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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: 2018

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.  

May 22, 2018

Summary: Librarians Christine Freeman and Lauren Martino talk about MCPL's upcoming Summer Read and Learn program, which starts June 9 and runs through September 9. This program offers children and teens fun incentives to read and learn all summer long. There will be amazing events at MCPL branches throughout the summer as well. Join us for the fun! 

Recording Date: May 9, 2018

Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne

Guests: Christine Freeman is MCPL's Early Literacy and Children's Services Manager, as well as Branch Manager for the Noyes Library for Young Children. Lauren Martino is a Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch. She is also one of the hosts of the Library Matters podcast. 

Featured MCPL Resource: MCPL offers reading lists by grade and age, including a list for adults. Find something new to read today! 

What Our Guests Are Reading

Christine Freeman

Lauren Martino

Books Mentioned During this Episode:

Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis

Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode

1000 Books Before Kindergarten: Prepare your child for kindergarten with this fun, effective program that will engage your child with books, songs, fingerplays, and other learning activities.

Beanstack: A fun site for logging books and more. MCPL uses Beanstack for many programs, including 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, our Reading Challenge, and our Summer Read and Learn programs. Customers can also opt to receive weekly emails with suggested books for their readers.

Collaborative Summer Library Program: A consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens, and adults at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries.

Eric Energy: An energetic scientist who will amaze children during his hands-on, interactive science show. 

Jacks Are Wild: Don't miss Mario and Bella, a pair of spirited Jack Russell terriers who perform amazing tricks that will delight children of all ages. 

Libraries Rock! Dance Party: Put on your best pop star outfit or wear your craziest hair and come join us to dance! dance! dance! We will have photo props, a bubble machine and a music playlist to keep you moving.  

Milkshake: Join us at Damascus Library for an interactive show filled with fun, silliness, and dancing led by the Grammy-nominated duo Milkshake. 

Nature on Wheels - Raptors!: Learn about raptors. like bald eagles and hawks, while surrounded by your favorite books! 

Reptile Rangers: Join us at Maggie Nightingale Library and meet a live king snake, a corn snake, a terrapin, and more! Presented by a park ranger from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. 

Summer Read and Learn Kickoff Events: Several MCPL branches are celebrating the start of our Summer Read and Learn program June 9. 

Video Games at the Symphony: The Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra will present family-friendly events at Silver Spring Library on 6/23 and Rockville Memorial Library on 8/11.  

Zoomobile: Discover some of the amazing adaptations animals have for life in the wild and try some challenging activities to compare those adaptations to our own abilities. 

 

May 8, 2018

Summary: Senior Librarian Adrienne Miles Holderbaum and Children's Librarian Maranda Schoppert discuss their experiences as expectant and new mothers, as well as the pregnancy and new baby resources MCPL offers. 

Recording Date: April 11, 2018

Hosts: Julie Dina and Lauren Martino

Guests: Adrienne Miles Holderbaum, co-producer of Library Matters and Senior Librarian at Germantown Library. Adrienne has a 3-year-old daughter and is pregnant with her second daughter. Maranda Schoppert is a Children's Librarian at Germantown Library and has a 5-month-old daughter. 

Featured MCPL Resource: MCPL's online health resources include:

  • Health & Wellness Resource Center, which offers magazine and journal articles on health, medicine, and wellness. 
  • Washington Consumers' Checkbook (In Library Access Only), which rates local doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and more. 
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: Includes searchable, browsable health e-books. 

What Our Guests Are Reading

Adrienne Miles Holderbaum:

Maranda Schoppert:

Books and Movies Mentioned During this Episode

The Birth Partner: a Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and All Other Labor Companions by Penny Simkin

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

Bumpology: the Myth-Busting Pregnancy Book for Curious Parents-to-Be by Linda Geddes

The Business of Being Born (DVD)

Call the Midwife (BBC TV series)

The Expectant Father: the Ultimate Guide for Dads to Be by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The Happiest Baby on the Block: the New Way to Calm Crying Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp 

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May

Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Impatient Women's Guide to Getting Pregnant by Jean M Twenge

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Health Pregnancy ed. by Roger Harms and Myra Wick

What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Muroff and Sharon Mazel

What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding (mentioned, but not recommended) by Thomas Hill

Other Items of Interest:

1000 Books Before Kindergarten: Prepare your child for kindergarten with this fun, effective program that will engage your child with books, songs, fingerplays, and other learning activities.  

Discovery Rooms: Available at Gaithersburg, Germantown, Praisner, and Quince Orchard, Discovery Rooms are designed for children from newborns to 8 years old and their caregivers to encourage learning through play. 

The Farm Midwifery Center: A center in Tennessee focused on providing women supportive, empowering, safe, and fulfilling prenatal, birth, and postnatal experiences. 

Freegal: Legally download 5 songs each week for free. 

Glow: A pregnancy app offering information on fetal development, maternal health logging, appointment scheduling, and more. 

Parents: Website of Parents magazines which offers information on many aspects of parenting, including pregnancy and infant care. 

Storytimes at MCPL: Storytimes for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and families are available at MCPL branches throughout the County. 

Apr 25, 2018

Listen to the audio

David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.

Julie Dina: And I'm Julie Dina.

David Payne: And today we’re going to take you outside in a matter of speaking to the garden. I think it's safe to say that spring is finally here. I hope it is and in spring it's always a time when many of us start thinking about our gardens. So what better than to invite one of our green thumb librarians, Beth Chandler, avid gardener to join us today and talk about her garden and her passion for gardening. So Beth, welcome.

Beth Chandler: Thank you, David. I’m glad to be here. And I've already gotten started on my garden with some cool season items such as spinach.

David Payne: Very good, very good I'm actually glad to see you back. Listeners may remember Beth from her previous appearance talking about sci-fi and I know you enjoyed it so much you’ve come back.

Beth Chandler: I have many interests and as one of the selectors I buy our garden books for the library and landscaping books.

David Payne: All right, that sounds like fun.

Beth Chandler: It is. I enjoy that.

Julie Dina: So Beth, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and actually what got you interested in gardening?

Beth Chandler: Well, I grew up on the outskirts of a small town and my dad had grown up on a farm so we had gardens growing up. I like to play in the dirt, including practical things like digging up the dirt and planting cucumber seeds, which were one of my favorites. And my grandmother had a truck farm so I got to see something more extensive operation when I visited her. And that's what got me interested and then as an adult I started getting interested in eating organic foods and I missed the fresh foods that I could get growing up.

David Payne: So Beth you obviously have a very great passion for gardening. What do you particularly enjoy about it?

Beth Chandler: There are many things. I find it – it makes me feel very serene. I love working in the Earth and with the Earth making things grow as satisfying. It's something that I can enjoy and that I and also my husband and anyone else I might share things with gets the bounty of everything from strawberries to lettuces and baby carrots. Also I like it because it gets me out of the house in relaxing and it more or less coincides with Formula One season which my husband will be watching on TV so he doesn't feel like a gardening widower and I don't feel like a Formula One widow.

David Payne: So you leave him in the house and you go out and do.

Beth Chandler: Yes, I do.

David Payne: Sounds like a good comprise.

Beth Chandler: Then I come in and say look fresh baby carrots for dinner.

David Payne: So Beth there are many different kinds of gardening activities we can do with flowers, with vegetables, with herbs, what do you most enjoy do you do a bit of everything or do you prefer specializing in one or the other?

Beth Chandler: I prefer everything. I grow fruit for flowers, vegetables, herbs we also had some wonderful plantings already in our yard when we moved into our home. So I do some pruning too.

David Payne: And are there any particular kind of herbs that you particularly enjoy?

Beth Chandler: I like some of the easier to grow herbs such as parsley and oregano. So my absolute favorite is lilacs and year after we moved in I was determined I was going to buy and plant a lilac tree and I did. Seem to have a bit of a problem with powdery mildew last year but I'm hopeful for this year and every year I get more of those wonderful fragrant blossoms.

David Payne: You almost smell the fragrance.

Beth Chandler: Oh, yes.

Julie Dina: Smelling it now.

Beth Chandler: Yes, they’re in leaf.

Julie Dina: One thing for sure is for the plants and the herbs for them to grow they need water. Thus, the popular phrase April showers brings May flowers. So can you share with us tips on how to get the best garden in the block.

Beth Chandler: Well, water as you said is very important and watering when we have dry seasons which we often do in the summer here in Maryland. Having good soil is important. You can buy pretty cheap pH test to see what the acid or base level of your garden soil is. If you have really bad soil which I did you might prefer to do container pots and fill them with materials you buy from a garden store, at least at the beginning. I've also done some composting and put compost in. You can also amend the soil which is another word for putting in fertilizer or digging in mulch or manure whatever your particular plant needs. But pay attention to what it says your plant needs on the little piece that’s stuck into the pot or if you buy seeds on the back of the seed packet it’s really helpful.

Julie Dina: I never knew that that’s the first thing I tossed out.

David Payne: Not anymore.

Julie Dina: No wonder they don’t live.

Beth Chandler: You need to be careful is it full sun, part sun, part shade or full shade.

Julie Dina: And you hear that folks.

David Payne: So do you have any particularly favorite flowers or plants?

Beth Chandler: Well I mentioned the lilacs.

David Payne: Yeah.

Beth Chandler: And I was also happy when we moved in to find out that we had beautiful pink climbing roses which are scented. They only bloom for a few weeks but I think they're worth it. And then of course I plant other things around them such as morning glories, which bloom later in the year. So that part of the garden is colorful for a good portion of the growing season.

David Payne: Let me just ask a follow-up to that. Do you obviously some people for perennial, some people for annuals, their advantages, disadvantages to both how do you feel about the perennial, annual question?

Beth Chandler: I love to have both. And since I grow vegetables and herbs many of them are annuals. Although there are some perennials, I'm convinced you just can't kill chives. And oregano is just as sturdy so I like to have some perennials but then I also can't resist annuals. I recently bought a geranium which I'm coddling indoors until it’s warm enough to put it out. And I love pansies here in Maryland we can keep them growing at least till November and if you're lucky they’ll come back in the spring.

Julie Dina: Now if you could grow anything in your garden that doesn't already grow on a plant such as money, candy what exactly would you pick to plant?

Beth Chandler: Well, money is always good because you can buy just about anything with which. But you know, already fully formed chocolates since I can’t really grow my own the cacao trees around here would be good. And of course there is books.

Julie Dina: Have you ever thought about doing any of those?

Beth Chandler: It is tempting. I just found a wonderful I love for Pinterest for Garden Ideas and I just found one which showed a little bookcase with books in it and I thought maybe my favorite garden needs some books in it.

Julie Dina: That will make it unique.

David Payne: So almost the business question since you’re a selector in our collection management department, what's new in gardening books that you’re really excited about?

Beth Chandler: Well, there has been contain in gardening things for a while and I've noticed recently there is real surge in the last couple of years in butterfly and be friendly plants to help keep our pollinators fed and healthy. Also I recently bought a new book on permaculture it just came into the branches, The Minimalist Gardener which is from England, but still has a lot of ideas that are relevant to our Mid-Atlantic climate here in Maryland.

Julie Dina: David, you should know about that particular book since you’re from England.

David Payne: I have to check it out, yeah.

Beth Chandler: And I should explain permaculture is something that will go on long-term. Usually it's also a very diverse sort of garden and the minimalist ideas that you plant things that are either native to the area or that can do with very little assistance in which since so many of us are very busy and stressed these days it is nice to plant a garden that you only have to do a little bit of work and doesn't require hours every weekend.

David Payne: Well, keeping with the books theme, are there any particular books that you have read that have really helped you or formed you as a gardener?

Beth Chandler: I've read more all across from things on the internet, you can't trust everything on the internet but you really can just about trust just about anything you get from a cooperative extension website, Maryland Cooperative Extension has some good things and does Maryland Master Gardeners. And also there is a book I referred to regularly it's called What's Wrong with My Plant by Deardorff and Wadsworth.

We do have several copies in the library. It's wonderful because it shows pictures of the various kinds of spots in the way bits and other things you might find on your plant leaves or stems or in the fruit. So it's very helpful for finding out what you need to do and it leans towards organic resources and it tells you that the safest and then going to conventional things when you need to kill off a really nasty pest.

David Payne: Sounds very useful.

Beth Chandler: Yeah.

Julie Dina: So Beth we do know there are lots of books that are actually in our library system for adults who enjoy gardening. Would you say we have plenty of books for children who are actually interested in gardening and would like to check any of these books out?

Beth Chandler: We do have a new series for children. The titles are Super Simple Butterfly Gardens and then other thing Super Simple I think there is Indoor Gardens and so on. So if you just type in super simple you should come up with a list and see what kind of a garden you and your child or children want to grow.

Julie Dina: And so what you're saying these books are really simple.

Beth Chandler: They're really easy, yes. And so they also might be good for adults who want to start from the very beginning or who decide it might be better if they have a child help them. Yeah, they can really help with the digging I'm sure a lot of children.

Julie Dina: That's the one I'll be checking out. Now to be successful in gardening do you really need the gift of the green thumb?

Beth Chandler: Not really. My mother, for example, has a rather black thumb. And she would be the first to admit herself and if you get plants that are fairly unkillable and just manage to water them and if you’re fortunate enough to either have good soil or to be able to buy some you can do fine. There are some very easy to grow plants marigolds are pretty easy and you can buy them just about anywhere, including off in the grocery store and just pop them in your yard. Cucumbers actually grow in really bad soil so they're pretty easy. And the aforementioned pansies are easy. It's just about impossible as I said to kill parsley or oregano or chives. So those are some I’d recommend for people who really feel they have a black thumb. And as long as you water them when it gets a bit dry outside you should do okay.

