Category Archives: Adults

Getting Started with Genealogy

Learn how to get started with the fascinating and rewarding activity of finding your roots! Join us for Getting Started with Genealogy on Saturday, May 5 at 2 pm. Jane Thoner, Genealogy Librarian at Plainfield Public Library, will introduce us to the basic principles and cover how to best use our library’s genealogy resources (Ancestry Library, Heritage Quest, and the local Joint Digital Archives). Participants will also be able to start their own family tree chart. Registration is required.

If you are interested in tracing your roots but can’t attend our program, check out a book from our genealogy display in the adult room to help you get started at home.

Here Comes the Sun

Spring is finally here! We hope you can join us for some of these exciting events coming up in April.

The Beatles: The Beaginnings
Thursday, April 12 at 7 pm

They rose from modest beginnings to become, in their own words “The Toppermost of the Poppermost.” Today, music enthusiasts and historians have begun to look back to the era before they were the Fab Four and before their singles were automatic No. 1s to understand what contributed to their enduring success. Our presenter Paul Groom was born, and lived for the first seventeen years of his life in Liverpool, England. He went to the same High School as Paul and George; he went to the same Sunday school as John Lennon; he went to the youth club where John met Paul; he lived in the same village as George and John; and he (of course) is a Beatles fan. Paul and his family are now Scotch Plains residents. Registration is recommended.

Our Magnetic Sun: Solar Telescope
Saturday, April 21 at 1 pm

Astronomer Bob Reichman returns to discuss Our Magnetic Sun. There is no fire on the Sun! All that energy is electromagnetic. We’ll start inside to share fun solar facts, learn about sun spots, the Northern Lights and see 2017 Total Solar Eclipse pics. After our program, we’ll go outside to set up a specialized, h-alpha solar telescope that will let us safely observe the Sun and provide us views of any sunspots or solar prominences that might be visible. Every child will receive a UV-sensitive bead bracelet that “magically” changes color in sunlight, but not other bright lights. Registration is recommended.

Rain Barrel Workshop
Sunday, April 22 at 1:30 pm

Rain barrels capture water from a roof for later use on lawns or gardens. In this workshop, we’ll make rain barrels to take home with help from representatives from the AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program.  All participants will need to bring their own safety glasses and this specified diverter kit: EarthMinded DIY Rain Barrel Diverter and Parts Kit -RBK-0001. Options for purchasing can be found online at Amazon and Home Depot.   We will supply the 55-gallon industrial-grade containers. (If you have an electric or battery-operated drill, please bring that as well.) Participants must have a downspout at home in order to install these barrels, and should be prepared to follow the written instructions that come with the kit in order to complete the installation at home on their own – this includes drilling a hole in your downspout. This workshop is limited to the first 10 individuals or families who register here.

Tinker, Learn, and Make on NJ Makers Day!

Scotch Plains Public Library is pleased to announce our participation in the 4th annual NJ Makers Day!

NJ Makers Day will fall on both Friday, March 9th and Saturday, March 10th and throughout the two days we will have workshops, demonstrations, and other fun activities for all ages.

Please visit our Makers Day site to view the full schedule of events.

Program Series: Taking One’s Freedom

February Program Series on Freedom

Explore with Us:

Exhibit / Collage Making / Lecture / Book Discussion / Resources

In February, we will be taking a closer look at the notion of freedom, primarily through the lens of Frederick Douglass’ journey to his own freedom. Take some time this month to explore the meaning of freedom through our programs. Visit our exhibit, participate in an intergenerational art program and a special lecture, and contribute to a book discussion. You’ll be sure to come away with some new ideas and insights about freedom!  Our Library Resources can help you continue your exploration of the life and work of Frederick Douglass.

All events are listed below, with links to register where needed.


