Wednesday, September 20, 2017

To Boldly Go...

Customers viewing the partial eclipse outside Chevy Chase library
Viewing the eclipse outisde
Chevy Chase library.
It's been an exciting time for astronomy lovers. There was the solar eclipse last month. Residents throughout the county came together at several MCPL branches to watch this dramatic event. The next solar eclipse visible from America won't occur until 2024, when my 1st grader is 13!

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson
Astronaut Peggy Whiston
Earlier this month, American astronaut Peggy Whitson returned to Earth after spending 288 days in space, the longest single spaceflight by a female astronaut. That's not her only record. Having been on been on several spaceflights, Whitman's cumulative 665 days in space sets the record for most time in space by any American astronaut. She's also the only female astronaut to command the International Space Station twice and has accumulated more spacewalking time, 53 hours 22 minutes, than any other female astronaut. Finally, at 57, she is the world's oldest spacewoman. Want to learn more? MCPL has many books and some DVDs about astronauts and women in science for children and adults.

The Cassini space probe orbiting Saturn
The Cassini space probe orbiting Saturn
Finally, just last week, on Friday, September 15, the NASA spacecraft Cassini made its final approach to Saturn and plunged into the planet's atmosphere. Cassini was launched into space almost 20 years ago, in October 1997. It spent 13 years orbiting Saturn, adding immensely to our understanding of Saturn, its rings, and its moons. Cassini continued to function beyond its anticipated lifespan, enabling NASA to extend its study of Saturn for years. After 19 years of exploration, Cassini was almost out of fuel. Concerned that Cassini might crash into one of Saturn's moons and contaminate it with terrestrial microbes, NASA decided to fly the probe into the atmosphere of Saturn, where it would burn up and disintegrate. Faithful til the end, Cassini transmitted unprecedented data about Saturn's atmosphere in the moments before it was destroyed.

For more information about Saturn and our solar system's other planets, check out our many books and DVD's for adults and children. We also have several online science databases including Science in Context and Science Reference Center that are filled with magazine, journal, and specialized encyclopedia articles that have information about NASA's space probes, interplanetary missions, and much more.

Mark S

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

New Faces at MCPL

Joe-Edouard "Ed" Edmond
MCPL recruits a diverse workforce with a variety of skills and backgrounds. Sure, we've got plenty of folks who check out books or help customers find that picture book with the green cover their daughter loved. But we also have staff who specialize in human resources, serving people with disabilities, and other less traditional library roles. Here's brief introduction to some of our newer staff members.

Joe-Edouard “Ed” Edmond, joined MCPL on April 30, 2017. Before joining MCPL, Ed entered the county government workforce in October 2000 as a principal administrative aide in the Department of Finance. In 2005, Ed joined the Office of Human Resources (OHR) as a fiscal assistant. He was promoted to an administrative specialist I in 2010 with the Core/Records Management team of OHR. This experience enabled him to quickly transition to his position as the administrative specialist II in MCPL’s Human Resources unit. Ed is an easy to work with kind of person.

Patrick Fromm
Patrick Fromm joined MCPL as the branch manager of Little Falls in May 2017. Previously, he worked at Baltimore County Public Library for 10 years, starting as a page and moving through the circulation and information jobs to assistant branch manager. He geeks out about managerial topics like continuous improvement, cost-benefit analysis, and emotional intelligence, all of which makes him really fun at parties. He is super psyched to be working with the awesome Little Falls’ team! He lives in Catonsville with his one baby, one wife, and zero cats.

Cindy Gil is one of two senior librarians at the Silver Spring branch. Cindy joined MCPL in January 2017. Before joining MCPL, she was a senior librarian at the New York Public Library where she worked with children, parents, and teachers as the children’s librarian in the Bronx, NY. Prior to this, she worked at the Reference Department at the Bronx Library Center as a librarian trainee until she graduated from library school in 2002. She served in different capacities at other neighborhood branches since 1996. Cindy enjoys reading and singing to the kids during bilingual storytime at the branch, taking walks in the park with her family, and getting good bargains when shopping!

Elizabeth LangElizabeth Lang joined MCPL in 2016 as the assistant facilities and accessibility program manager. She assists with facilities and space management, and leads MCPL’s efforts related to accessibility services. She came to MCPL from the District of Columbia Public Library, where she served as the Manager of the Center for Accessibility. Before moving to the DC metro area, she was the deputy director for public services at Wolfner Talking Book and Braille Library in Missouri, and before that worked in retail bookstores throughout the Midwest. She is a nerdy bookworm, and spends her leisure time reading, gaming, quilting, watching hockey, hanging out with her husband and kids, and dreaming of the day when she can buy a farm in rural Delaware and raise goats. She was recently a guest on MCPL's podcast, Library Matters, where she talked about MCPL's resources and services to people with disabilities.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Classical Music

Classical Music Month
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. Our classical guitar programs will showcase music performed by  Beatty Music Scholarship winners and finalists. Songwriter's Toolbox will feature local musicians sharing their insights and a song circle in which people share their new songs.

