Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Downsizing and Moving On

Are you ready to move from your big house?
In the last few months I’ve had several family reunions and visitors from afar staying at my home. We are all baby boomers in various stages of retirement or contemplating retirement, so it wasn’t long before the conversations turned to downsizing and what to do with all the stuff we’ve accumulated over a lifetime. Would any of our heirs really want the decorative tins from England, the old concert programs, or the hedgehog collection?

A tiny house
To your tiny house?
My sister’s problem is on another level. She inherited valuable Asian artifacts and a library of rare first editions from her husband’s family and she has no children to leave them to. It turns out to be quite hard to sell a Ming vase for anything like its value. Apparently museums have enough of them already. She can’t wait to downsize to a small maintenance-free apartment so she is working on donating everything to a university.

Meanwhile I have been grappling with piles of papers left by my parents. As I sort through them I find poignant stories from our family history that I knew nothing about. I am organizing them all into archival boxes so the next generations can easily access them. One box is labeled World War II and contains my father’s British army records and my mother’s memoir of growing up in Belgium during the German occupation. I imagine some future descendant using the contents as primary sources for a school paper.

Getting rid of stuff, organizing what really matters, and moving into smaller spaces seems to be on everyone’s mind in our generation. One book kept coming up in our conversations. Everyone seems to have heard of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The book is not for everyone. My informal focus group thought that folding socks like a sushi roll bordered on the compulsive, but that evaluating objects for whether they give you “joy” was good advice for those inclined to hang on to too much stuff.

Basement full of stuff
Does this give you joy?
Here is a selection of other books with helpful advice available in MCPL libraries:

Downsizing the Family Home: What to Save, What to Let Go by Marni Jameson.

Downsizing Your Home with Style: Living Well in a Smaller Space by Lauri Ward.

Get it Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won’t Have To by Melanie Cullen.

Online articles with useful information:

This article focuses on advice for how children can help their parents cope with the practical and emotional stresses of downsizing. 

"Declutter Your Life - Now!" 
Advice from professional organizer Barbara Reich is one of many useful articles at the AARP website.

A guide to preserving your family’s letters and documents by the FamilySearch blog includes links to further resources.

All excellent sources of information, but the book that sparked the most humorous reactions from my visitors was the new book explaining the Swedish concept of dostadning, from “do” meaning death and “stadning” meaning cleaning. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson is decluttering so that your family is not burdened with doing it after your death. Your family will appreciate that you leave behind you the most important and precious items in a well organized manner. This is an ongoing process. Clean and organize every day as though you may die tomorrow. So we go from Marie Kondo’s “magic” and “joy” to a preoccupation with gloom and death.

I couldn’t help thinking of Ingmar Bergman’s film The Seventh Seal in which the grim figure of Death plays chess with his intended victim, but now I saw Death with a feather duster in his hand! In truth the book is full of humor and good sense and insights into Swedish culture, which really isn't all gloom and doom.

As for me, I am plugging on with sorting family papers and donating items to Goodwill. But despite my daughter’s urging, I’m not quite ready for the downsizing step yet. It’s been really nice these past few months to have plenty of space to host visiting friends and family. I couldn’t do that in a tiny house.

Rita T.

Rita T. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Just for the Record: A Vinyl Day

Top view of a record player accompanied by the words Vinyl Day Just for the Record 4/21/2018
Do you like music? Have you gotten back into vinyl long play records or been curious as to why you are seeing more and more of them from today’s hottest artists? Do you wonder what’s going on with this rebirth of interest in vinyl? You’ve just got to come to MCPL’s first ever Just for the Record: A Vinyl Day event at the Silver Spring Library and find out more!

This event is a celebration of music for all ages. We’ll celebrate the music, culture, and art from the golden age of vinyl records, and today’s renewed interest in vinyl's signature sound, large canvas for art and lyrics, and distinct experience.

Just for the Record will have something for everybody. First of all, come dressed as your favorite musician if you’d like! We’ll hear from experts like John Corbett, author of Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium and others who are collectors, disc jockeys, music makers, and authors. They'll talk about what it’s been like to collect records and be a part of the vibrant legacy of vinyl. We’ll hear live DJ performances, make crafts out of vinyl records and jackets, sing karaoke, listen to and play records, talk about our experiences, and even buy records and related books. We’ll also hear about the history of the recording industry in Eritrea from legendary recording artist Abdella Abubaker. His talk is part of our Big Read program, celebrating the diverse immigrant experiences in Montgomery County and the DC area. that will be running throughout the summer at MCPL. We hope to see you there at the Silver Spring Library. The fun starts at 11 AM and goes until 4 PM.  No advanced registration is needed. Stop by throughout the day, join in the fun, and bring the whole family!

Vinyl records on display at recent Twinbrook Record Play session
Check for posters and displays at some of our local branches.

Just for the Record Magnets
Every branch has a few cool “record”
 magnets for the lucky first few to inquire!
This event is cosponsored by MCPL, Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC)Levine MusicOpen Sky Jazz, and Friends of the Library, Silver Spring Chapter.

