50 Years and Evolving, Aspen Hill Library

Anniversaries can be considered as milestones which mark the progress of time for/to that to which it is related, and with regards to the Aspen Hill Library, this is indeed the case. I am not sure that the Administration in its planning had in mind a refreshed building for the 50th Anniversary Celebrations, but it is indeed wonderful to begin the second half of the “journey of milestones” in an ambient of color, beautiful lighting, and improved amenities.

The Aspen Hill Library of 2017 services a diverse community of 48, 759. While the population increased dramatically in the 1970’s, it has remained almost level since then. One of the most significant changes in Aspen Hill, like most of Montgomery County, is the increased diversity of its residents with the Library now serving an increased number of Hispanic, African American, and Asian residents.

Historical Population

CensusPopulation% ±
1970 16,887

47,455 181.0%

45,494 −4.1%

50,228   10.4%

48,759 −2.9%

Source:[14]“CENSUS OF POPULATION AND HOUSING (1790-2000)”U.S. Census BureauArchived from the original on July 8, 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-17.

Within the changes of the past 50 years, the basic mission of the Library remains the same, … “that of free and equal access to services and resources that connect the people of Montgomery County to ideas and information which sustain and enrich their lives.” The delivery of some of our services have evolved to be current with the needs of the time, and the changes in the demographics. Some of our services are provided in various languages. Our program fliers are now available in both English and Spanish in order to reach more users in the marketing of our offerings. Homework help is offered to children in the community by students who are bilingual, which helps greatly in situations where English is the second language. Also, recently added to our computer equipment in the children’s area are AWE tablets with the Bilingual Early Literacy component which parents can explore with their children.

There are other changes which the passage of time brought. Laptop computers are now available to customers within the library, if perhaps all our internet access computers are in use, from which the ability to print is also available. A robust Wi-Fi connection allows customers with their electronic devices, iphones, tablets, and laptops to connect to the Internet via the library’s Wi-Fi connection. E-books are available via our e-Resources, Spanish language included, and the collection is growing.

50 years old, and we are evolving with the times. This is indeed our Aspen Hill Library, an integral part of the community.

Women’s History Month 2019

Pictures of women throughout American history

March is Women’s History Month, a time to recognize the contributions women have made throughout American history. The first official celebration of Women’s History Month was in 1987, when Congress passed Public Law 100-9 designating March 1987 Women’s History Month. But the origins of the celebration go as far back as 1909, when a Women’s Day was celebrated in New York City.

Looking for a good book to learn more? We’ve got some great recent books for kids, teens, and adults on women’s history. Some interesting titles I ran across include Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History, about a group of aviation pioneers who fought to participate in the popular air shows of the 1920s and 1930s. As a runner, I was also intrigued by the children’s book Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb and the Boston Marathon. It tells the story of the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon. Don’t forget to explore our wide variety of e-books and audiobooks that also have fascinating books about women’s history, women’s biographies, and memoirs. Our new streaming movie service Kanopy offers independent films and documentaries about the contributions of women throughout history and contemporary women’s issues.

If you want to research women’s history online, try History in Context and History Reference Center. These online resources contain American and international news and journal articles, as well as information from reference and primary sources. You can find biographical information on women from yesterday and today in Biography in Context. Finally, for historical information about African American women, try the Oxford African American Studies Center resource.

Be sure to mark your calendars for these events honoring Women’s History Month –

Finally, the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Commission for Women are celebrating Women’s History Month with their 3rd Annual Girl Power Contest. This year’s creative prompt is, if you had a superpower, how would you use that power to help girls and women?

From great books and movies, to engaging events, MCPL is there to help you celebrate Women’s History Month.

Meet Collection Management

The Collection Management Division of MCPL is where the magic happens – selecting, ordering, processing, cataloging and delivering the materials that are available for checkout in all our 21 branches. Need something that is not in our collection? The interlibrary loan team can assist with borrowing materials from other library systems. Books, magazines, ebooks, eresources and more are all made available through the hard work of this division.

