Tag Archives: NJSL Presents

Cancer in Families: A Look at Genetic Risks

Cancer can be a silent killer and sometimes, it is often too late when our loved one is diagnosed.  Detecting cancer as early as possible allows for greater flexibility in treatment as well as a greater chance of remission or elimination.  As technology has advanced, genetic testing and treatment may help health professionals detect cancer earlier and create personal, targeted treatment options with greater chances of success.  Please join us as Dorothy Lewis, Genetic Counselor from the Capital Health Cancer Center discusses the important relationship between cancer and genetics.  She will cover what current research is telling us and take you through what genetic counseling and testing is like from the perspective of a participant.


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Career Connections Presents – Volunteering: A Doorway to Employment

Thanks to those who attended Career Connections Presents – Volunteering: A Doorway to Employment!  During the presentation, we discussed how volunteering might be a valuable addition to standard job searching activities.

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to:

  • Expand your social circles and create more networking opportunities
    • These networking opportunities can lead you to potential job openings, within or outside the volunteer organization, and have your supervisor serve as a professional reference
  • Learn new and develop existing skills, such as customer service, project planning, communication, or problem solving
  • Learn more about a specific job or field that you are interested in to determine if you should commit your time to pursuing a new career
  • Add work experience to your resume to demonstrate the necessary skills you will need in a new job or help fill in gaps of employment to show that you are motivated and active

Are you interested in finding a volunteer position and are not sure where to start?  The Governor’s Office on Volunteerism can link you to volunteer agencies who are looking to recruit.  In addition the New Jersey Career Connections website has a listing of volunteer organization websites or search engines designed to help connect you with a great volunteer position.  If you need additional assistance locating a great volunteer position, please contact the New Jersey State Library Reference Department at 609-278-2640 x103.

Career Connections Presents – Volunteering: A Doorway to Employment

If you’re looking for a job, you may think your time would be better spent on job-search activities than volunteering.  However, there are several benefits to volunteering.  Come join us as we delve into how volunteering can have a positive impact on not only your job search, but also developing and enhancing important skills and talents sought after by employers.

The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development has developed a career navigation framework consisting of expert insights and actionable guidance, which follows 3 steps: Plan, Prepare, and Succeed. Volunteering: A Doorway to Employment falls under the ”Prepare” step of this model.


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The History of Timbuctoo, NJ: First African American Enclave Program Recap

In honor of Juneteenth, Guy Weston gave us an insightful look into one of New Jersey’s greatest historical treasures: Timbuctoo.  Guy demonstrated how this community emerged in New Jersey in the 1820’s from the lasting influence of the Quaker’s as well as it’s continued existence throughout the years.  A brief summary of the history of slavery in NJ and Timbuctoo follows, but if you wish to view the entire presentation, you can access the PowerPoint at https://njstatelib.org/assets/HistoryofTimbuctoo.pdf.

New Jersey was the last Northern state to pass a gradual manumission law regarding slavery in 1804, thanks in large part to the Quaker community in the southern counties of the state.  At that time, roughly 82% of African Americans in the southern counties were considered free, while only 15% held that designation in the northern counties.  While some of this can be attributed to the need for skilled indentured laborer in the counties surrounding New York City and the coast, the largest contributing factor was the vast influence of the Quakers in the southern counties, who as a group outlawed slavery in 1776.

It is with the help of the Quakers that Timbuctoo was settled by former slaves and free African Americans in 1826.  Timbuctoo was one of several antebellum free black settlements in New Jersey, which were concentrated in the southern half of the state.  The first mention of Timbuctoo as a settlement was on a deed from 1830 and it continues to exist as an unincorporated community in Westampton Township.

Timbuctoo residents appeared in the Census beginning in 1830 and details such as the names of other household members and places of birth began to appear in 1850 when the census form was revised to include additional details.  In 1886,  roughly 600 individuals were living in Timbuctoo.

