Events & Programs Online Learning Wheaton

Graphic Novel (10+) and Cartooning (50+) Classes Produce Amazing Art!

A drawing class is a wonderful venue to tell a story, express emotions, communicate and connect with others. Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) conducted two five-session virtual classes in May and June: “Create a Graphic Novel” (for ages 10 and up) and “Cartooning” (for ages 50 +). In partnership with MCPL, illustrator, cartoonist and animator Leila Cabib taught the classes, offering a unique opportunity for participants to demonstrate their creativity and imagination.  Both classes were funded in part by a Wheaton Cultural Project Grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County. 

As they worked on their cartoons, students in “Create a Graphic Novel” learned to combine the conventions of graphic novel storytelling: narration, dialogue, character design, dynamic page layouts and cinematic techniques. They refined their rough pencil drawings into finished art with pen and ink and watercolor pencils.

View the artwork from Elisha J., Binyam, Mehak, Michelle, Stella, and Sofia in this gallery.

Participants were asked to pick a Wheaton locale for the setting of their stories. Brookside Gardens, Urban Artistry Dance Academy and Pine Lake at Wheaton Park were just a few of the settings of the cartoons created by students attending this class.

View the artwork from Sandra S., Patricia, Rosa, Peter, Peggie, James, and Nirmala in this gallery.

“Cartooning” class participants created caricatures, original characters, single- and multi-panel cartoons and experimented with pen-and-ink techniques. The Wheaton Library, the pond and the dog park at Wheaton Park were some of the scenarios participants chose to frame their artwork. Attendees at both 5-week session classes enjoyed sharing their artwork with each other during the Zoom sessions, which encouraged collaboration and fomented social interaction. MCPL and Cabib will offer “Create a Graphic Novel” (for ages 10 and up) and “Cartooning” (for ages 50 +) again virtually during fall 2021. Sign up today!

Business and Workforce Development Events & Programs Online Learning

Montgomery County Public Libraries Launches Northstar, a New Digital Literacy Resource

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) now offers the Northstar Digital Literacy suite of tools to help residents acquire or improve basic digital literacy skills. The resource includes the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment – a suite of free online modules that test proficiency in essential digital skills. The assessments, built around basic computer digital literacy standards were developed by leading Adult Basic Education (ABE) groups and are now sustained by Literacy Minnesota.

Assessments are available to test proficiency in the following digital skill areas:

Basic Computer Skills, Internet Basics, Using Email, Windows OS, Mac OS, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Google Docs, Social Media, Information Literacy, Career Search Skills, Supporting K-12 Distance Learning, Understanding your Digital Footprint.

Residents who take proctored assessment tests and score 85% or higher can earn certificates and badges to show to employers or add to resumes to prove proficiency in key digital skills.

The resource also includes a learning component – Northstar Online Learning (NSOL) which offers customized, self-directed online instruction and practice resources making it easy for learners to review material, practice and prepare before taking proctored tests. 

“As a center for life-long learning, MCPL is pleased to offer this valuable free resource to help our customers gain or sharpen digital literacy skills and enhance their chances of success in life, work or school,“ said Director Anita Vassallo. “Northstar is the latest of several tools MCPL has launched recently (Brainfuse’s HelpNowVetNow and JobNow) to support learning and economic recovery.”

 To access NSOL, customers must request a Northstar learner account: :

To take a virtual proctored assessment test to earn a certificate or badge, customers can register for an upcoming test session:

Tuesday, July 27:

Tuesday Aug 31:

Business and Workforce Development Online Learning

MCPL Adds Brainfuse Resources VetNow, JobNow, HelpNow to E-Resources


Brainfuse JobNow connects users with experienced career coaches and resources to assist them during all stages of their job search.

Self-assessment and job search resources

Carefully selected job resources include eParachute, a Brainfuse partnership offering an online resource created by What Color is Your Parachute? author Richard Bolles. Connect with a Brainfuse JobNow coach to review efficient job search strategies.

All-in-one resume assistance

Curated resume resources, include templates, samples from a variety of career fields and levels, and valuable information about usage, structure, and relative importance. JobNow coaches provide expert analysis.

