Tuesday, December 30, 2014

BioScapes - A Visual Feast For The New Year

Olympus BioScapes is an international digital imaging competition featuring fascinating and extraordinarily beautiful life sciences photography captured through light microscopes.

The following images are selected from the winners and honorable mentions in the 2014 competition to give you a sample of the beauty and range of the collection. View all of the 2014 winners, which also include videos, on the contest website.

Barnacle appendages that sweep plankton and other food into the barnacle's shell for consumption. Confocal microscopy, 100x. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA, USA. Third Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Butter daisy (Melampodium divaricatum) flower at 2x magnification. Fluorescence. Oleksandr Holovachov, Ekuddsvagen, Sweden. Seventh Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Proboscis (mouthparts) of a vampire moth (Calyptra thalictri). The moth was captured by Jennifer Zaspel in Russia. The proboscis was imaged at 10x and shows the dorsal legulae, tearing hooks, and erectile barbs that facilitate the acquisition of fruit juices and mammalian blood when feeding. Confocal microscopy. Matthew S. Lehnert and Ashley L. Lash, Kent State University at Stark, North Canton, OH, USA. Eighth Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Green coneheaded planthopper (Acanalonia conica) nymph with its gears. The insects are accomplished jumpers, able to accelerate at staggering 500 times the force of gravity (500xg); to synchronize the movement of their hind legs, their trochanters are coupled with a pair of cogs. Image shows dorsal view of these trochanteral gears. The insect demonstrates that gears, which until recently were thought to be a human invention, exist in the natural world. Confocal microscopy, magnification ca. 200x. Igor Siwanowicz, HHMI Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, VA, USA. Ninth Prize, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Mosquito larva, early instar, polarized darkfield illumination, 100x. Charles Krebs, Issaquah, WA, USA. Honorable Mention, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
Shepherd's purse seed pod, treated in a lye-water solution to render the pod's outer wall nearly transparent. Capsella burse-pastoris, a common weed and part of the mustard family, produces small triangular-shaped seed pods. The plant is commonly used in Asian cooking, tea and herbal medicines. Captured at 6x using brightfield microsopy. Edwin Lee, Carrollton, TX, USA. Honorable Mention, 2014 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition®.
There is a touring exhibition of selected competition entries. The exhibit will visit the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore September 1, 2015–December 31, 2015.

MCPL carries a number of books that can teach you more about biological imaging and electron microscopy. Many of these are E-Books you can read in your browser from Safari Books Online. You can access these from the E-Books section of the library's website, MCPL E-Books.

Search the MCPL catalog for electron microscopy. In addition to books, you will get some websites in your search results, including the National Center for Electron Microscopy. One of the most intriguing of the cataloged websites is Bugscope: "The Bugscope project provides free interactive access to a scanning electron microscope (SEM) so that students anywhere in the world can explore the microscopic world of insects... students login over the web and control the microscope."

Nell M

Note: All the above images of life science subjects captured through light microscopes are copyright and come from Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging Competition,, and are used with permission of Olympus BioScapes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Have we blogged The Holidays to death yet? How about considering something new? New things for a new start...

Nope, I'm not going to suggest a new diet, new exercise routine or even a new hairstyle for the new year. How about a new hobby? Have you always wanted to know how to make something? Or been fascinated by (insert object, time period or culture)?

We've got the resources to help you focus, learn or create. After searching for "Trending Hobbies 2014" I found this list of trendy new hobbies.

Who knew my husband was such a hipster? He's already deeply into #3 (model rocketry) and #8 (homebrewing). But, if you'd like to take pictures of the starry, starry night (Hobby #1), Night Photography by Lance Keimig, an e-Book in Safari Books Online, will get you started.

For Hobby# 3, The Model Rocketry Handbook by G. Harry Stine is considered the bible—but check this out: 50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius by Gavin D. J. Harper

Then there's #8 - Homebrewing! Making your own what?? That's right! Lager, ale, porter, stout and more. Try a subject search for homebrewing.

And lastly, back in our e-book resource Safari Books Online, I found a quirky gem: The Modern Day Pioneer with instructions for the novice on not only beer brewing AND beekeeping, but soap-making, bread baking, quilting, and healing your own aches and pains!