From Slavery to Freedom: The Journey to New York City



The Library will host Frederick Douglass From Slavery to Freedom: The Journey to New York City, a traveling exhibition, from Saturday, February 10 through Wednesday, February 28. The exhibit is provided by The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Drawing upon Douglass’ own words from his autobiography and materials from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, the exhibition will look at Douglass’ life under slavery and his daring journey to freedom. It explores the question, “What aspects of his youth shaped his determination to be free?” Visitors may gain a deeper understanding of Douglass’ quest for freedom and the difficult choices he made. These choices can resonate for Americans today who are facing great challenges in achieving their goals and dreams.



Make a Freedom Collage

FEBRUARY 10 from 9:30am to 11:30am


Creating a collage can be a powerful means of self-expression for young and old.  We welcome artist, photographer, teacher and mentor Mansa Mussa , who will lead an intergenerational program creating Freedom Collages from 9:30-11:30am. Completed collages will be displayed in our Gallery space throughout the month.

Please register your group if you plan to attend.

“Collage is use to explore ideas, [and] advocate concepts…But just as often it is the consummate means of personal visual expression and distinct visual vocabulary…”

-Gerald Brommer in Collage Techniques Book

Collage Techniques, a Guide for Artists and Illustrators




Frederick Douglass: Reader, Preacher, Orator

FEBRUARY 10 at 2pm


Professor Douglas Jones, Rutgers UniversityDr. Douglas Jones of Rutgers University will present Frederick Douglass: Reader, Preacher, Orator, a lecture about Douglass’ public speaking career, which ranged from local preacher to world-renown orator.  Professor Jones will discuss the religious and secular contexts that gave shape to Douglass’ rhetorical style and helped make his speaking career so memorable. Light refreshments will be served following the lecture.

Please register if you plan to attend.

Read some of Douglass’ speeches in our database African-American History Online (Scotch Plains Library card required to log in.)

Frederick Douglass Speaking
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. “Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave, on an English platform, denouncing slaveholders and their religious abettors.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1852.




Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave

FEBRUARY 15 at 7pm


Book cover: Never CaughtOn Thursday, February 15 at 7:00pm, Dr. Linda Caldwell Epps returns to the Library to discuss the book Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. A limited number of copies of the book will be available to borrow beginning February 1.  Stop by or call the Reference Desk at 908-322-5007 x 204 to reserve a copy.  Registration is required as well.

Further reading:

In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington.”  New York Times article about Ona Judge and Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s determined quest to bring her story to light.


“There’s a myth of the North as free, but her story shows how complicated that was…”


Additional Resources at the Scotch Plains Public Library

Books (Print) – all are available to borrow:


In the Words of Frederick Douglass: Quotations from Liberty’s Champion


“The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.”

“There is no negro problem. The problem is whether the American people have loyalty enough, honor enough, patriotism enough, to live up to their own constitution.”

“Frederick Douglass has left one of the most extensive bodies of significant and quotable public statements of any figure in American history. In the Words of Frederick Douglass is a rich trove of…nearly seven hundred quotations by Douglass that demonstrate the breadth and strength of his intellect as well as the eloquence with which he expressed his political and ethical principles.’  (From the publisher)


Book Cover: Giants : the parallel lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham LincolnGiants : The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln


“…long before they ever met, they read, virtually memorized the same six books or authors, and that was central to their self-making.” -NPR interview with author John Stauffer, 2009

 “Stauffer manages the nifty trick of reinterpreting the familiar story of Lincoln, the Civil War and slavery by introducing Douglass as an important character in this narrative. Douglass was disappointed with Lincoln at first, but grew to become friendly with the president. This fascinating book will be of interest to popular audiences and academics alike.” -Star Ledger 


The Radical and the Republican BookThe Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics

“Douglass’s views on race were essentially modern; the book is really a study through his eyes of the more complex figure of Lincoln….Oakes vividly conveys both the immense distance America traveled to arrive at a more enlightened place and the fraught politics that brought it there.  -Publishers Weekly




Frederick Douglass biographyFrederick Douglass

“…the author presents the known facts of Douglass’s stormy life and reveals the man behind the icon: his complex and ambiguous friendships with William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown and other figures of the day; his gossip-stirring relationships with several dynamic white women; his controversial tenure as U.S. minister to Haiti near the end of his life. McFeely analyzes Douglass’s autobiographical writings, probing insightfully into the complicated psyche of this heroic figure.” -Publishers Weekly





