Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Library of Things: Music @ Twinbrook Launches September 22, 2018!

A Medley of Some of Our Instruments (Picture)
A medley of some of our instruments
Get ready to make some music, with the Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) Library of Things:  Music at Twinbrook Library.  MCPL will begin lending musical instruments from the Twinbrook Branch on the afternoon of September 22, 2018.  We will launch the program at 11:00 AM with remarks from the County Executive and Acting MCPL Director Anita Vassallo, followed by a brief explanation of the program, demonstrations, an instrument petting zoo, and checkout of the first instruments (about 1:00 PM).

We have a variety of guitars, ukuleles, and hand-drums (djembe, doumbek, bohdran, bongo, Jamaican steel drum, dobani, and kalimba) to start our musical collection. There are 29 instruments and six amplifiers: six ukeleles, six acoustic guitars, two electric guitars, two electric basses, 11 drums, two kalimbas (thumb pianos); and two bass and two guitar amplifiers, and two “headphone amplifiers.”  Several of the instruments are appropriate for or designed specifically for children. We will also have some musical accessories for lending: capos, slides, variety packs of guitar picks. The instruments were selected for ease of use, ability to maintain, “fun,” cost, durability, and fit with library content on how to play musical instruments. Each instrument was hand selected for playability, quality, and cost effectiveness. You can check out pictures of the instruments on our Flickr site.

Library staff will host a music discussion group at the Twinbrook Library on the first Monday of every month at 6:30 PM, where we’ll do a little demonstration, a little open mic, and some problem/issue sharing with the group. The first music discussion group kicks off on October 1st. We also plan to offer periodic special musical programs sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Twinbrook Chapter.  

Bongo drums
bongo drums
The loan period for the instruments will be two weeks. At this time, loans cannot be renewed. Customers may borrow one instrument per eligible library account, and amplifiers/accessories as appropriate. The instruments are only available at the Twinbrook Library and must be checked out from and returned to only that branch.  Borrowers must be at least 14 years old, have an account in good standing, and show a valid photo identification to check out an instrument. Please note that overdue fees for the instruments are $1 per day overdue. Fees for damaged or broken instruments will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, keyed to the actual repair or replacement costs (reasonable wear and tear is expected).

Customers can find information about the instruments available and the program policies at the Library of Things: Music page. Please note that you will not see instruments in the library catalog, nor can you put a reserve/hold on an instrument. You can call the branch to inquire about an instrument, 240-777-0240, and staff will hold an available instrument for the balance of the business day at your request. The instrument must be picked up that same day. 

Why do an instrument library? MCPL has a rich collection of music, the music business, musical instruments, and how to play music in digital format, media, and books. Playing a musical instrument can be rewarding, relaxing, educational. We wanted to provide that opportunity to our customers, as several other library systems in the country have also started to do. MCPL is also richly blessed with tremendous cultural diversity, and we have made our selection of instruments as culturally broad as we can to provide that learning opportunity as well.

We will be soliciting feedback using small surveys throughout the first year of the program, to assess whether to continue the program, consider expanding it to other branches, expand instrument choices, and other considerations.  You can also discuss any concerns or issues directly with the Twinbrook Library Staff, or via the “Tell Us What You Think” comments and suggestions form. 

We hope to see you on September 22nd, or whenever you can get in to check out an instrument.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Puttin' on the Fitz - The F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival

Celebrate the works and legacy of jazz-era author F. Scott Fitzgerald at the 22nd annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival. F. Scott Fitzgerald was an American writer active from 1920 through 1940 whose life and writings are associated with the glittering excesses and glamour of the Jazz Age, a term Fitzgerald himself coined. His works include the novels Tender Is the Night and The Great Gatsby, as well as short stories such as "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

In addition to honoring Fitzgerald, the festival also celebrates the works of prominent contemporary authors and encourages emerging writers and students interested in literature. The festival is jammed packed with writing workshops lead by authors such as Susan Coll and Margaret Talbot, literary discussions, a bus tour of Fitzgerald's haunts in Rockville, and the presentation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award of Achievement in American Literature to a prominent American author. This year's award recipient is Richard Russo. The winners of the festival's two story story contests, one for students and one for adults, will also be announced. See the festival website for the full schedule of events.

