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.
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
What Our Guests Are Reading:
Mary Ellen Icaza: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
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.
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).
Other Items of Interest:
Program Suggestion Form: Interested in doing a program for MCPL? Please complete this form with details of your suggested program.
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.
[0:36:21] [Audio Ends]
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.
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:
Albums and Artists Mentioned During this Episode: Check Freegal for downloadable songs from these albums and artists.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
TumbleBooks: An online collection of animated, talking picture books. Includes story books, chapter books, nonfiction, videos, and more. Includes books in French and Spanish.
David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.
Julie Dina: And I'm Julie Dina.
David Payne: And today it's movie night. Get your popcorn ready. We are going to the movies. It's that time of year for the Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars. So what better to talk about movies in the company of MCPL’s great movie buffs, Fred Akuffo from the circulation department at Long Branch. Welcome, Fred.
Fred Akuffo: Thank you.
David Payne: And David Watts from the circulation department at Silver Spring library. Welcome, David.
David Watts: Good to be here.
David Payne: I should actually say welcome back because listeners may remember David as a host on Library Matters last year.
David Watts: It’s good to be back.
David Payne: And as I mentioned Fred and David are two of our greatest movie buffs in the library system, so we look forward to hearing from you about the movies today on what is a very gray February Wednesday just a right day for watching movies.
David Watts: Let’s light this thing up.
David Payne: That's right. So let’s start with a bit about yourselves. Fred, may if I can turn to you tell us about yourself and your passion for movies.
Fred Akuffo: Okay, well I'm Fred Akuffo. I work at the Long Branch library. I’ve been an extreme movie fan for all my life. I like watching movies that a lot of people don't like watching those are my favorite kind. I like movies off the beaten path like a lot of my friends don't watch cowboy movies anymore, but those are my favorites. I like movies where the director makes the most out of a low budget. Those are my kind of movies.
So B-Movies are very fun to me to see what they can do with the limited resources they have. But then again, I also like movies that are very compelling too. So movies that go on a different angle than your usual movie out there. So I like them to steer me in a way I wasn't expecting. But again, I pretty much watch anything that's out there. I even though watch La La Land would surprise me. So yeah, I'm up for a pretty much anything when it comes to film.
David Payne: That’s great. Thank you and David.
David Watts: I'm a classic movie lover who it’s my side passion just to go to the movies. I can remember my first movie my aunt took me to see Sound of Music in 1965, at the Silver Theatre, which is now the AFI in Silver Spring and it’s a great place to watch a movie. I go to probably 30 movies a year. I'm more the big budget type. So Fred, where I’m weak, Fred is strong.
David Payne: All right, let’s blend, let’s blend.
Julie Dina: That’s good.
David Watts: I date my life according to what movie was out at the moment. My right of passage was Star Wars in 1977 I was 16.
David Payne: And still going.
David Watts: And still going. Took my wife to see Color Purple that was our first movie together.
Julie Dina: Yeah, nice color.
David Watts: So, yeah, can remember different times of my life based on the movie that was out, yeah.
David Payne: Yeah, that’s great. Well, we got two very interesting magnificent people I’d say which is great.
Julie Dina: The key thing is they balance each other. [Laughs] So since you guys are movie buffs I'm sure you're aware of the Academy Awards. So can you tell us what you enjoy most or least about the Academy Awards, what is something you really enjoyed?
Fred Akuffo: Well, the least I enjoy about the Academy Awards is I don't think they give all of film the same look. For example, you’ll have your urban street films. I watch Urbanstreet Films on YouTube a lot and there is a lot of them. But you know, because of the poor acting sometimes the directing isn’t is up to par. But some of them are great stories and you'll never see any kind of mention. It’s not that they have to win or anything but you’ll never see any kind of mention of Urbanstreet film or somebody trying to promote that. The subject matter isn’t all that great but training days Urbanstreet film. And Denzel Washington had a win for that. So there is room for it. So I think they still need to branch out more to some of the more unpopular areas of film making.
David Watts: I think they're searching to be more inclusive part of what limits that or the rules that govern the Academy motion picture arts and sciences. You know, they have 6000 members who are voting members and not all of them are with the current culture. So I think they have tried to -- recently they voted to put a limit on how long you can have not actually been in a movie and still vote, which is 10 years now. So I think that's going to increase the diversity.
Another requirement that probably keeps a lot of street movies out is most people don't realize this but only motion pictures that have had a seven day run in Los Angeles qualify to be in the Academy Awards voting. So if you commercially can get your film into a theater for seven days there is no way that is going to be viewed or voted on by the Academy. So I think they are hopeful to broaden themselves and I think we see our whole culture evolving. So certainly you would hope they would become much more diverse.
David Payne: So do you think I mean, we’re now in the 90th year of the Oscars and obviously times have changed considerably since the earlier years, do you think it's a case of the Academy is sort of struggling to keep up?