Interview preparation and practice

Brush up on interview techniques or get live online interview practice from JobNow coaches. In addition to live interview coaching, patrons enjoy 24/7 access to an extensive library of interview strategies, tips, and career resources.

Foundational and career-enhancing skills

Refresh skills and knowledge with the Adult Learning Center, where patrons can access High School Equivalency prep, US Citizenship test prep, writing lab and skills building.


Navigate the VA and benefits

Our Brainfuse VetNow navigators help veterans and their families understand and apply for the benefits they are eligible for from local, state, or federal programs. From housing and health care to education, mental health, and more, Brainfuse VetNow navigators are ready to help.

Transition to civilian employment

Veterans can get live, online assistance transitioning from military to civilian careers throughout all stages of the job process. Experts can help translate military skills for civilian job managers, restructure resumes, and practice interviewing.

Brush up on academic skills

Veterans and their families prepare for college through a full suite of academic tools, including live online tutoring in a variety of college level subjects, holistic writing support, extensive video lessons, and comprehensive practice tests.


Brainfuse HelpNow is a unique tutoring and study suite designed for patrons of all ages.

On-Demand One-to-One Online Homework Help

Students draw or type their question in our online classroom and receive live homework assistance from a
Brainfuse tutor. Tutors don’t simply give answers but help students master underlying academic

Comprehensive Writing Assistance

HelpNow offers a robust writing lab that helps users become better writers. Features include Real-Time Writing Assistance and intensive writing analysis.

Homework Tools

Homework tools include Support for Distance Learners; the SkillSurfer extensive library of Brainfuse-created lessons, video tutorials, and practice tests in a wide range of academic subjects; Flashbulb™, which offers patrons 24/7 access to an extensive library of online flashcard sets in virtually every subject; Send Question Center, an asynchronous service for users who require a detailed, extended explanation of a difficult concept but are not inclined to meet with a tutor in real time; Foreign Language Center, featuring on-demand homework help for students taking a foreign language class; CloudPack™, that helps users better integrate their classroom materials with their tutoring sessions by storing documents, class notes, and other materials in their personal “CloudPack” and share these items with tutors during a live session, and live digital literacy support to users who need assistance using their computer to complete a personal project or academic

LEAP Learning Platform

LEAP helps patrons build academic skills through targeted lessons, quizzes, and live, online tutoring.
After finishing a diagnostic test, LEAP prepares a customized learning plan, broken down by skill areas,
for patrons to complete at their own pace. The learning plan contains lessons, videos, and quizzes to
assist patrons with specific concepts and offers easy, one-click access to a live tutor at any
point for extra help.

Online Learning

Udemy, the Academy for You

Want to start a new career or learn a new skill? Udemy is the online learning academy for you! Udemy offers over 4,000 on-demand, online courses on leadership, management, coding, design, marketing, IT operations, data science, project management, human resources, sales, accounting, and productivity. And it’s all free with your MCPL library card!

Udemy courses are mostly business focused. There are courses on the usual productivity tools, like Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as introductory tech classes on subjects like HTML and WordPress.

Udemy also covers the softer, more social side of business with courses on public speaking, running productive meetings, and managing teams. I just started a course on public speaking to help me prepare for a presentation on podcasting that I’m giving at a library conference.

One can also find very specialized courses like CompTIA A+ and PLC Programming from Scratch. There’s an entire section, with a half dozen sub categories, focused on just data science. Some of these are so specialized I don’t even understand the course titles!

There’s also a personal development section in Udemy that includes language courses, life skills from painting to personal finance, and stress management courses related to mindfulness, meditation, and other techniques.

The videos offered by Udemy are on-demand, so you can start them whenever it’s convenient. Each course is broken up into smaller modules, making it easy to dip into a course for 30 minutes and pick it up later where you left off. Courses sometimes include supplementary material, such as practice tests or lists of questions to help you reflect on what you learned. Don’t worry though, there’s no final grade, just a certificate of completion.

Udemy is free with your MCPL library card. However, you’ll also need to create a free Google or Microsoft account to login. Udemy uses your name  to populate certificates of completion and your email address to reach you if you need assistance.​ Udemy stores name and email address only to provide you with service and does not share or sell this data.

