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    The United Nations has proclaimed 2015-2024 the International Decade for People of African Descent. In the next ten years, the international community will be tasked with combating racism and discrimination, ensuring the protection of the human rights of people African descent and contributing toward tangible improvements in their lives.

    Fittingly, the Schomburg Center was step one on the path to the official launch of the Decade, whose slogan is "People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development". The Decade is placed under the leadership of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and on December 9, ambassadors, UN dignitaries, students, and others, gathered in the Langston Hughes atrium for a pre-event to Human Rights Day and to the official takeoff of the International Decade, both happening the following day. 

    UN group

    Deputy UN Secretary General Jan Eliasson stressed the important role of the Center, which “has been a great partner with us in the UN for a long time, organizing exhibits on ending racial discrimination and remembering also the shame of the transatlantic slave trade…. It’s a towering presence, filled with art and information about African Americans, the African diaspora and African experiences.” Indeed, as the international community is about to enter the first year of the International Decade, the Schomburg Center will celebrate its 9th decade of preserving and interpreting the global black experience.

    Schomburg Director Khalil Gibran Muhammad reminded the audience it was standing upon the ashes of Langston Hughes, “the most translated American poet in history”, a widely-traveled man, an inspiration as he “spoke about the struggle for democracy and human dignity.” Today’s struggles were made starkly salient by the continued need for demonstrations “around the right to life free of state-sanctioned violence.” A sentiment echoed by Jan Eliasson, who stated, "I need not remind anyone in this room of the anguished, but vitally important, public debate we are witnessing these days, in this country, on violent police action and racial profiling."

    On December 10th, during the official launch of the Decade—which referenced the event at the Schomburg Center—all the remarks at the UN headquarters underlined the centrality of the transatlantic slave trade,  slavery, and colonialism not only to the development of the modern world but also to continued racism, discrimination, and violence against people of African descent. As I listened to the speakers, I thought of the illuminating conversation, “Slavery, Universities, Inner Cities” that took place at the Center just a day earlier. Davarian Baldwin of Trinity College and Craig S. Wilder of MIT discussed how these crimes against humanity were intimately linked to the foundation, in every sense of the term, of American universities, and how this shameful heritage expresses itself today in some of the woes inner cities face.

    Two other Schomburg initiatives around the slave trade and slavery came to my mind: the digital exhibitions In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience and The Abolition of the Slave Trade: The Forgotten Story. When Sir Hilary Beckles, Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and keynote speaker at the UN, spoke of the  African Diaspora in Asia and the Middle East, I thought of a third exhibition, The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World. It covers this too-often neglected part of the black world. A black world that is at the center of Africana Age: African and African Diasporan Transformations in the 20th Century. 


    African Diaspora in the East

    The recently established Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery will play a major role in raising  public consciousness and historical literacy.  Its primary mission is to generate and disseminate scholarly knowledge—through fellowships, exhibitions, and public programs—on the slave trade, slavery, and anti-slavery pertaining to the Atlantic World. A gift by Sid Lapidus of 400 rare books makes the Center home to one of the world’s premier collections of slavery material.

    For decades the Schomburg Center has been involved in  major international initiatives concerning Africa and the African Diaspora and as it celebrates the International Decade for People of African Descent, it continues its daily work of offering a diversity of public programs and exhibitions, and of collecting, preserving, interpreting, and making accessible materials pertaining to the global black experience from yesterday to today.

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    Department of Small Business Services announces launch of NYC  Web Development Fellowship offering tech training, internships and Jobs to 18- to 26- year olds.

    BuzzFeed, Microsoft, AppNexus, The  New York Times, and Kickstarter providing 12-week internships.

    The following is  NYC Newsroom Press Release from Monday, December 8, 2014.

    New York - The New York City Department of Small Business Services and the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline, in partnership with the Flatiron School and Youth Development Institute (YDI), today announced the launch of a new model of the successful NYC Web Development Fellowship. For the first time, the program will exclusively serve 18- to 26-year-olds without a college degree. Since its launch in 2013, the program has provided intensive training free of charge to 56 participants, with 96 percent of participants from the first cohort now in jobs with companies like Intel, Etsy, and Venmo at an average salary of $70,000. As part of the City's Tech Talent Pipeline initiative, the new Web Development Fellowship will begin in January 2015 and include a five-month on-campus training, a 12-week paid internship in companies like BuzzFeed and Microsoft, and placement in technology jobs paying $65,000 or more. The deadline for applications is December 31.  To learn more...

    Eligible applicants for the NYC Web Development Fellowship must be between 18 and 26 years of age, live in New York City, have not completed a college degree, earn less than $50,000 a year or be currently unemployed, have never worked as a web developer, and meet federal selective service requirements. Applications are due on December 31 with the program beginning in January. For more information or to apply, go to or call 311.

    You can learn more about Creating a Tech Pipeline in NYC from the Job SearchCentral  blog of July 11, 2014.

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    December 17 marks British author, editor, and all-around literary icon Ford Madox Ford’s 141st birthday. To celebrate the occasion, I explored his writings in the Rare Book Division—and found some fascinating glimpses into his life and work.

    Today, Ford is best known for The Good Soldier and his World War I tetralogy Parade’s End. (To learn more about the war and its reception in America, be sure to check out NYPL’s current exhibition Over Here: World War I and the Fight for the American Mind!) But the author was extremely prolific, writing books, editing literary journals the English Review and the transatlantic review, and mentoring younger artists such as Ernest Hemingway. Readers of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises might recognize Ford as the inspiration for the not-altogether-complimentary character of Henry Braddocks. He began writing as Ford Madox Hueffer, but in 1919 changed his surname to Ford.

    His earliest work in our collection is a children’s book, The Queen Who Flew, a Fairy Tale, written when Ford was twenty-one. Decorating the frontispiece is an illustration by celebrated Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones was a contemporary of Ford’s grandfather and namesake, the painter Ford Madox Brown.

    The frontispiece for The Queen Who Flew, an illustration by Edward Burne-Jones

    While still a young writer, Ford began a professional collaboration with none other than Joseph Conrad. Neither artist had yet reached the height of his literary accomplishment — Ford had years before Parade’s End, and Conrad was still conceptualizing Lord Jim. The collaboration was ultimately contentious, both for the authors and for later critics trying to pin down exactly who contributed what to each book. But before it fell apart, Ford and Conrad co-authored three novels, and we have the first two in our collection: The Inheritors and Romance.

    Ford Madox Ford and Joseph Conrad’s The Inheritors, in its original publishers' cloth binding

    The great thing about this copy of The Inheritors is its publishers' cloth binding. This is a term for the ready-made covers manufactured in bulk by publishers for entire editions of a book—previously, owners would buy their books unbound and then pay for custom, one-of-a-kind bindings. The Inheritors was published in 1901 when publishers' cloth bindings were at a design high-point, and before they were gradually replaced by dust jackets. You can see the multiple colors, commercial illustration, and gilding that makes this binding both beautiful and modern. I can picture it looking right at home on a bookstore shelf today.

    Romance’s binding is more restrained, but its real gem lies within the covers: its flyleaf bears the signatures of both Ford and Conrad. And while Ford’s inscription is a simple “with affection,” Conrad takes the opportunity to hash out exactly what he added to the novel:

    “In this book I have done my share of writing. Most of the characters (with the exception of Mrs. Williams, Sebright and the seaman) were introduced by Hueffer and developed then in my own way with, of course, his consent and collaboration. The last part is (like the first) the work of Hueffer except a few pars [paragraphs] written by me. Part second is actually joint work. Parts 3 & 4 are my writing with here and there a sentence by Hueffer.”

    Ford Madox Ford and Joseph Conrad’s inscriptions in Romance

    In addition to being a novelist, Ford was also a published poet and essayist. These two aspects of his creative output are represented in our Division by From Inland, and Other Poems and New York Essays. In the latter, written between October 1926 and March 1927, Ford expounds on contemporary authors, food, and his travels in New York City. He meets a women en route to catching rattlesnakes for the Bronx Park Zoo and recounts a harrowing and surreal trip to Coney Island that ends with Ford in a ballroom, empty except for a man slowly turning in circles and firing a six-shooter with each hand. Despite, or because of, these adventures, Ford was taken with the city, calling it “my beloved Gotham” and ending his first essay with these words:

    “Well, one hears eternally that New York is not America; it obviously is not Europe [...] Perhaps, the one here overlapping the other, it is really the beginning of the World.”

    From Inland and Other Poems, in its fragile, original paper wrappers
    By the time of New York Essays, Ford had shed “Hueffer” and was writing and signing as “Ford Madox Ford”

    Wherever you are in the world, I hope you’ll join me in wishing Mr. Ford Madox Ford a happy birthday and flipping (or clicking) open one of his books to celebrate!

    Image Credits: Rare Book Division. New York Public Library. Astor, Lenox, Tilden Foundations.

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    With the holidays upon us, food is a topic at the front of our minds. The centerpiece of our tables, cultures, and familial traditions, food is nourishment for both body and mind. What we eat, however, is also at the center of a growing discipline that marries science and the humanities.