Julie Dina: I’m going to go out and purchase those.

David Payne: There you go. We’ll check back and see how you’re doing.

Julie Dina: Yeah, a successful gardener.

David Payne: So having said that what recommendations do you have for anybody who is just starting out in gardening and may be a bit overwhelmed or find it intimidating or has no experience. How would you get them started? What advice would you give or any particular books you might suggest for them?

Beth Chandler: I would say start with some of the herbs I mentioned that are easy to grow or maybe marigolds, pansies, zinnias are fairly easy to grow also. Our flower, state flower, the Blackeyed Susan is also very easy to grow and does well in our hot dry summers. One of the recent books we got would be pretty good. It's called The New Small Garden and since we do live in an area on the very edge of a major city a lot of people don't have much room. So that one again caught The New Small Garden would be helpful to most people. We also have a wonderful book Mid-Atlantic Getting Started Garden Guide. It's a few years old but it's specifically targeted at our area. So if you're doubtful about your ability to pick plants or to do the things that fit this climate that's where to go.

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

Lisa Navidi: Love to garden but have a brown thumb or a problem with a specific plant or a flower MCPL can help. Our dedicated Master Gardeners visit several Montgomery County branches from April through September and are there to answer your questions and calm your fears. You can find more information about our Master Gardener Program and are many other gardening resources in this episode show notes.

Julie Dina: Now back to our program. What would be your recommendation for those who say you know, I don't really have much time, I'm busy but I'll like to plant my own herbs or my own plants?

Beth Chandler: I would say you start with a window garden or just a couple of pots on your front or back porch. And herbs the seeds or seedlings are pretty cheap and you can get a lot of return for your money and you won’t have to run out to buy parsley if you want some for the dinner that you have planned.

Julie Dina: Any other ones?

Beth Chandler: We have all kinds of books. If you want to just try a little terrarium and you can build them so they are mostly self-sustaining and will go on with maybe a drop of water. There is also growing perfect vegetables, which I don't know how perfect one can actually get them but does give a lot of assistance. And there is one or two books on particularly growing things in the shade such as Glorious Shade.

So if you have a little shady backyard that might be a good book to pick up to find out what will grow well. And I can tell you again one of my favorites parsley does grow well in the shade, and so do salad greens if you want to stop buying those packaged salad greens all the time and spending all that money for the cost of one you could get maybe two packets of mixed greens to plant in your yard.

Julie Dina: And where will I get the seeds for those because I'm always buying packets of salads that would be me.

Beth Chandler: Home & Garden shop, some larger grocery stores, health food stores, garden and nursery shops, lot of different places.

David Payne: Now talking about vegetables I mean, I've always found it fairly easy to grow tomatoes well varying success. But amongst the different kinds of tomato are there ones that you suggest the easier perhaps to grow, perhaps with the new gardener you might just want to plunk them in there and keep watering or they both all about the same as far as the work involved in the maintenance.

Beth Chandler: Oh, I have a confession. I have no luck in growing tomatoes on my own. I don't know why. I would say that for cucumbers, which as I mentioned are easy and grow in soil that’s not very high quality. Straight Eight's brand comes up pretty well. They don't have those scary curves that make them hard to peel. And Spacemaster which is probably a brand name but any bush type cucumbers you could even grow in a large-size planter pot if you just have an apartment and no access to an actual plot of land.

Julie Dina: You've given us a lot of recommendations and I know there are people who would say you know I don't really have enough space. I only have a balcony or a windowsill that I will like to maximize its use. Do you have any recommendations for such people?

Beth Chandler: Again, definitely a little windowsill garden with herbs and it doesn't have to be windowsill, your sill might not be large enough. If you have a table reasonably near the sun you can put a few small pots or maybe even one or two. I have a friend who does that she always keeps catnip for her cats in one of the windowsill gardens.

Julie Dina: Any particular ones that grow easily?

Beth Chandler: The catnip and most mints aren't too bad and it’s the usual for. Also if you remember the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Thyme can be a little tricky, but the other three aren’t too bad.

Julie Dina: Okay, I'll give it some thyme.

Beth Chandler: Actually excuse me it’s rosemary that's a bit tricky.

Julie Dina: And rosemary too.

David Payne: I was waiting for a follow-up with that.

Julie Dina: Well, you got it.

Beth Chandler: But the parts parsley, the sage if anyone needs oregano you can come to my place. I always have more than I need that's how well it grows. I attempted to use it as a groundcover.

David Payne: Well, MCPL has a lot of resources for the gardener. Any particular resources that you can particularly recommend such as the Master Gardening Program?

Beth Chandler: Well, I notice that currently the Master Gardeners in the Davis area are holding plant workshops. You can bring your plant and find out how to take care of it or perhaps cure it. There are Master Gardeners all over and I fondly remember the ones at Aspen Hill who kept up the beautiful flowers at the entryway to Aspen Hill and actually identified one of the flowers that was doing particularly well in the middle of a hot summer so I’ll pass that on. Coreopsis is a perennial, you can buy it plant it once. And as long as you don't let it get totally waterless when we have a drought, it will pretty much keep on blooming for a couple of months at least.

But definitely the Master Gardeners since they pop up various places and the Master Gardeners, there is as I had mentioned there is a Maryland organization and they’re smaller chapters. There is usually at least one in every town, sometimes multiple ones. And if you go on your local email discussion list or patch and then of course for your library website you can get help from the Master Gardeners who are people who know a lot about plants and gardening and get together and learn even more about it.

Julie Dina: So since we’re still talking about the Master Gardeners I remember when I worked at the Wheaton branch we had a lot of customers who would come in Saturday morning because the Master Gardeners would have workshops at the Wheaton Library. Now do they offer these workshops at all of our branches or only specific ones?

Beth Chandler: Specific ones at different times. You can check our events section to find out who is offering it. Just put in the word gardening and you will find what they're doing.

Julie Dina: And does it cost anything?

Beth Chandler: No programs at the library are free so that would not cost anything. So if you want to learn to become a Master Gardener you don't need to already be good. You can just find out when they’re meeting and go to a meeting and often they use library meeting rooms.

Julie Dina: Do you know how often they offer that?

Beth Chandler: I think meetings are usually monthly but it depends on the group.

David Payne: Now being an expert with a green thumb do you plan on attending the Montgomery County GreenFest on May 5?

Beth Chandler: Well, I have to take a look because I think that might be the same weekend as something related to another one of my hobbies the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival since I’m a crocheter. So I could have a conflict of hobbies. [Multiple Speakers]

Julie Dina: Watch out the next episode.

David Payne: So Beth now that you’ve made gardeners out of all of us as you know from your previous appearance we usually end our podcast by asking you what you’re reading now. So anything that you have read recently or reading now that you care to tell us about.

Beth Chandler: As I mentioned before, I just started The Minimalist Gardener to find out how I can have a wonderful garden for less and hopefully take up more of the backyard, which means less mowing the lawn. And in other areas speaking of my crocheting and that I have other hobbies I am reading Crafting for Cat Ladies.

Julie Dina: Sounds good.

Beth Chandler: Yes.

Julie Dina: I guess you’re a cat lady then.

Beth Chandler: Oh, I’m a totally crazy cat lady. I have one cat and that's all it took. So I might even be making something in his colors, silver gray and jade green.

Julie Dina: Well, that's been very enlightening. Thank you so much Beth for joining us today. Let's 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 podcasts. 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.

Apr 24, 2018

Episode Summary: Gardening enthusiast Beth Chandler, a librarian in our Collection Management department, shares her joy of and experience with gardening while suggesting books that help novice and expert gardeners grow their knowledge. 

Recording Date: April 11, 2018

Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne

Guests: Beth Chandler, who was also a guest on our December 2017 science fiction episode

Featured MCPL Resource: Master Gardener Plant Clinics. Bring your ailing plants or other gardening, lawn care, or landscaping questions to the experienced gardeners of the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension. This free walk-in service is available Saturdays, April through September, at MCPL branches throughout the county. 

What Our Guest Is Reading

The Minimalist Gardener by Patrick Whitefield

Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purr-fect Feline Projects by Kat Roberts 

Plants Mentioned During this Episode:

Black-Eyed Susans

catnip

chives 

coreopsis

cucumbers

geraniums

lilacs

marigolds

mint

morning glories

oregano

pansies

pink climbing roses

parsley

salad greens

zinnias 

Books Mentioned During this Episode

Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden by Jenny Rose Carey

Growing Perfect Vegetables

The Mid-Atlantic Getting Started Garden Guide by Andre Viette, Mark Viette, and Jacqueline Heriteau

The New Small Garden by Peter Loewer

What Wrong with My Plant (and How Do I Fix It?) by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth

Other Items of Interest:

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, May 5 & 6, 2018: Celebrating all things sheep, from hoof to handwoven.

Master Gardener Program of the University of Maryland Extension: Master Gardeners are volunteers who combine their love of plants, people, and the environment to help residents in their communities solve problems and make environmentally-sound decisions.  

Montgomery County GreenFest, May 5, 2018:  GreenFest is the largest, annual environmental festival in Montgomery County, MD. A free event, GreenFest is a chance for residents, businesses, nonprofits and neighbors, to come together, share ideas and learn.

Pinterest for Gardening Ideas 

Read the transcript

Apr 11, 2018

Listen to the audio

Lauren Martino: Hello and welcome to Library Matters. I'm Lauren Martino and I'm here with my co-host David Payne.

 

David Payne: Hello.

 

Lauren Martino: And today we are here with our Outreach and Programs Assistant Director, Mary Ellen Icaza. Welcome to the show Mary Ellen.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Thank you for having me.

 

Lauren Martino: And here with us as well, we’re welcoming Laura Sarantis, Library Associate at Gaithersburg.

 

Laura Sarantis: It’s great to be here. Thank you for having me too.

 

Lauren Martino: So could you Mary Ellen tell us a little bit about yourself. What got you interested in library programming, how did you get to where you are today?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Sure, well, I've worked for Montgomery County Libraries for a total of 14 years, but I had a break when I left the libraries and I went to work for Montgomery County Public Schools and a government consulting company. But my true love of libraries lured me back to Montgomery County Public Libraries. And my current position is the Assistant Director for Programs and Outreach as you mentioned. And I’ve always had an interest I think in library programming even when I was a new librarian at the Greenbelt Public Library in Prince George’s County. I was a librarian in a generalist branch. I did story times, I did book discussions for adults and children and I also taught basic computer classes, how to search the Internet.

 

And then even when I was working in the unit called Virtual Services, it's now called Digital Strategies, we were tasked with promoting library events and programs. So library programs and events have always been at the forefront of the work I've been doing at libraries. And we would cover the events on social media, on Twitter and on Facebook and always looking for ways that we could get the word out about library programs. So in my current position I'm working on programs in a different way, but I think I've always been passionate about library programs.

 

Lauren Martino: And Laura, tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you get into library programming like what makes you excited to be here talking about it today?

 

Laura Sarantis: Well, actually I was hired as a teen librarian 10 years ago. So it's actually part of my job description to do programming. I had no idea what I was doing when I started here a decade ago. This is actually a second career for me. My previous incarnation was as an online editor. I was a Database Editor for Congressional Quarterly in the 90s at a time when things were changing rapidly, and they were bringing their dial-up service to the World Wide Web. And then I was a web editor for the Humane Society in the United States and that I was sort of burnt out on. When you deal with animal protection, there is always something bad happening to an animal so we have a – something we call compassion fatigue where I kind of gotten sad and couldn't watch Animal Planet anymore.

 

Lauren Martino: That’s a problem.

 

Laura Sarantis: It is a problem. I was a page when I was in high school and in college. So I thought well, I’m going to just look at library jobs. So this was supposed to just be a sabbatical from online editing and I just loved it so much. The programming part of it, it took me a while to get on top of that. Early on, I just had no idea what I was doing, no idea how to get kids into the library. Now it's going really well and so it’s – we’re doing better with that now.

 

David Payne: So programming is one of the many hats that we as librarians work with – work in. Perhaps, Mary Ellen I could ask you to actually define what programming, what library programming is for the benefit of our listeners.

 

Lauren Martino: Because it doesn’t have anything to do with Java or Scratch or –.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Well, actually Lauren, it could if we're offering a library program on computer programming, right. So library programming are events that our library system or any library system around the country provides to our customers that support lifelong learning and connecting them to ideas and to resources for things that they can use in their daily lives. And an important thing to know is that all of the programs we offer at the library are free, which is incredible. Programs can be led by library staff, such as our story times that are led by professional librarians or library associates or we can work with partners to come in to do presentations and performances or authors that we might contract to do programs as well.

 

David Payne: So if someone was interested in presenting a program how should they approach the library to find out more information?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Well, there is a couple of different things they can do. If they are interested in working with a particular library branch for example, Laura, she works at the Gaithersburg library. They can connect with staff at that particular branch or if they're interested in doing a program that might involve several different branches they can work with my programming team and we have a form available on our website. If people want to submit a program proposal and we ask a lot of questions to make sure that it is in line with other programming that we’re doing. And if it's in line with our strategic plan and our mission and our vision and we can help coordinate amongst different branches that way.

 

David Payne: Great, thank you.

 

Lauren Martino: I find it interesting that both of you have these really strong technology backgrounds, right. Like I don’t see a storyteller, I don't see you know basket making, I see web editor and digital strategies, digital services. What do think that says about how library programming is changing – is evolving, but it looks like today versus what it look like in the past?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I think it says a lot about our changing society. I think the jobs that Laura and I both had I didn't know Laura was an online editor actually, so that's interesting I learned something new. But 30 years ago those jobs didn't exist and we at the library probably at that time were offering very traditional programs like story times and book discussions. And I think as society has changed and technology has grown and STEM, science, technology, engineering and math have become even more visible as career pathways for kids the library has responded to that with the programming that we’re offering.

