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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Hamilton: Founding Father and Broadway Star

Cover image of the book Alexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowWant to learn more about Alexander Hamilton and the mega-hit Broadway musical based on his life?  (You can watch it online through 11/18.) MCPL has the resources to get you started!

At 700+ pages, Ron Chernow’s compelling biography, Alexander Hamilton, was the inspiration behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical. Chernow brings to life Hamilton’s Dickensian childhood in the West Indies as an orphaned illegitimate child, as well as his early struggles and successes in New York as war with Britain foments. He describes Hamilton’s vital role in the Revolutionary War as General Washington’s Aide-de-Camp, and his combative interactions with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams as they worked to build the fledgling nation. Chernow relays Hamilton’s evolving understanding of economic and political theory and how it shaped his decisions as America’s first Treasury Secretary—and later, the great tragedies that befall his life and lead to an early death in a duel with nemesis Aaron Burr.

Cover image of the book Alexander Hamilton the Outsider by Jean Fritz
While Chernow’s work is a tour-de-force, you may be interested in other biographies of Hamilton. MCPL’s collection also includes writings by Hamilton such as the Federalist Papers, a remarkable collection of 85 essays by Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison from 1788 that encouraged citizens to ratify the U.S. Constitution. For children and teens, MCPL holds several biographies, including award-winning author Jean Fritz’s Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider.

Want to know more about the genesis of the celebrated musical? As described on PBS, Lin-Manuel Miranda bought a copy of Chernow’s Hamilton in 2008 en route to his vacation. He immediately envisioned the possibility of a musical—and given Hamilton’s outsider status, outsized ambition and sense of honor—writing a hip hop score. Hamilton: The Revolution, co-written by Miranda, gives an insider’s view of the creative process, with essays, interviews, photos and lyrics. Miranda spent the next 6 years working on Hamilton, taking a full year to write the opening song, which he famously presented at the White House in 2009.

If you’re interested in the music score, MCPL holds copies of Hamilton: An American Musical. You can borrow the soundtrack through our Marina interlibrary loan service, or go to the label’s official page for lyrics and song excerpts. If Hamilton has piqued an interest in rap and hip-hop, listen to and download artists’ works such as Notorious B.I.G., DMX and Jay-Z on Freegal, MCPL’s free music download service. MCPL also has books on the history of rap and hip hop.

The national tour of Hamilton is scheduled to stop at the Kennedy Center in DC in June 2018 (!) For now, it continues its Broadway run, and opened in Chicago this past fall. If you happen to be in Manhattan, you can visit Hamilton's home, the Grange, and stop by his family’s burial sites at Trinity Church. The dueling ground where both Hamilton and his son were fatally shot is across the Hudson River in Weehawken, NJ.

Happy Hamilton-mania!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

E-Books, Audiobooks, & E-Magazines

headphones and smart device
My sister's friend once said to her, "Wouldn't it be great if the library had e-books that you could check out and they would return themselves at the end of the checkout so that you didn't have any fines?" My sister, knowing me who has worked for MCPL for the past 10 years, immediately replied, "They do!"

Not only do we have free and popular e-books, but we also have audiobooks and e-magazines that you can check out digitally. You can access these items from wherever you are and the items return themselves at the end of their checkout. No fines or fees to worry about. Speaking as someone who also uses these services, they are awesome!

E-Books
We have two e-book services that have downloadable fiction and nonfiction for adults, teens, and children. These services are 3M Cloud Library and Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium/OverDrive. Both have apps that you can download to your smart phones and tablets to connect directly to great titles. Have a look to find your favorite titles that you've been wanting to read!

parents reading to child on tablet
If you are looking for children's books, you should also try Tumblebooks. It is an online collection of animated, talking picture books. It includes story books, chapter books, nonfiction, videos, and more. You read them within your browser as they are not downloadable.

If you like e-books on information technology, computing, and business, have a look at Safari Books Online. It contains the complete content of over 8000 books, with charts, graphics, and cut-and-paste code segments. Like Tumblebooks, the books in Safari are not downloadable. They're designed to be read from within your browser.

blue headphones
Audiobooks
Enjoying listening to books or don't have enough time to sit down and read? Audiobooks are a great choice! I often am reading one book (and another for my book club!) and listening an audiobook while I do chores like folding the laundry. We have two audiobook services, Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium/OverDrive and OneClickDigital. Both services offer apps that you can download to your smart phone and tablets. Have a look to find stories that will sweep you up into the tale!
magazine covers - read digital magazines

E-Magazines

Love reading magazines but hate paying a subscription fee? We can help you save 100%! We have two e-magazine services with popular titles for all ages, both current and back issues. They are Flipster and Zinio.

