The Library of Congress is celebrating the 20th annual National Book Festival this weekend, September 25-27, with a theme of Celebrating American Ingenuity. One of the most prominent literary events in the United States, it brings together thousands of readers for book talks, interviews, and book signings with authors for every age and genre. (The website also includes samples of highlights from previous festivals, including a conversation with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at last year’s festival.)
PBS is partnering with the Library of Congress to close the festival with a two-hour television special exploring the ingenuity of a diverse group of best-selling American authors – “what it means to them, how it fires their minds and imaginations and why books are so important to us in these times.” Hosted by Hoda Kotb, the special will premiere on PBS Sunday, September 27 at 6:00pm.
Have a huge collection of unwanted t-shirts that you’re not ready to part with? Check out this upcycle activity that you can do with your t-shirts using only a pair of scissors (and a marker) – 10 easy steps!
1 pair of scissors (need to be sharp enough to cut through cloth)
1 market (optional)
1 medium/large sized dish or bowl (optional)
TIP – If using a t-shirt with a logo on it, you’ll want it to be towards the middle of the t-shirt.
Step 1 – Lay your t-shirt down on the floor or any flat surface.
Step 2 – Take a look at your t-shirt and decide visually where your cut marks will go. If you have a logo, you may need to adjust where you cut.
Sept 3 – Turn your t-shirt inside out and lay it back down on your flat surface. Flatten it out (does not need to be ironed).
Step 4 – Using your scissors, cut off your sleeves (you want to cut just past the the thread marks). It is important that you only cut off the sleeves at this point.
Step 5 – Using your dish, place your dish on top of the neck hole. Move it down so you have a half of a circle on your t-shirt and the other half on your surface. Using your marker, draw the half circle. You can also eyeball this part as well if you’d like.
Step 6 – Measure 3 inches from the bottom of your t-shirt (or half of your hand). Mark with your marker where this is.
Step 7 – Cut out 1.5 to 2 inch strips from the bottom of your t-shirt up to your indicator line. Make sure you cut your end pieces so that the front and back are separated.
Step 8 – Make sure the strips are laying flat (you may need to re-smooth out your t-shirt).
Step 9 See how each strip has a strip underneath it? Tie those together. Do this all the way across and then double knot each one.
Step 10 – Fold your bag inside right – and you’re done!
It’s clear that more of us are out running these days! Whether you’re a long-time runner, or just getting started, running can bring tremendous physical and mental benefits. We’ve compiled some resources to help enrich and encourage your running journey.
The information provided by Scotch Plains Public Library and its employees does not imply medical recommendation, endorsement or approval. Information from these sources are intended for use as general information. All consumer health information should be reviewed with your health care professional for clarification about how this information may or may not apply to your unique clinical situation or overall health.
Nearly all coaching sites promote fee-based resources and services. The ones listed here provide substantial amounts of their content for free, although you may need to provide an email in some cases.
Kinetic Revolution – James Dunne, a UK-based sports rehabilitation therapist and coach, provides comprehensive resources on technique, training, injury prevention and more. There is lots of free content, with many short videos and downloadable pdf guides.
The Balanced Runner – Jae Gruenke is a Feldenkrais Practitioner who focuses on making running feel easier and more enjoyable. Her site offers free audio lessons such as “Mobilizing Your Core to Run.” She’s also has a series of ‘Stuck at Home Running Form Tips’ on her YouTube channel.
(You can find more Feldenkrais-based balance and strength video lessons on local instructor Yasmin Ofek’s blog!)
Even as group events and races are suspended, running clubs and online groups can still offer many of the benefits of community. Members connect often through Facebook groups and even Zoom meetings to share advice, offer encouragement, and provide connection with others who share your enthusiasm (or your pain!) Nearly all running clubs welcome all ages and all paces, and some are formed to encourage and address the concerns of particular populations.
Black Girls RUN! – created in 2009 to provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners, and “to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority.”
Black Men Run – formed to encourage health and wellness among African American men by promoting a culture of running/jogging to stay fit resulting. “From first timers to advanced runners, we strive to promote increased fitness through a culture of running.”
