Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Recommendations from Olney's Toddler Set

Happy New Year! During the holiday break, many youngsters stopped by to enjoy Olney's Early Literacy Area and pick out books. We took the opportunity to ask them about their favorite book series and recommendations:
Toddler holding a Spot picture book Cubbie is ready for winter! His favorite color is purple so he picked Spot's Favorite Colors by Eric Hill. Spot, a cute puppy, first arrived in book form in 1980 as the star of Where's Spot? MCPL holds more than 50 picture books in the Spot series, including books in Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

Toddler holding a book about Star Wars EwoksThis little one recently became obsessed with Star Wars after learning about 'the Force' from his dad. Here he holds Star Wars, Ewoks: Shadows of Endor, a must-read for all fans of Return of the Jedi! As soon as Clark saw our Star Wars display, he couldn't resist looking at every book. MCPL has a large selection of Star Wars materials for kids of all ages. And we love Clark's hat and Elmo pants. Thanks, Dad, for putting together such an adorable outfit!

Brothers holding Peppa Pig books When we asked Jonah about his favorite book, he happily said, PEPPA! He adores Peppa Pig from watching the British animated series for pre-schoolers. Jonah selected Peppa Goes Swimming, a story about Peppa's little brother George overcoming his fear of swimming. Perhaps he's dreaming of summer! Here Jonah is pictured with his cute brother Nate.

Excited girl being read The Monster at the End of This Book
Shuliu loves all things Sesame Street. She picked out the classic The Monster at the End of this Book, starring lovable, furry old Grover. (All librarians love this book!) Shuliu's expression perfectly captures the excitement of this page-turner. She first saw Sesame Street on TV at a friend's party and has been hooked ever since. Sesame Street materials continue to be hugely popular and quickly disappear from our shelves.

Boy holding a Pete the Cat book
Dominic's current favorite is the Pete the Cat series by James Dean. He enjoys the fun illustrations, which help him recall words as he learns to read on his own. And he's delighted by the antics of Pete and his friends! In Pete the Cat: School Daze, Pete stays home from school because of snow, but can several snow days be too much of a good thing? MCPL owns several Pete the Cat e-books and e-audio books.

Boy holding a PAW Patrol bookCharlie is charmed by the PAW Patrol series, based on a Canadian animated TV series about a pack of rescue dogs working together to protect a community. Each dog has his or her own unique skills; Charlie's such a huge fan he can describe every one! In this photo, he's reading Team Numbers, a great way to learn how to count from 1 to 10.

And don't forget that all children can apply for their own library card, with an accompanying parent or guardian. Below, Ava proudly displays her new library card and models her Montgomery County recycling bag (limited quantities, while supplies last) filled with books, of course. Can't wait to see you again soon!

Girl next to a giant MCPL library card

New Year's Extra: Please check out our winter themed video about all the resources MCPL has to offer, featuring Olney staff, volunteers, and friends. Lyrics written by our own Heather Wright, Head of Children's Services. Special thanks to Gandhi Brigade Youth Media for recording the video. Sing along and enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2016

STEM Fall Wrap-up

“[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world...”     

Olney Library has had a busy fall hosting a number of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs for children of all ages. The STEM subjects are not only essential for children’s academic achievement, but also help them to successfully navigate our increasingly complex world. 

Beyond the use of everyday technology, high-skilled workers such as engineers, software developers, and research scientists need specialized knowledge and training. That’s why MCPL begins its STEM programs for children as young as pre-schoolers. Like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you never know if an early interaction with computers or exposure to science might spur a lifelong passion! Here are some STEM program highlights:

Building Blocks

Each week, Olney hosts “More than a
BLOCK PARTY!” and the Lego Construction Crew. As the Duplos and Legos are put out, kids are waiting and ready to let their creative juices flow! We’ve seen cars, flying machines, castles and gas stations. While building their unique projects, children also learn basic engineering skills. 

Back by popular demand: Olney's Cup Tower Challenge

Olney held its third successful Cup Tower Challenge in November. Children competed with one another to see who could build the tallest tower in 20 minutes-- using only plastic cups. The room was abuzz with energy as kids tested out their different building strategies; inevitably there would be screams as one toppled over! We’re always impressed by the kids’ technical skills as they manage to build towers over 7’ high.

