Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A High School Diploma with Your Library Card

Career Online High School DiplomaBy now most of you are aware of the infinite opportunities for free entertainment, information, and education that come with an MCPL library card.  You probably aren’t surprised to learn that with your library card, you can get unlimited downloads of your favorite magazines on your phone or tablet, periodicals in Spanish, French, or Amharic - or even that your card allows you to register for a free class on, say, the fundamentals of accounting. But what if we told you that your public library card also offers access to an accredited high school diploma. Yes! That’s right. You can earn a high school diploma with your MCPL library card.

As public libraries everywhere take on new roles as agents of transformative social engagement, MCPL is raising the bar as the first library system in Maryland to offer Career Online High School, a nationally accredited, online, career-based high school completion program. This program will support positive change in our community by offering the opportunity of a second chance to the over 60,000 adults in Montgomery County who lack a high school diploma.

Career Online High School ProgramThe courses in this program are designed to reconnect adults to learning with a built-in student support system (students get ongoing guidance from assigned academic coaches) and a curriculum that lets students master skills at their own pace.  Since classes are web-based, students have anytime access to courses, ideal for those busy with jobs and families.

With the launch of Career Online High School, the MCPL community embraces the opportunity to help residents transform their lives and broaden their career and educational horizons.  Learning takes place in our libraries every day through online courses, maker sessions, and various programs for kids, teens, adults, and seniors.  Career Online High School students will experience MCPL’s supportive learning environment, replete with homework help, quiet study rooms, wireless internet access, and desktop computers.  Laptops for loan are available at our Kensington Park, Long Branch, Silver Spring, and Twinbrook branches.

So maybe you or someone you know (a friend, relative, colleague, employee, family member of an employee) left high school early without getting a diploma. MCPL wants to help re-write your stories. We’ll help you pick up where you left off with 3 easy steps: 1) Complete an online self-assessment; 2) Pass a 2 week prerequisite course; and 3) Interview with our enrollment team. After completing these steps, your application will be considered for a seat in the program. It’s that easy!

To better prepare all of our library customers for today’s workforce, we offer a range of programs and courses.  Improve your English by participating in one of our conversation clubs. Register for the Computer Skills for the Workplace course and learn the basics of Microsoft Excel, Outlook, and formatting documents.  Check out the other wonderful courses listed in our Gale course catalog that also come FREE with your MCPL card.

Need to revitalize your career?  Use our career resources - also available en espaƱol - to get tips on job hunting, resumes, cover letters and interviewing. Take the Resume Writing Workshop
to transform your resume into a powerful tool that will get you interviews.  Or write resumes for profit and start and operate your own business.

We’re excited about transforming lives through our Career Online High School program and the other learning and educational programs and opportunities that come FREE with your MCPL library card! Learn more. Visit our new and improved website.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Absolutely, Unequivocally, Embarrassingly, True Confessions of Olney Staff's Pets

The staff of our Olney branch share true tales of their furry friends' mischief and mayhem. This post originally appeared on the Olney branch blog May 12, 2016.

1. I stole Mom’s barbeque chicken wings from the bed when she went to the bathroom.  So yeah, I had the chicken wings for dinner and Mom had celery with ranch dressing.  –Sassy the dog


2. I love gardening with Mom.  In particular, I like to dig holes in various spots in the garden.  Seems to stress Mom out, but I think it adds interest.  –Fred the Dachshund

3. I am a collector.  I maintain my collection under the bed in the guest bedroom.  I like to keep it secret.  Through circumstances I still cannot determine, a viewing of my collection was held by my family.  My socks, pencils, chapsticks, flipflops, and rocks were ooohed and aaahed over.  I was proud.  They were perplexed.  And for reasons I still cannot determine, my collection was confiscated.  I have every intention of starting a new one.  –Chrissie the Basset Hound

4. I love pizza night!  I know when it’s pizza night.  I know the hum of the delivery man’s car, I know the aroma, I know how Mom exchanges green paper for the cardboard box.  I know the pizza man isn’t too bright.  Who exchanges a pizza for green paper?!  Anyhoo, I appreciate Mom ordering extra large to make sure I have my fill of that yummy crust!  –Sunny the Australian Shepherd

5. I’m always hearing about some so-called “Napoleon Complex.”  Something about those of us of short stature being overly aggressive and domineering to compensate.  What brouhaha.  I’m KING and I know it.  Sometimes I have to give a little warning snap, so people don’t get confused about who is in charge (me).  It’s all good. Just don’t cross me.  –Brownie the Chihuahua

6. We hate it when Dad has the nerve to wash his barn coat.  Smells so strange and un-goat like.  Smells something like “mountain breeze.”  EEECCHHH!   What’s a goat to do, but knock Dad down and rub on him until that awful smell has been replaced by good old traditional, classic goat smell.  –Jake and Buster the Goats

Jake and Buster

Despite all of the confessions and indiscretions, the Olney Library Staff members love their pets.  May is National Pet Month.  Olney Library wants to encourage you to come and attend our wonderfully informative and fun pet-centered programs.  A Montgomery County Humane Society volunteer will be with us on May 14 at 1:00 pm to answer all pet questions during “What Owning a Pet Is All About.”  Every Thursday, elementary age children benefit from our “Read To a Dog” program.  And on August 11, 2016, we’ll be welcoming Mario and Bella – two amazing Jack Russell Terriers – who will be performing “Amazing Dog Tricks,” a great family program.

–Carol R.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


To be quite honest, when I first heard the words maker and makerspace, I wasn't really sure what they meant. Now, several years later, I know that, yes indeed, I am a maker (even though I didn’t know it) and you are likely one too. June 17-23, 2016 is the National Week of Making, and we have some creative programs planned for the maker in everyone.

