Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Celebrate Black History Month 2017

Images of black history and books. Words Celebrate Black History.
Did you know that February is Black History Month? MCPL has free online resources, books, and events to help you learn and celebrate!

If you're looking to explore and research online we've got some wonderful, authoritative resources for you. The Oxford African American Studies Center online database is focused "on the lives and events which have shaped African American and African history and culture." It is a place where you can read articles, primary sources, maps, timelines, and biographical information.There are also many images included on the site that you can view.

Students at Lincoln High School
If you are looking for biographical information, you should have at look at Biography in Context. There you browse and search for information on notable African Americans. You can also search by nationality and occupation. The site provides articles from reference works, academic journals, magazines, and newspapers as well as images, audio clips, and videos.

You can discover history though song as well. Listen to streaming music from American Song which includes genres such as jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folk songs, and narratives, among others. If you are interested in jazz try the Jazz Music Library where you can choose from thousands of jazz artists, ensembles, albums, and genres.

African Americans during the American Civil War
Have you heard about the Lincoln Park History Project? It's a partnership MCPL has with several local historical and cultural organizations. Its purpose is to find, document, and preserve the cultural heritage of one of Rockville's oldest African American communities, Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park, started in the 1890s, was one of the first real estate ventures for African American homeowners in Montgomery County. We invite you to learn about its history, the families that lived there, the houses they lived in, and more. There is also information included about Lorenzo Dow Turner. He was a professor of English and he pioneered research of Gullah language in the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.

Looking for some fascinating books to read? We have some great book suggestions for adults and teens, as well as kids, to help celebrate Black History Month. The first week of Black History Month (February 1-7) kicks off with Read Africa Week (February 1-7). It is a literacy initiative of Africa Access, the Center for African Studies at Howard University, and Howard University’s School of Education. Teachers, librarians, parents, and adults are encouraged to introduce young people to great books about Africa during the first week of Black History Month. We have books as well as other resources for kids on Africa to help you get started.

Looking for events? We've got some exciting programs you won't want to miss. Here are some program highlights.

We're happy to help you start your journey exploring Black History today at MCPL!



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Gandhi Brigade / MCPL Tech Team

The Gandhi Youth Media Brigade and MCPL have been working together since the opening of the Long Branch Digital Media Lab in 2014. We are excited to have taken the next step in this collaboration with the introduction of free 12 week video production and graphic design classes for high school students.

Instructor stands in front of a whiteboard facing two teenage students sitting at a table
Students participate in the fall classes.
This collaboration launched last fall with classes at five locations during the fall semester. We really enjoyed seeing the teens expand their skills and knowledge over the course of the classes as they worked on their projects.

This spring, the classes will expand to seven locations. Classes at Silver Spring, White Oak, Marilyn Praisner, and Olney start Monday, January 23. Classes at Rockville Memorial and Kensington Park start January 24, and classes at Twinbrook start January 26. Silver Spring will offer graphic design. All other locations will offer video production. All classes will meet 3:30–5:30 pm once a week for twelve weeks. Participants are asked to register in advance. Register now open for all locations!

MoComCon January 21, 2017
Want just a taste of graphic design? Gandhi Brigade will also be joining MCPL at our first comic convention, MoComCon, January 21 at our Silver Spring branch. They will be running one-hour Adobe Illustrator workshop classes introducing the tools, materials and procedures used to create a digital portrait trace of comic super hero characters. The workshops will be held at 12, 1, and 2 pm. Registration will be held in person at the Silver Spring branch beginning at 11 am on January 21.

The collaboration on these classes has also led to other cooperative efforts. After the fall classes, Gandhi Brigade staff worked with Olney branch staff to produce our winter-themed video. This winter-themed video is about all the resources MCPL has to offer and features Olney staff, volunteers, and friends. The lyrics were written by Heather Wright, Head of Children's Services at Olney. Gandhi Brigade staff recorded the video. Sing along and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What Are Comics Doing In a Library?

With MCPL’s first Comic-Con coming later this month, people of all ages—including many library staff members—are excited about the crafts, panels, and workshops involving comic books, superhero movies, and related topics. Other people are likely thinking: “Why is a library promoting comics and graphic novels? Libraries used to be about providing real books, with words.”

