Archive for January, 2013

Book Review of Fraternity

January 11th, 2013 No comments

For those of us who came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, it was a decade that marked the beginning of epic shifts that would change our personal lives, our nation and the world. It was a time marked by social change and war that few understood. The counter culture and social revolution gave rise to protest, both violent and peaceful. We marched for racial and social justice. We cried for Bobby, Martin and John. We watched in horror as college students, much like us, were shot down at Kent State. We ended each night in rage over the gruesome images from Vietnam on the 11 o’clock news. As a suburban teenager growing up in a working class neighborhood on Long Island, I sang along to Janis Ian’s Society’s Child with all the heartfelt emotion of my teenage angst and parental defiance.

It’s through the lens of 60’S and 70’S defiance and my past that I read Fraternity. Brady’s crisp, journalistic writing style beautifully tells the story of 5 of the 20 African American men Fr. John Brooks recruited to the College of Holy Cross in the late 1960’s. He believed these young African American men had the potential to succeed if given the opportunity. Fr. Brooks took a personal interest in not only their education, but their personal lives. He “mentored, defended, coached, and befriended them through an often challenging four years of college, pushing them to reach for goals that would sustain them as adults”. Fr. Brooks, who eventually would become a beloved president of the college, was often challenged by his peers, alumni and the community for taking on such a “risk”. The financial risk alone was staggering – as these new recruits were offered full scholarships. It was a pivotal time for the college and things did not always go smoothly. But Fr. Brooks held fast to his ideals and never wavered in his support of these young men.

But what really drew me into this book was the story about the men themselves. Do you remember your first day of college? Scary, right? The first in their families to attend college, these men had the courage to enter a world very different from their own. The College of Holy Cross was, “white, [JESUIT] and all male,” with high academic standards and high expectations. Far from home, out of their own comfort zones, they entered a world that was hardly putting out the welcome mat. They were challenged but not deterred. They formed their bonds, worked hard, and persevered. They blazed a trail that others would follow. And each followed a passion that lead them to make a difference; a difference that continues to this day.

Did they know that their pursuit of a good education and a better life for their families would in effect play a role in changing society? Their time at CHC put them in the spotlight; they were challenged to reach their potential and make a difference. They continue to follow a path that brings light to MLK’s dream that men be judged by their character and not the color of their skin.

Now 40 years later, I am inspired by these brave men. I am awed by their courage and steadfastness. Read the book. It’s not too late to be inspired to make a difference. We still have a lot of work to do.

Tickets are still available for the 15th Annual African American Literary Celebration on Friday, January 18th featuring Fraternity author, Diane Brady and Holy Cross alumni Eddie Jenkins. Purchase your tickets here!

Superstorm Sandy and Social Media

January 10th, 2013 No comments

Superstorm Sandy and the role of social media

Superstorm Sandy presented many challenges, including the dissemination of information to individuals without power and/or internet access. At WLS, we decided to try using social media – Facebook and Twitter – to enhance our ability to share information about access to libraries, weather and traffic conditions, and overall safety issues related to the storm.

Shira Zwebner from Drive Action Digital has been working with WLS to develop our social media efforts and she prepared a report that reviews the impact WLS’s social media efforts had during and after the storm. It’s an interesting and quick read that highlights the growing influence of social media as an information outlet.



Understanding the Fiscal Cliff Tax Deal

January 9th, 2013 No comments


Before the New Year, the White House and the Senate finalized the details of the deal that would help Americans avoid the Fiscal Cliff. The Fiscal Cliff is essentially the sharp decline in the budget deficit that could have occurred beginning in 2013 due to increased taxes and reduced spending as required by previously enacted laws.

There is a lot of misinformation about the Fiscal Cliff tax deal, so we decided to provide you with some of the highlights:

  • Families with incomes above $450,000 a year and individuals above $400,000 will see their tax rates permanently rise to a Clinton-era top rate of 39.6% from 35%. All income below those levels will be permanently taxed at the current Bush-era levels, although tax deductions and credits would start phasing out on incomes as low at $250,000 a year.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax will be permanently patched to avoid raising taxes on the middle-class.
  •  The estate tax will be pegged at 40% for individuals above the $400,000 threshold, with a $5 million exemption, and couple above $450,000 with a $10 million exemption. Those thresholds will be indexed to inflation, as a concession to Republicans and some Democrats in rural areas.
  • A full package of temporary business tax breaks — benefiting everything from R&D and wind energy to race-car track owners — will be extended for another year, as will tax credits for low-income working families.
  • Federal unemployment insurance will be extended for another year, benefitting those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks.

For additional information about how this deal with impact you, please visit these articles by The Washington Post, The Fiscal Times, and MSNBC.




New Years Resolutions from the Library

January 3rd, 2013 No comments

This year, thousands of people received a new tablet, smart phone or eBook reader as their holiday gift.  And, with these new gifts, they’ve been able to download fun apps to keep track of all their New Years Resolutions!

We can help with your New Years Resolutions, especially if one of them is a 2013 reading list! In Westchester, your public libraries have all the E content you need for your new device. Click on to WestchesterLibraries and choose Catalog to search for books that you want to read, or other great digital content such as movies and video games.

The library card is really a gift that keeps on giving, and will definitely keep you on track to accomplishing your year-long goals!