While you’re waiting for the event, check out the MCPL podcast, Library Matters. Our latest episode (#27) is dedicated to retro tech., including a large segment on vinyl records and Just for the Record. Also, with MCPL, you can celebrate music all the time. We have many ways that you can enjoy music via CDs for checkout, free downloadable music files, music streaming services, books, and programs. Read about it here.

Finally, some may ask, does this mean MCPL is going to start offering vinyl records in the collection? Alas, there are no plans to do that, but the Friends of the Library does have sizable collections of vinyl records at low prices at each of their local bookstores.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Deaf History Month, March 13 - April 15

College Hall Gallaudet University
College Hall
Gallaudet University
Did you know that Deaf History Month, March 13 – 15, celebrates three historic and key milestones? Thirty years ago, on March 13, 1988, following the Deaf President Now! Movement, Gallaudet University appointed its first Deaf President. On April 8, 1864, President Lincoln signed a federal charter to establish a college for the deaf at what is known today as Gallaudet University. And on April 15, 1817, the American School for the Deaf, the first permanent school for the deaf in the Western Hemisphere, was established in Hartford, CT.

The metro Washington area is full of deaf history gems that can be found in our libraries. Our libraries offer books, e-books, and DVDs written or produced by both deaf and non-deaf authors or producers which highlight the achievements of individuals of the American past and how they have influenced deaf culture of the present.

The new Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library (MD DCDL), a statewide one stop resource on deaf cultures and deaf resources, hosted by Montgomery County Public Libraries at the Germantown branch, has now made available a collection of e-books on deaf culture, history, literature, and American Sign Language (ASL) through the Maryland’s Digital eLibrary Consortium (Overdrive). Library cardholders who use libraries in all 24 counties in the state of Maryland can find these titles by clicking into the Digital eLibrary and typing the word “deaf” into its search box.

In addition to e-books, the Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library features several new additions to its collection, such as The Sage Deaf Studies Encyclopedia, co-edited by Genie Gertz and Patrick Boudreault, The History of Gallaudet University: 150 Years of a Deaf American Institution by David F. Armstrong, In Our Own Hands: Essays in Deaf History, 1780-1970 edited by Brian H. Greenwald and Joseph J. Murray, also available in e-book format, and Fighting in the Shadows: the Untold Story of Deaf People in the Civil War by Harry G. Lang.

Are you also looking for a list of places to learn or practice American Sign Language or online streaming ASL stories for children? The MD DCDL webpage, temporarily hosted on the Montgomery County Public Libraries website, features these ASL resources. In addition, we have books on the history of American Sign Language that can be borrowed from the library with a current library card. If the items you want are not available at your library, we can place a hold for you.

Are you also looking for ASL classes, ASL Conversation Clubs, Bilingual ASL/English Storytimes or Book Discussions in ASL? View the MD DCDL webpage for a list of these events, updated monthly. You can also order accessibility services at your library when attending library programs.

Connect with the deaf community on MD DCDL Facebook page, watch streaming video news in ASL, or find community events and conferences.  The Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library is the place to make these connections.

Susan F. Cohen,
Project Coordinator/Librarian II,
Maryland Deaf Culture Digital Library

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Celebrate National Financial Literacy Month 2018

It's one of those things that I've always been meaning to do. I'm going to have a look at my finances. What am I currently doing to plan for retirement? What could and should I be doing? Could I do a better job budgeting my money? Can I find more areas in my life to save money? Should I think about investing? If you too have been meaning to have a look at your finances or you want to do a financial health checkup, join MCPL in celebrating National Financial Literacy Month this April.

Company Research, Investing, and Investor Education
If you're thinking about investing, or already are investing, it's important to do research. MCPL has many online databases you can use in our branches or at home for your investment research. These databases are free to anyone who has a MCPL library card. We have resources for both company and investing research.

money tree growing out of a bookWant to know how well a company or industry is doing? Have a look at Business Insights: Global and Business Source Premier. With Business Insights: Global, you can search by company name or industry. A company search provides key financial figures, compares the company with similar companies and industries, and includes many articles about the company. Business Resource Premier offers company and industry articles from business journals. You also won't get stuck behind a paywall with our online access to the Wall Street Journal, where you'll find great financial information about publicly traded companies.

There are some good options for investing research too. Morningstar Investment Research Center, Standard & Poor's Net Advantage, and Value Line provide financial information on publicly traded companies as well as stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded-funds, and more. You can also find industry information. What I really appreciate about these sites is that all offer financial education resources. We've gathered some additional investor education information as well.

coins and stem growing out of a book
Managing Your Money
Managing your money, whether personal finance or planning for retirement, is important to do. There are many great organizations and websites that help with these two aspects of financial planning, and we've gathered some of the best for you. One I'd like to highlight, since it is National Financial Literacy Month, is the Financial Literacy Month site. It has a variety of tools to put you on the path to achieving financial wellness, including free webinars, financial worksheets, and a 30-step plan.  We have also gathered online resources to help you track your spending and saving, make financial calculations, and find housing assistance. Some local organizations offer classes on money management and finances. While we often think about our own finances, it's important to remember that financial literacy is important for any age, including kids and teens.

