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Library Matters

Library Matters is a podcast by Montgomery County Public Libraries exploring the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning.
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Library Matters is a podcast of Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) in Montgomery County, MD. Each episode we explore the world of books, libraries, technology, and learning. Library Matters is hosted by Alessandro Russo, Senior Librarian at MCPL's Rockville Memorial branch, and David Watts, Circulation Supervisor at the Silver Spring branch

Sep 12, 2017

Listen to the audio.

Adrienne Miles Holderbaum (producer):  Welcome to Library Matters, the Montgomery County Public Libraries’ podcast.

David Watts:  Hello and welcome to Library Matters.  Today, we’re going to talk about Montgomery County Public Library resources and services for people with disabilities.  From our monthly Talking Book Club at Rockville Memorial Library to the assistive technologies available in each branch, today we’ll discuss it all with Elizabeth Lang, Assistant Facilities and Accessibility Program Manager for MCPL.  Welcome to the podcast, Elizabeth Lang.

Elizabeth Lang:  I’m glad to be here.

David Watts:  Take a moment and tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your background, and how did you become interested in library services for people with disabilities?

Elizabeth Lang:  Well, my background is in social work, as well as in bookstores and libraries.  In my past life, I was a social worker at a domestic violence shelter.  And I found that to be very emotionally difficult and shifted over to working in bookstores.

When I was a manager in retail bookstores for, I want to say, about a decade, I was working in a Barnes & Noble, and saw a position posted for Talking Book & Braille Library.  And I wound up working as a librarian and as the Assistant Director for Public Services at the Talking Book & Braille Library in Missouri for about a decade.

That service provided library materials to people who are blind or visually impaired or who had other print disabilities and couldn’t use standard printed materials from their local public library.  I had never intended to go into the field of library services for people who have disabilities; I just kind of wound up there.  And then moved to DC to take a position as a Branch Manager in 2013.  And I worked for them until I came here last November.  And with DC, I was both the Branch Manager and I managed their Center for Accessibility, which was one department at the Martin Luther King main branch.  And the Center for Accessibility provided library services to patrons who had a wide range of disabilities.

In Missouri, I had been providing library service to people who had print disabilities, but at MLK and the Center for Accessibility was providing library service to any person who had any sort of disability that prevented them from using the standard services and materials available throughout the library.  And I’ve just sort of been here ever since.

David Watts:  Tell us about your new role at MCPL.

Elizabeth Lang:  Okay.  As you said, I am the Assistant Facilities and Accessibility Program Manager.  That’s kind of a mouthful, and what it means is I spend about half of my time working on facilities issues, including our refresh projects where we’re renovating our branches, and then about half of my time is focused on providing services, library services to people who have disabilities.

So far as I know, it’s a unique position.  I have not encountered any other library system or library that has a position that is really focused that uniquely on providing library services to people who have disabilities systemwide.

David Watts:  Can you give us a brief description of the Americans with Disabilities Act, otherwise known as ADA, and how it impacts MCPL specifically?

Elizabeth Lang:  Sure.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.  The law prohibits discrimination, and guarantees that people who have disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else has in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.

The main part of the ADA that impacts MCPL is called the Title II Regulations.  So those apply to state and local governments, specially.  Title II protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities that we provide.  It also requires that newly constructed or altered government facilities be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

So that means we have a responsibility to design all of our collections, our services, our programs and our facilities in a way that includes everyone.  So nationally, about 12% of the population has some form of a disability, and, in Montgomery County, that number is roughly about 82,000 people.

So for those 82,000 folks, I would like to believe they all use the library.  They’re the folks we’re concernin ourselves with and that I focus on making sure we’re doing a good job of serving.

David Watts:  What traditional library resources and services does MCPL offer for people who have disabilities?

Elizabeth Lang:  We have a pretty wide range of services and materials.  So we have large print books, which most people have heard of, that can be used by folks who have visual impairments.  We also have books on CD.  We also do have a small selection of Braille Books at some of our libraries.  We have a listing of local resources on our library services for People with Disabilities webpage.  We have a Talking Book Group that meets every month that our Rockville location for people who love audiobooks.  Two of our branches also have an accessibility center with work stations and resources that are dedicated to people who have disabilities.

David Watts:  What are some of the new or innovative resources and services MCPL offers to residents with disabilities?

Elizabeth Lang:  Well, every one of our branches now has an assistive technology workstation.  One of our customers has called it the Cadillac of Assistive Technology workstations.  It has screen reading software that’s called JAWS as well as enlarging software that’s called MAGic.  Both of those are for use by people who have low vision and/or who are blind.  It assists them in using the computer.  So the workstation has a large monitor as well for somebody who has a visual impairment and needs the screen enlarged.  It can get pretty big.  That’s very nice.