 

So I don't think you know 20, 30 years ago you would've seen classes on computer programming or girls just want to code that kind of thing. And I think it says a lot about the library that we want to offer programs that appeal to our community so that we are offering things that are relevant to their lives. For instance, I don't think that there were yoga and meditation classes years ago, but now that's something that a lot of our library branches are offering. So I think as a whole libraries evolved with the times to meet the needs of our communities.

 

David Payne: The library is really more, really very much a community center.

 

Laura Sarantis: Yeah, I like to say people will be like, oh, it must be nice to work in the library. You can sit there and it's quiet and you can read. And I’m like the library is now a social service agency and that is that's a really important role for us to have in the community. It's more than just books you know we have to prepare young people to compete in an economy that's based – it's an information age economy. So sometimes we have seniors who come in and say, “Well, why do you have computers here instead of just books?” Well, you know, do you want your grandchild to be able to get a job when they get out of school? You know, they’re going to have to be very literate in computers.

 

Lauren Martino: It’s getting to be as important as like reading literacy, isn’t it?

 

Laura Sarantis: Right, but and there are also there are other I think educators have known for a long time that there is a lot of different ways that you can learn things besides just reading it in a book. And doing something – doing an activity is much more useful than reading about it. Like for example, we said seniors – we just had a senior tech series on Sundays where a volunteer came in and just sat down with a group of seniors to teach them how to use computers. And they could've read all the books in the library on using computers, but nothing is going to replace pushing a key and seeing what the machine does when you –. It's a two-way interaction that you have with technology that you can't really learn it just from a book. So in that respect, I think you know our services are, we've expanded our services so that we can meet that need in the community.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: And I think it also takes into account that people learn in many different ways.

 

Laura Sarantis: Yes.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: And that not all education has to happen in the traditional sense in a classroom. And many of our programs have become much more hands-on like Laura was saying you know kids are doing experiments in the STEM programs and the seniors are learning to use their devices and it acknowledges that learning can happen in a myriad of ways. And that learning can happen you know, in the library can happen at home, it can happen in the classroom. And not everybody learns the same way, so like I think that is one of the things that have been an area where libraries have really evolved so that we’re not just books like Laura says, and reading and all of that is still really, really core to what we do. But our role has definitely expanded into the types of areas where we’re offering programs.

 

David Payne: Well, Laura, Mary Ellen a bit earlier mentioned the very successful girls just want to compute program which you involve with. Tell us about the program, how it came about?

 

Laura Sarantis: Well, it came about – it was started by a Poolesville High School student a few years ago. She noticed that in school a lot of the computer clubs and engineering groups were sort of dominated by young men instead of girls. And she started meeting with a bunch of girls at the Germantown Library. It started out kind of as a coding club. She turned it into a curriculum and started inviting younger students in to teach them Python coding. So she graduated. She is now I believe a sophomore at Yale University, but the program went on. She had trained some younger high school students to continue teaching it – that's how we met Cindy who is one of the volunteers who has done other programming for us in Gaithersburg and it's very, very popular.

 

The girls just – the girls really enjoy it. The parents love it and it's a different feel when it's just girls, when it's just girls teaching girls. They definitely have a more cooperative learning style. When they’re problem solving it, they're not competing, they’re doing it together. So it offers something special just for girls who might feel that there, you know, they don't have the opportunity to do that at their school where they’re kind of being drowned out maybe by the boys sometimes.

 

Lauren Martino: That's such a great education and leadership I'm so impressed that your volunteer not only put together this amazing program, but was able to train people to do the same thing after her that's huge.

 

Laura Sarantis: Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: So you’re not only just offering the program for the people that are doing the program, I imagine the benefits are huge for the teen volunteers as well.

 

Laura Sarantis: Sometimes people wonder if we have any secrets or what's the secret to good programming or people have asked what do you know that you wish other librarians knew. And my secret weapon is that teenagers themselves, high school students can themselves initiate and run very compelling, wonderful, exciting library programs. And we've been very fortunate that we've had a few teens who have been doing this sort of thing at Gaithersburg.

 

But sometimes I wish another teen would come to me and say, well, you know, I just know something about astronomy and I have a good telescope and I just want to show some kids some constellations. It doesn't have to be, it doesn’t have to be really technical. It doesn't have to be advanced or sophisticated. It's kids leading other kids and that's a very viable form of programming. Sometimes we have a girls robotics class at Gaithersburg that's taught by Cindy who is one of the girls just want to compute teachers. And it's her and her sister and other high school students teaching girls who are between the ages of nine and 13. And sometimes I walk in the room and I can feel that the mood shift like oh, a grown up just walked in the room, yuk.

 

And they’re all on task, they're all focused, they’re all writing programs, they’re not goofing off where I’m coming into sort of break it up. It's just sort of a different vibe. The teenagers can connect with the younger girls in a way that adult librarians just can't. So that's something that I think is – that’s kind of our hidden weapon I guess at Gaithersburg for programming. But I really I’m going to look forward to trying to find other teens who can come into the library and who have certain skills and can share those with younger kids because nine times out of 10, they’re going to do a fantastic job with it.

 

David Payne: You’re absolutely right. We’ve really had some very dynamic program with teenagers.

 

Lauren Martino: Mary Ellen, can you tell us about the most memorable library program that you've been a part of?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I would have to say most recently the most memorable program to me was a speaker series that we implemented last year. It was our first speaker series and the title of it is contemporary conversations. And it's a program series where we invite authors and journalists and other well-known figures to come to the library to do a presentation and a Q&A session with the public. And we had some really terrific speakers last year and they were the first large-scale programs of this nature that we did. Our first speaker was Kojo Nnamdi from NPR.

 

Lauren Martino: I remember that, yeah.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: And we had over 200 people.

 

Lauren Martino: That was amazing.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: And we held it at the Gaithersburg library and that was totally cool that people came from all over the county to attend that program on a – it was a Saturday night. And it was just really great to see people coming from as far as Burtonsville, they came from Damascus, they came from all over the county. And then we went on to have conversations at a couple of other locations. Silver Spring was another one. We had Charles Lane from the Washington Post come. And he did a conversation with the County Executive Leggett and they had a dialog about a book that Charles Lane had written. And it was just so neat to see people interested in a particular topic and want to come together as a large group to discuss it. We are going to have this series continue on this spring and we are so fortunate that we are part of a grant that we've been awarded called The Big Read and we’re partnering with several different organizations.

 

The Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, Montgomery Community Media, Gaithersburg Book Festival and Montgomery History. And our theme is the immigrant experience. And the book that we've chosen for The Big Read is Dinaw Mengestu's The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. And we’re doing programs all spring long on it, but The Big Read program will end in June on June 9th. We’re going to have a contemporary conversation with Dinaw Mengestu, the author who is going to come to speak to the community. So we’re so thrilled about that that we’re able to bring an author of his caliber to the community to talk with our community and do a Q&A and have a large event like that at Silver Spring.

 

David Payne: And Mary Ellen, where can listeners find out more information about The Big Read?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: The Big Read, we have a section on our website and if people want to go to our homepage they'll see a big icon that says The Big Read.

 

Lauren Martino: Hard to miss.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Right, and not only are we having the author come in June but we’re having a slew of book discussions on his book. There will be an Ethiopian coffee ceremony. There will be panels on immigrating to Montgomery County. And there also will be events at various branches and locations throughout the spring.

 

Lauren Martino: Because this book actually part of it focuses on Montgomery County doesn't it?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: It's, he was a local writer. Yes.

 

Lauren Martino: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Febe Huezo: Mom, I’m heading out for yoga.

 

Julie Dina: I thought you were going to the library.

 

Febe Huezo: I am.

 

Julie Dian: Uh?

 

Febe Huezo: Oh, mom, the library isn’t just a room full of books. It’s a place where people meet and learn. Did you know that the library offers tai chi classes, career workshops and even computer help?

 

Julie Dina: You should try it.

 

Febe Huezo: Mom.

 

Julie Dina: I am upstairs getting ready sweetheart.

 

Lauren Martino: For more information on Montgomery County Public Library’s Diverse programs and classes click on the link in this episode show notes.

 

Now back to our program.

 

David Payne: Can you give us some examples of some more unusual or perhaps nontraditional library programming that you’ve both been involved with to start with Mary Ellen?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Sure, I had to think about this one for a bit. But the one example that I came up with is the Read to a Dog program. I think it is pretty common in libraries, but whenever I tell somebody who doesn't work in a library they always are a little surprised that we do this program. But it's such a terrific program and as a mom of somebody who is a reluctant reader I think it's fantastic. We partner up with people who have trained therapy dogs and they bring in their pets and kids, reluctant readers often or kids who are little intimidated about practicing their reading can read one-on-one with the dog and it's a wildly successful program. We have them at many of our different branches and it’s not always the same dog, it's different dogs at different branches. But it's such a boost to the kids confidence to practice their reading and you know they also get to spend time with the cuddly dog too.

 

Lauren Martino: And we've had customers come in and it's not only an opportunity to practice reading it's my kids afraid of dogs.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Oh, okay. Another purpose.

 

Lauren Martino: Yes, this is your chance to get used to this nice tiny little dog that's perfectly well behaved in its owners lap and will not hurt you in a controlled environment.

 

Laura Sarantis: Very gentle, very sweet animals and that is I know a couple of people who have brought their kids and who they’ve been intimidated by big dogs and to make them a little bit less so.

 

Lauren Martino: Laura, do you have an unusual program you'd like to tell us about?

 

Laura Sarantis: Well, sometimes you find some wild stuff at the library. And it’s a step that you would never think to find but then it comes to you and you're like, well, why not. So we had a group last year called Harp Happy it’s a group of women who play harps together but they play music that you don't traditionally associate with harps. And they at the end of their program they do this thing called name that show, name that song where they’ll play like jingles from old television shows like The Jeffersons or MASH. And the audience has to guess what the song is or what the show is and it can be pretty hilarious, it was –.

 

Lauren Martino: I’m just trying to picture The Jeffersons played on the harp. [Multiple Speakers]

 

Laura Sarantis: I can't remember if that’s one that they played. For some reason that popped into my head and I know that they did the MASH theme song. And I'm pretty sure they did the theme from the Lone Ranger. We really haven't lived until you, until heard the William Tell overture played on the harp so.

 

David Payne: And another benefit of having a program like that because we had the Harp Happy group at the Davis Library. And I remember at the end of it that people actually come up and see the harp close up, touch it, cluck the strings, not the kind of opportunities that you always get so that was a great benefit.

 

Lauren Martino: You know, I’ll let the kids do that with my ukulele at the end of story times, sometimes but a harp man, that would be exciting.

 

David Payne: Exactly, yeah.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: The ukulele is actually something that I would like to see us do more with.

 

Lauren Martino: Really.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I’ve heard of other library systems that in addition to incorporating into story times they’re also offering ukulele classes and ukulele lessons for their customers. And it just sounds so cool to me you know, to be able to learn how to play the ukulele at the library.

 

David Payne: It’s actually very interesting. You mentioned the ukulele because in the other podcast episode which we recorded – just recorded on retro technology the ukulele was brought up as a returning instrument, that’s making a comeback.

 

Lauren Martino: That's a good point and yeah, I never thought of, I mean, we've got like the ArtistWorks where you can do online classes on the ukulele. Thank goodness the ukulele is there, but yeah, group class that would be amazing.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Are you up for it?

 

Lauren Martino: I would go to Susan Modak first or Sissy Williams. Sissy Williams is amazing sorry, it’s okay shot out to Sissy. Go to her Story Time at Noyes but yeah, just that people have come through and customers that have come through Noyes and just leave like knowing a few chords and come back and say I’m still playing. I just was amazed. I mean, gosh, Sissy got me playing the ukulele. She got –.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I’ve seen groups of children's librarians at meetings you know they all bring out their ukuleles and start playing. So it’s really cool here that you’ve learned how to play from one of your colleagues.

 

Lauren Maritno: Yes.

 

Laura Sarantis: Oh, is there a definite ukulele subculture. I’m going to show new librarians in Montgomery County system.

 

Laruen Martino: Little known fact, yes. So besides ‘More Ukulele’ all right, gosh, that just like sounds like more cowbell, ‘More Ukulele.’ Besides ‘More Ukulele’ is there any other programs from other places you've seen that you just really love to bring the Montgomery County that hasn't then quite made it here yet?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Well, there is one that we do have in the works. I had read an article in Library Journal or something like that about the Harry Potter ball that they had. I think it was Salt Lake City and we did a very successful celebration last June of the publishing anniversary of Harry Potter.

 

Lauren Martino: Although his birthday was nearby if I was correct.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Exactly, yeah. So we did our celebration in June and I think his birthday is in July. So all of the branches each had a program, you know, celebrating Harry in some way. They did wand making, they might've had a trivia contest. And I love the idea because our comic our MoComCon has been so successful in the winter if we could do something in the summer. And I actually got the idea when I saw one of our partners at the MoComCon dressed as Hermione. I didn’t even recognize her.

 

Lauren Martino: Wow.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: And I thought “Wow, people are really still into Harry.” You know, based on the success of the wand making I remember they ran out of wands last year at Davis and then seeing her dressed as Hermione. So what I'm hoping we can actually do this summer is to have an event to celebrate Harry Potter's birthday enjoy.

 

Lauren Martino: That would be exciting.

 

David Payne: That sounds great.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: For adults and children.

 

Lauren Martino: Because yeah, why should it be limited to children.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Exactly.

 

David Payne: Yeah, now having watched the event that you mentioned the wand making at Davis where we saw parents and children engage them on making really a program for all the family.

