Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Every Hero's Story

Summer Reading is in full swing here. Registration for our Every Hero Has a Story (ages birth–12 years) and Unmasked (ages 13–17 years) opened on June 1.

As of this writing, 13,256 children and teens have completed the online registration through our Beanstack portal. These children and teens (plus the approximately 1,400 adults who have created profiles) have logged an amazing 48,450 books read. The children and teens have earned 29,057 badges for their reading, earning incentives like water bottles, as well as stickers for their booklets (English and Spanish language booklets available in all branches while supplies last).

One of the reasons summer reading is special is that it is open to all kinds of reading. Research suggests that allowing kids to select their reading material, encourages reading for fun and helps prevent “summer slide,” which can leave children unprepared for the next year of school. Our program encourages just that: kids can log any book read, whether they read it by themselves, listened to it read by a parent, or read it aloud to a younger sibling, or a Grandreader, or a dog.

Have a hard time finding anything your kid wants to read? Our staff can help, as can our summer reading software. Connected to the Zoobean summer reading software, the summer reading portal can send you a weekly reading recommendation based on your child’s reading level and interest and selected from our collection. These recommendations will continue after the summer reading program ends on August 31 for year round reading fun. Of course, you can also talk to our staff in any branch who will help you find the right books for your child, from picture books to chapter books to graphic novels.

Of course, we can’t talk about Summer Reading without talking about programs! This summer children across the County have enjoyed visits from horses to hedgehogs, from goats to penguins, from music to magic to science, so there has been a little bit (or maybe a lot!) of everything. Teens can participate in financial literacy programs, teen writing clubs, game clubs, and movie nights.

… And we’re not done yet! Registration for Summer Reading remains open through August 9. Registered participants can log books read (and earn badges) through August 31, and programs will also continue throughout the month of August. Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Do you ever have trouble finding someone to discuss your favorite book with? Are your friends and family members tired of hearing you suggest your current favorite book to everyone you meet? Do you just have trouble finding other readers who are as excited to talk books as you are?

Full disclosure: I tend to do this, when I have a new favorite book. My husband is getting really tired of hearing me recommend Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Lunar Chronicles to everyone I meet—even downloading the audiobook of The Lightning Thief to his phone. (But… if you like fantasy, you really should give them a try. Watch this YouTube video of one of our teen librarians recommending Cinder.)

At MCPL, we completely understand these experiences. That’s why we’re hosting Meetup—Readup—Speakup, a special event for book lovers in their 20s and 30s. The event, which will be held at Rockville Memorial Library, starts at 7 PM on Saturday, July 18. At this event, you can meet other readers who love the same genres, exchange book recommendations and favorite authors, and discuss and debate every plot discrepancy between the Song of Ice and Fire books and the Game of Thrones TV show. (Hey, anyone want to guess when the next book will finally come out?) With luck, you’ll come away with a list of great “next reads”—and maybe a few new people to exchange book recommendations with!

chair with books
Expand your to-read list
by attending our event!
This event is completely free, and no registration is required. Coffee and snacks will be served. The event runs from 7-8:30 PM. Rockville Memorial Library, which is located in the Rockville Town Square, has extended Friday and Saturday hours from 9 AM to 9 PM all summer long. Check our website for more great events, or just stop by for a book or quiet spot to read.

To request sign language interpretation or other deaf/hard of hearing services for this or other library-sponsored programs, email, preferably at least three business days before the event. To request other accommodations for this program, or for more program information, contact the Rockville Memorial Library Information Desk at 240-777-0140.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

In The City of Dreaming Spires or A Librarian in Oxford

tolkein's grave
After decades of longing, I finally took my dream vacation to England in May. Naturally I was eager to experience London, the countryside, and ancient ruins, but one of my “must-see” places was Oxford, “the city of dreaming spires.” I’d been a fan of authors (and Oxford professors) J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (“Lewis Carroll”) since my childhood, and was delighted to see the walls and towers of the universities where they taught—and to enter the “quad” of Exeter College, where Tolkien studied philology as a young man. We stayed at a tiny bed-and-breakfast right across the street from the cemetery where Tolkien and his wife Edith are buried. Late on a misty afternoon, we followed small wooden signs to their picturesque plot filled with blooming forget-me-nots and tokens left by fans, including a beautifully hand-stitched White Tree.