It also, that workstation, contains something called the ClearView+ Speech desktop magnifier.  Some people know this piece of equipment by the name CCTV, closed-circuit television is what it had been called in the past.  But the one that we just put in is more than the sort of old-fashioned closed-circuit TV that would just show you an image of what you had laid on a tray.  This when you lay your material on the tray, it can show that image on the screen.  It has a very large screen.  It also offers the option of reading aloud.  So it will take – basically it takes a photograph of the item that you’ve placed on the tray, it will show it to you on the screen and then if you tap the screen, it will start reading the defined text areas that it has located out loud to you.  It cannot be used by somebody who has no usable vision, but for someone who has a visual impairment or is legally blind, it can help them read much more easily than, you know, struggling with just using glasses, particularly for something that has very small print.

David Watts:  What is the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, what resources and services does it offer that are different from what’s available in MCPL?

Elizabeth Lang:  Good questions.  The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a state resource.  It’s a library for people who have print disabilities.  I was talking about the library where I had worked in Missouri, the Talking Book & Braille Library there, that was Missouri’s Talking Book & Braille Library.  The Maryland State Library is the same thing.  So every state has one.

David Watts:  Right.

Elizabeth Lang:  So the one that serves Maryland is based in Baltimore.  And they are supported by the National Library Service, which is a division of the Library of Congress.  So they provide audio books and audio book players to people who can’t use standard print materials.  They mail it all out through the post office and it’s no charge to the patrons.

So to use that library, people have to be certified as having a disability that prevents them from using print.  So they serve sort of a subset of perhaps the folks that we serve.  But they do serve everybody throughout the state.

We, you know, we’re focused on Montgomery County and we will serve any customer within Montgomery County who is interested.  So some of our patrons are probably the same people who are being served by the library in Baltimore.  They can certainly take advantage of both libraries at the same time.  And there was a little bit of overlap, as I’ve said, we do have some books on CD.  That’s a slightly different format than the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provides to their customers.  But they can use both of them.

David Watts:  Tell us what happens of MCPL needs to make a change to be in compliance with ADA requirements but can’t make that change for some reason.

Elizabeth Lang:  Sure.  Well, it does happen occasionally that we will discover that some aspects of our buildings or our services are not in compliance with ADA regulations or requirements.

Sometimes it’s something that I or a staff person will discover and sometimes it’s something that’s brought to our attention by one of our customers.  An example that comes to mind is I think it’s our Long Branch facility has a very steep road just outside.  And the sidewalk there is very steep as well.  And we’ve had the county’s ADA Compliance Office staff out there taking a look to see what can be done when we refresh that branch to bring us into compliance in all areas with ADA requirements.

Well, we can’t recut the road or redesign that sidewalk to the extent that would be required to bring it into line with the slope that is required for someone who’s using a wheelchair.  It’s just a very steep street and sidewalk.

So the ADA does recognize that there are going to be instances like that where we simply can’t.  We cannot cut into somebody else’s property.  If something were going to be prohibitively expensive, if we had to, you know, raise a building and rebuild it completely, but we didn’t have the funding.  Let’s say if the building had been built so long ago that nothing was in compliance, it recognizes that’s probably not possible.

So there’s some wording that it says that if something would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a service program or activity or in an undue financial or administrative burden, then we can’t be bunched to do whatever it is that’s been requested.

David Watts:  How has MCPL incorporated ADA requirements, universal design, and the state of concerns of people with disabilities into the refresh of its branches?  What are some specific examples?

Elizabeth Lang:  The main focus of my position actually is to sort of pay attention to the intersection of all these things.  So that’s a large question.

And I will sort of start with universal design.  The idea behind universal design is that things can be designed to be usable by everyone, regardless of whether a person has a disability or not.  There’s generally a way to set the built environment up to make it easy to use for everybody, including children.

So ADA requirements are sort of a piece of universal design.  And the law does get pretty detailed about what you can and can’t do with regards to the size of your doorways and the width of your pathways and those sorts of things.  But that’s sort of like a bare minimum expectation really of what will be done that will create an environment that is just—at its most basic level—usable by everyone.

Universal design takes that a step past that, obviously, and trying to design something that’s usable for everybody.  So when we’re refreshing out branches, I pay attention to sort of all of those things.  We have to make sure that we’re designing to the basic level of the ADA standards that are countertop to the right height that if we’re putting in a catalog computer for people to look books up on, that we don’t put it on a standing workstation only that’s really just usable by people who are literally standing.  So if you’re using a walker or a wheelchair, then you wouldn’t reach it.