 

Lauren Martino: We have a circulation member who has this like full out like Hogwarts, Hufflepuff uniform it is amazing.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Well, hopefully that person will participate in the event this summer.

 

David Payne: Well, you’ve both obviously been involved in a good many programs over the years. Are there any programs that you've tried that just haven't worked out for you if so, why?

 

Laura Sarantis: When I first started working for the county as a library associate in Kensington I did a couple of programs that were I thought were useful. One was on Internet safety. One was on using the library's website to do academic research and nobody showed up.

 

Lauren Martino: That's always disappointing.

 

Laura Sarantis: And I worked a lot, I worked hard on those programs. And so it took me a while to kind of figure out why that was. I think it's much harder to get older teens to come into the library, because they're getting their driver's licenses. They're getting a taste of independence and they're in school all day. And you know I think they just are resistant to having adults structure all their time for them. So it's a lot of the programming we’re doing is geared now towards younger high school kids and middle school kids. If we can get the older ones that's great, but I'm just I haven't figured out the key yet to that.

 

David Payne: Can’t get pizza?

 

Laura Sarantis: That works, actually that does work. And SSL hours like if you can get them to come in and participate in something where they’re actually achieving something, doing something and you can give them SSL credits for it.

 

Lauren Martino: Mary Ellen, do you have anything that?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: You know to what Laura is saying that you can plan the program and put everything together and be ready to go and then have low attendance. So I have that experience once a few summers ago, we planned a kickoff event for the summer read and learn program. We thought it will be great to have this one event for the whole entire county. But we didn't take into account is that June is a really, really busy month for families before school lets out. So we did not have as high an attendance as we had hoped for, for the event.

 

And I think it was because of just the timing of things you know it was in the beginning of June, its graduation season, a lot of sports teams are finishing out their seasons. So as you know in this county families are really booked. And I think you know that really affected the success of that program. It was still a fantastic performance, but I just wish that we had been able to reach a larger audience. So something like that will make me rethink offering a kickoff like that again around that time of year.

 

David Payne: Programs are very interesting. I always remember one of the most successful programs I've ever done in my whole career with another library system was on all things beekeeping.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: Beekeeping.

 

David Payne: Yes.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: That’s fascinating.

 

David Payne: Yes, it’s true. Dozens and dozens of people on a Tuesday evening, and I can’t remember the month, time of the year, but of all topics. And I did it really just as a one-off thing because I thought well, I’m going to try it. But it was one of the most successful programs I’ve ever done.

 

Lauren Martino: Wow, I remember listening to a podcast and forgive me I don't remember which one, but yeah, some other librarian saying it, yeah, it’s canning and cheese making really doing in my life. It’s amazing what you can turn into a program.

 

David Payne: Absolutely, yes.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I think you can turn almost anything into a program though I really do. I mean, I have been trying to encourage some of my staff who are really into coupons to do a couponing program, because who doesn't want to save money at the grocery store. And I think that's how we develop some of our best ideas for programs is just you have a personal interest and you think other people would have an interest in it too and you never know where it's going to go. For instance, like the bullet journaling that is very popular now. I am not a bullet journaler, but I think it will be wildly popular with people because a lot of people want to learn how to do it.

 

And I think we could form a little community of bullet journalers and new programs that way. And I know at Rockefeller Library they used to host happy crafting, which is a program I always wanted to go to but it never lined up with my schedule. But they would do different craft projects every week and that generated out of someone’s, you know, personal hobby she is really into craft making with paper products.

 

Lauren Martino: Other there little known secret about librarians, we are an incredibly diverse bunch of interests and backgrounds like there is nothing that we have not – ultimately all of us have looked at it some point or another.

 

David Payne: Absolutely and a glance at calendar of events will show you the diverse array of programming that does go on across the whole system.

 

Lauren Martino: Absolutely.

 

Laura Sarantis: And I think it's a mistake to think that you have to have a curriculum or a well-developed presentation to do a good program because we know we have a bullet journaler among the librarians. And she could just show up and just show you her bullet journal and show some websites that show how to do it. And you really don't need that much preparation – I mean, it helps to have some preparation, but you don't necessarily have to have you know a huge amount of expertise in some area to give a good library program. Some of them are just, you know, very spontaneous kind of things where you know like knitters will get together or embroiders or – so there is quite a few of those.

 

Lauren Martino: And it’s all about community I think.

 

Laura Sarantis: Yes.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I think people are looking to have that third space where they can meet and share with other people and you know that the knitting and crocheting that’s something else I wish I could get to. But I know, you know, it’s nice to be able to take your hobby and do it with other people.

 

David Payne: Well, libraries have come a long way, particularly in recent years. Where do you see library programming over the next 20 years or so?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I think libraries will still be a force we’re not going to go away. And I think our programs will persist and you know, as I mentioned before, the library programs being free, that is huge. I think it's hard to project though what will be the hot thing in 20 years, you know. So it's kind of hard for me to project what we’ll be doing in programming, because who would've ever thought we would have 3D printers in the library or we would be doing maker spaces in our libraries. I think we’ll still be doing our traditional programs like story times that help kids get ready to read and offering book discussions and things to support materials or collection. But I think we can be anything we want to be you know in relation to what our community is interested in.

 

Laura Sarantis: Yeah, I agree. And we're an evolving institution. Montgomery County Libraries calls itself a learning organization and that is – you know, on so many different levels not only are we learning how to be better librarians, how to better serve the community as we go on but we’re also about learning. We’re about learning in myriad different ways like Mary Ellen said earlier. I think we are going to continue to be really essential in terms of bridging the digital divide in terms of giving folks access to technology that they might not otherwise have access to.

 

We still get a lot of library visits from folks who don't have Internet at home, who don't have computers at home, who need a librarians help to apply for a job, to learn some marketable skills for jobs, to learn English in Gaithersburg. Gaithersburg and Silver Spring are two of the most diverse communities in the entire country. Those are our constituents and so language learning is huge in Gaithersburg, so conversation clubs and that sort of thing. I think we’re going to just continue evolving to serve those needs in the community, because that's what we do.

 

Lauren Martino: We love to ask our guests on Library Matters Mary Ellen, is there something you're reading now that you would like to share with us?

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: I was looking forward to this question.

 

Lauren Martino: Of course you were.

 

Mary Ellen Icaza: And I've actually gotten some good reading recommendations from your other guests on the podcast. And I'm reading Pachinko right now by Min Jin Lee. And it’s I'm still about halfway through it, but it's the most beautiful book. The writing is just so lovely. It was nominated as a National Book Award finalist and its adult fiction and it’s about an immigrant family, a Korean family living in Japan. And it's a saga that spans several generations, but it's really, really good storytelling. And I like when you can have a good thick book just to get lost in and that definitely fits the criteria for this one.

 

Lauren Martino: Laura, do you have something you’d like to share with us.

 

Laura Sarantis: I just started a huge ton David McCullough’s The Path between the Seas.

 

David Payne: That will keep you busy for a while.

 

Laura Sarantis: That will keep me busy for a while but it's so right up my alley because I’m a former history major who is now getting interested in STEM and engineering and that sort of thing. So I love books that talk about technology in a way that I can understand it. And so this was like probably the biggest engineering project ever in the universe up until maybe Hoover Dam later on. I don't know whether anything is bigger than this. I think it was – this was 30 years in the making so. And I’m just really interested in visiting Central America at some point so I'm starting to read that. Another one that I when I learned that I loved popular nonfiction that could explain science to me was when I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And I was tentative about going into that because I said I almost flunked high school biology. But that explained the science behind it to me in a way that I could understand. So hopefully that'll happen with McCullough and the engineering of the – yeah the canal.

 

David Payne: Well, Mary Ellen and Laura, thank you very much for joining us today and sharing with us your program insights and some of the very exciting programming we can look forward to in the future months at MCPL. Keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple podcast at Stitcher or wherever you get your podcast. Also, please review and write to us on Apple podcast. We love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.

 

 

Apr 10, 2018

Episode Summary: Reading to dogs, Python coding, yoga? While MCPL still provides many much-beloved storytimes, our programming has become a lot more diverse. Assistant Director Mary Ellen Icaza and Library Associate Laura Sarantis talk about the innovative events happening at an MCPL branch near you. And don't forget, all MCPL programs are free of charge!

Recording Date: March 7, 2018

Hosts: Lauren Martino and David Payne

Guests: Mary Ellen Icaza and Laura Sarantis

Featured MCPL Resource: Yoga, Tai Chi, career workshops, computer use help, and more. MCPL offers an incredible variety of programs for our customers. 

What Our Guests Are Reading

Mary Ellen Icaza: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee  

Laura Sarantis: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough

Library Programs Mentioned During this Episode:

The Big Read: MCPL and its partners will host a series of events: book discussions, author talks, exhibits, and cultural events centered around the immigrant experience in the DC area and Dinaw Mengestu's book The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears.

Computer and Technology Classes, and One-On-One Instruction: MCPL's technology programs include downloading e-books, computer basics, and using tablets like the iPad.  

Contemporary Conversations: Join MCPL for discussions about cultural and current issues with journalists, authors, and other speakers. Our next speaker is Dinaw Mengestu, author of the book The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears.  

Conversation Clubs: Practice speaking English in a friendly, informal environment. Available at branches throughout the County. 

Girlhub: Python Programming: Teens, learn more about computer programming through fun lessons about Python, HTML, and MIT Scratch. Register up to June 30, 2018. Hosted by high school robotics team 5421 RM'd and Dangerous.

Girls in Engineering: Work with other students to build bridges, create robots, and more. 

Girls Just Want to Compute: Learn how to code, create, and work with other students interested in coding.  

Job and Career Programs and Resources: From resume writing and interviewing skills to career exploration, MCPL has programs and resources to help you get a job or advance your career. 

Knitting and Crocheting Clubs: Beginners and experienced knitters come together at branches throughout MCPL to learn about and share their love for the craft. 

Makerspace Programs: Amateur radio, blimps, origami - there are programs for all kinds of makers at MCPL. 

MoComCon: MCPL's comic convention. The second annual MoComCon took place this past January. See pictures from this event. 

Read to a Dog: School-aged children, especially beginner readers, can boost confidence in their reading skills by reading aloud to a friendly, certified therapy dog. Available at branches throughout the County. 

STEM Programs: From Archimedes to architecture, MCPL has many programs to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). 

Tai Chi and Yoga: Practice tai chi or yoga at a MCPL branch near you. Most of these programs are designed with the beginner in mind, so no experience is necessary.  

Other Items of Interest

Program Suggestion Form: Interested in doing a program for MCPL? Please complete this form with details of your suggested program.

Read the transcript 

Mar 28, 2018

Listen to the audio

David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.

 

Julie Dina: And Julie Dina.

 

David Payne: And today we're going retro, and looking at the record player, polaroid camera, rotary phone, and all radios, in other words, retro technology. And I'm very pleased to have two of MCPL’s most avid retro tech collectors with us today, welcome Eric Carzon, the manager of the Twinbrook Library.

 

Eric Carzon: Hi everybody.

 

David Payne: And Bill Carey, from our Information Technology Department. Welcome Bill.

 

Bill Carey: Okay, thank you.

 

David Payne: So, Eric and Bill welcome, and I can see from the props that you bought in today you've got some serious retro technology which we're looking forward to hearing all about. Well, sort of tell us both a bit about yourselves, and how would you describe retro technology, and what got you interested in the field? Let’s start with you Eric.

 

Eric Carzon: Alrighty, thank you. So, aside from managing the Twinbrook branch, I’m a lifelong Maryland native, I have two children, married, and I’m an amateur singer, songwriter. To me I define retro technology in a couple of different ways.

 

I think one way to define it, and look at it is that it's a piece of older technology that comes back into use, or fashion after an absence, bellbottom jeans, vinyl record players which we’ll talk a lot about. The other thing that I would say is that retro technology can sometimes be new technology that's sort of presented with the skin of an older technology.

 

So, it might be for instance sort of the old fashioned -- old fashioned, it’s kind of hard to call old fashioned. But the cell phones from the original first generation Nokia, which had sort of bigger buttons and were very simple, they’re sort making comeback now. And so they put the new guts into the old phone. So I think that's another way to implement retro technology.

 

It sounded kind of funny to me, I never thought I would wear polyester, but Under Armor if you break it down and think about it is basically plastic clothing like from the 70s, when everybody wore nylon. So, there's an example of retro in my opinion where they've sort of put a new spin on an old idea. And so why is retro tech interesting to me? Well, I come from the third generation of telephone people.

 

My dad was a phone lineman, my grandfather worked as a lineman and various other jobs in management in the C&P Telephone Company. So, I come from a family of tinkerers, basically. They were always tinkering with something, so I’ve got all their old tools and just sort of picked up that habit of tinkering with old stuff, and I just love to play with old junk.

 

And in fact I used some of their old bolts and screws that they gave me today to make a repair on something this morning in my house, so it comes in handy too.

 

David Payne: That's great, thank you. So Bill, are you a tinkerer as well?

 

Bill Carey: I certainly am. I’m a 50 year bass player musician, so I deal with vintage guitars, vintage bases and vintage tube amplifiers too, as part of my retro tech exposure, and I like old tube radios, the ones with vacuum tubes are the ones of interest to me, because you can actually play with the electronics and learn about the radio, how it works, and the same thing with the amplifiers I have.

 

You can actually tailor the sound of it by modifying components inside.

 

David Payne: So, do you actively still collect the old radios?

 

Bill Carey: When I can find them I do, they're getting to be hard to find now, because there's so many people that value them, you just can't come across one. I used to see them in thrift stores, garage sales all the time, and picking up occasionally, but I just don't see them anymore. Now you can find them online but you're going to pay the premium price for those online.