So, embrace something new! Fold origami, bake, brew, photograph, travel or start a collection; we're here to help you.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Classics

Most of us are crazy busy at this time of year (including me). We're trying to juggle work, family, shopping, holiday parties, the budget and so on. To help keep some perspective, it's worth trying to carve out a little time to appreciate some of the literary and cinematic classics that bring the season to life.

A Christmas CarolRead or watch the wonderful Charles Dicken's tale A Christmas Carol, the story of miserly Scrooge and the three spirits that bring him to a new sense of the joy and wonder of the Christmas season. You can do a chapter a night as a family read aloud in the week preceding December 25th, or you can borrow one of the several film versions of the story that the library owns.

MCPL can offer anything from the 1951 Alastair Sim's version (which set the standard for screen portrayals of Scrooge) to Disney's Mickey's Christmas Carol, with Uncle Scrooge McDuck in the starring role.

Cover image of A Christmas Memory
 My personal favorite stars George C. Scott as a particularly curmudgeonly Scrooge. Or there's always The Muppet Christmas Carol—Kermit makes a wonderful Bob Crachit. If you have time after the holidays, and are looking for an interesting read for a cold January night, you can pick up The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford to find out more about Dickens and his beloved story.

It's a Wonderful Life coverAnother appealing short read is Truman Capote's autobiographical novella A Christmas Memory. This gentle story decribes the Christmas preparations of a young boy and his slightly eccentric, elderly cousin in the Depression era South.

cover of The Night Before Christmas by Jan Brett
Night Before Christmas - Jan Brett
Frank Capra's classic film It's a Wonderful Life seems to be on a TV loop during December, but if you need to schedule your own showing, the library can provide a copy. Remember, every time a bell rings.....

cover image of Tomie DePaola's Night Before Christmas
Night Before Christmas
Tomie de Paola
Another lovely family read aloud is Clement Moore's The Night Before Christmas. The library has many wonderfully illustrated versions of the poem, ranging from the  intricate and playful work of Jan Brett, to Tasha Tudor's warm and homey pictures of an elfin Santa, to one in the distinctive style of beloved children's author Tomie De Paola.

cover image of book "Hot Toddies"So pop some popcorn, make some warm drinks, for both the adults and kids, and gather everyone around to make some great holiday memories.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fabulous Senior Moments

James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury 2013
James Earl Jones and Angela
Lansbury rehearse Driving Miss
Sydney, Australia 2013.
Photo: Eva Rinaldi
Last night, I saw a great stage performance by James Earl Jones, who played a lead role as Mr. Vanderhof in You Can’t Take It With You. At age 83 (born in 1931), Mr. Jones is on Broadway stage 6 nights a week this season. Simply amazing!

I am a baby boomer librarian. If you think I came up with this week's topic from reading AARP magazine articles, you are correct. I am in awe of the mental and physical capacity of seniors born years before me.
The Trip from Bountiful movie cover
Here are some others on stage and on screen that come to my mind: Vanessa Redgrave (born in 1937) playing a bone-shivering tiger mom on screen in Coriolanus (2011); Angela Lansbury (born in 1925) in Blithe Spirit; and Cicely Tyson (born in 1933) in The Trip to Bountiful. My list is growing.

Talking about active seniors, Meryl Streep (born in 1949), another talented senior, was the voice of Eleanor Roosevelt in the recent PBS series, The Roosevelts. Am I the only one who thinks there is, or should be, a movie about Eleanor Roosevelt coming with Ms. Streep in the leading role?

Two other stories about amazing seniors in other fields come to my mind as I write this post. I was once at a lecture by Eric Kandel (born in 1929) who received Nobel Prize for his research on the physiological basis of memory storage in neurons. He shuffled to the podium in his signature red bow tie to speak to high school students. I could see in the students’ amused faces as they put at least a hundred years between them and the scientist. His lecture was so mesmerizing, he received a standing ovation when it was over. Take that, kids!

I’m a soccer nut. I used to play many years ago, and I’m known to watch games even while cooking. I once went to see a game between American and Japanese over-65 league teams. OK, the players’ feet might have been a few steps behind their minds, but we enjoyed the game because players were having so much fun. During half time, a short-skirted cheerleading team from an assisted living home performed. How great is that?

