Monmouth County Library plans Edison program to launch Invention series

From phonographs to transistors, from drive-in movies to Bubble Wrap, New Jersey has always been at the forefront of invention.

On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Monmouth County Library will kickoff a month-long celebration of NJ: The State of Invention as part of the Librarys continuing initiative to promote science literacy. The series begins with a tribute to one of the most prolific inventors in the world, Thomas Alva Edison.

Before there were computers and MP3 players, there was Edison, who helped usher in the modern age as he invented the phonograph, perfected the electric light bulb, and started the first motion picture studio in his West Orange, N.J. laboratory. Find out more about this prolific genius at "Illuminating Edison," a special free program from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan.

Hear one of the foremost Edison scholars in the nation speak. Immerse yourself in the music of the time as the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra plays songs of Edisons times. Enjoy living historians who will portray Edison, Albert Einstein and the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse. Create your own art using Legos, or bring your own Lego inventions to be displayed.

On behalf of the Monmouth County Library Commission and the Monmouth County Library, I invite you to New Jersey: The State of Invention a fun-filled, jam-packed information family day to give an historical perspective and educational impact on ideas that have shaped todays world and to showcase how ingenuity and creativity can harness the passion to bring forth ideas to shape the world of tomorrow, said Renee B. Swartz, chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission.

We welcome the residents of Monmouth County to the Librarys inspired series recognizing New Jersey as The State of Invention, said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Library. Thomas Edison was without doubt one of the top creative geniuses of the millennium, and most of his pioneering work took place right here in New Jersey. This is a wonderful chance for residents of all ages to learn more about this great inventor.

The Library is honored to present at Illuminating Edison keynote speaker Dr. Paul Israel, Director of the Edison Papers Project at Rutgers University. Israel, one of the nations foremost authorities on Edison, is the author of three books and has appeared on television shows such as the History Channels Modern Marvels to speak about Edison.

The Thomas A. Edison Papers Project is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by an American university: editing and organizing more than 5 million pages of documents that chronicle Edisons extraordinary life and achievements. Since the massive project began in 1978, a team of editors/scholars has been turning this incomparable trove of Edisonia into a premier educational resource.

The Edison Papers is co-sponsored by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, the National Park Service, the New Jersey Historical Commission, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Other events featured at Illuminating Edison:

 Broadway performer Patrick Garner will portray Thomas Edison and present a hands-on interactive program that will delight all ages.

 Rick Benjamin and the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra will play the music of Edisons times. Benjamin, an Edison aficionado and scholar, will speak on Edisons love of music and the role it played in some of his inventions.

 Living historians portraying Albert Einstein and Samuel Morse will be on hand for photos and conversation with attendees. (The young Edison spent time as a telegraph operator).

 Kids of all ages will have a chance to bring in their Lego inventions to be displayed and judged by their peers.

But the "Illuminating Edison" program is just the beginning!

The Sept. 25 event will be followed by a month-long series of entertaining and educational programs on NJ: The State of Invention designed for all ages.

On Saturday, October 1, teens can learn how to build a rollercoaster and how to make their creative inventions a reality at Eureka!, an all day Teen Invention Workshop at Library Headquarters in Manalapan.

For families and children, the Childrens Department will host a Family Fun Invention Fair on Saturday, Oct. 22 at Library Headquarters in Manalapan. Children will have a chance to submit their own inventions at a library-sponsored competition; the final judging and awards ceremony will be held at the fair.

Invention-themed events in all 13 Monmouth County Library Branches in October will include programs on such diverse topics as a discussion by Kathy Kleinman on the groundbreaking women programmers of the first computer, the ENIAC Project, at the Eastern Branch Library in Shrewsbury, and a lecture on inventions that have helped the New Jersey cranberry industry at Ocean Township Library.

For the full schedule of events, check with your local Monmouth County library branch, or click on the Library webpage at for information on other invention-themed programming in October.

Join us at the Monmouth County Library as we celebrate the creativity of New Jersey inventors and inventions!