Wednesday, July 19, 2017

No Shade, No Shame, I Love Large-Type Books!

Fred reads large type books.
Usually it happens like this – “Do you have large type books?” 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that?” I’ll reply.

Do you have large-type books?

Do we have large type books? YES, YES WE DO!

And I’m here to encourage you to borrow, read, and embrace them. Often people are shy, reticent, or embarrassed to ask for a title in large print. Don’t be! Large type books are awesome.

Top five reasons to love large type:

1. They check out for 6 weeks, and, if no one is waiting for that particular title, you may renew them up to three times.

 2. Large type books make me feel nostalgic. The print reminds me of my first grade readers. I want to have milk and cookies while I read them.

 3. They travel well. Most are roughly the same size as their regular print counterpart. Most backpacks and purses can easily accommodate a large type book.

 4. You might be able to read that hot new title quicker. If there is a hold list for a popular title, many times a large type copy will be readily available.

 5. They are so readable! 18 point type is the common large type font size, and publishing standards also encourage adequate letter and word spacing.

 So next time you want to request large type books,say it loud and proud. "I'd like that in large type, please!"

 Carol R.

Monday, June 12, 2017

When My Ancestors Came to this Country...

Where do your ancestors come from, and how did they arrive in this country? We asked young Olney Library customers to help us celebrate our country's multicultural heritage, during the month of El Día de los Niños, by telling us a story about how or why their ancestors came to the United States. Kids of all ages shared stories, photos and drawings of their family members' voyages from distant shores-- challenges they faced, new experiences gained, and ultimately their decision to put down roots in their new country.

Thanks to the children who submitted essays-- we enjoyed reading all of them! Here are the winning essays.

My Great-Great-Grandfather by Laura Forrest, 6 years old

Image of handwritten essay by 6 year old Laura Forrest

"My Great Great Grandfather, Neils Tobiasson came to America by boat when he was six years old from Iceland. I am six, too." 💜

Steamboat on the water with flying seagulls nearby

The Journey by Alyssa Forrest, 9 years old

Formal picture of Victoria and Neils Tobiasson as children
Victoria & Neils Tobiasson
Whoosh, Splash, Plop. The storm blew in. "Everyone under," yelled a sailor. We climbed down the ladder to the cabins. "Victoria, where are you?" yelled father. "I'm here," I called back. We met up and I saw Neils, my brother, clinging to my father. As we sat on our bunk I thought of our home in Iceland, my mother, my siblings all left behind. I thought of hiding from Father because of the alcohol he drank, and the missionaries teaching us and helping my father stop drinking. I thought of learning we would have to leave Iceland, the cold place we call home, to go to a strange place called Utah that was a hot and sunny desert. "Papa," Neils said, "when will we get to America?" He was seasick for almost the whole trip. "I don't know, son, I really don't know." Just then the trap door opened and the ladder came down. A sailor stuck his head in. "Land ho," he called, his face shining. We all raced up the ladder to the deck. There was America. Two days later we stepped onto the deck. Utah, here we come!

Essay winners Alyssa and Laura at Olney Library
Alyssa (left), and Laura

The grand-prize winning essay was submitted by Nina Grace Thomas. Congratulations, Nina!

My Appachen's Voyage to the United States by Nina Grace Thomas, 9 years old

Body of water in Kerala, India
Kerala, India
My family is from Kerala, India, where Malayalam is spoken. In Malayalam, the word for grandfather is “Appachen.” My Appachen traveled to the United States in September 1963 to attend graduate school in Putney, Vermont. Although he had applied to other graduate programs, he chose Putney since it had awarded him a full one-year scholarship.

Homes near a body of water in Putney, Vermont
Putney, Vermont
After that one year at Putney, my Appachen planned to continue teaching at Asram High School in Perumbavoor, Kerala, India. Despite his plans, he never returned to his previous teaching position in Kerala. My Appachen did not have enough money to return to India and also wished to continue his studies. His Putney advisor connected him to a professor at Boston University who offered my Appachen entrance to a doctoral program in education that included a full scholarship! My Appachen did not know it at the time but this opportunity led him on a journey from being a school teacher to a teacher of teachers. Four years later, in 1968, the same year that my dad was born, my Appachen received his doctorate in education. He completed his thesis that year, which he later transformed into his first book.