Dianne Betsey came to MCPL in September 1990 as the Executive Administrative Aide to then Director Agnes Griffin. During the six years Dianne worked in that capacity, she completed her bachelor’s degree in communications from Trinity College in Washington, DC. She continued as Executive Administrative Aide to Director Harriet Henderson after Director Griffin retired in 1996. In 2001, she applied for and was accepted as a Library Associate I in Collection Management’s cataloging section. In 2003, having completed her library associate training, Dianne was promoted to Library Associate II. Her term project was to start an African American book club in Rockville Library. Dianne has been in cataloging for 17 years. The African American Book Discussion Group she started is nearing its 16th anniversary. In addition to book discussions, the group has been creating Black History Month displays for the last 15 years.

Dianne Betsey

Beth Chandler is a Librarian II selector at Collection Management. She buys graphic novels, adult Spanish-language titles, and nearly half the adult nonfiction for MCPL. Following a career in publishing, Beth earned her MLS at Rutgers University. She spent 15 years working in public libraries, five of them with MCPL, doing everything from infant storytimes to online reference to a family sock-puppet-crafting night. Beth loves buying a wide range of titles for MCPL customers and participating in MoComCon, MCPL’s comic convention. You may have heard her speak about MoComCon on a recent episode of the Library Matters podcast. At home, she and her husband have a large collection of books and share a love of science fiction, fantasy, and their brilliant and elegant cat.

Beth Chandler

Mary Green has worked at MCPL for 23 years. She has been with Collection Management for six months. Her favorite thing about working in cataloging is loading the files and discovering what the system is ordering. She loves that the library offers DVDs and express books and loves to borrow just about anything that catches her eye. There are too many authors Mary likes, but she does enjoy reading historical fiction and nonfiction. She is currently reading Warlight and working on a variety of items.

Mary Green

Stefan Hall has worked at MCPL for three years. His favorite thing about working in the fiscal & delivery unit is taking inventory of all books as they’re unboxed. He loves that the library offers the latest movies from Midwest Tape & Audio Books, too. Stefan’s favorite author is Mary Pope Osborne.

Stefan Hall

Arlene Means has worked at MCPL for nearly 20 years and at Collection Management for 2-1/2 years. Working in Collection Management has allowed her to experience and appreciate the team effort required to make MCPL’s wide variety of materials available for customers. Her favorite offerings from the library are e-magazines to read on her tablet and online classes from Lynda.com. Arlene likes nonfiction (Malcolm Gladwell), historical fiction (Philippa Gregory), mysteries (Martha Grimes), with a little biography for good measure.

Arlene Means

JoEllen Sarff joined MCPL in November 2015 as the children’s non-fiction book selector in Collection Management. She grew up in Rockford, Illinois and moved to Maryland in 1978. Before coming to MCPL, she worked at Prince George’s County Memorial Library System for 34 years. During those years, she worked as a Children’s Librarian, Teen Librarian, Adult Librarian and Branch Manager and also managed a grant project called Wee Care, an outreach service that visited family daycare providers to teach and encourage providers to present storytime programs to the children in their care. JoEllen received her MLS from University of Maryland College Park. The favorite part of her job is choosing just the right children’s non-fiction book to meet the needs of staff and customers. When not working, JoEllen enjoys scrapbooking and making greeting cards to share with family and friends, as well as, to sell at local craft fairs. She also enjoys baking cookies and cakes, playing the ukulele, playing with her three cats and visiting her son.

JoEllen Sarff

Karen Simon walked into the Olney Library one spring day in 1996 to find that circulation staff was administering a test for shelvers. She took the test, and her career at MCPL began. After shelving at Olney for nine years, she moved on to Circulation Sub, Library Desk Assistant, then Library Assistant I. Twenty-two years later, she now works in her personal Shangri-La as an Administrative Assistant at Collection Management. She has worked with many wonderful people throughout her career. Karen say, “Time sure does fly and so much of it was fun.”

Karen Simon

Celebrate Black History Month 2019

Collage of famous African Americans

Did you know that February is Black History Month? MCPL has free online resourcesbooks, and events to help you learn and celebrate!

If you’re looking to explore and research online we’ve got some wonderful, authoritative resources for you. The Oxford African American Studies Center online database is focused “on the lives and events which have shaped African American and African history and culture.” It is a place where you can read articles, primary sources, maps, timelines, and biographical information.There are also many images included on the site that you can view.