The Portable Frederick DouglassThe Portable Frederick Douglass

The Portable Frederick Douglass includes the full range of Douglass’s works: the complete Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, as well as extracts from My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass; The Heroic Slave, one of the first works of African American fiction; the brilliant speeches that launched his political career and that constitute the greatest oratory of the Civil War era; and his journalism, which ranges from cultural and political critique (including his early support for women’s equality) to law, history, philosophy, literature, art, and international affairs, including a never-before-published essay on Haitian revolutionary Toussaint L’Ouverture. –From the Publisher

Research Databases


‘To use our research databases, login with a Scotch Plains Library card number.












  • Bloom’s Literature -find reference sources, literary criticism, the full-text of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, and more.

Bloom's Literature Database


Spotlight on Norman Rockwell on Display in the Gallery

Need a break from holiday shopping? Visit the library to view Spotlight on Norman Rockwell on display in our gallery this December! The exhibit focuses on the man behind some of the most iconic paintings of 20th century Americana, featuring pieces on loan from the collection of local resident Jack Cassidy.

Items on display include lithographs signed by the artist as well as collectibles, artifacts, and examples of Rockwell’s famous covers for the Saturday Evening Post. Mr. Cassidy began his collection around 1970. He purchased his first piece in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where Mr. Rockwell lived and had his studio.

Please join us for a special reception on Thursday, December 7 at 7 pm.

How Can the Library Serve You? Help Plan for the Future

The Scotch Plains Downtown Redevelopment Committee (SPDRC) has launched a new survey aimed at gathering input from the community on both a new, expanded library and a community center facility. The need for this has been identified through Downtown Redevelopment Committee member comments and public input at several meetings.

Residents are urged to take the survey as their opinions will help shape the future of Scotch Plains. Click here to take the survey.  Paper copies of the survey are also available at the Library.

World War I and America: Fall Program Series

World War I & America Logo








The Scotch Plains Public Library is one of only four New Jersey institutions to have received a World War I and America grant.  This grant, along with a generous gift from the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Service League, enables us to offer original programming to commemorate the centennial of American involvement in World War One, and to explore the ongoing experience of veterans who have served in our lifetimes.

 Presented by The Library of America, World War I and America is a two-year initiative in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of  American History, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, and other organizations, with generous support from The National Endowment for the Humanities.

The aim of World War I and America is to bring veterans and their families together with the general public to explore the continuing relevance of the war by reading, discussing, and sharing insights into the writings of Americans who experienced it firsthand.

We gratefully acknowledge the active involvement of New Jersey City University and the Union County Office of Veterans Affairs, with special thanks to the Veteran Liaisons for World War I and America:   Richard Thompson and Janna Williams, Union County Office of Veterans’ Affairs, and Ella Rue-Eyet, 52 Reasons to Love a Vet, and New Jersey City University.

Plainfield schoolchildren knitting for the Juior Red Cross, ca. 1917
Plainfield schoolchildren knitting for the Junior Red Cross, ca. 1917
American Library Association poster - books for soldiers program
American Library Association poster, ca. 1918


A chronological list of events is presented below, and all events can be viewed on our monthly calendar.   You can also download a printable flyer of all events.


52 Reasons to Love a Vet



Please be sure to visit this powerful exhibit  from the 52 Reasons to Love a Vet fund, for which world-renowned artists have illustrated their thoughts on either war or veterans.  Contributors include Dennis Dittrich and Victor Juhasz (who will speak here on September 25) and Milton Glaser.  The exhibit will be located on the lower level of the Library.

A closing reception will be held on November 9.  Ella Rue, military mom and  the founder of 52 Reasons, will speak about the organization.

'King of Diamonds' painting by Paul Jennis
‘King of Diamonds’ painting by Paul Jennis


“The name is derived from 52 playing cards in a deck that will show original artwork created by world-renowned illustrators specifically for this cause.”