    In light of the persisting trend toward 'eating organic,' the omnipresence of people who label themselves 'foodie,' or the heightened awareness of ethnic food options in an increasingly global society, chances are you've recently heard the term "Food Studies." Food Studies: it has a nice ring to it. Personally, I would study a piece of chocolate fudge cake any day of the week. But there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

    Food Studies is a wide-reaching interdisciplinary movement that's all about thinking critically about how we eat, what we eat, and why we eat it. Food Studies enlists formal academic disciplines such as economics, biology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, history, philosophy, literature, and art, to seek greater understanding of the central role that food plays in cultures across the globe. It seeks the answers to big questions like: What are the ethics of eating? How do our eating habits affect the environment? And, how does food factor in to the formation and/or understanding of individual, national, racial, and class identities?

    These emerging questions are worth paying attention to—journalists at publications like National Geographic and The New York Times have treated the topic, and academic institutions like The New School and NYU have recently begun offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in the emerging discipline. If you're interested in learning more about Food Studies, and exploring your own relationship to what you eat, these NYPL resources are a good place to start:

    Food Politics

    Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle
    The abundance of food in the United States—enough calories to meet the needs of every man, woman, and child twice over—has a downside. Our over-efficient food industry must do everything possible to persuade people to eat more—more food, more often, and in larger portions—no matter what it does to waistlines or well-being. Like manufacturing cigarettes or building weapons, making food is big business. Food companies in 2000 generated nearly $900 billion in sales. They have stakeholders to please, shareholders to satisfy, and government regulations to deal with. It is nevertheless shocking to learn precisely how food companies lobby officials, co-opt experts, and expand sales by marketing to children, members of minority groups, and people in developing countries. We learn that the food industry plays politics as well as or better than other industries, not least because so much of its activity takes place outside the public view.

     A Bittersweet History

    Sugar: A Bittersweet History by Elizabeth Abbott
    Much like oil today, sugar was once the most powerful commodity on earth. It shaped world affairs, influencing the economic policies of nations, driving international trade and wreaking environmental havoc. The Western world's addiction to sugar came at a terrible human cost: the near extinction of the New World indigenous peoples gave rise to a new form of slavery, as millions of captured Africans were crammed into ships to make the dangerous voyage to Caribbean cane plantations. What began as the extraordinarily expensive luxury of nobles and the very wealthy has become a staple in the modern world. Indeed, it played its own role in creating that world, fuelling the workers of the Industrial Revolution, and giving rise to the craze for fast food. Sugar: A Bittersweet History tells the extraordinary, dramatic and thought-provoking story of this most commonplace of products from its very origins to the present day. Elizabeth Abbott examines how and in what quantities we still consume sugar; its role in the crisis of obesity and diabetes; how its cultivation continues to affect the environment; and how coerced labor continues in so many sugar-producing nations.

    The Omnivore's Dilemma

    The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Mealsby Michael Pollan
    What should we have for dinner? That is the simple question that lies at the center of Pollan’s book on American eating habits. Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us—industrial food, organic or alternative food, and food we forage ourselves—from the source to a final meal, and in the process develops a definitive account of the American way of eating. His absorbing narrative takes us from Iowa cornfields to food-science laboratories, from feedlots and fast-food restaurants to organic farms and hunting grounds, always emphasizing our dynamic coevolutionary relationship with the handful of plant and animal species we depend on.

    The Modern Art Cookbook

    The Modern Art Cookbookby Mary Ann Caws
    Matisse, Picasso, Hockney—they may not have been from the same period, but they all painted still lifes of food. And they are not alone. Andy Warhol painted soup cans, Claes Oldenburg sculpted an ice cream cone on the top of a building in Cologne, Jack Kerouac’s Sal ate apple pie across the country, and Truman Capote served chicken hash at the Black and White Ball. Food has always played a role in art, but how well and what did the artists themselves eat? Exploring a panoply of artworks of food, cooking, and eating from Europe and the Americas, The Modern Art Cookbook opens a window into the lives of artists, writers, and poets in the kitchen and the studio throughout the twentieth century and beyond.

    The 'What's on the Menu Collection' at NYPL
    Ever wonder what the hottest menu item was in the year 1910? Or how much a burger cost in 1945? Or what wines were in vogue at the Four Seasons in the 1970s? With approximately 45,000 menus dating from the 1840s to the present, The New York Public Library’s restaurant menu collection is one of the largest in the world, used by historians, chefs, novelists and everyday food enthusiasts. Access the database from anywhere at

    Eating Animals

    Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
    Like many others, Jonathan Safran Foer spent his teenage and college years oscillating between omnivore and vegetarian. But on the brink of fatherhood—facing the prospect of having to make dietary choices on a child’s behalf—his casual questioning took on an urgency. This quest ultimately required him to visit factory farms in the middle of the night, dissect the emotional ingredients of meals from his childhood, and probe some of his most primal instincts about right and wrong. This book is what he found. Brilliantly synthesizing philosophy, literature, science, memoir, and his own detective work, Eating Animals explores the many stories we use to justify our eating habits—folklore and pop culture, family traditions and national myth, apparent facts and inherent fictions—and how such tales can lull us into a brutal forgetting of the harm we cause with our eating habits.

    Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century by Kyla Wazana Tompkins
    A book that insists it is more about the act of eating, rather than the food itself, Tompkins' Racial Indigestion draws from 19th century poetry, art, advertisements, theater, literature, cookbooks, and other media to show the myriad ways in which depictions of the act of eating in media are historically, quite politically charged. Informed by recent contributions to race, gender, and queer studies, Tompkins argues, among other things, that the prevalent depictions of black Americans being 'eaten up' in 19th century media points and laughs at their powerlessness in American society, in which they are literally and figuratively chewed up and broken down to provide energy to sustain the dominance of the white-male's economic and social structures. Full text available online.

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    Mad Girl Dreaming Cover


    Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson
    Wilson explores Plath’s life in high school and college, providing new insight into the tragic, enigmatic writer.

    Buck by Molefi K. Asante
    Growing up hard and subsequently thriving in an urban setting complete with gangs and rap.

    Elsewhere by Richard Russo
    A Pulitzer Prize winning novelist turns to memoir focusing on his relationship with his mother and hers with the small town life.


    Memory of Water Cover


    Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta
    In this debut novel by a promising new talent in specula<ve fiction, global warming has changed the world’s geography and politics and wars are waged over water.

    Tales of the Hidden World by Simon Green
    A collection of short stories by a best-selling urban fantasist.

    The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco
    A dark creepy ghost story with poetic prose.

    The Painter Cover


    The Painter by Peter Heller
    A suspenseful story of an artist struggling with violence.

    Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
    A Nigerian visits home after many years away.

    The Round House by Louise Erdrich
    A riveting tale of crime and justice on the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota.


    The Unseen Cover


    Unseen by Karin Slaughter
    An undercover mission to infiltrate a criminal organization in Macon, Georgia.

    Encounters of Sherlock Holmes
    A collection of Sherlock Holmes stories wriUen by a variety of genre fic<on writers from the UK

    The Gone Dead Train by Lisa Turner
    A Southern gothic mystery set in Memphis.


    Ping Pong Diplomacy Cover


    Ping-Pong Diplomacy by Nicholas Griffin
    Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to balance world power.

    Serving Victoria by Kate Hubbard
    Researched from the diaries of six members of Queens Victoria's household.

    Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality by Jacob Tomsky
    An expose of hotel life that is reveling without being mean spirited.


    Landry Park Cover


    Landry Parkby Bethany Hagen
    Class-crossed romance is a dystopian setting.

    Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins
    A romance set in an Amish community.

    Free to Fall by Lauren Miller
    A romance set in the near future where personal electronic devices control us.


    The Passage Cover

    Science Fiction

    The Passage by Justin Cronin
    A breach in a government facility unleashes the product of a chilling military experiment.

    The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
    In the not-so-distant future, print is dead, and hand-held devices not only keep us in constant communication but can intuit our needs and wants. Chilling!

    Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
    Teenage drama and a bug invasion.


    Act of War Cover


    Act of War by Brad Thor
    A military thriller, covert counterterrorist operator must carry out not one, but two of the most dangerous operations in the country’s history.

    The Heiress by Sara Shepard
    A family with a diamond empire is plagued by a string of mysterious deaths.

    Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French
    A follow-up to the well-received Blue Monday, the London psychotherapist returns to an even more twisted thriller. 

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    Enrollment is Now Open--SAGE Works Boot Camp. SAGE Works assists people 40 years and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge job search skills in a LGBT-friendly environment.  Enrollment workshops will be held Monday thru  Friday,  December  22 to December 26,  9:30 am - 2 :00 pm at The SAGE Center, 305 7th Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development  provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tech (ERRT), Commercial Driver's License , Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For  information and assistance,  please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development, 790 Broadway, 2nd Fl., Brooklyn, NY 11206.   718-302-2057 ext. 202. 

    affiche pour le

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement. Currently BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  BWI is at 621 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217.  718-237-5366.

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel.   This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Class runs for 8 weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer.  CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Training runs Mondays through Fridays for 6 weeks, and includes test prep then taking the HHA certification exam.  Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition.   For more information for the above two training programs, please Email:, call 212-571-1690 or visit 70 Mulberry Street, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10013. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings for free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.  Please call CMP for information.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future.  For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different background.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this blog post will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of December 21 are available.

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    7 Simple Ways to Prevent Seasonal Flu in the Workplace is  a Department of Labor blog post, authored by Mandy Edens, Director of  Technical Support and Emergency Management for OSHA.  In this blog  Mandy presents 7  simple tips to keep in mind for preventing seasonal flu at work.

    Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holiday season drag you down – or worse – give you the flu. This week, in observance of National Influenza Vaccination Week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminds all employers and workers of the importance of maintaining a healthy, influenza-free workplace this season and throughout the New Year.

    The following are seven simple tips to keep in mind for preventing seasonal flu at work:

    1. National Flu Vaccination Week!Get vaccinated. Vaccination is the most important way to prevent the spread of the flu. Take thevaccination pledge.
    2. Stay at home if you are sick. The HHS/CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends without the use of medication.
    3. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
    4. Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
    5. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve(s).
    6. Keep frequently touched common surfaces (e.g., telephones, computer equipment, etc.) clean.
    7. Try not to use a coworker’s phone, desk, office, computer, or other work tools and equipment. If you must use a coworker’s equipment, consider cleaning it first with a disinfectant.

    For more information, visit OSHA’s seasonal flu webpage, which provides additional guidance and resources for protecting workers during flu season, or check out the CDC’s Flu IQ website to test your knowledge about the flu and see how you can help to keep your workplace safe, healthy and flu-free.

    Mandy Edens is the director of technical support & emergency management for OSHA.

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    I have astigmatism, not to be confused with stigmata, as the pesky "Autocorrect" function on my phone has tried to imply in the past. My astigmatism requires me to wear glasses whenever I am reading, using the computer, driving and basically doing anything that requires the world not to be slightly blurred. But I love my glasses and they are probably my favorite accessory.

    What about contacts? Well my eyeballs have refused to believe that something can go directly on them, which makes the application of eye drops a two person job. Therefore, placing tiny plastic hats on my corneas has not seemed feasible. Two-thirds of contact lens wearers are female and the average age of contact lens wearers worldwide is 31 years old. Now being a lady that is 31+1, it seems an ideal moment to become a brave (part time) contact lens wearer.

    I am wearing my glasses as I type this, and many of you will probably be wearing your glasses or contact lenses while reading this. Vision Problems in the US features an interactive map of the United States that allows you to see the vision problem prevalence in each state. There is also an Advanced Search option for more detailed search results.

    How to prevent eye glasses steaming. Image ID: 1643164

    Vision health and your everyday routine

    • Food! The New York State Dept of Health Vision and Eye Health has a helpful guide to fruits and veggies that promote good eye health. Per the American Optometric Association, studies have shown that lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases. Lutein and zeaxanthin are important nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, as well as other foods: Eggs, kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts. And yes, carrots can be found among the list of foods rich in antioxidants for eye health. Carrots are a source of Vitamin A and Beta Carotene.
    • The interwebs! It is a given that we all spend hours looking at adorable pictures of dogs and cats online. Per the American Optometric Association page on Computer Vision Syndrome to prevent eye strain, try to rest your eyes when using the computer for long periods of time. Rest your eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow your eyes a chance to refocus.
    • Makeup! Yes, enjoy your liquid eyeliner but be as safe as possible and check out the FDA’s Eye Cosmetic Safety site.

    Find help

    Eyecare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. They note that by age 65, one in three Americans has some form of vision-limiting eye disease. Check their site to see if you qualify for a free eye exam. Whether or not you qualify, this site also provides a great list of resources. Also, the National Eye Institute has an informative guide to finding Financial Aid for Eye Care.


    Fashion Spectacles
    Cult Eyewear
    Spectacles & Sunglasses
    Very Short Introductions
    Eye Care Revolution

    Contact lens and eye glass wearers, please share in the comments your love for either or both. Also, please feel free to assure me that a contact lens fitting is nothing like the Ludovico technique scene from A Clockwork Orange.

    Congress of Vision
    Image ID: 1666465


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    Charles Dickens&#039;s Christmas Books

    Christmas approaches, and at this time of year many of us will read, listen to, or watch adaptations of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, in Prose: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. This story, now canonical, has in fact been immensely popular and influential since the very first day it appeared. That first edition, released on December 19, 1843, sold out almost immediately; its publisher returned to press no fewer than eight times within the first six months. Scholar-bibliographer Ruth Glancy has traced how this tale, “a truly popular work which is undeniably a masterpiece as well,” has both charmed and confounded readers and scholars ever since.

    Some examples of this ghostly tale’s influence and staying power:

    A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carolled a nineteenth-century Boston factory owner to give his workers a day off from work as well as free turkeys. The tale inspired the creation of a welfare campaign to provide “Tiny Tim” cots to children in need. It’s the story that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt read to his family each winter. And in England, Princess Maud read it to her family annually, during the reign of King Edward VII. A Christmas Carol continues, year after year, to be reworked, adapted, dramatized, enjoyed at home, and read in public settings. Perhaps you were lucky enough to have attended WYNC and WQXR’s dramatic performance of it just last week!

    While most of us know our way around A  Christmas Carol by now, perhaps less familiar are the dozens of Christmas stories (all part of the George Arents Collection) that Charles Dickens penned in the twenty-five years that followed its publication. After A Christmas Carol came four more Christmas books:

    The Chimes

    The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In (Christmas 1844)

    This strange tale revolves around a wedding, an orphan, an evil rich man, and some frightening goblins. Or was it all a dream, resulting from our protagonist Trotty Veck having had too much tripe at dinner?




     title page and frontispiece


    The Cricket on the Hearth

    The Cricket on the Hearth: A Fairy Tale of Home (Christmas 1845)

    Almost as popular as A Christmas Carol in its time, this tale includes a mysterious man in disguise, a dog named Boxer, some possible infidelity, a young blind heroine, a nanny, and—of course—a cricket.




    Boxer, from The Cricket on the Hearth


    The Battle of Life

    The Battle of Life: A Love Story (Christmas 1846)

    Perhaps only Dickens could offer up a happy ending to this troubling tale of a missing sister and a sinister elopement scheme, all set on a one-time battlefield that still bears the relics of a host of dead men and horses.




    The first page of The Battle of Life


    The Haunted Man and the Ghost&#039;s Bargain

    The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain: A Fancy for Christmas-Time (Christmas 1848)

    In this tale, a gloomy chemistry professor says things like, “Another Christmas come, another year gone. . . More figures in the lengthening sum of recollection that we work and work at to our torment, till Death idly jumbles all together, and rubs all out.” But when his wish to forget his distressing past is granted, he gets more than he bargained for.



    The protagonist of The Haunted Man

    Following on the heels of these five standalone books, Dickens took a new approach to holiday storytelling. He began to write and edit special Christmas-themed issues of Household Words, a twopenny journal he launched in 1850. For each “Christmas number” of Household Words, Dickens collaborated with other prominent writers, including Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell. Through these tales, Dickens as author and editor continued to explore themes we still associate with Christmas storytelling: the comfort of memory, the role of traditions and rituals, the invaluable presence of family and friends, and the power of generosity and goodwill.

    To learn all about the history of A Christmas Carol as well as all Dickens’s many other Christmas stories, you can do no better than to start by consulting Ruth Glancy’s Dickens's Christmas Books, Christmas Stories, and Other Short Fiction : an Annotated Bibliography. She points curious readers to the locations of primary sources and various editions as well as to translations; abridgements; stage, film, radio, and musical  adaptations; reviews; commentaries; and scholarly studies. And to learn more about Dickens’s life, including how he just might be to blame for our obsession with having a snowy Christmas day, you can read The Man Who Invented Christmas.

    Do you have a favorite Christmas story that you return to again and again? If you would like to find a new Christmas story to read and share with your friends and family, there are hundreds and hundreds of Christmas-themed stories waiting for you at the Library. As for myself, Dickens is great, but I like to read Nancy Mitford's Christmas Pudding this time each year. Happy holiday reading—and if you are so inclined, enjoy a bit of smoking bishop just like Ebenezer Scrooge and Bob Cratchit do in the happy conclusion of A Christmas Carol!  

    Scrooge and Cratchit Drink Smoking Bishop in A Christmas Carol

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    Would you like to see a picture of each UN employee? Well, there is this Yearbook of the United Nations but—and I'm sorry to disappoint you here—it is not fashioned after your high school yearbook. What did you say? Too bad?  For as much as it would be interesting to see all these pictures (if only to supplement Humans of New York project which has recently featured the president and CEO of the NYPL Tony Marx) the publication in question is a different type of yearbook.

    The Yearbook of the United Nations—published by the Department of Public Information and available at the NYPL—stands as the authoritative reference work on the activities and concerns of the organization. Based on official UN documents, the Yearbook provides comprehensive coverage of political and security matters, human rights issues, economic and social questions, legal issues, and institutional, administrative and budgetary matters. Each of the sixty-four volumes of the Yearbook, dating back to the 1946–47 edition, includes the texts of all major General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council resolutions and decisions, and places them in a narrative context of UN consideration, deliberation and action.

    While the Yearbook is regularly published only in English, the 1946–47 Yearbook was translated into French (Annuaire des Nations Unies, Paris 1948). That one remains the only fully translated edition. The recently inaugurated online-only Yearbook Express, however, provides chapter introductions in all six UN official languages, beginning with more recent Yearbooks. Beyond its original print format, the Yearbook of the United Nations—of which an increasing number of editions are also available as ebooks—can be found on Twitter, where @UNYearbook provides a unique historical perspective on current UN issues by linking these to their background in related published Yearbook coverage. Perhaps the most exciting development in the world of this Yearbook has been the creation of a website where all issues are available and fully keyword-searchable.