So we have whole range of things that I pay attention to with the refreshes.  And how we know what the stated concerns are with regards to our customers with disabilities, I speak with folks who have disabilities almost every day about their library services and what they want.

We have several mechanisms for feedback on our website as well.  And we have an advisory committee that is focused specifically on accessibility.  And they meet I believe that it is quarterly, and talk with us about the existing branches, what they see, what they sort of have on their wishlist of ideally this is what this library would be like.  And they have been walking the branches whose refreshes are coming up.  They’ve been walking through those with us to point out very specific things like the slope on the sidewalk outside Long Branch that is too steep or a door where the pushbutton for the handicap entrance, you know, somebody using a wheelchair without that push button can’t get in.  So they point those things out and make sure that we’re aware of them.  We make a nice big list, and then when we go into design for that building, we incorporate as much of that as we can.

David Watts:  There are a wide variety of disabilities from vision impairments to mobility challenges.  How does MCPL address or accommodate them all?

Elizabeth Lang:  There are a very wide variety of disabilities and we try to accommodate everyone.  We want everyone to come to the library and be delighted.  What we do is take a case-by-case basis, specifically when we have someone who has a concern, we will address that with the particular branch or staff person who has brought it to our attention.

There will be instances where people who have disabilities will have needs that conflict.  One example that seems kind of outrageous but kind of made the rounds online as a “Did you know this actually happened?”  Somebody who used seeing eye-dog, a guide dog, was attending an event, I honestly don’t remember which library, not in this area, and there was a person with a very, very, very severe asthma-related response to dogs and they both wanted to be in the same place and it became a point of great discussion whether the person with the guide dog was allowed to stay because that person is sort of impinging on another person’s ability to breath, which is no small issue, right?

David Watts:  That’s a pretty severe disability.

Elizabeth Lang:  It is.

David Watts:  Yeah.

Elizabeth Lang:  It is.  So that’s an extreme example, but I have had people asked me, “What happens if person A wants something and that interferes with what person B needs?”  So it does happen.  Thankfully I’ve not encountered anything in our system yet.  But again, we just take our customer’s needs on a case-by-case basis where we’re made aware that there’s something needed.

David Watts:  How do you get input about what Montgomery County residents who have disabilities want and need from MCPL?

Elizabeth Lang:  Well, I touched on this a little earlier.  We, in addition to our online feedback and the feedback that we get from our branches directly from customers, again, we have our advisory committee.  And in addition to the feedback that I get from them at our meetings, our formal meetings, I am in touch with them regularly to just bounce things off of them to ask their opinions, to get their guidance and their feedback on the things that we’re thinking about implementing or changing.  And then we also – I have fairly close relationship with the ADA Compliance Office, the Montgomery County ADA Compliance Office.  And they hear a lot more than we do directly from Montgomery County residents who have disabilities and specifically what they need.  And that’s sort of a two-way feedback street with them as well.

David Watts:  How does ADA influence architectural design in public spaces?  How do you believe it will impact libraries of the future?

Elizabeth Lang:  Well, as I’ve said, the ADA regulations do have sort of a basic set of kind of bare-bones guidelines as I think of them with regards to how physical spaces have to be designed to be accessible.  Things like designs you’ve probably seen that have the wording and then the Braille underneath them perhaps next to a meeting room door, those kinds of guidelines.

They specify things like if you have something that protrudes from the wall, say a monitor, maybe a computer monitor or a display screen that if it’s more than four inches up from the wall, it has to be either over a certain height, I believe 70 inches or below 28, so that if I’m using a cane, I’m not caught unawares by something that’s sticking out from the wall.  I might run into that with my shoulder or my head if that’s the only thing there.  So ADA requires that if something is sticking out more than four inches and it’s within those 28 to 70 inches, I have to have something permanent underneath it, like a bench or a cabinet that someone who’s using a cane would be able to feel with the cane before they hit the protruding object.

So there are a lot of very small detailed requirements like that that influence the architecture of a building.

In the future, again, I think we’re going to move toward a more universal design as people become more and more aware of what is good for everyone.  It’s really relatively easy to build to those things when you’re building a new facility.  Older facilities are harder to sometimes sort of bring up to speed.  But we haven’t encountered anything yet where there wasn’t something that we could do to make it better.

David Watts:  How does the increase in the number of older Americans impact ADA services and resources?

