Saturday, May 16, 2015

Meet Olney's New Branch Manager, Barbara McClayton!

Barbara started her career with Montgomery County Public Libraries more than twenty years ago as a part-time children’s librarian at Olney. Since then, she's served many roles in the system, such as Librarian II and Senior Librarian, at branches across the county, and in the Administrative Offices in Rockville. Most recently, Barbara was the Branch Manager at Chevy Chase Library.    

Barbara at the New Books Display!

Welcome back to Olney Library! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been a librarian for most of my adult life. I’ve worked for Montgomery County Public Libraries for over 20 years. It’s great to come back to Olney. The first time I worked here I could carry my son on my hip; now he’s 23! So it’s a little bit different. The building is gorgeous, and I’m still seeing some of the customers I served when left about six years ago.

What are some of your memories of Olney Library when you started in the 1990s?   

When I came to Olney we had two Information Service desks: one in the children’s area and one for adults, and staff didn’t work at the opposite desks. Now we train information staff to serve all customers, from children to seniors. I think that makes it easier for our customers. 

Barbara, circa 1994

In what ways has Olney Library changed, or stayed the same?

The biggest change in Montgomery County Public Libraries is in the way we use technology. We use it in the way we serve our customers and in the way we communicate with each other. For example, when I first worked at Olney, we communicated with notes and paper memos. Now we rely on email. We had a big reference room with all kinds of books. To keep them up-to-date, publishers released annual supplements. Now we have databases that can stay current.

In the 1990s we did very traditional preschool programming. Preschool storytime was for children ages 3-5. Children attended by themselves; it was meant to be a “first independent experience.” MCPL has embraced the idea that parents and caregivers are the first teachers, so we want them to attend our programs to learn more about how to promote early literacy. We also expanded our early literacy programs to younger and younger children. Now we also include STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) elements in our programs.  

Promoting Olney's "Money Smart Week" activity

What do you like best about the new eco-friendly building?

I LOVE the windows—the great big windows— they let in so much light. I think the shape of the building and the way it soars to the sky is just breathtaking, as you’re coming down the road.    

Are there programs you’re looking forward to working on or bringing to Olney?

I’m looking forward to looking at what the community needs. I think we need to look at the demographic profile of our community. We need to consider the people who are "aging in place." People who were parents when I was here the first time are now in “seniors” category, and seem to be staying in their homes. We also have additional residential areas for seniors here, and both assisted living and independent living, that we didn't have when I left. And Good Counsel High School opened right after I left, so we have more private schools and public schools in our service area that we need to serve. I plan to spend the first year learning about the community and evaluating the programs and services we currently provide.

Helping a customer at a public computer 

We know you are an avid reader, often reading several books at once. Do you have any recommendations?

I think the book I read in 2014 I liked the best was a book called “Stella Bain.” It’s a slim book. Anita Shreve is the author, and she’s one of my favorite authors… I really like her a lot. This book very much surprised me, because it wasn’t one of her characteristic books. I liked it because it dropped you into the middle of the story, and then you have to solve the puzzle. So even though it was a slim volume, it made me think. 

I am a cookbook collector. I particularly like cookbooks that groups made, although lately I’ve been collecting a lot more vegan and vegetarian ones for my family. I read them more than I cook from them, because I think they give you a window into the community. If a church, a synagogue or a school does a cookbook, it’s very interesting to see what the eating habits for those communities were, and the different ethnicities and what they bring.  

I read a lot of fiction. I still bring home non-fiction, though. I just read the new Laura Ingalls Wilder autobiography. It’s a really big coffee table book, it’s very interesting, I had a lot of fun with that, because I read the Little House books when I was a child and shared them with my own children.

I try to at least look at everything that wins a prize, although a lot of years I don’t get through all of them.   

Answering calls at the Info Desk

Can customers find you at the Information Desk?

