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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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Now displaying: December, 2017

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 Julie Dina, Outreach Associate, Lauren Martino, Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch, and David Payne, Branch Manager of our Davis branch and Acting Branch Manager of our Potomac branch.  

Dec 20, 2017

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Julie Dina: Welcome to Library Matters, a podcast at the Montgomery County Public Library. I’m your host, Julie Dina. Everyone wants a friend and I’m glad to say Montgomery County Public Library has a friend with the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County chapter.

 

Today on the program, we have Ari Brooks, Executive Director, and Lance Salins, Business Manager of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County chapter, FOLMC. Welcome guys.

 

Ari Brooks: Thank you.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, thank you for having us.

 

Julie Dina: So let’s start of if you can let the listeners know what exactly is FOLMC?

 

Ari Brooks: We are a group of dedicated residents of Montgomery County who believe very strongly in the value of the library system and came together back in 1983 to make a good library system, a great library system.

 

FOLMC is first of all a parent organization, Friends of the Library Montgomery County to 17 chapters of Friends of the Library. So at the 21 branches here at MCPL, 17 of those branches have chapters that report under our parent organization.

 

Julie Dina: What would you say is the difference between the FOLMC and the Friends of each individual chapter?

 

Ari Brooks: Well, the major difference is that FOLMC, the parent organization works with the public library system to provide enhanced programs or services throughout the entire system. So we for example helped pilot a lot of the new materials in libraries that really didn’t exist back in the ‘80s or even in the ‘90s.

 

So we piloted the VHS tapes as a new media. So we purchased, I think it was $60,000 that we put into the collections budget. And then when DVDs replaced the VHS tapes, we purchased DVDs for the collections. We piloted CDs, musical CDs, to help the system to determine whether or not people would go to the library and check out other materials, you know, other than books or magazines, your traditional materials.

 

So those were the kinds of things that we provide, again, enhanced programs, services, and materials that are going to impact the entire library community. Another example of that is the fact that we piloted the first session management software found in MCPL. So remember a very long time ago when the computers were first introduced to libraries, volunteers and library staff actually cued the lines.

 

And then software was developed to allow you to enter your library card number to be able to use the computer for a certain amount of time. Well, we piloted that software first at the Long Branch Library. And then the library director came back and wanted to pilot another version of that. We purchased that. Again, it was piloted at the Long Branch, branch and at Gaithersburg because those were two branches that had traditionally the highest computer use, public computer use.

 

And so, again, we are in the position that we can help the system by funding things that will benefit the entire library community. Whereas the local chapters really work hand in hand with their branch mangers to look at what the unique needs are of their community and how they can fund programming that is very specific to their community needs.

 

So you might find more Chinese Lunar New Year programs at one branch because of a certain, you know, demographics or you might find more children’s programming at one branch or more programming for older adults at another branch. Again, based on demographics and based on what the branch manager says the community really needs. So that is the major differences. We’re looking at the system as a whole whereas the chapters are really focused on their branches in their communities.

 

Julie Dina: So tell us about your work with the FOLMC? Exactly, what would you say your role is in the whole thing?

 

Ari Brooks: Sure. Well, I’ve been the executive director for almost 15 years now.

 

Julie Dina: Wow.

 

Ari Brooks: I know.

 

Julie Dina: Did you start when you were five?

 

Ari Brooks: Basically, six.

 

Julie Dina: Six?

 

Ari Brooks: Six and a half. And so my role is to oversee the organization to make sure that the mission and vision as it has been carved out by the Board of Trustees is carried out. And we do that through a strategic plan to make sure that community needs are being met and that the residents of this county needs are being met through our support of public libraries.

 

So I get to work very closely with Lance who oversees the bookstore, so a big part of what I do is support him in his role. We do have a development staff that does your traditional fundraising. We’re a membership organization, so we recruit people to become members of Friends of the Library. We do receive grants. So there is a lot of very traditional fund raising that goes on as well. So I oversee all of those activities and the administrative functions as well. It doesn’t sound very exciting the way I’m describing it right now, but it is my –.

 

Julie Dina: I’m sure it is.

 

Ari Brooks: – life’s passion. It is a very rewarding work to know that I am in a position to be able to support something that every single resident of Montgomery County can ultimately benefit from.

 

Julie Dina: Sounds good. So who then can join the Friends?

 

Ari Brooks: You can join the Friends. Anyone –.

 

Julie Dina: I can be your friends?

 

Lance Salins: Anyone, everyone.

 

Ari Brooks: Anyone can join the Friends of the Library. We’re a very welcoming group. And we want to expand our base of friends in Montgomery County because, you know, when you consider how many people have library cards, all of those people potentially should be a friend of the library.

 

Julie Dina: That is true.

 

Ari Brooks: Even if you don’t have a library card or don’t consider yourself a library person or a reader, you should still be a friend of the library.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, even if you’re not a regular library user every day and I’ve met people at our stores that say that they don’t – they just buy books new. They don’t use the library. But they – it is still would benefit them to support and be a friend of their library system because it is a community wide service that we’re providing, that everyone is providing. And so, you know, if they may not use it individually, other members in their community are using it. And so it won’t impact them that way.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah. And I know that library systems have been tied into things like property values and having a strong library system is really in everyone’s best interest. And, you know, you might be a book buyer today, but you might not be able to be a book buyer tomorrow.

 

Julie Dina: That is true.

 

Ari Brooks: And you want that public library there so that you can access it in the event that you might need it. I know that in – the downturn of the economy, often libraries and especially our bookstores will see an upsurge and use. And so it is very important that communities have a strong library system regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a library user. So everyone is welcome to be a friend of the library.

 

Julie Dina: How can they join?

 

Ari Brooks: Well, you can join a number of ways. In our website @folmc.org, there is membership brochure throughout the entire library system in all branches. You can call into the office at 240-777-0020. And segue into the bookstores, you can actually join at the bookstores as well.

 

Lance Salins: Yes, that is what I was eager to say. You can come and see us at the bookstores. We’re open approximately 359 days every year. We offer a year round. We’re open 62 hours a week and are currently have two locations. At any time that we’re open, you can come in there and purchase a membership and it gets you 10% off of all materials at our bookstores.

 

Julie Dina: I would think that is one incentive that everyone should join.

 

Ari Brooks: Definitely. Many people come to get their membership card so that they can enjoy that benefit. But that is one of many membership benefits. We do programs throughout the year. We also do an annual gala during national library weeks. So we offer discounted rates on our events as well. MCPL also produces a quarterly calendar of events, so members who receive that from FOLMC through subscription. You also would get our quarterly newsletter which highlights our organization and events that we produce. So you get first-hand information about what is happening in libraries if you’re a member.

