May Day 2021 at the Library

Some years ago, the Madison Rotary adopted the Library for a grounds beautification project and their volunteer work continued in earnest this bright, but chilly May 1st  morning. They were assisted by Friends Tom Bintinger, Tom Haralampoudis, Nancy Adamczyk, Pam Hogan and Kathy Trombacco. Raking piles of leaves, weeding yellow dandelions and spreading mulch kept everyone busy for several hours. Thanks to all who pitched in bring spring looks to the grounds!

Summer 2021 Minicourses will be Online

The Friends of the Madison Public Library are pleased to offer two online minicourses with zoom for Summer 2021. Registration will begin May 10, 2021 at These minicourse are open to the public. Current students will receive an email with a link to register. 

Rock-n-Roll and the Sixties, an online Zoom minicourse by Dr. James Carter, Associate Professor of History, Drew. Wednesday mornings: 10:00 am to 12 pm:  June 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30. 

This course will survey the origin and development of rock and roll music in the United States.  Beginning around the early 20th century, it will explore the cultural, social, political history, manifest in early popular music, from Joe Hill’s songs on behalf of the labor struggles of Gilded Age America, and “Leadbelly’s” twelve-string virtuosity and song writing cataloging the struggles of African Americans in the Jim Crow south, to Woody Guthrie’s twangy rendering of the Depression era “dust bowl” and “Pretty Boy Floyd.” American popular music is both born of and embodied within the complicated fabric of American social, political, and cultural life.  Rock and Roll combined the various popular musical traditions and forms, most famously with the rise to stardom of Elvis Presley, to offer something both new and old for a rapidly expanding and changing audience.  This cultural phenomenon exploded in the 1960s in the U.S. and quickly came to embody and reflect the social, cultural, and political transformations of that era.  This course will focus on these developments and chart how this particular musical culture expanded in form and influence to cut across lines of race, class, and gender (blues, folk, R&B, punk, etc.) to both fascinate and bedevil critics, political leaders, and mothers and fathers everywhere.  

Dr. James Carter, an AssociateProfessor of U.S. History at Drew University, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He specializes in U.S. foreign policy, the U.S. since World War II and the Sixties. His book, Inventing Vietnam, is an analysis of the failed nation building effort undertaken by the U.S. in Vietnam and how that failure led to the war. He has also written on privatization of war and war profiteering, using the invasion of Iraq as a case study.  He has also published many reviews and essays.

His more recent research focuses on the Sixties in the U.S. and specifically the counterculture and advent of rock music culture, with a particular emphasis on the role of the college campus.  His article, “Campus Rock: Rock Music Culture on the College Campus during the Counterculture Sixties, 1967-8,” was published in The Journal of Popular Music Studies. He has signed a contract with Rutgers University Press to publish a book on Rock and Roll in the Sixties.  

During the spring and summer 2019, Carter was awarded two Mellon Grants, and along with three research assistants, created an extensive GIS mapping project of rock music during the late sixties.  For more information:


American Architectural History and Materials: The Stuff of Dreams, an online Zoom minicourse by Janet Foster. Monday afternoons 1:30-3:30:  June 21, 28, skip July 5, July 12, 19 and 26.

To create a piece of architecture, however grand or humble, the dream for the structure has to be realized in materials. Sometimes the availability of certain materials determines the building’s form. In other cases, the “stuff” available for those dreams leads to disaster.

This five-part  course will look at American architecture and its basic materials. There will be a focus on buildings in the Northeast, with highlights from the 18th century into the 21st century.

Lectures will be held via Zoom and will be focused on images.  The two-hour class will include a break and a Q&A period at the end.

I.  June 21, 2021     1:30-3:30 pm “Mud and Rocks”

Adobe is not a traditional building material in New Jersey, but it is in parts of the American southwest. In our wetter climate, earth is formed and fired into bricks, and used in many ways.  Stone also has a long history of use in American architecture, where it can also be viewed as an indicator of building style, age and the social importance of the builder. “Earth” as manipulated by humans is an important and long-lived building material, and forms some of our best-known landmarks around the world.

II.   June 28, 2021 1:30 – 3:30 pm       “Wood”

The most common building material in the Unites States, the material has been used since there were people on the continent. Differences in how the wood is processed, shaped, and used show changing tastes and technologies over time and reflect different practices of European settlement groups. From heavy timbers to balloon framing, and from structural systems, siding, roofing, interior decoration, and flooring, wood has been the most cost-effective and versatile building material ever.

                  July 5, 2021   Independence Day Weekend – no class

III.   July 12, 2021 1:30 – 3:30 pm “Metal”

From hand-worked iron nails to the first steel “I” beams to the sinuous modern roofs of aluminum or copper designed with computer systems, metal has always had an important place in building technology and design. The discovery of metals on the North American continent and the development of ways to process them is part of the story of industrial growth in the United States. Metals have become ubiquitous in modern life, including in our buildings, although it is not always immediately visible.