Megumi L.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Holiday Runaround

I've had an exciting year, gallivanting to London and various cities around the United States… so exciting that I've used all my annual leave and I am bound to the Washington, DC area for the foreseeable future. What shall I do? Well, as it turns out, there is plenty to do over the holidays, right here in our own backyard, so to speak.

I searched through the Washington Post’s Top 10 Washington, DC Holiday Activities and found Christmas Tree lightings and Hanukkah Menorah lighting ceremonies, along with the holiday light displays in various parks around the area.

But what caught my eye was ICE! at the Gaylord National Resort, which runs through January 4, 2015. Literally a “winter wonderland” created out of 5,000 blocks of ice, it took 40 artists to create this year’s Frosty the Snowman-themed display. The attractions are very approachable, so visitors can actually walk through them. And, of course, the kids will love it.

And more ice… ready for ice skating, latkes, and kosher hot dogs? Head on down to Chanukah On Ice for the lighting of the Menorah in Arlington, VA on Thursday, December 18.

If ice isn't your thing, maybe trains are. In Ellicott City, MD, home of the oldest train station in America, the B&O Railroad Museum presents the  Festival of Trains at the Ellicott City Station featuring, among others, “multi-level 360 degree LEGO layout by the Washington, D.C. at Metropolitan Area LEGO Train Club with interactive lights, motors, and sounds.” If trains aren't your thing either, then wander the streets of Ellicott City and enjoy the wonderful restaurants, antique stores, and cute boutiques.

For a Kwanzaa Celebration enjoy the Coyaba Dance Theater where special guests celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

Not sure which holiday to celebrate? Try them all as the Smithsonian Discovery Theater presents Seasons of Light, an interactive show about the history and customs of:
If you enjoy old town Frederick, The Holidays in Historic Frederick  may be to your liking. Tour historic homes and wander around in the festival of lights. There is also a display of an art competition showing Frederick during the holidays.

Closer to home you say? Try the Rockville Town Center Holiday Open House and Christmas Tree Lighting on Thursday, December 4 for their tree-lighting ceremony featuring singing, dancing, ice skating, and general holiday merriment. And enjoy the NIH Chamber Singers Holiday Concert on Saturday, December 6 at the Rockville Memorial Library.

And what would the holidays be without concerts, especially choral concerts! Here is a list of local Holiday Concerts at Strathmore, Gaithersburg, Takoma Park, and Rockville. You can't not go to at least one! Garrett Park has its own program,the Town Holiday SingAlong, Friday, December 12. There's nothing more fun than singing holiday songs!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Davis Library's events:

And for all Montgomery County Public Libraries events use our interactive Calendar of Events.

But wherever you decide to go, enjoy this season of hope and good will!

Happy Holidays,
lisa n

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

cover image of Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich
A comedy of holiday errors.
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.
Some of my favorite fall decorations.

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 for an hour or two. 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 an audiobook or two to break the tedium. 

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

Tina R.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Pirate's Life For Me

End of a Pirate’s Day by ecstaticist, on FlickrI’ve been spending a lot of time with pirates lately. The virtual kind, on TV and iPad screens, and in the flesh. My two-year-old grandson is, well obsessed is not too strong a word, with all things pirate. The Disney cartoon show Jake and the Neverland Pirates is top choice every day for his allotted TV time. Thomas the Tank Engine and Caillou are consigned to his babyish past. For Halloween he dressed up as Jake, of course, and I had the pleasure of accompanying a little pirate around the neighborhood. We had to teach him to say “Trick or Treat” not “Yo, Ho, Ho.” He lagged behind his older brothers, a spy and Spiderman, but still managed to collect more candy than little pirate hands could carry. I console myself with the thought that Jake and the Neverland Pirates does have some redeeming value. The stories emphasize cooperation among friends to solve a problem, and at the end the pirates always count the gold doubloons they have earned for their treasure chest. My grandson counts along with them.