 

Julie Dina: And is this the same way you generate your funding or how exactly do you acquire funding?

 

Ari Brooks: Well, the largest funding strain comes from the use bookstores. And so –.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Ari Brooks: – and Lance can speak to that. But membership – like I mentioned before, we do traditional fundraisings such as grants. We’re a large organization, a large arts and humanities organization in the county, probably a medium size, arts and humanities organization in the State of Maryland. So we are a large grantee through the Arts and Humanities Council. So we do received grants. So we also receive foundation support, so the Family Foundations. But definitely, the largest chunk of our funding comes from the – to use bookstores that we currently operate.

 

Male Speaker: And now, a brief message about MCPL Services and Resources.

 

Female Speaker: Flipster, what in the world is Flipster? Is it a new word game or gymnastics move? No, it is a great way to read your favorite magazines absolutely free. You’ll find entertainment magazines like “People,” news magazines like, “Time,” financial, children’s, fitness, and lots more. You can read the magazines in your browser or download the Flipster app and read them offline. You can find the link to Flipster and our other e-magazine resources in this episode’s show notes.

 

Male Speaker: Now, back to our program.

 

Julie Dina: And talking about bookstores, can you tell us something about your wonderful bookstore, Lance?

 

Lance Salins: I will tell you something, I can tell you anything and everything. It is really – I love the bookstores. That is how I was drawn into the organization. A family member of mine took me to the bookstore, they were like, “You should come and check out this bookstore, the prices are really good.” I went in. And the first time I was over there I spent two hours just wandering around. And it is in four weeks expanded our Rockville location.

 

I just was in awe looking at the shelves up and down. It is so affordable. You know, I was just not so long out of college at that point and so on a tight book budget. But every thing was just so – it was just amazing, the opportunity for a book lover to just create your own library, we are just immense. And so I just spend so much time wandering around. So I immediately signed up on the website to volunteer. And the bookstore manager at that time, he is still the bookstore manager at Rockville, got in touch with me. And so that was a little over years ago I started as volunteer. And I sort of worked my way to the position I’m in now.

 

But our bookstores, as I said earlier, they are open 62 hours a week to the public. We take donations from the public during our normal hours. And that is how we operate entirely is on donations from the public. And it is amazing. I am amazed every day at the quality of materials that we get. This is a wonderfully diverse area in terms of cultures and educations and backgrounds and interests. And we see that in our donations in the wonderful assortment of things that we get.

 

And we’ve grown a solid group of regulars that come from pretty much up and down the east coast to visit us because they know that we just get such an amazing panoply of things that they – and we get thousands of books donated to us every day. We sell thousands of books every day. The turn around is incredibly quick. We can sell a book within 10 minutes of it coming in, because someone drops it off and then we price it and someone else walks in the door and that is the book they have been looking for, for years. And so we see, you know, the confluence like that and it is really fun to see the books really enriching people’s lives like that.

 

Julie Dina: And it is funny you mentioned how you get an array of books daily. I actually read, I think it was in Montgomery County Media, about a book that the FOL bookstores recently sold for a significant amount of money. Can you tell us a little about that?

 

Lance Salins: Sure. That would the signed copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.” It was a limited edition that he did before publication. I think it was in 1929. And he was pretty young at that point. I think he was only 30. And so he signed. I believe it was 500 or 510 of these. It is fairly well-known book among book collectors.

 

And so a few years ago, one night a staff member was going through a box of books and he called me and I came over. And when I looked at him, he was very pale. He was like almost shaking a little bit. And I walked over and he said he just had the book in his hand, and he said, “Is this real?” And I looked at it. And I went, “Oh my.” And so I said, “Well, let’s find out.” We did a little research and then indeed it was real signed. He was holding and I was holding a book that Ernest Hemingway had once held and singed. It was number of 382 of 510 copies.

 

And it came in a Baileys Irish cream box, liquor box. Somebody had just dropped it off. Clearly, they had no idea what they had and what they were dropping off, but we were very grateful to receive it. We’re not even sure to this day who donated it. I suspect that it was in somebody’s garage or someone’s attic, you know, just a book that some of their family members have had. And it winded its way to us and we were delighted to receive it. And we were able to broker a sale and we sold it for $6,000 to a private collector in Oregon.

 

Julie Dina: Wow, all the way in Oregon.

 

Lance Salins: Yes. We had a listing online for it. It was online for a number of months. And we were finally able to find the right buyer for it.

 

Julie Dina: So would – can we then say that is true friend indeed.

 

Lance Salins: Absolutely. I would say, definitely a supporter of libraries, lover of libraries. And then as this the person who brought it in seemingly without realizing it, they just said, “Oh, I got this old box of books in my garage or my attic.” And they just dropped it off not knowing that there was $6,000 check in the box that we were able to convert it into that. But that is what we are relying on every day. And that is why I’m always very excited and eager to greet our donors when they show up, because often times they’ll be in the midst of something they’re moving. They’re downsizing. They’re dealing with an estate or their kids going off to college or any number of different life circumstances could lead someone to having to just get rid of stuff.

 

And so when they show up, and they usually like, “How does this work? Where do we drop it off?” And I’m just happy to say, “If you got books, we’d love to help you. We can bring them in. Thank you for bringing them to us.” They may not realize what they have, but that is our life blood, is those donors’ books. And as Ari said, it is – our biggest fundraising mechanism is our bookstores. It is our biggest face to the community. And we would not be there without the community every day being willing to donate to us, to shop with us. And really, it is a wonderful thing to see.

 

Julie Dina: And how often does this rare opportunity occur?

 

Lance Salins: You mean a collectible like that?

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: I would say on a monthly basis, we get some very valuable books in. I just wrote in our quarterly newsletter which our members receive directly via the mail about a book of Picasso’s lithographs that is worth a few thousand dollars for original lithographs were produced for this book. I believe it is called "Toreros". And Picasso did those, I believe it was published 1961. And, again, I just found that going through an ordinary box of donations. And another one that we found was –.

 

Ari Brooker: The Andy Warhol.

 

Lance Salins: The Andy Warhol. Yes, thank you. We had a book that was doubly signed by Andy Warhol, once on the cover, the dust jacket of the book and on the title pages as well. And it is a beautiful book Andy Warhol’s exposure. It is a book compilation of his photos of his celebrity friends. I believe it dates from a book signing that he did in the 1970s in Downtown, DC. So it is two legitimate signatures by Andy Warhol who was just an icon of the Pop Art Movement.

