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Better Googling

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Finding Facts Fast

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Better Ways to Using Libraries

Books are not everything a library does.  Finding information, learning tutoring research tools

The Christian faith is important to my journey and is the spiritual pathway I have chosen.  Please read my book about my stumbles, falls, and times of healing.  

I have been crafting with gourds since age 12 when I was tending the family garden with my father.  Since then I have written a book on gourds and created an ETSY site for all of my gourd creations.

See some of my gourd YouTube videos.


Explore in-depth using these books.

Neighbors Talking About Trump: Analysis of Letters to the Editor in NJ Hills Media Group Newspapers.


An examination and excerpting of key letters among hundreds submitted to the 17 newspapers in this Northern New Jersey area.  All viewpoints and both Republican and Democrat positions are included.  Conclusions are made about the substantiation and reach of both sides.   NEW!


Secrets of Searching

This book will empower the reader with new ways to answer questions and find reliable answers.  Asking Google does not always work or work safely.  As a librarian and researcher for forty years, I have served customers at local libraries, college learning resource centers, and corporate information centers.  This book presents a new approach, one I have distilled over many years, coming from efforts in three spheres: librarian, researcher, and teacher. It incorporates recent research in cognitive science, decision-making theory, learning concepts, and information seeking.  Once you successfully go through its lessons, you will see how it makes sense, and you will be able to use it whenever you need answers. 

A Searching Faith: Engaging Questions, Powerful Answers

My intent is an all-in-one guide for the new faith seeker and a useful set of workshop or class ideas for the teacher.  I believe in faith as an essential ingredient for a meaningful and fruitful life.  I am very glad you might open this book – you have just proved that you, like me, care about spiritual matters and are ready for adventures. My hope is that you read, ponder, and decide to become a seeker in all matters of faith. 


A Librarian Revealed

The author, born into a librarian family, takes a journey through the wilds of library land and finds adventure, challenge, and innovation.  Coursing through public, academic, and corporate institutions, he meets unique people and circumstances along the way.  Mark Thompson, NJ resident, describes the symbiosis of work life and personal life that details what life as a librarian means.  He also reveals the perspectives and skills he has acquired through his forty years as a librarian that allowed him to strive and live in every environment.  Read this book of discovery, practical advice, and thought-provoking wisdoms.


ABCs of a Happy Life

Mr. Thompson also has a newly edited book, The ABCs of a Happy Life, as a labor of love.  A good friend who is a retired counselor, Joseph Rampulla, completed it just prior to a devastating spinal cord injury.  It was quickly published back in 2016 but is now fully revised and published again.  Mr. Rampulla is now doing better, but still handicapped and living in at long-term care facility, Brightview Warren NJ.


I Need to Know

Many a time in life we need to know yet stumble in doing so.  Mark S. Thompson has 40 years of experience as a librarian spanning many arenas: corporate (AT&T; Hoffmann LaRoche; Dow Jones & Co.), academic (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.; Bergen Community College), and public (Morristown Public Library).  He also started his own information research firm (Knowledge Resources). His talents were also exercised as a professional French horn player; Bible study teacher; and gourd artist.

America's Most Amazing, Amusing Vegetable: The Bottle Gourd.  New April 2022.  

From ancient gourds to today's crafting, this book talks about the versatile Lagenaria siceraria or bottle gourd and its history and uses.  The gourd is the world's oldest domesticated plant, coming as early as 8,000 BC to North America, it both the United States and Mexico.  The gourd is now known to have floated over from Africa and domesticated here by Native Americans.  Gourd remains and seeds have been found at numerous archaeological sites around the country including Windover, Phillips Spring, Riverton, Poverty Point, and Gast Spring.  Find out all you can know about the gourd's impact on food, art, music, Native American history, and literature.  

HISTORY OF GOURDS (from my book above).  Gourds originate from Africa not Asia!

Until recently the origin of bottle gourds in North America was a mystery.  There were differing hypotheses about when they appeared and where they came from.  In 2005, research came from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluding that bottle gourds in the Americas were closer genetically to Asian varieties, so ancient peoples who migrated across the Bering land bridge more than 10,000 years ago must have taken gourd seeds with them. However, the theory was not perfect.  One trouble was that the theory meant a plant that had thrived in tropical climates had to have been cultivated in colder North American lands.  


However, in 2014 research coming from NAS again, but using new, highly sophisticated genetic testing methods, found a more definitive answer.  This time it clearly showed African origins for the gourd.  “The technology has come an incredibly long way since the 2005 study, so now we can look at this question in a lot more detail,” said the lead scientist of the study at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Logan Kistler. 


The origin issue was settled by recreating the plant’s family tree; the researchers isolated DNA taken from modern bottle gourds around the world and ancient ones found at nine archaeological sites throughout the Americas.  The pre-Columbian artifacts from the New World, they found, were linked directly to African relatives.  They concluded gourds must have floated to the Americas on their own but were then modified by indigenous peoples in the New World. Popular press notices of Kistler and Smith’s work abound.  One example – Watson, Traci.  How the Humble Bottle Gourd Got to the New World.  USA Today, February 10, 2014.   


Several important insights were gained from this work on the question of gourd origin.  In fact, given the age and evolution of genetic material, both Genus Cucurbita and Lagenaria, are now considered some of the oldest domesticated plants in the world. 


To double-check the conclusion that gourds floated across the Atlantic Ocean, the team created a computer model of Atlantic Ocean currents. Next, the team ran computer models showing what happens to gourds bobbing in the sea off Africa. A good number made it to South America after less than a year, a voyage short enough for the gourd seeds to still sprout after making landfall.   “The gourd,” Dr. Logan Kistler said, remains "enigmatic."  "It's so widespread so early on, and it's used so cross-culturally.”  "We have much more to learn about this species."


The source scientific study is: Kistler, Logan; Smith, Bruce D; et al. Transoceanic drift and the domestication of African bottle gourds in the Americas.  Department of Anthropology and Institutes of Energy and the Environment, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  February 25, 2014.  



Mark Thompson bergen union middlesex county colleges librarian autobiography


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Mark S. Thompson has 40 years of experience as a librarian spanning many arenas: corporate (Hoffmann LaRoche; Dow Jones & Co.), academic (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ.; Bergen Community College), and public (Morristown Public Library).  He also founded his own information research firm (Knowledge Resources).  In addition, he had jobs in the Bell System, specifically in AT&T, Bellcore, and Bell Labs.  Acquiring his library degree in 1978, he witnessed vast changes in the tools, resources, and methods that librarians used.  He also has many years of experience as a french horn player that he did as an avocation.  His performing career spanned NJ, PA, OH, and NY.  His teachers have been Joseph Singer, New York Philharmonic and Forrest Standley, Pittsburgh Symphony.

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