If there is a pirate obsessed child in your life here are some books you can find in the children’s section of the library:
  • Shiver Me Timbers by Douglas Florian is a collection of poems perfect to read aloud to the littlest pirates as they
    Shiver Me Timbers by Douglas Florian
    take in the lively accompanying paintings.
  • In Pirate Mom by Deborah Underwood a little boy’s mother is hypnotized into thinking she is a pirate. How can he change his Mom back? A Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award winner.
  • Eloise’s Pirate Adventure by Lisa McClatchy is perfect for little girls who aspire to the pirate life. Eloise dresses up as a pirate and goes on an adventure in search of treasure.
  • And don’t forget the classics Peter Pan and Treasure Island, both perfect for reading aloud a chapter at a time at bedtime.
How to be a Pirate by John Malam
  • Older children will enjoy Pirate by Richard Platt, one of the lavishly illustrated Eyewitness book series, and How to be a Pirate by John Malam.
You can find more children’s nonfiction books about pirates by exploring the shelves in the J910.45 section. And the children's librarians will be happy to recommend more pirate-themed fiction for specific ages.

There is some serious history behind the popular image of the swashbuckling pirate, some of it surprising. Quite how violent criminals of the past became beloved children’s characters is an interesting story in itself. (J.M. Barrie and Johnny Depp surely share some of the responsibility). Here is a sampling of some of the books for adults that explore this fascinating history:
Meanwhile I’m going to be watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates (or Ho Ho Pi as my grandson calls it) until he moves on to a new enthusiasm. But it has its uses. With some of my imaginary gold doubloons I purchased Jake the Pirate underwear as an incentive for potty training! 

Rita T.

Image: "End of a Pirate's Day" creative commons license by ecstaticist on Flickr

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mike Smith's Medical Illustrations & Safari Books Online

Some of the most elegant illustration being done at present is coming from the field of medical illustration.  Medical animator and illustrator Mike Smith produces some particularly stunning images.  Watch the demo video below, a little under 3 minutes long.  Speculative fiction, science fiction, in print and on film, owes a great deal to the vision, imagery, and techniques, of medical and biological illustration.

Our ability to comprehend the powerful forces and interactions in the microscopic worlds around us and within us are made possible by this kind of illustration.
Here are two stills from a previous animation.  The animation is linked below.

image of bacteriophage T4 virus
bacteriophage T4 virus - Still image from animation depicting a 
bacteriophage virus attacking a bacterium.
Done with 3ds Max and After Effects.

These illustrations require a great deal of knowledge of computer tools.  The artist knows and uses the computer as a painter knows the hairs on the brush, or the physical and visual qualities of pigments as they adhere and blend on brush and painting surface.

Image of Stereocilia
Stereocilia - This image depicts stereocilia in the inner ear, and the 
 resulting chemical reaction travelling down the pillar cells.
Done with 3ds Max and After Effects
Watch them in action at the Demo Reel (bacteriophage T4 and stereocilia).

All images above are copyright and used with permission of Mike Smith.

Mike Smith used the programs 3ds Max and After Effects to create these animations.  You can learn about using this software from the tech e-books available from MCPL in Safari Books Online.  You can access these from the E-Books section of the library's website, MCPL E-Books.

You will need a current library card to log in.  These books are free to read through the library website, but do not download,  You can read them online in your browser window.  When you enter Safari, there is a search box in the upper right hand side of the page.  Search for 3ds Max or After Effects and you will find a selection of books on how to use these programs.  You can do a more general search for animation, or search for any other tech subject that interests you.  There is a huge online library available to you through Safari.

If you are an illustrator or are looking for a local illustrator, there is an illustrators trade association in the DC area you can visit online here: The Illustrators Club of Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.  There is a fair amount of information here, including links to illustrator portfolios, including medical illustrators, FAQs, fair practices, and business and legal tips.

Nell M

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Sea of Red

Like a few of my colleagues, I vacationed in Great Britain this summer. Mindful of the centennial (or centenary) of the outbreak of World War I, my husband and I kept an eye out for historic monuments and exhibitions. Nothing even came close to the impact of these poppies, flowing like a flood into the moat of the Tower of London. One over-sized ceramic poppy for each British service member to die in the 1914 - 1918 War.  In this case, British, refers to soldiers, sailors, and flyers from Great Britain alone, not including her colonies and possessions at the time.