Fred Akuffo: No, I think it’s actually kind of what Dave just mentioned. I mean, when you go by a certain rules for so long sometimes you have to evaluate your rules. You know, it’s like everything, business, whatever, Amazon changed the rules, Netflix changed the rules. And it’s probably a good thing that the Academy has taken at least some steps towards you know –.
David Watts: Yeah, and I think 2016 was instructive for them when they had their “wide out” and it sort of awaken them to need to refresh the rules that were governing their body and to try to be more towards what the public likes but not so much, not so much. And that’s his challenge you know that's the part for me. I enjoy seeing movie stars. I enjoy seeing people in our culture who are larger than life. And I'm not putting them up on a pedestal but I mean, they’re attractive people and they live a glamorous lifestyle. And while we might not aspire to that you do have to admire it in some sense. So I think that's the great thing about the Oscars to me.
Julie Dina: How about you Fred, what do you like about it?
Fred Akuffo: Well, like that is a gaze to success. So you know, it's something that you're aiming for or maybe not aiming for but if you can achieve, then you can be put in a group with other folks who’ve done so. And if you can achieve more than once, then you can actually change movies and change film, change future direction in movies. So whereas one film may have never gotten a look at one moment 15 years later ago now everybody is doing it so you know sometimes it can be a motivator.
David Payne: So let's turn to this year's Academy Awards. What do you think of this year's Academy Award nominees? Let's start with David.
David Watts: I've seen eight of the 10 nominees. I think it's probably on the scale of most years a weak crop. There is really not a blockbuster. They tend to be more towards the eclectic artsy side. Many would say a more towards the MD side of the business. So each of them make a statement and that’s the important thing about movies is what do they say to us as a culture and as a people. And what do we use as a launchpad for conversations based on our seeing those movies and relating to them.
David Payne: Fred, any thoughts?
Fred Akuffo: I agree. I don't think it was as strong as is before. I notice that this year I don't hear people talking about man, you’ve just got to see this you know or you just got to see that and I know this one is going to win. To me there is more of an up in the air feeling this year in terms of the nominees. So but I don’t mind that I mean, you know to me being more up in the air is actually better. It just gives more motivation for people to push and making their films more distinctive. It's I think is still moving forward is just this is not the hottest year so far.
Julie Dina: Maybe next year.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, there is always next year that’s the great part of our film, there is always next year and people start working on it now.
Julie Dina: Is there any movie that was actually nominated that you’ve seen that either of you have seen but think hardly anyone else has seen yet and could you tell us about that movie?
David Watts: I think you probably consider the whole crop. I mean, this was a terrible year at the box office. There are historically low box office figures for this year. So I think you would be certainly able to say that about most of the films that are in the best picture category. I saw Three Billboards in Ebbing Missouri, which is on its face, not a title, it causes you to run out and buy a movie ticket, but it was an excellent movie. Probably the biggest budget one in the top 10, The shape of Water of seeing Shape of Water. So I presume that most of the movie going public is going to be basing its opinions based on whether or not they've seen Shape of Water because that certainly will be the ones that the movie industry is behind and pumping to try to see win as many categories as possible to try to get people to go to the movies and see it.
Fred Akuffo: Actually, I think I'll also add Moonlight. I think there is quite a few people that haven’t seen Moonlight.
David Watts: Yeah.
Fred Akuffo: Good movie. I didn't even want to see it but after watching it I was you know –.
David Watts: I thought it was terribly depressing. [Laughs] And I think halfway through when they said well, we call the wrong movie its Moonlight. I said, oh my goodness.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah.
David Watts: That was probably my least favorite from last year.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, that's kind of my thing though. I like movies that you know some people when they’re going through it they’re really going through it for real. And that’s one movie where if you come out of that at the end of the movie it’s like come on, it doesn't really work like that. You know, what I mean. So I like movies that represent some of what people are really, really dealing with. And it's still an extreme case, you know that movie but –.
David Watts: I don't think people like to go to the movie and feel bad when they leave.
Fred Akuffo: That’s true, that’s true.
David Watts: And that’s always been my thing. I never really been much in the Spike Lee because he always ends his movies on a downbeat. And you spend your hard-earned money you want to come out feeling like your life is better somehow for having seen the movie.
Fred Akuffo: Right.
David Watts: And that was just my take on Moonlight.
Fred Akuffo: For me sometimes it's I'm glad that's not me and so my life is better. [Laughs]
Julie Dina: That’s another way to think.
David Watts: Things aren’t so great.
Fred Akuffo: That’s right I can go out of here. Man, I'm glad I'm not him. Okay, okay.
David Payne: With your two very different interests in movies here is an interesting question, what's the most obscure Oscar-winning movie you've ever watched?
David Watts: Come on Mr. B-Movies.
Fred Akuffo: Now Quentin Tarantino, has he gotten any of them?
David Watts: As best picture, no.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, okay.
Julie Dina: He didn’t get one for the Pulp Fiction.
