Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Library Card Sign Up Month

brother and sister with first library cards
Silver Spring - 1st Library Cards
Do you remember getting your first library card? I remember getting my first library card when I was about 5 years old because at the time in order to get a library card a child had to actually write his or her name. When I got my own library card it was such a source of pride that I could now check out beloved books like Make Way for Ducklings, Little House, and A Pocket for Corduroy with my very own card. As I grew up and my books and interests changed and developed I discovered even more exciting books that my library had to offer.

baby with first library card
Gaithersburg - 1st Library Card
Today the library offers many new and exciting services and resources that they didn't have when I first got my library card like e-books, e-magazines, audiobooks, online classes, downloadable and streaming music, online article access, test preparation help online, Digital Media Labs, and STEM Go! Kits for kids. What hasn't changed is that my library card still gives me access to a wealth of free information, services, and resources, both in person at library branches and online. It still is the most important card in my wallet when I first got it as it is today!

Want to know more about what your free library card gives you access to?  Have a look at these 25 free library services you may not know about!

  1. Download e-magazines.
  2. Take high quality, online classes from Gale Courses.
  3. Use the Digital Media Lab to learn, explore, and create digital media.
  4. Download music from Freegal.
  5. Check out a science-themed Go! Kit, which also contains a mini iPad, for you and your child.
  6. Put a book on hold online.
  7. Download e-books.
  8. Use Microsoft Office to build skills.
  9. Use public PCs to create online documents.
  10. Renew your materials online.
  11. Download audiobooks.
  12. Learn a language online.
  13. Check out books in other languages.
  14. Stream classical, folk or world music.
  15. Stream classic theatre productions.
  16. Prepare for the SAT, ASVAB, and more.
  17. Get online auto repair information.
  18. Check Consumer Reports from home.
  19. Use self-service checkout machines.
  20. Pick up a good read.
  21. Borrow materials from libraries around the country.
  22. Find magazine and newspaper articles online.
  23. Search your family history with HeritageQuest Online.
  24. Borrow a Kill-A-Watt kit.
  25. Learn to read online with BookFlix.

I use my library card to download audiobooks to listen to
I use my library card to
download audiobooks to listen to.
And don't keep this exciting news all to yourself. Let your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and people in your community know just how awesome having a library card is! Here is how they too can get a library card at any age!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

5 Ways to End Your Kid's Summer on a High Note

The last few weeks before back-to-school are often filled with frantic shopping trips and last minute details that need to be finalized. With most Montgomery County students scheduled to head back to school on August 31, and other area schools heading back sooner, we know this is a busy time for parents and kids. But summer is not quite over yet, so here are 5 ways to end your kid's summer on a high note:

1. Finish summer reading.
Registration for MCPL's summer reading program closed August 9, but participants who have already signed up for an online account can continue logging books—and earning badges and incentives—through August 31. Starting September 1, our summer reading portal will convert to Beanstack's reader's advisory service and will continue to provide book suggestions for readers at all levels.

2. Attend a special summer program.
While many summer reading programs have already passed, there are still a number of exciting special events this month. These include events with the Maryland Zoo and Shazam Magic, both of which have been entertaining families all summer long, as well as special events like Chinese dance and movie nights.

Weekly Rhyme Time at Long Branch
3. Attend a recurring library program.
Storytimes and LEGO programs are a staple of the library all year long—and that includes the summer! Whether you are looking for an activity to break up errands, or just need to get out of the house, heading out to your local branch for one of these fun, learning events is a great way to spend a few hours.

4. Learn a new skill.
Kids can sharpen their reading skills and gain reading confidence through programs like our Read to a Dog and Grandreaders programs, but they can also learn an entirely new skill like chess or explore a topic like emergency preparedness. Branches also have STEM stations set up for kids to gain hands-on understanding of science concepts.

5. Get your child's library card.
Ok, library card sign-up month is officially September (more about this next week), but why not add getting a library card to your child's back-to-school list? A library card will help encourage your child to read and be engaged in other library activities.

Have an older child? We have great events for teens as well. Three late-summer events for teens:

1. Teen writing clubs.
Our teen writing clubs are on-going groups that meet at several of our branches. Whether you are a fiction writer or a blogger, all writing styles and skill levels are welcome at these groups, which will give you a chance to practice your writing skills and get assistance and feedback from a supportive group of peers.

2. Rock the Mic Open Mic Night.
Teens will rock the mic at an open mic night at the Rockville Memorial Library this Saturday, August 22, and next Saturday, August 29,  from 7-8:30 PM. Bring your poetry, spoken word, and acoustic instruments!