Prelude to War: The Events that Drew the U.S. into World War I


Tim White, Associate Professor of History, New Jersey City University


Professor White’s lecture will orient the audience to the period of time (April 1917 through November 1918) that will be covered in the subsequent lectures, readings, discussions and films.  The focus will be on the major events of the war up to the time of U.S. entry, and the developments that led up to U.S. involvement in the war.

       No registration is needed.

Sinking of the Lusitania, 1915
The Sinking of the Lusitania


War Illustration: A Straight Unbroken Line


  • Dennis Dittrich: Propaganda Posters of  World War I

  • Victor Juhasz: Observations from an illustrator embedded with warriors in training and on the front lines


Navy Recruiting Poster

Dennis Dittrich will speak about the work of illustrators during World War I. Dittrich served as Society of Illustrators President from 2008 to 2014.  He is an active member of the Society’s Air Force Art Program with work in the USAF art collection. Currently an Associate Professor at NJCU, Dittrich also teaches ‘The History of American Illustration’ at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC.




Victor Juhasz illustrationVictor Juhasz has been active in Troops First Foundation tours, drawing soldiers and Marines. Victor is a member of the USAF Art Program in conjunction with the Society of Illustrators, and his work is part of the permanent collection of the USAF in the Pentagon. His assignments have included documenting, through drawings and the training of Special OPs Combat and ParaRescue Jumper units.  He has collaborated with The Joe Bonham Project, drawing and painting wounded soldiers as part of an artist documentation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In August of 2011, Victor embeded as a combat artist with the 1-52nd Arctic Dustoff, an Army helicopter MEDEVAC unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan for two weeks accompanying the medic teams on missions recovering the wounded. In an article titled, “An American Artist in the Combat Zone” the illustrations, along with his writing, were featured in a GQ app for iPad and later for GQ online in July, 2012.


Our work with the U.S. Air Force Art program is part of the Society of Illustrators Government Service committee, which was established to aid the war effort in the early days of the 20th century. The connection is a straight, unbroken line and we are always happy to talk about it.”  

-Dennis Dittrich on his and Victor Juhasz’ participation in the U.S. Air Force Art program.


No registration required.


Combat Paper and Frontline Arts



Veterans who have created written word and visual art pieces through this project will share their work and their stories with attendees.

“Our specialty is the transformative process of making handmade paper from military uniforms – Combat Paper. Through public workshops, this handmade paper creates a platform for veterans and non-veterans to come together and share stories, providing a “new language,” and much needed discourse between veterans and society.”

Work from Combat Paper project
View an online exhibit of works

No registration required.



The Experience of War


Naim Shaw and Janna Williams


Naim Shaw, actor, and Janna Williams, USAF veteran and Coordinator of the Union County Office of the Veteran Success Center, will read selections from World War I and America, and introduce the evening’s film.

The readings will be followed by a screening of the documentary film Thank You for Your Service (I hour, 28 minutes).

No registration is needed.


All Quiet on the Western Front


Mike Spatoro, U.S.M.C, Ret.


All Quiet on the Western Front Movie Poster
By Universal Pictures – site, Public Domain


We will show movies about World War I each Friday in October.  Our first film will be All Quiet on the Western Front.  USMC veteran Michael Spatoro will lead a discussion immediately following the screening.

No registration required.





Race and World War One


This discussion will be led by Linda Caldwell Epps, Ph.D.

Dr. Epps is a historian as well as President and CEO of 1804 Consultants, an organization dedicated to the advancement of educational and cultural organizations.

The readings for this facilitated discussion should be read in advance and interested attendees must register.


War Horse



War Horse movie poster


We will show movies about World War I each Friday in October. Our second film will be War Horse (PG-13, 147 min) – Albert Narracott enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse Joey is sold to the cavalry.

Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo.

No registration required.