 

So, on a monthly basis we get very valuable books like this. We’ve had signed – book signed by Langston Hughes. I think we’re up to nine different presidents that we’ve had book signed by that we’ve sold. I found three books signed by Richard Nixon just this week and a book signed by George Bush.

 

Ari Brooks: And presidential candidates.

 

Lance Salins: Presidential candidates as well, Bernie Sanders –.

 

Julie Dina: Wow.

 

Lance Salins: – Elizabeth Warren, anybody you can think of. We live in such a diverse area here. There are so many different luminaries in different fields. We get donations from lawyers, ambassadors, doctors, teachers –.

 

Ari Brooks: Senators.

 

Lance Salins: – senators, yes. They all, well, you know, a lot of them live in this area. And so if they have libraries or offices that they need to clear out they’ll say, “Well, we’ll just, you know, give it to a good cause, give it to the library.” They’ll bring it to us and we’re very grateful because they’re handing over sometimes treasures that we’re able to convert into funding for the entire library system, so.

 

Ari Brooks: And that is a testament, the ability to identify these books is a strong testament to the training that Lance provides to the managers and to our staff because we take very seriously our job to turn these books and these materials into moneys –.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: – that we can then put back into the public library system. At the end of the day, that is what our purpose is, that is what our mission is, is to fundraise for the enhancement of Montgomery County Public Libraries.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. And me and Ari talked about that a lot and I do with our bookstore staff. And we do have – a lot of people don’t realize, we do not pay professional trained staff that are evaluating these books at both book stores year around. It is not – we do have volunteers who are very grateful for their help, but we have paid staffs that are handling the money and handling these very valuable materials because as Ari said, we have a duty to the library system to make sure that it is carried out in the best way as possible in the best responsible manner.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah, to extract value from them so that we fund these items that can benefit the entire Montgomery County Community.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. And it is really a public trust from all those donors that stream to the store. They are trusting us to extract that value to benefit their libraries. When they drop off that box of books, eventually in their mind they’re thinking this is going to benefit the library. This is going to put a book in a child’s hand. This is going to provide better technology for library staff to serve the entire county.

 

Julie Dina: So this is big stuff we’re talking about here.

 

Lance Salins: It really is, yeah. We get – it gets lost some time in the day to day but really, we’re working to help strengthen and just make a better system for all of us, including ourselves. You know, we’re part of this community, too, so that is – I think I know that is why I love it and I think that is why Ari loves it as well is that we’re trying to make a difference and make a better system.

 

Julie Dina: And you guys are.

 

Ari Brooks: Thanks.

 

Lance Salins: Thank you.

 

Ari Brooks: And I think – and just to clarify Lance’s comment, it gets lost, I think, and not an – and we’re very clear about what our mission is.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, absolutely.

 

Ari Brooks: But it gets lost in the public when they see all these books coming in and the volume that comes in and goes out. It gets lost in the translation for other people who assume those books were given to us for a different reason. And so we’re very clear about what our stated purpose and mission is and why we’re doing what we’re doing and how we’re benefiting the community.

 

Julie Dina: And for our listeners who are now hearing you mention all these treasurable books, don’t be surprised if tomorrow you get tons of people come into the bookstore.

 

Ari Brooks: We love that.

 

Lance Salins: We welcome it.

 

Ari Brooks: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: That is our stated goal at the bookstores, is to be placed in Montgomery County where people can donate their books that they longer need and where they can purchase books for any and all purposes. We have a broad range of books. We take books in every subject, every language as long as it is in good condition we will accept it and we have customers from all over the world who buy for a number of reasons, including the philanthropic reasons.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah. And so people can really responsibly donate to us. You know, if it is in sellable condition we will find a home for it. And then we have a variety of other ways that we responsibly handle the materials, including helping, you know, set designers with their sets. I think two years ago, books from our bookstore were actually featured in the White House Christmas display.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, they were. They were crafted, absolutely a set designer for that – I believe that – I believe the first lady was working with to decorate the White House. She stopped by the – from a design agency and she spent a few hours buying books that they eventually turned into a tree of books. They arranged it in layers such that it resembled the traditional Christmas tree that was made entirely out of books.

 

Ari Brooks: Books that we – that couldn’t be sold because they were in a condition where you couldn’t read them at that point.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah.

 

Julie Dina: But it was still use –.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Lance Salins: She did, yeah.

 

Ari Brooks: You could still use like that – maybe like the cover of them.

 

Lance Salins: And she did buy them. We were able to sell them for that purpose. So if there is a book that we know – you normally wouldn’t put on a shelf because it may not be seem readable to the average consumer, we will make every effort we can to repurpose that book and give it, not only to raise funds by selling it, but also to keep it out of the waste stream, to give another purpose. We have people buy books to turn into clocks.

 

Ari Brooks: Purses.

 

Lance Salins: Purses, all sorts of different crafts. They’ll show up every month. They may go have a blank journal. I have had different –.

 

Ari Brooks: Art teachers –.

 

Lance Salins: Art teachers coming in.

 

Ari Brooks: – contacted us to work to have materials again that are not in sellable condition. Clearly, you know, there is pages torn out of them or –.

 

Lance Salins: Or see discs, compact discs or DVDs that are heavily scratched and won’t play. Even those, we have our teachers that work with the school system or home schoolers that will use them for arts, arts and crafts and collaging and repurposing. So that is part of our effort to be environmental stewards and to make sure that we are doing everything we can to lessen the landfill stream.

 

Ari Brooks: To lessen – to decrease our footprint.

 

Lance Salins: Absolutely.

 

Ari Brooks: Yeah. And so, you know, every book hopefully will have a home.

 

Lance Salins: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: But then there are books that – and I’m sure your listening audience might want to know what does happen to books that are soiled beyond repair. And, you know, working in the used book business is a dirty business. And so we unfortunately do get books that are just completely beyond repair or books that would be at –.

 

Lance Salins: Beyond recognition. They’ll be soiled contaminated and this is where – but it does come with the territory and we’re prepared to handle that.

 

Ari Brooks: It could be hazardous if they were redistributed to the community at one point when we were also physically located in the lower level of the Wheaton branch. We have to not only protect our collection but the libraries collection above. And so if things with, you know, visibly molded, we do work. We have worked with Montgomery County solid waste division to train our staff on how to properly dispose of items that could be hazard to us, to our customers, and to library patrons.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, absolutely. We work with them to train them – our staff on recycling the best practices just to make sure. There are such things as paper viruses that they will get into the paper and they can spread throughout collections. That is what Ari was mentioning about protecting not only our own collections but anybody that were collocated with, which we were at one point in the Wheaton branch. But that is all just part of our general management.

 

Ari Brooks: And we’re also, you know, very sensitive to help other communities want to handle their discarded books. So we work with – we have a volunteer who works with a rabbi –.