IV.   July 19, 2021 1:30-3:30 pm “Sand”

Sand – perhaps the most common raw material on earth – is useless as a building material beyond a sandcastle that lasts an afternoon. But when combined with other materials, it forms the basis for glass and concrete, two extremely durable materials that are a critical part of modern architecture. The history of the developing technologies that enable sand to become a strong building material is entwined with the evolution of the material’s use.

V.  July 26, 2021, 1:30-3:30 pm “Synthetics”

The role of man-made materials in plastics and other manufactured building products cannot be underestimated for modern construction.  Synthetic materials including glues, caulking and insulation are at the heart of modern building performance standards that make our structures safer and more comfortable than ever before. The use of manufactured products started in the 19th century and were often developed to imitate natural – and expensive – building materials.   But what do all these mass-produced materials mean for the environment, for building longevity, and for cost-efficiency?  Can we afford to keep using them? Can we afford not to??

Reading suggestion:

The National Park Service’s “Technical Preservation Briefs” cover a wide variety of building materials. While the focus of the series is on the preservation of buildings using these materials, the briefs also include good short histories of the use and manufacturing mileposts in the development of different building components.


Instructor:  Janet W. Foster

Janet W. Foster, an architectural historian, and noted author and lecturer, is a passionate advocate of New Jersey’s history and buildings.  Throughout her career, she studied hundreds of buildings in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania through preparation of National Register nominations, Historic Structures Reports, historic buildings surveys, paint analysis, and other projects at Acroterion, a preservation consulting firm she co-founded in 1983.

In 2002 she became Assistant Director for Urban Planning and Historic Preservation in Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she had studied in the Masters’ Program in the early ‘80s. She was also a founder and teacher in the Drew University Historic Preservation Certificate Program in Madison, active from 1999-2012.

Ms. Foster wrote three books on architecture:  Legacy Through the Lens (Mendham, NJ, 1986); Building by the Book: Pattern-Book Architecture in New Jersey (with co-author Robert Guter, Rutgers University Press, 1992) and Queen Anne Houses: American Victorian Vernacular (Abrams Publishers, 2006).

She remains active in the New Jersey historic preservation community as the Chair of the Madison Historic Preservation Commission, a board member and recent past chairperson of the New Jersey Historic Trust, and as a member of the N.J. State Review Board.

Questions related to this course or information about fabulous buildings are welcome via e-mail:

Welcome to Library Trustee Rachel Kempster Barry!

The Friends of the Madison Public Library (FMPL) are pleased to announce that Library Trustee Rachel Kempster Barry will now serve as the Library Board liaison to the Friends. Pam Hogan, President of the FMPL, says, “Having a closer line of communication between the Library Trustees and Friends will help to ensure our goals and messaging for funding align with the library’s current and future needs.” Hogan added, “Rachel brings experience from the publishing world along with great enthusiasm for our volunteer work.”  

Rachel Kempster Barry has worked in the book publishing industry for more than 20 years as an indie bookseller, an author, a Vice President of marketing and publicity for a publisher (DK/PRH) and a book festival director. 

 “Since moving to Madison over five years ago, I’ve been so impressed with the efforts of the Friends,” says Barry. “From their minicourses to their fundraising work to support the library, they are doing remarkable work that helps everyone in Madison and our neighboring communities.” 

FMPL is a non-profit organization run by a group of volunteers who work to stimulate public interest and community use of the library’s resources and services and provide fundraising support. After expenses, all funds the Friends raise are designated to go to the library to finance materials, services, programs, technology and improvements that are not covered in the regular library budget. 

Virtual Early Spring 2021 Minicourse at Madison Public Library

The nonprofit Friends of the Madison Public Library have organized a virtual minicourse for the Spring 2021 semester, “The Romantic Period (1820-1910)” by Dr. Robert Butts, Founder and Conductor of the Baroque Orchestra of N.J.  This online Zoom minicourse will be held for five weeks beginning Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Registration will start February 16.  The cost is $95 per individual or couple residing at the same residence.  Students may either register by mail or online on our website,  Checks made payable to Friends of the Madison Public Library may be mailed to: Minicourses at Madison Library, P.O. Box 1341, Madison, N.J. 07940.

Sylvia Luber, Coordinator, said that “spring semester minicourses will most likely be the last offered online.  The Friends hope to return to in-person minicourses, to be held in the Chase Room of the library, during the summer in July and August.”    

This virtual non-credit course is intended for the general public with no prerequisites or examinations.  For information, email, or leave a voice message at (929) 450-7940.   Minicourses are organized by the Friends and all proceeds go to the Madison Public Library.  


Local Support Lifts Friends Library Fund Raising Initiative to Exceed Goal

The Friends announce the success of the 2020 Challenge!   We have exceeded our goal of $40,000 thanks to you, our generous donors. This fundraiser was initiated in November 2020 to allow the Friends to continue our yearly contribution to the Madison Public Library at the same level of our past support.  Thanks to your continued generosity, the library will use the funds to provide more extensive program offerings, streaming services, and book collections for children, teens and adults.