Elizabeth Lang:  Well, as you might guess, as our population ages, our ADA related services and resources will be in greater demand.  I was looking at some information from the Pew Research Center this morning that was talking about this very thing.  And it was seeing that as people age, they do become disabled.  And that our largest group of people with disabilities nationwide are those who I believe it was 75 and older.

So of folks who have disabilities, about 25% of them never go online.  You know, we talked a lot about how everybody is connected 24/7, but there are very large group of people who are not connected in that way.  People with disabilities are also 20% less likely than somebody without disabilities to own a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.

So again, we’re maybe looking at the need to increase more basic resources, print books, print magazines, print newspapers, or providing the technology for our customers to use because they don’t own it themselves.  You know, helping them learn what those things are and connecting them in that way will be ever more important.

David Watts:  How can we find out more about MCPL’s resources for people with disabilities?

Elizabeth Lang:  Well, we have some good information on our website.  We do have what’s called a LibGuide that is specifically filled with information about our services for people who have disabilities, and not only our services at the library but some countywide, I believe there are also statewide resources there for people to use on a variety of topics.  They can always contact one of our branches and the librarians there can help them with any information needs that they have.  It’s kind of what we specialize in or they can contact me directly.  I’m at 240-777-0039.  I’m happy to talk to anyone about their concerns, their needs, or any topic related to library services about people with disabilities.

David Watts:  Elizabeth, we have this habit of asking our guest to tell us what they’re currently reading and is on their nightstand or what your favorite book is.

Elizabeth Lang:  I could never pick a favorite book.  So I’ll tell you what I’m reading right now.  On my mother’s recommendation, I’m reading the A is for Alibi series which I had always been sort of aware of.  A lot of people really love Sue Grafton’s writing.  I had just never picked it up.  But I just finished F is for Fugitive.  And tonight, yeah, I will be starting G is for Gumshoe.  It’s really great series, mystery, kind of –.

David Watts:  It draws you.

Elizabeth Lang:  It does.  It does.  They character is a great character.  The main character Kinsey Millhone is the investigator.  She is a private investigator who started as a policy officer and she is very quirky and kind of lovable in the end.  I’m loving it.  It’s fantastic.  My mom made a great recommendation.

David Watts:  Well, we want to thank you for being our guest today on Library Matters.

Elizabeth Lang:  Thank you for having me.

David Watts:  And for our audience, we want to keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast.

Also, please review and rate us on iTunes; we’d love to know what you think.  Thank you for listening to our conversation today, and we’ll see you next time.

Sep 12, 2017

Recording Date: August 8, 2017 

Episode Summary: Guest Elizabeth Lang discusses MCPL resources and services for people with disabilities, as well as MCPL's efforts to incorporate accessibility into all aspects of its operations.

Guest: Elizabeth Lang, Assistant Facilities and Accessibility Program Manager 

MCPL Resources and Services Mentioned During this Episode:

MCPL's Accessibility Centers are located in our Rockville Memorial and Silver Spring branches

Accessibility Advisory Committee

Assistive Technology Workstations

MCPL Services for People with Disabilities

Rockville Memorial Library Talking Book Club 

Other Resources and Services Mentioned During this Episode:

DC Center for Accessibility

Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Montgomery County ADA Compliance Team


National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped


Wolfner Talking Books & Braille Library
in Jefferson City, Missouri

Books Mentioned During this Episode:

Kinsey Milhone mystery series (A Is for Alibi, etc.) by Sue Grafton

Other Items of Interest:

Pew Research fact sheet on Americans with disabilities
Universal design

Full transcript of this episode.

Aug 29, 2017

Recording Date: Tuesday, August 8, 2017 

Episode Summary: Two MCPL dads discuss books for both new and experienced fathers. 

Guests: Fred Akuffo, Library Assistant Supervisor at Long Branch, and Tom Palmer, Library Associate at Silver Spring.

Notable Quote:  “I’m not sure I have a [parenting] style, honestly. I’m on the lookout for one.”

Books, Movies, Television Shows, and Audio Mentioned During this Episode:

Adventures in Odyssey online Christian audio drama

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin

The Bible

Aesop’s Fables by Aesop

Dad’s Playbook by Tom Limbert

Be Prepared by Gary Greenberg

Betters Dads, Stronger Sons by Rick Johnson

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker

Boy Scout Handbook from Boy Scouts of America

Black on White by Tana Hoban

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Reading Rainbow Television show

The Truth About Money by Ric Edelman

Books and other resources not owned by MCPL may be available through our Marina & interlibrary loan services

Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode: 

Choose your own story type books

Aug 15, 2017

Recording Date: July 11, 2017

Episode Summary: Today's teen books are more than broken hearts and vampires. Two of our librarians discuss what teen books have to offer readers of all ages. 