While there was support for the town and the status of its people, the people of Timbuctoo were not immune from the societal tensions in the mid-19th century.  The Battle of Pine Swamp, as reported by the newspaper The New Jersey Mirror, occurred in 1860 where a well-known slave catcher, George Alberti, sought to capture an escaped slave named Perry Simmons who was residing in Timbuctoo.  The story demonstrates how George Alberti and his posse of several others were run out of town by an uprising of the residents, determined to protect their own and the freedom for all blacks that their town represented.

There is also a cemetery at Timbuctoo where residents are buried.  The oldest is Eliza Parker, wife of church Trustee and one of the original purchasers of the land, David Parker; she died in 1847.  Additionally, there are also 8 members of the U.S. Colored Troops from the Civil War buried in that cemetery as well.

Timbuctoo is a unique piece of NJ history and an example of African American strength and accomplishment during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history.  If you would like to learn more about Timbuctoo, feel free to visit in person, go to their website https://timbuctoonj.com/, or check out the Timbuctoo Fact Sheet.  If you would like to learn more about slavery and New Jersey, please read Guy Weston’s piece from the Journal of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society entitled New Jersey: A State Divided on Freedom and explore the links on our research guide to African-American History in New Jersey.

June 19 author talk-Experiencing the American Revolution in New Jersey

Please join us on June 19th from noon to 1 p.m. in the Level 2 Reading Room for a talk with William Kidder on Experiencing the American Revolution in New Jersey.

Drawing on his research and editing for the Meet Your Revolutionary Neighbors project of Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area, local historian Larry Kidder tells the stories of a variety of people who experienced the American Revolution. These people come from throughout the state and represent all walks of life and opinions about the Revolution taking place around them. Their stories reveal just how difficult life could be for everyone living in New Jersey that saw more military activity than other states and made so many contributions because of its geographic location in the middle of the thirteen new states.

Mr. Kidder received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, served four years of active duty in the US Navy and is a retired high school history teacher who taught for forty years in both public and private schools. For close to 30 years, he has volunteered at the Howell Living History Farm, in Hopewell, New Jersey and have served as an historian, interpreter, and draft horse teamster.

His interest in history led him to the writing of his first book, The Pleasant Valley School Story: A Story of Education and Community in Rural New Jersey, which won the 2013 Scholarship and Artistry Award presented by the Country School Association of America. His second book, A People Harassed and Exhausted: The Story of a New Jersey Militia Regiment in the American Revolution, published November 2013 tells the story of the First Hunterdon Militia Regiment for the first time. Other books he has written, contributed to, or edited include TEN CRUCIAL DAYS: Washington’s Vision for Victory Unfolds, Crossroads of the Revolution: Trenton 1774-1783, Farming Pleasant Valley: 250 Years of Life in Rural Hopewell Township, New Jersey, The American Revolution in New Jersey: Where the Battlefront Meets the Home Front and Meet Your Revolutionary Neighbors.

Kidder has given a number of talks to a variety of civic groups and organizations. He is active in historical societies in Ewing, Hopewell, and Lawrence townships, and is an avid member of the Association for Living History, Farm, and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM), the Washington’s Crossing Roundtable of the American Revolution, the New Jersey Living History Advisory Council and the Advisory Council for Crossroads of the American Revolution. He works with Crossroads as volunteer coordinator and editor of its Meet Your Revolutionary Neighbors project.

All are welcome to this free talk. Please RSVP to Cindy Warrick at cwarrick@njstatelib.org or 609-278-2640 ext. 172.

History of Timbuctoo, NJ: African American Enclave

Beginning in 1826, Timbuctoo  was settled by formerly enslaved and free African Americans with the assistance of Quakers. African Americans bought land, as well as establishing institutions such as a school, a church, a cemetery, and a benevolent society.  Guy Weston, whose ancestors purchased a parcel in Timbuctoo in 1829, will discuss the fascinating details of researching his family and their participation in this community that was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

Guy Weston is a family historian and cultural heritage specialist. At present, he is a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University, and chairs an advisory committee established by Westampton Township to  advise its governing body on historic preservation issues related to Timbuctoo.