    The latest edition of the Yearbook of the United Nations, for 2010 was published in December 2014 and was officially launched at UN headquarters in New York on December 15. Why does it take four years to prepare this yearbook? In addition to its size (1,500+ pages) one should also remember that for many UN documents it takes two years to be released. 

    Finn Summerell opens the event
    Bogdan Horbal delivers his remarks

    The event, which took place at the Woodrow Wilson reading room on the second floor of Dag Hammarskjöld Library, was led by Finn Summerell, an accomplished scholar and Chief of the Yearbook Unit in the Publications and Editorial Section, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information. During the event the Managing Editor of the Yearbook, Edoardo Bellando presented Yearbook editorial and production highlights. His presentation was followed by the Graphic Designer, Mackenzie Crone, who spoke about creating the Yearbook's dust jacket design. The Art Deco-inspired cover celebrates the establishment of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. E. Dana Neacşu who is a Reference Librarian and Lecturer-in-Law at the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library of Columbia Law School spoke about the Yeabook as an authoritative source of information on the activities of the United Nations. Bogdan Horbal, Head of Technical Processing at NYPL's Science, Industry and Business Library (which also serves as a depository library of UN publications) spoke about the history of the acquisition of the Yearbook by the NYPL and about its evolution to include online/e-book versions. Participating in the event was also Peter Bengston, International Trade Specialist at SIBL. Final remarks were offered by Maher Nasser, Acting Head of Department of Public Information who also officially launched the new Yearbook.

    Yearbook Unit staff and interns and other UN colleagues


    Also launched at the event was the UN Calendar of Observances which was described by the Yearbook Associate Editor, Natalie Alexander. This free app for iOS and Android devices features official United Nations observances and links to related videos and further information. It also illustrates how the UN makes a difference in tackling global challenges. The UN Calendar can store UN observances in the native phone calendar, or it can be used independently. The app functions in all six United Nations official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish, as well as Bahasa Indonesia and Kazakh. Simply change the language settings on your device to access the app in your language!

    On hand was also the 2014 edition of the Basic Facts about the United Nations. Published regularly since 1947, this comprehensive handbook designed for the general public sets forth the structure of the United Nations, how the Organization works, the main issues it deals with and its importance for people everywhere. Along with explaining the role played by its principal organs and the family of UN organizations, individual chapters explore UN contributions to international peace and security, economic and social development, human rights; humanitarian action, international law; and decolonization. A series of appendices documents UN membership, peacekeeping operations, budget, and contact information for UN information centers, services and offices. 

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    Even huge Charles Dickens fans may not know that A Christmas Carol is organized in five stanza-like sections called "staves." They might not know the author's only surviving "prompt" copy of the book, that is, Dickens' own annotated version used for live readings, is held at the New York Public Library. But it's without a doubt that Neil Gaiman gives one of the greatest deliveries of the classic holiday tale. That's why we're sharing his performance of A Christmas Carol for the book's 171st birthday.

    Neil Gaiman Christmas Carol

    Gaiman was joined by BBC researcher and author Molly Oldfield, who revealed a little known fact about Dickens: The author was a great lover of cats, so much so, that he even used a macabre feline letter opener. Oldfield explained:

    "New York was the first place I visited when I decided to write The Secret Museum. The Library's Berg Collection of English and American Literature was kind enough to show me some of their literary treasures that belonged to one of England's greatest writers: Charles Dickens. We're really lucky that the object I wrote about in The Secret Museum is on display today... it's a letter opener, a very special feline letter opener made out of the paw of Dickens' beloved pet cat Bob. Now, Dickens had at least three cats. The first one was called William until Dickens realized that actually she's a girl and renamed her Williamina. Williamina had kittens, and Dickens kept one which he called The Master's Cat that used to snuff out his candle to catch his attention. A third cat was called Bob, after Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's overworked clerk in A Christmas Carol. When dear Bob passed on in 1863, Dickens' sister-in-law realized that Dickens was so upset, so she had one of Bob's little paws, which once padded around the author's lap, immortalized as a letter opener, which Dicken's kept at his side at Gad's Hill as he wrote and used every morning to open his mail."

    As eccentric as his letter-opening habits may have been, Dickens was a great orator. Oldfield described his use of the prompt copy at two readings in New York City as nearly rockstar-like:

    "Now Dickens used this rare Christmas treasure here in New York at Christmastime in two performances in 1867. The first performance was at a Steinway piano display hall on East 14th Street and the second at a church in Brooklyn. People lined up in the snow for tickets. Some even slept outside for a spot in the crowd. And the queue by opening time was a mile long... Now the way that Dickens liked to prepare for one of his readings was to drink two tablespoons of rum mixed with cream for breakfast, a pint of champagne for tea, and half an hour before he went on stage he would knock back a sherry with a raw egg beaten into it."

    To hear Gaiman recite A Christmas Carol with the annotations Dickens himself used, listen to the rest of this special holiday podcast episode. As the Ghost of Christmas Present might say, you have never seen the like of Gaiman's Dickens rendition before. 

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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    Six million young adults are disconnected from stable career pathways.  Fourteen million jobs requiring post-secondary education will go unfilledd in the next decade.

    Year Up connects young adults who need opportunity with companies who need their talent.

    graduates of Atlanta baptist College

     Year Up New York is a one-year, intensive training program that provides low-income young adults, ages 18-24, with a combination of hands-on skill development, college credits, and corporate internships.  Located across the street from the New York Stock Exchange in the heart of New York City’s financial district, the site serves urban young adults from across the five boroughs.

    Year Up New York is excited to introduce two new areas of study:

    Anti-money Laundering training teaches students how to perform operations support roles on teams at major financial services firms that investigate potential anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing activities. Read more

    Digital Advertising training introduces students to the fields of marketing and advertising, with a focus on the organizations, processes, and systems involved in the buying and selling of online advertisements. Read more

    Year Up  places 100% of their qualified students into internships.  84% of their graduates are employed or in college full time within four months of graduation. Watch to learn more.

    Applicants should fill out Year Up online interest form  and attend an Open House (click here for upcoming dates and times).

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    If you are dedicated to your job search, and you are age 40 and up, then register to enlist in SAGEWorks's Boot Camp!

    This two-week long, intensive training course will provide participants with essential skills to lead them toward job placement. 

    Doors to jobs

    SAGEWorks assists people 40 years and older in learning relevant, cutting-edge job search skills in a LGBT-friendly environment.  While you do not have to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and /or transgender to participate, you must be willing to work in a completely LGBT-friendly environment.

    You must complete the application in its entirety in order to be considered for the course.  If you are accepted,  you are expected to commit to the full two weeks of the course (Monday through Friday 9 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., with times subject to  change).  To apply.

    You will be contacted by email after SAGEWorks Boot Camp has reviewed your applications.  Applicants who are not selected for the Boot Camp, can still access the other SAGEWorks services, such as one-to-one job coaching and workshops. SAGEWorks  keeps all personally identifiable information completely conifdential within SAGEWorks.

    For more  information , please contact Zoraida Ramos, NYC Site Coordinator, at (212)741-2247, Ext. 224 or at

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  • 12/22/14--07:46: The Business of Toy Guns
  • Playthings, May 1921

    Kites appeared in China around 1000 B.C. and at approximately the same time stone yo-yos were invented in Greece. They were followed by other toys and games but the wide-spread idea of toys belongs to the 20th century. Before that, some kids were busy at school while most were expected to help at home, in the fields or work in factories or coal mines.

    It is thus not a surprise that when the list of the All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys was created by TIME magazine, it began with toys manufactured in the 1920s. Although a Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol is prominently listed among the greatest toys of the 1930s Angela F. Keaton argues (Journal of American Culture, Sept. 2010) that it was during the early Cold War era that youth gun culture thrived in the United States. Roughly a 20-year period following World War II was also the "Golden Age" of cap guns when millions of cap guns in various versions were manufactured.

    Fast forward to 2012, when annual toys sales surpassed 22 billion dollars in the United States and 84 billion dollars worldwide, according to Toy Industry Association, Inc. It is difficult to establish what proportion of these revenues derives from the sale of toy guns. According to IBISWorld database, toy manufacturers in foreign countries are able to produce as many as 150,000 different kinds of toy products a year, of which 5,000 to 6,000 are new designs. In general, toys are divided into several categories such as electronic, stuffed, transport, etc. Toy guns do not constitute a separate category.

    Toy Gun Filed Nov. 22, 1930 Patented Dec. 22, 1931, US 1837734 A. The application reads: This invention relates to toy guns, and the primary object of the invention is to provide a toy gun for shooting arrow-like missiles for the amusement of children.

    The overwhelming majority of toys are safe. We know, however, that problems do occur. In 2007, Mattel, at that time the largest toy producer, recalled 19 million toys made in China because some were covered with lead paint and others had small, powerful magnets which could have harmed children if swallowed. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission there were 256,700 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in 2013. There were also nine toy-related deaths among children in the United States during that year, down from 16 in 2012 and 19 in 2011.

    The Trouble in Toyland report is annually produced by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and contested by the Toy Industry Association, Inc. Toy guns do not even appear in this report but they could be dangerous in a different way. We have all heard about the deadly consequences when toy guns are mistaken for real ones.  Police conduct and race relations, both of which figured prominently in recent tragic events where toy guns played a role, are not ignored here but are simply not the focus of this post.