More explanation about the art installation.

War is always fertile ground for writers and we are seeing some great new fiction and non-fiction on this subject or set in this time and its aftermath. You may wish to put The Embrace of Unreason; France 1914 - 1940 on hold so as to peruse it at leisure when it hits the shelves. If biography is your preferred non-fiction genre, how about Lawrence of Arabia.  Perhaps a trip to Paris at the End of the World or To Conquer Hell.

If fiction is more your cup of tea perhaps the graphic novel The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks will thrill you, while awakening your awareness of the first Black regiment recruited in the United States to serve in Europe for this conflict.

But for my taste, a great mystery is just the thing and any of the Maisie Dobbs whodunits will do it.  And now their author, Jacqueline Winspear, has given us a stand alone novel of the Great War - The Care and Management of Lies.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hey, that's not me!

thief with credit card
Credit Fraud

I shop frequently at Home Depot,  so when the notice came out that their electronic records had been accessed and credit card info stolen, I was mildly concerned.

Two years ago, my debit card was compromised.   My bank caught the $600 worth of charges from a boutique in the south of France, and quickly replaced my card.  (If only I HAD been shopping in Nice!).

On the recommendation of my bank, I started using a credit card for all transactions, and checking the account every couple of weeks.

You can probably figure out the rest - this week, I checked the account and found that  I had been simultaneously - shopping in New York City; buying lunch at a hospital in Florida:  and placing orders from QVC!  I am NOT a QVC shopper.  AND charging $1 at each day.   After 30 minute call to the fraud department of my credit card company, all of that was cleared up. Or so I thought.

The next day a letter from QVC arrived, telling me that my pin number on my account had been updated as I had requested.   A call to customer service at QVC, and the fraudulent account was closed.  But now I knew that my name and address was associated with fraudulent use of my credit card.

So, off to research what I should be doing to protect my identity and my credit.

First stop was the Federal Trade Commission website, where there is an excellent page dealing with how to address identity theft.  The page walks consumers through the steps to take initially, such as placing a fraud alert on your credit file, and how to get a free credit report.  There is also detail about further steps you can take to protect your identity.

Since I had a strong suspicion that my information was stolen through Home Depot, I checked their website for any information.  There I found that I could sign up for a free year’s subscription to a credit monitoring company, and I took advantage of that offer.

I am cautiously hopeful that I have taken enough steps to protect my identity and financial information, but will certainly continue to be vigilant.  After all, I don’t want to end up like the characters in these works -

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
Book Cover - To Rise Again at a Decent Hour
To Rise Again

After noticing his identity has been stolen and used to create various social media accounts, a man with a troubled past, Paul O'Rourke, begins to wonder if his virtual alter ego is actually a better version of himself.

Book Cover "I'll Walk Alone"
I'll Walk Alone
I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

Thirty-two year old Alexandra Moreland is a rising star in the architectural world and lives in Manhattan. But when she is plagued by identity theft, her successful life is turned upside down. Someone has gained access to her bank accounts, credit cards, personal background, and is now impersonating her. Then, with overwhelming circumstantial evidence stacked against her, Alexandra is arrested for the murder of a woman she claims she's never met. Or has she?

DVD cover of film Identity Thief
Identity Thief
Identity Thief (DVD)

 - Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy star in this story of  mild-mannered businessman Sandy Patterson who travels from Denver to Miami to confront the deceptively harmless-looking woman who has been living it up after stealing Sandy's identity.

Cover image of e-resource
50 Ways to ...
If you feel that you'd like to have more information about protecting yourself from identity theft or credit fraud take a look at this e-resource:  50 ways to protect your identity in a digital age by Steve Weisman.  Just click on this link to access the catalog record, then link to the e-resource from the record.

Stay safe!  Anita

Friday, October 24, 2014

All Aboard for Train Day!

All aboard for Train Day!  The Damascus Library and the Damascus Senior Center will host Train Day on Saturday, November 1st from 10-4 pm. 

There will be a special preschool storytime all about trains  at 10:30 am.  

View the model train layouts throughout the day, and come visit our very special train conductor to get your commemorative ticket punched.  

