What Should I Read Next?
Mischling : a novel by Affinity Konar

We’re going to try something new here, a regular feature that will offer up some staff selected recommendations on books for you to consider.

Let’s start with a book that is both compelling and hopeful, albeit a somewhat dark as it traversing one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning. It is more than well worth the read. mischling

It’s Mischling : a novel by Affinity Konar.

It’s 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood. As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele’s Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain. That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin, but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion Feliks–a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin–travel through Poland’s devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, or the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.

booksthatchangedAnd for something a little lighter to browse, try The books that changed my life: reflections by 100 authors, actors, musicians, and other remarkable people – edited by Patrick Bethanne.

This is a quick, readable collection of reflections by prominent authors, politicians, actors, musicians, and celebrities on a book that changed their lives – maybe you’ll get some inspiration.

Dan Weiss

Check back often for more suggestions from the FML staff. Happy reading!

Constant Change

ChangeIt’s well trodden ground that the only thing that is constant is change
(thanks Heraclitus), and we’ve had more than our full share of that here over the past year.

We’ve completely overhauled our computer system, we’ve added Kindles and iPads, expanded our band-width and improved our WiFi network. We added a new, updated AWE Early Literacy Learning Center workstation in Children’s Department (thanks to a grant from the Union County Freeholders). We’ve had some major staff turnover and added some wonderful, new faces here (say hi to Mandy and Meredith and Monica) that, along with those of us that remain (Dan, Susan, Nancy, Jill, Sheldon, Anita and all our fabulous pages), have strengthened the team and are helping to make a significant difference in the day to day services we can provide.

We embraced a new logo and upped our social media visibility with both Twitter and Instagram pages to go with our Facebook presence and, along with e-notifications for coming due materials and check-out receipts, we’ve started a monthly e-newsletter. We designed and launched a new website, and now, with an ongoing eye towards improved usability and being responsive to the variety of mobile platforms we’re being accessed on, as well as stability and security, we’ve recently re-worked and re-launched our recently re-designed website.

And at the very end of 2015 we had some holiday fun on a national level when the Library’s own Hook & Needle Club’s crocheted bowls were featured in the fantastic Chex Mix yarn bombing campaign video.

And there’s plenty to look forward to coming up in 2016 – we’ve kicked off a new Family Friendly First Sunday Series with great programs for everyone to enjoy together. We’ve started regular Monday afternoon Fanwood Maker Lab sessions, to go along with the weekly Tuesday afternoon Hook & Needle knitting and crochet group and Wednesday afternoon scrabble club.

So as the new year gets under way, we’ll resolve to continue to embrace change, strive to improve our services and broaden our outreach, and stay flexible and responsive to all members of our Fanwood community and the wonderful families and library users we serve. We are confident that 2016 will (inevitably) continue to bring more, exciting changes and improvements to the already amazing Fanwood Memorial Library… and we’re ready!

18 years and counting…

Today marks 18 years since I started at the Fanwood Memorial Library. Phew!! 03-04-2008 10;00;33AM

When I came here my predecessor had been on the job 17 years and I couldn’t imagine such a thing. I remember thinking, if I’m still here 17 years from now just shoot me… and yet, here I am (please don’t shoot me).08-28-2006 09;27;50AM

So many changes since I started. In looking back through some early annual reports, I’m struck by a number of things, one of which being that I clearly hit the ground running. One indicator is how much grant money I was able to get to help make this library what it has become:
$75,000 in 1998;
$24,000 in 1999;
$5,000 in 2003;
$40,000 in 2005;
another $84,638 in 2005;
$150,000 in 2007
in total, I secured close to $500,000 in grant money for the library in the 10 years between 1998 and 2008… Wow!

Some non-financial highlights include:
** automating the entire library operation,
** recovery from multiple floods, multiple renovations on both levels,
** countless programs and service improvements,
** creating and maintaining multiple websites,
06-12-2008 11;29;30AM ** a wonderful year-long centennial celebration in 2003,
** a wildly successful and ongoing shared-services partnership with the Scotch Plains Public Library that continues to yield great benefits of all sorts to residents and library users in both communities,
** development of the nationally recognized award-winning program Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected which focuses on customer service skills to help libraries and librarians serve those in the ASD community more effectively,
** an ongoing, strong and supportive Friends of the Library group,
** establishing the library’s value as an emergency community gathering place during the 10-day disaster that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake,
and SO MUCH MORE!

Fanwoodstock IIIWe’ve hosted 1,000s of programs, a successful local film festival, a number of Fanwoodstock festivals, concerts, book groups, lectures, children’s programming and crafts, KristiYamaguchi and even had our share of famous guests including Dan1 Arnie Duncan (Secretary of Education), Kristi Yamagucci (Gold Medal Olympic Skater), Pat DiNizio (Smithereens), David Magee (Finding Neverland screenwriter), and Ann Hood (author), to mention a few.

More recently we created a new logo, a new website, had a successful ‘Close the Gap’ fundraising campaign, conducted a community survey, implemented Sunday hours, email notifications, and a complete technology upgrade and overhaul, developed a 5-year Strategic Plan and a 3-year Capital Plan and, most significantly, engaged an architect to examine the feasibility of a long overdue building improvement and expansion project.

But, perhaps most significantly, some things have remained constant – a strong focus on personal and intimate customer service, managing to maintain traditional library services while providing and keeping apace with new and emerging technologies, a commitment serve the varied needs of community of Fanwood, being a champion for literacy for residents of all ages, maintaining free and equal access to information and technology for all users, and positioning ourselves as a vital community resource that all Fanwoodians can take pride in.

Needless to say, I’ve been through many significant personal changes and events over the years, but another constant for me is Fanwood. This Borough has been a fantastic community to work for, and I’ll now take the occasion of my 18th anniversary here to say Thank You for the support all these years and I look forward to more shared success in the future.