Happy New Year!

Dear Livingston Library Community,

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m thinking of Fred Rogers, who once so memorably said, “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” Which is a quote that has occurred to me many times over this tumultuous past year. Apparently I’m not the only one, because the U.S. Postal Service is issuing a “Forever” stamp in 2018 for the 50th anniversary of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” In a year when so many heroes of all kinds have fallen, it’s a comfort to think of Fred Rogers, who never attracted the slightest whiff of scandal in all the years of his long-running, top-rated television program. Instead, he gently encouraged young viewers to imagine, to wonder, to confide, and, most of all, to come to terms with the often puzzling and upsetting world around them: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,'” Fred Rogers said. “To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.” Me, too, Fred. And I can’t wait to get the new Mr. Rogers stamps in 2018!

Happy New Year!

All the best,


Director – Livingston Library

Holiday Humor

Dear Livingston Library Community,

As you know, here at the Library, we tend to look for the literary angle on everything and holidays are no exception.  At this time of year, some people love to re-read A Christmas Carol, but I’m more inclined toward David Sedaris’s Holiday on Ice, which is simply studded with gems like “The woman at Macy’s asked, ‘Would you be interested in full-time elf or part-time elf?’  I said ‘Full-time elf’.”

So if you’re looking for the lighter side, I highly recommend a bookish break. Along with Sedaris, I like Barbara Robinson’s classic The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, starring the cigar-smoking, larcenous but ultimately wise Herdman kids.  Or possibly Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods by Michael Wex, best summed up in the following quote: “If the Stones’s ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” had been written in Yiddish, it would have been called ‘(I Love to Keep Telling You that I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Because Telling You that I’m Not Satisfied Is All that Can Satisfy Me).'”  Or find one of your own old favorite books and re-read it for a good belly laugh.

Your family and friends may thank you later. Because as Dickens actually did write in A Christmas Carol, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”  Here’s to more of that, now and the whole year round too.

Happy holidays!


All the best,


Director – Livingston Library

Highlights of the Week: Toddler Art Time




Three separate crafts were available in the Children’s Room for our Toddler Winter Art Craft program designed for ages 2-5. Youth Librarian Gina Vaccaro, along with Library Assistant Diane and Teen Volunteer Matt, happily welcomed droves of children to our program. They directed the children to create a snow scene with a snow family with craft supplies found on the tables. 

Snowflakes were created with q-tips dipped in white paint, a fun hot chocolate mug face was topped big, fluffy marshmallows made of cotton balls, and a snowman in a baggie sensory toy was the final touch. As can be seen in the photos, the kids had a blast!

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 ***Happy Holidays!!

Lighten Up at your Library

Dear Livingston Library Community,

We welcome the holiday season with its celebrations and opportunities to connect with friends and family, but it can also be one of the most stressful times of the year.  This year I challenge you to make time to take care of yourself so you can fully enjoy the season without getting swept away in the hustle and bustle.  As always, your Library is here to help!  Try one of our weekly drop-in adult coloring sessions, attend a free screening of a prize-winning Persian film, Rang-e Khoda (The Color of Paradise), or just stop by the youth services program to catch a glimpse of one of our most heart-warming programs, Paws to Read, which gives emerging readers the chance to practice reading aloud to a therapy dog.  Finally, as you know, here at the Library our favorite way to feel good is to do good, so be sure to stop by our blood drive on December 20th…or consider joining our wonderful Friends of the Library any time!

Remember, at the Livingston Library, we get by with a little help from our Friends.  And a few deep breaths never hurt either!

All the best,


Director – Livingston Library

Highlights of the Week: Ellen LaFurn Trio, Paws to Read, Coffee and Crime, & more!



Vocalist Ellen LaFurn, accompanied by Ron Naspo on bass and Vic Cenicola on guitar, added a jazz vibe to selections from The Great American Songbook. They played their own take of Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” and treated the audience to songs from the 1930s to the 1950s. Other artists they played songs from included Cab Calloway, Judy Garland, Jo Stafford, Fred Astaire, and many others.

LaFurn also included two of America’s most popular holiday songs, “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” where she then told a touching anecdote about the latter:

“I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” introduced by Bing Crosby in 1943, held a special place for families with loved ones serving in the armed services. In December of 1965, astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program. As they returned to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft, NASA asked if they wanted any particular music piped up to them. The crew requested Bing Crosby’s recording of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” making it the first song broadcast into space.

12/12 | PAWS TO READ


Back for another great session, kids grades K-2 had the opportunity to practice their reading with trained therapy dogs. Each child was given a fifteen minute time slot, picking their own book and reading aloud to the patient dog sitting next to them.

With a furry friend that doesn’t judge the children for any mistakes, but rather quietly sits or lays next to them while they read, it encourages them to continue practicing. And of course, getting to pet a cute, fluffy pup is a plus too.