Souvenir train whistles free for the little ones. 

Train bandanas available for sale by the Damascus FOL. 

Music will be provided by the First Fruits bluegrass band. 

Hungry?  You can buy a hobo lunch in the Senior Center cafeteria and also shop the Senior Center Holiday Bazaar.  

This free event is sponsored by the Friends of the Library, Damascus Chapter.  The Damascus Library/Damascus Senior Center is located at 9701 Main Street, Damascus, Maryland.

For more information call the Damascus Library at 240-773-9444.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shakespeare on Screen

To the high school kids who moan & groan, "Why do we have to read Shakespeare?"

Trust us librarians.  There is a reason why that guy has been sticking around for 400+ years.  So here's bit of help.  Just pick a good film, watch it, interpret it in your own way!

I love films and I love Shakespeare.  I try to catch as many new productions on stage as well as on screen.  Some are great, some are so-so, and some you don't want to bother.  Here's a list of my film favorites.

Hamlet (1996)
Watch the one with Kenneth Branagh with a star-studded cast. Skip the Mel Gibson one (1990).  But my real favorite is the BBC production with Kevin Kline playing Hamlet (1990).  Kevin Kline, you say?  He is actually a great Shakespearean actor.  Bonus at the end.  Fortinbras is played by breathtakingly handsome Rufus Sewell (of Cold Comfort Farm).  I have seen him on stage, and it turns out that he can't act.  Maybe that's why he was playing Fortinbras.  Life is fair.

The Merchant of Venice (2004)
To be precise, the film title was William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino in the lead role and Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes supporting.  Al Pacino makes a very good Shylock.

Coriolanus (2011)
Ralph Fiennes is Coriolanus in an unspecified contemporary civil war setting and Vanessa Redgrave takes a prize as the top-notch tiger mom.  You'll be glad she wasn't your mother.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Young Leonardo DiCaprio and young Claire Danes in modern Verona setting.  I grew up with very 60's Olivia Hussey's Juliet (1968) and still have a soft heart for it, but DiCaprio and Danes create some sparks together.  On the other hand, a recording on CD of this play with not-so-young Kenneth Branagh playing Romeo is very impressive. You can vividly imagine the young Romeo's agony in the temper tantrum he throws with tears and snot rolling on the floor in front of Friar Laurence. A must hear.

Henry V (1989)
Kenneth Branagh again.  Sorry, what can I say.  This one with Emma Thompson playing Princess Katherine when they were an item, and it shows.

Much Ado about Nothing (1993)
Emma Thompson, Michael Keaton, Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves?  Actually it works. Very entertaining.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Not the best I've seen but how can you pass up Kevin Kline playing Nick Bottom wooing the fairy queen Michelle Pfeiffer.  Christian Bale plays Demetrius and Dominic West (HBO's The Wire) plays Lysander. 

So what kind of a guy was Shakepeare?  No problem.  Watch Shakespeare in Love (1999), and you'll already feel like you know him. My head bows to film directors and actors.  Thank you.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Getting Around London

I had the privilege of hanging out in London for two separate weeks this year and I learned several lessons about the best way to get around, so I am passing them on to you.

The Tube, The Underground, the Subway, the Metro…call it what you like but that is the most efficient, cheapest and fastest way to make your way across London. First of all, get your Oyster Card (like a Metro Card) and then get a Tube Map called the Standard Tube Map which you need to study…and study some more.  I learned from an unfortunate experience that you should really, really, look at that map when you need to transfer, but the smartest advice is to ask. Londoners are lovely and very helpful and certainly proud of their city.

Walking: Central London isn’t very big. We walked from The Tower of London all the way along the Thames to The London Eye. The weather was good with lots of history along the way.  And a great way to learn about the city is the London Walks teaches you not only the history of that area but you also learn where “things” are. I remembered, from my first visit and London Walk, that Spitalfields is an open air market was in East London. I studied my little tube map and found my way with only a few questions asked, to my shopping destination! Yes, I was proud of myself!

Bicycling: London as in many other cities have joined the Bicycle Share Program Cycle-hire. Of course you really have to know where you are going and be aware that cars drive on the left (absolutely frightful!) so this is not for the faint of heart. However, it is easy and very inexpensive.  Perhaps for the younger set!