 

Lance Salins: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: – to dispose of Judaica.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. There is a certain way, listeners may not know, but there is a certain way that books in the Jewish faith need to be disposed off when they’re no longer readable. And so we do have volunteer that it is a member of a synagogue and he works with the rabbinic leadership there to make sure that those materials are properly disposed off in accordance with their cultural traditions.

 

Ari Brooks: So at the end of the day we’re book lovers.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: We love books.

 

Lance Salins: From beginning to end.

 

Ari Brooks: From beginning to end and, you know, we definitely take very seriously our purpose to recycle these books and to repurpose them so that, again, that we can fulfill our ultimate mission, which is to use these funds to go back into the public library system.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. We’ve sort of become – because our bookstores have grown so much, a lot of people don't realized we become a major recycling and repurposing resource in the county just because people come to us so much with these goods that they no longer need and they want for a greater cause that on our end we have taken these measures to be stewards of the environment and to make sure that we’re handling all the material, this great influx of material that we’re handling it properly.

 

Julie Dina: So that is plenty. You guys actually have – other than selling books you actually have this big operation. You have lots of stuff going on behind the scenes just to have everything going.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, we do. And we only had books. We had already form book imaginable. We have comic books.

 

Ari Brooks: We have vinyl records.

 

Lance Salins: Vinyl records, compact discs, CDs. Sometimes they buy the CDs cheaper than to download the album because we sell our CDs usually for $2 each and usually on online it can be $10.

 

Julie Dina: Don’t you have a coupon system that you –?

 

Lance Salins: We do.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Lance Salins: We send that membership coupon when anybody signs up for their initial membership they’ll get a coupon. We distribute coupons at our events.

 

Ari Brooks: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: We’ve worked with schools, Montgomery County public schools, to do individualized coupons for programs that they have.

 

Ari Brooks: To help encourage reading and so that parents will know that there is a resource for their families to purchase affordable books, work a lot with home scholars, too, who purchased textbooks from us. I have known families who have bought textbooks from us so that their kids don’t have to take books back and forth to school.

 

And we also are the major funder of MCPL’s Summer Read and Learn Program. So the children and teens that participate and successfully complete that program also get a coupon as one of the many incentives that MCPL gives out to them. And we make a really big deal about that when the kids bring in their coupons and congratulate them on completing the program and, you know, making them feel really good about being readers.

 

Lance Salins: And vinyl actually on the upswing, vinyl records. There are people starting to release vinyl records. New bands are – were releasing new records in that format. A lot of audio files are seeking out that content, the order content because they prefer how it sounds in that format. We have a number of collectors that frequent at our stores so we’ve had a series of vinyl auctions collectible, vintage vinyl. And I believe MCPL is working on having an event next year that will focus on that community that –.

 

Ari Brooks: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: – help vinyl enthusiasts.

 

Ari Brooks: MCPL, FOLMC, the Levine School of Music, and Open Sky Jazz are partnering for a vinyl just for the record day.

 

Julie Dina: And this is sometime next year.

 

Ari Brooks: It is in April.

 

Lance Salins: Yes, still in the planning stages and we – at the bookstores we have a vinyl list people can join if they email bookstores at folmc.org and we keep people up to date on all of the vinyl collectibles because we do get vinyl – just like we get book collectibles we get vinyl collectibles. We sold records for as much as $400 individual records.

 

Julie Dina: That is a record?

 

Lance Salins: Yeah, yeah.

 

Julie Dina: No pun intended?

 

Lance Salins: But, yeah, which is exciting. We have people that shop. They’ll come by every day looking to see if we have new records.

 

Ari Brooks: Every single day.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, yes. They’re committed.

 

Ari Brooks: Every day there is – there are people who literally come every single day. I can remember going to the stores and seeing like the same guy. Every single time I went and go and asking –.

 

Lance Salins: They’ll be like, “Did I hire this person?”

 

Ari Brooks: Did they hire this guy, like?

 

Lance Salins: Yeah.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Ari Brooks: And when I see on the payroll why is he here every time I’m here and then we go – I, you know, find out that, no, he actually just comes every single day after work –.

 

Julie Dina: So it is not just because you’re there.

 

Ari Brooks: Right.

 

Julie Dina: It is because he is there all the time.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, yeah. We have committed regulars that we know by name and it is great.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Ari Brooks: That has got to really feel good.

 

Lance Salins: It does. We’re a regular part of their life in their community and now they’ll pull up a chair, and they’ll read, and they’ll shop, and they’ll talk, and they’ll meet other regulars, and they’ll talk, and they’ll trade book recommendations, and just talk about their book collections or their music collections and there is a lot of cross talking. That is really where we see the community aspect.

 

Ari Brooks: The community, yeah.

 

Lance Salins: And that is what we strive to be a welcoming community bookstore because we just think that it is a wonderful thing to see people enjoying books, enjoying literacy, artistic expression. It is just it is great.

 

Ari Brooks: And I think part of our success is that we turn the books over. When I think of used bookstores from my past, I think of the books being there, you know, the one month going back, the next month the book is still there.

 

Lance Salins: It is all static.

 

Ari Brooks: And then the book is on the floor and then the next time I go back and we actually have a constant turnover of books and are always seeking outlets to get the books into the hands of people regardless of whether they’re sold in our store or sold through other set –.

 

Lance Salins: Online, we sell online.

 

FeLance Salins: – online vendors.

 

Lance Salins: Where – then we’re like we sold the Hemmingway online just because it was such a rare item. The chances of having somebody walk in with $6,000 to spend –.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Ari Brooks: Right.

 

Lance Salins: – may not have been that high. But – so we do use online market places, but that is just to extract the greatest value and the greatest return for the library because that is our mission and that is our duty.

 

Ari Brooks: Right. So they aren’t sold in the store. There is another place that we will try to sell it.

 

Lance Salins: Oh, yeah. We’re constantly thinking of new channels and new ways that we can find homes for these materials and these books. And that is all to serve our greater mission. But it is fun and it is enjoyable to find new outlets and that is why we have these reading lists. We also have a comics list where we send out messages to comic enthusiasts to let them know we have a new batch of comics in and they flock.

 

I’ll go to the store the morning after I’ve sent an email to our comics list and they will be 10 people eagerly waiting inline crowding around the door because they want to get in there and start going through and looking for those comics to complete their sets or the comic from the their childhood that they’ve been looking for, for 15 years and they just can’t find it, or they can’t find it because it is, you know, a thousand dollars online and they’re hoping to find it on our store for a better price. Yeah, that is what we see.

