Tag Archives: documentary

HPL Staff Gives Thanks

25 Nov

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I asked my colleagues at the Hoboken Public Library what books or TV shows or digital media they were thankful to find this year. Following are their favorites, which are available at the library or through interlibrary loan.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

-Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian



Photo by Shannon Campbell

Shannon Campbell, Children’s Librarian
After 19 years of education, with an astronomical amount of papers, projects, and presentations, I finally graduated this year in May. I spent the entire summer knowing that in the upcoming fall, I had no professor or class to report to, no looming deadline hanging over my head for a paper or project. It felt freeing, and absolutely scary. I didn’t have the next step all laid out like I had for the previous 19 years. I looked to everyone and everything for advice and comfort, and found it in the book Graduates in Wonderland: True Dispatches from Down the Rabbit Hole, by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale. The story is constructed through a series of emails the girls send to each other the years following graduation. They talk about their successes, failures, fears, goals, dreams, people and places they have fallen in love with, and people and places they fell out of love with. It very much expressed the mindset I was in at the time. The cherry on top of the cake was my friends and I had sent the book to each other with notes in the margins reflecting our feelings on any of the topics as we read through it. It was very much like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but book-club style! Not only did I have the authors to look to for comfort, but I also had my friends through their words. That particular copy had been to NYC, Shanghai, California, and of course, Hoboken. To sum up what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving: my supportive friends, my education, and the authors of this book that perfectly express the scary (and amazing) journey of entering into adulthood.
Carolyn Hartwick, Account Clerk
I am grateful for a June 24 Staff Picks – British Edition post by Clay Waters.  One of his recommendations was for the British television series Life on Mars starring the delightful John Simm.  At the time I was a bit lost with no Sherlock, Doctor Who, or Walking Dead to catch up on so I binge-watched the 16 episodes in early July and then hummed David Bowie tunes to myself for the rest of the summer.  It was a great show, delivered quickly though BCCLS interlibrary loan, and something I am glad didn’t pass me by thanks to the Hoboken Library Staff Picks blog!
Heidi Schwab, Emerging Technology Librarian and Program Coordinator
What I took away from the award-winning documentary The Wolfpack is that even though the brothers, their mother and sister were living in a very bad situation, there is such a sweetness and kindness to them. It is amazing how they protected their mother and were sympathetic to their mentally-ill father who kept them locked up.  After growing up basically prisoners they retained their innocence and positive look at the world. This is a perfect Thanksgiving movie because we learn that even people who grow up in terrible circumstances can grow up to be positive and relatively happy in a way.
Kim Iacucci, Young Adult Librarian

This year I am thankful that I read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I read and enjoy a lot of books every year but there are very few that live up to the phrase “page turner.” This book is so surprising that the minute I finished I wanted to start over from the beginning to see how the pieces fit together. It’s not an easy read. There’s war, torture and loss. But also friendship, love and hope. Highly recommended.




Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

I’m thankful that we will be offering some great new services next month to our patrons: JobNow and HelpNow from Brainfuse.  Help Now provides students with online homework help from qualified tutors between 2 PM and 11 PM.  There are also always available video tutorials and practice tests for exams like the GED and SAT.  There is assistance for adults with skill building and who may need help with essays, business letters, or other writing.  JobNow provides assistance for job seekers with their resumes, interview coaching and more.  Check them out starting in December!




Rosary Van Ingen, Adult Circulation Services Department Head

My pick for the #gratitude post is The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. This novel, set in post-WWI Europe, celebrates love, friendship and family. This book never fails to remind me of the beauty and power of friendship.