The festival takes place Saturday, October 20 at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD, near the final resting place of Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. The festival is preceded by a variety of programs sponsored by MCPL, the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, and the Writer's Center. Below is a list of all the events related to the festival.
Learn more about the festival, and the life and work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, in MCPL's latest Library Matters podcast episode, where we interview two of the festival's organizers, Dr. Jackson Bryer and Dr. Eleanor Heginbotham. 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Career Online High School

By 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 download your favorite magazines onto your phone or tablet, find books in Spanish, French, Amharic, or other world languages at many of our branches, or even register for a free class on, say, the fundamentals of accounting though Gale Courses or But what if we told you that your public library card also offers the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma? Free. That’s right. You can now earn a high school diploma, free with your MCPL library card.
Career Online High School logo

In 2016, MCPL began offering Career Online High School, a nationally accredited, online, career-based high school completion program, to support positive change in our community and offer the opportunity of a second chance to adults seeking to complete their high school education. We’re thrilled to report that since launching, 15 students have accomplished this goal, obtaining accredited high school diplomas through our program. These students leave the program with new confidence, skills, and knowledge, and expanded opportunities. We’re so proud of them!

A graduation cap next to a rolled up diploma
The Career Online High School program is 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 with jobs and families.

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, desktop computers, and laptops for in-library use.

Applying is an easy, three-step process. In order to be considered for a free seat in the program, applicants must:
  1. Complete an online self-assessment
  2. Successfully pass a two-week prerequisite course. 
  3. Interview with MCPL’s enrollment team. 
To learn more, contact us today at: or 240 777-0036.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

September is Classical Music Month

The words "September is Classical Music Month" next to a string instrument.
Bach. Beethoven. Mozart. Chopin. Wagner. Vivaldi. Schubert. When classical music comes up, it is one of those subjects I wished I had taken a class to learn more about. Classical music gives us such an emotional experience and it is something (like art!) that I enjoy when I hear it, but wish I knew more about. Well now is my chance. September is Classical Music Month and we've got some great free resources and programs to help you celebrate, whether you love classical music already or, like me, are excited to learn more about it!

Violin and keyboard
If you are looking to learn how to play classical music instruments we have a great online resource called ArtistWorks. It has self-paced video lessons from Grammy Award-winning music and artistic professionals for instruments such as piano, guitar, flute, clarinet, french horn, trumpet, and violin. It offers beginner through advanced lessons and is optimized for both desktop and mobile devices. If you already know how to play an instrument and are looking for musical scores, try the online Classical Scores Library. This collection contains over 13,000 classical scores. The scores span all classical genres and time periods.

Music score
If you like to listen to classical music, we have that too. You can download up to 5 songs per week through Freegal. There is a huge selection of classical music you can download to your computer or Freegal app for your Apple or Android device. From the Classical Music Library you can stream classical music. It offers choral works, symphonies, operas, vocal and instrumental music, chamber music, and more.

What about the fascinating lives of the individuals behind all this great music? We've got that covered! Try Biography in Context to find information about the lives of famous composers like Puccini, Strauss, Handel, and many others. We also have biographical books about composers for adults and teens as well as children.

What's a celebration without some live music? We've got some great music events this month. Little Falls Library will host a harp and flute duo performance by members of the US Navy Band on September 8. Luis Garay, a percussionist who performs classical, jazz, and Afro-Latin music, will play at Kensington Park Library September 22.

At MCPL we're happy to help you find your classical music beat this September and beyond!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Let's Talk - English Conversations Clubs at MCPL

Group people standing behind a table above the words, "English Conversation Clubs"MCPL offers many resources to help customers learn English and other languages. But one of MCPL's hidden gems is our network of English Conversation Clubs. These gatherings offer those learning English the opportunity to practice speaking English and hear others speak English. The atmosphere of the meetings is friendly, welcoming, and informal. These are not classes. They're gatherings of people from around the world who spend an hour practicing their English by discussing a variety of topics.

Each English Conversation Club meeting is facilitated by a MCPL volunteer. The volunteers usually have topics in mind for each meeting, but the conversations often flow in different directions depending on the interests of those at the meeting. Sometime participants bring up real life situations they've encountered recently, such as problems understanding a bus schedule or questions about an upcoming citizenship test, and the group will happily discuss the issue. One customer recently noted that the confidence boost her participation in English Conversation Clubs gave her enabled her to ace an interview and land the job she wanted.

A pair of hands painted to resemble a map of the Earth.
The life circumstances of English Conversation Club participants are diverse. Some have just arrived in Montgomery County and are totally new to American society. Others have lived here for years. Some are only here in the area temporarily for work, school, or to visit family. Others have immigrated here and are establishing new lives. Whatever their situation, all welcome to join.

There's no need to register for an English Conversation Club, you can just walk right in. Some participants attend Conversation Clubs at different branches depending on their schedules that week. There are meetings during the week, on weekends, during the day, and in the evenings. Come in on, we'd love to see you.

Want to learn more about MCPL's English Conversations Clubs? Get the inside story from Quince Orchard librarian Nancy Chiu-Sillcox and Quince Orchard English Conversation Club volunteer coordinator Annie Etches. They were recently interviewed on MCPL's Library Matters podcast, where they talked about the language learning and community building benefits of the English Conversations Clubs. They also shared some stories about how the clubs have helped participants over the years.