#weekofmakingBefore we highlight our National Week of Making programs, let’s answer the question, who is a maker? A maker is a person, a child or adult, who creates or makes things. Those things can be anything from a painting, a knitted baby blanket, a wood carving, a handmade book, a 3D water bottle, a music video, computer program, and so much more. As you can see, this is a very broad definition, and it covers a wide range of hobbies and interests, from technical to handmade.

What is a makerspace? A makerspace is a place where makers come to create. Makerspaces can be anywhere, but libraries in particular are ideal spots for makerspaces since we are community spaces of knowledge, learning, and creation.

During June 17-23, all of our branches are hosting programs and activities for all ages, whether you are techie or not. Here’s a sampling of what is going on:

In addition to these programs, several of our branches offer special maker services.

Silver Spring and Long Branch have digital media labs that offer open lab time and programs. Both labs are equipped with Apple computers and a full suite of Adobe Creative Suite, including Photoshop and Illustrator. Long Branch also has a green screen and video cameras to make videos.

Kensington Park, Long Branch, Silver Spring, and Twinbrook all have 3D printers available. Visit any of these branches to see a 3D printer in action. You may also submit designs in advance and our staff will print the objects for you.

Happy Making!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Read and Learn

Are you ready for Summer Read and Learn 2016? We are ready to get in the game and hope you are too! It's a summer challenge of fun celebrating books and learning.

Kids, teens, (and yes, this year you too, adults!) can sign up online or at your local branch anytime between June 1 and August 10. You'll have until August 31 to finish up the program.

Each age group has exciting read and learn track challenges. You earn online badges as you complete each track. Complete all the tracks in your age group and you complete the program. You can keep track of your progress online and go for your virtual trophy!

Music, magic, science, sports, as well as animals who walk the earth and those that swim. These are a few of the exciting kids' programs we have this summer. Young women ages 13 - 17 can register for one of our FIT (Financially Independent Teens) programs. We have a variety of awesome programs for teens and adults. Be sure to join us for live music and dancing at our kick-off event with Grammy award winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer at Rockville Memorial on Saturday, June 4 at 2 pm.

Not sure what to read this summer? We've got thrilling reading suggestions for kids and teens by grade! Looking for more suggestions? Try our Kids and Teens pages. Adults can find book suggestions to complete their tracks on our Reading Challenge 2016 Pinterest board. Need more help finding books? Just fill out our What Do I Check Out Next? online form and we'll email suggestions just for you or ask any of our friendly librarians at your local branch.

Ready to play? Sign up today for an amazing summer of reading and learning fun! Summer Read and Learn 2016 - It's for everyone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tudor Tour

The Tudors - Season 1“I’m Henry the Eighth I am, Henry the Eighth I am, I am…”

Alas, these classic lyrics, made famous by English band Herman’s Hermits, are not about the great English monarch, Henry VIII, who only managed to accumulate 6 wives, not 8. But it's still a great introduction to a great family, the Tudors, the dynasty that ruled England from 1485 to 1603.

There are many Hollywood incarnations of the Tudor dynasty, which blend complex historical fact with spectacular splendor. According to, there are more than 60 films and television mini-series produced since the early 1900s, in addition to numerous novels, biographies and ancestral accounts chronicling one of the most fascinating families to have emerged from our neighbors “across the pond.”

If your interest is piqued by recent television shows about the Tudor Dynasty (The Tudors on Showtime, Wolf Hall from BBC2/PBS, Reign on the CW channel), then I recommend background reading to help keep track of Who’s Who in the sometimes-tangled but fascinating plots.

Alison Weir has written a number of accounts of the Tudors. She’s known for her appealing, “story-telling” writing style. While she’s written about various time in British history, her preference is for the Tudor period, stating it’s “the most dramatic period in our history, with vivid, strong personalities...The Tudor period is the first one for which we have a rich visual record, with the growth of portraiture, and detailed sources on the private lives of kings and queens. This was an age that witnessed a growth in diplomacy and the spread of the printed word.”

The Six Wives
David Starkey’s excellent accounts of Henry VII and his daughter Elizabeth are also available through MCPL: Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003)  and Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne  (2001).

There are never “minor parts” in the Tudor dynasty epic – only “minor players.” And it’s the “minor players” that leave us wanting more tantalizing tidbits! For the curious, check out these titles available through MCPL.

Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox.  Jane Boleyn was Anne Boleyn’s treacherous sister-in-law and an aunt-by-marriage to Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s 5th wife.

The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England by Retha Warnicke.
Anne of Cleves was Henry VIII’s 4th wife. Henry VIII was quite displeased with her and their marriage only lasted 6 months. She was cruelly labeled “The Flemish Mare” in the annals of history because Henry VIII thought her ugly.

The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd. Thomas More was Henry VIII’s Chancellor until he refused to swear an oath of recognition to the new Church of England and Henry’s marriage to his 2nd wife, Anne Boleyn. More was eventually executed for treason.

Edward VIThomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman. Thomas Cromwell succeeded More as Chancellor. Cromwell was executed after the political marriage he arranged between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves went sour. Henry VIII was a difficult king to please.

Edward VI: The Lost King of England by Chris Skidmore. Edward VI was Henry VIII’s sole
legitimate son, and a determined champion of the Protestant Reformation. He inherited the English throne at age 10 and died at age 16, leaving the country in religious upheaval. Being a Tudor was tough.

What sayest thou? Intrigued by the Tudor family? Fling caution to yonder winds! Get thee to your local library and partake!

Andrea C