Happy New Year!

Have you noticed how TV commercials change in the beginning of January? “Join our gym!” “Try our weight loss program!” “Buy a new car!”  It’s all very loud and they’re just after your money.

Your library is every bit as eager to help you start the year off right—but we’re much quieter and more dignified.  And there’s no money involved--we are the South Plainfield Free Public Library (as long as you return your materials on time).

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You want to be the best possible you, and we want to help you reach your goals.  Ready to learn new skills? Start at the library, where you will find print, audio-visual and electronic resources for learning a new language, developing a new hobby, cooking more healthfully or honing your computer skills.

We offer human assets as well.  The librarians are happy to offer individualized training on using Word, Powerpoint, Excel, setting up an email account, and even Internet basics. We can also help you learn to use that new tablet or e-reader.  Call or stop by the library and sign up for an appointment with a member of the Reference staff.  Sessions last 45 to 60 minutes and appointments are available whenever the library is open.

If you would like to learn a craft, check out the extensive selection of books on our shelves and offered through our e-book sites, eLibraryNJ and Freading. If you prefer a teacher, there are crochet classes every other Saturday at 10:00 AM; this month they are scheduled for January 7 and 21. When you register, you will learn what materials to bring.

Crafts for tweens this month include a fabulous 3D snowflake project using only ordinary paper and some simple math concepts. The workshop for ages 9 and up will be on January 10th at 3:30 PM. If you’re 10 years old or older and would like to create some awesome Minecraft art, come on January 18th at 3:30 PM.

If you have resolved to be calmer and more mindful, consider the meditation programs we are offering. Learn to reduce stress and anxiety with 'Tong-Gong Healing Art of Moving Meditation.' Tong-Gong is based on Oriental medicine, and has been developed as a method for aiding in the alleviation of illness and strengthening the body. The exercises lead to balance of mind, body, and spirit. Presented by Zen monk Ven. Myong-Ahn of the Soshimsa Zen Center. This program is on Thursday, January 12th at 6:30 PM and will be repeated on Saturday, January 28th at 1:00 PM. Please sign up for one session only -- the same program will be presented on both dates.

We are also offering meditation classes for children ages 7 to 12 on Thursdays from 7:00 to 7:30 PM. Each month we will explore various themes through which to practice mindfulness and meditation. This month’s theme is Art. The classes are led by Ms. Aimee, a mother with a warm summer breeze for a spirit who is also a volunteer at the  Soshimsa Zen Center.

Storytimes have resumed their regular schedule.  We are adding a new one to the list: Chinese language stories for ages 2-6. It will be the third Tuesday of each month at 3:30 PM, starting January 17th. This session will be held primarily in Mandarin, but children who have had no exposure to Chinese are encouraged to attend. Ms. Kitty and Ms. Suzy will give a short explanation of each song and story in English as they are presented.

Another notable program this month you won’t want to miss: local author Richard Valvano will be at the library to discuss his book, The Black Conservative: An American Hero on Saturday, January 14th at 1:30 PM. The protagonist of this fictional political thriller was inspired by South Plainfield Councilman Derryk White, who will also be on hand to share his thoughts on the role he played in bringing this story to life. A short question & answer period will follow the presentation, and copies of the book will be available for sale and signing. Registration is not required.

There is so much more going on at your library: movies, clubs, new books. I can’t include it all here—come by and pick up a calendar, or visit our website. We love to see our community and we love your questions! Let’s have a wonderful year together.