12/13 | MUSIC OPEN PLAY  | 3 to 23 month olds


The babies came out in the dozens to play! Youth Services Librarian Gina Vaccaro and Library Assistant Diane Choi organized the new furniture in the Children’s Room to accommodate the droves of families that were in attendance for our December Music Open Play session.

Babies from age 3 to 23 months were treated to an open play session where they were introduced to various musical instruments– including a giant sized keyboard for the babies to crawl on– drums, maracas, bells, a triangle, a xylophone, and other percussion toys.In addition to the music, families were also reading books to their little ones, enjoying educational computer games, building with blocks, and having a fun time together.

The library welcomed a few families to the library for the first time and all in attendance were happy to have an indoor event to share with their babies together.

12/7 & 12/14 | COFFEE & CRIME


Despite the cold weather and overlap of dates with Hanukkah, the Coffee & Crime Mystery Book Group had a great turnout on both days: fifteen people on Tuesday in the daytime and sixteen on Thursday in the evening. This month, the group discussed Daniel Friedman’s Don’t Ever Get Old, about a cranky old Jewish ex-detective (and WWII vet) and his yuppie grandson Tequila (“It’s a fraternity thing”) who chase down a treasure hoard of Nazi gold.

Both days were full of lively discussions with passages from the book, such as this one: “’I never thought I would hear you expound the virtues of caring about people.’ I frowned. ‘I care about people. I just don’t like them.’” 

Ariel Zeitlin, the reference librarian who facilitates the group, played an audio version of the author describing his own grandfather who inspired the book, as well as audio clips from GI JEWS, a forthcoming documentary film about Jewish American soldiers in WWII. The group also enjoyed delicious Hanukkah gelt in honor of the book’s treasure theme.

What’s Cooking?

Dear Livingston Library Community,

Are you stressed about what to prepare for your holiday gathering?  Have no fear!  Once again, your Library is here to help.  You may already know about our amazing (and enormous) cookbook collection, but what about our digital magazines?  You can access 17 cuisine-related magazines, 24/7, in glowing color, and entirely free of charge through our RBdigital portal, including Bon Appetit, Cook’s Illustrated, and Rachael Ray Every Day, as well as specialty titles like Gluten Free Living, Vegetarian Today, and Weight Watchers.  All you need is your library card number and pin (usually the last four digits of your card number). So whether you’re planning to bake gingerbread, fry up potato pancakes, or assemble trays of inventive little hors d’oeuvres, your Library has got you covered.

Because as the writer Anna Thomas once said, “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” And that’s even truer than usual at this time of year!

Wishing you all the joy of the season,


Director – Livingston Library

Highlights of the Week: Dynamic Drawing, X-Treme Readers Book Club, The Ballantine Mansion, & more!


Ballantine House for Ariel & Steffi

Sue Smith, chairwoman of the Newark Museum’s Speaker’s Bureau, gave an informative presentation on the Ballantine mansion to a room of fifty-two people.
She started off by telling the story of how the house came to be a museum, having been built by Louis Bamberger, which eventually became a National Landmark in 1985. The Museum originally occupied the upper floors of the Newark Public Library, but John Cotton Dana felt that the Museum should be part of a community, so it was moved to its present location of 49 Washington Street in Newark.
The mansion itself was built in 1885 and the Ballantine family lived there until 1919. It once contained a whopping twenty-five rooms and sixteen fireplaces! In addition to the latest in hot air/central air conditioning and five bathrooms, the house had parquet floors, ornamental plaster-work ceilings and stained glass windows. The mansion was then sold to an insurance company for office space, which surprised many people during the presentation.
Sue showed slides of each room, making sure to point out specific details, such as a fireplace in one of the rooms with English pink tiles , or that it contained a stained glass window done by Tiffany that cost $450 (a small fortune back then). One of the more unusual slides was a scene of eight headless figures, dressed in period clothes, seated around an elaborately set dining room table.
For those interested in visiting the mansion, Sue Smith finished off the presentation by mentioning that in January 2018, the lobby will be completely remodeled with floor to ceiling windows.




12/5 | X-TREME READERS BOOK CLUB | Grades 4-5


The X-Treme Readers Book Club met to discuss the winner of both the 2011 National Book Award and the 2012 Newbery Medal, Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again. The book takes place in 1975 and details a year in the life of 10 year old Vietnamese refugee, Hà and her family’s journey from their home in Vietnam, to refugee camps in Guam and Florida until settling in Alabama.

To help set the story, Gina showed pictures of Vietnam and the natural beauty it possesses.  To help the children understand the journey that Vietnam refugees traveled, the group used Google Maps to chart the expedition across the ocean, from the river in Saigon where the family in the story escaped across the Pacific Ocean to the refugee camps, to Alabama.


In the discussion, Gina became aware that over half of the group had learned English as a second language and the majority of the group actively speak another language at home.  In all seriousness, the children asked, “Why didn’t  use Google Translate?” It is hard for them to understand a world without the technology that they are growing up with.

