Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It's Not Called SafeTrack, But It's Back. Red Line Closure Ahead

Outdoor Metro rail station with a train running through the station. Beginning Saturday, November 25 through Sunday, December 10, Metro will close the Red Line between the Silver Spring and Fort Totten stations. The Tacoma Park station, including all of its parking facilities, will be closed during this time.. This closure will allow Metro to completely replace a "mainline interlocking," where trains cross from one track to another. Limited free shuttle buses will be available between the Silver Spring and Fort Totten stations.

On the weekend of December 2-3, the work will be extended to the Glenmont station. The Glenmont, Wheaton, Forest Glen, and Silver Spring stations will be closed during this weekend.

For more information, see the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) Red Line closure page. This WMATA page includes more details on the work being done during this closure, as well as alternative transportation options commuters may use during this time.

Have you considered telecommuting during this Red Line closure? MCPL library card holders will find the following telecommuting resources in our branches -
The following resources are available online to MCPL card holders -
Get your library card today to enjoy these and many other MCPL resources and services.

The words #MCPLTelecommute over a background of public library computers.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

National Book Awards 2017

Today is the day! I know everyone is as excited as I am... right?

Save the Date Sixty-Eighth National Book Awards November 15 2017
OK, I guess I'll save you flipping back through your calendar and trying to remember what you've forgotten about today and just tell you: it's the 68th National Book Award Ceremony. For those who are excited about this event, you can stream it live.

I've been following the National Book Awards since I started working on social media for libraries five years ago. Don't get me wrong, I loved books long before that, but literary awards were only something that I was vaguely aware of and rarely rose to the level of active consciousness, at least in advance of the ceremony. I'm not sure I even knew that the lists of nominees (for most awards an initial "longlist" and then "shortlist" or list of "finalists") were announced publicly months in advance of the ceremonies themselves.

The National Book Awards, presented by the National Book Foundation every year since 1950, are specifically open to authors who are US citizens and published by a US publisher. The eligibility period is a publication date between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the award year. Books are nominated by their publishers. (Read more.)

Over the years, the National Book Awards have honored a diverse group of authors and styles from Flannery O'Connor to Ralph Ellison to William Faulkner, among many other notable names. The awards ceremony itself has elicited many moving moments, such as Congressman John Lewis's speech after winning the 2016 award for Young People's Literature for March, Book 3. In his speech, he shared a story of being refused entrance to a segregated library as a child and reflected on the path that had brought him to that award.

This year's awards season has been especially exciting for me because one of the fiction finalists, Carmen Maria Machado, has been my friend for over a decade. Carmen and I met as undergraduates and have kept in varying degrees of touch over the years as our lives have moved us around the country and through a variety of career and life transitions. I've followed her writing career and been aware of her collection of short stories, Her Body and Other Parties, since it was first accepted for publication. However, despite all of that, I wasn't anticipating seeing a familiar cover in the National Book Foundation's longlist announcement:

Perhaps you can understand how this changed my interest in the awards season? I started emailing and texting other friends, tweeted at our alma mater, and immediately memorized the announcement dates for both the finalists (October 4) and the award announcement (today, November 15). Needless to say, we'll be following the awards ceremony closely tonight.

Want to find Carmen's book or the other 2017 National Book Awards finalists? Check out the full list.

Happy reading!

Lennea smiling at the camera holding a sign and sitting next to a tablet

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Veterans Day

Image of marble statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln in the interior of the Lincoln Memorial
In 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 officially 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 18.5 million American veterans
  • 1.6 million are women
  • Over 9 million are age 65 or older. 1.6 million are younger than 35
  • 7.1 million living veterans served during the Gulf War, 6.7 million during Vietnam, 1.6 million served during the Korean War, and 768,000 served during World War II. 
View of rows of soldiers in uniform. 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. This book has been made into a movie, which was released in theaters on October 27, 2017.

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.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017

Black and white feather pen with the words "Come write with us this November!" around it.
Are you a writer?

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In this month, participants from around the world compete (against themselves) to write a novel of at least 50,000 words.

