text online there are several websites including
and from Harvard University an illustrated Chaucer course online at
BHPL Patrons can listen to the text being read in the original Middle English by going to our new music database, Music Online from the Alexander Street Press. From our homepage, click on the Remote Databases link, login with your barcode and pin, and search for the Canterbury Tales in the database search engine. It sounds to me like Sid Caesar doing one of his famous gibberish languages, Swedish in this case. (No offense meant to speakers of Swedish or Middle English or Sid Caesar fans for that matter.) See what you think. It can be followed along with a little practice if you keep a window open with the full text while listening to it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Harvard Classics at the Library

BHPL has the set of books called the Harvard Classics, the so-called five foot shelf of books selected by Harvard president Charles Elliot at the beginning of the last century. He claimed in the introduction to the set that these works could provide a "liberal anyone who would read them with devotion, even if could spare but fifteen minutes a day." At our library, and I suspect many others, this set gathers dust on the shelves while taking up more than five linear feet of valuable shelf space. BHPL's have not circulated for five years. That is: not one single volume of the set of fifty-one has been checked out in all that time. This presents a dilemma, because the 8oo's (literature in dewey numbers) section is so crammed that books can't be shelved easily in that area. The entire text of the set can be found in Bartleby's online (see above link.) So why do we keep them? It seems that any self-respecting library should offer the classics of the Western World just in case anyone has the notion to undertake the autodidactic mission that Elliot proposed. But we don't have space for it and it is available online. What to do? "Weed" (ie: discard) them? Here's another proposal, if anyone out there is reading this, go to your library and take out a volume from the Harvard Classics set; think of it as the bibliographic equivalent of rescuing a stray dog. Or think of it as a self-improvement project: looking for humor? Try Moliere instead of chic lit like the Devil Wears Prada. Need business advice, how about Machiavelli instead of Who Moved My Cheese? Looking for spiritual roots? Read the Sacred Writings in volumes 44 and 45 on Confucian, Hebrew,Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Mohammedan (sic) thought. Struggling with creationism versus evolution? Read Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. And so on. Centuries of the greatest thinkers and writers all waiting to be rediscovered - on the five foot shelf at Dewey address # 808.8 Check them out before they end up being used by a decorator trying to fill a client's bookshelves with classy looking books.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Book News by My Yahoo's Blog Service

In order to keep up with book news each day, I just signed up to have several book blogs picked up by My Yahoo's aggregator and put on My Yahoo page. For example: John Freeman posted to the Critical Mass book review blog at 3:41 am this morning to write Lazy Sunday
which has links to all kinds of recent book news. If that post is his idea of lazy, I give up. Library Journal reviews Merriam-Websters "hip" new dictionary.
USA Today's book section, my favorite, does a nice "Roundup: Southern Fiction." Scroll to the bottom of this blog to see the latest New York Times Book Reviews - today featuring a biography of Henry Ward Beecher by Debbie Applegate. And the Waterboro Public Library always has interesting ideas about researching the net, book reviews and techie advice.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Storybook Style Houses and Bungalows

Storybook Style, America;s Whimsical Homes of the Twenties by Arrol Gellner and Douglas Keister has circulated four times in four years but it's always on the shelving cart, which means someone is taking it out of the stacks and looking at it. It is a favorite of the staff, I know. Here is the book description from Amazon:
"In the tradition of the Bungalow series, here is a marvelous celebration of the twentieth century's most delightful and whimsical architectural style. Storybook Style, the rambunctious evocation of medieval Europe in American housing, was born in the early 1920s and almost forgotten by the late 1930s. It took its inspiration from the Hollywood sets that enthralled Americans of the period and that still appeal to our jaded modern eye. Half timbered and turreted, pinnacled and portcullised, these houses owed their fanciful bravura to architects and builders with theatrical flair, fine craftsmanship, and humor. In Storybook Style, architectural information enhances the stunning color pictures by Bungalow and Painted Ladies photographer Doug Keister to impart a wealth of information and enjoyment."

If you want a storybook style home but can't afford full-size, consider these fancy playhouses for lucky children.