organ pipes
Our too-brief visit included a tour featuring William Morris and the other pre-Raphaelite artists of the mid-19th century. Rain was expected and I’d lost my umbrella the day before, but I found a compact, charmingly flowered and ruffled umbrella at the original Oxfam charity shop for just a few pounds. Fortunately we experienced only a few scattered rain showers. Students were studying hard—it was examination week-- so we could not enter the interior of the Student Union to see some of the earliest Pre-Raphaelite art. However, we were privileged to enter Rhodes House, which contains one of my favorite parts of the tour, one of the Romance of the Rose tapestries designed by Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.   One of the last stops on the tour was Harris Manchester College, founded by the Unitarians so their faith would have a presence at the great university, to see the chapel with stained glass windows and uniquely decorated organ pipes.

spiral staircaseThe tour included discounted admission to a special exhibit, "Great British Drawings," at the Ashmolean Museum (you can still catch that exhibit if you're fortunate enough to be in Oxford before late August). The exhibit held not only had many pre-Raphaelite drawings but also works from medieval times through the end of the 20th century.  The main collections at the Ashmolean included more literally jaw-droppingly-amazing items than I've ever seen in a museum, including the very first archaeological find recognized as valuable—the Alfred Jewel—found in the 1600s.

Simply walking around the city, and taking buses with the locals, was an experience.   I quickly realized why so many of the people I’ve seen on the TV version of Inspector Morse mysteries use bicycles rather than cars—the narrow old streets and throngs of people make driving often as slow as walking.  Many places—such as one of the city’s oldest pubs, right alongside the original city wall—are accessible only through narrow alleys.

nesting mother goose
We finished our time in Oxford in the southern end, near the beautiful spires of Magdalen College, where C.S. Lewis taught, and we walked in the Botanical Gardens, site of the final scene of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series. During our visit, I’d imagined Lyra clambering around the numerous, close-together roofs of her Oxford, and at this final stop my husband and I each took our turn sitting on a quiet bench as she and Will each do in the story.   Then we boarded the bus to leave Oxford, with me already planning a return someday—which I hope will include a detailed exploration of  “Alice in Wonderland” sites.

Beth C.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What Should I Read Next?

books and beach
Have you ever had trouble deciding what you should read next? With so many books out there, it can be hard to narrow down the books that you, or your child, would enjoy reading. They key is finding the right book for you at the moment that you are in the mood to read it. Sometimes, I really want a book that makes me laugh. Other times, I am looking for a book that's so thrilling I have to get through it as fast as possible—because I just have to find out what happens next! And then there aer moments that I just want a cozy spot and a good mystery.

So where can you find books that you or your child will love? At MCPL, of course! We've got great reading suggestions for all ages.

mother reading to children
It's never too early to start reading to your babies but we also have books for older children who are reading on their own—whether they are comfortable readers or beginners. We have booklists on many favorite genres from Adventure to Trains on our Kids' page as well as booklists by grade. Does your child have a favorite book or author? Try NoveList K-8 Plus for reading suggestions based on books or authors that your child has enjoyed.

book at beach
For teens there are a variety of popular "if you like" and topical booklists, on subjects like dystopian worlds and road trips, on our Teensite. Our librarians who love teen books have also compiled some great books to read this summer and beyond for middle and high school students. Be sure to have a look at our Teen Pinterest board, which includes fun videos of MCPL staff talking up their favorite teen titles!