Books and E-Books
And (of course!) we have books and e-books on finances that can help consumers make more informed choices. Looking for books on money management? Books for women on taking control of their finances? Books about money for kids or teens? We've got you covered! In Safari Books Online and Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium/OverDrive you'll find business e-books on money management and finances. 

Money Smart Week logo with Benjamin Franklin
From building wealth to planning for retirement, we've got financial literacy and Money Smart Week (April 21 - 28) programs you won't want to miss! Looking for financial success for yourself? Learn how you can plan for financial success and retirement,  Have a passion and want to turn it into extra money? Discover how to start a side business while you work at your current job. With so many transactions happening online, find out how you can protect yourself against identity theft through a program presented by the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection. Own a small business or thinking about starting one? Make an appointment for free one-on-one counseling with SCORE. For women (although men are welcome too) we have a financial seminar series that covers divorce and money, financial planning, Social Security and Medicare, and planning for retirement. Registration is required. Start talking to your kids early about financial literacy! A great starting point could be making a piggy bank and crafts about money.

Words: Tax Information, a calculator and a twenty dollar bill
Don't forget that taxes are due Tuesday, April 18! We have printed federal and Maryland state tax forms at select branches. We recommend calling ahead before visiting a branch for this material. At all branches, with the exception of the Noyes branch, tax forms can be printed from public computers. Select branches also offer free income tax preparation by trained volunteers for low-to-moderate income Montgomery County taxpayers by appointment.

We're excited for all ages to learn about investing and personal finance! Start your journey to achieving your financial goals today!


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Looking for a Good Book?

Readers are always on the look out for their next book, but they want it to be a good one. No one wants to spend time reading something they don't enjoy. After all, at an average adult reading speed of 300 words per minute, it takes over 5 and a half hours to read a 100,000 word novel. How can you quickly find new books that you're likely to enjoy?
Nancy Pearl
Nancy Pearl

Thankfully, recommending books is one of librarians' favorite things to do. There's even a special term for it, readers' advisory. Librarians are experts at matching what appeals to you with the many diverse novels and non-fiction books we have in our collections. We've got lots of ways to help you find your next favorite read.

One of the champions of readers' advisory, is librarian Nancy Pearl. She is a best selling author, a regular book commentator on NPR, and the founder of If All of Seattle Read the Same Book (now Seattle Reads), the first one community one book program. She even has her own action figure!

Nancy Pearl action figure
Nancy Pearl
action figure
Best of all, you can meet Nancy Pearl! She's coming to Rockville Memorial Library as part Contemporary Conversations, the speaking series sponsored by MCPL and Friends of the Library, Montgomery County. She'll talk about her love of books and reading, how her Book Lust books came to be written, the perils of a life of reading, and, of course, she'll suggest some great books to read. Register today for this great event, seating is limited.

At MCPL, we're all about finding the right book at the right time for the right reader. Here's how we can help you find a great book -
  1. In-person Readers’ Advisory: This is an old standby. Come to a branch and ask a librarian. They can talk to you about what you’ve read and what you’ve liked and help you find something you want to read.
  2. Online Readers’ Advisory: If you don’t have time to come to a branch, try our online Readers’ Advisory services. Our What Do I Check Out Next? Service is staffed by our expert librarians. Fill out a few questions about what you like to read (and what you don’t like to read), and they’ll provide personalized recommendations for you to try. They’ll even try to match your preferred format (print, e-book, or audiobook). We also offer a few online databases for that suggest other books to read, including Beanstack and NoveList K–8 for young readers and NoveList Plus for adults.
  3. Librarian’s Choice: It’s probably no surprise that our librarian’s read a lot. And, twice a
    Book cover for Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
    month, they review a book (or 2 or 3!) and tell you why you might enjoy it. There is a lot of variety in the books reviewed. Recently reviewed titles include Smoke Gets in Your Eye, about a woman working at a crematory, The Power, a sci fi novel about women developing a super power, and The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears, about an Ethiopian immigrant living in Washington DC. 
  4. We Recommend: We recommend doesn’t provide the detailed personalized reviews of Librarian’s Choice. Instead, it highlights items from our collection that focus on a specific theme. Books range from novels to memoirs to scientific tracts. It’s a great place to find books you might not have heard of on themes that interest you. The latest We Recommend is all about women's contributions to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). 
  5. Book displays: Stop by any branch and you’re almost sure to spot a book display or five. Whether it features staff favorites, recently returned titles, or books on a certain theme, book displays can be a great place to find an unexpected gem.
So stop by in person or digitally, we'd love to help you find your next favorite book!