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Vol. LXV, No. 43
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
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Library Savors Success of Book Sale, Other Fall Events, Back to School Favorites

Ellen Gilbert

While the Princeton Public Library’s two annual “wow” events — the evening fundraiser featuring a well-known guest speaker (like this year’s cartoonist Roz Chast), and the record-breaking weekend book sale — have garnered the lion’s share of attention lately, regular library operations continue apace.

At last Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, Assistant Director Peter Bromberg briefly spoke about the benefit, describing it as a “success,” and thanking “everyone for coming together. It was a true team effort.” Members of the “team,” he said, stayed until 3:30 the next morning “to put the library back together again.” The event, which drew about 400 people, also provided an opportunity for the library to thank retiring Friends Director, Mary Wisnovsky.


“The more leisurely rhythms of summer are shifting into the back-to-school excitement and energy of autumn,” observed Mr.
Bromberg. “The students are everywhere and the library is humming with their enthusiastic, youthful energy.”

Preschoolers are very much a part of the current scene, he noted. In addition to the library’s regular “lap sits” and story times, a new early literacy initiative called “Inside a Child’s Mind” has been launched by Youth Services librarians Lucia Acosta, Martha Perry-Liu, and Pamela Groves. Described as “a speaker series that focuses on several different aspects of early childhood development,” the new project includes visits by another Youth Services librarian, Alison Santos, to schools and centers, “bringing the library to the little ones who can’t make it here for our regular times.”

Ms. Santos also represented the library on “Read for the Record” day (October 6), when librarians, teachers, parents, and caregivers across the country were asked to read a particular book aloud, with the number of listeners to be included in a national record. This year’s title was Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney; Ms. Santos read it to 126 preschoolers.

The new season includes the return of Springboard, a first-come, first-served homework help program sponsored jointly by Princeton Public Library and the Princeton Regional Schools, in which certified teachers and community volunteers are available to help with homework in the Youth Services Department from 3:30 to 6 p.m. every Monday through Thursday that the Princeton Regional Schools are in session. A promising new online service for homework help is called Brainfuse. “Reports for September point to more than 1,700 sessions for homework help, skills building, writing lab, test-center, and database usage,” reported Mr. Bromberg. “The majority of the sessions have been by remote access, with chemistry, math grade 6, and algebra II being the subject areas most requested.”

A college admission essay-writing program held earlier this year was deemed “a great success,” with 75 high school students and their parents in attendance. Speakers included Shelly Krause from Rutgers Preparatory School, Meg Caddeau from Stuart Country Day Schoool, and Sam Fox Krauss from Princeton University’s Admissions Office. 

Other Youth Services returnees include the library’s Teen Advisory Board (TAB), as well as The Go Between Club for sixth through eighth graders, that meets on Saturday mornings. TAB volunteers were there to provide Youth Services program information at the October 9 Harvest Festival on Hinds Plaza. In addition to circulating a brochure about BrainFuse, teens created over 150 Halloween-themed bookmarks with children who attended the festival.

A sense of “youthful energy” however, is not just a part of the back-to-school calendar. The library reported that it recently mailed letters of recognition to all of its teen summer volunteers, who, from June 21 through August 21, logged in some 1,745.5 hours of service.

Asked in a later interview about his penchant for referring to library users as “customers” instead of “patrons,” Mr. Bromberg reported that he has “always used the phrase,” suggesting that it is a holdover, from a previous job at Nordstrom’s. “The language of service got soaked in my brain,” he observed. “Whatever it is, we want to do the best job.”

News of continuing and new Adult Services and programming at the library will appear in a future article.

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