Events & Programs

MoComCon 2022 Essay Contest Winners

First Place

Chess: My Life Changing Game, by Joseph Mathew

In my early years of education, especially in the first three years of elementary school, I was always reprimanded for my bad behavior in the form of a color-coded behavior chart. Every time I made silly mistakes the teacher would move my name on the chart down a color. This chart constantly reminded me that I wasn’t worthy enough to be in my teachers’ class and that I was at a lower disposition compared to my peers. Seeing my actions reflected in bright color on the wall
that all my peers stared at, caused devastating blows to my self-esteem.

However, after I discovered chess, it changed everything. Chess is the game that impacted my life because it improved my intellectual abilities and my mental state. During the summer break of first grade, I visited my grandmother. The summer heat was unbearable. There was nothing to do but watch TV, and even that was boring. I would lay on the ground, hoping that the marble tiles would cool my body. One day, my grandmother gave me a puzzle to do. I got interested in them, spending days solving puzzles. Recognizing my puzzle solving skills, she registered me in a nearby chess club which was the starting of my interest in chess.

After that, I played chess continually with a passion. It improved all my intellectual abilities including problem-solving, creative thinking, and memory skills. All these benefits can be seen as proof of my new academic achievement. In the following school year, I took a national cognitive test and scored very high. Chess also helped me to solve the nonverbal batteries and the other three batteries in the CogAT test. This allowed me to get into the gifted and talented programs.

After discovering chess, my behavior on the color chart was always good. I strongly believe that playing chess helped me to think ahead, calculate, and solve problems. Winning in many chess competitions changed my attitude. Mentally, I became strong and confident. I felt like I was worthy in front of others because of my chess skills. My higher interest in chess left me no free time for horseplay. My teacher more often recognized my good behavior and reflected it on the color chart. This higher self-esteem acquired because of playing chess,
helped me to develop leadership qualities that helped me throughout my life. Overall, my mental state was much better after discovering chess.

I am always grateful to my grandma for finding my hidden talent in chess. She made me respectable among my peers. The game chess made my brain think versatile and solve harder challenges

Second Place

How Cards Became my Happiness, by Eliana Kim

My game is yet so simple, but so powerful that it can bring a whole family together in a time of global crisis. My game is still so ordinary, but you don’t know what it could do to a person in times of struggle. My game is cards.

Now, I know you all know about “go fish” and “Uno,” or any other card game. And you’re probably thinking I’m out of my mind. Well I’m not, because simple card games have changed my life. It all started on an ordinary day in the middle of a not-so-ordinary pandemic. My family and I decided to gather and play cards as a way to make time pass. I mean, what else are you supposed to do in the middle of a global pandemic when you can’t leave your house? We started playing go fish, and then a round of Uno. At first when we played, we didn’t realize it, but the more we played, the more our joy grew. Our worries faded from our heads during the 10 minutes we played cards. Also, the more we spent time together, the more we bonded as a family, and it was all because of this simple game. We played and played that night, and when we were finished, my family and I decided to do this the next night too so we could have some good ol’ family fun. That one night led to countless other nights of card games with my family, and doing so continued our joy and love as a family, and strengthened the bond we had.

Fast forward to an entire year later. I am still playing cards every night with my family. I know that whenever I have a bad day or I feel so sad, I can play cards at the and of the day with my family. When I play cards with my family, my whole entire body loosens because I know that I can be together with my family, and just be myself. Just because of a standard deck of 54 cards, my entire life loosened up and became happier every single night and day, because I could have a countless number of problems, but those problems fade away from my head as soon as a deck of cards hit my hand. My family and I also grew so happy and together, for almost the first time in my life since our Disney trip in 2016. Before cards, I felt like my life was empty. Now, playing cards is my happy place. No matter where I am, if I am with my family and a deck of cards, I will have fun.

How about you play some card games with your family? All you need is a deck of cards and it will guarantee a good 10 minutes of unfiltered joy. Now this is why the game that changed my life is cards.

Third Place

Friendship Across Time Zones by Bailey McFadden

Minecraft is a game that is often categorized as a ‘sandbox game’. This means that it’s a virtual land where users can create their own worlds and experiences, using building blocks that come with the main game and others that are created by users to add to the game. Users can also create multiplayer servers, which are worlds specifically designed for mass player use.

