Wednesday, August 27, 2014

National Book Festival 2014

You won’t have to worry if it rains!

For all you author groupies out there, you may be expecting the National Book Festival around mid-late September. But this year, the date and venue have changed. Because of the new irrigation system put in by the National Park Service, there is not enough space available for all the tents required, so they are moving to a new place and a new time: August 30, 2014 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Although it  will only be open for one day, you can visit from 10AM-10PM so there is more than enough room and time to see all your favorite authors.

No matter where or when the event is held, you can still see all the authors that have amazed, intrigued and lured you into the library (hopefully). Here's a preview some authors that you may not be familiar with:
For an up close and personal involvement you may be interested in volunteering, as many librarians do, email and ask about volunteering.

Want to know how to get there and other questions: FAQ

For the schedule and more information than you know what to do with have a look at the National Book Festival site.

Whomever you decide to visit, you won’t be sorry to make the trip. See you at the National Book Festival on August 30, 2014, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 10am-10pm.

lisa n.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What is Your Favorite Book?

Picture of a doe facing the camera.
I got that "deer in the headlights" look.
A customer asked me that question recently while I was helping her at the Information Desk. You might think it would be easy for a librarian to answer, but I dread this question. I sat looking at her for quite a few seconds like a deer caught in the headlights while I briefly considered (and dismissed as not being a “favorite”) all the titles scrolling across my mind. What criteria should I use—best writing? best characters? best plot? most thought provoking? something I would want to read again?  My customer finally told me to “forget it” since I probably started looking panicked as my eyes glazed over. Or because it was obvious that I couldn’t look things up in the catalog for her and think about that question at the same time.

Every book I read at just the right time becomes a favorite. At least, until I read the next one at just the right time. Favorite, for me, does not necessarily mean I want to read it again. There are not many books that I re-read because I usually find myself skipping paragraphs—even pages—since I already know the details. The most notable exceptions to this are the Harry Potter series (I used to re-read all the books every time a new one was published. Yes, my social life was lacking in those years.) and anything in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. (There are a LOT of Discworld books. Use this guide for suggestions on how to tackle them.) Another exception is Code Name Verity by ElizabethWein —a book that completely changes your perceptions of the first half as you read the second half. I want to read it again so I can fully appreciate just how well the author sets up the details to deliver the gut-wrenching jolt in the second half. 
cover image of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowlingcover image of Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

My customer’s question had me thinking long after she left the library. I read so many booksand listen to so many audiobooks in so many different genres that I have a hard time remembering what I have read let alone sorting them into favorites. I thought that maybe I should decide on a few favorites so that I have an answer (or six) ready the next time someone asks.

I took a brief survey of my colleagues to find out what their favorite books are. Everyone had to hesitate for a few moments before answering. One person, like me, said that she has "favorites of the year or of the moment" that seem to be replaced with new favorites the more she reads. Here are some staff favorites from my branch:
What are your favorites?
Tina R

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Burning of Washington

This summer marks the bicentenary of the burning of the White House by British troops on August 24, 1814.  I must say I never learned about this episode in history lessons at my British school, but when I moved to the Washington area people often teased me about it when they heard my accent.  While the reasons for the War of 1812 seem obscure today, the humiliation of the successful attack on the nation’s capital apparently still stings.  

The war of 1812 began with a series of naval battles before moving inland.  After defeating American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg the British surged into Washington unopposed.  President Madison and his wife Dolley fled the capital with just a couple of hours to spare.  Dolley carried with her the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington, saving it from the flames.  Their departure was so hasty that they left the table in the White House dining room set for dinner.  The British officers made themselves at home and enjoyed the meal intended for the President’s family before setting fire to the building.  But President Madison was able to return to Washington just a few days later as the British returned to their ships and sailed to Baltimore. 

Americans much prefer to remember the successful defense of Baltimore at Fort McHenry in September, a victory that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner.  By the close of 1814 the war concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve.  The British were glad to be rid of the American distraction so they could focus on their main enemy, Napoleon.  Our British history lessons may have neglected the burning of Washington, but we certainly learnt about the great victory over Napoleon!  The decisive Battle of Waterloo was fought six months later on June 18, 1815, just 50 miles from Ghent.

Learn more about the War of 1812 and the burning of Washington with these resources:
A number of local communities plan commemorative events:
There is an interesting Montgomery County connection to the events of 1814.  The tiny town of Brookeville became capital city for a day when President Madison sought shelter there.  Read an account of Brookeville’s brief brush with history at The Dabbler and check out the town’s planned celebrations.

Rita T.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Looking for a book?

Are you looking for a book? 
to take to the beach?

for a rainy day?
for your bookclub?
just to read?
to recommend?
for a gift?

Visit the MCPL Readers' Cafe.

Notice the tabs along the top of the page, they look like this only larger:

Here are the names and links from the above row of tabs that will help you find a book that is just right: 

Readers' Café  |  Literature Research  |  We Recommend  | Librarian's Choice  | Book Newsletters  |  For Book Clubs  |  Booklists  |  News

Readers' Café
Offers lists of the new books MCPL has on order, bestsellers and award winning titles, and a variety of other updates, information and options for readers.  It also features the MCPL Shout Out Blog.

Literature Research
Offers a wealth of electronic resources for readers:
Literature Resource CenterLiterature Resource Center provides criticism and biographies from journals and reference books.
Gale Virtual Reference Library logoLiterature from the Gale Virtual Reference Library - E-books about literature and authors, including biographies and criticism.  Includes Twayne's Author Series and Scribner Writers Series.
NoveList logoNoveList Plus - Find fiction by series, plot, setting, and read-alikes. Also book discussion guides, booklists and award winners, booktalks, and other articles. Covers fiction and nonfiction for all ages.
Books and Authors logoBooks & Authors is a book discovery and readers' advisory website, with read-alikes and suggestions, award lists, series lists, author information, reviews, and reader rating.  Includes advice on "What Do I Read Next?"
Find book reviews icon
MCPL offers many periodicals in full-text online, including the New York Times Book Review.  Find book reviews in periodicals by using General OneFile or MasterFile Premier.  Find book reviews in newspapers through National Newspapers Premier.  For more, see our Articles Guide.
Be sure to check out NoveList Plus which is a fabulous tool for identifying potential good reads.

We Recommend
Offers selections of books on a variety of topics selected by MCPL librarians.

Librarian's Choice
Every month MCPL librarians review a book we recommend.

Book Newsletters 
Offers a list of book related newsletters you can read online or subscribe to via RSS or email.

For Book Clubs
Offers a selection of titles popular with book clubs, selected by MCPL librarians, with review and discussion guides, plus general advice for bookclubs.

Offers a variety of booklists, multicultural giving you access to books and authors from around the world, and If You Liked ... lists, for both authors and genres.

Offers recent items of books and authors news, plus recently awarded book prizes.

Nell M.