A red 1962 Ford Galaxy sedan
1962 Ford Galaxy
Since my Appachen came to this country to only stay for a year to study in America, he included a trip to go out and explore the United States before returning home. He bought a ninety-nine dollar ticket on Greyhound. Spending three to five days at each stop, my Appachen spent ninety-nine days visiting 15 cities: Springfield, Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, and Seattle. His stays included site-seeing, visiting people, and learning more about schools and education in America.

Dr. T.M. Thomas and Nina Thomas
My Appachen and I,
Dr. T.M. Thomas and Nina Thomas

As his year came to an end, money was very tight and my Appachen did not have enough to return home, where my Ammachi (grandmother) and my dad’s brother were. Appachen had spent all of his savings, three hundred dollars, on a used 1962 Ford Galaxy. Luckily, there was an opening for a security guard and he was able to take this job. This position allowed him to earn enough to live off of but not enough to travel back home. Fortunately, in 1965, the United States immigration laws changed, allowing more Asians to travel to America instead of just Europeans. So, in 1965, my Ammachi and his five-year-old son (my uncle), moved to the United States to join Appachen.


My uncle’s name was T.T. Matthews. My Appachen’s name is T.M. Thomas. In India, the naming system is different. For example, my Appachen’s name is T.M. Thomas and his brother’s name is T.M. Philip. In India, using this method, you can’t tell if two people are related using their last name but instead, by their first two initials. In this case, the T.M. stands for Thanikapurttatu (their house name) and Mathai, my valiya-Appachen’s (great grandfather’s) name.

Once my uncle was in the United States, the people working at the airport didn’t think that it made sense that my Appachen and his son did not have the same last name. The workers wouldn’t allow my uncle on the plane unless he changed his last name. So, he did. From then on, he was (and still is) known as Matthews Thomas. My father is Daniel Thomas and I am Nina Thomas (now we follow the American way of naming).

I hope that you enjoyed reading the short version of my Appachen’s voyage to the United States and how it has led me to writing this essay. If you would like to read more, read his most recent book, Joyful Vocation of a Teacher. Thank you! 😀

Nina Thomas with her winning essay
Nina Grace with her winning essay

Friday, May 19, 2017

Get Fit at Olney Library

Bookshelf with fitness booksMay is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, and Olney Library is here to help you reach your physical fitness goals!  

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition “challenges all adults to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day.” Stop by the Olney branch for books or videos on a wide range of fitness and sports activities—from tai chi, yoga, and dance to running, cycling, Zumba, and ‘kickbox bootcamp.’ Whether you’re a beginner or long-time practitioner, we have the resources to help you.

Four staff members walking and waving at camera
National Walk@Lunch Day (l-r):
Head of Adult Services Marilyn Smith,
Circulation Staff Rania Abijomaa,
Branch Manager James Donaldson,
and Circulation Manager Joyce Edwards
If you’re interested in improving nutrition or seeking other healthy living strategies, library staff can help find the tools and guides you’re looking for. MCPL also has health and fitness materials for specific age groups, like children (don’t miss our hip-hop dancexercise DVDs  for kids)  and older adults.

Two of Olney's most popular programs are our free Yoga and Bone Builders classes, which are consistently filled to capacity. Under the leadership of Olney Adult Services Head Marilyn Smith, who also serves as a Montgomery County Wellness Champion, Olney has sought out adult programs that lead to physical fitness, mental and emotional well-being, and a sense of community among participants.

In celebration of Physical Fitness month, we’ve asked our instructors to share a little about themselves and how they got started in fitness. We encourage you to stop by on Tuesdays at 6 pm for Yoga (come early—spaces quickly fill up ☺) and contact Jean Cihlar (301-774-9545) for information on future Bone Builders sessions (pre-registration is required). Both courses are open to all levels and offer welcoming spaces to learn and grow. You won’t regret it!

Bone Builders Instructor lifts weights
Jean Cihlar, Bone Builders Instructor
“I think that this class is a fantastic way to stay fit and flexible while having fun! The library is a perfect location for the class-- students often pick up a book or a video after class, or just hang out for a while, reading and relaxing.”