Home Front New Jersey and World War I: Civil Liberties and the War within the War


Mark Lender, retired Chair, History Department, Kean University


'Must Liberty's Light Go Out?' Print
‘Must Liberty’s light go out?’ by Winsor McCay
About the Espionage Act of 1917



Most New Jersey residents went willingly to war in 1917–but some did not. This talk explores the home-front experience of the state, with a special focus on the tension between the civil liberties of those who opposed American participation in the conflict and the military needs of a country at war.

No registration is required.






In Love and War



In Love and War movie posterWe will show movies about World War I each Friday in October.

Our third film will be In Love and War (PG-13, 115 min) – the epic love story about Ernest Hemingway and the romance which inspired him to write his masterpiece A Farewell To Arms. A story of desperate love and imminent danger, it chronicles the relationship between the 18-year old Hemingway and Agnes von Kurowsky, the medical aide who nursed him back to health after a devastating battlefield injury.

No registration is required.



An Unintentional Consequence of WWI: American Religious Pluralism and the Jewish Experience


Jessica Cooperman, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies Department/ Director, Jewish Studies Program, Muhlenbuerg College


The American government entered World War I confident in the knowledge that the United States was a predominately Protestant country, albeit one which extended religious tolerance to other faiths. By the end of the war, however, the U.S. military and War Department increasingly depicted Judaism and Catholicism as equal partners to Protestantism in the “three faiths of American democracy.”

World War I marked a period of critical, although not always intentional, transformations in the ways that American religion was defined and supported by the policies and practices of the government. This talk will explore how these changes came about: who advocated for them? And how was it that Americans gradually began to think of themselves as part of a “Judeo-Christian” country that included Protestants, Catholics, and Jews?

No registration required.

Young Irving Berlin in his World War I uniform


The Home Front



This discussion will be led by Christopher C. Gibbs, author of The Great Silent Majority: Missouri’s Resistance to World War I, as well as six crime novels set in the aftermath of the war. He served with the military police in Viet Nam, and has taught history at Rutgers, Middlesex County College, and Union County College. He lives with his wife in Fanwood, New Jersey.

Please review the readings for this discussion in advance, and register here.





Flyboys movie poster

We will show movies about World War I each Friday in October.

Our fourth film will be Flyboys (PG-13, 140 min) – Inspired by true events, Flyboys tells the story of the Lafayette Escadrille, a group of American men who volunteered to fight for the French before the U.S. entered World War I and became the country’s first fighter pilots.

No registration required.




Claims Clinic

MONDAY, OCTOBER 30 from 10AM to 2PM


Representatives of the VA and our series veterans’ liaison Richard P. Thompson, Bureau Chief, Office of Veterans Affairs, Union County will provide assistance with benefits paperwork.

A phone number to schedule appointments will be provided soon.


At Home:The Toll of War



This discussion will be led by Ryan Harty, Active Duty with the New Jersey Army National Guard.  He is currently serving as the Operations Officer for the 1st Squadron, 102d Cavalry Regiment stationed in Westfield, and is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2008-2009.

Please read these selections in advance, and register here.


Reception for Veterans                                          52 Reasons to Love a Vet with Ella Rue



'Queen of Spades' by Bri Hermanson ©
‘Queen of Spades’ by Bri Hermanson ©


“All too often veterans return home and are unable to find or are simply denied services. As a society, we should be compelled to rectify this situation.  The 52 Reasons to Love a Vet restricted fund aims to do just that.  This fund solely benefits veterans by financially assisting them in furthering their education and/or assisting with medical, dental or mental health resources.

52 Reasons founder and military mom Ella Rue will speak about the organization.




“The name is derived from 52 playing cards in a deck that will show original artwork created by world-renowned illustrators specifically for this cause.”


Related Resources


Local History


The New Jersey State Archives maintains a database of descriptive cards, photographs, and correspondence of World War One casualties from New Jersey, searchable by name and town of residence.

Scotch Plains resident Lacy Tuck, a WWI casualty












Song Hits of World War I album cover


Scotch Plains cardholders can listen to popular songs of WWI on the Library’s digital music service Freegal.




