Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tudor Tour

The Tudors - Season 1“I’m Henry the Eighth I am, Henry the Eighth I am, I am…”

Alas, these classic lyrics, made famous by English band Herman’s Hermits, are not about the great English monarch, Henry VIII, who only managed to accumulate 6 wives, not 8. But it's still a great introduction to a great family, the Tudors, the dynasty that ruled England from 1485 to 1603.

There are many Hollywood incarnations of the Tudor dynasty, which blend complex historical fact with spectacular splendor. According to, there are more than 60 films and television mini-series produced since the early 1900s, in addition to numerous novels, biographies and ancestral accounts chronicling one of the most fascinating families to have emerged from our neighbors “across the pond.”

If your interest is piqued by recent television shows about the Tudor Dynasty (The Tudors on Showtime, Wolf Hall from BBC2/PBS, Reign on the CW channel), then I recommend background reading to help keep track of Who’s Who in the sometimes-tangled but fascinating plots.

Alison Weir has written a number of accounts of the Tudors. She’s known for her appealing, “story-telling” writing style. While she’s written about various time in British history, her preference is for the Tudor period, stating it’s “the most dramatic period in our history, with vivid, strong personalities...The Tudor period is the first one for which we have a rich visual record, with the growth of portraiture, and detailed sources on the private lives of kings and queens. This was an age that witnessed a growth in diplomacy and the spread of the printed word.”

The Six Wives
David Starkey’s excellent accounts of Henry VII and his daughter Elizabeth are also available through MCPL: Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2003)  and Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne  (2001).

There are never “minor parts” in the Tudor dynasty epic – only “minor players.” And it’s the “minor players” that leave us wanting more tantalizing tidbits! For the curious, check out these titles available through MCPL.

Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox.  Jane Boleyn was Anne Boleyn’s treacherous sister-in-law and an aunt-by-marriage to Katherine Howard, Henry VIII’s 5th wife.

The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England by Retha Warnicke.
Anne of Cleves was Henry VIII’s 4th wife. Henry VIII was quite displeased with her and their marriage only lasted 6 months. She was cruelly labeled “The Flemish Mare” in the annals of history because Henry VIII thought her ugly.

The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd. Thomas More was Henry VIII’s Chancellor until he refused to swear an oath of recognition to the new Church of England and Henry’s marriage to his 2nd wife, Anne Boleyn. More was eventually executed for treason.

Edward VIThomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman. Thomas Cromwell succeeded More as Chancellor. Cromwell was executed after the political marriage he arranged between Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves went sour. Henry VIII was a difficult king to please.

Edward VI: The Lost King of England by Chris Skidmore. Edward VI was Henry VIII’s sole
legitimate son, and a determined champion of the Protestant Reformation. He inherited the English throne at age 10 and died at age 16, leaving the country in religious upheaval. Being a Tudor was tough.

What sayest thou? Intrigued by the Tudor family? Fling caution to yonder winds! Get thee to your local library and partake!

Andrea C

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Earth Friendly Energy at Montgomery County Public Libraries

Solar panels at Gaithersburg Library
Solar panels on the Rockville Memorial branch roof.
Montgomery County is becoming more environmentally friendly.  The Rockville Memorial and Gaithersburg branches of MCPL are helping lead the way. The two libraries recently installed solar energy panels to reduce their dependence on electricity produced by fossil fuels.  With sufficient sunlight, the equipment allows these libraries to function entirely on solar energy.

Photovoltaic cells make up the solar panels, which absorb sunlight to be converted to electricity.  The Rockville system features 288 panels, while the Gaithersburg system has 720.  Solar panels have become increasingly efficient in recent years and are more powerful than ever.  In fact, these panels are capable of producing a surplus of energy, sometimes twice the energy necessary for the building.  When this happens, the unused energy is recycled into the utility grid.

Solar panels on the Rockville Memorial branch roof.
The environmental benefits of the systems are profound.  By using solar energy to supplement the energy received from the grid, the two libraries will greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.  The Rockville and Gaithersburg libraries together are expected over 20 years to avoid producing more than 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide.  That’s the equivalent of planting over 100,000 trees!

The Union of Concerned Scientists notes that “CO2 remains in the atmosphere longer than the other major heat-trapping gases.”  The US Energy Information Administration has found that in 2015, carbon dioxide emissions “by the U.S. electric power sector were 1,925 million metric tons, or about 37% of the total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.”  Buildings using solar power can help to reduce a significant part of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. MCPL is proud to be part of the solution.

Solar energy is another great step toward for MCPL.  If you would like to learn more about solar energy, check out these books on solar power and our science databases.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

So, What Are You Going to Do After You Graduate?

A fork in the roadWhat are you going to do after you graduate? It's the question many high school and college students dread. Everyone asks you: cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and, of course, parents. Thankfully, your library is here to help. From finding a job to finding yourself, the library has the tools you need to prepare for a bright future.