 

Julie Dina: That is awesome. So we usually like to close the show off with what books are you currently reading? We’ll start with you first.

 

Ari Brooks: Okay. So I am finishing up "The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears" by Dinaw Mengestu, which is the big read book that we hope the entire Montgomery County will be reading with us from April to June of 2018. And I’m reading with my daughter the “Case of the Missing Lion” by Alexander McCall Smith, one of his young adult books.

 

Lance Salins: I am reading “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, which is amazing. I definitely recommend it. I’m only about a third of the way through, but it is very intense and I highly recommend it. I’m also reading a number of other things like I kind of tend to alternate and switch around with my books. And I also want to give a shout out with my niece. I currently – I’m reading with here, she is working her way through the Warriors series –.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Lance Salins: – by Erin Hunter which is extremely popular.

 

Ari Brooks: The cats.

 

Lance Salins: Those cats get up to some really –.

 

Ari Brooks: I know.

 

Lance Salins: It is very –.

 

Ari Brooks: I’ve been there and done that with my daughters.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah, the cats.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Lance Salins: Yeah. Talk about intensity, oh my goodness. She was explaining to me all the intricacies of these different clans.

 

Ari Brooks: The clans.

 

Julie Dina: Yes.

 

Lance Salins: And all of the – just all the behind the scenes politics and backstabbing or I guess back cloying or all the different things. And it was – she would kept explaining it to me and I was just sitting there stunned because it was – it almost read like “Game of Thrones,” all the intricacies and just nine – just my nine-year-old niece is telling me all of this. I’m just like, “Wow, that is intense.” I was impressed with her grasp on all of it. So I give a shout out to the Warrior series for her.

 

Julie Dina: I hope you heard that, niecy [Phonetic] [0:35:48].

 

Lance Salins: Yes, absolutely. Or anybody that is looking for that great level, that fourth, fifth, sixth great level.

 

Ari Brooks: I highly recommend it.

 

Lance Salins: Yeah.

 

Ari Brooks: My older daughter went through that whole face and just gobbled those books up.

 

Julie Dina: Well, I’ve got to say this was very, very – a very, very nice conversation. And I have to mention that on behalf of Montgomery County staff, we want to say a very big thank you to our friends, Friends of the Library, for all the many show stopping programs you guys have been able to allow us to provide to our customers and for everything that you guys do. We really, really appreciate it. So thank you to Ari and thank you Lance for coming to the program today.

 

And keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcast. Also, please review and rate us on Apple podcast. We’ll love to know what you think. Thank you once again for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.

Dec 19, 2017

Recording Date: November 29, 2017

Hosts: Julie Dina

Episode Summary: Julie Dina discusses the work of the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC) with FOLMC Executive Director Ari Brooks and Business Manager Lance Salins. 

Guests: FOLMC Executive Director Ari Brooks and FOLMC Business Manager Lance Salins

Featured MCPL Resource: Flipster is an online collection of current and back issues of your favorite magazines such as Cooking Light, Ebony, and Sports Illustrated. A different selection of popular magazines is available through our other online magazine service, RBdigital Magazines

What Our Guests Are Currently Reading:

Ari Brooks: The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu for herself and The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith with her daughter.  

Lance Salins: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath for himself and The Warriors series by Erin Hunter with his niece. 

Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

FOLMC Bookstores: The FOLMC operates 2 used bookstores. 1 in Rockville and 1 in Silver Spring. The revenues from these bookstores support FOLMC's mission. Here is a description of the items they accept for donations.  

"Friends of the Library Sells Rare Copy of Hemingway's Farewell to Arms for $6,000": MyMCMedia news article about the discovery and sale of a copy of Farewell to Arms signed by Ernest Hemingway. 

Friends of the Library, Chapters: 17 of MCPL's 21 branches have individual Friends of the Library chapters. The Deaf Culture Digital Library also has a Friends chapter. 

Friends of the Library, Montgomery County (FOLMC): An independent nonprofit that provides supplemental funding, programs, materials, and equipment to MCPL.  

Library After Dark: An annual gala at which library staff, volunteers, donors, and community leaders are recognized for their contributions to making MCPL a nationally recognized library system. 

Montgomery County Library Board: The Library Board makes recommendations to the County Executive on matters affecting the public library system. 23 subcommittees of the Library Board, called Library Advisory Committees (LACs) represent each library branch, the correctional facility, and the accessibility community. 

Read the full transcript

Dec 6, 2017

Listen to the audio


David Payne: Hello and welcome to another edition of Library Matters with your host, David Payne.

 

Julie Dina: And I’m Julie Dina.

 

David Payne: Today, we are talking about a genre which has become increasingly popular but increasingly difficult to define and that is science fiction. And here with us to talk about sci-fi and explain it, we have two MCPL staff members, Richard McElroy.

 

Richard McElroy: Hi there.

 

David Payne: And Beth Chandler.

 

Beth Chandler: Hello.

 

David Payne: Just a reminder that all of the books, authors, television shows, and movies that we mention during the podcast today can be found listed on our show notes on the Library Matters website.

 

Julie Dina: So why don’t we start the show off with asking the most obvious question? What exactly is science fiction?

 

Beth Chandler: Well, in my experience science fiction is a genre in which the creator extrapolates from our current technology and our current knowledge of the universe and projects what it might be like in the future.

 

Richard McElroy: In coming up with the definition I would try to, I guess, just still it into a few words as possible. And so based on these two words, science and fiction, it is just a work of fiction that is based around scientific technology. Because it is fiction, it would be based on technology that is not currently possible but that is feasible.

 

Julie Dina: So do we say is this – does this have anything to do with STEM?

 

Richard McElroy: That is right.

 

Beth Chandler: Because it has lot to do with STEM.

 

Julie Dina: Since everyone is talking about STEM these days.

 

Beth Chandler: You can find the elements of all sciences and technologies in it. And some stories also incorporate art, language, music, and other elements of, you know, basic – you know, anything that you think about with society or civilization, either hours or some potential civilization with very different beings.

 

Richard McElroy: Yeah. And it is great because it is fun, so it can encourage kids to get involve with STEM.

 

Julie Dina: It will encourage me for sure.

 

David Payne: So now that we’ve defined sci-fi and we know what it is, we tend to think of it, science fiction, as always being set in the future. Is that necessarily the case?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, I don’t think it has to be the case. It often is the case because that is the easiest way to present science that is not currently possible. But there has been plenty of science fiction that has been set in the present like, Jules Verne, set all of his books in the present and they were all about fantastic journeys into parts of the world that we hadn’t yet discovered using technology that wasn’t quite available at the time.

