Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Language Learning

Language is everywhere! Montgomery County is such a diverse area, and I was curious to know just how many languages were spoken here. So I had a quick look at the Montgomery County Public Schools site to see how many languages were spoken by their students. Did you know they have enrolled students from more than 157 countries speaking 138 languages? Wow! Learning a language is such a fun way to make new connections to people and cultures as well as a great way to get ahead in your career. MCPL is here to help!

For online learning have a look at the over 70 languages available through Mango Languages. It also includes English courses for speakers of about 20 languages. It emphasizes conversational skills. If you want to keep track of your progress you should set up a username and password in Mango. Mango Languages offers free apps for Apple and Android devices. To use the app, first log in to the Mango website with your library card number and create your Mango account. Then download the app to your device. On the whimsical side, be sure to try their Pirate language lessons!

Muzzy Online
Muzzy Online
Looking for online language learning for kids? Try Muzzy Online for its fun, interactive language learning games and vocabulary lessons. Don't forget to watch some Muzzy movies that help kids learn as well.

We also offer audiobooks and e-books to learn on the go. The Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium (Overdrive) has both e-books and audiobooks to help you learn many languages. OneClickDigital has a variety of the popular Pimsleur Language Learning audiobooks. A good place to find French and Spanish e-books for kids is TumbleBooks.

If you are interested in learning sign language MCPL has many great offerings. We have Beginner Sign Language classes that adults and teens can register for at Germantown. For adults we also have engaging book discussions in American Sign Language. For babies some sign language is included as part of our Born to Read storytimes at Bethesda. All ages can enjoy the event Flying Fingers of Fall that will teaching seasonal sign language words at Little Falls.  If you are looking for individual study we have many books and DVDs that teach or are about sign language. You can find more resources about sign language on our Deaf and Hard of Hearing webpage.

Looking for print books? Since 1986, MCPL has purchased adult and children's books and periodicals in certain world languages to serve the county's diverse population. Today we have books in our World Languages collection in eight languages: Amharic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

English Conversation Club at Olney
English Conversation Club at Olney
Speaking a new language is a great way to learn and you can do that at our Conversation Clubs. They are a friendly, comfortable place in which to practice speaking. We offer Conversation Clubs in English, French, and Spanish. Want to practice speaking by reading and discussing books? Come and enjoy our book discussions in Chinese, French, and Spanish.

Amharic storytime at Silver Spring
Amharic Storytime at Silver Spring
We also have some other engaging and educational resources that kids will enjoy. Looking for events? Try our fun and educational bilingual storytimes. We offer bilingual storytimes in Amharic, French, and Spanish. Language learning DVDs can be checked out to learn Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish. Kids' dictionaries in several languages such as ChineseFrench, and Spanish can be checked out as well.

There's something for everyone at MCPL! Enjoy learning a new language today!


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Moving With Children

Moving Day book cover

This summer’s animated movie Inside Out was a big hit with children and their parents. The story of Riley, an 11-year-old girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco when her father gets a new job, was called “an animated therapy session” by Jason Fraley, film reviewer for WTOP. The filmmakers’ brilliantly original idea was to personify Riley’s emotions. Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust, and Sadness are all characters who live in Headquarters, the control center of Riley’s mind. Her emotions battle it out as she adjusts to all the challenges of moving house and starting over in a new city and a new school. My grandsons enjoyed the movie and perhaps it helped them because they too moved house this summer. They didn’t go as far away as Riley, but for children the adjustments involved can’t really be measured in miles. And parents, however thorough the planning, must be prepared to embrace a certain amount of chaos. “I know I packed the diapers where we couldn’t fail to find them!” and “Did we forget the cats?”

For any parents planning a move in the near future, here are some library books to share with your children.

Picture books for the very young:                        
Ian is Moving Cover

For older children:

Of course there is plenty of advice on the web, but beware of sites that just want to steer you to a particular moving company. Here are some helpful articles from trusted sources:

I like where I am cover
Helping with my family’s move this summer I was reminded of my own move when my children were preteens. On day one, while the house was still a chaotic jumble of boxes and bags, I went into my daughter’s room to see how she was doing. The room looked as though she had already lived in it for years! Everything was unpacked and put away and on her bed sat a neat row of stuffed animals, looking quite at home. This summer the boy who looks most like her did the same thing, stuffed animals all in a cozy row on his bed practically before the moving truck pulled out of the driveway.

Not all children will react the same way to a move and some may present parents and grandparents with completely unexpected emotions. At one point my eldest grandson sobbed floods of tears. He explained that he was crying because it was so sad that the baby of the family wouldn’t be able to remember his first house. Of course the baby was blissfully unaware of the drama of it all.

The best advice I can give is to let the children do some of their own packing and carrying, like the children on these book covers. It warmed the heart of this librarian to see the boys eagerly packing their favorite books along with all those stuffed animals.

Now the move is behind us and adjustment to new schools has begun. Before long it will be time to tackle the most important question after a move: where to put the Christmas tree in the new house!

Rita T.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Truth about Cats and Dogs—and other animal companions

Me and Ivan.
Photo: Ken C.
My parents visited us a couple of weeks ago. They have never had an indoor pet, and were fascinated by our Russian Blue cat, Ivan. Clearly, though, we were spending too much time talking with each other and too little playing with Ivan, so he sat on his cat tree with his back to us and his tail flicking in an annoyed manner. I mentioned Ivan’s favorite treat, and brought a can over to show my parents. Once Ivan caught sight of the can, he turned around and watched me, ears flicked forward. “I guess since I brought it out, I better give him some,” I said to my parents. I went into the kitchen where Ivan’s dish is. The second I opened the can, he came running, meowing. My mom remarked on how smart Ivan was. “That’s why we call him ‘Mensa cat’” I replied.