Bone Builders class sitting in chairs
Can you tell us about the Bone Builders class?
The evidence-based Bone Builders class is based on a Tufts University study. It is offered free of charge by the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Aging and Disabilities Services to residents 55+. It is designed to increase bone density and improve balance. It involves slow repetition exercises using free weights-- ankle and hand weights-- and participating in warm-up, balance exercises, upper and lower body exercises, and cool down. 

Bone Builders participants lean against a wall
What are the benefits of taking this class?
The Bone Builders class helps prevent fractures in seniors by improving balance and increasing bone density. It’s also a great place to meet new people with similar interests!

Bone Builders class doing toe raises
How did you first get involved? 
I got involved with Bone Builders when I took part in a class and loved it so much that I decided I'd like to share my enthusiasm for it by teaching it. I think that the thing I like best is the sense of community that each class shares. Many students have remained in their classes for years, and have made friends that they get together with outside of class.

Participant feedback:
“I wanted to do something with weights for the core and balance. This is a friendly and inviting group. It doesn’t matter if you’re not coordinated!”  –Carol

“It’s a wonderful class. It creates strength in your bones, and we have friendships within the group.” –Shelly

“Very enjoyable. The teacher has been very helpful with making people feel comfortable. It’s nice coming to the library to get books and walking around the perimeter after the class.”  –Ken and Phyllis

Yoga instructor demonstrates a pose
Amy Branson, Yoga Instructor
“Yoga has helped me connect to my body and connect to my community. I wouldn't trade those two gifts for the world. I so appreciate the warmth and support I've felt from my fellow library yogi -- they rock! Join us and you'll see!”
Participants practice tree pose
How did you connect with Olney Library to bring yoga classes here?
Libraries have always been a resource for the community, so I thought it would be the perfect place to offer community yoga.

Yoga class participants in a one legged pose
How long have you been practicing yoga, and what do you like best about it? 
I've been practicing yoga for about 12 years. There are so many personal and communal benefits to the practice, but I think the bottom line is that every time I leave my mat I feel better-- physically and emotionally. What more could you ask for? 

Down Dog
How have you enjoyed teaching at the library?
I've loved building that sense of community in our class. We have participants of all ages and backgrounds, all levels of physical strength and flexibility, yet we all come together and share our practice. Everyone is so positive and open-- we have a great time learning and growing together.  

Participant feedback:
“This class is a gift to the community. I start looking forward to it every week on Tuesdays at 8:30 pm [after the class ends] until I get here the next week!”  –Linda

“I first came to this class last November, and I come every Tuesday when I’m in town. I do it because I have lower back problems and it teaches me something for my well-being… I love it!”  --Elke

“The instructor, Amy, is incredible—just the variety of people and her ability to keep the class moving is remarkable. She can push you to wherever you want to be, this flexibility has been good for me and what I’m looking for.”   –Mark
Note: Starting Tuesday, May 30, the Yoga Class will be on break and is expected to resume on Tuesday, June 20, for the summer. Please call Olney Library at (240) 773-9545 to confirm dates. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

How Money Smart Are You?

Olney branch Money Smart display
Stop by our Money Smart display
Want to improve your financial literacy and get on track to secure your financial future? Olney Library is hosting a number of programs for Money Smart Week, which begins April 22! Stop by and check out our display with handouts from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Social Security Administration and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Take part in workshops such as:
→“Create a Financial Road Map(registration required), and

Teens doing money puzzle at Olney
Challenging money puzzle
Teens in grades 6-8 can submit an essay on the connection between financial health and physical health—learn more here. Kids can start thinking about the importance of saving money by guessing the number of pennies at the Circulation Desk. Prizes will be handed out for both activities! And our Money Smart Week Game Day on Friday, April 28, will be a fun way for children and teens to begin thinking about money-saving strategies for their future.
MCPL has a full range of books, videos and online tools to help you set and reach your financial goals. Test your knowledge of MCPL’s finance resources by taking our “Finding Financial Info at the Library” Quiz. We’ve included some sample questions below to help get you started (if working from home, you may need to enter your library card number to access online databases). Answers will be uploaded at the end of the month. Good luck!