 

Beth Chandler: Definitely you can go back in the past – the past and have things for instance, let’s say Leonardo da Vinci had gotten much further with some of his inventions that never came to fruition. And we had 19th century technology back in the renaissance era. That is a possible setting for science fiction or could go back to the days in pyramids and say, “Yes, there really were aliens who helped build the pyramids.” And, you know, and write a story, you know, based on that with highly advanced technology.

 

Julie Dina: Now, science fiction is often paired with fantasy. Can you tell us why exactly and are there differences, are there similarities between the two genres?

 

Beth Chandler: One of the similarities is that they both deal with things that we don’t have in our present reality. And a lot of authors also write books of science fiction and fantasy, sometimes you can’t tell the difference. People who’ve read – may read very well know that. A lot of stories are fantasy and some of them edge into a combination and Martian Chronicles is a good example. He brings some characters from the past and from fairy tails into future stories about Mars and the Martians.

 

One of my favorite Manga, “Fullmetal Alchemist,” is mostly about Alchemian magic. But there is also something called automail, which is a prosthetic replacement for people that actually interacts with their own musculature and nerves that is something that were only starting to develop now these days. And this story was written more than 10 years ago.

 

Richard McElroy: Beth hit on this a little bit, but I think science fiction and fantasy are often paired together because they often look very similar on the surface. They both often involved aliens, and monsters, and spaceships, and explosions, and stuff like that. But I think the key difference is that science fiction as I said in my first answer is something that is feasible. It is something that we could see ourselves progressing towards as species, or as a society, or as fantasy as something that is not feasible. It is something where we have to suspend our disbelief and go into another world often involving magic or alternate universes or just world that don’t exist altogether.

 

Oh, and one other thing I’d like to add is a clear example of the difference between science fiction and fantasy is the difference between “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”. I think that “Star Trek” is a classic example of science fiction as it takes place in our world, set in the future based on scientific advancement, whereas “Star Wars” is more of a space fantasy. It is sort of this big opera that is about the story and involves magical elements and it is in a galaxy far, far away, and isn’t necessarily as directly related to the world that we live in.

 

David Payne: What has drawn you both to science fiction? How do you develop your interest for science fiction books, movies, and so on?

 

Richard McElroy: I was drawn into science fiction originally as a kid. I used to watch a lot of “Twilight Zone.” My mom would watch it a lot, especially the marathons that would go on TV. I believe on New Years Eve there would be marathons of Twilight’s unplayed. So since then I’ve always been interested in potential futures. I’ve always been interested in the questions about life and possibilities that it brings up.

 

Beth Chandler: I was to add a similar introduction. It was, you know, through TV. I grew up in the era of the “Star Trek: Animated Series,” which people growing up in the ’70s will remember. And actually we used to play “Star Trek,” my brother, and my cousin, and I. They always wanted to kill aliens and I was more interested in investigating new worlds and new civilizations which are the great appeal for me is exploring the unknown, getting to know that new ways of being – as ancient being.

 

Julie Dina: What is some of the best science fiction books you’ve ever read?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, I say that my favorite is probably “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. I – If you’ve only seen the movie and never read book, I highly encourage reading the book available at the Montgomery County Public Libraries.

 

The “Frankenstein” monster is a much more intelligent creature than he was in the movie. And it really grapples with a lot of questions about existence in our world. About what it is to be human? What it is to be a person? How to be an accepted member of our society? Some other preferred science fiction books of mine include “Childhood’s End” by Arthur C. Clarke and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick. Also my favorite science fiction short story is probably “The Last Question” by Isaac Asimov.

 

Beth Chandler: I enjoyed the last question, too. I spent much of my teen years reading short stories, many by Isaac Asimov. My favorite for many, many years it does time with one or two others is the “Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K Le Guin. It is a story about a single human who goes as the envoy to try to convince a planet of humans who have been for millennia, millennia distance from other humans. He is going to influence them to join a sort of consortium of known worlds. And this particular planet has people who do not have one set gender. They become either male or female once a month.

 

Ursula K Le Guin when writing this said that she went to play with the idea of what would a society be without gender? So it is a very character-driven and concept-driven story, but also it has a lot to say about skepticism, how much politics influences things. And also quite a bit about the nature of friendship, loyalty and, you know, patriotism. In addition, she does manage to get some good humor into it.

 

Richard McElroy: I’m glad that you mentioned humor, because I love humor in science fiction, too, and some matters that I might mention are Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams. “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” is just a fantastic, really funny science fiction book that is really easy to read. It is a short readable book that I highly recommend.

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah, that is a good place to start off with science fiction if you want something that is not going to throw a lot of data in advance science that you would also be very enjoyable. I enjoyed “The Hitchhiker’s” series myself. And actually my other favorite author besides Ursula K. Le Guin, Lois McMaster Bujold, has a wonderful gift for humor. And sometimes, you know, write up one of the most heart wrenching period to the story a moment later she will throw in this sort of rye joke. And you’re like, “I was almost crying a minute ago and now I’m cracking up.” So she was –.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Richard McElroy: – emotions.

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah. Yes it is.

 

Julie Dina: So she knows how to sneak it in.

 

Beth Chandler: She knows how to sneak it in and she has amazingly, you know, well rounded characters. There is, you know, cast of dozens in her “Vorkosigan Saga” stories. And when one pops up, again, I remember, you know, who they are, what their personality is, little bit of their history, very memorable.

 

David Payne: So let’s go from authors to characters. Which character from a science fiction movie or TV show would you most want as a co-worker?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, that is easy for me. And I think it is might be the same for most science fiction fans, but I would say Spock from “Star Trek”. He is unemotional. He is completely rational. He is the science officer. And so he is easily as efficient as possible because he doesn’t have to grapple with work place emotions that often arise. Who wouldn’t want to have Spock as a co-worker?

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah. I thought about Spock, too, actually. And then I thought, you know, he does have that occasional sort of rye almost sensitive humor. But, you know, if I wanted someone friendly to chat with, you know, my other favorite is the Fourth Doctor from the British Doctor Who series. He was one of my favorite doctors. He is cheerful. He is also very ethical. He seems genuinely fun to people. Does his best to get along with everyone and just gives this whole sense that, you know, everything is somehow okay and he is going to be okay. And we’re going to have a pretty, pretty good time dealing with it whatever it is.

 

Richard McElroy: And if you have a bad day just leave on his TARDIS.

 

Beth Chandler: Also true.

 

Julie Dina: So in your opinion, what elements should good science fiction book or film contain?