Students at Lincoln High School

If you are looking for biographical information, you should have at look at Biography in Context. There you browse and search for information on notable African Americans. You can also search by nationality and occupation. The site provides articles from reference works, academic journals, magazines, and newspapers as well as images, audio clips, and videos.

You can discover history though song as well. Listen to streaming music from American Song which includes genres such as jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime, folk songs, and narratives, among others. If you are interested in jazz try the Jazz Music Library where you can choose from thousands of jazz artists, ensembles, albums, and genres.

African Americans during the American Civil War

Have you heard about the Lincoln Park History Project? It’s a partnership MCPL has with several local historical and cultural organizations. Its purpose is to find, document, and preserve the cultural heritage of one of Rockville’s oldest African American communities, Lincoln Park.

Lincoln Park, started in the 1890s, was one of the first real estate ventures for African American homeowners in Montgomery County. We invite you to learn about its history, the families that lived there, the houses they lived in, and more. There is also information included about Lorenzo Dow Turner. He was a professor of English and he pioneered research of Gullah language in the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.

Looking for some fascinating books to read? We have some great book suggestions for adults and teens, as well as kids, to help celebrate Black History Month. We also have numerous African American book discussion groups at branches throughout the County.

DVD cover for the movie 42

Looking for events? We’ve got some exciting programs you won’t want to miss. Here are some program highlights.

We’re happy to help you start your journey exploring Black History today at MCPL!

Don’t forget to check out our latest Library Matters podcast episode, all about African American literature.

Celebrate and Discover with a Good Book

A great way to celebrate Black History Month is with a good book. Of the many and varied history books by or about people of African descent that the African American Book Discussion Group of Rockville Memorial Library has read and discussed over the past 15 years, there are three that stood out for me. These three history books illuminate the central role people of African descent have played in the development of European and American history. Also, let me take this opportunity to invite you to join our Rockville Memorial book group or one of the other African American book discussions groups that meet at branches throughout the County.

Book cover for The Hemingses of Monticello

The first one is entitled, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed.  If ever there was a history book that read like a novel, this is one.  Gordon-Reed won the National Book Award and is the first African American ever to win the Pulitzer Prize in History for this work on the family of Sally Hemings, a slave girl, and Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers and the author of The Declaration of Independence.  Many of us have seen Sally Hemings: An American Scandal, the romanticized television mini-series and/or read Barbara Chase-Riboud’s noteworthy historical fiction novel Sally Hemings, but neither of these come close to revealing the historical facts detailed in Gordon-Reeds book. We learned not only that Sally was Jefferson’s first wife’s half-sister, but that he had his own sister send Sally to him in Paris, where he was on U.S. business, when she was only 14.  Not only did Sally and Thomas have six children together, but Sally ran the mansion at Monticello and sat at the table with statesmen and their wives when they were invited to lavish dinners. Reading the Hemingses of Monticello is like taking a roller-coaster ride through American history.

Book cover for The Warmth of Other Suns

The second history book that stood out for me is The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migrationby Isabel Wilkerson. Richard Wright, the notable Harlem Renaissance author, wrote a poem in which he speaks of having to leave home because conditions are so harsh, he has to seek “the warmth of other suns,” in order to survive.  Wilkerson tells us that in the neighborhood of 6,000,000 African American men, women and children migrated from the southern states to northern cities from 1915 to 1970 in order to seek better living conditions, better education and better chances for survival away from mob lynching. Not only did Wilkerson’s research provide new data to support the great migration event, it also provided proof of the impact that the black immigrants had on American history, e.g., Franklin Delano Roosevelt won a narrow victory in an important election in 1944 by the extra votes of new black immigrants to the north who were voting for the first time. There was much discussion in the book group about members whose families had migrated to Maryland from the south.