Kids and teens should also sign up for our exciting new Summer Reading program! Log the books kids and teens read all summer long to win incentives, and receive emails suggesting books based on their interests.  Your reading log and email reading suggestions will continue beyond Summer Reading throughout the year!

people reading on devices - what do i check out next
Let's not forget about the adults! Have a look at our engaging reading suggestions on Readers' Cafe. These include our We Recommend and Librarian's Choice selections. You can also find What We're Reading and Good Books for Book Clubs on our Pinterest boards. Want some personalized book suggestions just for you? Fill out our What Do I Check Out Next? form telling us what you like to read. Our expert librarians will email you a list of three to five books we think you'll love! We also have NoveList Plus for adults with reading suggestions based on books or authors you have enjoyed.

And finding more books to read like your favorite titles just got easier!  Search for any book in our catalog and select the title link to find even more enticing reads that are similar to that book.  This new NoveList Select feature in the catalog allows you to quickly and easily search for available copies and place holds on books and authors similar to your favorites.  If you like the "feel" of the book you can select links for more reading suggestions based on pace, tone, and writing style.

Interested in books in languages other than English? We have many exciting titles in our World Languages Collection in Amharic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

parents reading to child on ipad
Looking for a different reading experience? Don't forget that besides books in print we also offer e-books, e-magazines, and audiobooks!

We love to read, and we love sharing our picks and our passion for reading with you! Our librarians are happy to give suggested book titles for you in person at our branches or online. There's something to read for everyone at MCPL, and we're here to find the right book at the right time for you!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Father's Day musings

The author and her father
in a distant past.
Father’s Day was this past Sunday. (In case you missed noticing all the commercials on TV or the sales flyers in your newspaper and mailbox.) I learned some new things about the holiday from the History Channel that amused me. For instance, even though the Mother’s Day holiday had already been established successfully in the early 1900’s there was apparently some resistance to an equal celebratory day for dad because “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal.” Flowers and gifts did not seem very “manly,” even by 1924 when President Coolidge was involved in a Father’s Day observance. As another quote in the article says, men saw the holiday as a “commercial gimmick to sell more products—often paid for by the father himself.” (That part still rings true!) It was 1972 when Father’s Day became an officially recognized holiday…in what could have been a politically motivated move by President Nixon during his re-election campaign.

MCPL has good reading on fathers and fatherhood, some of it sentimental, some of it educational, and some of it humorous. Here are some highlights:

When I First Held You, in which 22 critically acclaimed writers talk about the triumphs, challenges, and transformative experience of fatherhood. Edited by Brian Gresko. Musings on fatherhood that will pluck a variety of heartstrings.
Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon. This popular author and father of four reflects on his own childhood through the lens of being a parent.
Fatherhood: rising to the ultimate challenge by Etan Thomas with Nick Chiles and a foreword by Tony Dungy. Thomas, a former NBA star with a commitment to helping youth and encouraging young men to engage fully in fatherhood as part of the Fatherhood Initiative, gives a heartfelt account of what makes being a father so important.

Like many other grown children, I traveled to my hometown on Sunday to spend time with my dad and my family. My dad and I have developed a Father’s Day tradition over the last several years. We ride motorcycles together through some of my favorite riding territory (winding country roads through orchards and state forest land) to attend a small, folksy, outdoor church service in Caledonia, PA. After the service we head down the road to a local diner for lunch and then back out on the road for more riding. He usually stops at some point to ask me if I want to keep riding or if I’m ready to head home, and unless it is raining or I’m getting sunburn we usually keep going for another hour or so before looping back home. I always enjoy this time with my dad because we do not often spend time together and because I know we’re doing something that makes both of us happy. This year, I broke tradition because of the stormy weather forecast and because I knew I wouldn’t be getting much sleep the night before we rode. (As it turns out, I still wouldn’t have gotten a good night’s sleep but the weather would have been fine.) Even though I went to visit for lunch, it wasn’t the same as getting that special time together out on the bikes.

My dad was my junior prom date
because my date never arrived.
He stayed longer than I did.

Father's Day outing 2014.

Tina R.