David Watts: Wait a minute, I’ve got my cheat sheet here. Pulp Fiction, no.
Fred Akuffo: Or the one with Jamie Foxx.
Julie Dina: Django.
Fred Akuffo: Django.
David Watts: No, certainly not. [Laughs]. Surely you jest. I saw the most obscure movies obviously to American movie public are the foreign films and I saw Indochine in ’92 that was a very good movie. It was about French Indochina in the 1920s. And the female lead in that movie god, her name gets away from me, she is very popular. But anyways she'd raised a child. She'd raised an orphan and they later fell in love with the same soldier, which was made for an interesting kind of dynamic –.
Fred Akuffo: Okay.
David Payne: Sounds very complicated.
David Watts: Yeah, it’s very complicated and the movie didn't end with a conclusion that allows you to close your mind to this particular movie. But it was a very good movie and it won for best foreign film in 1992. And I thought it was a particularly good movie.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah.
David Watts: Then another obscure one maybe not so obscure was Hidden Dragon.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, yeah.
David Watts: Crouching Tiger won for foreign film I think in 2000 I’m not positive on the year on that but that was a very good movie, very entertaining.
Julie Dina: I really liked that.
David Watts: Yeah, for kids who grew up with Bruce Lee movies it was particularly gratifying to see.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, I liked that a lot because I’m a heavy, heavy martial arts film enthusiast.
David Watts: So you could really get into that and relate to that one, yeah.
Fred Akuffo: I could get into that.
David Watts: And flying, kicking scenes and all.
Fred Akuffo: Not as much the flying around and stuff because I'm more of the –.
David Watts: The true martial arts.
Fred Akuffo: The pre Bruce Lee type. So I actually think Bruce Lee destroyed martial arts film because he cause a fight scenes to end in like one second whereas before it would be like two minutes for a fight scene to take place. So you know, I'll keep my [Multiple Speakers]. But yeah, that was one. One I thought was obscure and probably because I didn't know anything at all about I guess the culture but The Piano I think won, right.
David Watts: Yes.
Fred Akuffo: And at the time I watched I found it obscure.
David Payne: It takes a bit of re-watching.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah.
Julie Dina: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.
Febe Huezo: Watching the Oscars or Golden Globe Award ceremonies is fun to do with friends. But it's even better to watch the films themselves. With my MCPL card I can borrow award-winning movies for free. There is nothing better than browsing the DVD collection at my library. Stop by our branch today or check this episode show notes for more information about our DVD collection.
Julie Dina: Now back to our program.
David Payne: Well, Oscars certainly has a history of going counterculture and so you always have to be careful of that. When the artist won in 2012, I think I broke my TV because it was –.
Fred Akuffo: The black and white or --.
David Watts: Well, no and not even for that reason I mean, I've watched extensively silent movies and that wasn't a particularly good silent movie. But that was the hot or in thing just let us last year with lot I mean, a year before last with La La Land we got the same thing. La La Land was okay but if you're really in the movies and you're really into musicals La La Land sucked. Excuse me, if I shouldn’t say that.
Julie Dina: So as we are all aware especially both of you there are 24 categories in the Oscars. If you could change or add to any of them what exactly would it be?
Fred Akuffo: Fight choreography would be one I’d put in. I think they need to think about that kind of quality in the movies. You know, when you have action you wanted to look as real as possible.
David Watts: Absolutely.
Fred Akuffo: Well, maybe not. Sometimes you wanted to look as vague as possible, but within passing reality if that makes any sense. Sometimes the Return of the Jedi, the fight scenes look great. I mean, that returned into the Star Wars fighting looks great. But then in the next movie is a different fight choreography and it doesn't look so hot. But if they were let's say a category for that you’d always make it look good. So you know it would make for better action movies. You know, what I mean. And then one I don't necessarily need is the sound group or whatever you know that always wins. They can win it but you don’t need like 15 minutes in the show to show it. But I’m sure those sound guys work hard so they deserve it.
David Watts: Yes and big ups to our sound guys. [Laughs]
Fred Akuffo: There is a place, sorry.
David Watts: I would say we need to add a comic con section because we have all of these superheroes now and certainly I think they need a category unto themselves where their movies aren’t judged against the dramatic movies.
David Payne: So looking ahead to this year's awards you both mentioned it doesn't look like a great year as far as the movie quality. But can you guess which movie will take home the most Oscars this year?
David Watts: It would be Shape of Water. I mean, it's a big budget film with a big studio behind it. I believe it's nominated for 13 Academys of which it probably will take home seven to eight. The juries do allow over whether it's the best picture. The female leading actress who did a phenomenal job probably is going to lose to Frances McDormand who will win for Three Billboards. The male lead did a particularly good job but he is not there yet. He will probably win in a year or two. This year belongs to Gary Oldman who will win for Darkest Hour. His performance was phenomenal although it was hard to believe that he was Winston Churchill. No, slide aside the prosthetics were not very good but his performance was excellent. Winston Churchill certainly is a historic figure renowned for his strength of will and force of character and Oldman did an excellent job portraying that.