Book cover for Black Count

Third and last is Black Count: Glory Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, which won the  2013 Pulitzer for biography. Just about everyone is aware of The Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte Cristo, and other stories by Alexander Dumas. What you might not know is that Alexander Dumas’ father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (or Alex Dumas, as he preferred to be called) was one of the highest ranking men of African descent in a European army. It was General Dumas’ mother who was a slave on a Haitian planation owned by his father, the French Count Marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie. General Alex Dumas fought in the French Revolutionary war and in Africa under Napoleon Bonaparte who, Reiss discovered, was instrumental in seeing to it that Alex Dumas’ contributions to the success of the French army was buried. Reiss’ meticulous research into the man that inspired The Three Musketeers and other novels resurrected General Alex Dumas’ phenomenal history and makes it clear why the name Dumas is one of the many chiseled into the Arc d’Triump in Paris.

To learn more about African American history and experiences, listen to our Library Matters podcast episode all about African American literature. I was a guest on the episode along with Silver Spring librarian Christian Wilson.

Decluttering – The Art of Having Less and Doing More

Decluttering can mean many things. It can mean getting rid of things we do not want or no longer use. It can mean not buying things we simply want. It can also mean knowing what we have and having a use for everything we own. Nowadays, we have organization and decluttering guru Mari Kondo and her books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy leading the way in our search for peaceful and simplified surroundings. Decluttering and organizing are becoming the popular way of living; however, these two concepts are not one and the same.

Decluttering is removing those items that just take valuable space in return for nothing. Organizing is having a place for everything and “everything in its place” as the saying goes. The more things we accumulate, the more time we spend in the upkeep of these things and less time doing the what we love.

We can change our mindset and think before we bring or accept something new in our lives. Ask ourselves, do we really need it? Do I just want it? Or like Dana White in her book Decluttering at the Speed of Life tells us, do we own something already that can do the same job of the new thing we want? Decluttering is not only physical, but also emotional and mental. One leads to another and the best part is you do not have to do it all in one day, one week, one month. You go at your own pace and you stop when you think you have achieved your “decluttering goal”. Remember, your “decluttering goal” is different from anybody else’s, even from those who live under the same roof.

One way to change your mindset is to follow Dana White’s advice from Decluttering at the Speed of Life. In her book, Dana tells us, from personal experience, to start thinking about our home as a box. A box has a limit to the number items it can hold. Thinking in these terms can help us become conscious of the things we want to surround ourselves with. Instead of thinking what to get rid of, change your thought process to think of what you want to keep in your home and in your life. In addition, Marie Kondo advises us to keep only those things to bring joy to us.

In order to not become overwhelmed, try to stop clutter from coming into your home in the first place. Avoid bringing something home that you just want or saw in someone else’s home or is being promoted on social media. The excitement of having something new will wear off and you will stop using it at some point.

There are no rules at how much you should keep or how many items you should get rid of. Inform yourself, read about different methods other people have used to declutter and minimized their homes and lifestyles. Again, it is up to you what method you use.

In addition the books by Marie Kondo and Dana White, MCPL offers many other books about decluttering. You can also learn more from our recent Library Matters podcast episode on the topic,

Library Matters Podcast

Episode #49 – Decluttering, Making a Clean Sweep for the New Year

Organize and Create in the New Year – 2019

Colorful drawing of a neat living room

How would you like to start this new year?  Do you have a bunch of things to sort out from the holidays? To help you get started, you can join us with a “neat” program on decluttering your life on January 19 at 12:00 PM.

What else is new at the Kensington Park Library for 2019? Pajama story time is taking the month of January off. It will resume on the second Monday of every month beginning February 11 at 7:00 PM. Don’t forget your pajamas so you can lay back and enjoy some great stories before bedtime.

If you are feeling too cold and you want to get in your pajamas early, you can take advantage of one of our recent new databases, Kanopy. It allows you to watch up to 10 movies for free each month. There is a great variety of films to choose from including: entertaining and popular films for all ages, documentaries, instructional videos including the very popular series, Great Courses, and much more. Put your feet up and turn your computer into a home movie theater. To log in, you will need your library card. The first time you log in, you will also need to create your own account just for Kanopy.

Superman book cover and craft

You know what else is really cool for January, besides the weather? On January 3 at 4:30 PM, get your creative groove on and make your own super hero. You won’t believe how easy it is, and, of course, it ranks high on the fun meter. Children can also attend a special STEM program to learn how to code with Code-a-pillar and Cubetto learning toys on January 17.  You may choose to come to a session at either 4:30 PM or 5:00 PM. Please be sure to register online as there is limited space for these events.

