Saturday, April 5, 2014

Suburban 1960s New Jersey Remembered Through the Eyes of an Elementary School Student


Todd Klein, an artist who specializes in lettering for comic books, has written a personal history of life in small-town suburban New Jersey in the 1960s, centered on his experiences at Bedminster Township School  in northwestern Somerset County. Klein attended the school from grades 3 through 8 in 1960 through 1965. His blog posts (parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) tell the history of the school, and by extension, the community and his life and relationships with friends, family, fellow students, teachers and school administrators. The Bedminster Township School traditionally has taught students in kindergarten through eighth grade, or K-8; it now also teaches pre-K.

Klein provides a history of the school buildings of Bedminster and surrounding areas that had been built by 1867, through the "new building" which opened in 1959 consolidating three elementary schools in the township. (A student essay from 1962 listed Bedminster’s K-8 population as 278.) The school population later fell then rose again in the 1980s, and in 1993 a new Bedminster Township School opened; it now has about 600 students. Factors in the 1980s growth of Bedminster, Klein writes, included: relaxed zoning laws that allowed massive housing developments and AT&T's expansion into Bedminster. Klein reports on the current status and preservation of various historical schools and other structures in Bedminster. He also provides some background on the development of the area from the 1700s to 2010, including the changes wrought by the 1890 development of a railway line, to the “plowing through” of two interstate highways into Bedminster 90 years later.

Klein chronicles lifelong friendships and the teachers and other personalities who influenced the lives of him and his fellow students. The blog posts touch on Klein’s own intellectual and artistic development, encouraged by the school’s support of a student newspaper and musical and theatrical performances. Along the way he mentions various popular songs and TV shows, and events that would have molded any American student at the time, such as the nascent U.S. space program, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Beatles invasion.

Among the acknowledgments, Klein kindly mentions that he conducted much of his research at the Clarence Dillon Public Library, where I work as a part-time reference librarian.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Claire Ann Douglas Schwarz, 1949-2014

My mother was so strong, so full of joy and love and pride of her family. She cared for everybody she met and even those she had just read about. She left us much too soon. Friends and family are welcome to post memories at http://www.forevermissed.com/claire-ann-schwarz.


Claire Ann (Douglas) Schwarz passed away Wednesday, January 29, 2014, at age 64. Born in Flushing, New York, she grew up in Long Beach, New York, and Brigantine, New Jersey. She lived and raised her family in Brigantine and most recently lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Claire was a graduate of Atlantic Community College and the Harris School of Business, where she earned a medical assistant certificate. Earlier in her career, she worked as a substitute teacher at the elementary and high school levels, and for several casinos as a pit clerk and slot attendant.


Claire was predeceased by her parents, Bernard Douglas and Elizabeth (Stiebel) Douglas. She is survived by her husband, Edward; her son Eric and his spouse Seth Bookey of South Plainfield, New Jersey; her son Frankie of Brigantine; and her friend Joseph McCourt of Atlantic City. She took great pride in her sons, who were the light of her life. She gained joy from caring for her birds, Charlie and Sam.


Claire had an amazing spirit and brought a smile and sense of optimism to all who knew her. She will be terribly missed by her family and friends.


Claire’s Life Celebration was held Tuesday, February 4, 2014, from 10 to 11 am at the Keates-Plum Funeral Home, 3112 Brigantine Ave, Brigantine, with a funeral service following. She is interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Mays Landing, New Jersey.

(The first photo in this post was taken on Christmas 2013. Many more photos are included in Claire's online memorial.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Reasons to Be Thankful

On Thanksgiving 2013, I’m thankful for:

  • The love and support of my partner, Seth J. Bookey.
  • The tools, skill and opportunities that allow Seth and me to nurture and take care of each other.
  • The house that Seth and I share.
  • Our health and well-being.
  • The company of people who believe in me and the impact that we can have on the world.
  • My network of friends and family, whether we talk often or rely on social media and email.
  • Smart, friendly and supportive colleagues in my professional communities.
  • The opportunities to enjoy and create art and to build communities.
  • The chance to live in a diverse society where differences are appreciated and valued.
  • The chance to celebrate the holidays and everyday life with a mixture of faith, humanism, and occasional outlandishness.
  • A significant amount of freedom and safety that much of the world cannot take for granted. 
  • The opportunity to live at a time when we can joyously celebrate light and pause to give thanks, in one rare magical confluence of holidays.