    Using Academic Search Premier and Business Source Premier databases (which you can access from home with your NYPL library card) let's begin with a listing of several efforts to make toy guns look less like real guns.

    Toys and Novelties, June 1916.

    Toy gun legislation has been on the books in NYC since 1955, New York State since 1970, and nationwide since 1988. Twenty years ago came the decision of toy retailer Toys 'R' Us to stop the sale of toy guns that can be modified to look like a real gun (Japan 21st., Dec. 1994). New York City Local Law 58/1999 (effective 2000) specified colors of toy guns, modifying an earlier law that merely excluded normal real gun colors from being used on toy guns. In 2003 Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was hauled into court by New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for selling toy guns that lacked safety markings required by law. (New York Amsterdam News, 4/17/2003). The same year, a special report by the Council of the City of New York entitled Toy Guns: A Deadly Game stated that nearly 20% of toy stores investigated were still selling illegal toy guns. New York City Local Law 83/2009 (effective 2010) increased penalties for sales of banned toy guns and also acknowledged that less restrictive federal law did not overrule this city law.

    That's one side of toy guns issue. The other one is whether kids should play with them at all.

    A former US naval officer C. Devon Marsh was appalled in early 2000 after his wife took their toddler son to a park where a boy of about six years old, whom they did not know, pointed a toy gun at their son and pulled the trigger. After his wife approached the child and told him sternly not to point a gun at anyone the child disrespectfully pointed the gun at her and pulled the trigger again. This took place just two days after a six-year-old in Michigan had shot and killed a classmate. Marsh subsequently published an editorial in the March 20, 2000 issue of Christian Science Monitor entitled “Disarming Children: Start with Toy Guns”.  In this piece he suggested that all parents refrain from buying toy guns, and asked that those who have already bought them take them away. In this spirit on August 22, 2011 a toy gun exchange program was held at Mildred Helms Park, Newark, New Jersey for exchanging toy guns with other toys or books. (New York Amsterdam News, 8/25/2011)

    Playthings, April 1919.

    There exists however a different approach to the issue of playing with toy guns. In his book Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Superheroes and Make-Believe Violence, Gerard Jones argues that boys especially need ways to act out power and victory and triumph. The Toy Industry Association in its Statement on Toy Guns and Violence claims that “Toys themselves do not promote aggressive behavior.” The Association quoted Jeffrey Goldstein, Ph.D., author and professor of Media and Communication at the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands, who allegedly said: "There are no 'violent' or 'nonviolent' toys. There are simply toys, many fashioned after objects found in the adult world, and others inspired by fantasy objects found nowhere else.”

    The British Department for Children, Schools and Families in its report Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys' Achievements stated that "Images and ideas gleaned from the media are common starting points in boys’ play and may involve characters with special powers or weapons. Adults can find this type of play particularly challenging and have a natural instinct to stop it. This is not necessary as long as practitioners help the boys to understand and respect the rights of other children and to take responsibility for the resources and environment.” Perhaps in this spirit, there is a bill in the Texas legislature that would prohibit schools from disciplining students for having toy guns and eating pastries into gun shapes (Washington Post, 12/4/2014)

    And when it comes to adults Michael Hsu of the Wall Street Journal declared that "Happiness is a Toy Gun" (8/27/2011).  In his article he provided information on several toy guns including the Nerf Vortex Praxis, the Xploderz XGround Pounder Blaster, and the Executive Marshmallow Shooter from Marshmallowville and added “(…) Mad at your spouse? Don't talk it out; shoot it out. A duel with the Vortex Praxis, in particular, can be surprisingly therapeutic. (…)”

    So what’s your gift for Christmas?

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  • 12/22/14--08:03: NYPL's Best Books of 2014
  • We asked our staff here at the New York Public Library to tell us about the best book they read this year. Here is what they had to say:

    The best book I read in 2014 was I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Words to describe this novel: breathtaking, dazzling, vivid, electric, magical, lyrical, a complete tour-de-force. It's the kind of novel that pulls you in, makes you weep, and then punches you in the gut it's so good! A story of sibling rivalry, family, love, art, betrayal, perseverance, death and dreams: it filled my soul with hope and humanity and made me a better person. It made me fall in love all over again with the power of books and reading and everything a YA book can be. Simply put this is a masterpiece of character, theme and writing. I've never read a YA book like it and I doubt I ever will again.  —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    The best book I read this year would be An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay. The experiences that Mireille goes through as a kidnapped victim, physically, emotionally, and mentally, absolutely broke my heart. It really gave me chills to read what she resorted to doing just to survive such traumatizing events.  —Sherise Pagan, Grand Concourse

    Unremarried Widow: A Memoir by Artis Henderson left me feeling like I could not breathe. Oh yes, it's achingly sad, but it is a beautiful love story that in spite of the heartache, leaves you smiling. —Maura Muller, Volunteers Office

    The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Journal is Francisco Goldman’s (latest) gift to the world. It’s at once a deeply felt love story, an elegy, political study and meditation on home. I savored the writer’s vivid and poetic descriptions of place (from the "megacity's stunning enormousness” to the barrios)—all locations teeming with life. —Miriam Tuliao, Selection Team

    One of my favorite books this year was Lucy Knisley's wonderful graphic travel memoir, An Age of LicenseIt's about a trip Knisley took to Europe and Scandinavia when she was in her late twenties, single, and figuring out what to do with her life ("an age of license").  With lovely and evocative illustrations, it perfectly captures the fun of traveling as a young person, while also touching on the anxieties that come with being a twenty-something.  I'm in my late thirties and definitely feeling a bit more encumbered by responsibility these days, so this was a breath of fresh air to read!  It made me nostalgic for when I was foot loose and fancy free, but it also made me feel grateful to be past my tumultuous twenties. :)  I enjoyed traveling with Lucy! —Susie Heimbach, Mulberry Street

    This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki. This graphic novel is an evocative coming-of-age tale that perfectly captures the innocence of feeling small when experience reveals that the world is a much larger and darker place than the familiarity of summer suggests. Exceptional for its insight, but even more so for the artist's masterful use of line work, panels and perspectives. This is the type of story that leaves you both wanting and changed. —Daniel Norton, Mid-Manhattan

    My favorite book of 2014 was Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.  It mixes a far-out premise (giant insects start taking over the world) with a solid bedrock of character development and an unusual storytelling style.  Austin Szerba is a great character and a fascinating narrator, and we follow him down surprising paths as his mind takes leaps backwards and forwards in time to tell this story.  Reading this book was like a brain-stretching exercise—when I was done reading it I felt exhausted, but in a really positive way.  It's a young adult book, but it would be an exciting and challenging read for teens or even grownups! —Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge

    A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. Vampires, witches, time travel, romance—what's not to love? The best part is the rich historical detail that makes it oh so credible. Think Diana Gabaldon meets J. K. Rowling at midnight in the Bodleian Library. Or Nora Roberts channels Anne Rice. I'm already halfway through the second book in the trilogy, Shadow of Night. The third volume, The Book of Life, was published this year. —Lois Moore, Mid-Manhattan 

    The best book I've read this year has to be A Memory of Light by Brandon Sanderson. It's the culmination of Robert Jordan's fantasy masterpiece,The Wheel of Time. It was continued by Sanderson after the master's death. Seeing so many character stories wrap up, others end in tragedy and saying goodbye to favorites you've followed over the course of fourteen epic novels was a bit wrenching. I'm not afraid to admit there were tears. —Joshua Soule, Sputen Duyvil

    The book that stood out for me this year was Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Particularly memorable was the chapter about the time when she was a child and she really wanted to have a piece of cake, but was forbidden to have it. So here's this kid who will do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, to get the cake, and predictably hilarity ensues.  In part I can relate to her utter desperation for the cake, and then there's the part where I appreciate her total honesty in pointing out her own flaws. It was smart, funny, and book that made the rest of us feel normal. —Rabecca Hoffman, Kingsbridge

    I have two greats for this year, both a few decades old. The most amazing fiction book I read this year is Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. Every sentence is vivid. I felt the leaves build up in the corners of my rooms and paint began to peel on my door frames. In non-fiction, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown opened a door to another point of view on American history and I am a more conscientious person for it. It is also a great conversation starter, many people have strong feelings about reading this book. —Jessica Cline, Mid-Manhattan Library

    The best book I read this year was The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, whose writing transported me to 1899 New York City. Wecker does a wonderful job of mixing genres (fantasy, romance, mystery, historical fiction) in an epic story that documents the immigrant experience of the two unlikely title characters. It is hard enough being a stranger in a strange land—imagine what it would be like for two fantastical mythical creatures trying to pass as human. —Rosa Caballero-Li, AskNYPL

    I cannot choose one. I have to choose two. So I will be brief. The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters satisfied every part of me as a reader. The setting is rich, the characters captivating, the writing inspiring, and the story! The book turns from fascinating historical fiction to thriller. It’s amazing! I have loved every Sarah Waters novel I have read. This one was heads above the others and that is saying a lot. I also loved Miranda July’s The First Bad Man. It was so funny and fresh. The narrator is socially spastic. She will make you cringe like Larry David. I haven’t read a book that surprised me as much since Magnus Mills’s Restraint of Beasts—Lynn Lobash, Readers Services