So, if you’re looking to start a new career, boost your skills, or enhance your personal development, take a look at Udemy and make your goals a reality.

Online Learning

BookFlix the Reading Solution You Didn’t Know You Needed!

How many of you are guilty of ignoring nonfiction picture books and focusing more on thfun, imaginative, fiction books out there? I know Im guilty of this all the time. That’s why I was really excited to learn about MCPL’s resource called BookFlix 

Bookflix is an online early literacy resource that pairs animated versions of popular picture books with related nonfiction ebooks. Someone has basically done all the work for me and found a nonfiction companion to a whole bunch of my favorite picture books. What more could I ask for?  

Book cover for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill MartinWe love Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. at my house, so why not watch the story unfold and then have fun with alphabet riddles afterward? Oh, and don’t let the fun stop there. The pairing comes with picture puzzles, fact or fiction questions and sequence images to help build reading comprehension. You can even “dive deeper” and explore similar concepts on the web or learn more about the authors and illustrators of the books 

Another pairing we enjoyed was I’m Brave! by Kate & Jim McMullan and How Things Works: Firetrucks by Joanne Mattern. My daughter loved watching the picture book video, with all its noises, and then seeing real firetrucks in the nonfiction companion. It was a great way to bring the story to life.  

If you’re from a bilingual household, you’ll love BookFlix even more because there are a ton of book pairings for Spanish speaking families.  

I found BookFlix super easy to use and something that would appeal to a preschool, kindergarten, or even a younger elementary age groupAll you need to get started is a library card! So check out BookFlix today!  

Online Learning

Get Your Math Fix with TumbleMath

So we’re a few weeks into this digital world of homeschooling, have you gotten the hang of it yet? Don’t worry, I haven’t either. Trying to balance fun and education can be really hard, especially if you aren’t sure you have all the resources you need. Fortunately, we live in a world where digital learning isn’t just possible, but happening as we speak.  

Many of you may be familiar with TumbleBooks, an animated digital book library, but have you heard of TumbleMath 

TumbleMathLogo is a digital collection of math picture books, with animations, narration, quizzes, and more. It covers a variety of topics including counting, word problems, geometry, probability, and even time and temperature.  

One of the things I love about this collection is that I can read the books to my daughter or I can set her up and go do the dishes while the narrator reads the story to her. The narrator actually sounds human and the images are animated, which helps to keep her attention from wandering. I like to put out knickknacks for my daughter to count while the story runs, whether she actually counts them or not.  

Each book comes with a mini lesson plan, outlining the learning objectives, and a number of animated/narrated quizzes you can do together to help reinforce what has been learned. We’re not quite ready for quizzes in my house, but it’s nice to know they are there.  

Before the libraries closed, there was a mad dash for math books and learning resources as caregivers were preparing to homeschool their children for the first time. TumbleMath may just be the math solution you are looking for.  

Online Learning

Learn New Skills Online While Social Distancing

Social distancing doesn’t have to be a drag! Use this valuable time to learn a new skill with your library card! Don’t have a MCPL library card? No problem! Apply for our free digital library card and begin to use our online resources today.

One of our free resources,, is an online learning site that includes a diverse set of creative, personal, and professional classes. The tutorials are easy to use and many of them start at a beginner’s level. We’d like to spotlight a couple of these exceptional courses. 

Have you ever wanted to learn how to play an instrument but could never find the time? Beginning Accoustic Guitar Music Lessons features beginner videos on acoustic guitar basics. Tutorials begin with how to hold the guitar, strum, and read music. Videos are separated into sections so users can easily skip over or go back to different lessons. If the acoustic guitar is not for you, also provides beginner lessons for playing the drums, piano, and more! also provides tutorials to increase your professional knowledge and skills set. Follow the learning path Improve Your Microsoft Excel Skills and take lessons on advanced formatting techniques, in-depth charts, formulas, and functions. Whether you want to “wow” your current employer or add another competency to your resume, has all you need! 

Looking for more? Be sure to check out Udemy for personal development skills and Creativebug to spark your creative side. All of these priceless resources are free with your MCPL library card