Very exciting news to all those crafters out there and I know there are many. If the weather still has you down or your muse is stirring, check out our new database called Creativebug. There are over 1,000 courses to choose from and some courses are even live and all of it is free. Now it is up to you to create.

Wheaton Interim December Update

Programs and Services

InterAct Family Story Theatre will be presenting a Book Fiesta on Saturday January 12, 2019 at 11:00 AM. The program will be in the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad Green Room attached to the Wheaton Interim library. Registration for the program has begun.

As of November 5, 2018 MCPL Express @ Mid-County Community Recreation Center has been closed. The equipment is being moved to provide holds locker and book drop service at the Marilyn Praisner Community Recreation Center in 2019 while Marilyn Praisner Library undergoes renovation.

New Building Update

Progress is being made on the new Wheaton Library building interior now. Drywall is being installed and rooms are taking shape. The pictures below show the interior of the new library. There will be eight collaboration group rooms and two quiet study rooms. There will be two collaboration rooms next to the children’s area and two next to the teen area.

Windows are being completed and the storefront enclosure is being worked on. Grading and equipment placement for the park is in progress. Drywall installation on the second floor shared rooms is in progress as well.

Adult area quiet study rooms
Adult Area Quiet Study Rooms
Maker room and collaboration room
Maker Room and Collaboration Room
Teen area collaboration rooms
Teen Area Collaboration Rooms
Front entrance off Georgia Avenue
Front Entrance off Georgia Avenue

Discover the Children’s Floor at Silver Spring Library!

At Silver Spring Library, children have their own inviting space, the entire 5th floor of the library! We invite you to come and explore. It’s a great space for children to discover books, attend programs, do homework, read, use our computers, and play in our Early Literacy Center.

Aisle with shelves of books on either side

Step off the elevator or turn from the stairs and you see two halves to the 5th floor. On the left are materials for older children, generally those in elementary school. To the right is the baby, preschool, and beginner reader area. Wander from one to the other if you wish.

Here’s a look at the area for older children. Lots of books! Fiction and fact books and graphic novels.  You can also find audio books on CD, children’s magazines, family DVDs, and series books.

Try one of our internet computers for children with Microsoft Office software. Lots of children use them for homework and for fun, too! We also have AWE station computers. They are loaded with child-tested software that makes learning science, math, geography and reading fun.

Play area school busCheck out the area for younger children and
their grown-ups.  Explore our Early Literacy Center. It is designed with interactive structures for you and your child to enjoy and play with together.  Every corner is filled with opportunities to develop young children’s pre-reading skills and help them become lifelong readers and learners.

There are plenty of board books for babies and toddlers. Those are the hard-backed ones designed help very young children learn how books work.

Picture books get lots of room here, too!  Picture books are the foundation of reading together with parents and developing a love of stories and learning and reading! They’re great entertainment even for older children and adults.

Chairs around a rug in glassed-in program roomTry out our AWE learning station computers for younger children.  Learn letters and numbers, follow puzzles, draw pictures, play with shapes, and more!

Our children’s program room is where storytimes and other special children’s programs take place.  It’s a glassed-in room right in the middle of the 5th floor. You can even watch what’s going on from outside the room!  Try out our many storytimes:  Baby Storytime, Toddler Storytime, Preschool Storytime, Science and Math storytimes, Pajama Storytime, bilingual French and English Storytime, and more!  Come build with Legos on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Sometimes we have dance sessions, crafts, and more!

We also have a Reading Nook. This is a quiet room away from the usual bustle where parents and children can sit and read together. This is also where we have our monthly Read to a Dog program. Great nonjudgmental reading practice especially for new readers!

Cozy room with bookshelves, rug and chairs

The children’s floor at Silver Spring Library is truly a special space.  Come explore!

Welcome to Our Conversation Clubs!

Learning a new language and adjusting to an unfamiliar culture can be difficult. Residents in
Montgomery County, however, can participate in conversation clubs, led by volunteer facilitators,
where everyone is welcome and registration is not required. Our clubs include a diverse group of
participants from varied countries with different languages.