They can find me throughout the library! I like working on the desk, and I try to go on the floor all the time, to walk around and see what’s going on. Today I walked around the outside of the building to see what that was like… I try to be on the desk at least an hour every day, maybe two, so that I can see what customers really want. I really like questions and that’s why I became a librarian.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
I’m thrilled to be back, I’m already having fun! I hope that I can work with the staff to make the library experience for our customers just stellar here in Olney. 

Thank you, Barbara!  We’re glad to have you and your wealth of knowledge and experience back at Olney. 

An upcoming post will highlight some of Barbara's favorite books, reference tools, and DVDs.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Quest for Popularity

Can Carol and Heather Find Popularity?

Olney staff members Carol and Heather have both read and recommend the book Popular: A Memoir, written by a 15-year old who decided to apply 1950s advice on wardrobe, makeup, and personality to her middle school world. Do the 1950s apply to today's world?  After reading this book, will Carol and Heather finally find popularity?  Do Carol and Heather care about popularity? Sadly, yes....

cover of the book Popular by author Maya Van Wagenen
The new book by Maya Van Wagenen

Friday, May 1, 2015

Olney Library Customers Get "Money Smart"

Money Smart Week takes place each April. This was the fifth year libraries across the country have hosted events to help consumers better manage their finances. 

Here are some of the highlights of the events at Olney Library.

Clockwise from top left: Volunteer Kayla plays Monopoly with siblings Anna and Joshua, and their mom, Mary.

Money Smart Game Day brought in lots of families looking to sharpen their financial prowess. Above, Anna sizes up her Monopoly properties while contemplating her next big power play. Her brother, Joshua, maintains a calm and contemplative demeanor despite the high stakes.

We also invited several specialists to give workshops on a range of financial planning topics. These sessions gave customers the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how they can better save and invest their money for retirement.

  • Brian Kuhn gave an overview of financial planning basics, including smart budgeting
  • Adriana Colbeck presented on financial tools such as the 529 Plan for funding college and Roth IRAs, and retirement planning
  • Shateela Winters' specialized workshop was on women and financial security
  • Grant Wing's workshop focused on general money management, college planning, and the importance of credit scores.

An Olney teen tries her luck at guessing
how many pennies are in the jar at the Checkout Desk!
Stay tuned for the winners...

Many people stopped by the Money Smart Week display to pick up handouts and other materials, such as a Guide to Mutual Funds from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Customers also borrowed books and DVDs that were on display for Financial Literacy Month.

As you can see from this picture (left), Librarian Marilyn Smith was enthusiastic about Olney Library's participation in Money Smart Week. "It was a great success and everyone had fun. We thank all those presenters and volunteers who helped plan and carry out this educational effort." 

You can see more photos here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Dr. Seuss-Alike" Contest Inspires Local Writers

The many imaginative entries we received for our Dr. Seuss-Alike contest in March made choosing just a few winners quite a challenge. We thank everyone for their terrific submissions and we hope that you will keep on writing and rhyming...because it is FUN!

Here are those entrants whom we thought best captured the master wordsmith's style:

Children:  Theodore Haris, Nathan Lee, and K.L. Plano-Faber.
Adults:  Joy Demas, Susan Plano-Faber, C. Thomas, and Scott Watson.

Winners received a coupon for the Friends of the Olney Library book sale. 

In the weeks to come, we will publish some of these Seuss-sational stories right here. 

Dr Seuss and Me by Theodore Haris (age 8)

I like to read, I like to write.
Dr. Seuss's books are dynamite.
I like to read them in the car. 
I like to read them near and far.

His name is Theo, just like me,
and that is great, as you can see.
I love the Lorax, Horton, and The Cat in the Hat.
They make me laugh, did you know that?

I've been reading them since I was one,
and trust me it's so much fun!

As you can see, Dr. Seuss is so much fun.
You can read in the rain, you can read in the sun!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blast Off to Science with Colors!

Olney preschoolers had a fantastic time mixing colors and creating their own unique and colorful works of art, in the "Blast Off to Science" Workshop held April 9.  Instructors from Funfit Organically Grown Gym showed the children how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors, and even made some bubbling test tube colors that elicited many "oohs" and "aahs".