When I was 10, I downloaded the Minecraft desktop version. A couple months prior, I had moved to a new state and the only people I knew were the family that lived there and a few family friends. I was
lonely. Around that time, I had discovered (and subsequently gotten obsessed with) the gaming side of Youtube, particularly Minecraft. My favorite was a Youtuber who owned his own Minecraft server and
made videos on it. The first thing I did, when I had the chance, was join his server. The server, Skycade, had its own microculture built around the server’s capabilities and add-ons. For instance, you could claim land and then switch that claimed land over into somebody else’s control, so many people would build houses in groups and then sell them to people using the in-game currency, creating mini-towns. It’s through this process that I met my first ever internet friend – Anna.
She was 2 years older than me and one of the smartest people I had ever talked to. She was eloquent, kind, and she played like somebody who had played for years. I still remember the day she told me her real name; It felt like a huge honor. Internet safety had been drilled into both of us – it was like she was telling me “I trust you”. Over time, she stopped playing and we lost contact. Through her, I met another friend. She never told me her real name, I knew her as Husky. She and I would talk for hours almost everyday. She was Icelandic, and the two of us would play a game where I would run something through Google Translate, then change it into Icelandic and make her guess what it said. It was always funny, since apparently the translations were very far from correct. She had named herself Husky because her family
bred huskies. She had an older brother who was off at college and her grandmother lived with her family. Even though the two of us stopped talking years ago, I still know a million facts about her.

Minecraft provided an escape from a world that seemed out of my control most of the time, as well as provided a way for me to make deep friendships with people I never would have met otherwise. Minecraft is a conduit of friendship and deep bonds for so many people and has been since its creation. Playing Minecraft changed how I interact with people on and offline, as well as provided connection in a time when I needed it, and through this changed my life.

Events & Programs

MoComCon 2022 Art Contest Winners

Thanks to all who joined us for January’s virtual MoComCon 2022!, our virtual celebration of all things comics, graphic novels. and fandoms. We’re proud to announce the winners of this year’s art contest. Thank you to all who entered and participated!


Children’s Competition — Winners
Children’s Competition — Honorable Mention


Teen Competition — Winners
Teen Competition — Honorable Mention


Adult Competition — Winners
Adult Competition — Honorable Mention

Congratulations to all MoComCon 2022 Art Contest winners!

Did You Know Events & Programs

Join MoComCon 2022 this January 15

MoComCon 2022, MCPL’s annual celebration of all things comics, graphic novels and fandoms, returns on Saturday, January 15.

Check out our schedule of virtual events and join in all day long. Click on each event link below in the schedule to learn more. We will update with direct Zoom links on Saturday morning.

MoComCon Event Schedule

Super Hero Storytime
10:30 – 11:00am
Craft Demos11:00 – 11:45am
Toy Design: From Screen to Shelf with Jen Tan of Pixar12:00 – 1:00pm
Gaming Trivia1:15 – 2:15pm
Board Games: The Creative Process2:30 – 3:30pm
Art Contest Slideshow3:45 – 4:00pm

Stay tuned to the blog for MoComCon 2022 art and essay contest winners.

Did You Know Library Branches

Montgomery County Public Libraries to Add Branch Service Hours in January

MCPL will offer additional hours of branch service to the community, effective Jan. 2, 2022. 

“Our libraries are critical gathering epicenters throughout our communities where many residents rely on, not just access to books, but to the internet as well,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “I appreciate the work of our employees and I thank our residents and patrons of the library for their patience as we worked to ensure that our libraries are COVID safe and accessible for both visitors and employees.”

The hours of operation at all MCPL branches, except Maggie Nightingale (Poolesville) and Noyes Library for Young Children, will be: 

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Friday and Saturday – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

The hours and schedule for Maggie Nightingale (currently closed for refresh) and Noyes libraries will remain as they currently stand.

“One of my highest priorities is to work towards providing equity of service to our community members,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “By equalizing and restoring hours at all of our branches, we are taking a huge step in continuing this mission.  I thank everyone who was involved in this process, as well as our customers for their patience.” 

For more information on MCPL services, please visit

Events & Programs Library Branches

Enter the MoComCon 2022 Art & Essay Contests!

MoComCon Returns to MCPL in January!

MoComCon happens January 15, 2022, this year at the Germantown Library! MoComCon 2022 Art & Essay contests also return as part of the celebration of all things comics, graphic novels and fandoms. The deadline to enter both contests is December 15.

What are the MoComCon Art & Essay Contests?

Do you like to draw or write? Then our Art and Essay contests are for you. You can enter art, essay, or both, just make sure to read the entry form directions and submit a separate form for each contest. Completed Art and Essay entries will be accepted electronically Monday, November 1 – Wednesday, December 15. Art contest is open to ages 5 years – adult. Essay contest is open to ages 8-14 years.

