Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 21
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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Tweens and Teens Flock to the Library; Two Longtime Librarians Are Retiring

Ellen Gilbert

A report on services for — and by — middle and high school students highlighted last week’s Board of Trustees meeting at the Princeton Public Library.

During recent visits that took place over three days, John Witherspoon Middle School sixth, seventh, and eighth graders heard library staff talk about upcoming summer reading clubs, teen volunteer opportunities, and “a wide range of information on library services,” said Library Director Leslie Burger, who also announced the retirement of veteran librarians Catherine Harper and Terri Nelson.

Staff members “also ‘book-talked’ fiction and non-fiction titles to all of the students and engaged them in sharing what they like to read,” she noted. An “immediate result” was that middle school students and their parents appeared at the library to ask for many of the books that had been discussed.

Staff members credited for the middle school visits included Martha Liu, who coordinated schedules; Courtney Bayne, Beth Bouwman, and Susan Conlon, who spent one day each with students; and Ann Woodrow, who attended two days and “received a standing ovation from the eighth graders.”

This year’s “Go-Between Club,” for students in grades six through eight, enjoyed “lively discussions about books, music, movies, and library programs,” said Ms. Burger. Guided by Ms. Conlon and Ms. Liu, “Go-Betweeners” were also “enthusiastically involved with many library events throughout the year,” including the Haunted Library in October, The Princeton Environmental Film Festival in January, and the April Book Drive. They are reportedly looking forward to a June “Midnight Madness” celebration that was described “a rollicking night of games and activities ‘after hours’ at the library for Go-Between members only.”

The older, 18-member Teen Advisory Board (TAB) has similarly participated in a range of library activities during the year, collectively clocking in some 299 volunteer hours since September. Led by Ms. Conlon with assistance from Aaron Pickett, TAB conversations, which focused on “innovation” this year, included two outside speakers, bent spoon owner Gab Carbone, and Andrew Erlichson from Phanfare. Each talked about their experiences in starting and running a business. TAB’s “Midnight Madness” event was scheduled for May 21.

Enthusiastic feedback from TAB members included comments like “TAB has been a great way for me to stay connected with the library during the school year,” and “it was great to see the Princeton Community come together at different library functions,” reported Ms. Burger.

Although a number of current TAB members will be continuing next year, applications for 2011-12 will be accepted through June 15.

The royal wedding also figured in last week’s meeting reports, as Ms. Burger described opening the library doors at 5 a.m. and welcoming “more than 150 people to the Community Room for a public viewing of the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.”

“We had people in hats, top hats (sadly, no fascinators), long dresses, tea dresses, tuxedos, and cocktail attire sipping tea and eating scones for the occasion. Who knew that we could attract a crowd of that size at that time of day?” 

Of the two recent library retirees, Catherine Harper served 19 years and Terri Nelson 22. Known, most recently, for her work with local genealogy groups and research on Paul Robeson, and Princeton’s African American community, Ms. Nelson was responsible for the library’s first website, and worked as a children’s librarian, cataloger, and, most recently, in the Adult Services Department. Ms. Harper’s service included responsibility for the library’s collaboration with SCORE and involvement in the Annual Small Business Fair. “Both will be missed,” observed Ms. Burger.

Along with basic information like hours, events, and a copy of the 2010 Annual Report, the library’s website ( provides access to the main catalog as well as information on downloading an audiobook, reading an e-book, listening to music, learning a language, and exploring the library’s digital collections. iPad, Nook, Kindle2, and a Sony Daily Reader may be tested or borrowed at the library, which is located at 65 Witherspoon Street in the Borough. Parking is available on neighboring streets and in the borough-operated Spring Street Garage, which is adjacent to the library.

For more information about library programs and services, visit the website or call (609) 924-9529.

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