3. Teen and adult events.
Teens are also invited to participate in events for teens and adults, such as knit and crochet groups, conversation clubs, and gardening workshops.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pass the Magazines!

In a low-tech moment:
dolphins spotted during a trip to the beach!
I spent several days in California with my family last week, celebrating my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday. (Happy birthday, Grandma!)

While we were there, my dad and I, in our role as family tech support, were asked to help out with a few technology-based tasks, such as fixing my grandmother’s computer and replacing her television. Since I work at a library, my uncle also asked me to help set up library apps on his new iPad, which I was happy to do.

The process got me thinking. When people who aren’t heavy users of library electronic resources talk to me about this topic, they usually focus on e-books and audiobooks. At MCPL, our customers downloaded 379,370 e-books and audiobooks in 2013, and this continues to be a popular service, with multiple e-book and audiobook services available for our customers.

Often lost in this discussion, however, is the expanded offerings of downloadable e-magazines offered by many libraries. In fact, e-magazine services from MCPL meant that I did not have to take the paper copy of Bloomberg Buisnessweek’s coding issue (June 15, 2015), which my dad had brought for me, nor did I have to try to cram in a large number of dense articles while I was trying to visit with my family. I just went online and checked out the issue from Zinio at MCPL, downloaded it to my tablet, and I can now read it at my convenience.

flipster screenshot
People en espaƱol in the
Flipster app for Android
MCPL currently offers two e-magazine services: Zinio, which we have had for a while, and Flipster, which just debuted recently. Both services allow customers to check out digital versions of the print magazines, complete with color photos, which they can read in their browser or download to an app for offline reading.

The services offer complementary titles that cover a wide range of interest areas, with everything from Cooking Light to Ebony to Popular Science to Newsweek. Flipster also has a large selection of kids magazines, including Zoobooks and Babybug. Both services offer current issues and a selection of back issues (the number of back issues available varies by title). They also have digital navigation options, although these differ some from title to title.

There are some important differences between the services that customers should be aware of. Titles borrowed from Zinio do not expire. There is also no limited on the number of titles you can check out at once, although the Zinio for Libraries app will only display a limited number of issues. Downloaded issues can also take up a lot of space on your device, so you may prefer to delete them from your app when you have finished reading them.

To read Flipster titles in the offline app, you need to sign into Flipster on the browser of your mobile device and then select “Open in App.” Downloaded issues will be available to read for one week. Flipster does allow printing magazine pages and sections from the browser, within limits that vary by title. (Zinio titles can only be printed using screenshots.)

Both services offer a lot of great options, and great titles, for your magazine reading pleasure. Happy reading!

Lennea and her grandmother

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Librarian's Tips: Organizing Books Using the KonMari Method

books before
Books in need of organization
As a librarian, the idea of ripping out pages of a book to remember specific passages is terrifying, but that is precisely what Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant and author, writes about doing in her New York Times bestselling book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying-Up. Kondo decided to rip out pages of books during her quest for a simpler and less cluttered life with only items that "spark joy" surrounding her. She calls this method the KonMari method and the primary idea is if something doesn't spark joy, it must be discarded.

books before
A little help here?
Ultimately, Kondo decides that perhaps ripping pages from books isn't the most effective because paper very rarely sparks joy and also because she never referred back to those passages.

The KonMari method has strict stages of organization: clothes, books, paper, "komono" or miscellany, and sentimental items.

When I got around to the book organization stage of the KonMari method, I used my librarian skills to develop a few helpful hints to aide with the process:
  1. Use your library to download e-books or borrow books. This is an excellent way to live with less. If a book really resonates with you, then consider buying it. When I finally began organizing my books, I realized that I have only re-read three or four books in my collection. There were also quite a few books that I have never finished reading. I imagined that there would be a time when I'd read these books. Some of these books were gifts, some were purchased at retail cost, some were purchased secondhand, but all books had one thing in common: I'd probably never read them.
  2. books after
    Organized—KonMari Style!
  3. Log all of your books on GoodReads and write virtual notes about them for future reference. You can also create a bookshelf of the books you never finished—just in case you want to go back and read them - after you've borrowed them from your local library, of course.
  4. Donate your used books to your local library or thirft store. And, as the KonMari method suggests for all your possessions, wish your books well for having served their purpose in your life.

Those are this librarian's tips. What are some KonMari organizational tips that you have? Share them with us in the comments.