As the group enjoyed a snack, Gina played a YouTube video of  author Thanhha Lai reading her book at the National Book Awards Finalists Reading.  The young readers enjoyed the book, however, hearing the author read her written words in her own voice really helped to bring the powerful story to life.

In January, the X-treme Readers Book Club is discussing Sharon Creech’s beloved Granny Torrelli Makes Soup.

12/5 & 12/6 | SEASONAL PRINTING 
Teen Librarian Karen deWilde and Head of Youth Services Anna Coats held three Seasonal Printing workshops this week.  Children in grades K-2, 3-5 & 6-8, created colorful, layered beautiful festive designs using Gel Printing Plates.



Dynamic Drawing Fun With Composition 054

Fine artist, Sarah Canfield (www.sarahcanfield.com) led this fun workshop where she helped the twenty-five participants understand the creative process that happens before a painting or drawing is started. She discussed the essential lines in a composition that create a basic structure for drawing or painting. One of these ideas was explored through sketching compositions using smartphone photography.

According to Sarah, “photography is a straightforward and spontaneous way to record ideas for your art in addition to preparatory sketches.  When used thoughtfully, it can be a useful tool to incorporate into your repertoire and can save valuable time in the planning process.”
Dynamic Drawing Fun With Composition 027
After covering the fundamentals of composition using images of paintings from her iPad, Sarah had everyone take pictures with their phones of the three still-life arrangements she had put up on the center of the work tables.  She then asked them to pick an image or two, crop or edit them as needed, and use the image to start composing a sketch of the still life using the newsprint sheets, compressed charcoal sticks, and soft graphite pencils provided.
Participants appeared very involved in their sketching and produced some great drawings/sketches, which were shared at the end in a critique session. Many attendees mentioned that they hadn’t sketched or drawn in years, and this workshop made them realize how much fun it is!







Creating Cheer

Dear Livingston Library Community,

When you were a child, did you ever make paper chains or string popcorn for a seasonal decoration?  This week at the Library we’re taking it to a whole new level with Gelli printing, an amazing process that combines layers of color, texture, pattern, and found objects, creating one-of-a-kind prints sure to brighten up anyone’s winter.  “We’ll be providing seasonal shapes like snowflakes, snowmen, Christmas trees, and dreidels, but the young artists get to decide which ones to use and how to incorporate them,” explains Anna Coats, supervisor of youth services.  She and teen librarian Karen deWilde are running three seasonal printing workshops this week: on Tuesday, December 5th, at 5 PM, they’ll be welcoming Grades 6 to 8, and the next day, they’ll be working with Grades K to 2 at 4 PM and Grades 3 to 5 at 4:45 PM.  (Each child from K through 5 must be accompanied by an adult.  Registration is required and old clothes are recommended.)

The best part is that the holiday workshops won’t be your family’s only chance to experiment with this novel technique.  The Library will be introducing a new Gelli printing kit to borrow as part of our Ready Set Create series in January.  We can hardly wait to see what you come up with!

Because at Livingston Library, we help you give your children the world.
All the best,



Director – Livingston Library

Highlights of the Week: Get Lit Casual Book Club & Understanding Your Thyroid



What gives life purpose?  What brings meaning to one’s existence? How does one go from being a doctor healing the sick to becoming a patient overnight? How can one live fully knowing that death is right around the corner?  These are a few of the questions the group tackled as they discussed Paul Kalanithi’s incredibly moving, thought provoking memoir, When Breath Becomes Air.  

Get Lit December Meeting

Paul spent years studying to become a neurosurgeon, followed by years of tending to patients before he, at the age of 36, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  He continued to live his life to the fullest and had to decide what makes life worth living in the face of his own imminent death. Ultimately, he came to the realization that living fully means accepting suffering. Get Lit group members were so touched by Paul’s courage that they felt comfortable enough to share their own personal trials and lessons learned.  As the group’s moderator, librarian Gina Vaccaro states, “There were tissues on the table, but group members handled the serious, somber topic with humor and grace, making this discussion one that will not be forgotten soon.”

The Get Lit Book Club is discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale for their December meeting.




Met by a full house, Dr. Tess Jacob from Summit Medical Group gave a talk on thyroid health in which she used a slide presentation to examine all the implications of the thyroid on our physiology, deeper looks into thyroid problems, hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules, how problems are diagnosed through blood tests, and finally, common courses of treatment.

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Tess Jacob, MD is a member of Summit Medical Group’s Endocrinology team. Dr. Jacob treats patients with endocrine disorders and has particular interest in thyroid, pituitary, diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. She is specially trained to perform in-office fine needle aspiration biopsies of thyroid nodules and also performs thyroid ultrasounds.


Register for the second community health lecture, Sleeping Better, Naturally, on December 14th.  Dr. Marianna Shimelfarb will explore natural ways to promote healthy, sound, restorative sleep.