 

But still, I have about a half dozen I keep in my office here just for visual fun, and I work on them on the side occasionally get'em to work. This one, I brought one from 1941, just to see how everything is all -- most of it is all wooden materials and early plastic, but just wanted to show you the technology of vacuum tube, that’s what displayed in these things.

 

Even though this one doesn't have a power cord yet, because it still needs to be rebuilt, but most of them don't work that I buy, and I find that's better because I can get them for less money then.

 

David Payne: And you fix them up yourself.

 

Bill Carey: Sure.

 

Julie Dina: So, hopefully, before the show is over between Bill playing the guitar, and Eric the armature singer, we can get a commitment from the two of you.

 

Eric Carzon: We’re not in a gig here.

 

Julie Dina: We can have a gig.

 

Eric Carzon: Why not?

 

David Payne: Yeah, we did the Christmas party, why not.

 

Bill Carey: We did the Christmas -- right, a couple of years ago.

 

Julie Dina: We’ve got a contract. I’m privileged to be with the Outreach Team and, we’re currently getting excited and prepared for a vinyl day for our listeners and those who have no idea what Vinyl Day is, can you guys tell us what Vinyl Day is all about, when this is going to be, where, and who should attend.

 

Eric Carzon: All right, great. I’ll tackle that. I’m on the committee, so I’m helping to plan it, and we’re really looking forward to it we think it should be fun as the first time that MCPL is doing this. So, the event is called Just for the Record, A Vinyl Record Day. And it's going to be held at the Silver Spring Library on April 21st, and it's going to be from 11 o'clock in the morning, through 4PM in the afternoon.

 

It’s fun for all ages, everybody is welcome, all the events are free. And let me give you a few samples of things that are going to be going on during the event. We're going to have several panel discussions. We've got some experts who will talk about live music that drove the golden era of record making, we’ll have people that talk about record collecting.

 

We're going to have a group that's talking about the recording industry in Eritrea, in Eastern Africa, and we're going to have some DJ performances. We'll also have an opportunity for music and dance, a little karaoke. We're going to be doing really cool crafts where the kids get to build crafts out of old records, so that's going to be really nifty.

 

Our keynote speaker is John Corbett, he’s an author he wrote the b ook Vinyl Freak, Love Letters to A Dying Medium. So, he is a music expert and a long time DJ, and collector and he's going to be rounding the afternoon for us. We’ll also have music/record display rooms throughout the library, and we’re actually asking for folks to volunteer to demonstrate those.

 

So we're hoping we might get a blues room, or a gospel room, or jazz room, that kind of thing. So, the website folks who are interested in displaying their music in one of these music rooms is www.folmc.org/vinyl-day. And where did the Vinyl Day idea come from? April 21st is actually National Record Store Day, and that's been around more than a decade.

 

It's a day to celebrate music and what record stores bring. And so we combine that with --. In August there's an actual Vinyl Day that is also about a decade old and commemorates the patenting of the recording technology, the record.

 

So, we sort of morphed the concepts together and said, “Well, let's have a day that celebrates the vinyl record, and we’ll actually in honor of Record Store Day there will actually be a sale during record day at the library, so one of the rooms will actually, you can actually buy records and books from the Friends of the Library, Montgomery County book sale, they are one of the sponsors.

 

In fact the event is a co-sponsorship, it is co-sponsored Montgomery County Public Libraries, the Friends of the Library Montgomery County, Levine Music, and Open Sky Jazz are the co-sponsors of the program, and it's going to be a really good time.

 

Julie Dina: So it sounds like we have a variety.

 

Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, it is going to be a lot of fun.

 

Bill Carey: So the Eritrean recording industry is being done on vinyl, is that what they're doing, are they’re doing--

 

Eric Carzon: Well, they are going to describe like the history of it, so I’m sure that they use a mix of technologies today just like the American recording industry.

 

Bill Carey: They want to do it in digital and vinyl on the side or something because I still have all my vinyl records from the 60s and 70s. I store them in my basement, thought they’d worthless get around -- I thought I was going to get around the donating and were throwing them out, and now they're valuable again.

 

David Payne: Now you're glad you didn't.

 

Bill Carey: Now records I bought for 2.50 or $3 are now $30, so it’s amazing. And if you kept in good shape, they sound good and they still work, and in my younger days in high school I was on some local release recordings, that we did a local record in DC and the structure of making a record back in the 70s was you had to record it first in a recording studio, and then send it off to have it mixed down, and then mastered.

 

It was quite a bit of money, and then you'd have to pressed into vinyl records, the key thing back then was the quality of the vinyl affect, the quality of the sound. So, if you had virgin vinyl your record sounded better than if you had recycled vinyl, and that was a big issue back then when you had a company do records because they tried to cut costs, use recycled vinyl, and you’d have all these pops on your record.

 

People get upset. Well, that's what you had to pay extra sometimes, you get to specify, “I want virgin vinyl used for my record pressing." You got a better sounding record as a result. And hopefully that's they’re still doing today, at $30 a pop for an album, because you can hear a very big difference, especially when you’re comparing it to a CD.

 

The background noise is the downfall of vinyl record, but that’s how you also get the analog sound so it's a trade off.

 

David Payne: But let me ask you, you both. We talked about the revival of vinyl, and record players and so on. Why do you think that there has been this revival of vinyl record players, and retro the retro tech in general? What's the appeal, why has it come back?

 

Eric Carzon: I’ll start I think a couple different factors. I think one is definitely just generational. Now I’m gentleman of a certain age, and I you know now I can relive that experience. For me vinyl records were right in my childhood, and so I can go back to specific moments and say, “I’m seven years old, and my mom's playing Gordon Lightfoot, and were hanging out in the house, and it's a happy time.

 

Because of the way that the vinyl records are that is an experience. So, it's you know it's a time delimited experience of 20 minutes per side, and each side sort of goes with the other side, and you sort of experience it in this linear fashion which is a lot different than what you can do with Mp3 and mix. A lot of albums on CDs seem like just a collection of songs, don’t get me wrong, some vinyl was just a collection of songs too.

 

But, the medium lent itself and the fashion at the time, Jesus Christ Superstar, Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, Marvin Gaye, What's Going On. These records were tight, they were integrated, and that's an experience--

 

Bill Carey: Sergeant Peppers for instance.

 

Eric Carzon: Yeah, exactly.

 

Bill Carey: That order made a difference.

 

David Payne: So basically it's also they cover the self, which is in many ways iconic.

 

Eric Carzon: Yeah, so I think there is this sort of nostalgic element, and generationally people are sort of thirsting to experience that again. Kids grow up, I got more free time, I'm ready go back into the record store and experience that maybe have a little more cash, I’m not broke like I was when I was 22, or whatever. So I think there's some generational, there's an economics.

 

I think for newer generations I think as an experience it's kind of like a luxury experience, and I do lots of stuff with digital music, So I’m very happy mixing and making -- I’ve got mixes that last for 26 hours, and that's great to be able to do that and that is an experience too, but I can see the appeal of someone younger who's only experienced CD and electronic music going, "Wait a minute, what's that?

 

Oh, I like that scratching sound, I like that analog sound, the kind of warm --" Because digital kind of cold, and when it goes bad it's kind of very punchy, where as in analog technology, if it's slightly degraded or bad, it doesn’t spoil the whole experience. You still experience something, in fact it can sort of add to the experience.

 

It's a totally different kind of package for somebody, and it's almost like anything, wine tasting, clothes or whatever. Anybody of any age could go, "Hmm, let me try that, what's that all about?" And I think some people have, and they've gone, "Wow, this is a wonderful way to experience this album." Some of them they might be exploring --

 

Actually, one of my notes for this is we are kind of in this age of we've done so much in the 20 and the 21st century that we're retreading. If you think about it like, how many Batman franchises have there been now? I've lost track.

 

Bill Carey: Nostalgia.

 

Eric Carzon: Modern artists are going back and they are recreating kind of “classics,” so, experiencing a classic as it was intended in its original form is something you can do with vinyl, and I can see somebody from any age, but especially from the new age going, "I want to experience this album, this classic album that I keep hearing about. Frank Sinatra, Tony Benin, whatever.

 

I want to experience this as it was experienced by the people who created it at the time it was created, just to have that experience, and see what's it’s all about. And then I want to put a modern spin on it." And that sort of spiders into, "Oh, let me take Lady Gaga's album, she's doing a duet with Frank Sinatra or whatever, so let's have her --

 

Let's do it the modern technical way, so it can be marketed and sold, and blah-blah-blah, but let's see what it sounds like on vinyl too." The other thing about vinyl at least is you get this huge 12 inch package, you can do all sort of different things with the art work, it's different. The written words are different. If you have a booklet kind of thing in there is actually readable. You don’t need a magnifying glass.

 

Artistically it makes a huge difference. Some of the books we have in our collections sort of go into that, like, "Hey, here's the classic album covers, and here's the first album cover where all the people on it were naked, and that was like a big thing at the time, it made everybody crazy." So, there's all sort of special things you can do with art work that CDR work in.

 

Basically, it just let's you recognize it. "Oh, that’s CD, I kind of recognize that CD." But, you're not going to hang it on your wall, or--

 

David Payne: You don’t buy a CD because of the cover.

 

Eric Carzon: Right.

 

Bill Carey: That's why CDs lost out on a lot, because the surface area was small, it couldn’t grab your attention as easily, and that's nothing to consider as when you're going to buy a classic album in vinyl, it was originally recorded in analogue equipment. So this is going to sound different than even a modern album recreated by the same band.

 

If you back and listen to an original Beatle's album even hearing it on CD, or you heard parts that you've never heard before, because now you can hear all the bass notes, and everything perfectly clear. But if you replay it on original vinyl record that is exactly how it was intended to be heard, or how it was heard when it was first released, so there's value in that, just like you said.

 

That's part of an experience where you go through the vinyl record, and you want to put it on a turn table, and then run through a tube amplifier, I’ve an old Dynaco tube stereo, you then get a full analogue experience, because tubes tend to emphasize the even harmonics of the harmonic series, they sound sweeter than the cold harsh electronics of CDs and solid-state amplifiers.

 

Solid-state amps are easier, and less maintenance, it’s a lot less headache, but a tube amp, or whatever has a good sound quality of sound. The original Woodstock, all the sound system was run on tubes. And if you go listen to that movie or go see it that's what you are hearing. You're hearing Macintosh amplifiers which is the primary amp ever used in stereo systems, they use that for Woodstock in '69.

 

So, there's a lot to be said for that, resurgence of that technology because of the quality of sound you don’t get in modern technology.

 

David Payne: Interesting.

 

Eric Carzon: Yeah. It's almost like a luxury product, it's like you drink the $8 bottle of wine, here it is, with Mac and cheese, if you want to heighten the experience every once in a while, or once in a couple of months. You're like, "You know what, in Deloitte a bottle of wine is fine, but I want the $25 bottle of wine tonight. It's special night." Or "I'm feeling like I want to indulge."

 

Bill Carey: With a $75 bottle.

 

Eric Carzon: Yeah, so it's like an experience. I would say the other reason I think vinyl records and other retro track is coming back, but it's kind of initiating point to me about vinyl records, because as a library staff member it's also sort of the same thing with paper and books. It's aside from the experience being different we have sort of discovered a sort of dirty little secret of CDs.

 

It's now that CDs have been around for two decades or more we started to realize that they don’t hold up. Just like cassette tapes, and I love cassette tapes. But the unfortunate fact of cassette tapes is they have a life spam, and it's a limited one. And so CDs as well people have discovered like, "Oh, if I play this CD regularly it will die after 20 years. Like just die and -- once it's dead it's useless."

 

So, vinyl is a lot like paper, in that it can get useless if you don’t take care of it, or if you abuse it. But if you take care of it we could be playing that vinyl record 300 years from now, just like we can go into a special library and find the Magna Carta from 1,200 years ago, or whatever, and that has its value.

 

David Payne: Yeah. And even with the scratch or too you can still play a record, and in some way that’s the whole feel of the record, that scratch.

 

Bill Carey: It is true. And if you get a scratch on the top of a CD you can kill the whole CD.

 

Eric Carzon: Exactly.

 

Bill Carey: Exactly, it can't quite handle it.

 

Eric Carzon: One of the reasons they used a record for the Voyager probe, so the Voyager is out there, but after 40 years, and what does it have on it? It's got a copper record on it with a makeshift record player, because that is a durable--

Bill Carey: That's right. They did include a record player where they think they wouldn’t have to depend on the aliens to invent something to play it.

 

David Payne: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.

 

Febe Huezo: Looking for guitar lessons for your child? MCPL has you covered. With artists work you can learn to play a new instrument, take voice lessons or try something special like jazz piano lessons. Sign up today it's free with your library card. For more information about artist work check out the link on this episode show notes.

 

David Payne: Now back to our program.

 

Julie Dina: So here we are in 2018 talking about vinyl records, retro tech devices, and I can see the excitement between Eric and Bill. I can see the excitement in you guys. Is there any particular favorite device that actually made a comeback that you guys were like, "Oh my god, I’m so glad this is here."

 

Bill Carey: I’m actually shocked that vinyl records came back, because I thought it was going to be too expensive, too -- But it's actually a boon for the music industry, if you think about it. Vinyl records couldn't be copied easily, even though you could make tapes of them and cassettes, they didn’t quite sound the same.

 

And when CDs came out that was like the big loss for the record industry. They thought, "You will make all this money on CDs." They were cheaper to make, they could put them out, but the fact that it's digital and all of a sudden with the internet and people are having more powerful PCs you can download these digital files, all the music is available and can be copied and pirated that hurt the music industry.

 

The recording industry it's a cut through business but also it's kind of interesting. Seeing vinyl records come back, well that's one royalty the record company or the artist is sure to get because you are buying that record. Now, somebody can buy used album but then again it's degraded, somebody else hasn't taken care of it.