Flipster has many popular titles including -
  • Businessweek  
  • Ebony 
  • Entertainment Weekly 
  • Fortune
  • Ladybug 
  • People 
  • Ranger Rick 
  • Rolling Stone
  • Time and many more
Zinio has many other popular titles including -
  • Cosmopolitan 
  • The Economist 
  • Food Network Magazine 
  • Kiplinger's Personal Finance 
  • National Geographic 
  • Newsweek 
  • The Oprah Magazine
  • Smithsonian 
  • Us Weekly and more. 

Have a look at at our many other e-magazines offerings as well.

Consumer Help
customersYou may already own a smart phone or tablet to read or listen to these great e-books, audiobooks, and e-magazines. But if you don't, or you are looking to purchase one as a gift, we've got information to help you make the best choice. We have access to Consumer Reports articles where you can find expert ratings for many consumer products.

Whether you are traveling near or far this month, or staying home, you have access to a wealth of e-books, audiobooks, and e-magazines that can come directly to you.  Get started today! All you need is your device and a library card. Happy reading and listening!




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ahhhh, here we go again—Thanksgiving is upon us. Feasting and family fun and football (for some) or shopping (for others) or hibernating far from the madding crowds.

While I do try to stay away from the crowds, I also like to get in a little activity in my day to balance out the gluttony in which I know I will indulge once dinner starts. No matter whether the menu includes healthy dishes or decadent treats, I always end up eating more than I know I should.

There are plenty of local “Turkey Trots” that you can find to burn off those extra calories. Or just get everyone bundled up while the turkey is roasting and head out for a quick walk in your neighborhood.

A comedy of holiday errors.
Make it meaningful by carrying along a bag and picking up trash as you go (your neighbors will be thankful!). If you have time to spare, find a way to give some time or talent through volunteering. That can make a big difference to people who can’t be with family or can’t pull together a feast of their own.

The library has plenty of books on Thanksgiving (for kids and adults) if you need some reading material for the long holiday weekend. Traveling? Pick up a recent audiobook for adults or for kids to break the tedium. 

No matter what you do or where you go for Thanksgiving, travel safe and enjoy yourself!

Tina R.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Veterans Day

Image of an eagle on a poster commemorating Veterans Day 2016In the United States, November 11 is a national holiday, Veterans Day. It is a day for honoring all those who have served in the American armed forces. It is different from Memorial Day, which is set aside to remember those died in military service. Veterans Day is for all US military veterans.

Some federal holidays, such as Columbus Day and Presidents Day, are officially observed on a Monday, to give everyone a long weekend. Veterans Day is different. Veterans Day is always celebrated on November 11 because of that date's historical significance. Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of World War I. That war's fighting ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, or 11:00 AM, November 11, 1918. After World War II the holiday was renamed Veterans Day, to honor American veterans of all wars. Despite the name change, Veterans Day remains linked to its historic origin. 

Who are America's veterans? Here are some figures from the US Census.
  • There are about 18.8 million American veterans
  • 1.6 million are women
  • Over 9 million are age 65 or older. 1.6 million are younger than 35
  • 11.6% are African American, 1.5 % are Asian, 6.4% are Hispanic, 0.7% are Native American, 78.3 % are white and 1.3% identified themselves as some other race.
If you want to learn more about our veterans, MCPL has many fine non-fiction books and videos about veterans.  I was particularly intrigued by the book Thank You For Your Service by David Finkel, which follows the lives of several members of an infantry battalion after they return home from a 15 month tour of duty in Iraq.

A wide variety of novels feature veterans as prominent characters. These books range from literary fiction to thrillers, historical fiction, and even romance novels. The Whiskey Rebels by Davis Liss, for instance, is a historical fiction novel that follows the lives of two Revolutionary War veterans struggling to establish lives amidst the turmoil and intrigue of our nation's early years.

MCPL has many resources for veterans entering the civilian workforce. Our Jobs and Careers page has links to career and self-assessment tools, as well as resources for creating resumes and cover letters. MCPL also offers online courses and tools to help veterans prepare for entrance and vocational tests such as the SAT, LSAT, NCLEX and many more.

Montgomery County's Department of Health and Human Services has a page dedicated to local veterans. This page offers information about local events of interest to veterans, as well as information about community organizations such as Serving Together that help veterans access local resources.  In addition to local resources, Maryland has a state level Department of Veterans Affairs that supports Maryland veterans with employment services, training, health services and financial programs.