Achilles International– founded in 1983 as the Achilles Track Club, this group provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners, including wounded military personnel, veterans, and kids, come together to train in an environment of support and community.
Keeping Track– Three Olympians (Alysia Montano, Molly Huddle and Roisin McGettigan) host conversations about race, motherhood, women in coaching, and more.
The Real Science of Sport -sports scientist Professor Ross Tucker and journalist Mike Finch break down the myths, practices and controversies from the sporting world. Running-related topics have included recovery science, Nike’s controversial shoes, misinformation on weight and performance, and more.
The Way of the Runner – award-winning author Adharanand Finn interviews an eclectic mix of runners “to try to uncover what it really is that gets us out there running around in big, pointless circles. And why we love it so much.”
Read about Running
Our online books and magazines can be accessed with a Scotch Plains Library card number.
Our Creativebug subscription has thousands of great tutorials to get your creative juices flowing. But sometimes the meditative power of some good old-fashioned coloring is just what you need to relax and regroup.
We’ve compiled different ways for you to tour the world, right from the comfort of your home. Take online virtual tours, listen to travel books, and watch documentaries…with a little help from your local library.
Scotch Plains Public Library mission: to welcome and support our entire community with resources and services that enhance lifelong learning.
While the library building is closed to the public, we are still working hard to fulfill our mission. The Adult Services Department wants to make sure that we are providing programs and services that you can use, even without access to physical materials and space. We invite you to respond to our survey and let us know how we might best meet your needs during this time.
Did you know that you can easily make meaningful contributions to scientific research—while staying home and staying safe?
Scientific research depends on data–much of which is based on observations that can be done more effectively and more quickly by the ordinary human eye and brain than by computers.
By harnessing the power of the crowd, research can advance much more quickly than if scientists had to do this work on their own!
Citizen Science is a way for all of us to use our ordinary powers of observation to advance real scientific research.
The best place to start your Citizen Science journey is Scistarter.org.
Scistarter is a portal for finding projects and tracking your contributions.
Once you’ve created an account, you can easily search for projects that appeal to you.
Use the Project Finder to search for projects that interest you and can be done safely from home!
Even a few minutes of your time every now and then can create valuable data for scientists! Here are some examples of the different types of projects you can get involved in right now!
Count penguins and chicks in remote locations from your home computer!
Penguin Watch is an easy and fun project that will provide scientists with data they need— in time to understand why penguin populations are declining. Seabirds like penguins are considered to be ‘sentinel’ species, meaning that changes in their behavior and populations can provide early warning of risks to key ecosystems, and by extension to humans.
Seabirds are declining worldwide; under threat from climate change, pollution, disturbance and competition with fisheries. We want to monitor, understand and protect these species, but we have lacked the ability to collect data on a large enough scale.
You can tell a lot about a galaxy just from its shape!
The Galaxy Zoo project is done from your computer by viewing photographs from powerful telescopes, and answering a series of questions about their shape. Understanding galaxies helps scientists learn about the past, present and future of the Universe as a whole.
You can answer these questions without any specialist knowledge— the ordinary human brain can perform these pattern recognition tasks better than any computer!
Make important contributions to biodiversity science from your own backyard or neighborhood!
iNaturalist is an easy-to-use app that lets you upload a picture of any wild plant, animal, or fungus. Over 80,000 daily users in over 240 countries can connect with other by helping to identify sightings. Your contributions can create research quality data for scientists who are working to better understand and protect nature. Every observation becomes part of a growing record of Earth’s biodiversity!
You can also view what others have seen in your area! Wondering if there are wild turkeys—or coyotes—in our vicinity? Use the Explore option to find out! (Yes, there are!)
Nothing is better than the human eye for transcribing handwriting.
Do your interests lie more in history? Citizen Science has projects for you, too!
The Smithsonian Transcription Center has thousands of letters, diaries and records at that need your eyes to reveal their treasures! Enter the world of American artists in Paris between 1860 and 1930 through their letters. Bring to light the experiences of formerly enslaved men and women during Reconstruction by transcribing records from the Freedman’s Bureau. You’ll learn about historical events in a completely different way, and bring valuable human stories to light for researchers and the public .
A Citizen Science project that feels like a game–but is actually advancing Alzheimer’s research!