Participants can elect to register for free on the official NaNoWriMo website. NaNoWriMo offers additional fun resources for participants, including special pep talks from published authors, regional forums and events, and theme-based communities.

Whether you are participating in the official program or just trying to improve your writing, we want to help!

In November, we are offering writing events for customers of all ages. These include
More of a solitary writer? Come write in one of our branches. We offer:
  • WiFi;
  • Public Computers;
  • Electrical outlets; and
  • Writing resources in our collection;
Our Gale Courses database includes many writing classes, and they're all online! These writing classes include Write Fiction Like a Pro, Writing the Fantasy Novel, Mystery Writing, and more. Ready to move to the next step? Check out our valuable publishing resources!  

Already published? Find information for authors wishing to be considered for our collection.

Whether you're participating in NaNoWriMo 2017 or not, let us know how your writing's going this month! 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

STEM is Everywhere!

Words STEM with STEM icons surrounding it
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is everywhere! Sometimes people think of it as something kids learn in school or something that doesn't have anything to do with them, but it does. STEM shapes our lives and our everyday experiences.  From the weather that surrounds us (science), the smartphones we use (technology), the bridges we drive over (engineering), and the money we use to pay for our groceries (math). That's why STEM is for everyone! It's for all ages. It's for children to be able to be successful in school and potentially establish a career in a STEM field. And for everyone it's a chance to understand the world around us. We invite everyone to go on an STEM exploration journey with us this month and beyond!

Maryland STEM Festival logo
MCPL is thrilled to be part of the Maryland STEM Festival for the third year in a row. The festival runs from October 31 - November 12. The festival's mission is "To encourage students of all ages, regardless of background and experience, to take a greater interest in STEM with the hope they will pursue a STEM based job or career." MCPL is excited to be offering STEM Festival events for all ages at multiple locations around the County. Events range from LEGO® and Duplo® building events and storytimes for young children to chess clubs for older children and adults. Let your inner architect design at cup challenge events. Learn fun math concepts with boxes. Try 3D printing. Learn coding. Make recycled paper and more on Science Saturdays at the Olney branch. Love transportation? So do we! We have events on flight, rockets, boats, and trains! Adults and seniors can learn about computers, downloading e-books and audiobooks, and more at our technology programs.

Two sisters coding with an ozobot
Looking for authoritative and free science information online? From applied science to space, you can find science articles and biographical information from Science in Context and Science Reference Center. If you know your child's Lexile number you can limit the content searched in both databases by your child's reading level. Science Reference Center also offers lesson plans and worksheets for teachers. World Book Online is a great encyclopedia database with science information for all ages. If you are looking for biographical information on famous and fascinating scientists, be sure to have a look at Biography in Context. You can browse or search under scientists or under specific occupations such as chemist, engineer, or mathematician.

Kids and teacher learning about how beans transform into chocolate
Looking for a science e-books to read? Gale Virtual Reference Library has always available e-books on subjects such as the environment, medicine, science, and technology. Safari Books Online also has a wide variety of always available e-books on computer technology, software development, information technology, engineering, math, and science. Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium (Overdrive) is good source for computer technology and science e-books to check out and read.

We've got online resources and more to engage your children's minds with STEM. Looking for science experiments to try at home? Science in Context, Science Reference Center, and World Book Online all have exciting science experiments to learn from. We have science experiment books on a variety of topics as well as online science fair project resources. Looking for STEM e-books for your kids to read over the summer? We've got those too.

Go! Kit with backpack, playaway launchpad, DVD, book & folder
Another great way to explore STEM topics with your children is to check out a Go! Kit. The kits are designed to encourage the parent/caregiver and child to actively explore the world around them. Each kit contains several books, science tools, a tablet device with preloaded apps, and a list of the contents of the kit. Each kit can be borrowed for 2 weeks. We have Little Explorer Go! Kits for ages 3-6 and Young Voyager Go! Kits for ages 7-12.

Interested in trying out new technology? Come to our Digital Media Labs where you can learn and create digital photography, storytelling, video production, graphic design, music videos, social media, animation, computer programming, art, and more. Digital Media Labs are designed for teens and adults.

We invite you to explore, discover, learn, and invent! Discover the world around them through STEM with MCPL!