Guests: Tina Rawhouser, Manager of our Potomac branch, and Annie Seiler, librarian at Marilyn Praisner

MCPL Resources and Services Mentioned During this Episode:

Teen Reading Lists: MCPL offers suggested readings lists by topic/genre for teens. Includes action/adventure, humor, mystery, and more. MCPL also offers reading lists by age, for middle schoolers and high schoolers

Teensite: This portion of our website just for teens offers reading suggestions, library events for teens, college admissions info, and more. 

What Do I Check Out Next?: Use our online form to tell us what you like to read. We'll e-mail you a list of 3-5 books that our readers' advisory experts have chosen for you. 

Books and Authors Mentioned During this Episode:

Leigh Bardugo: One of Annie's favorite authors. Bardugo's teen fantasy books include the Grisha triology, about a teenage orphan who harnesses an unexpected power. The first book in the series is Shadow and Bone

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: It's 1941, and 15 year old Lithuanian girl Lina and her family are sent to Siberia, where she secretly documents their struggle to survive.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Liesel, a young German girl, boosts the spirits of her neighbors and the Jewish man her family is hiding from the Nazis with her storytelling and recitation of books she's stolen. This book was made into a film.

Orson Scott Card: Bestselling author of Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and many other science fiction and fantasy books. 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman: One of Tina Rawhouser's favorite books, Challenger Deep is the story of Caden Bosch, whose descent into schizophrenia splits his world into one of a high school student and the other of a sea captain on his way to Challenger Deep, the ocean's deepest trench.   

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Starr Carter lives in two worlds, her poor neighborhood and the fancy prep school she attends. Those worlds collide when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend at the hands of a police officer.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: The classic fantasy tale of a small, reluctant traveler who is pressured to join a group of dwarfs on a quest to retrieve their treasure from a dragon. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Recounts the joys and sorrows of the 4 March sisters as they grow up in the latter half of the 19th century. 

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien: The epic trilogy recounting the quest of Frodo Baggins and his companions to destroy the One Ring before its creator retrieves it and conquers Middle Earth. The books in this series are The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King

Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: 14 year old Susie Salmon watches from heaven as her family adjusts to the tragedy of her disappearance and death. 

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer: One of Tina Rawhouser's favorites, the Lunar Chronicles is a sci fi series reinterpreting Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and other fairy tales. The story is set in a future of moon colonies, androids, and cyborgs. 

Sarah J. Maas: Author of the Throne of Glass series, a retelling of Cinderella, and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Librarian Annie Seiler likes these books for their strong female characters.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson: A favorite of Librarian Annie Seiler, this graphic novel recounts the adventures of Nimona, the sidekick to supervillain Lord Blackheart, who's attempting to unmask the evil deeds of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Living in a bleak near future, Wade Watts dreams of finding the 3 keys supposedly hidden in the virtual reality world OASIS. Rumor has it that whoever finds all 3 will inherit a fortune. 

Sabaa Tahir: Teen fiction writer best known for the novel An Ember in the Ashes.  

Salt to the Sea: A historical fiction novel about a group refugees in East Prussia seeking to flee the final ravages of World War II. 

The Selection by Kiera Cass: First book in a series about a competition to win the prince's hand and become a princess. 

Sweet Valley High: Book series about the lives of identical twins, Jessica and Elizabeth, and their experiences at Sweet Valley High School. 

This Is Our Story: Five boys go hunting, only four return. The boys say it was an accident, but suspicions mount. 

Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. A young witch joins a group of 6 inch tall blue men to rescue her baby brother and save Fairyland. 

Aug 1, 2017

Recording Date: June 13, 2017

Episode Summary: Learn more about the hosts of Library Matters, Alessandro Russo and David Watts. Alessandro and David talk about how they established their careers with MCPL and what it's like to work in a public library. 

Guests: Alessandro Russo and David Watts

Guest Hosts: Adrienne Miles Holderbaum and Mark Santoro, co-producers of Library Matters

MCPL Resources and Services Mentioned During this Episode:

3D Printing - Create a variety of objects both fun and functional with MCPL's 3D printers. 

MCPL offers a wide variety of e-books, audiobooks, and e-magazines for children, teens, and adults. 

Books and Podcasts Mentioned During this Episode:

Baudolino by Umberto Eco. A lighthearted tale of an upwardly mobile peasant, Baudolino, who, in the early 1200s, rises through medieval society and sets out to meet the legendary Prester John

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Dumas' classic tale of a falsely imprisoned man who seeks vengeance against those who betrayed him.