I hope that I demonstrate my gratitude throughout the year.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Primer on US Government Contract Databases Published in Online Searcher


I'm excited to have my first article published in Online Searcher, a magazine for librarians and other information professionals. 

In the article, aptly titled in U.S. Government Contract Databases, Amy Affelt of Compass Lexecon and I write about how to find money from the federal government and what sequestration is likely to mean for funding sources. We focus on both free and subscription databases that businesses, entrepreneurs and the general public (and libraries serving them) can use to research contract awards and analyze the data to make intelligent choices for their businesses and become smarter taxpayers and citizens.

The article appears in the May-June 2013 issue of Online Searcher. An old-fashioned routing slip taped to each new issue makes this magazine required (or at least suggested!) reading for every reference librarian at the library where I work part-time. It may be the same at your library. 

Every issue, the publisher Information Today makes a few articles available for free online. This isn't one of them, so unfortunately I cannot share it widely. Articles from Online Searcher are available from Factiva* and other business and academic journal databases. 

* Disclosure: I work for Dow Jones & Company, which owns Factiva.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Architectural Personality, From the Sears Catalog, in Abundance in Somerville, NJ – With a Tangent to Atlantic City

I’m reading about some lovely Sears Modern homes from the early 20th century in Somerville, New Jersey*, in response to a research request from a patron at Clarence Dillon Public Library. The Milton Modern Home No. C210 (built ca. 1916-1919) is quite a charmer with its nine rooms, built for $1,619. Read about the Miltons in New York City and in New Jersey and Ohio, and in particular, the one at 493 East Main St., Somerville.


These Sears homes certainly have much more personality than some of the bi-level houses that Seth J. Bookey and I looked at before buying our lovely little home in northern Middlesex County. (Friends: Ask for our address.)

The fact that the homes were built in Somerville and there were seven Sears Modern Sales Centers in New Jersey certainly explains the relative abundance of the homes in Somerset County’s seat. I lived in Somerville for 11 years in a garden apartment from the 1940s that had some charm such as nice hardwood floors and high ceilings. However, I never noticed the much more architecturally significant Sears homes. Now it’s worth a drive through town again.

And … amid much questionable or slapdash architecture in my birthplace of Atlantic City, N.J.**, are or were four Sears Marina homes. (There are some other lovely homes in the World's Famous / Favorite Playground, too, in the southern part of the city [the Chelsea/Chelsea Heights areas, for example] and in some Inlet area housing from the 1990s/early 2000s.)

That should be an incentive for Seth and me to visit my family!


* The patron actually is looking for a Sears Modern home, possibly in Craftsman style, in northern Somerset County (Bedminster/Far Hills/Basking Ridge area), so any leads are appreciated.

** Yes, to the surprise of a colleague in New York City, people actually are from Atlantic City.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Eric The Librarian Daily Launches

If you wandered to this blog you may have noticed that I've tweeted lately, but I haven't posted to the blog itself. I'm not yet recommitting to the blog, but I have started a new site via Paper.li called The Eric The Librarian Daily, ideally pointing you to relevant news on library technology and user experience, along with more general news from The New York Times and the photojournalism of Life magazine (which has kept surviving in one form or another since 1936). The content mix will change over time as I refine it.

Also check out my favorited* Paper.li sites, including John DiGilio's The Librariana Daily, which was the first one I followed, and another brand-new site, Ian Clark's The Infoism Daily. [* Yes, "favorited" seems to be an accepted word in this sphere, as opposed to "favored" or just "favorite."]

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Promoting SLA's Business & Finance Division, and Oh Yeah, Me, Too

Kyle Naff, the Webmaster for the Business & Finance Division of SLA*, was kind enough to ask me about my career and my work with the division as Membership Chair. You can read the result of the interview here.

* Special Libraries Association