David Payne: Fred, any thoughts?
Fred Akuffo: Yeah and I haven't got into those yet. Although I do think the subject matter for Billboards will probably have some to do with. I think people you know there is like a non-trusting aspect in society now for different authorities, different entities and things like that. And that kind of speaks to it on you know make sure these people do what they say they’re going to do it all that kind of thing. So I think that'll have some to do with in impact.
David Watts: Yeah, Michael Sharon was the actor I couldn't think of who was in Shape of Water and is nominated for best actor. I don't think he will win, but I think he is coming. He is in more and more feature films and he does an excellent job portraying the characters. I do think that Margot Robbie is making some heads turn so while she won't win as best actress she is another one who is on the way. She is establishing herself.
Julie Dina: Okay, so on another note, since that we know our customers will be listening to this podcast they’ll probably come run into the branches. What are you both doing at your branches to celebrate the Oscars?
Fred Akuffo: Well, at my branch we have a display at the front of the circ desk that's off from the DVD collection. And that display has what I would call the higher-quality newer movies sitting on it. So these are movies that are 2018, ‘17 that by customer rating rate over a certain amount. And I find that folks as soon as they come through the door shoot right to that display get their things and get their movies that they're looking for that they are surprised to see sometimes and then head on out. So other the Oscar movies are on there along with some other movies that are of the same quality but maybe just not as popular. So just one little thing you do that kind of boost that level of interest for those people who enjoy film.
David Payne: And just a reminder that’s at Long Branch.
Fred Akuffo: Long Branch library, yeah.
Julie Dina: You also serve popcorn?
Fred Akuffo: No, not yet. But I do give suggestions and our oral reviews of the ones that I have watched off of that display rack which people seem to enjoy. And also they’ll bring it over and ask me, what do you think about this, what do you think about that and they want to know what I really think. You know what I mean. So I try to give them my best on that.
David Payne: So there you have the listeners you want to about a movie go to Long Branch.
Julie Dina: Go to Long Branch. How about you David?
David Watts: Yeah, we’re putting out a book display I just talked with our senior librarian and we’re doing a book display on the books that were adapted into movies To Kill a Mockingbird, Godfather, which is my all-time favorite. There is several books that have been adapted and we’re going to feature those books in a display near our circulation desk.
David Payne: So let's look ahead further into the year and pause the Oscars themselves. Which 2018 to be released films are you both looking for to seeing?
David Watts: I never look ahead. I hate to be a kill joy.
Fred Akuffo: You just name as they come.
David Watts: Well, yeah, I focus on what's current what’s out although I'm sure there are some interesting things coming. My daughter was telling me that the follow-up to Justice League is the optimal war or something along those lines. And I assured her it won't be a final one. She said, dad, this is the last one. I said, no, it’s not.
David Payne: Just like Star Wars.
David Watts: It’s not the last one.
David Payne: Fred.
Fred Akuffo: I’m looking forward to the Hans Solo part of that. I guess it’s part of that series.
David Watts: Yes.
David Payne: So, I like the last one they did so which surprised me because I didn't like Rogue One, but yeah, they build on it. I think it'll win. Everybody wants to know the origin know of Hans Solo of what, who in the world he is so I think it’ll be another successful one.
Julie Dina: So it's obvious you guys watch a lot of movies. However, I am wondering, do you actually go to the movie theater to watch these movies and if you do, do you prefer watching it on the big screen compared to watching it at home?
Fred Akuffo: This feels like a confessional. [Multiple Speakers] No, I'm probably not like my man Dave here. I don’t do 30 a year. And I definitely don’t do them at the movie theater just because you know I got two kids. By the time I'm getting out there we’re talking like $90 you know what I mean. So it's a little bit pricey.
David Payne: Oh, you can't take them for it. Your passion is not their passion.
Fred Akuffo: Surprisingly my son is definitely a movie guy. He comes to me and says hey, dad, you got to check this new movie out.
Julie Dina: Wow.
Fred Akuffo: And he is when I'm talking about films he is very eager to hear what I think about them. So for like The Avengers, The Justice Leagues you know and I tell him things like, you know, I don’t like those guys because or Batman, let’s put the Batman. I’m not a fan of Batman. And he is like how can you not be a fan of Batman. I’m like because Batman didn’t have any superpowers. And so he is very interested in why I don't like certain things and he looks forward to seeing movies that I do like so that he can see how else he can experience the movies. You know, what I mean. So it’s kind of interesting. But yeah, going to the theater is a little bit challenging, more challenging than it was when I was younger so.
Julie Dina: Have you thought about coupons?
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, I would need it. I would need a $30 coupon you know, right. I mean, we’re talking about I mean, when I was going to the theatre it’s like you could go to a dollar theater, dollar movie.
Julie Dina: It’s true.
David Payne: No such thing.