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell reveals the unexpected relationships and balance between the weak and the strong. 

The Nerdist. Host Chris Hardwick and his two nerdy friends Jonah Ray and Matt Mira talk about stuff, "usually with someone more famous" than they are. 

Paranormal. Jim Harold interviews experts on the supernatural. 

Two Pods a Day. A campaign to introduce listeners to 2 independent podcasts each day, from May 15 - June 13, 2017.

Other Items of Interest

Guidelines Governing the Use of Public Libraries - These library use guidelines, based on the principles of mutual respect and courtesy, are meant to foster a welcoming environment in all MCPL branches. 

Applying for a job with MCPL - Once at the jobs search page, type the word library into the Keywords field to bring up jobs available in MCPL. For specific instructions on becoming a library page, please visit the Library Page Positions site

Jul 18, 2017

Recording Date: July 11, 2017

Episode Summary: Alessandro Russo and guest host Lennea Bower* interview retiring MCPL Director Parker Hamilton about her career in librarianship, her 37 years with Montgomery County government, and her work as director of MCPL.

*Lennea Bower is the manager of Digital Strategies, the MCPL division responsible for the Library Matters podcast.  

Guest: MCPL Director Parker Hamilton. Director Hamilton has led MCPL since 2005. She is retiring July 31, 2017

Notable Quote: Director Hamilton on why she because a librarian “because it was an opportunity to connect with learning and knowledge.”

MCPL Resources and Services Mentioned During This Episode

Apps: MCPL offers a variety of apps that connect customers to library resource, including Bookmyne, a mobile version of our catalog, Freegal, a free music app, several e-book apps, and more.

Career Online High School (COHS): COHS is an accredited, online high school diploma and career certificate program for adults 19 and older. 

Digital Media Labs: Our Long Branch and Silver Spring libraries offer computer labs where teens can learn and practice digital photography, video production, graphic design, computer programming, and more. 

Fake News: This library program offers strategies for evaluating news stories and other information sources. 

Go! Kits: Little Explorer and Young Voyager Go! Kits are backpacks that contain a Playaway Launchpad or Android tablet as well as STEM related books, tools, and apps. Their purpose is to get children excited about science and math. 

MCPL's social media channels: Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube

Books, and Podcasts Shows Mentioned During This Episode

Car TalkHumorous NPR talk show that ran from 1977 - 2012 featuring two brothers from Boston who helped, or tried to help, members of the audience who called in with their car troubles. 

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Collection of meditations on the changes women experience in relationships, marriage, and life as they move through life's stages.

Kurt Vonneguys: Podcast of two guys discussing Kurt Vonnegut's books.

National Public Radio (NPR) Podcasts: NPR offers a large variety of podcasts, some of which serve as online archives of NPR radio shows, including Fresh Air, Car Talk, and StoryCorps. 

Ways of Grace: Stories of Activism, Adversity, and How Sports Can Bring Us Together by James Blake: A collection of stories about acts of kindness in the world of sports that bridged cultural and racial divides. The author was interviewed on NPR about this book.  

Other Items of Interest

Bobby Seale: Political activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party. He spoke at the Douglas Center Library in Illinois while Parker Hamilton worked there. 

FY17 MCPL Budget

Jun 26, 2017

Recording Date: June 13, 2017

Episode Summary: MCPL children's librarians Jane Dorfman and Lauren Martino continue their discussion on reading aloud to children. In this portion, part 2 of 2, Jane and Lauren read sample stories, explain why these stories are good read-alouds, and note some of the techniques they used to bring these stories to life. Our guests also answer questions that they have heard from parents over the years about reading aloud to children.

NOTE; This recording is part 2 of 2 of the Reading Aloud to a Child epsiode. We had such an interesting discussion that our recording for this episode was over 45 minutes. We've split the discussion up into 2 parts to make it easier for our listeners to absorb. 

Guests: Jane Dorfman, MCPL Children's Librarian, and Lauren Martino, MCPL Children's Librarian

Books read during this episode:

Bark George by Jules Feiffer. Read by Jane Dorfman. A mother dog is concerned because her puppy doesn't bark. 

The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone. Read by Lauren Martino. Grover becomes concerned when he learns there's monster waiting at the end of his book. 

MCPL resources and services mentioned during this episode:

Wordless books: These are books, often picture books, that have only pictures and no words. 

World Languages Collection: Numerous MCPL branches offer adult and children's books (and some periodicals) in Amharic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. 

Authors mentioned during this episode:

Sandra Boynton. Author of many colorful, humorous picture books featuring cheerful, often musical, animals. Her books include such favorites as Are You a Cow?, Tickle Time!, and Barnyard Dance!.