    The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham. This fantasy adventure reminded me just how much fun it can be to plunge into a world of deliciously awful villains, mysterious rogues and fearsome monsters with a group of undaunted young protagonists.  Can't remember the last time I missed so many subway stops because I just didn't want to stop reading! —Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park

    The novel I enjoyed the most this year is Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, about a young girl and boy, on opposite sides of a war, inexorably closing in on each other as each must solve life-or-death puzzles lying beyond the realm of mere eyesight.  It's not just that characters are finely drawn, the path Doerr sets them on left me thinking for days afterward about the people I meet and the paths and puzzles that draw us together, for whatever reason, for however long. —Christopher Platt, Sites and Services

    Although it wasn’t the best book I read this year, The Sweet Science & Other Writings by New Yorker staff writer A.J. Liebling was the book that I enjoyed reading the most (and that's an important distinction).  The collection is part of the estimable Library of America series and comprises five works, the best of which are “The Sweet Science” (about the boxing world in the 1950s), “The Earl of Louisiana” (a masterful analysis of Louisiana politics circa 1960), and “The Jollity Building” (a composite profile of grifters, loan sharks, bookies and “grade z” talent agents plying their trade in Midtown in the late 1930s).  Liebling’s deftness at turns-of-phrase, his inventive word choice—two men injured in a duel were “seriously discommoded” and a bar is a called a “dispensatorium”—could there be a more perfect name for a hipster bar in Brooklyn?) as well as his wry humor and trenchant analysis make him—for my money—one of the best writers the New Yorker ever published.  His “Jollity Building” piece alone is worth picking up this collection.  Imagine if Damon Runyon’s “Guys and Dolls” stories were as well-written as they are entertaining.  That’s how good “The Jollity Building” is!  —Wayne Roylance, Selection Team

    My favorite children's book of the year was Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. If you want a fun, art history mystery for kids, this is it!  The story is set in New York City and introduces readers an array of fascinating residents.  Think art, science, WWII, celebrity kids, Monuments Men, gardening and super cool librarians all rolled in one. —Louise Lareau, Children’s Center 42nd Street

    This summer I finally read Just Kids, Patti Smith's eloquent memoir of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe and their development as artists. It was wonderful to see the New York City of the late 1960s and 1970s through her eyes. I wonder if any of our future poets are sleeping in city parks like she sometimes did when she first arrived in New York. —Elizabeth Waters, Mid-Manhattan

    My favorite YA book this year was Candace Fleming’s The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. Fleming interweaves excerpts from diary entries of peasants and shop girls with descriptions of the Romanovs' lives of excess and grandeur. In a less skilled writer's hands, this could easily have been a list of grievances against the Romanovs. Instead, Fleming humanizes the Romanov Family by highlighting their personality quirks and playful affection for one another. This is a suspenseful and juicy read (one of the princesses has a romantic encounter with her guard) that reveals the chilling circumstances surrounding the Romanovs' deaths during a truly tumultuous period of Russian history. —Mina Hong, Epiphany

    My best read of 2014 was The Riverman by Aaron Starmer. That's a book that wormed its way into the crevices of my brain, set up house, and will NOT be evicted for a very long time. I can feel tendrils of it affecting everything I do even now.  —Betsy Bird, Selection Team

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    Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

    I was happy to attend a session of the kid lit salon that again featured Leonard Marcus, a brilliant scholar of children's literature. The event is held at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Betsy Bird, Youth Materials Specialist at NYPL, introduced the program. Jane Breskin Zalben (author) moderated the panel, which consisted of Laurent Linn (Art Director, Simon & Schuster), Leonard Marcus (author), Neal Porter (Editor, Roaring Brook), Caroline Ward (Librarian, Ferguson Library), Susan Roth (artist), and Elizabeth Harding (Agent, Curtis Brown). 

    What Makes Books Sell?

    Zalben asked the panelists to discuss the future of children's publishing. She wondered if Goodnight Moon would be successful if it had first been published in this decade. It was first published in 1947, and it did not sell well for the first decade.

    Someone opined that it would not sell well.

    Harding believes that now is an exciting time for picture book publishing. Today, picture books are not driven by Fancy Nancy or Pinkalicious, as they were a couple of years ago. It is difficult to predict what will sell well. Editors take projects that speak to them. Quiet books are not currently selling well.

    Ward mentioned that one of the panelists (Porter) has done with quiet books.

    Porter said that sales for Sick Day for Amos McGee were slow but steady. Quiet, steady books still strike a chord in the noisy world in which we live.

    Leonard remarked that the success of some books hinges on librarian recommendations. Goodnight Moon opened up an entirely new genre of books for kids.

    Roth stated that the words in Goodnight Moon resonate with kids.

    Book Awards and Art Shows

    Ward commented that there are more submissions for the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrators Awards nowadays. She is on the board. This is one of the few awards that acknowledges new talent. It is exciting to see the new work that is out there. Publishers are taking big risks in their quest for new books. Luckily, her public library has a good budget, and it buys much commercial material due to customer demand.

    Linn mentioned that there were over 600 submissions for the Original Art exhibit of the Society of Illustrators. There is great variety in the subject matter of the books and the art.

    Zalben met Linn when they both attended the Original Art exhibit. Large publishers are buying out small publishers. However, there are some self-published books out there.

    Linn said that self-published books are not eligible for the Original Art exhibit.

    Zalben stated that there was an argument on the committee of the Ezra Jack Keats Awards as to whether one of Brian Selznick's books should be accepted, since it is a graphic novel.

    Porter mentioned that children's publishing is a dynamic field, and the definition of picture books is changing.

    Linn notices kids playing video games nowadays. Kids do not think of books in the same categories that we do (e.g. trade books and mass market books).

    Leonard believes that the book world is regenerative. Trends are cyclical. There are currently three museums in the United States devoted to children's books: the Mazza Museum, the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, and one other. Publishers are rethinking how to make print books available to kids. The digital revolution has served to reemphasize why physical books are so important to kids.


    Zalben likes the one-on-one intimacy of having a picture book to read to a child in ones lap. She asked the panelists if fewer books are currently being published for kids. She knows of some ebook publishing houses.

    Roth finds e-books for kids difficult to get used to. She is a grandmother, and she likes paper. She is old-fashioned.

    Zalben thinks that e-books are like movies in that they are often animated.

    Porter asked Roth to discuss the process of epublishing. He knows that it is faster. One size works better for translation into digital formats. The picture has to fit on the screen. He knows of one book that was an ebook prior to becoming a print work, but it usually works the other way. Electronic art has to be photographed from a particular size in order for it to work.

    Zalben tried her hand at epublishing, but it was way too much work, so she abandoned it. However, authors can get royalties from the sale of e-books.

    Ward is a librarian, and she sees the end of the publishing process: the product. There is a vibrant market selection from which to choose. Libraries are starting to purchase circulating iPads that have apps already downloaded onto them. They are very popular, and they have many requests. As soon as they are returned, the next people in line check them out. Her public library is spending $20,000 this year on e-books. However, there is an annual $3,000 subscription fee for the e-books, which she does not want to pay. Librarians are trained to help patrons download e-books. Interestingly enough, some out-of-print books are now available as e-books.

    Harding said that Curtis Brown just had its centennial. They have shelves of some out-of-print books, which they have decided to revitalize by publishing them as e-books. 

    Zalben raised the question of how the proliferation of e-books affect kids. She believes that kids should be looking at books from birth, and she has heard that kids are not supposed to have electricity near their brains before they reach the age of two years.

    Linn told us that picture e-books have words that can be spoken aloud. Applications (apps), on the other hand, are much more interactive. You can play some of them like you play video games. Apps may require 400 illustrations because they are essentially videos. Picture books, conversely, require 32 or so illustrations. Also, apps are very inexpensive; some sell for 99 cents. In 2013, e-books were 3% of Simon & Schuster's sales; in 2014, e-books comprised 2% of sales. Illustrators think of print books first. Picture books have a defined size (e.g. 9" X 10"). Some illustrations have so much detail. With electronic devices, the artists do not know which size the kids will see the pictures. Unfortunately, kids might miss vital portions of the illustrations if they cannot see the detail on an iPhone that the artist intended them to. The pictures tell part of the story in picture books, and this is why conversion of print books to e-books can result in lower quality work. Some picture books may not lend themselves well to being converted to e-books.

    Porter agreed that there has yet to be created a format for e-books for kids that are as effective as picture books at helping kids develop the burgeoning literacy skills that they will require in order to succeed in life. He is gratified that the world has recognized this. The children's publishing industry is currently quite healthy. 

    Zalben is open to different forms of entertainment. There can be different formats for a book. This is similar to sometimes being in the mood for a book and sometimes in the mood for a movie.

    Porter sees illustrators and authors possibly working together in the future to create something that is not a print book or an electronic book. Perhaps the new product will involve some animation.

    Print Books

    Linn stressed that the book is not broken. Also, he admonished people to recognize that being a fan of paper is not old-fashioned. Perhaps we could re-envision liking print books as new-fashioned. He personally does not want to carry five books to the beach; he would rather bring an iPad. However, he owned many books when he was a kid. He wonders how to get that feeling with e-books. I suppose that you could save the digital files.

    Harding has four young boys in her house, and consequently they have many books. There is an expectation that devices will be interactive, while books are more passive. The two formats provide a qualitatively different experience for the user or reader.