Geodesic Domes

Olney was very fortunate to have Ms. Gaya Mohan lead a workshop on building geodesic domes, popularized by inventor Buckminster Fuller. First, she described the geometry behind the structure and how triangles form the basis of ‘dome’ creation. Then, using toothpicks and marshmallows, Gaya guided the children in building triangles and combining them into larger shapes. In a short time, they had created mini-domes and were so proud of their handiwork!  


Electric Art Lab

Kids and their parents were given brief instructions and then were off to create their own artistic and mechanical creatures. Each machine had its own distinctive personality and quirks. Check out our videos of a robot happily eating a donut, or another of a machine that can defend itself when attacked. The parents had as much fun tinkering as the kids. Thanks to FutureMakers for bringing such an innovative and engaging project to Olney!


A Perennial Favorite: leaf rubbings

As part of a Montgomery County Master Gardeners presentation on leaf and tree identification, children had the opportunity to make rubbings of leaves found on Olney Library grounds. We also had resource books and ID keys for kids to identify the leaves. They enjoyed comparing the different leaf shapes, sizes and colors, and learning about the photosynthetic process.
Thanks to Heather Wright, Head of Children's Services, and Meredith Smith, Children's Librarian, for planning and coordinating these programs. Special thanks to the Friends of the Library, Olney Chapter, for their support.

See more photos and videos of recent STEM programs at Olney.

Want to read more? Check out our earlier blog posts

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hamilton: Founding Father and Broadway Star

Book cover, Alexander Hamilton by Ron ChernowDid you catch PBS’s recent special, Hamilton’s America, and want to learn more about Alexander Hamilton and the mega-hit Broadway musical based on his life?  (You can watch it online through 11/18.) MCPL has the resources to get you started!

At 700+ pages, Ron Chernow’s compelling biography, Alexander Hamilton, was the inspiration behind Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical. Chernow brings to life Hamilton’s Dickensian childhood in the West Indies as an orphaned illegitimate child, as well as his early struggles and successes in New York as war with Britain foments. He describes Hamilton’s vital role in the Revolutionary War as General Washington’s Aide-de-Camp, and his combative interactions with Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Adams as they worked to build the fledgling nation. Chernow relays Hamilton’s evolving understanding of economic and political theory and how it shaped his decisions as America’s first Treasury Secretary—and later, the great tragedies that befall his life and lead to an early death in a duel with nemesis Aaron Burr.  

Book cover, Alexander Hamilton the Outsider by Jean Fritz
While Chernow’s work is a tour-de-force, you may be interested in other biographies of Hamilton. MCPL’s collection also includes writings by Hamilton such as the Federalist Papers, a remarkable collection of 85 essays by Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison from 1788 that encouraged citizens to ratify the U.S. Constitution. For children and teens, MCPL holds several biographies, including award-winning author Jean Fritz’s Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider.

Album cover, Hamilton the RevolutionWant to know more about the genesis of the celebrated musical? As described on PBS, Lin-Manuel Miranda bought a copy of Chernow’s Hamilton in 2008 en route to his vacation. He immediately envisioned the possibility of a musical—and given Hamilton’s outsider status, outsized ambition and sense of honor—writing a hip hop score. Hamilton: The Revolution, co-written by Miranda, gives an insider’s view of the creative process, with essays, interviews, photos and lyrics. Miranda spent the next 6 years working on Hamilton, taking a full year to write the opening song, which he famously presented at the White House in 2009. 

If you’re interested in the music score, MCPL holds copies of Hamilton: An American Musical. You can borrow the soundtrack through Marina Interlibrary Loan, or go to the label’s official page for lyrics and song excerpts. If Hamilton has piqued an interest in rap and hip-hop, listen to and download artists’ works referenced by Miranda—such as Notorious B.I.G., DMX and Jay-Z—on Freegal, MCPL’s free music download service. MCPL also has books on the history of rap and hip hop.  