Julie Dina: I used to go to go to those.
Fred Akuffo: Now, a dollar you can’t even –.
Julie Dina: You can buy popcorn.
Fred Akuffo: Nothing, you know, there is nothing for a dollar. In fact the candy is almost as much as the movie. So it’s tremendous.
David Watts: Well, let me tell you my secret.
Fred Akuffo: Okay, give me one.
David Watts: We live parallel lives here so I do know that you get a day off during a week and if you go to the first show AMC is $5, okay.
Fred Akuffo: Okay.
David Watts: So as long as you don’t drag your crumb snatchers along, it's a pretty reasonable venture and it’s a good escape and it also helps I think center you given your responsibilities and duties this in the library.
Fred Akuffo: Definitely.
David Watts: You need some time alone. You need some destressing and that's what I use the movies for. I watch movies at home and at the movies I watch classic movies at home and really that's my forte.
Julie Dina: I love classic movies.
David Watts: I’m a classic movie watcher of the 100 or so movies that have been best picture I've seen 98 of the 100. So that's because I really get into classic movies. The modern movies I like the ones who are near the top of the crop. Not so much like Fred, I'm not digging down in the bargain bin to watch your first effort.
Fred Akuffo: I love the bargain bin.
David Watts: Yeah, I’m not doing that. But one of the things that has changed with movies overtime is dialog has changed and as you talked about sound, the reason they give those awards for sound is because it's particularly difficult to balance dialog and sound effects. And when you go to the theater you’ll because of Dolby technology you’ll hear that thumping base but then you'll get to the dialog part as Mark is motioning to me speak up, speak up, speak up and that's how you know you really didn't have the best sound guy.
Fred Akuffo: Right.
David Watts: And you don't have that with the classic movies. The classic movies used smaller ensemble cast. It was easy to understand who the characters were and they had to play off of each other. Now, you have huge amounts of cast in movies you know that are in double digits that they never did. In the classic age of movies they never had more than 10 actors in a movie. So it was very easy to know the characters, to know the plot, to understand, to not have your brains blown out by base in the sound effects. They threw in sound effects, but they weren’t for the purposes of waking people up as they are now. They used the sound effects in modern movies to keep a somnolent moviegoer from falling asleep.
Fred Akuffo: So to me, I look at as a little different. Like let's take John Wick pure action. There is nothing to think about except what you’re looking at in front of you. The sound part, although I don't --.
David Watts: But John Wick is ultraviolet. You could not have taken your kids today.
Fred Akuffo: No, no, we didn’t go to that long way.
David Watts: Please tell me you did not take your –.
Fred Akuffo: That’s my $5 I bought myself. [Laughs] But that one where they shoot the guns and you can hear the bullet shells hit the floor, you know that's where your sound and dialog that you know for so John Wick there is no dialog. So that's kind of where I look forward to, you know, the sound even though I don't want them to take 15 minutes in the award ceremony. But so I do appreciate them but yeah, there is a catch, Catch-22 to all that, I guess you know.
David Payne: Okay, so we usually end our interviews asking the guests what they are reading right now. Perhaps we should ask you what you’re watching Fred.
Fred Akuffo: Let's see. The last thing I watched DVD I watched was a series called Insecure. You know, I’m finding the series to be pretty entertaining as well as you know the feature films. So I'm getting into a lot of the series. So Insecure is about a young lady trying to manage her young life in the workforce in I guess is Los Angeles with all of what society has to offer some of it pleasant, some of it not so pleasant.
It's one that a lot of the young folks are watching. Other series like you know Newsroom, Deadwood different series that talked about different things that I don't really experience. I’m not in the new circuit. I'm not in the wild frontier, but those movies did a very good job of depicting those particular types of lifestyle. So I like watching series for that kind of thing to be transported in a believable sense to another place.
David Payne: Great and David.
David Watts: Well, I'm doing it all. I consume it in every way possible. Last movie, All The King’s Men with Broderick Crawford 1949 Oscar winner. I just finished Midnight Line by Lee Child is part of a Jack Reacher series. I’m reading Origin by Dan Brown, big Dan Brown fan. So yeah, whatever way I can get content I’m upon it.
David Payne: Sounds like you have it.
David Watts: I have it, yeah.
Fred Akuffo: I’d tell you one of my latest watches that I really liked was Fences. I thought that was a different kind of look for somebody who is a major film player. So I thought Denzel playing a broken guy who –.
David Watts: Well, he actually won the Tony for that performance. He should've won the Oscar.
Fred Akuffo: He should have, yeah.
David Watts: He should have won the Oscar and that was my disappointment with Moonlight, yes.
Fred Akuffo: Right, because I thought it was very well done. I thought it was realistic. You know, I thought it was –.
David Watts: It was passionate.
Fred Akuffo: I thought it was a passionate centered performance you know, and the compelling part was that he wasn't running away or he didn’t let the character run away from you know life’s ills.