Graduating can be an intimidating prospect. For years your path was clear, advance from one grade to the next. But now you've graduated from high school or college and the path is no longer neatly laid out for you. There are countless paths you can take. MCPL has tools to help you determine a direction. We have many books on matching your personality with a career. One example is Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type. This book uses the Myers-Briggs personality test to help better understand your unique personality traits and match those to careers. A similar book is the well known What Color Is Your Parachute? It also has sections focused on better understanding yourself and matching that understanding to a career. In addition, it has chapters on more concrete skills such as job hunting, interviewing, and salary negotiation.

Book cover - Will College Pay OffIf you're moving on to college or graduate school, MCPL has all the usual books about colleges and majors. We also have test prep material for the SAT, ACT, GED, and AP exams. You can find similar college and test prep material, and so much more, online through our Testing and Education Reference Center. We also have books such Will College Pay Off?, which delve into the often overlooked costs, and benefits, of going to college.  If you're not sure if college is for you, but still want to improve your employment prospects, take a look at the  Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program. This program provides information on what types of apprenticeships are available and how to become an apprentice.

Once you've found yourself, you might want to find a job. You can start out with something basic, like Knock'em Dead: Secrets and Strategies for First-Time Job Seekers. It includes tips on networking, job searching, interviewing, and moving up. We also have books, like Resume 101: a Student and Recent Grade Guide to Crafting Resumes and Cover Letters that Land Jobs, focused on specific parts of a job search, such as writing resumes and acing interviews. Try Safari Books Online for recent, online books similar to print books but available 24/7!

Book cover - More Money PleaseAfter you land that job, you'll want to make sure you keep some of that hard earned money. Personal finance books like More Money Please: the Financial Secrets You Never Learned in School cover budgeting, credit cards, paying for college, and other topics you'd expect.  We also have somewhat less conventional personal finance books such as Worth It - Not Worth It? Simple and Profitable Answers to Life's Tough Questions that approach things differently, addressing questions like should I live at home or move out, and, should I get a job or see the world. Can't make it into the library? No worries. Safari Books Online has plenty of personal finance books too.

Of course, it's not all about money. There are those pesky life skills, from finding your first apartment and living with messy roommates to cooking dinner and balancing your checkbook.  Try The Real Simple Guide to Real Life for practical tips. If you're more interested in inspiration than instruction, you'll like I Just Graduated..Now What? which contains stories and experiences from Anderson Cooper, Eva Longoria and other well known figures.

Whatever path you take, MCPL is here to help you on your journey. And when you make it big, don't forget to mention the library in your success story!

Mark S

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

3D Printing at MCPL

Did you see the episode of The Big Bang Theory when Howard created a 3D printed action figure of himself? Or how about the episodes in Grey's Anatomy where Dr. Yang and Dr. Grey 3D print veins, human hearts, and livers? 3D printing is all around us. It's worked its way into popular culture, medical sciences, fashion, music, the arts, and yes, libraries.

Orange 3D Robots
We come in peace.
3D printing is a process of laying down successive layers of materials to build an object. You can use lots of different materials for 3D printing, but here at MCPL, we use PLA (polylactic acid). PLA is a biodegradable thermoplastic made from renewable materials. MCPL offers Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud in the Digital Media Labs at Long Branch and Silver Spring to design your 3D objects. You can also use websites like Tinkercad or download free software programs like SketchUp or Blender. If you're just starting out with 3D design, Tinkercad offers some great tutorials on 3D design.

If you're not quite as into the design aspect, there's always Thingiverse! Thingiverse is a website where users can upload their own designs for others to use as they wish.

When our team at Silver Spring was learning how to 3D print, we used several designs from Thingiverse to test out our abilities and troubleshooting skills. Here are a few of the designs our staff
have printed:

3D Pencil Holder
Double helix pencil holder.
Double Helix Pencil Holder
AA Size Battery Storage Box
Spiral Chess Set
Round Clock

If you decide you'd like to get something printed at one of our libraries, all you have to do is go to our 3D Printing page on the MCPL website. There you'll find our 3D Printing User Agreement and FAQ, as well as the submission form you'll use to send us your design file in .stl or .obj format. Once you submit your file, your library account will be charged $1.00. The 3D Printing Team at your selected branch (Silver Spring or Long Branch) will review your request, then email you the cost of the item and ask for your approval to go ahead and print. Once the item is printed, you'll get another email that tells you your item is available to pick up. All charges (both the submission fee and the cost of the print itself) must be paid upon pickup.
3D print gone wrong
Nailed it!

If you're interested in learning more, our Silver Spring branch is offering a series of classes on 3D Printing and Design taught by Steve Morris, the owner of the local makerspace Catylator.

Getting Ready for 3D Printing – May 7th @ 11am
3D Printing Workshop – May 21st @ 11am

3D printing is truly a labor of love. For each success, expect 5 failures… but don’t worry, the failures are fun, too!

Rachel R.