Scene from the play Hamilton The national tour of Hamilton is scheduled to stop at the Kennedy Center in DC in June 2018 (!) For now, it continues its Broadway run, and opened in Chicago this past fall. While tickets are scarce and expensive in New York, you can enter an online lottery for $10 front-row tickets to each performance. And while in Manhattan, visit Hamilton's home, the Grange, and stop by his and his family’s burial sites at Trinity Church. The dueling ground where both Hamilton and his son were fatally shot is across the Hudson River in Weehawken, NJ. Happy Hamilton-mania! 

Want to read more? Check out our earlier blog posts

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Banned Books Talk

Banned Books Week is September 25th through October 1st. This week is important because it reminds us of how fortunate we are in Montgomery County to have a strong and vibrant library system with access to a collection of abundant and diverse materials. We recently sat down with a famous banned book for a quick chat.

Q – Good evening, thank you for being here. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

The Great Gatsby book coverA – Thank you for having me. My title is The Great Gatsby. My author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was published in 1925, and the story I tell takes place over the summer of 1922. The jazz age was in full bloom. Extravagance was everywhere. Extravagant homes, parties, dress, lifestyles, I reflect it all. Themes I touch on include materialism, class, morality, decay, violence, gender roles, and the American Dream. My main characters are Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire, still pining for his now married ex-love; diaphanous Daisy Buchanan, the object of Gatsby’s affections; Daisy’s brutish, wealthy husband Tom; and the morally ambiguous professional golfer Jordan Baker.

What really sets me apart though, I believe, is my fluid, beautiful, buttery prose. Fitzgerald was definitely at the pinnacle of his game. I think I might be somewhat of an acquired taste though. When I was first published, I didn’t really cause much of a stir and my sales were tepid. After Fitzgerald died, though, that’s when I experienced my resurgence. I maintain my exalted status as a literary classic to this day.

Q – Why were you banned?

A – Well, officially the reason given was for language and sexual references. By today’s standards I really am fairly tame. And actually, the year I was banned was 1987. I was tame for 1987, too. So I think it’s something else that makes me controversial. I believe it has to do with the elegant, surgically precise way I expose human failings and hypocrisies. I believe it has to do with my absolute honesty in showing my characters’ true natures and therefore flaws. The truth of the matter is I’m proud of the ban and wear it as a badge of honor. 

Q – Thank you for speaking with us today.
A – The pleasure was all mine.

-Carol R.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

College-bound Library Staff Give Sage Advice

Library pages are central to a library's operation. They are the ones who re-shelve every book returned to the library. Pages need to be accurate, efficient, and know the shelving system inside and out. And they're always willing to help customers find a specific section of the library!

Photo of a library page at Olney Library
Olney Library has many dedicated pages. Some, like Steven, have been with us since the library re-opened in spring 2014. Milan started in December 2015. While working as pages, both Milan and Steven undertook rigorous academic programs and recently graduated from Olney's Sherwood High School. It's not surprising they'll be attending top universities this fall: Steven will begin at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore; Milan will travel to Chicago to attend Northwestern.

Congratulations to both! While we'll miss them, we're excited for Milan and Steven to start the next chapter of their lives. Before taking off, they told us about their plans, offered advice for students, and of course made some book recommendations! (You can check out Milan's video responses here and here.)

Photo of a library page at Olney Library
What do you like best about working at Olney?
Milan:  Nice co-workers and the quiet atmosphere. And definitely enjoyed knowing what resources are available for me. I didn't know everything the library did before I started working here.
Steven:  It's quiet and peaceful

Which genre of books do you like reading?
Milan:  I read everything
Steven:  Time travel books

Book recommendations
Milan:  The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
Steven:  Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Recently read
Milan:  The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-- but Some Don't by Nate Silver
Steven:  An Abundance of Katherines by John Green and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Advice for high school students preparing for college
Milan:  1) Get to know a few teachers, they'll help with your application and writing recommendations. 2) Join clubs, even if you're not sure if you want to continue with them, because you never know what can become your new passion or hobby. 3) Figure out your learning method; in college teachers may not be so quick to help you learn.
Steven:  Use a lot of checklists and try to get everything done. Do the best you can!

Planned course of study
Milan:  Journalism
Steven:  Applied math

What are you most looking forward to in college?
Milan:  Meeting new people, being able to figure out more about yourself.
Steven:  Getting to study what's interesting to me, living on campus. It will be fun to meet new people.

Thanks, and good luck!