Rickshaw Drivers: After attending a wonderful cabaret show in Soho, which ended around 11:30 pm and we finally left at midnight, we attempted to find a taxi which seemed to be impossible. And when it started to rain, we were approached by a rickshaw driver who asked us where we were going. We said, Westminster is much too far, but he checked his little map and said no problem: 10 pounds per person. And we squeezed into the cab (where he put on a cover for us) and we were there in 20 minutes…with a story to tell! After all we were only 1 ½ miles away. More information from London Rickshaws.

Taxis: London taxi drivers are a colorful and fascinating breed and an endless source of information, but, unless you really cannot get there any other way, it is expensive and often takes longer because of the terrible traffic. That’s my opinion. We were told about the UberTaxis and, much like the protests here in Washington, there was a protest by the taxi drivers in London as well. I have not yet tried that option, but many have.

Getting lost: Yes I have much experience there. And it actually helped me find places I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I finally downloaded a compass app onto my “mobile” and that really helped me when the GPS said, “Head North!"

Double Decker Buses: Often they are the perfect way to introduce you to London and there are several types of those as well: ones with full blown tours like Bus Tours or the hop on hop off method from Hop On Hop Off Tours.  And there are just regular buses that take you where you need to go on  London Buses.  You can use your Oyster Card for that too.

Guidebooks: Montgomery County Public Libraries has many guidebooks with all this information inside their colorful pages:
• Fodor's 2015 London - Caird, Jo,
• Fodor's 25 Best. London - Nicholson, Louise
• Rick Steves' London 2014 - Steves, Rick
• Pocket London: Top Sights - Filou, Emilie
And travel e-books that you can download to your e-reader.

Any way you want to explore London, I guarantee you will enjoy, learn, and want to return.

lisa n

Friday, October 10, 2014

Teens, Teens, They're Good for Your Heart!

2013-2014 MCPL Teen Advisory Group
Pardon the paraphrase of the classic rhyme about beans, but I couldn't resist!  I have written before about being blessed to work in a profession I love and to work with some really great people (both colleagues AND customers). Here’s another aspect of my job that I love:  working with teens. Yes, those very same teens that drive you crazy at home and make you think that there might be some methods of punishment from Colonial times that should be revived. Parents of Montgomery County, fear not! You are doing a great job of raising savvy and interesting young adults who love libraries and reading (among other things).  Serving teens at MCPL has been a focus of my work for the last few years as part of a committee that tries to find new and improved ways to reach this age group. This year, I am also helping to lead the MCPL Teen Advisory Group (usually referred to as TAG). The TAG this year has 36 teen members representing 19 high schools from all over Montgomery County (public and private) and 17 (out of 20) of our library branch communities. We have some great plans for developing more interaction between the library and the teen community and for hosting programs and events around the county. These teens also contribute content to the MCPL Teensite in the form of book, movie, music and theater reviews and original writing, drawings and photographs. Any teens who want to contribute content can do so by following the instructions on Teensite—they don’t have to be members of TAG!
TAG members with author Carl Hiaasen
TAG members got to interview author Carl Hiaasen
at Bethesda Library on October 7, 2014. 
While checking out Teensite, notice that there is a tab for Homework that provides access to our premium research databases and other resources that are useful for school assignments. Many reference materials are no longer available in print format so it can be very helpful to know, for example, that you can get to biographical information from Biography in Context any time of the day or night. (No more frustrating trips to the library 15 minutes before closing time on the night before the report is due!!) MCPL also offers many ways for teens to use or to get involved at the library. Teen programs are always happening in all branches throughout the county. (Check our online calendar of events for current listings. You can narrow down your searching by using the tools on the left side of the screen to limit by age group or library branch.) There are group study rooms in some branches that can be reserved by teens (or adults) to do group work. Teens can volunteer at the library for SSL hours or apply for a job as a Library Page.

Teens bring so much energy and enthusiasm to the library—for books, reading, learning, sharing, creating, changing the world, and lots of other things. Working with them keeps me feeling young at heart and it really is a pleasure to see them grow as citizens and as leaders of the future.

Tina R.