David Watts: Then he should have won best actor for that that Casey Affleck won for Manchester by the Sea which was another depressing movie. Denzel was robbed but he has been robbed many times during his career. He was robbed in Hurricane when Kevin Spacey beat him out for American Beauty. He was also robbed for his performance in Malcolm X. He is certainly was well deserving for Fences, yes, absolutely.
Fred Akuffo: So if you’re dad out there pick up Fences it’s a good one.
David Watts: And I just wanted so you know he is the actor of my time. You know, a lot of people where Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated this year for Phantom Thread and that was a disappointing movie and a disappointing performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. But those are two penultimate actors of my age group.
Fred Akuffo: Daniel Day-Lewis is definitely my guy too, yeah definitely.
David Watts: Yeah, he is Denzel and Daniel Day-Lewis and you know that's one of the wonderful things about movies. I can look back at different eras and see people who dominated the movies during those periods. Sidney Poitier, he was particularly strong actor in the 60s. You go in the 40s it was Bogey. You go in the 50s, Brando, On The Waterfront. So it’s just amazing to look back over your life and see how these artists affect you both visually and you know viscerally because they do. You go to the movies and you feel emotive. You want to express yourself as you come out. You go to a love story and you feel love. You go to a tearjerker and you come out crying.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, I got some stuck in my throat.
David Watts: Yeah, exactly, you’re not crying. My wife always says, yeah, crying over there, are you?
Fred Akuffo: Well, I cannot swallow, you know. [Laughs] Actually that’s how I give a movie credit. If it can make me tough to swallow then I know you did something.
David Watts: Brian's Song, right?
Fred Akuffo: Well, more like let’s say De Niro in um, is it the Awakening when he was they were trying some research Robert Williams and De Niro, yeah that was a that had me swallowing and trying, yeah, I couldn’t get it down.
Julie Dina: But you weren’t crying.
Fred Akuffo: Yeah, I’m not all the way, not all the way, yeah.
Julie Dina: Well, this has been very, very entertaining and I would like to thank you David and Fred for joining us today.
Fred Akuffo: No, we’re happy to be here.
David Watts: Thank you for having us, yeah.
Julie Dina: 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 podcasts would love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.
Episode Summary: MCPL film fans Fred Akuffo, circulation manager at Long Branch library, and David Watts, circulation manager at Silver Spring library, look at this year's Academy Award contenders, consider past award winners, and share their love for very different kinds of movies.
Recording Date: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne
Featured MCPL Resource: Enjoy movie night at home with one (or more) of MCPL's thousands of feature film DVDs. From Batman to Bollywood, we've got movies for every film fan. Check out our latest movies and television series today!
What Our Guests Are Reading / Watching:
Fred Akuffo: Insecure, an HBO series starring Issa Rae. Newsroom, a behind the scenes look at a fictional cable news program. Deadwood, a Western tv series set in 1870s South Dakota. Fences, in which an African American former baseball player watches others break the color barrier in Major League Baseball.
David Watts: All the King's Men, a 1940s film about a corrupt populist politician. David has also recently read Midnight Line, the latest Jack Reacher thriller by Lee Child and Origin, the new Dan Brown novel.
Movies Mentioned During this Episode:
Actors and Actresses Mentioned During this Episode:
Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:
AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD
B-Movies - A favorite movie genre of guest Fred Akuffo
David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.
Julie Dina: And I’m Julie Dina.
David Payne: And for today's episode we’re going to be talking about romance just in time for Valentine's Day. And joining me today I have two I have romance readers from our MCPL staff both Children’s Librarians at our Silver Spring branch Carly Beveridge.
Carly Beveridge: Hi, everybody. It’s nice to be here today.
David Payne: And Michelle Halber.
Michelle Halber: Hello, thank you so much for having us.
David Payne: And thank you very much for joining us. Let’s start with a bit about yourselves, why do you both like romance books?
Carly Beveridge: I started reading romance novels back in high school. I think they're just kind of sometimes it’s just an escape to read them. The nice thing is they have so many different mixes with different genres. And they have you can find great stories and great characters.
Michelle Halber: I started actually much later. I was a snob about romance novels when I was younger. But as I've gotten older I have three kids and I definitely like to have the happy ever after and it's just fun. You can read the historicals where you get pretty clothes and pretty dresses and lots of friendships and then you can read the contemporaries and it just is a lot more fun to read that something that's a little bit lighter and not as heavy.
Julie Dina: Would you then say that thank God for romance books now you have your three kids.
Michelle Halber: I've never got it that way. [Laughs] But yes, actually they do help keep me more safe.
David Payne: Obviously, a new way of thinking there.
Michelle Halber: There is a new way of thinking. I love my historicals. I love the children’s books but it’s just so especially right before bed, it's just a way for me to relax. I know I don't have to necessarily worry I can get into a story. They can still be engrossing. There can still be some thriller types or romantic suspense novels. But I know I don't have to worry about whether the heroine or the hero is going to survive till the end of the story.