Cosplay Contest Happens at MoComCon 2022

Is Cosplay or dressing up more your style? Then our Cosplay contest is for you! Open to all ages, the day of MoComCon Saturday, January 15, 2022. Print and fill out your entry to bring with you to MoComCon 2022 at Germantown Library. Limited to the first 20 entries in each age group. Parent signature required for ages 17 & under.



Learn more about MoComCon 2022, including the events schedule, at the event website. And join us at Germantown Library on January 15th!

Did You Know Librarian's Choice Readers' Cafe

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff Vandermeer

Review by Elizabeth, Public Services

One dull morning as security consultant “Jane Smith” leaves the coffee shop in Jeff Vandermeer’s Hummingbird Salamander, a barista hands her an envelope. No one knows who left it for Jane the night before, but Jane takes it anyway, welcoming the turn away from her routines of work and husband and child, and a world that is creeping into pandemic and disorder.

The envelope holds a key, an address, and a number that lead Jane to a disused storage unit at the edge of nowhere. The unit holds only a taxidermied hummingbird- a secret message to Jane from an unknown source. Research using work resources uncovers faint clues leading to a taxidermied salamander, one quite different from the kind her brother searched for on their farm when they were kids. The mystery of the taxidermied, extinct animals consumes Jane’s attention and makes her feel alive, as does an attempt at a one-night-stand with a stranger at a work conference. At odd moments, Jane is troubled by childhood memories and regrets: Anger at her abusive grandfather, Shot. Mixed feelings about her crazy mother and her estranged father. Missing Ned, who drowned decades ago. Other things she tries not to think about.

Jane learns that the hummingbird and salamander are connected to a dead ecoterrorist named Silvina, who was the daughter of a ruthless Argentinian industrialist. As Jane investigates, events of which she is unaware are set in motion; too slowly, she comes to fear that someone is watching her house from the dark shadows in the yard. And someone, possibly or probably a different person, is following her. She should let this go, because why should she care? This has nothing to do with her, but it does make her blood race.

As some of Jane’s co-workers come to harm, Jane fears for her husband and daughter, to whom she has said nothing about any of it. She leaves them behind with no word, knowing no reasonable explanation is possible. Injured and alone, Jane follows the route Silvina took down the west coast of the United States, seeking traces left behind. Despite precautions, Jane acquires a stalker with whom she has annoying text conversations that tell her nothing important or true. She is certain this man was deeply involved with Silvina; at any rate, he knows more than he will share, and she fears he will kill her if he finds her again, no matter what he says.

Hummingbird Salamander is an engrossing character study; the beauty of the story lies not only in the depth of the exploration of “Jane”, but also in author Vandermeer’s deliberate use of language to lead and mislead the reader through the story’s events, people, and places. This is not a fast read or a conventional genre story; it is not exactly science fiction, literary fiction, a mystery, or suspense fiction, but rather a pleasing subtle blend. Recommended for fans of literary science fiction, such as the work of Margaret Atwood or Max Brooks.

Find these books in more in our catalog.

Events & Programs

Maryland Stem Festival 2021 Celebrates Health & Wellness at MCPL

The 2021 Maryland Science Festival (MdSTEMFest), presented by the Biogen Foundation, is a month-long celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics that takes place every fall. In 2021, Maryland STEM Festival brings hundreds of events focused on fun, interactive science learning opportunities. Students, families, friends, STEM professionals, teachers, volunteers will all enjoy events taking place throughout Maryland.

MCPL MdSTEMFest Events

We’re proud to host many Maryland STEM Festival events at MCPL this year. Ours are among hundreds of community events this October and November showcasing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for people of all ages across Maryland.Check out the direct link to all events on our calendar and join us!

The Maryland Science Festival, founded in 2015, is one of the first statewide science or STEM festivals in
the United States. Celebrating its 7th anniversary in 2021, the Festival continues to showcase the
economic, educational, and cultural impact of science in Maryland. MdSTEMFest 2021’s theme is
“Health and Wellness”—a nod to the state’s large community of scientists; and to the ingenuity of
citizens who have been addressing the Pandemic throughout the last year.

“The MdSTEMFest is an event whose time as certainly arrived, “says Phil Rogofsky, the Festival’s
Director. “There can never be enough events to show the importance of and connect Marylanders with
the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Our future depends on how we use

Enter the Maryland STEM Festival Art Contest

Students in elementary, middle and high school can enter the Maryland Stem Festival 2021 Art Contest by October 31, 2021. Find more details and the entry form here.

Check out all of MCPL’s MdSTEMFest events here.