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


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Library Card Sign Up Month 2017

Three students holding a big MCPL library card.
September is National Library Card Sign Up Month! Do you remember getting your first library card? Back when I got my first library card, the requirement was that you had to be able to write your name. As soon as I could, my mom took me to get my first library card. It was a special feeling and privilege to be able to use my own library card to check out picture books. I still remember my favorites like Corduroy and Make Way for Ducklings. Now there's no age limit to getting a library card! Anyone, at any age, can get a library card and start his or her life-long learning journey with free access to e-books, e-magazines, audiobooks, online classes, downloadable and streaming music, online articles, test preparation, and so much more! All you need is the most powerful card in your wallet - a library card!

Want to learn more about what a library card can do for you? Here's a list of 20 free library resources and services that might be new to you.
  1. Explore science themes with your kids by checking out a STEM Go! Kit.
  2. Check Consumer Reports from home.
  3. Learn to play a musical instrument, sing, or make art through ArtistWorks.
  4. Learn a language online.
  5. Find a musical score online.
  6. Stream one of 250 performances of the world's leading plays.
  7. Borrow books from libraries across the country.
  8. Prepare for the SAT, LSAT, NCLEX and more.
  9. Search your family history with HeritageQuest Online.
  10. Take an online technology, business, or creative class with Gale Courses.
  11. Download e-books.
  12. Start your own business.
  13. Download music from Freegal.
  14. Renew your materials online.
  15. Download audiobooks.
  16. Read an e-magazine from home.
  17. Discover your next favorite book
  18. Check out exercise videos.
  19. Find articles, encyclopedias, and biographical information for your school project.
  20. Put a book on hold online.
You can also find engaging programs for you and your children in our Calendar of Events.

Library cards empower their users. So tell your family; tell your friends! Tell us how much your library card means to you by sharing a photo or story in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest using #MCPLCard. We'll be resharing photos and stories on social media and our website.

There's so much you can do with a library card. Sign up for one today!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Taking MCPL Back to School with You

Chalkboard surrounded by colored pencils with Back to School written on it
Montgomery County Public Schools students won't be back in the classroom for another couple of weeks, but as private and public schools around our region head back, you can't turn on the radio or the television without seeing a back-to-school ad or story. Yesterday, I got to spend most of my day with media specialists and other staff from MCPS discussing how the public libraries can support our students as they head back into the classroom. It seemed like important information that others might like to hear; so I am highlighting a few takeaways of our discussions.

two boys pose on either side of a large sitting dog.
Read to a Dog at Long Branch
First, we have a variety of events to support and supplement classroom learning. Several MCPL branches offer homework help programs. These programs range from teen volunteers assisting younger students with homework to writing clubs where teens and tweens can flex their writing muscle. We also have Reading Buddy and Read to a Dog programs at many branches. These programs allow young readers to practice and strengthen their reading by working with a non-critical human or canine volunteer. You can explore the full listing of homework programs.

We also offered special webpages to provide targeted information to different audiences. For parents and caregivers we offer our All Children Excel webpage. This provides tips and resources for promoting literacy at different ages from early literacy skills for babies and toddlers to homework and learning resources for elementary and middle school students. For kids who are old enough to explore the web more actively, our Kids page offers books lists, homework resources, and more (including our August poll: Who is your favorite book character turned TV star?). Our Teensite includes information about our Teen Advisory Group, homework resources, booklists, and links to programs.

The Montgomery Times An African-American Times Publication
After reading those descriptions, you might be asking yourself, "What the heck is a homework resource?" I'm referring to the wide variety of online databases available with an MCPL card. These databases include online access to a variety of major and minor national newspapers, including local African-American paper The Montgomery Times, later the African American Times, from 1992-1999. They also include online access to full current and back issues of popular magazines for kids, teens, and adults. We also have a variety of historical databases that are great resources for researching biographies of contemporary and historical figures from Presidents to artists to religious figures as well as historical events.

This is far from a full list of how we can support you or your loved one as you dive back into the school year. If there is something else we can do, please let us know—we're ready to help you. Happy studying!