Thursday, December 4, 2014

Next Stop Olney, MD, USA: Conversation Group Members Hail from Around the Globe

Olney Library English Conversation Group with globe and map
The Olney Evening English Conversation Group
Who says you can’t learn and have fun at the same time? Just ask members of the Olney Library’s lively English conversation groups, which meet Mondays at 7:00 pm and Sundays at 1:30 pm.

In any given class, you can find attendees from as far Korea, Peru, China, Iran, and Ukraine sharing stories of their culture and experiences with each other.  In 2014, Olney’s dedicated English learners represented some 17 different countries and spoke nearly 20 different native languages.

The success of the groups can be attributed not only to the enthusiasm of the participants, but to the stalwart volunteers who facilitate the groups each week. The evening group, pictured above, is led by area residents Mary Allman, Pat Autry, and Jerry Hurley. The Sunday afternoon group is led by Nina Uzick.

For more information about Olney’s English and Spanish conversation groups, please see the Events Calendar on our website or call the Info Desk at 240-773-9545. No registration is required, so drop in any time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Read to a dog at Olney

Kids of all ages can now come to the Olney Library and read to a German Shepherd named Lancer, who is a trained therapy dog from National Capital Therapy Dogs, Inc.  Lancer lies down and listens to each child, who can read whatever they want during their turn.  Petting Lancer is fine!
Research has shown that reading to a dog helps with reading skills and self-confidence.  Reading to a dog gives children extra reading practice, and often motivates them to read more at home and at school.  Also, children enjoy the experience, and feel confident when reading to a dog who doesn't correct or judge them.  Petting the dog while reading can be a calming experience, and research shows that children who feel nervous about their reading often calm down and relax!
The program is drop-in, first-come, first-served,
on selected Thursday afternoons (call the library for details).
Reading to Lancer!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Olney Book Club Undeterred by Summer Storms

summer thunderstorm with lightning flashing
Olney's summer storms were almost as intense as this one! 
Photo courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Although thunderstorms had been predicted, it was not raining at 7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, when the Olney Evening Book Discussion Group gathered to discuss the book Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.  But no more than a few minutes had passed, when thunder roared and lightning cracked.  We had just begun to skim the surface of Cleopatra’s fantastic life when all but the auxiliary lighting went out in the library. 

Sitting in almost darkness, none of the seven members was willing to leave the discussion of Cleopatra, the woman whose “palace shimmered with onyx and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue.”  As the room turned to total darkness, several of the members took out their smart phones and turned on their Flashlight Apps.  The meeting continued, illuminated by 21st century technology, until the library closed. 

Cleopatra, who died in 30 BC, and had a traditional Greek education that included Herodotus and Thucydides, instruction in the art of speech-making, and spoke nine languages, would have been, nonetheless, impressed. 

-- Contributed by Joan Stricker, Olney Evening Book Club Member

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

History Comes to Olney Library

The Olney Library will be taking a trip back in time on August 13 at 10:30!  Donna Will, Mistress of Woodlawn Manor Museum, in Sandy Spring, will present an interactive hands-on history program entitled "Woodlawn's Wagon", in period costume. A spinning wheel demonstration will be included as she weaves a tale of life in the past, circa 1800...and the mystery of the Underground Railroad.  Old time toys will be demonstrated as well.  This is for ages 5 and up.

For those who want more history, Woodlawn Manor is a 19th century brick manor house with a stone barn, slave log cabin, dairy/smokehouse, general store, carriage house, and gazebo garden surrounded by extensive  meadows, trails, ponds and streams. You can get more information at

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Fond Farewell to Walter Dean Myers (1937-2014)

Walter Dean Myers speaking at Library of Congress
Myers was the Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People's Literature.
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress. 

Readers everywhere lost a gifted storyteller and literacy advocate with the passing of Walter Dean Myers on July 1. One of the first African American writers to break into the teen publishing market, Myers found inspiration for his stories from his growing up years in Harlem, NYC. In his most popular books—such as Hoops, Fallen Angels, and Sunrise over Fallujah— young people cope with and triumph over the most difficult of circumstances. Although Myers did not shy away from gritty topics, his stories were often ultimately hopeful and emphasized courage, perseverance, and character.

Myers' books earned prestigious literary awards, including the Newbery Honor Award (for Somewhere in the Darkness and Scorpions). His screenplay-style novel about a young man on trial for robbery, Monster, won the Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature. Myers also wrote about Americans who inspired him; his biographies of Dr. Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali can be found at the library. To find more books by Myers, please check our library catalog and visit the display of his works in the teen area of the Olney Library.

Myers also told his own story in Bad Boy, describing the path that led him from high-school dropout to beloved author of more than 100 books. Growing up, he found solace in reading fiction and poetry, and was encouraged by a favorite high school teacher to develop his writing. Meeting venerable author James Baldwin was another turning point.  Susan Katz of HarperCollins spoke of Myers' writing gifts on the publisher’s website: “He wrote with heart, and he spoke to teens in a language they understood.” He will be missed.