Carly Beveridge: Well, I can say even as a single person that God for themselves [Laughs]. I think that’s a nice thing about them is that anybody can really pick them up and there is such a wide variety even just for anybody. So I enjoy them. The nice thing is with my family we kind of go, hey, this is a good one to read and my dad and I even share them like my mom and I and my dad and I we share them and say hey, this is a good one because we look for good stories, not just hey, this is that it’s very typical body stripper where it is just what they call the smut book or it’s just nothing but hey, they’re romping around in the sheets. [Laughs] So we look for like this and the good characters, the good story just like any good book. So like I said my family we share them around. And Michelle and us one of the things we’ve started talking about we share authors back and forth and hey, this is a good book so, yeah.
Julie Dina: That’s really cute.
David Payne: That’s great. But awful family reading.
Carly Beveridge: Yeah.
David Payne: So we’ll know in our heads what a romance novel is. But let me ask you, maybe start with Michelle, how would you define a romance book?
Michelle Halber: That's one of the really nice things about romance is they’re not. There is no one definition of a romance book even in Montgomery County Public Library systems you will find romance novel, you will find books about romance or books that have romance in it in the fiction shelves, in the romance shelves even in the science fiction shelves. So there is not really one type of book, there is romance with a little bit of supernatural, there is romance with there are stories Philippa Gregory's books could be kind of considered she has written a whole bunch of stuff on the Tudors about the wives and of Henry VIII and that could be considered in some ways romance. It may not necessarily and happily but it’s still there is still romance in it. Just about any book could be considered to be a romance book. And that's I think one of the things that a lot of people don't realize in a story. I mean, you can pull up a James Patterson or a Victor Flynn and there is some kind of romance somewhere. Indiana Jones, there is romance in that so part of that is a romance whether it is considered a romance novel or not.
David Payne: So typically a romance novel can cross several genres.
Michelle Halber: It can cross every genre.
David Payne: Yeah, would you agree?
Carly Beveridge: Yes, I would agree the nice thing about romance is that it has many sub genres. I’m going to give you the definition for the romance novel itself. It has to do with a plot that actually centers around two individuals falling in love but there has to be an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. Now lately there has been some disagreement between authors whether or not there actually has to be that optimistic ending whether there has to be a happy ending or not. Because not everything you know not everybody like the Tutors that kind of stuff. There Philippa Gregory, her books, you know, can be considered romance, but there is not always a happy ending. So you know, not every romance situation is going to be a happy ending. But so people are more open to that kind of stuff now.
David Payne: Is that a newer trend?
Carly Beveridge: Yes, that is a newer trend, yes.
Julie Dina: And you’re one. [Laughs] So while we’re still on the topic, what are the typical characteristics of a romance literature?
Carly Beveridge: Okay, so the typical characteristics. So obviously you’re going to have two we tend to have two main characters. A lot of times it’s either told first person, third person point of view. Doesn’t it mean once what do you think Michelle?
Michelle Halber: Traditionally there is going to be an expectation of a happy ending. There will be some kind of arc in terms of a meeting whether it's brand-new or whether it's a past love and then usually right around the midway point in the book is where the relationship really starts to deepen and then it’s usually some kind of conflict. It's just like any traditional novel because I forgot the question. But the typical characteristics so it’s just like any traditional novel. And that's I think part of why I don't necessarily understand the negative stereotype because it really is a traditional novel. It's just gotten a bad wrap over the years I think.
Julie Dina: Why do you think?
Michelle Halber: I think it has to do with back, you know, back when they first really started coming out back in what was 1800s, early 1900s it was seen more as a you know we be woman's kind of book to pass the time is kind of a frivolous type book. So I think that's kind of where it started and then a lot of people they look at some of the I think the Harlequin type series where they see those just the covers and go oh, that doesn’t look like a good reading. And a lot of times if you get into the books those covers look absolutely nothing like what the characters depict inside even look like. So it’s just really taking the time just like any book, you got to look at read the first chapter see what it's about, look read the inside cover. So you got to look past the cover of the book, which is why a lot of times when somebody is looking for when I'm helping customers and patrons a lot of times if somebody is looking for a light read I will hand them something like Kristan Higgins, which my favorite of hers is The Best Man, it’s a cute story, it’s lot of fun, nothing serious.
But it's just got a picture of a boy and a girl and they're just standing around. And so it's not and I've had a customer say, oh, good it's not a shirtless man that’s on the cover, yeah. So it’s a nice way of kind of leading them in and not I think the e-readers have made a huge difference in this. I think this is when 50 Shades became so big was because people could read it on their e-reader until nobody knew what they were reading. And it's a little bit less intimidating than somebody seeing you on the subway with a shirtless man covered book, right. But that's part of it I think is that not the shirtless men covered books are not good because they are but it makes some people hesitant to take them seriously
Julie Dina: And they might catch a cold. [Laughs]
David Payne: Leaving nothing to the imagination. So with that let’s go to our big question. I’ll start with you, Carly. Do you have a favorite romance author and novel?