    Ward mentioned that some of the print books that have metamorphosed into apps have been terrific. One of the Beatrix Potter books has been transformed into an app. However, some of the apps do not generate enough capital in order to justify the cost. Sometimes, when e-books are viewed on smaller devices, the text and pictures become separated, resulting in a disjointed experience. Viewing e-books on iPads provides the best experience; however, some inexpensive devices do not display e-books well.

    What the Future Will Bring

    Zalben asked the panelists to provide any parting words about the world of children's publishing and where it is headed in the future.

    Ward proclaimed the libraries are evolving along with the digital revolution.

    Zalben is not  in favor of some libraries' decision to remove comfortable seating to create a techno atmosphere. That seating is crucial to allow customers to feel at home in the library. It creates a venue for mothers to connect with other mothers, and the kids can crawl on the floor and look at books. This is more natural for them.

    Linn opined that storytelling is at the crux of children's publishing and it's very reason for existence. Kids love stories and they will always love stories. Print books are not disappearing, and the book professions will continue to exist and hopefully thrive. 

    Porter agreed that storytelling will always serve to entertain and transmit cultural values and expectations.

    Linn traveled to China, which has recently discovered and begun to publish picture books. In 2004, there were 50 picture books being published in China. In 2014, there are 2,000 different picture books being published there.

    Audience Questions 

    Zalben opened up the floor to audience questions.

    Bird needed to let an NYPL staff member make a correction about when the library started serving preschoolers.

    Lamb provided some historical context for when United States libraries started serving kids. In the late 19th century, the Hartford, CT public library started provided books and activities for juveniles. In the mid-20th century, the sentiment began to arise across the country that public libraries could serve preschool-age children. This impacted the production of picture books. Nowadays, public libraries provide baby lapsits. Three and four-month old babies participate in listening to simple stories and songs. She loves seeing all of what is out there in terms of literature in the variety of formats in which it is published.

    An audience member asked the panelists to elucidate what they mean by "quiet books."

    Zalben mentioned that it has to do with language, pacing, rhythm and tone.

    Marcus said that many books are now being reviewed by the readers on their own terms.

    Zalben piggybacked by saying that Goodreads produces a different quality review that you get from professionals who have much training in the field (ie. School Library Journal or Hornbook).

    Linn likes reputable reviews. Since it is impossible to read all of the books that are out there, those sources help people figure out which books to purchase.

    Another person asked how the editors sell books.

    Porter likes to use word-of-mouth. Certain books can take a long time to sell. Blogging helps get the word out.

    Bird likes Julie Danielson's blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. The two coauthored a book with the late Peter Sieruta. In the blog, Danielson describes and shows the process of creating picture book illustrations.

    Harding mentioned the dearth of picture books in Barnes & Noble. She advises authors and illustrators to carefully and thoughtfully promote their work.

    Upcoming Children's Literary Salons

    Saturday, January 3 at 2 p.m.
    Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, South Court Auditorium
    Where's the Science Fiction for Kids?

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    It all started when I was looking for material for our Tumblr’s Teen Throwback Thursday posts.  I suddenly remembered that I had access to a lot of retro YA material, including some stuff that’s older than I am.  I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that idea.

    Usually for my Throwback posts I’ll choose pictures of teen programs that I photographed at the Kingsbridge Library over the years, or blog posts and booklists that I created.  But it wasn’t until I started to think outside the Kingsbridge box that I realized I was overlooking a valuable resource that I see every day when I sit at my desk.

    Most librarians maintain some kind of a personal archive.  I’m not giving away any secrets; it’s part of what we do and who we are.  It’s in our personalities, our DNA, and the marrow of our bones.  A librarian’s archive can take many forms—for example, I keep copies of every booklist I’ve ever contributed to, publications from teen poetry workshops, deleted books that I couldn’t bear to throw away, and even copies of the book reviews I used to write back in the typewriter-and-carbon-paper days.  But if you’re an especially lucky librarian, when you move into your new office you might end up inheriting the archive of the last librarian who sat at that desk.

    When I first came to the old Kingsbridge Library and was shown to my desk, I started looking through the stuff the last young adult librarian had left behind, and I found a file of material dating as far back as the 1960s.  I recognized it for what it was—a small but significant treasure trove—and held on to it.  Most of the file was made up of booklists, but it also contained other material geared towards young adults, like overviews of teen services at the New York Public Library and even other materials that were available for young people to check out or use at the library.

    I never had a specific idea for what I would do with this material other than just hang on to it.  Archives can be difficult to share unless you have a locked display case (which we don’t), and besides, if you share them that way only a limited number of people can see them.  But since social media can serve the function of a virtual display case which can be shared with a much wider audience, I thought that these lists might be cool to feature on our Tumblr.  But since I’m always looking for ways to create ANY kind of social media content, I started thinking about how I could use this material in a blog post.  And since I’m always looking for new activities to do with my Teen Advisory Group… well, you see where this is going.  

    So I brought in a bunch of stuff from my archive to our last TAG meeting.  I thought my teens would get a kick out of seeing this old stuff (with varying definitions of “old,” of course, since they range from 12-18).  I wanted to see how modern teens would react to teen material of olden times.  I passed the booklists, pamphlets, and papers around the table and asked them each to pick something that looked interesting to them.  I asked them to look at it for a few minutes and then share something about the item they chose—what caught their eye?  What was cool, or ugly, or amazing, or weird?  Here were some of their reactions to these unusual treasures:

    For the Teen Age (1974)

    This isn’t actually a booklist, but an overview of teen services at NYPL.  Highlights include references to libraries that no longer exist and formats that no longer exist.  Okay, I guess those are some of MY favorite highlights.  My teens, though, reacted more along the lines of Wow, look at that artwork!

    Easy-to-Read Books For Teenagers (1981)

    This was done on a typewriter!!!

    OMG, these are the SHORTEST book descriptions!   Listen to these: Will Mike become one of them?  A young couple in trouble.  Is the guest in room 13 a vampire?  An unfortunate marriage for Joan.  When Eddie feels and acts like King Kong.  

    This then led to a side discussion when I asked them why they thought the annotations might be so short.  Their answers started with some less than complimentary ones (The librarians were too lazy?  The librarians procrastinated?)  but then they came up with So they could fit more books that way? I also pointed out that a longer list would have cost more money to print, which shows one of the major differences between the way librarians think and the way teenagers think.

    Books For the Teen Age (1993)

    Their main commentary was reserved for the picture on the cover:That cover is kind of ridiculous.  How is that guy supposed to concentrate on reading while all those kids are being idiots right outside the window?  I take the opportunity to point out that the Books For the Teen Age covers used to be designed by teenagers, and as they look at the other BTA lists on the table their reactions range from Yeah, you can TELL!  to Oh, that’s pretty cool!

    More Books For the Teen Age lists

    You see the way the list is divided up into sections?  You guys should do that again!  

    They then proceeded to discuss some of their favorite categories, including Humor, Make Up Your Mind, Music, and Mind & Body.  They also laughed about some outdated categories (The USSR?  Really?)  I tell them that we definitely want to have booklist categories again in the future, but that since our current YA booklist (Best Books For Teens 2014) has just 25 books, each category would have been too small.  

    Books, Films, Recordings By and About the American Negro: A Selected List for Young Adults (1968)

    Didn’t I tell you that there was something older than me in this archive?  Okay, I know you’re thinking that this list inspired the most discussion in the group.  And it did … but probably not for the reason you’re expecting.  First, there was the knee-jerk reaction of  every teen who saw the title of this list.  Their reactions ranged from silence to WOW!!!  to How OLD is this list??? 

    Then they started flipping through the list and describing it more, noticing that the annotations were longer on this list than some of the others we’d looked at before, and that it was unusual that this list included prices.  But that wasn’t the big discussion ...

    The big discussion started when one of the girls asked, What does a “recording” mean? And there was this weird pause while we all looked at each other.  I gave them a chance to come up with some answers, and they came up with a few ideas (Like … a video?) I pressed them to think back to what a “recording” would have meant in 1968, and finally I started dropping hints.  Okay, years ago there were these things … that went around … in a CIRCLE …[Now you have to visualize me moving my hand around and around in a flat circle like it’s on a turntable while my teens stare at me like I’ve gone off the deep end].  It took another minute to get past their first guess (cassettes?)  before they arrived at the idea of a record player, which then led them to the idea of a record.  Thank goodness I didn’t bring up the subject of 8-tracks!  

    *SIGH*  Okay, go ask your parents what an 8-track is … or maybe your grandparents.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed this brief trip down memory lane.  Stay tuned to the Kingsbridge Library Teens Tumblr, where items from this archive will be appearing in future Teen Throwback Thursday posts which appear every Thursday morning at 10 a.m.  And if you’d like some NEW reading recommendations, make sure you check out our Best Books For Teens 2014 list!  

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    It was a rainy day on Tuesday, December 9, but a large and enthusiastic crowd still gathered at Bronx House to celebrate The New York Public Library’s oral history project, Voices from East of Bronx Park. This project is the first large scale effort to collect oral histories from people who have lived or worked in the Allerton, Pelham Parkway, Van Nest and Morris Park neighborhoods.