At top: Banner with flags and "Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales." Main art: Portrayal of Harriet Tubman in woods with a lantern. Text at bottom: "The Underground Abductor".
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales:
a comics series about historical events
Comics in various forms, including the graphic novels we have in the library, have gotten more
respect over the last twenty years or so. One reason is the more serious content, as mentioned in a recent Shout Out post. Another is that they can help children and teens (and adults) who have reading difficulties. Children and teens who are reluctant readers or have reading disabilities, as well as anyone learning to read a new language, find comic books a bit easier to understand than regular books.  The pictures in a graphic novel provide context: through showing action, emotions expressed on characters’ faces, and objects, they help the reader understand the words and the story. Graphic novels can also provide insight into another culture or time period—just as books do, only with visual information as well.
 "Extraordinary XMEN" at top; art of six superheroes flying in sky in action poses.
Extraordinary X-Men: a
 new X-men series at MCPL

Then there’s the fun factor: people are attracted to comics because of the pictures. The artwork is beautiful or silly or edgy or grim according to the artist’s style and the type of story. Readers usually choose a comic that has both a story and artwork style that fits their interests, although I have occasionally broken out of my taste for “pretty” art to read something like classic comics creator R. Crumb’s adult-level interpretation of the Book of Genesis.

Drawings are not only shorthand for part of the story but are part of it—they set the scene, let you know exactly what characters look like without going into paragraphs of description, and show whether a character is sincere or is being sarcastic or dishonest.  The sense of action of superhero comics such as The X-Men, the intricacy of Kaoru Mori’s A Bride’s Story, and the retro, frequently-in-your-face art of Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor add to the creativity of the work in a way words do not, and add to the reader’s enjoyment as well.

 Title "Glue & Go Costumes for Kids" with pictures of kids in variety of costumes.
“But the pictures mean readers don't use their imagination!” you might think. That may be true in some cases, but graphic novels do inspire creativity. Fans who use graphic-novel characters as a basis for their costumes put effort into creating a character’s clothing and appearance using fabric, glue, makeup and other material. They find innovative ways to portray a character while working with a much smaller budget than movies and TV shows have. Then there are the fans who are inspired to create their own comic books, on their own or collaborating with a friend or two. And as a manga and anime fan, I’ve known many fellow fans who decide to start learning Japanese, either in school or on their own. (I’m one of the latter myself.) 

If you stop by Silver Spring during the Comic-Con, or visit other branches for related activities, you may see some of this creativity—drawings of original superheroes, people in homemade costumes, aspiring writers, and professionals in the comics field.  Perhaps you’ll be inspired yourself to join in, or at least try, a graphic novel for the first time.

Beth C.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How to Live a More Conscious, Purposeful 2017

Book cover for Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond FearThere’s hardly ever anything new on my New Year’s resolution lists. Do you feel the same? Each of my resolutions include the word “more” and none included “start” or “begin.” This made me realize that since we all seemingly know what we’d like to change or improve upon each year, maybe there’s a broader goal we should aim towards – slowing down and living a more conscious and purposeful life. Here are ways in which I hope to accomplish this goal in 2017:

1. Live more creatively. I recently listened to the audiobook Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Gilbert makes plenty of valid points about living a creative life and escaping fear in the process. One huge takeaway I got from this book was that creative living can be small and not intimidating. Creative living doesn’t mean quitting your day job to pursue dreams of becoming a novelist. Living more creatively can mean joining a writing group, attending a makerspace program or refurbishing a piece of furniture. These are small, attainable creative pursuits that can have a huge impact on how we feel and deal with stress. Gilbert reminds us that creative expression has been a part of the human experience for thousands of years. We are not machines.

2. Do more yoga & meditation. I once read that when you feel like you don’t have the time to meditate, that’s precisely when you need to mediate. Before my young daughter was born, I practiced yoga several times a week but after she was born, that stopped completely due to lack of time and motivation. Recently I’ve decided to try doing yoga with my daughter. The book Itsy Bitsy Yoga for Toddlers and Preschoolers: 8-minute Routines to Help Your Child Grow Smarter, Be Happier, and Behave Better by Helen Garabedian is a wonderful guide to practice yoga with your toddler. I find that simply breathing and looking into my daughter’s eyes is a way of centering and bonding with her. My body & mind feels so much better after our mini-yoga sessions and my daughter seems calmer and happier too! For those who want to practice yoga in a group setting without children, there’s also free yoga and meditation classes for adults at the library.

3. Be more original. Did you know great innovators procrastinate, feel fear and have bad ideas? This is just one of the surprising (and oddly comforting) findings that Adam Grant describes in Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. This book challenged me to think differently and remember the revitalizing energy that comes with nonconformity and originality. It inspired me to take more chances at work and at home, overcome fear and not to be too hard on myself if things don’t work out.

Here’s to a more centered and successful 2017!

Are you all about changing and improving? Follow us on social media. On Mondays, we feature articles, tips & tricks to help you improve your life on social media with the hashtag #makeachangemonday.

Adrienne M.H.