 

You want to buy the new record album to sound the best it's kind of interesting to see all that work. But, whether it's going to hang on or not I don't know. But, the record industry loves having vinyl coming back at least to a small degree.

 

Eric Carzon: Now, back to your question my couple of favorite retro texts is the human voice in my opinion is the retro tech I'm most excited about, I am so happy that acapella music has come back into vogue and made such a big splash with Pitch Perfect, and my kids love that movie.

 

Julie Dina: I love that movie.

 

Eric Carzon: I loved it in college, and I know it never really went away, but for a while it was like not popular. You had to be a nerd or geek or just like in a low level to be appreciated. So I’m glad it sort of made this resurgence of, "Hey, you don’t need all these high tech stuff to make music. You can have a bunch of people together, and they can make something that's really exciting."

 

That to me is an exciting retro tech, and I think acoustical instruments to me is retro tech, and there's a plethora of them, sort of much more popular, and much more used now than I think they were in let's say the '70s, and '80s. Ukulele for instance in particular was just sort of a little boutique instrument, then it sort of had some heyday in the 60s and 70s, went away for while, I think now it's coming back in a big fashion. I think that’s pretty--

 

David Payne: Quite a revival.

 

Bill Carey: Martin Guitar said it's their fourth ukulele revival actually. Ukulele first came out and strong in the early 1900s, in the '20s then they went away. In the 1920s and '30s you see ukulele parts in all the sheet music. And it resurged a little bit in the '50s it went away in the 60s, now it's coming back really strong

 

David Payne: Now it's coming back again.

 

Bill Carey: It's just amazing how things go around. But nothing is going to beat the human voice, you're right. That’s why this shows like The Voice, and when you hear a good singer, there's something compelling about that. If somebody sings like themselves in their own voice, and they are a good singer, well you've never heard that before, if you really think about it.

 

You've never heard that person sing ever before from anyone else, even though it may be similar it's not exactly them, and that’s still compelling.

 

David Payne: Well we've talked about things that have made a comeback. Let's turn the question on its head, and if I can ask you, can you think of examples of person, older technology of any kind that hasn’t made a comeback that you would like to see reappear. Let me start with you Bill.

 

Bill Carey: Well, that’s a tough one. I do like tube technology, tube circuitry, I think it's interesting, although it is expensive, it is still out there. I find it fun to work on, of course no cut music, legitimately going to make a tube radio. It costs so much, and you can have a better radio on your cell phone, or you get on a tube.

 

But the fact that you can manipulate the electronics and actually tune the actual sound of the instrument, or the radio, AM radio is not a good example, but for music instrument amplifiers the tubes make a real big difference, and that's why they do make boutique amplifiers for guitars that are two or three thousand dollars, even more, going up from there, depending on where your maker is.

 

That's kind of interesting, although I don’t see that’s coming as wide spread for everybody. It's kind of interesting. Again, Eric and I were talking about old day AT & T phones, the old bell system phones. And I still hear some from his father working on the industry. Those phones are made the last -- they build the last a couple of centuries, they'll never wear out.

 

I have a couple that still work. They are hooked up to my house. I’m an early adopter of FIOS, but my dial phones still works on the FIOS line. They give you a battery pack to make sure your old phone works, The phone company was amazing. They said, "This is the battery to operate the bells on your telephone." Because I told them, "I've got these dial phones., are they going to work?"

 

They said, "They sure will, unless you lose power." And sure enough they do. When you use it like -- I've got a neighbor who's 99 years old, he still calls me on the old dial phone. That’s the old house phone, he doesn’t know my cell number that well. That’s how he reach out. Of course all the rest of the calls are crank calls, but that's life in 2018, so, unfortunately.

 

That’s where I like the old phone. I'm thinking, it's neat, but it sure doesn’t have quite convenience of a cell phone, but it still it has heft, it has weight.

 

David Payne: It has the quality.

 

Bill Carey: Yeah, the quality and that weight, and the idea of you -- you hold that phone, and that’s also fun to freak out on nine year old neighborhood kids, and they want to call home, "Here, try this." "How do I work that?"

 

Eric Carzon: I'm totally with bill on tube technology. I describe it as the Patsy Cline sound. There is just sort of warmness to the early era that it is really a special sound, and I love technologies that will replicate that, and then I would love to do manual crank technology. A lot more of that so that when all the lights go out we'll be able to see something. And I was watching this Grade-B Sci-Fi/Horror Flick.

 

One of the interesting things about it, I don’t even remember its name. But one of the interesting things about it was, all the computers in the super high-tech space ship that flew from earth, to like Alpha Centauri, or someplace really far all had little cranks on them, because they anticipated like, "Oh my gosh, if all the power runs out in the space ship we need to be able to like fire up the computers so we can figure out what quadrants of the universe we're in.

 

Julie Dina: Isn't that great?

 

Eric Carzon: Yeah, So the dude benched out, and he cranks it up. And all the little lights on the computer come on and I'm like, "Oh my God, that's so awesome." I think that will be a really cool retro. We have those little prank powered radios, with like tiny little LED lights. It'd be fascinating if that technology made it just a little bit further. You could like bicycle up your whole house and run it for an hour or something.

 

Bill Carey: Going further back, I have an old Victor talking machine, a wind up record player from 1910. I inherited it from my great aunt, and it still works, and it's -- you literally crank it up and it plays the '78 album. And I have albums from Enrico Caruso, and all kinds of different artists, from the early parts of 20th century, but I always wonder how far that technology could have taken had they … it's totally mechanical.

 

There is nothing electronic on it, it's not operating any battery or charging. It is totally running on a main spring, and resonance going this system to produce the music. It's like a mica diaphragm, it works. It sounds great.

 

Julie Dina: So, while I have both of you here, and since you're the experts, I haven’t heard you mention the VCR, and I've been praying and hoping that that will come back. You want to know why?

 

Bill Carey: Why?

 

Julie Dina: I have tones of VHS tapes that I've kept hoping that this day would come. So please, tell me, do you know, do you have any idea if the VCR will be making a comeback, at least for my sake?

 

David Payne: For me as well. Tell me before I start converting all my VRSs to DVDs too.

 

Julie Dina: And I think for Mark, our producer too.

 

Bill Carey: All I would say is scour the yard sales, buy free used ones because I knew a guy who could fix them, but I don’t anybody now who can really get into them. They're quite complex inside, but you can have your VCR, your tapes converted to digital visual stuff if you have it linked up to the right system, it's just the quality is not going upward what you're going to see on a modern digital camera, because it was done on VHS.

 

It's not that the old line system. But you can still play the tapes. I have a bunch of tapes of my children being on VHS, and the same situation. When the player dies, there it goes. Isn’t that the problem with all these archival mediums? If you don’t have the device to play it, it is like five and quarter floppy disk.

 

Some law firms had all their stuff on five and quarter disk, and I remember a guy who got a job converting all their files, and he was the only guy in this company you could find that had a five and a quarter disk drive, he charged him $500 for the disk drive, because it was unavailable anywhere else, they needed it to hook up to a computer to convert all their files over to modern technology.

 

VHS is kind of the same thing. Whether that’s -- or Sony Betamax. Betamax is actually a better system, but they lost out in the market place because they were too proprietary, they didn’t share it. VHS was cheaper, and beat them down in popularity. Because they were less expensive, just like Windows and Macintosh, same thing.

 

Eric Carzon: I don’t think video tape will same comeback that vinyl has, because there's nothing special about the video tape medium. It's not -- All that stuff that we described about the experience of a vinyl record, I don’t think you can say that for tape, it's just a medium, and the disk medium is superior, and even the disk medium is going to be overtaken by digital just as soon as possible, It's already starting to happen.

 

I think you should convert it as soon as possible, like if it's of value to you like a personal thing like a wedding or whatever. You need to get that converted as soon as possible. There's plenty of stores now that we'll do it. You can find them on Rockville Pike, and Damascus, and other places, they exist if you Google video editing, or whatever, you'll find it.

 

You can probably find it on the internet as well, but there're services that will take your old 16 millimeter, or your VHS, or whatever, and now converted it down to digital, that's expensive. You probably only want to do it for something that has a personal meaning. If you just want your copy of ET to live, just buy--

 

Bill Carey: Of course. [inaudible] [0:30:46] like that, but-

 

Eric Carzon: Finding a library or whatever. We have of the DVDs in the library, but I would definitely convert your stuff. And you can do it yourself too. There's still stuff on Amazon, the best buy where you buy the little plugs and software, and you can just download from whatever device you have, whatever player, and basically it'll -- you can buy whatever converter to take output of that, plug it into your USB drive, download it on to some little piece of software.

 

And basically once you get it in the digital format then you're able to keep archiving it or copying it or switching it from format to format. Get it into digital format before it's too late.

 

Bill Carey: Somebody on YouTube can show you how to do it too, I'm sure.

 

Julie Dina: So, what you're both trying to tell me is no revival there?

 

Bill Carey: Not that I can see happening, but I was shocked about vinyl records, so what do I know.

 

David Payne: And tape is a medium that will die. I converted my audio tapes too late, so some of my conversions are very wobbly, because metallic tape does not last, it will die. Even if you don’t play it it will die. After 20 or so years the magnetic properties of the tapes start to wear away, and you lose it. So, you definitely want to convert it if you care about it, because otherwise it will be gone.

 

Bill Carey: VHS tapes do have very good audio though, because it's an equivalent of like 30 inches per second. I compare it to regular wheel to wheel tape recorder, you'll get much better fidelity. If you had a concert or something on VHS, even though the image may not be that great, the audio should be very good, and a lot of them are recorded in stereo.

 

So, depending on the quality of the recording, the audio can last and be very impressive when you transfer, so that’s one thing to think about.

 

Julie Dina: That’s good to know. Thanks guys.

 

Eric Carzon: One more thing about that. The poor man's way to do it, like if you don’t want to bother with all that play it in whatever medium you have. So if you still have the working VCR player...

 

Bill Carey: And a TV that can play it.

 

Eric Carzon: Plug it into VCR, take your cell phone, you record it with video, and at least you'll have it. If nothing else maybe do that with your wedding video before you send it off to the photo editor, just in case they stick it in the machine and it gets eaten.

 

Bill Carey: Right, Record it. It's okay if it's an old CRT television that can play that VHS tape in the right format, because a new TV you're going to see the quality difference pretty -- If you can't even hook it up that’s one thing. I have new television I couldn’t connect any of my old VHS players to it, because the plugs we're different, they're all HTMI now, that I don’t have the old RCA connectors.

 

You might need an older television to go along with your VHS player, if you're going to play those tapes just seeing--

 

Eric Carzon: That’s what make adaptors for. You might have to plug like 15 cables to [inaudible] [0:33:27] each other

 

Julie Dina: Just to get it to work.

 

Eric Carzon: You can get it from those RCA type video outputs, to HDMI, it's possible. But you might need like two or three little things in between.

 

Bill Carey: I don’t know if I trust that, half way through they got them unplugged.

 

David Payne: Well, now that we're feeling totally nostalgic we typically close each episode by asking the guests what you're reading now. So--

 

Julie Dina: Or in their case what they're listening to.

 

David Payne: What they're listening to, yeah. So, let's start with Eric.

 

Eric Carzon: All right, a couple of things that I'm reading now. One is this book I got that the system doesn't quite own yet, but we're going to order it. It's called, Vinyl the Art of Making Records, by Mike Evans. And it's a great little piece because it talks about the albums, and it also talks about how they're made. It's got a lot of cool pictures about showing like how a vinyl record is pressed.

 

I'm also still reading through John Corbett's Vinyl Freak. I've read like about a third of it, and that's a pretty book, and the system owns that one.

 

David Payne: Bill?

 

Bill Carey: I'm not reading tentacle right now, I'm reading a book on Roosevelt's, from the PBS special. I found it in the book sale, and Cars, Cars, Cars. I don’t remember the author, but the history of automobiles from -- it was written in 1967, it's really interesting because it's 50 years ago, of the earlier details was quite much more extensive than anything found today. Because they really cover -- This guy covers the '18s and '20s like no other book I've ever seen, so it's really interesting that way.

 

David Payne: Great. Thank you both very much.

 

Eric Carzon: Thank you.

 

Bill Carey: Great.

 

Julie Dina: Once again I'd like to thank Bill and Eric for joining us today. Let's keep the conversation going by following us on Twetter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pintrest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast on the 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.

 

David Payne: Are you ready okay so we brought a vinyl record player with us, courtesy of friends of the library and my George Benson, Give Me the Night Album will give you a little taste of it, from the real vinyl.

 

[Music] [0:35:47]

 

[0:36:21] [Audio Ends]

Mar 27, 2018

Episode Summary: Retro tech enthusiasts Bill Carey and Eric Carzon talk about the renewed interest in vinyl records and other older technology, the April 21 Vinyl Day at Silver Spring Library, and why the VCR will not be making a comeback. 

Retro tech collection including a vinyl record and player, an old fashioned phone, and a thumb piano.

Our guests brought along some retro tech to show the hosts during the episode. 

Recording Date: March 7, 2018

Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne

Guests: Information Technology Specialist Bill Carey and Twinbrook Branch Manager Eric Carzon.

Featured MCPL Resource: With ArtistWorks, you can enjoy unlimited access to beginning through advanced video lessons for many musical instruments and styles, including piano, bluegrass, guitar, and hip-hop. Also includes voice lessons. 

What Our Guests Are Reading

Bill Carey: The Roosevelts: an Intimate History by Geoffrey Ward and Cars, Cars, Cars, Cars by S.C.H. Davis

Eric Carzon: Vinyl: the Art of Making Records by Mike Evans and Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium by John Corbett.