    The evening was full of wonderful speakers who all came with different perspectives on their neighborhood’s story. Robert Diamond is an historian who spoke in November at the East Bronx History Forum meeting. He brought in a fascinating presentation on transportation history in the Northeast Bronx.

    Dr. Lois Fermaglich, a storyteller for the project, grew up in Pelham Parkway and talked about her experience revisiting her childhood neighborhood with family and friends who also grew up nearby.

    Jeremy Warneke shares his experience collecting interviews for the oral history project

    Jeremy Warneke, District Manager of Community Board 11, gave us all some helpful advice about conducting interviews. Mr. Warneke has already conducted several interviews for the project with longtime residents. He is a newer neighborhood resident himself and is using this project as an opportunity to both learn about the area and preserve its important, untold history.

    Grace Lovaglio is an engaged community member, active in several local organizations. She spoke about the strength of the community to speak up for itself and prevail through many changes. Ms. Lovaglio is also an interviewer for the project.

    Dawn Holloway, David Nochimson, and Manny Martinez talk about the oral history project at our December 9 kick-off

    David Nochimson (Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Library), Dawn Holloway (Morris Park Library), and Manny Martinez (Allerton Library), local NYPL branch managers, all described their interest and enthusiasm in the oral history project. Everyone agreed that there is a real need to preserve this history as it hasn’t been extensively captured yet.

    All of the branches involved plan to host events around the project that celebrate community history and inspire dialogue between new residents, longtime residents, and those who grew up in the area. Allerton Library is screening a film in January as part of this programming – for more information click here.

    Stay tuned for more information as this project moves forward.

    About our Oral History Project:

    Voices from East of Bronx Park is an oral history project that works to both preserve and document the neighborhood history of the Allerton, Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, and Van Nest communities through the stories of people who have experienced it. The project will collect oral histories of people who live in neighborhoods east of Bronx Park and train community members to conduct these interviews. Longtime residents and those who have worked in these neighborhoods are invited to share their stories, documenting an important past and present history. Interviews will be preserved at The Milstein Division of United States History, Local History, and Genealogy. Interviews will also be available in a circulating collection and accessible on this website.

    This is a project of the Alleron, Morris Park, and Pelham Parkway-Van Nest Libraries.

    To listen to some of the first stories collected, please visit

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    What a pleasure meeting and working with the middle school students at P.S. 34 on the L.E.S. again this semester. Really miss you, Juliet, Kaythyn, Alexis, Jonathan R., Alexis, Giovanny, Jeyda, Brandon, ybott, Hector E. and of course to all the people and names I just forgot, not to mention messed up—thank you. To Mr. Matthew Rudansky, the teacher, mentor, art and writing contributor and pillar of support a special thanks . It's been fun taking the writer's club on the road. Looking forward to seeing you all soon and here's a taste of several topics we covered big and small.

    Dream School

    On the stage

    every light
    a different color.

    Picking up food
    at my school, like a Sizzler’s


    the freedom
    to talk to others

    A big beautiful garden
    with no rats to bug us

    Classes start at 4PM,
    end at dinner at 6PM.

    We decide
    what goes on.
    Get things fixed
    even if,
    we get it wrong.

    Sometimes I feel

    sometimes I feel
    down as a broken
    glass —Juliet

    sometimes I feel bored
    like a kid trying to learn math —ybott

    Happy--Sometimes I feel as happy as a smile on a face
    Wind -- Sometimes I feel like the wind, filling in every crack until that crack turns into a canyon
    Sheep -- Sometimes I feel like a sheep, just waiting to be sheared.
    Car -- Sometimes I feel like a car, always being driven around.
    Corn -- Sometimes I feel like a corn, just knowing someday I’ll gt popped.
    Paper– Sometimes I feel like paper, knowing somebodies going to write on me.
    —Jonathan R


    My Dogs

    My old dog cookie

    My young dog chip
    fight, also they bite
    each others faces.
    They bite each other
    and sit on each other. —Alexis


    The Drunk Life

    I’m falling on my side
    drunk lifeEyes dilated
    I’m hungry I should eat this pizza off the floor
    I should shove that slice down my mouth
    and eat it like a dog
    I sit on the cold cement floor
    I smell dodo
    I look at my pants. I pooped myself.
    Nothing seems clear to me.
    How did I get here?

    Sounds of the Night

    loud neighborhood
    When I go to sleep
    All I hear is fighting
    Music, people screaming honking and all the other stuff in between

    Car zooming
    My sister booming
    Oh no a fight
    That's not alright
    Oh someone has a gun
    They all run, there goes
    the gun.
    The trigger went off

    I lay my head,
    Down on the bed
    Till the morning light.
    Go to school
    Looking all cool,
    Act like that night never happened.
    The night of the fight,
    the fight of the night
    That day is now a farytale. —Juliet

    Sound of Night

    The wisp of river wind
    takes me to a silent place.
    But the ambulance scream shatters me
    I hear people in a room
    And my sister talking loud on the phone
    I hear my mom and step dad talking
    Each minute it gets louder and louder
    I hear glass shatter and the door slam
    Someone has a gun
    They all run
    Boom, the trigger off
    I hear cars honking
    Tires screeching
    I hear people fighting, yelling he has a gun
    Summer nights
    I lay in my room and I’m moving around
    I’m under the covers
    I want to sleep

    I hear my upstairs neighbors playing the drums
    I hear cars honking, tires screeching
    I hear people screaming.
    A fight at night right before I go to bed —Alexis

    I need my sleep, the neighbors, stillness,
    a wisp of the river wind lulls me to a quiet place
    the ambulance sirens screech and shatters the silence
    leaving me restless.


    A scary character is Freddy Krueger. He’s scary because he goes in your dreams and tortures you. He has knives and he kills a ton of people.
    Also Jeepers Creepers, he hunts people down to get souls and kills them anyway he can and you have to kill him so he can really die. You have to keep stabbing him until he goes in his cocoon. —Alexis

    Great, huge, yellow scary teeth – Long orange shaggy hair with a green face, as green as the healthiest leaf on earth, and black eyes like looking into a dark forest, with claws as sharp as knives to cut people and eat them. He lives in your nightmares. He hunts and kills for fun.
    The one and only things that scares him is dreams. That’s why he makes nightmares to kill and take away the dreams. Dreams are scary to him because his family had believed that happiness was evil. —Jeyda

    Bobby: a human sized doll who comes to life at night and whoever’s door he sees first he goes in there with an axe and kills everyone. When somebody comes, he drops on the floor. He wears a tuxedo.
    When Bobby sees bright colors, he has to go in the dark because he could go blind. Children laughing or playing freaks him out. Church music kills him. –Brandon

    When my step dad gets drunk I stay far away from him because I’m scared he might hurt me. If he is sound asleep I stay up and play the (computer) games . When his door opens, my heart stops. I turn off the game, the t.v. and run to my room and hide so he won’t find me, so he won’t mess with me.


    Imagine a kid, a superhero, – a guy with a foot so big, so powerful he could use it as a weapon to stamp out crime. He became popular in some ways and a great crime fighter – but one day a doctor finally offered him the chance to have an operation and get a normal foot. What would you do?

    Big Foot
    Normal wouldn’t be that different. No crazy stares, no more “Big Foot” jokes. Girls may actually notice my friendly smile, instead of gawking at my city bus of a foot. Yeah that would be sweet, a girl smiling at me. Saving the world, stomping bad guys, I would trade all that for the warm and affectionate embrace of a kind and loving girl friend.

    I would keep the gigantic foot because I would be one of a kind and unique because I have super powers but at the same time it would be difficult to live but normal is boring so I don’t know if I would change or keep it.
    --- Kaythyn

    I don’t know what I should do. I’m a superhero! But my foot is mad big and it’s still growing. Now if I get a fake foot I’ll be normal, not special or find no girl likes me because of my crusty, dusty foot. I made up my mind I’m going to…..
    a) Cut off my foot and get a fake one.
    b) Keep the crusty, dusty foot
    c) Jump in the East River
    ---- Juliet


    Dream School 2

    Picking out food at my school like it’s a sizzlers buffet, chillen out in the yard waiting for Pizza Hut all day. But the hours are from 4-6, in that time we dance, we play, but not pick up sticks!
    Garden so nice, it’s free of rats. Walk into a class where we can keep on our hats (and hoods).
    Chowin down on this food -- so good. – Hector E

    Not trying to be politically correct but Happy Holidays including Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Feliz Navidad and all the rest of the seasonal religious and social salutations to everybody, everywhere and everyone.

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    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project, Inc.) is recognized as a leading workforce and economic development organization in the New York City  community.  CMP promotes economic self-sufficiency and career advancement through equipping individuals with job & educational skills, credentials, leadership qualities, and entrepreneurship opportunities. CMP works with all segments of society, with a distinct track record serving the Asian American community.

    woman getting her hair styled

    If you are receiving food stamps (but not cash assistance) then you qualify for free Home Health  Aide  (HHA) training at CMP in lower Manhattan.

    This is one of the fastest growing  jobs in New York City as the population ages and the healthcare system changes.  You can learn more about the occupational outlook for Home Health Aides from the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014.

    Training runs Mondays through Fridays for 6 weeks, and includes test prep then taking the Home Health Aides certification exam.

    Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition.

    The training is a parternship between  CMP and Progressive Home Health Services, and students who become certified will have access to job openings through both agencies.

    For more information call CMP at 212-571-1690, or email

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