 

Beth Chandler: I think it needs to have something of everything. A good, you know, good plot, technology that is, you know, realistic to extrapolate from what we have now or is so far in the future that it seems realistic even though it is something that we can’t quite figure out how it will work. So you need that, the technology, a good plot line, characters you really care about. I love a lot of the old classic science fiction, but I have to admit some of the characters are basically there to, you know, support the technology and the plot and fortunately that has changed the great deal.

 

Richard McElroy: In my opinion, good science fiction provides a vision of the future that is connected to our present day reality. And the way I distinguished good science fiction from, let say hackey [Phonetic] science fiction, is that the good science fiction allows you to come up with your conclusions about whatever the subject matter is. It stimulates your own curiosity rather than telling you how the future should be.

 

A lot of science fiction I think often falls into the pitfalls of being preachy and saying how the future should look. Whereas good science fiction just sort of presents concepts that are difficult and doesn’t necessarily tell you what the answer is, but allows you to come up for the answer yourself. And a lot of that I think involves conflicting virtues. Science fiction often presents two different virtues that when taken to their extreme might clash with one another and it forces us to grapple with which ones we value more.

 

David Payne: Do you think then sci-fi has become more complex if we’re – if our world today is more complex and we’re looking – if we are looking at future worlds? Has it become more difficult to understand?

 

Richard McElroy: No. I don’t – I mean, I think that it is always been able to. It just progressed with the times and with the progression of technology. So talking about space travel in the first place was difficult to understand for people 100 years ago. And now what is difficult for us to understand is something like let’s say, the nature of consciousness and what it is to be a person and whether an artificial life form can have an equal status to a human life form and where do you draw the line between life and let say having your conscious uploaded on to a computer. There are a lot of questions that for us seem difficult now that might seem easy to those in the future and questions that in the past seem easy to us now but might have been difficult for them.

 

Beth Chandler: I agree with Richard. Science fiction is always dealt with some of the major more in philosophical issues going back to some of the classics. Isaac Asimov writing his Robot stories, you know, dealt with the question of, you know, a robot is more good for humans or bad for them and the answer seeming, you know, different and ambiguous going all the way up through his timeline further and further into the future. And he explored all sorts of advantages and disadvantages of that one particular type of technology the positronic robot that he created with his mind and his knowledge of science as it existed in the ’50s and ’60s.

 

Richard McElroy: It seems like most of the good science fiction coming out nowadays is about artificial intelligence because that is something that is really blossoming right now and it is – there are a lot of moral issues that come up there. We have to really have an understanding of if we’re going to move forward with the development of artificial intelligence.

 

Julie Dina: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Lisa Navidi: Ever wonder about the who, what and why of a book? Readers Cafe is a virtual meeting place for books and readers. Your one stop center for book clubs, book blogs, articles, and literally research. Take a look and you can be the envy of your literally chums. You can find the link in this episode show notes.

 

Julie Dina: Now, back to our program.

 

David Payne: Which science fiction world would you most and least like to live in?

 

Beth Chandler: The first book in the “Terra Ignota” series, “Too Like the Lightning” by Ada Palmer. She – this is just her first novel. She has only written one other when so far that has been published. And it is a future world about 300 years on from now where the, you know, the world is separated into entirely different concept, to what countries are. We finally have our flying cars and they can cross the world in the matter of hours. Still working on trying to colonize Mars, but there is a lot of wonderful things about the culture and the way human beings get along with each other. But of course, there is always that little deed of something that starts falling apart, so I’d like to live there before things start falling apart.

 

Richard McElroy: Okay. I would say that the science fiction world that I would most like to live in, you know, is about to go with “Star Trek,” which seems to be a common answer for me, but instead I’m going to go with “Firefly,” the TV show by Joss Whedon, because “Star Trek” is a little too sanitized for my taste, whereas “Firefly” is similar. It is a futuristic space series, but it is a little more wild west like. There is a little more freedom out there, a little more conflict, and it just seems like a more a fun universe to live in than, let say “Star Trek.”

 

David Payne: So looking back over the years, the whole history of the sci-fi genre, which sci-fi movie or novel written long ago and set either in the past or the current present is most hilariously wrong and which is the most accurate?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, I think it is very important to note that in ‘Back to the Future’ they went to 2015 and the newspaper headline said ‘Chicago Cubs win World Series.’ They were one year off. The Cubs won their first World Series in 110 years in 2016.

 

David Payne: Right.

 

Richard McElroy: So that was really impressively accurate.

 

Julie Dina: That was close.

 

Beth Chandler: Yeah. One I thought of – as being hilariously wrong was of 2001, “Space Odyssey,” the original book by Arthur C. Clarke in which he has people referring to hotels as Hiltons. He figured, you know, just as many people called refrigerators as frigidaires and adhesive bandages – Band Aids that we’d all be calling hotel Hiltons and we don’t. There are a lot of other things. There was a space station. We had gotten much further forward in space travel than he expected we would, which is one of the ongoing limits of a lot of science fiction fans as well as scientists themselves.

 

Richard McElroy: There are a lot of technologies that have been predicted very accurately like “Star Trek” for example. Can you tell that I like “Star Trek”?

 

David Payne: Oh, you bet.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

Richard McElroy: They were using these little screens that they had in their hands that were just like tablets today. They had –.

 

Julie Dina: iPads.

 

Richard McElroy: Yeah. They had communicators that were like cell phones. They had replicators where they would just create food or other objects that they needed out of these replicators, which are very similar to a 3-D printers that are currently available in the Montgomery County Public Libraries.

 

Beth Chandler: Library, yes. Although we do not make candy with them, but I – now make candy with some 3-D printers.

 

Richard McElroy: Oh, wow.

 

[CROSSTALK]

 

Beth Chandler: So we’re getting into Tea, Earl Gray, Hot.

 

Richard McElroy: Exactly. Also with the holodecks where this virtual reality rooms that you could go into and create any kind of reality you wanted. Now, we’re progressing with virtual reality which is coming soon to Montgomery County Public Library near you.

 

Julie Dina: One thing for sure, you do love your Montgomery County Public Library.

 

Beth Chandler: It is very good with that. And an interesting thing is that “Star Trek” was not the primary creation of just one person, but it has been written by a dozens of screen writers and multiple directors and producers have had their hand in, so it seems that crowd sourcing a science fiction story. You know, maybe said to help make it more accurate.

 

David Payne: That is interesting. So what are some of the science fiction books that contained characters of color or of the LGBTQ community?

 

Beth Chandler: Just to name a few, there is Nnedi Okorafor who is American who grew up in Nigeria. She has written several stories about – not just African-Americans, but primarily Africans. Several other writers Nalo Hopkinson is one, Ada Palmer, who I’d mentioned before has written a lot about characters both of various colors. Three-hundred years from now, most of us are going to be highly into racial, according to her. Very few people who are, you know, purely, you know, one ethnicity or another. And actually, one of our MoComCon guests last year and this year, Don Sakers, is a local author, has been writing for years about characters of color and characters in the LGBTQ community.