Finally, among its many services, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a Returning Service Members section dedicated to military personnel transitioning to civilian life from service in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

We thank all veterans for their service and appreciate the contributions they continue to make to our community.



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Strategic Plan FY2017 - 2020

MCPL strategic plan logo
Did you know that MCPL just released its Strategic Plan for FY2017-2020? Renowned business leader Peter Drucker once said, "Long-range planning does not deal with the future decisions, but with the future of present decisions." This is exactly what we are doing with our strategic plan. We are making decisions now that affect both what we currently are doing and what we are planning to do to meet our goal. Our goal is to provide access to services, resources, and programs that are important to you, the residents of Montgomery County.

How are we planning on doing that? Glad you asked! We are focusing on on four areas in our strategic plan. Here are some highlights about those areas.

Literate Montgomery: MCPL will provide opportunities to encourage language and life-skills literacies and lifelong learning.

Storytime
  • Early Literacy/Reading Readiness: Increase diverse storytimes, resources for parents and caregivers, and STEM Go! Kits in all branches, and create the Jan Jablonski Early Literacy Training Center at the Noyes Library for Young Children.
  • English Language Literacy: Expand resources, services, and programs for English language learners.
  • Health Literacy: Increase programs and resources on personal health, wellness, and nutrition.
  • Digital Literacy: Increase programs and resources for all ages to interact with and learn about new technologies.
  • Financial Literacy: Provide programs and resources for all ages on personal finances.
  • Environmental Literacy: Increase resources and programs for all ages on environmental topics and green strategies.

Connected Montgomery: MCPL will provide opportunities to encourage inclusive and engaged communities.

globe - world langugages
  • Diversity: Create new programs to reflect language and cultural diversity, increase translation of promotional materials in the main languages spoken in the county, provide opportunities for residents to share family histories through oral history recordings, and hire an ADA coordinator to expand services to people with disabilities.
  • Customer Reach: Reach customers with targeted marketing campaigns using new media and technologies, and increase our presence at community events.
  • Civic Engagement: Provide resources to new residents, increase citizenship classes and naturalization ceremonies, and provide programs and resources to learn about current events.
  • Collaborative Spaces: Create multi-purpose spaces to promote collaboration as well as provide resources that encourage customers to build, experiment, and innovate.

Strong and Vibrant Montgomery: MCPL will provide opportunities to develop, increase, and hone workforce skills.

    Career Online High School
  • Skills for Gainful Employment: Provide access to high school diploma classes and online classes. Increase programs and resources in job skills.
  • Area and Regional Business and Government Areas Coordinator: Create opportunities for businesses to learn about other business, non-profits, and government agencies in the area.
  • Small Business Support: Increase small business programs and resources. Create business centers at all branches.
  • Skills for Job Seekers: Increase programs and resources in job searching and application skills.

Delighted Montgomery: MCPL will provide exceptional customer experiences by supporting and training staff, and reinforcing our infrastructure.

Inspire - Kensington Park
  • Inviting Spaces: Refresh branches, create collaboration spaces, and enhance accessibility.
  • Customer Driven Decision Making: Implement multi-channel mechanisms for gathering and evaluating customer feedback. Improve and adapt library services and spaces to meet customer needs.
  • Responsive Materials Process: Decrease wait times for new materials and match branch collections with community interests. 
  • Enhanced Programming: Create programs to reflect the diversity of our communities as well as increase programs and resources for independent use.
  • Relevant Technologies through the 21st Century Technology Funds: Provide up to date technologies and training that reflects the current and future needs of customers.
  • Effective Partnerships: Work with county agencies to provide a broader range of resources to customers.
  • Common Sense Policies & Procedures: Eliminate barriers to service, rewrite policies and procedures in plain language, and translate those policies and procedures into the main languages spoken in the county.
  • Effective Information Services: Conduct technology classes and help customers navigate e-resources.
  • Staff Recognition: Support staff with introducing innovative ways to meet community needs through programs and services. Encourage staff to share successes with all branches.
  • Staff Skills Support: Continually improve the customer experience through staff training and development. Encourage knowledge sharing among staff.
  • Staff Engagement with the Community: Create resources to introduce new customers to library services and identify ways for the library to address community needs.

Learn more about the MCPL Strategic Plan FY2017-2020. Also follow us on Twitter to see how we are implementing strategic plan.

We are excited about the opportunity to support, encourage, and inspire you to learn and grow!

Susan