Events & Programs Germantown Library Branches

Montgomery County Public Libraries’ Germantown Branch to Reopen

County Executive Marc Elrich invites residents to a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. to celebrate the grand reopening of the newly refreshed Montgomery County Public Libraries’ (MCPL) Germantown Branch located at 19840 Century Boulevard, Germantown. 

“I am pleased that the Germantown Library will reopen its doors to the community with innovative upgrades that will improve the visitor experience for Germantown residents,” said County Executive Elrich. “Libraries are precious spaces throughout our County; these are the places where kids can first learn to read, where favorite books or authors are discovered and where the community gathers. Whether you are frequent user or have never stepped through the door, I encourage all residents to ‘check out’ the local library in your community.”

“We are so excited to reopen Germantown Library to its community members, who we know have been anxiously anticipating this day,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo.  “I hope they will be as pleased as we are about all the new refurbishments.” 

The refresh for the library includes new ergonomic sit-stand circulation and information desks; renovation of the public restrooms; new paint, carpet and other floor finishes; new furniture throughout most of the library; upgraded lighting with improved energy efficient and brighter LED lamps; drinking fountain with bottle filling station; new shelving in teen area; new interior signage and exterior building name sign; sound attenuation acoustic panels in the rotunda; new VOIP phone system; and ADA accessibility upgrades throughout. 

Events & Programs

Montgomery County Commission for Women Partners with Montgomery County Public Libraries to Offer Free Financial Health and Wellness Seminars

The Commission for Women and Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will offer four free financial seminars in October to help women strengthen their financial knowledge and understanding. The sessions are geared to assist women with financial planning but are open to everyone.  

These free events will be presented on Zoom on Tuesdays in October from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Registration is required. The link will be forwarded after registration. 

Oct. 5: Financial Planning 101 

Learn the basics of financial planning along with terms and tools to equip yourself with the knowledge you need to succeed financially. 

Oct. 12: Planning for Retirement 

Not running out of money before running out of time is most people’s biggest concern. Our goal is to maximize your resources and autonomy. 

Oct. 19: Social Security and Medicare 

Learn how to utilize and maximize the government programs you have invested in for your working lifetime. 

Oct. 26: Divorce and Money 

Divorce is a strain on your finances as well as your nerves. Will you be fiscally ok when it’s over? What is your role in making sure of that? 

For more information or to register, click here. Visit MCPL’s website for a complete listing of upcoming virtual programs. 

Did You Know

Montgomery County Public Libraries to Launch New Catalog Monday

On Monday, Oct. 4, Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will transition to Aspen Discovery, a brand-new library catalog providing customers with a new suite of features and a better online experience.

As part of this transition, from the evening of Friday, Oct. 1, until the morning of Monday, Oct. 4: 

  • The catalog search functionality will be limited or unavailable;
  • Online library card applications will be unavailable;
  • Online resources, including databases and e-books, will experience disruptions; and
  • Customers will be unable to place holds or renew items checked out to their accounts. 

Library branches will be open for in-person service on Saturday, Oct. 2, but service will be limited to the checking out of materials. Any items returned to library branches after Friday evening, will not be checked in until Monday. This means they will continue to show up on customer accounts, but they will be back dated when cleared.  

 “I thank our customers for their patience as we launch Aspen Discovery,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “We know they will be pleased with our new catalog once this transition is complete.”  

With Aspen Discovery, customers will be able to:

  • Access the public catalog via any mobile device
  • Search the E-book and print collection simultaneously 
  • Browse all formats (print, e-book, audio book etc.) of a title within one search result  
  • Receive suggestions for other related titles to check out while waiting for a hold to be filled 
  • Review current checkouts, renew materials, and place holds online for physical and electronic materials  
  • Manage their own privacy settings for reading and search history 
  • View and pay fees online
  • Save search alerts for arrival of new materials
  • Select and change notification preferences (text, email)
  • Add star ratings to titles 
  • Make purchase suggestions online 
  • Create, manage and share lists of favorite books 
  • Seamless integration of news, events and other communication 
  • And much more! 

All customers’ current account information (checkouts, holds, fines, address and phone, etc.) will be available on the new system. Individuals’ library barcodes and personal identification numbers will remain the same.  

While we transition to our new public library catalog:

  • You may checkout materials but returns will not be processed until Monday, October 4
  • Catalog search functionality will be limited or unavailable
  • Online library card applications will be unavailable
  • Online resources, including databases and e-books, will experience disruptions
  • You will be unable to place holds or renew items checked out to your account

For more about Aspen and our new catalog visit MCPL’s website.