Harriet Tubman1. Which honored Marylander is expected to grace the front of the US $20 bill?

Hint:  She escaped from slavery in 1849 and later became a prominent abolitionist, humanitarian and suffragist. Last month, a new National Parks Service center was opened in honor of her life's work and legacy on MD’s Eastern Shore, near the former plantation where she was born.


Zinio app on tablet
2. Does MCPL offer business e-magazines, or electronic magazines? Please list any two.

Hint:  From MCPL's website, go to “Books, Movies, Music,” click on "Find," then “E-Magazines.”  Under Zinio, scroll down to “Available Titles.” Click on “Learn More,” then “Browse Magazines.” On the right side of the screen, click on “All Genres,” then drop down to “Business & Finance” for a full list of titles.


Dewey Decimal system 3. What is the Dewey decimal “call number” for personal finance? (first 3 digits only)

Hint:  This classification system, created by Melvil Dewey in 1873, organizes library materials by subject. Go to MCPL’s home page and type “personal finance” into the “Search Library Catalog” bar in the middle of the page. Look for “Call Number” in the first record and write down the first 3 numbers.

ANSWER:  332

Warren Buffett
4. Does MCPL carry books (including CD-Books, e-books, and audiobooks) by or about Warren Buffett, considered one of the most successful investors in the world?  If so, how many?

Hint:  From the MCPL home page, type in “Warren Buffett” in the “Search Library Catalog” box in the center of the page.


Article The New Retirement

5. Does MCPL offer electronic access to Consumer Reports magazine?  A recent cover story was “The New Retirement” by Tobie Stanger, who wrote, “Everything you thought you knew about retirement has changed, but it’s never too late to pivot to a new approach—or too early to start planning.” Can you track down the month this story was published?

Hint:  From MCPL’s website click on "Research," "Subjects," then "Consumer Information." Follow the steps listed for "Consumer Reports Articles" and type in “New Retirement” in the search box.


A blue car
6. You are shopping for a reliable used car. Which resource would be most helpful?

a.  Your neighbor’s 10-year-old son.
b.  Consumer Reports magazine, which evaluates products, and is available in print at most MCPL libraries and on the library website.
c.  Washington Consumer’s Checkbook magazine, which evaluates local services. It is available on the library website (at library branches only), and it is also available in print at many MCPL libraries.
You can also visit MCPL's Automobile Guide for links to resources such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book for car reviews and values.

Book cover: A Random Walk Down Wall Street7. Does MCPL’s catalog show that it owns copies of the classic text on investing strategy titled A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel?

1.  Yes, the library system owns print copies of this book.
2.  Yes, the libraries own both print copies and audiobook copies.
3.  No, the library does not have this book.

Questions 8-9 can be answered by visiting the Investing & Personal Finance page on MCPL's website. Select the Research tab, then Subjects, then Investing & Personal Finance.

Wall Street Journal
8. MCPL provides access to articles from the Wall Street Journal. How far back are full-text articles available online?
a.  You can read the articles back to about 1999.
b.  Only the current year’s articles are available.
c.  Library customers can get the full text of articles dating back to 1984.

Man watering a money tree9. On MCPL's Investing & Personal Finance page, users can click a tab called “Managing Your Money” to see a list of retirement planning organizations known for their educational focus. Which website is NOT listed here?

a.  The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Retirement Planning website

b.  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Retirement Savings Education Campaign website

c.  The 1-888-GIV-CASH website

d.  The Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) website

Thank you for taking our quiz! ☺

Want to read more? Check out our earlier blog posts

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Is Olney the only Olney?

No, Olney is not the only Olney!

Lately we've received calls from customers who were trying to access their MCPL library accounts online but were having trouble logging in. We checked their accounts. Were they up to date? Did they use the right PIN? After exhausting the possibilities we finally concluded these callers were on the wrong website. And guess what? They were! They were visiting the website of our doppelgänger library—Olney Public Library in Olney, Illinois 

To clear up the confusion, Olney Library in Illinois added a helpful note to their website:

Message on Olney, IL library website directing Maryland patrons to MCPL's Olney branch

We were so appreciative (and delighted!) they posted our information that we reached out to thank them and learn more. Below are highlights of our conversation with Judy Whitaker, Olney Public Library Director (IL), and Kathryn, library staff.