Books mentioned during this episode:

B Is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood. Betsy is nervous about going to first grade, but learns it's a great place where she has lots of fun. 

Big Dog Little Dog series by Dav Pilkey. Big Dog and Little Dog are best friends who can be a bit mischievous and silly. 

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. Frances declares she will only eat bread and jam. To her surprise, her parents agree. 

The Great Brain series by John Fitzgerald. The Great Brain is a boy growing up in the early 1900s with a silver tongue and a knack for making a profit. 

*Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett. A magician's assistant travels to Nebraska in search of her late magician's secret past. 

*Redshirts by John Scalzi. An ensign on the flagship of the interstellar navy learns that life on a starship is a lot more complicated, and deadly, than he realized.

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. The children of a black family living in Depression era Mississippi do not understand the prejudice and discrimination they face.

*A Wrinkle in Time by Madelein L'Engle. A brother, sister, and their friends search for the sibling's father, who has disappeared after working on a secret project for the government. 

*Mentioned by our guests as their favorite books.

Other items of interest:

International Children's Digital Library.  A digital library of full-text books from around the world.  

Jun 23, 2017

Recording Date: June 13, 2017

Episode Summary: Our guests this episode are Jane Dorfman and Lauren Martino. Both are children's librarians in MCPL branches who have conducted many storytimes for children of different ages. In part 1 of this episode, they discuss the benefits of reading aloud to children, how to choose the best books, and how to keep a child engaged with the book or story.  

NOTE: We had such a lively, interactive discussion that our recording was over 45 minutes. We've split the discussion up into 2 parts to make it easier for our listeners to absorb. This recording is part 1 of 2.

Guests: Jane Dorfman, Children's Librarian, and Lauren Martino, Children's Librarian

MCPL resources and services mentioned during this episode:

Booklists by Grade & Age

MCPL 2017 Reading Challenge: Expand your reading horizons. Over the course of 2017, read one book from each of 12 categories.

NoveList K-8 Plus: This kid-friendly database has recommended reading lists, read alikes, award winners, and other tools for find children's fiction and non-fiction books.    

Storytimes at MCPL: MCPL offers storytime programs for children of different ages, as well as special themed and bilingual storytimes.

Summer Read and Learn: This program offers exciting activities for children, teens, and adults to encourage reading and learning all summer long.

What Do I Check Out Next?: Tell us what you like to read and we'll e-mail you a personalized list of 3 to 5 books that our readers' advisory experts have chosen for just you. 

TumbleBooks (described in the episode as books that read to a child): An online collection of animated, talking picture books. Includes story books, chapter books, nonfiction, videos, and more. Also includes e-books in French and Spanish.

Authors mentioned during this episode: 

Susan Middleton Elya. This picture book author is known for her rhyming stories written in a mix of English and Spanish. 

Komako Sakai. Author mentioned by Lauren Martino as a writer of more quiet books for children. 

Jan Thomas. Picture books with big, clean, lines.

Mo Willems. Author of beloved picture book series including Elephant & Piggie, Knuffle Bunny, and The Pigeon. 

Karma Wilson. Picture book author known Bear Snores On, Hilda Must Be Dancing, and many other fine children's books. 

Books, and other media mentioned during this episode:

Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. Readers see a variety of animals, each one a different color. 

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina. Mischievous monkeys steal all of a peddler's caps. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. What happens when the whole alphabet tries to climb a coconut tree? 

Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell. Tales of Clifford, the giant red dog, and his owner, Emily Elizabeth. 

Little Red Hen. No animals want to help the hen bake, but they all want some of the fruits of her labor. 

The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Classic tale about goats that trick a troll living under a bridge.

The Three Little Pigs. The classic tale of 3 little pigs and the wolf who tries to make each pig his next meal. 

Trashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. Mr. Gillie, the trash man, rides through town, picking up the trash. Our guest Lauren Martino noted this book as one of her go to favorites for storytime reading. 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. A naughty boy sent to bed without supper sails off to an island inhabited by fantastic beasts and becomes their king. 

 

May 11, 2017

Recording Date: May 3, 2017

Guests: Christine Freeman, Early Literacy and Children's Services Manager, and Susan Moritz, Program Manager, Virtual Services.  

Episode Summary: Our guests discuss MCPL's upcoming Summer Read and Learn program. MCPL's Summer Read and Learn program promotes reading and learning all summer long through a variety of reading and activity based learning tracks. 

MCPL resources and services mentioned during this episode:

Summer Read and Learn: This program runs from June 10 through September 10, 2017. There will be activities for children, teens, and adults. 