Albums and Artists Mentioned During this Episode: Check Freegal for downloadable songs from these albums and artists. 

Tony Bennett

George Benson

Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd

Jesus Christ Superstar (album) - MPCL owns the movie version

Lady Gaga

Gordon Lightfoot

Pitch Perfect 

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles

Frank Sinatra

What's Going On by Marvin Gaye - MPCL has this album on CD.

Woodstock (DVD)

Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:

National Record Store Day (April 21): Inaugurated in 2007 by indepdendent record store owners and employees, this commemorative day is meant to celebrate the culture surrounding independent record stores. 

Vinyl Day: Just for the Record: Join John Corbett, author of Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium, at this retro event celebrating vinyl records. Corbett will be one of several speakers discussing political and historical aspects of the vinyl record industry. Silver Spring Library, 4/21, 11a-4p. This event is hosted in partnership with MCPL, Open Sky Jazz, Friends of the Library, Montgomery County, Friends of the Library, Silver Spring Chapter, and Levine Music

Voyager Space Probe: Both the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes carry a 12 inch gold-plated copper record containing sounds and images representing life and culture on Earth. 

Read the transcript

Mar 14, 2018

Listen to the audio

Lauren Martino: Welcome to Library Matters. This is your host Lauren Martino. And I'm here with my co-host.

 Julie Dina: Julie Dina.

Lauren Martino: And today we are talking about a 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, this is a really exciting new program that we're doing here at MCPL. I'm here with Christine Freeman, who is our Early Literacy and Children's Services manager and also manages the Noyes Library for Young Children. 

Hello, Christine.

Christine Freeman: Hey Lauren.

Lauren Martino: And we also have Olivia Darrell, who is our selector for children's fiction.

Glad to have you Olivia.

Olivia Darrell: Thanks Lauren.

Lauren Martino: So tell us a little bit, Christine, about how you got interested in early literacy and children's fiction?

Christine Freeman: Okay. Well, originally when I started as a librarian I was an adult reference librarian, which was interesting. But I realized that children are a lot more fun than adults.

Lauren Martino: I'm right there with you. I got you on that.

Christine Freeman: And once I started doing story times I was hooked, and there was no going back. So I'm a children's person from here forward.

Lauren Martino: You're a children's convert.

Christine Freeman: Yes, a children's convert.

Lauren Martino: Can you tell us a little bit about this new program, what's 1000 Books Before Kindergarten all about?

Christine Freeman: So 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a nationwide program. The sole purpose of the program is to promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers, and to encourage parent and child bonding through reading. And that's what the library is all about. We want to create family engagement opportunities for parents, and that's what this program will do.

Julie Dina: Olivia, can you tell us exactly when the kickoff is for this program?

Olivia Darrell: Sure. Families can begin signing up for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten at any of our MCPL branches on Saturday, March 24th.

Lauren Martino: So, Olivia, I hear you get to buy children's books all day. That sounds like an amazing job. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Olivia Darrell: It is an amazing job. I started out as a children's librarian in the branches which I loved. And I got to do story time. But now I get to sit in an office and buy books for kids. And I get to read reviews and find the best ones and make sure that we're spending the county's money responsibly.

Lauren Martino: So you get to immerse yourself in like Horn Book all day and …

Olivia Darrell: Yeah, Horn Books, School Library Journal, all of those.

Lauren Martino: Do you have any good children's book podcasts to recommend? Do you listen to any of those or is that not your thing?

Olivia Darrell: I don't. I read a lot of the blogs, but I don't get into many of the - I do listen to podcasts but not about children's literature.

Julie Dina: Christine, I really like the sound of this whole program that we're all talking about. And it really is an innovative way to get children geared toward reading before they actually begin kindergarten. Could you tell us whose idea this was or who actually started it?

Christine Freeman: So this program is a nationwide program. It was originally started in Las Vegas, Nevada through a private charitable donation. It currently has other sponsors. Basically, like I said, their whole goal is just to get parents and kids reading. And across the country people do various formats for the program. Some use logs, some use online programs to log, so it's different across the country.

Lauren Martino: Who can participate in this program? I've got a four-year-old, and you were talking about a 1,000 books. And she's four. Is this like really something you have to start at age - at birth or can any kid participate?

Olivia Darrell: Any child can participate starting at birth, like you said, but certainly your four-year-old can participate as well. Anyone who hasn't yet begun kindergarten can participate in this program.

Christine Freeman: And we have some really easy ways to help your child complete. We have something called Early Literacy Moments. And what that means is any time you have an early literacy moment, such as you're singing the ABCs, or you're looking at shapes when you're taking a walk or if you are singing a song or fingerplay, each one of those counts as a book. So those add up really quickly if you think about one day spent with your child, those early literacy moments really add up and that will help you complete summer reading a 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten.

Julie Dina: Well, I'm pretty sure a lot of parents want to know what options do they actually have for recording their children's progress. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Christine Freeman: It's going to be really easy. All of our branches will be ready and waiting when parents want to go to sign up their children. You can go to any information desk and our staff will be happy and excited to sign your children up using Beanstack, and they will give them a paper log. The paper log is so simple, every time a child has a book read to them they can color in a little shell, which you know they're going to love. When they finish coloring a hundred shells they take it back to the library and they get something fun.

Julie Dina: Christine, you just mentioned Beanstack, can you, especially for those who are not aware of what that is, can you tell us exactly what that means?

Christine Freeman: Sure, Julie. Beanstack is an online portal. It is super easy to use. You can create an account and then sign up for all of our reading programs. If you are a parent it's really easy because you can make one user account and then have all your readers on your account, so that means only one login and one password. And if you need help signing up for an account you can go to any of our information staff and they'll be happy to assist you with that. The best thing about Beanstack is it gives you personalized reading lists and suggestions for books, it is fantastic. They will send you emails of suggestions, and if you choose you can go to the library and ask the librarian to get them for you.

Lauren Martino: You can also do the reading challenge that way, can't you, if you're an adult and feel so inclined?

Christine Freeman: Yes, any of our reading programs that we have, which include summer reading for little ones, elementary and teens, and then a reading challenge for adults as well, and a thousand books.

Lauren Martino: So, I hear you can win prizes doing this for your children. How does that work?

Olivia Darrell: Of course we have prizes. Every time you read a hundred books and bring in your finished log the child will get a sticker, and then after reading 500 books they'll get a magnet frame. And after completing a thousand they'll get a new backpack to load up with even more books. And just imagine how impressed your child's kindergarten teacher will be when they can tell them that they have already read 1,000 books.

Christine Freeman: And what you want to say is this is a great opportunity to build self-esteem with your children. Every time they complete a log and you celebrate that that encourages them to keep on reading. And that's how we're going to build lifelong reading for our young children. 

Lauren Martino: And the librarians will be celebrating that too, right?

Christine Freeman: The librarians will be celebrating that too. I can tell you I think staff will be really excited when the kids come in with their smiling faces and their logs all filled out, and they will be excited and happy to celebrate with them.

Lauren Martino: We are all about celebrating their reading.

Julie Dina: I would like to go back to Beanstack though. So for parents who say, "I signed up for a summer read and learn last summer, do I have to create another account in Beanstack?" What exactly do we tell them?

Olivia Darrell: No, they do not have to create another account. They just simply sign-in to their established account with Beanstack, click on Register for this Program under 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, and they will earn their first badge and get started reading.

Lauren Martino: So what if they've forgotten their password?

Christine Freeman: If they've forgotten their password they can go to the information desk and ask any of our staff and they will be happy to assist them.

Julie Dina: That's really great. Because it seems like it always boils down to going to our friendly librarians at the desk.

Olivia Darrell: Absolutely.

Christine Freeman: And it's going to be easy, it's going to be fun. The kids are going to love it. And don't forget that children, of course they want you to read the book over and over and over. And every time you read it, it counts. So if you ready that same book 20 times, that's 20 shells your child gets to color in.

Lauren Martino: So if I read - okay, we have this big huge, like little golden collection of like every Star Wars enshrined in picture book - in a little golden picture book. So every time I read an episode does it count or do I have to read the entire, like, seven-book omnibus?

Christine Freeman: I think we're going to leave that up to the parents to decide. I think that's flexible. And if they're reading to their children that's what we're looking for.

Lauren Martino: Okay, so flexible and fun, and whatever you want to make of it.

Christine Freeman: Uh-huh.

Julie Dina: So we're hearing so much about reading a 1000 books before kindergarten. What exactly is this program supposed to accomplish?

Christine Freeman: We know that children who are read to on a regular basis have larger vocabularies and it makes them more ready for kindergarten, right. They learn patience, they sit while they're read to. And also, like I said earlier, it's just a form of family engagement that we really want to encourage.

Lauren Martino: So all of this seems geared around introducing five-year-olds and younger to reading. Can you tell us a little bit about why it's so important to read to five-year-olds and younger? I mean, when exactly do you start reading to children?

Olivia Darrell: The day they're born you can start reading to them. There are so many reasons that it's important to be reading to young children. We want to associate reading with positive experiences. They will be able to develop language and literacy skills. They'll be able to recognize reading rules and patterns such as text going from left to right and top to bottom. And ultimately, we want kids to be prepared to learn to read when they enter kindergarten, which will lead to greater success in school.

Christine Freeman: And we know that babies love to hear the sound of their parents or caregiver's voice. So every time they're read to it's comforting to them. And as they grow older they will associate words with pictures and sounds, and that's how we create readers.

Olivia Darrell: Christine mentioned vocabulary. When a child is learning to read once they're in elementary school they can't read a word unless they've heard a word before. So, even those picture books that have really big vocabulary words are great for young children because we want them to be exposed to as many words as possible.

Christine Freeman: And you get words in picture books that you don't get, like, walking on the street.

Olivia Darrell: Absolutely, yes.

Lauren Martino: They do.

Christine Freeman: This morning I did story time and we had trestles.

Lauren Martino: Trestles? Oh, let me guess, Freight Train.

Olivia Darrell: Yes.

Christine Freeman: I told them that's our vocabulary word for the day, and we defined what a trestle was.

Julie Dina: Well, we do know what the word for this show is, a 1000. And I can tell you, especially since I'm with the outreach department, we're all excited. We've been promoting this program everywhere we go. However, I do get a lot of people asking me questions such as, "A 1000 books. How am I supposed to break this down day by day? Could you suggest tips and tricks on how I can make this journey fun and exciting for the kids?" And the parent says - well, so what can you guys tell us?

Olivia Darrell: Well, I will agree with you that when I first heard that number 1,000, I thought it sounded like a lot. But if you break it down, like you said, it becomes less intimidating. If you read just one book a day to your child you'll be done in less than three years. Reading two books a day will get you there in a little over a year. And if you've got a four-year-old, like Lauren, she can read three books a day to her daughter and she'll be done in less than one year. As for tips, first make sure the books that you're reading to your child are books that are fun for them on topics that interest them. Let them pick out the books. Read books in other languages if you can do so, and let them touch the books and help turn the pages. Also remember that kids do what they see us doing, so make sure that they see you reading for pleasure as well.

Lauren Martino: I like that one.

Christine Freeman: And don't forget, if you really want to accelerate your logging you can go to any of our branches, we have story times, and our story times, not only are they reading books, but they're doing early literacy moments. They're singing; they're doing finger plays. And every time they do one of those it counts. So your librarians will be telling you at each story time if they've completed 10 books or 15 books because they're counting early literacy moments as well.

Lauren Martino: So do you have any good recommendations for books for small children? Especially when you're going out a lot of times it's not always easy to find picture books that include various cultures, various people with different abilities. Do you have any favorites that you'd like to talk to us about?

Christine Freeman: Yeah, there are so many to choose from. And I have to give Olivia credit here; she finds some fabulous books for us. Some of my favorites recently are Thunder Boy Jr.; I have a junior in my house.

Lauren Martino: Yay!

Christine Freeman: So, I liked that he didn't want that name but he loved that name at the end. I Got the Rhythm, and I love that one because it has fabulous pictures and it has movement.

Olivia Darrell: Yes.

Christine Freeman: I like a lot of movement when I'm doing picture books with children. And Families, Families, Families! That one is so important because families can be any variation. And I love how that shows a variety of families.

Olivia Darrell: I love the ones that Christine suggested. And being the buyer of the picture books I came prepared with a long list, so here we go. The first one that I really love is Ada Twist, Scientist because it …

Lauren Martino: Yay!

Olivia Darrell: Includes not only diversity, inclusiveness, but also STEM, which is a big thing that we're pushing now as well.

Julie Dina: Yeah.

Lauren Martino: And Stinky Socks.

Olivia Darrell: Yes, of course. You can't go wrong there. Fairly new one to branches is Jabari Jumps, which is a really fun story of a boy who goes to the local pool and has decided that he's going to be brave and jump off the diving board, and then he's not so sure. So you have to read it to find out what happens at the end. A Hat for Mrs. Goldman is nice because it's not only got different cultures but it also has - it's intergenerational. So we have a young girl and her neighbor who is much older. And it's about their friendship. Another fun one is The Quickest Kid in Clarksville. If you've got a child who might be four or five, almost ready for kindergarten, you want to get them started with beginning readers, Get a Hit, Mo! and the other Mo titles by Adler are fun. We have some board books from DK that include Braille. Another board book is My Heart Fills With Happiness, which includes American Indians.

Lauren Martino: Oh yes.

Olivia Darrell: Malaika's Costume has a character from the Caribbean. And her mom immigrates to Canada, and so we see that experience of how it's hard to be away from mom. Looking for Bongo, by Velasquez is a fun one. It's an Afro-Latino character who's looking for his stuffed toy.

Christine Freeman: I really liked that one. It has nice pictures too.