MCPL: Thanks so much for placing MCPL’s contact information on your website! We had no idea Olney customers in Maryland were confusing the libraries. How did you first discover this?

Map of Illinois showing location of the city of Olney. Judy: We received phone calls and would ask customers for their name and what they had checked out, and nothing would come up. At one point I received a call from a teacher asking to bring students for a class trip and the visit was scheduled, but something she said was not right. She said, We’re just down the street… and I thought, we don’t have any schools down the street! Another time, a salesman called and was convinced we had talked in person, but then I mentioned we were in Olney, Illinois.

I think there are about five Olney Libraries, but we’ve only received calls from Maryland residents.

MCPL: That’s too funny! Well, Olney Library in Maryland is part of the Montgomery County Public Library system (MCPL) with 21 branches, including one at a correctional facility. Can you tell us a little about Olney Public Library in Illinois?

The original library in Olney, IL
The original Carnegie Library in Olney, IL,
now serves as a local history museum
Judy: Sure. The original library was established around the 1900s as a ‘Carnegie Library.’ [Andrew Carnegie originally funded many public libraries—more than 1,600 across the U.S.-- at the turn of the 20th century. You can learn more here.] It was moved in 1995 to a new, accessible building and is a city library. Olney, Illinois has about 9,000 people, so we hope the library can serve as one of the centers of the community.

The new building has an open concept with a lot of windows. We’re also part of a larger consortium of libraries up to central Illinois, through the Illinois Heartland Library System. The original building now houses the historic Carnegie Museum.

MCPL: That's really interesting. Olney, Maryland has a population of about 34,000 people, so you probably know many more customers on a first-name basis!

Now that it's spring, I'm sure you're as busy as we are planning for new programs. This month we're hosting Financial Literacy Month programs such as Estate Planning 101 and Creating a Financial Roadmap, as well as fun Spring Break programs for kids and teens. We're also gearing up for MCPL's Summer Reading program, starting in June.

What kinds of programs are in the works at your library? We saw on your Facebook page that you recently held a Weight Loss Challenge. It sounds like a fantastic program… can you tell us more?

Chocolate displayed for the chocolate lover's library program
Another popular program:
Chocolate Lover's Tour
Kathryn: After a long winter and in the fall, the community comes together for the Weight Loss Challenge. Teams pay an entry fee and stop in for the initial weigh-in. After eight weeks, those with the highest percentages of weight loss win. This is very popular in the community.

Other programs include our Garden Club, two books groups, “Ag in the Classroom”-- this is a big farming community-- and a very popular Summer Reading program.

Judy: We also have a “Battle of the Books“ program for elementary students, a “One Book, One Community” program for middle school students [a recent selection was Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart], and we hope to eventually start a "gentleman’s book club." This month, we have a special "Grandparents/Grandkids Outing" with reading, games and face painting.

MCPL: It sounds like you have a lot of wonderful programs, thanks for sharing some good ideas with us.

One last question is about technology. At MCPL we introduce young children to science through "Go Kits" that include tablets with apps. 3M and Overdrive are our ebook vendors, and we hold monthly eReader clinics to introduce customers to the technology. How popular are ebooks and audiobooks to your customers?

Kathryn: 3M is our vendor and ebooks are increasingly popular. We have older people who receive Kindles and tablets from their grandkids for Christmas, so we teach them how to use them and help bridge the technology gap. We have kids and soccer moms, the whole spectrum. We have a Walmart distribution center in the area, so their truck drivers check out our audiobooks and return them to another library in the consortium.

MCPL: Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with us. If you're ever in the DC area, please stop by and visit your counterpart in Maryland. And, we hope this post will result in fewer wrong calls to your library!

Metal tube catepillar, Sir Readsalot, outside the new library in Olney, IL
 Adorable "Sir Readslot" at Olney Library in Illinois

Want to read more? Check out our earlier blog posts