For more information about our Genealogy collection, including links to the research guide, blog, and future events, please visit www.njstatelib.org/genealogy.


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Home Buying Program Recap

Thank you to James Goodman, Home Finance Consultant for the Credit Union of New Jersey, for breaking down the complex process of buying a home.  James highlighted the entire home buying process step by step, including securing a mortgage and what to expect at closing, especially the different fees that will be factored in.  He also went through the entire mortgage process, explaining how to calculate how much you can afford, the documents needed when applying for a mortgage, as well as the timeline for the entire process.  When choosing a mortgage loan, and by extension buying a house, it is important to consider how much money you can afford as a down payment, what are your financial goals and how a home figures into them, and how the closing costs can affect the overall price of the home and how much money is required up front at closing.  Please visit the following links for more information:

Copy of the presentation

CUN’s Mortgage Center

NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Home Buyer Resources

You can contact James Goodman at (908)-860-7120 or jgoodman@mortgagedept.com with any questions or for further information on any part of the home buying process.

Home Buying

Looking to buy your first home or looking to move after many years in your current home?  One of the most stressful parts of buying a home is securing a mortgage.  Please join us as the Credit Union of New Jersey will discuss the ins and outs of the mortgage process, especially how to get started so you waste no time when putting in your offer.  They will also discuss the different types of mortgages, credit scores and their impact on the process, and homeownership coaching.


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Washington Crossing State Park – NJ: A Hidden Gem of Revolutionary War History and Natural Fun

As summer approaches and school lets out, outdoor activities and destinations become popular choices for summer fun.  Located just north of Trenton, Washing Crossing State Park offer’s the public a host of diverse and fun educational and recreational opportunities.  Join us as the Mark Sirak from the Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry will showcase how you can make the most of your visit to the park.  He will discuss the world changing events that qualify the park as a historic and heritage destination, highlights of the history and founding of the park itself, as well as what the park offers to visitors today.  Following the presentation, attendees are welcome to come up and see a selection of artifacts and reproductions from the Swan Historical Foundation’s American Revolution Collection on display at the Visitor Center Museum in the park.

Mark Sirak has worked at Washington Crossing State park – NJ for over 30 years with the last 16 years as a Historian in the Visitor Center Museum.


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Active Listening and Active Inquiry: Effective Supervisory Tools for Managers Program Recap

Thanks to Aaron Chavis, Strategic Advisor from The EmPathic Institute for a powerful and interactive presentation on active listening and active inquiry.

There are common misconceptions about active listening and its role as an effective tool for managers.  First, there is very little validity in the use of active listening; its much easier and just as effective as telling someone what to do and leave it at that.  Second, active listening is not tangible and therefore cannot be demonstrated.  However, as you delve into the reasons behind the use of active listening and inquiry, as well as the practical applications for it, it is easy to see how and why these are myths.

So what is active listening?  According to Skillsyouneed.com, “active listening involves listening with all senses.  As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening – otherwise the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.  Interest can be conveyed to the speaker by using both verbal and non-verbal messages such as maintaining eye contact, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing by saying ‘Yes’ or simply ‘Mmm hmm’ to encourage them to continue. By providing this ‘feedback’ the person speaking will usually feel more at ease and therefore communicate more easily, openly and honestly.”

Active listening and inquiry is used across many fields, including counseling, training, and conflict resolution.  The use of active listening and inquiry can have a significant impact on yourself and others, including:

  • Earning the trust and respect of your peers
  • Understanding issues and formulating better solutions
  • Diffusing conflict
  • Developing better relationships with subordinates and supervisors at all levels
  • Enforcing a mission driven work approach
  • Managing change effectively

Active listening requires practice and a commitment to working with another party to solve problems, which can include job duties, job performance, work environment, or personal issues.  Active listening also requires us to leave behind our preconceptions or biases and work with the other party to find out what are the real issues, as well as potential solutions.  An easy way to demonstrate active listening is to periodically paraphrase or summarize what the other party is saying to ensure that everyone is on the same page and clearly define and understand the issue/issues at stake.  On the flip side, active inquiry requires the manager/supervisor to engage with the other party in terms of asking questions to solicit clear understanding of all topics being discussed and pave a pathway for improving relations, solving problems, or future follow-up.