Olivia Darrell: It does. We Sang You Home is another board book. In Plain Sight is by Jackson, but it's by …

Lauren Martino: Oh, I love that one.

Olivia Darrell: The illustrations by Jerry Pinkney, you can't go wrong with him.

Lauren Martino: That's one my child required numerous times.

Olivia Darrell: Yeah.

Lauren Martino: We've read that a lot of times.

Olivia Darrell: Yes. Again, intergenerational and your - like the seek-and-find element is fun.

Lauren Martino: It's not easy.

Olivia Darrell: Yeah, it's not.

Lauren Martino: It's like you look at those it's like you are going to need some grownup help to find.

Olivia Darrell: Right, yes.

Lauren Martino: Gosh, and it's so - like the pictures. Like this is a - just the details that were painted …

Olivia Darrell: Yeah, lots of detail.

Lauren Martino: It's like this is a real family that you took and just plucked out of reality. And you've got all the richness of their life.

Olivia Darrell: Absolutely.

Lauren Martino: Sorry, anyway.

Olivia Darrell: That's okay, I know.

Lauren Martino: I love that book.

Olivia Darrell: I'm glad.

Julie Dina: We believe you.

Olivia Darrell: I also really like Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion, which is a Little Red Riding Hood story set in Africa. Marta! Big & Small, which is an opposites book. And First Snow, by Park, which is about a little Korean girl. And finally the Lola character and her brother Leo by McQuinn, one of the recent ones is Lola Plants a Garden, those are really nice as well.

Lauren Martino: taking over my library level display right now.

Olivia Darrell: Really wonderful.

Lauren Martino: It's like you go Lola loves baby time, Lola loves the library.

Olivia Darrell: Yes.

Lauren Martino: Lola - yeah, there's just so many library-themed. I mean they're all wonderful.

Olivia Darrell: They are, yeah. And of course ask your librarian because they have favorites too, and they'll be able to suggest even more.

Lauren Martino: And now a brief message about MCPL's services and resources.

Febe Huezo: Looking for an adventure for your preschooler or kindergartner? They can explore a world of animals, outer space, music, and more while learning their ABCs and 123s. All this is possible with our online resource, BookFlix. BookFlix is filled with videos of classic stories like Where the Wild Things Are, and Giggle, Giggle, Quack. Each video story includes read-along captions and is paired with a related nonfiction book. For more information about BookFlix check out the link in this episode's show notes.]

Lauren Martino: Now, back to our program.

Lauren Martino: So, say I'm having a really super busy day and there is no time to read to my child. We are just not going to have five minutes at home. Do you have any tips for getting these early literacy moments, like in the line for the laundromat or in the car or just doing these everyday things that you have to do anyway just so that you can make progress on these horrible busy days.

Olivia Darrell: Sure. Yeah, when you're in the car you can be pointing out letters that you see on the signs. You can be singing the Wheels On The Bus, when they're on the changing table you can be doing This Little Piggy, or singing other songs with them. There are lots of ways. I'm sure Christine can give you even more.

Christine Freeman: Yeah, I grew up with a mom who always sang in the car. And those songs that she sang to me in the car I now do at story time.

Lauren Martino: Yay!

Christine Freeman: Yeah, so those are ones you remember, right. And I think other things, if you're busy cooking pull out pots and pans, have your kids banging on them and sing along with them; make it fun. Those are early literacy moments right there. They're going to be musically inclined when they grow up. If you're out taking a walk look out - point out signs, you can point out shapes, you can point out colors, you can count anything that helps them learn is considered early literacy moment.

Lauren Martino: It's amazing how entertaining street signs can be in the right circumstances.

Olivia Darrell: Yeah, colors, shapes, letters, there are so many things.

Christine Freeman: And kids are like little sponges, you know. I mean, you can talk to them. And I know my grandson; whenever I talk to him he has like five questions for everything I say. So you say something and he's like, "Why? How? When?" And that's how they learn - that's how children learn is that by - they ask you questions and you can point things out and explain to them what you're talking about.

Lauren Martino: So you just be prepared for every question to lead to five more.

Christine Freeman: Yes.

Olivia Darrell: And the more you talk to them the better. The more - again, the more they hear it just helps them with that eventual being able to learn to read.

Christine Freeman: And that really goes back to Every Child Ready to Read, which is what we base our story times on. I'm reading, talking, playing, writing, singing; that is how children learn. And that's how we want children to learn, by interacting and being involved.

Julie Dina: How can MCPL's resources help parents meet the 1,000 book challenge?

Christine Freeman: So we have books in various formats. We have print books, lots as you know, in our libraries.

Julia Dina: Lots and lots.

Christine Freeman: But we also have eBooks. We have something called BookFlix and something called TumbleBooks, and they're fabulous. You can have your kids look at them on the iPad and you can interact with them. They have words to scroll on the bottom. Some of them are interactive and they have little games you can play afterwards. And some of them are animated, like there's a George one that is animated, it's lots of fun. My grandson loves that, and he will like watch it and read it over and over and over again. Really though, I think our best resource are our librarians. You can go to our information desks, our librarians, that's what we do. We're happy to help you. We love to tell you our favorite books, walk you through the shelves, and help you find books that you can take home. And remember, the more books you take home, you can take out a hundred books, so don't hesitate.

Lauren Martino: And you know there's always going to be the couple that gets rejected so you may as well.

Christine Freeman: Exactly. And that's what I tell people too; take more because you can always set that one aside if you don't like it. And even little kids, they may not have a book that they like, that's fine. Set it aside, pick out the one they do like and read it over and over and over again.

Lauren Martino: You brought up something interesting. And we actually have been talking about this at home a lot. So you bring up electronic resources to help with early literacy. Do you think any, like, educational software or app or anything would count as a moment, or do you think there's special criteria, like what makes TumbleBooks a literacy moment versus we're sitting them in front of the TV?

Christine Freeman: Well, TumbleBooks is actually a book, it's an electronic book. So it's more of a book in the early literacy moment. But I think how to engage with children with screen time is we just want to be interactive with them, rather than give a child a device and set them aside, we want to have them on our laps and be reading it with them, just as we would with the book.

Lauren Martino: So really it's like the parent interaction that makes it a moment more than -

Christine Freeman: I think so. I mean, if you're looking at - like our AWE tablet, say, in our branches and you want to check out one of our AWE tablets and you're standing there playing games with your child, I think that's an early literacy moment, you're learning. They're learning about ABCs or maybe they're learning about colors and shapes. And those count as well.

Lauren Martino: But if you sent them over in the corner with Candy Crush by themselves.

Christine Freeman: Yeah, that's a little different. Yeah, any 

Olivia Darrell: We are flexible, but that would likely cross the line.

Christine Freeman: And any screen time you want to use it wisely.

Lauren Martino: Uh-huh. Keep it honest folks, keep it honest.

Julie Dina: So for parents who say how do I get my child started with the program, what is your suggestion?

Olivia Darrell: Just bring your child to any MCPL library branch and talk to one of the staff members at our information desk. They'll be able to get you signed up on Beanstack and give you your first reading log. Then check out books and read, read, read.

Christine Freeman: And it's really cute how it's themed. It has this ocean theme that I'm super excited about that our wonderful designer came up with. And so all the stickers they receive are going to have like the number of books they finished with a little ocean critter, and their backpack and their little frame is going to be ocean-themed as well, super cute.

Olivia Darrell: And we're trying to figure out if we could incorporate like penguins into our little I read a 100 books thing for Silver Spring. They're ocean creatures.

Christine Freeman: It looked like little wood - like on a wood stick, and they can have that be like a selfie friend.

Lauren Martino: There you go, "Selfie friend.” Penguin selfie friend, I like it. You probably have a stuffed animal you can repurpose for that. Yeah, if you're not aware, Penguins are the unofficial mascot of Silver Spring so if you come to the Silver Spring library there are many, many penguins, which are ocean creatures. I really like the idea of - the coloring I think is going to be a lot of fun, like those little shells.

Christine Freeman: I think so too. And we should mention that parents who want to keep track of the books, they are welcome to use Beanstack to log every single title if they choose to do that. But if they don't want to log the books they can simply give the child a coloring form that their child can color in the shells and that's good enough too.

Lauren Martino: And there are some new ways to log on Beanstack now, aren't there?

Olivia Darrell: There are. So you can batch log. So if you don't have time every night to check in and say we read five books, we read one book, we did two moments, you can say, "Okay, well this week we did 10." And you can batch all 10 at once, all the way up to a hundred.

Christine Freeman: And if you need any assistance doing that don't forget you can always ask our librarians to help you batch log in your books.

Julie Dina: Most important thing it sounds like is whenever you're not sure, go to our librarians who are always ready to help.

Olivia Darrell: Yes. Some people think that librarians know everything. While I wish that were true, we don't know everything but we can find out almost anything for you.

Lauren Martino: So it looks like you're really trying to get beyond the library walls with this?

Christine Freeman: For sure. Because it's a program you really can do from home. You can read any books; they don't have to be library books. If you have a library in your house those books count. If you borrow books from another library, those books count. So any books that you're reading count, online, in print.

Olivia Darrell: Yeah. You're at the doctor's office waiting room and they have a book; that counts. And Julie, as you know, as an outreach staff member, that we're always trying to get new people coming through the door. So we're hoping to reach out to people who aren't already in our branches.

Julie Dina: You can count on me. We'll reach out and touch someone.

Christine Freeman: And it's not just books that parents read, it's the books than anybody reads. If they're with grandma and grandpa, if they're with their older sister or brother; if they're reading to them all those books count as well.

Lauren Martino: I think it's really important to get to people who aren't already going to the library.

Olivia Darrell: Very important, yeah.

Lauren Martino: Which is why, Julie, we are counting on you.

Julie Dina: Another episode.

Christine Freeman: It's an amazing resource that not all places have, free libraries.

Lauren Martino: An outreach department or free libraries?

Christine Freeman: Free libraries. And an outreach department.

Julie Dina: Good one, Christine.

Olivia Darrell: Which they're great too. They're great too.

Lauren Martino: So we love to ask our guests what are you reading right now that you are excited about, Olivia?

Olivia Darrell: So, believe it not, even though I buy lots of books, I don't have a lot of time to read lots of books. But I do a lot of listening. So I listen to podcasts. And my favorite one right now, besides of course Library Matters, is This American Life. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks. I'm in-between right now, but the one that I just finished is called No One Is Coming to Save Us.

Lauren Martino: Oh gosh, it's sounds cheerful.

Olivia Darrell: It's a little more cheerful than it sounds, but it's not a kid-friendly book by any means. One that I would recommend is The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell. He reads it, and I always kind of like when the author reads their own book, and anything by Jason Reynolds.

Lauren Martino: Oh my Gosh, yes, can't go wrong.

Olivia Darrell: Can't go wrong.

Lauren Martino: And Christine, do you have anything that you'd like to talk to us about? You're laughing.

Christine Freeman: Okay, so I have to admit that in preparation for my role as a teen services person I read a lot of YA fiction. And I just finished the entire Selection series by Kiera Cass. So they're all about the princess and finding her prince.

Lauren Martino: They're not all about that. I've read these too.

Christine Freeman: They're fun. They're lighthearted easy reads for a rainy day on the weekend. I'm also in the middle of another book called Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes, it's a little darker, also a YA book that I'd recommend.

Julie Dina: Well, thank you so very much Olivia and Christine for coming on the program today.

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 podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcasts, we would love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.

Mar 13, 2018

Episode Summary: Children's librarians Olivia Darrell and Christine Freeman talk about MCPL's upcoming 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program. It's a fun way to help prepare your child for kindergarten and beyond, all while fostering a love of reading. Registration for this program begins Saturday, March 24, 2018. 

Recording Date: February 7, 2018

Hosts: Julia Dina and Lauren Martino

Guests: Olivia Darrell and Christine Freeman. Olivia Darrell is a librarian in our Collection Management department who selects the children's fiction for MCPL. Christine Freeman is our Early Literacy and Children's Services Manager. She also manages the Noyes Library for Young Children

Featured MCPL Resource: Bookflix, read along with classic video storybooks on this learn-to-read site, which also includes related nonfiction e-books. 

What Our Guests Are Reading Or Listening to:

Olivia Darrell: This American Life, an NPR show featuring spoken essays, memoirs, and other non-fiction narratives organized around a theme. No One is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts, and The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by, well, W. Kamau Bell. 

Christine Freeman: The Selection series by Kiera Cass and Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes.

Books and Other Media Mentioned During this Episode

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty

Bark George by Jules Feiffer

Families, Families, Families by Suzanne Lang

First Snow by Bomi Park

Get a Hit Mo by David A. Adler

A Hat for Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards

Horn Book: A magazine filled with book reviews and articles of interest to children's librarians. It is used by librarians to select books and other material. 

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson

Jarabi Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez

Malika's Costume by Nadia L Horn

Marta Big & Small by Jen Arena

My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith

Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller

Star Wars Little Golden Book Collection 

School Library Journal: A magazine filled with book reviews and articles of interest to school librarians and children's librarians. It is used by librarians to select books and other material, as well as keep up with developments in the field of children's librarianship. 

Thunder Boy Jr by Sherman Alexie

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp

MCPL Resources Mentioned During this Episode:

Beanstack: A fun site for logging books and more. MCPL uses Beanstack for many programs, including 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, our Reading Challenge, and our summer read and learn programs. 

BookFlix: Read along with classic video storybooks on this learn-to-read site, which also includes related nonfiction e-books.

MCPL's 3rd Annual Reading Challenge

Picture books that include braille

TumbleBooks: An online collection of animated, talking picture books. Includes story books, chapter books, nonfiction, videos, and more. Includes books in French and Spanish. 

Read the transcript

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