Four Doorways to Reading: Legendary librarian Nancy Pearl identified 4 reasons people fall in love with books. They are plot, people, place, and prose. Sign up through Beanstack for reading recommendations based on your preferences among these 4 doorways to literature.

Freegal: Download up to 5 song each week for free. Choose from over 3,000,000 recordings. 

Library Link: A partnership between MCPL and Montgomery County Public Schools to ensure every child enrolled in a county public school receives a library card. 

MCPL 2017 Reading Challenge: Over the course of 2017, read one book from each of twelve different categories. The categories include items such as a book set in your home state or country, a book with a viewpoint different from your own, and a book with a cover that is green.  

MCPL's Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM) programs

MCPL Strategic Plan: To provide access to services, resources, and programs so that everyone can participate in making a more Literate Montgomery, Connected Montgomery, Strong and Vibrant Montgomery, and Delighted Montgomery. 

MCPL Storytimes

Suggested Titles by Grade and Interest Level

What Do I Check Out Next?: Tell us what you like to read and we'll e-mail you a personalized list of 3 to 5 books that our readers' advisory experts have chosen for you. 

Books and other media mentioned during this episode

Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: Laia goes undercover at the empire's military academy in order to save her brother from execution. 

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: Marcus uses his hacking skills to resist an out of control Department of Homeland Security.

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen: Princess Kelsea returns home to ascend the throne amidst political intrigue and personal peril. 

The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: A commoner with rare power, Mare risks everything to help a growing rebellion. 

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See: Two sisters leave Shanghai to begin new lives in 1930s Los Angeles. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware: A journalist suspects the murder of a passenger no else believes was ever on board their cruise ship.

Rick Riordan: Bestselling author of children's book series such as The Heroes of Olympus, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, and The Kane Chronicles

May 4, 2017

Recording Date: April 25, 2017

Guest: Rita Gale, Public Services Administrator for Space Management, ADA, and Collections

Summary: Guest Rita Gale discusses MCPL's innovative refresh project initiative, which allows MCPL branches to be updated to meet customers' changing needs while minimizing the time a branch is closed. 

MCPL resources and services mentioned during this episode:

Branch Refresh Project: A “refresh” project is a new Capital Improvement Program process approved by Montgomery County Council and the County Executive to allow library buildings to get significant and timely updates without having to close for the lengthy time it takes for a full renovation. The Library Refurbishment CIP funds programmatic, cosmetic, and service impact updates to two to three libraries every year. 

Charging Stations: Free, lockable charging stations for charging phones, tablets, or laptops. Available at every branch except Noyes.  

Collaboration Rooms: Sometimes called group study or tutor rooms, these rooms fit 2 to 8 people and can be reserved, for free, from the MCPL website. 

Loanable Laptops: Laptops can be borrowed for in branch use at select locations. Laptops checkouts are for three hours or until closing time.

Design Excellence Award for Silver Spring Library: The Montgomery County Planning Department awarded their 2nd Annual Design Excellence Award to Silver Spring Library for the building's dynamic design and commitment to public transportation (the library was built to accommodate a planned light rail station.)

Wheaton Library Renovation: In contrast to a refresh, which is limited to the interior of a library, the Wheaton branch has been torn down and will be replaced by a completely new building. 

Books and other media mentioned during this episode:

Fodor's 2015 Alaska by Teeka Ballas, et al. 

Fodor's the Complete Guide to Alaska Cruises by Teeka Ballas, et al. 

The Wicked series - A series of four adult books reinterpreting the story and characters from the Wizard of Oz. 

  1. Wicked: The Life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West - The life story of Elphaba, who would later be known as the Wicked Witch of the West, as told by those who knew her. 
  2. Son of a Witch - The story of Liir, Elphaba's son, who is trying to find his half sister.
  3. A Lion Among Men -Recounts the life and adventures of the Cowardly Lion.
  4. Out of Oz - The Wicked Witch's granddaughter, Rain, is the main character of this sequel.  

Other items of interest

NACo Award - In 2016, MCPL received an award from the National Association of Counties for quickly adapting to the changing needs of Montgomery County residents in a cost effective manner through the branch refresh initiative. 

Top Innovators Award 2016 - Organizational Change and Strategic Management - Urban Libraries Council: In fall of 2016, MCPL received this prestigious award from the Urban Libraries Council for its branch refresh initiative, which "implements improvements to library construction and enhances information services and technologies based on changing community needs." 

Funding sources for MCPL's Branch Refresh projects include the Library Refurbishment Level of Effort and the 21st Century Library Enhancements Level of Effort

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