Active listening is appropriate in the workplace when:

  • Opportunity to bring clarity to an issue
  • Relationships need improvement up, down, or across the organization
  • Teamwork or productivity needs improvement
  • Parties are open to learn from anyone and anything
  • An agreement of intent in the session

Active listening should not be used in the workplace when:

  • You are distracted or unable to pay attention, such as completing another task
  • You have already passed judgement on a person or situation
  • There is a simple answer to a question or something that needs a simple fix
  • You are stacking questions (more than 1) without giving the other party time to process and respond to each one
  • Checklisting – prior set of questions

Active listening and active inquiry is designed to be an open dialogue where both parties have equal footing to discuss ideas openly.   When it comes to active inquiry, there are 6 important questions to ask in order to keep the conversation productive and moving towards some form of closure:

  • What would be the most valuable outcome you can achieve in our session?
  • What are your ideas to find solutions?
  • What are your insights so far?
  • What would you like to discuss now?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What was most valuable for you today?

By taking the time and effort to become invested in the other party’s issues, concerns, or thoughts, and working through those together, positive outcomes or change will be achieved.  For more information on active listening, please download a copy of the presentation at https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Active-Listening-and-Inquiry.pdf.  Also, please review the Supervisor’s Meeting Prep Checklist for Success to ensure you have productive meetings and discussions by preparing your questions and your mindset ahead of time.  For questions, please contact Aaron Chavis at empathicinstituteinfo@gmail.com.

Active Listening and Inquiry for Managers

Dealing with co-workers, especially if you are in a supervisory role, can be challenging.  Communication is key when managing a workplace and active listening and inquiry are important communication tools in every manager’s toolbox.  Aaron Chavis will provide managers and leaders with an introduction into the power and effectiveness of listening and asking high powered questions as a tool to improve supervisory skills, build trust and rapport, and improve employee/manager relations.  Course objectives include:

  • Dispel Myths of Active Listening and Active Inquiry
  • Develop basic listening and inquiry techniques to improve work relationships with employees
  • Create Follow-up Protocol to hold Self and Employees Accountable
  • Provide timely evaluations and improvement tracking to demonstrate growth and effectiveness

Aaron W. Chavis is a Strategic Adviser to nonprofit executives and other social entrepreneurs in the Tri State region.  He assists in the development of people, organizations, and communities by providing strategic solutions to build high performing teams and operations. He has over 18 years’ experience in the nonprofit industry; is an adjunct professor of Sociology; and, is the owner of Empathic Institute.


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Career Connections Presents – Master the Art of Networking Program Recap

As the job market becomes more competitive, the old adage of “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is more relevant now than ever.  Networking is a major factor when it comes to job searching, as well as securing that crucial interview.  Master the Art of Networking, presented by Career Connections, highlighted several tips for building your network and maximizing the impact of those in your network, including:

  • Network can include anyone you come in contact with on a regular basis, including friends, co-workers, social/community groups, service providers (hair stylist, doctor, accountant)
  • Use informal interviews with people in the field or profession you are interested in to gain a better understanding of what is expected from people who work in that field
  • 4 types of network contacts: sources, recommenders, decision makers, and linkers
  • Ensure that your social media profiles are professional and clear of anything that could have a negative impact on your image, such as photos, opinions, and use of language
  • Create an Elevator Pitch that is short and sums up your major goals and competencies in case you have an opportunity to meet new contact for your network or potential hiring managers

For more information on networking, please visit the Master the Art of Networking webpage from Career Connections, available at http://careerconnections.nj.gov/careerconnections/prepare/networking/master_the_art_of_networking_index.shtml.