English conversation club meeting room
Quince Orchard Library Conversation Club Meeting Room

In 2015, MyMCMedia created a video featuring the Quince Orchard Library English Conversation Club that explains the concept and the benefits for participants and volunteers, including interviews with Ann Stillman, the former Quince Orchard Library Manager, participants, and facilitators.

Facilitators lead the sessions and introduce topics to spark comments and discussions about the similarities and differences between American and other cultures.

Here are samples of recent discussions from our facilitators:

“Walter and I had seven total participants. Four regulars, two from China, one from Korea, and one from Iran, and three participants new to the Saturday class from Iran, Korea, and China. Discussion topics covered “anything interesting that happened to them last week” and “what is their passion/goal to keep them busy and engaged in life.” Additional topics included the bucket list and interesting travel locations. It was noted that people still had difficulty pronouncing the words like“world” vs. “word.” –Hank

Participants gathered around a table
Tuesday Morning English Conversation Club

“Walter and I had 11 participants yesterday, some regulars and some brand-new. After introductions, we split into two groups. Walter’s group mostly talked about communication. My group talked about reading books, including classics and children’s books, and ways to listen to spoken English for improvement (radio, news, songs, podcasts). We also talked about Veterans Day, and we learned that in South Korea and China, that is a big shopping day sponsored by a candy 
manufacturer. We moved on to Black Friday and the shopping frenzy that goes with that, again learning from our Korean participant that people in South Korea order items online on Black Friday because of the amazing deals (even accounting for shipping and customs duties)! We had a brief discussion of the recent practice of opening stores on Thanksgiving, and what that means for employees of those stores. Overall, a very engaged group as always.” –Bernadette

On August 15, 2018, the MCPL Library Matters Podcast published Chatting with Friends – MCPL’s English Conversation Clubs, a conversation featuring Nancy Sillcox, Quince Orchard Library librarian, and Annie Etches, one of our English Conversation Club facilitators.

Nancy explained the purpose of the Conversation Clubs. “Well for many English speakers or English learners, I think the hardest part is speaking. I think that’s the most difficult part of learning a new language. And so at our Conversation Clubs, our facilitators, make them very comfortable, make them relaxed, and they ask the right questions, so get them talking and speaking. Also it helps them with listening to the language as well. And we depend on our facilitators to help our English learners to develop the speaking skills and I think they do a great job”
Participants gathered around a table
Tuesday Morning English Conversation Club
Nancy also spoke about the structure of the sessions at Quince Orchard. “They have three tables and each table has a volunteer that helps about five to eight people and they have a lesson plan where everyone talks about the same topic. At the Thursday Conversation Club, each of the volunteers have their own topic that they want to talk about. So they decide what topic they want to talk about.  In the Saturday Conversation Club, it’s just whatever the participants want to talk about, if they want to talk about politics, you know, something is happening, they would talk about that or food or anything that was happening in current events. It’s like, it’s the mix and there is no organization to their talk.  And I think they like it that way. Participants in a Saturday one, they just like this very loose format and then the Tuesday evening I think there is only one volunteer, oh actually I am sorry there is two volunteers and I think they just bring up a topic and then they discuss it.”

Annie remarked on the camaraderie of these groups. “I love the idea that every Tuesday morning I have people from all around the world who are sitting there enjoying each others’ company even if they don’t always understand quite what’s being said, you know.  And one day we had a I think there were about 12 people at my table, … And a guy from Iran, we had all been laughing and joking about I don’t know what now, maybe food or something, and just before we finished he just said, “Everybody I think it’s so wonderful that we can sit here. We are all different, different countries, different religions, different ideas and yet we all get along and we love meeting together.” And that to me summed up what I want life to be about and it was just great.”

For more information, check out this link for MCPL Libraries with Conversation Clubs and other helpful resources for English Learners.

The Quince Orchard Conversation Clubs meet three times a week for English: 
Tuesday at 10:00 AM, Thursday at 10:00 AM and Saturday at 10:00 AM 
and once a week for Spanish: 
Monday at 6:00 PM.

Please join us at one of these special sessions.
Thank you to all of our participants and, especially, to our Volunteer Facilitators.