Friday, December 1, 2017

Workforce Development @ Work

Do you have professional aspirations or goals you’re trying to reach? If so, stop by Olney Library to get started! Did you know Montgomery County Public Libraries has a Jobs and Careers guide on our website that can serve as an excellent starting point for information, education and training? Plus, we have loads of books, CD-books, and digital resources that can help you explore careers, improve skills and help you on a new professional path. Don’t wait to get started!

To further inspire you, we wanted to share stories from some of our superstar customers who’ve used MCPL facilities and resources to help fulfill education goals, find jobs or pivot to new careers. While we see thousands of customers each week, these Olney customers are among the standouts who have taken the initiative to develop new skills and are on the path to even greater achievements.

Ms. Simone standing next to an Olney Librarian who is seated at a computer
Simone (left, standing)
with Olney Librarian Valarie Hoover
Ms. Simone 
We used to see Simone every week like clockwork, working with a math tutor in one of Olney’s collaboration rooms. She came each week, twice a week, for more than a year. Simone was incredibly disciplined and seemingly never missed a session. Then, one day, we stopped seeing the two of them and assumed she had finished her course.

A few months later, Simone stopped by with her granddaughter with a huge smile on her face, radiating excitement. She said, “I passed my GED!” Now that she’s received her high school diploma, Simone has continued to take math classes at the local community college. Library staff have been more than happy to help her find the books and resources she’s looking for. Congratulations Simone, on a job well done and continued academic success!

Ms. Ronnie
Ms Ronnie using a keyboard and iPad
Learning tips on the iPad
Over the years Ronnie has worked a variety of jobs, from teacher’s aide to computerizing books at the Library of Congress. But to stay competitive she felt she needed to refresh her computer skills. So Ronnie not only enrolled in MCPL/Senior Planet’s iPad course for older adults at Olney, she took a computer basics course at Germantown at the same time. Talk about dedication!

To complement her new skills, Ronnie recently finished a workshop at Olney, Applying for Jobs in Montgomery County, with a recruiter from the County’s Office of Human Resources. She’s currently finessing her resumé and will be receiving assistance from WorkSource Montgomery career specialists at Rockville Library. And now that she’s gained confidence in her computer skills, Ronnie is the proud owner of a new laptop. Great job, Ronnie! Given your many accomplishments, we know you'll continue to succeed in all you set your mind to! 

Mr. Henry
Mr Henry smiling while holding an open book.
Henry is always ready to
learn something new
Henry hails from the beautiful West African country of Liberia, where he had a long career in education and social services. When he first arrived at Olney Library, he was a computer newbie. But with help from library staff and his fellow church members, often on a daily basis, Henry learned how to use Microsoft Word like a pro, then graduated to online education sites. He became adept at using MCPL resources to practice driving tests and learn other skills.

Eventually Henry not only applied for and found local part-time jobs but he also found volunteer opportunities in his area of expertise, using MCPL’s public computers. Perhaps the biggest testament to his success (and newly busy schedule) is the fact that we see him less often than in the past! Three cheers for Henry! You are the perfect example of a customer who, with a little guidance, parlayed your learning to a new level of rewarding professional and personal experiences.

Stop by MCPL’s Jobs and Careers Guide, which includes local help for those who are unemployed,
Waving yellow and blue ribbons above the words "LearningExpress Library"
job hunting skills, education and training, and resources en español. MCPL also offers online Education Resources, such as Career Online High School, an accredited, non-traditional online high school diploma program, and the Learning Express Library, MCPL’s newest database with thousands of online tutorials, practice tests, and e-books to help customers of all ages.

Learn more about Olney Library’s programs and events by visiting our Calendar of Events.

Upcoming computer workshops at Olney include (registration required):

Stop by for One-on-One Computer Tutoring from 4 to 5:15 pm on these upcoming Mondays (sign up begins at 3:15):

  • Monday, December 11
  • Monday, January 22

MCPL is also partnering with Senior Planet/OATS to provide computer and iPad courses. Visit the Senior Planet Montgomery website to learn when new classes are starting in 2018!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Join us for Science Saturdays at Olney Library!

Adult and child use littleBitsWith all the new technologies and apps being developed these days, it has never been easier to learn about intriguing topics in science! Olney Library is offering free, hands-on workshops that will help kids explore basic concepts in engineering, coding, forensics, and chemistry. We will have mini-robots and other technologies available for kids to tinker with… sign up so your children can express their creativity while learning science!

Upcoming Science Saturday events are:

Colorful Chemistry October 21, 2 pm
This set of experiments is great for young scientists and artists! Students will separate color marker inks, use special plastic beads to test for UV rays, and test the pH of household liquids using a color-changing indicator. Ages 7-14. Please register online. Limited to 25 participants. Sponsored by Friends of the Library, Olney Chapter.