Sharlene Edwards, Senior Children’s Librarian

I am so happy to have recently picked up The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. When it was published last year, I put it on my mental to-read list and continued on my adult fiction kick.  My to-read list is predictably long and unrealistic, and I would have most certainly forgotten about Auxier’s juvenile fantasy novel if I hadn’t spied HPL’s Young Adult Librarian hurriedly reading the last ten pages before starting her work day.  I brought it with me on my train ride home that night, and, by the end of page one, I knew I was going to fall completely in love with Auxier’s creepy Victorian tale about two young orphans who find themselves desperate for food and shelter at the door of an infamously strange house in the woods. Quickly the children learn that there are sinister forces at work in their new residence. The occupants, an unhappy family who is burdened by a mysterious illness, are under the dark thrall of a wishing tree. After finding myself in a bit of a reading slump, Auxier’s beautifully written novel reminded me of the power of artful storytelling.

MSCR blog 11.15

Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

This year I am thankful to have founded, with Rosary, the Mile Square City Readers book club. We have a wonderful, opinionated group that brings fresh perspectives and interesting insights to the books we read. I have tried to start a few book clubs in the past that didn’t last too long, and I’m excited to have this great club to talk books with once a month.

I Am … Suggesting That You Check Out These Two Documentaries

4 Nov

Recently I watched two documentaries that included “I Am” in the titles. These simple titles belied the complex subjects of the films.

I Am Chris Farley


“See that building?” [Points] “That’s where Chris Farley died.”


That was a conversation between me and the Go Airport Express shuttle driver/de facto tour guide en route to O’Hare on a cold, winter’s morning in Chicago. OK, calling that a conversation might be a stretch. I had been up since 4:30 AM and was neither awake nor caffeinated enough for small talk.

But sadly it is true that Chris Farley left this world too soon in 1997. The documentary I Am Chris Farley starts with his siblings discussing growing up with Chris. Next is his rise as a comedian at Chicago’s famed Second City Theatre, his joining Saturday Night Live in New York City, and making name for himself in Hollywood with movies like Black Sheep and Tommy Boy.

There are lots of fun facts in this film. One of Chris’s most famous characters, Motivational Speaker Matt Foley whose catchphrase was “You’ll be livin’ in a VAN, down by the RIVER!”, was named after Chris’s college rugby teammate. The real Matt Foley is now a priest and makes an appearance in the film. My favorite Chris Farley sketch is his awkward interview with Paul McCartney, because who wouldn’t be absolutely starstruck in Sir Paul’s presence?

What is most profound about the documentary is that through the interviews with Chris’s family, friends, and SNL castmates (such as David Spade, Mike Meyers, Chris Rock, and Jon Lovitz) you can see how deeply loved he was by those around him.

If you loved Chris Farley, too, then this documentary is a must-watch.

I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story


Like most kids growing up in the 1980s, Jim Henson’s creations entertained me. Although Fraggle Rock was my favorite of the Henson canon back then, I found this documentary, I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, about the man who plays Big Bird, fascinating.

Sidebar: Is there anyone else out there who, as a kid, thought Big Bird was a girl? I did when I was young, for some reason, until learning that Big Bird is a boy. But I did know this fact well before seeing the film!

Caroll developed an interest in puppeteering as a child, creating and performing with his own puppets. Jim Henson and Caroll started collaborating when Caroll joined Sesame Street in 1969. He has been playing Big Bird since then, among other characters like Oscar the Grouch. Jim and Caroll had a close relationship, and Caroll recounted in the film his grief after Jim died suddenly in 1990.

I learned after watching this documentary that Big Bird was scheduled to join the ill-fated Challenger mission in 1986. Since it would have been difficult to operate the Big Bird puppet without gravity, Caroll’s spot was ultimately given to teacher Christa McAuliffe.

Anyone that grew up watching Sesame Street will enjoy this film. You will also learn that Caroll Spinney is an accomplished artist and musician, in addition to his talents as a puppeteer. He has certainly brought many children around the world joy as Big Bird.

I like to end my blog posts with connections between the materials I suggest. Does anyone remember when Big Bird appeared on Saturday Night Live in 2012 after Mitt Romney mentioned him in the presidential debate? Click here for the video.

-Written by Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

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