 

David Payne: So diversity very much of the heart of sci-fi.

 

Richard McElroy: Yeah.

 

Julie Dina: So what exactly would be the weirdest science fiction book you’ve ever come across, weirdest ever?

 

Beth Chandler: I will say it was more of a novella, but I would say one of the weirdest stories I’ve read by one of the strangest authors I’ve read, but I love him dearly is –.

 

Julie Dina: But he is weird?

 

Beth Chandler: Oh, yes. I -- to further out the better, I mean, I never did drugs because I said all I have to do is go pick up a Theodore Sturgeon novel, you know, as a teenager, or collection of short stories. And he wrote one story called The, and next few words are in brackets, [Widget], The [Wadget] and Boff. And it is about two aliens who are observing earth and making a small change to see if it can effect the larger change in the world, which is something more than one science fiction or author has done.

 

But this one is so bizarre by the way it puts everything from the alien’s perspective. Ordinary things like somebody trying to ask someone else for a date and meal times in children are seen through the view point of these aliens. So I would say that is one of the strangest stories by one of the strangest science fiction authors.

 

Richard McElroy: Unfortunately I don’t have anything to notch that.

 

Beth Chandler: Okay.

 

Julie Dina: Well, we do have, and I’m sure you both know that our MoComCon last year was very successful. We had tons of people come from the county and from the neighboring counties. Would you please explain to our listeners what exactly MoComCon is?

 

Beth Chandler: MoComCon stands for Montgomery County Comic Con, but like many conventions in the, you know, science fiction fantasy, comics, et cetera, you know, phantom, it is a convention that ties in a lot more than comics brings in, as I said science fiction and fantasy stories, movies, TV shows, and pretty much various kinds of nerdity including, you know, hot technology. And that is what you’ll be seeing in January at MoComCon.

 

Julie Dina: Yeah.

 

David Payne: So are you coming to MoComCon dress as a sci-fi character?

 

Richard McElroy: Well, indeed I am as I am an employee of the – well, I work at the Silver Spring Library. And fortunately for my co-workers my dream will come true for all of them because I will be there dressed as Spock, so they will get to have Spock as a co-worker for a day.

 

Beth Chandler: Oh, excellent. Delighted to hear Spock will be working with us. I’m on the actual MoComCon committee, so I won’t be able to dress up. I’ll be wearing one of our colorful and exciting MoComCon t-shirts. But I hope to wear a couple of buttons, almost certainly one of my buttons that says, “Prepare for the future, read science fiction.”

 

David Payne: Well, finally it is our tradition here on Library Matters to ask all guests to tell us about the book that you have enjoyed recently. What have you both enjoyed reading recently?

 

Richard McElroy: So this isn’t science fiction work. I haven’t read a science fiction book in a little while, but I recently read “American Pastoral” by Philip Roth which is a fabulous book. I highly recommend. It takes place in the recent past, so it is a recent historical fiction, novel you could say.

 

Beth Chandler: A book I read recently that I really enjoyed is actually a fantasy novel. And like many science fictions fans, I also read fantasy. It is the first in Philip Pullman’s new series, “The Book of Dust.” The title is “La Belle Sauvage.” And I thoroughly enjoyed going back into the same world as the previous series he’d written in the same universe about Lyra and a world where each human has their own demon which is a part of, you know, their own selves. And he writes a marvelous story taking place 10 years before the previous series. And just like in a good science fiction book, he has a wonderfully realized alternate oxford at alternate earth that you just dive right into. You can almost feel like, you know, you’re sailing along with the main character in his little boat.

 

Julie Dina: Well, thank you so very much Beth and Richard for all the wonderful information you’ve given us which relates to sci-fi.

 

Keep the conversations going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast. Also, please review and rate us on Apple podcast. We’ll love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.

 

[Audio Ends] [0:26:59]

Dec 5, 2017

Recording Date: November 8, 2017

Hosts: Julia Dina and David Payne

Episode Summary: Science fiction fans Beth Chandler, a librarian in our Collection Management division, and Richard McElroy, a Library Desk Assistant at our Silver Spring branch, talk about science fiction: what it is, how it has changed, and what it means.

Guests: Librarian Beth Chandler and Library Desk Assistant Richard McElroy

Featured MCPL Resource: Readers' Café, a virtual meeting place for books and reader. Visit Readers Cafe to find book reviews, recommended reading, book clubs, and more. 

What Our Guests Are Currently Reading:

Beth Chandler: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

Richard McElroy: American Pastoral by Philip Roth 

Authors, Books, Movies, Television Shows, and Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

2001: a Space Odyssey: A film based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" about the crew of a spaceship bound for Jupiter along with a self aware computer, HAL, who begins to malfunction. 

Lois McMaster Bujold: Science fiction writer known for her Vorkosigan Saga, Chalion, and Sharing Knife series. 

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Doctor Who: The time and space traveling adventures of a long lived Timelord and his Terran companions. 

Firefly: A science fiction television series about the adventures of the crew of Serenity, who make their living on the fringe of society. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Full Metal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Nalo Hopkinson: Author of numerous science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism books, including Sister Mine, The Chaos, and The New Moon's Arms

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

"The Last Question" (short story) by Isaac Asimov

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Nnedi Okorafor: Author of Binti, Lagoon, Akata Warrior, and other science fiction and fantasy books. 

Ada Palmer: A historian at the University of Chicago and author of the science fiction novels Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders

Don Sakers: A Maryland science fiction writer and book reviewer for Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. He is a frequent guest speaker at science fiction conventions. He will be a workshop presenter at MoComCon. 

Star Trek: A long standing science fiction world that has spawned numerous television shows, movies, and countless books. 

Star Trek: the Animated Series: A cartoon version of the original Star Trek television series, produced for 2 episodes during the 1970s. 

Star Wars: Science fiction fantasy tale from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. 

Twilight Zone: A genre mixing science fiction, horror, thriller television show begun in 1959 that often concluded with an unexpected twist.  

Jules Verne: 19th century author of several science fiction stories including Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  

Kurt Vonnegut: Writer best known for his dark, satirical novel Slaughterhouse-Five. His other books featuring science fiction elements include The Sirens of Titan and Timequake.

The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff: A novella by Theodore Sturgeon written from the perspective of alien scientists studying a group of humans. 

Other Items of Interest:

MoComCon: MCPL's comic convention, taking place at Silver Spring Library on January 27, 2018. 

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