Two kids build a tower with red cups
Olney Cup ChallengeNovember 11, 4 pm
Back by popular demand: this activity never fails to generate excitement and lots of shrieks as mighty towers tumble over! Build with cups and compete to build the tallest cup tower you can. Ages 6 and up. Sponsored by Friends of the Library, Olney Chapter.

Making Recycled Paper November 18, 2 pm
This program focuses on the importance of recycling for the benefit of the environment. Kids will explore the properties of plants used to make paper, along with the history of the paper-making process. Students will use shredded paper to make pulp and form new sheets of paper. Ages 7-14. Please register online. Limited to 25 participants. Sponsored by Friends of the Library, Olney Chapter.

Child plays with a Code-a-PillarPlay and Learn Coding with Code-a-PillarNovember 25, 10:30 am
Kids will learn about coding in a fun way while playing with Code-a-pillar and Cubetto learning toys! You must register online. Ages 5-8 only. Limited to 9 participants.

Our first two successful Science Saturday events were:
Coding with Ozobots (Oct 7) — Children let their imaginations soar by designing complex ‘tracks’ for Ozobot robots to follow, while adding ‘codes’ to control how fast they moved and enable other tricks like spinning. Kids (and adults) were having so much fun they weren’t ready to leave when the workshop was over. One young coder said, “I love this!”

Mother and son hold up a sheet with his fingerprints
Crime Scene Investigation (Sept 16) — Children learned how to use science to reveal clues not easily seen by the human eye! This fascinating program led students through an investigation of techniques used by professional crime scene investigators such as detecting fingerprints, observational skills, and unknown liquid and fiber identification.

Check out recent photos and videos here!

Three children code with OzobotsA child codes with an Ozobot

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It Was 50 Years Ago Today - Sgt. Pepper, The "Beatles Open Mic," and More!

“It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. They’ve been going in and out of style, but they’re guaranteed to raise a smile. So may I introduce to you, the act you’ve known for all these years. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band…”

Update (9/1): Check out the photos and video clips from our August 19 Beatles Open Mic event!

Olney Beatles Open Mic event
Pictures and video from the Beatles Open Mic event
 Whether you’re a diehard fan who caught the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 or just enjoy their songs, please join Olney Library for a special event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. We are holding a “Beatles Open Mic” on Saturday, August 19, starting at 3 PM. Register today! Come with your voice and enthusiasm-- sing solo, duos, or in family or friend groups! (Instruments optional.) We’ll start with a Beatles trivia quiz to test your knowledge; prizes to be awarded. If you prefer not to sing, feel free to stop by for an afternoon of songs, fun and memories. Hope to see you there!

So what was going on in the world when Sgt. Pepper’s was released, and why was it considered a masterpiece?

Book cover for The Sixties: The Decade that Changed the World
It was 1967, the height of the heady and tumultuous ‘60s. The U.S. was more than a decade into the Vietnam War. Many at home protested the war and racial discrimination. At the same time, important milestones were being reached. The landmark Loving v. Virginia decision found bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional. Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first African-American Supreme Court justice. Twenty year old Kathy Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon.

In the midst of this upheaval (and likely because of it), artistic
countercultures flourished and sparked new revolutions in art, music and literature. (Books published that year included One Hundred Years of Solitude by Garcia Márquez; The Outsiders by Hinton; and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsburg.) 1967 was also the infamous “Summer of Love,” where tens of thousands of young people descended on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. The nearby Monterey Pop Festival saw singular performances by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead. ‘Hippies’ sought refuge and escapism in love, art, and drugs.

With this backdrop the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, considered the greatest rock and roll album of all time by Rolling Stone. From 1964 on, the Beatles had dominated US and global music charts, but in 3 short years there were already signs that fame and fortune had taken a toll on its members. The Beatles decided to give up touring and pursue individual projects, seeking new direction and musical expression.

Sgt. Pepper’s was the brainchild of Paul McCartney. Advances in
technology allowed the Beatles to experiment with creative recording techniques not possible before that time. The album is also credited as being one of the first ‘concept’ albums, revolving around an alter-ego Edwardian brass band and use of orchestras, Indian instruments, and unusual sound effects. But perhaps what made the album so revolutionary was the songwriting, at once a throwback to earlier times while also drawing on and transcending the psychedelic mood of that turbulent era. Later rock albums would be held up against the standard set by the Beatles on this extraordinary recording. Sgt. Pepper’s cemented the Beatles’ legendary status as the preeminent rock band of its time, perhaps of all time.

Check out videos of Olney staff preparing for the "Beatles Open Mic!"

OL Beatles Open Mic - OL's Fab Four! She Loves You

OL Beatles Open Mic rehearsal1 - When I'm 64

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