Research at Scotch Plains Public Library


Photo of U.S. Marines leaving for Europe in 1917
U.S. Marines Leave for France in 1917


Scotch Plains cardholders who would like to learn more about this time period can connect to History Research Center.   This database offers background information, primary sources, images, videos, maps, timelines and more.

View our catalog for books on World War I and America.

Please feel free to contact a librarian for help with finding additional resources!


Veterans Writing and Art Groups


  • Veterans Writing Project – “At the Veterans Writing Project we believe that every veteran has a story. But we know that some of us need a little help telling that story. So we provide no-cost writing seminars and workshops for veterans, service members, and their adult family members. We’re also building an archive of writing by members of the military community. We publish a quarterly literary review and an ongoing scroll of writing by our friends on our sister site, O-Dark-Thirty.
  • Veterans Writing Workshop – “The Veterans Writing Workshop helps veterans tell their stories by providing professional-level writing workshops in the NYC-metro area free of charge to U.S. veterans.”
  • Warrior Writers – – Warrior Writers is a national non-profit. Our mission is to create a culture that articulates veterans’ experiences, build a collaborative community for artistic expression, and bear witness to war and the full range of military experiences.” See Events for information on the Warrior Writers New Jersey Workshop
  • Veteran Artist Program -“VAP takes artists who are also veterans, and propels their works and careers into the mainstream creative arts community…We are based in New York City but are currently creating programming across the country to expand the network and visibility of veteran artists. VAP focuses on: Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Writing/Literature, Film/Video, and New/Interactive Media.”


Adult Summer Reading Bingo

This summer, libraries across the country are encouraging people to Build a Better World. At ScotLib, we are again hosting a bingo game for Scotch Plains and Fanwood adult cardholders designed to better the world around them in a variety of ways. Here are just a few of the things that you can do with our bingo game:

• Try out library resources such as Flipster or Freegal.
• Find new book ideas by starting a new series, selecting a book from award lists, or attending one of our book discussions.
• Explore the world around you with a museum pass, a documentary, or a travel book to plan an exciting vacation.
• Learn something new with our Great Courses DVDs (examples include The Art of Travel Photography, How to Master Outdoor Cooking, and Our Night Sky).

Once you’ve completed enough activities for a good bingo, stop by the Reference Desk to submit your card. Feel free to pick up another one so you can try even more activities. Let us know which books you’ve enjoyed reading this summer (giving us a short review is also one of the squares!). Have an idea for next year’s bingo game? We’d love to hear that too!

The game ends on August 28, at which point one “good bingo” will be drawn for a summer reading giveaway set, which includes a canvas totebag, travel mug, notepaper cube, notebook, and stylus pen.
However you spend your summer, we hope that you’ll make the library, whether in person or online, a part of it.

Introducing Qello Concerts!

Qello is only place to watch over 1700 of the most amazing live moments in music. It’s the world’s largest collection of full-length concerts and music documentaries streamed on-demand to just about any digital device. It’s like a never-ending concert ticket.

  • Discover: Qello carefully curates the live performances that matter. The greatest concerts and music documentaries are right here. With new releases every week, from iconic stars to today’s best artists, you’ll never run out of amazing shows to watch.
  • Anytime and Everywhere: Wherever you are, the live music experience follows. Watch Qello Concerts on your big screen with Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Sony, and more.
  • Music for All: From the 1920s to today’s hottest artists, Qello Concerts spans over 30 genres, from classical to rock, reggae to country. Watch the greatest performances on film from Queen, Pink Floyd, Lady Gaga, Metallica, Nirvana, Tiësto, Tupac, Slipknot, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, Pavarotti, Celine Dion, Eagles, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and so many more.
  • Experience: Qello gives you those special music moments when they matter most. Whether you’re throwing a holiday party, just having some people over, or need some quiet time, Qello has the greatest performances by the greatest artists.
  • Personalized for You: It’s all about you and the moment. You choose what concerts you want to watch or let us guide you to the live music to suit your mood.
  • Availability for Everyone: Patrons can log in at the library, at home, and on multiple devices.

Click HERE to create an account and get started!