Stall Catchers is a game-like project—the object is to “catch” stalls by looking at movies from the brains of mice and scoring blood vessels as “flowing” or “stalled.” The stalls indicate the reduced blood flow that’s associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Even the most powerful computer technologies can’t perform this task accurately enough—and without the help of the crowd, the research process could take decades.
With the efforts of Citizen Scientists, a treatment could potentially be developed quickly enough to help people who have the disease now! Stall Catchers can be done from any type of computer or connected device.
This short video explains the science behind Stall Catchers:
We recently wrote about how you can find reading suggestions from the library’s book clubs. Here are some additional resources to inspire you.
LibraryReads – We know you love to get recommendations from our library staff when you visit our building, and we love to share great titles with you. Each month, LibraryReads lists the 10 upcoming titles that have been most enjoyed by people who work in public libraries across the country. You can find May’s list here, but if you visit the Archive page, you can explore library favorites going back to 2013. (Are you playing Bingo with us? Checking out LibraryReads is an easy square to get.)
NoveList Plus – If you haven’t discovered the NoveList Plus database yet, grab your library card and explore! You can search for a title, author, or subject, or you can browse their lists of suggested titles based on your favorite genre, your current mood, or even a favorite TV show. Click on a title that intrigues you, and you’ll find read-alike suggestions based on the title or the author. You’ll also find professional reviews to help you decide if you should give a book a try. NoveList Plus includes books for all ages, so parents can also use this to help them find a “just right” book for their children.
Bestseller lists – Have you been missing the weekly bestseller lists we kept in a binder in the New Book section? Until our building reopens, you can find the Publishers Weekly and New York Times bestseller lists online.
Of course, we still enjoy helping you find a great book to read. We’ve got great ideas about new ways to keep doing that, so stay tuned!
Instagram Live, previously a place for celebrities to offer the public slick glimpses into their worlds, has been repurposed as a cabaret, abuzz with performing artists doing what they can for us from their living rooms.
Here is a list of some shared listening opportunities to check out. Let us know if you have others to recommend!
Living Room Live Classical Music
Living Room Live is a platform where classical musicians stream live recitals from their living rooms into yours. Check their website for the schedule of performances, taking place daily at 1pm.
Phish’s “Dinner and a Movie”
The jam band is streaming a full recorded show every Tuesday beginning at 8:30 pm at webcast.livephish.com. Phish will also provide fans with recommended in-home recipes so they can cook along and enjoy dinner while watching the show!
Melissa Etheridge invites you to join her these next couple of weeks on Facebook Livedaily at 6pm for 15 minute sing-along get-togethers. Invite your friends and family!
Drew Holcomb of the Americana band The Neighbors is streaming his “Kitchen Covers” series every evening at9:00 pm via Instagram and Facebook. Artists he’s covered include Tom Petty, U2, and Kenny Rogers.
British violinist Daniel Hope, one of the world’s most prolific classical recording artists, is offering a series of daily concerts live at12 noon from his living room. The concerts will be live streamed daily on Deutsche Grammophon’s Deutsche Grammophon and Arte Concert YouTube channels.
Feinstein’s 54 Below
The Manhattan club known as “Broadway’s Living Room” is now a virtual living room where at-home audiences can enjoy performances, comment, and chat with each other. They will be streaming live shows and past performances as one-time only events on their YouTube channel, most evenings at 6:30pm. Upcoming performers include Lorna Luft and Ben Vereen.
Marie’s Crisis Café
Marie’s Crisis is a “West Village is a dive bar that epitomizes a deep love for show tune music, community, and fun.” Join their Facebook group (currently accepting all applicants) and sing along every night as their pianists live-stream sets of Broadway tunes to audiences at home. They’re on-duty from roughly 4pm to 9:30pm on weekdays, and a little later on Saturdays. They’ll take requests!
Royal Irish Academy of Music
The Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin is livestreaming concerts on Facebook every Monday, Wednesday, & Friday at 2pm, offering live music from the living rooms of RIAM’s staff, students, and special guests.
The drummer for The Roots is DJing live sets of R&B tunes and deep cuts on YouTube and Instagramnightly at 10pm.