I like to brag about the two handsome German Shepherd dogs, Bowie and Archer, that my brother David and his wife Sarah have rescued. The dogs enjoy a rural life of paddling in the creek, chasing chipmunks (wearing their brightly-colored vests during hunting season so they aren’t mistaken for deer), and playing “tug” with their favorite toy—an old garden hose. One weekend, Bowie was acting strangely. Sarah recognized the symptoms of a dangerous condition called bloat or gastric torsion, sadly common in large, deep-chested dogs such as German Shepherds. They rushed Bowie to the emergency veterinarian hospital, where the staff literally saved Bowie’s life.

Bowie and Archer in their safety vests.
 Photo: David used by permission.
Many of us share our lives with animals we adore—not just dogs or cats but an array of other furry, feathered and scaly friends. Some people are fascinated by snakes, love their beautiful and chatty birds, or enjoy the surprising cuddliness of pet rats. An animal-loving colleague of mine has an allergic spouse, so they share their home with hedgehogs. Fish are permitted in apartments and other places where many pets are not allowed—there are even fishtanks in some of MCPL's children's rooms! We want to understand our animal companions and care for them properly. But how?

Books are one of the first places you might think I’d mention, being a librarian. Two wonderful books for understanding more about how two favorite pets act, and why, are Dog Sense and Cat Sense by animal behavior researcher John Bradshaw. Several library branches carry Catster and Dogster (formerly Cat Fancy and Dog Fancy) which cover general info on those pets as well as features on specific breeds. One of their articles on Russian Blue cats taught me I was using the wrong grooming method for Ivan’s two-level fur coat. If you're a bird lover and want try an e-magazine, you can download Audubon, which often has articles on pet birds, from Zinio.

What if your animal companion is sick, or you have a quick opportunity to adopt a pet you don't know much about? All too often, that happens when you can’t get to the library. If you have an Internet connection, you can get reliable information any time of the day or night from the National Library of Medicine’s pet website. It provides information on symptoms, specific diseases, and particular domestic animals including fish and horses. The ASPCA also has a pet-care website that provides information about numerous species in addition to cats and dogs.

You might want to look for or request one of our newest titles on pets:

Book Cover: The Secret History of Kindness: Learning From How Dogs Learn by Melissa PiersonBook cover: The New Aquarium Handbook by Ines ScheurmannCover image for Guinea pigs : keeping and caring for your pet / Angela Beck.

Enjoy learning more about the nature and proper care of the animal companion of your choice!

Beth C.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Join us for the Library of the Future Summit!

What does your library of the future do?

kensington park summit questions
Feedback station at Kensington Park
That's the question we're asking all month at MCPL. Visit your branch and provide feedback about the services we offer and that you would like to see us offer in the future. You can also join the conversation by using #MCPLFuture to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

On September 22, County Executive Leggett will host an online chat with a special emphasis on Library-related questions. Questions are being accepted now and the online chat will be held from 1 - 2 PM on September 22.

The conversation culminates on September 24 with the County Executive's Library of the Future Summit. We are inviting members of the community to join library staff and Montgomery County Elected Officials, including County Executive Leggett, at the Silver Spring Civic Building or Gaithersburg Library.

Attendees will hear from keynote speaker Susan Benton, President and CEO of the Urban Libraries Council, and Mr. Leggett. The two locations will participate in an interactive question and answer session with Mr. Leggett following the presentations. At Silver Spring, attendees will also participate in afternoon discussion sessions that will provide greater opportunity to share their ideas.

We are inviting all members of the community, from non-library users to library power customers, to participate in this discussion. Registration is required for in-person participation at either site.

Register today!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Faces of MCPL: Kathy Gower

Kathy Gower
Kathy at Twinbrook Library in July
How long you have been with MCPL?

I've been with MCPL since January 1999.  That's over 16 years!

What have you done during your time at MCPL?

My first job was as a part-time Adult Services librarian at the old Silver Spring Library. I was very happy there, but stayed only until August when I went on maternity leave with my third child. When I returned it was to Quince Orchard Library (closer to home) as a part-time Adult and Reference Librarian. I stayed there very happily about 7 years. Then I took a position at the brand new Rockville Memorial Library as a part -time Children's Librarian. I've always loved children's books and interacting with our youngest patrons! I really enjoyed my job at Rockville and stayed approximately 6 years. At that point I was looking for a full-time position to help cover paying for college for our three children. I took a full-time Children's Librarian position at Germantown Library.

What are you doing now?

Now I am back closer to home at Twinbrook Library. I will be working at the new Silver Spring Library temporarily while Twinbrook is closed.

What do you like best about working in libraries?

My favorite thing about being a librarian is being able to help so many people.  It may seem like we do such minor things like finding a book, or answering an informational question, but by actually caring about what the person needs with warmth and a smile, can make a big difference in their life.

What else are you excited about, in addition to libraries?

I am married to a great guy, Patrick, and have three children, ages 22, 21, and 16. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, prayer, reading, knitting, hiking, and walking. The most important things to me are my family, my friends and my faith!

I'm sure you were expecting this last question: What's your favorite read?

I am currently reading The Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells. I am almost finished reading it, and I highly recommend this to boys and girls, from 3rd - 6th grade!

Kathy in conversation with Lennea