Carly Beveridge: Oh, okay, yeah, Michelle and I’ve been talking about this for a while. So I don’t know just like it's really hard to pinpoint. I have a couple of favorite readers authors that I go to. I really like Lynsay Sands, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kerrelyn Sparks. I tend to like the more paranormal kind of like a vampire, werewolf those kinds of stories. And I like the series stories where you get to continue on with familiar characters. So I tend to go with those. But I also like The Outlander series so that’s more of your historical time travel. I am a – I like reading all kinds of different stuff. Also my family is also Scottish, so that throws that there in too. But honestly I’ll go into library or Barnes & Noble or even the grocery store and I'll look at the books and I’m like oh, I haven't seen this one yet. So I'll turn the book over and I’ll start looking at it. But yeah, like I’ve said, I need good characters, I need a good story. If I see like I’m kind of turned away by characters that are like oh, she is just sitting there just crying that’s not going to do it for me. I like strong characters.
She is getting up a lot of the ones in like some of Lynsay Sands characters or female characters they’re vampires and they get how they have connections they have life mates. And the guy would then go, I’m here and you're my life mate and you go like, no, you’re not. [Laughs] I don’t know what you’re talking about. So like I said, I like the strong characters and they’re set in more I'm fine with contemporary modern times, and like I said with The Outlander, what's neat with that one is it skips around between Scotland and World War II England and World War I and then I also my family they’ve read all the books too. So like I said, my family we share books and we also watch the TV series too. So yeah, those are some of my favorites. Lately, I've also been going to Overdrive, one of our e-reading. I'll go for more for the audio books for that to download the audio books just because I have a nice long drive to and from work.
So it’s great with my car. And I've got one of the cars with the Bluetooth sinking between my phone and my car so I can listen through my car which is very nice. I go to Overdrive to download the books and several of those authors are on there. We may not be able to find it on the shelf at the library. So I'll go there and get the audio book or the e-book and the nice thing too is I've made requests there for purchases to be made. And I’ve got notifications that they've been requested. So that's been really nice too. So we can always get the requested at the library, but we can get it on Overdrive.
David Payne: And Michelle?
Michelle Halber: For contemporary my favorite author is Kristen Ashley. And there is only just a few of hers that's available through Overdrive. She has got a couple on audio through Overdrive and then one for the e-book. I do a lot of e-book reading. I tend to do it a lot more than I do the actual paper copies because I'm going to and from different appointments and shopping the book I’d rather just take the reader it’s a lot easier. One of the things I do like about Kristen Ashley is that she tends to have more mature characters. Some of them are past childbearing age. Some of them are in their mid to late 20s and early 30s. And that's a more unique population and it's not you know the 18-year-old who was just coming in and the young adult type book. She is more of an older a lot of her characters tend to be older and she has written a ton of books. She has written like 50. For historical, I guess, and only in thinking about all of this if I realize that I probably actually tend to more historical and I had talked to Carly and she tends to do those series.
And I’m like by book 25 I kind of go by The Harry Potter Rule. If it’s more than seven oh my god [Multiple Speakers]. Come on. No, so I kind of like a series to start and end. You can have some cross meeting of characters from different series and that’s a lot of fun. But yeah, I’d like a series to end. I don't want the children of the children or where the next cousins in the town over but we start a new series. But I do tend to go to historical I really like Julia Quinn. She has got a lot of humor in her books. The Viscount I guess who I can’t remember the title is just so funny. So she has got a lot of humor. Lisa Kleypas has a series called the Wallflowers Series. I think it secrets on an autumn night. I think is book one it’s just four girls who are considered wallflowers for different reasons and they kind of band together and it’s much about friendship as it is about love.
So you're seeing their relationships with each other develop as well as you’re seeing relationships with partners develop. For diversity and historical Beverly Jenkins is phenomenal and Alyssa Cole is on a ton of lists as having one of the best romance novels of 2017. And I'm still in the middle of that because that is a pretty powerful book. So it's not one that you can just read as easily as you can some of the other romances. You really do need to sit down to really enjoy it because there is a lot of rich historical detail in there.
David Payne: Great, thank you.
Julie Dina: That’s plenty.
Michelle Halber: We should give you more.
Carly Beveridge: I’m sure.
Michelle Halber: We have lists.
David Payne: How much time do we have?
Julie Dina: I guess this won’t be the time for me to say, tell me more, tell me more. So with all of this being said, would you say romance novels or romance movies have changed within the past 15, 20 years?
Michelle Halber: Well, as I said, I have three kids an 18-year-old, a 12-year-old and an 8-year-old. So I have not [Multiple Speakers] getting out of house was an accomplishment for many, many, many years. So I cannot tell you about those movies but hopefully Carly can.
Julie Dina: Maybe Carly can. It’s on you Carly.
Carly Beveridge: I don’t know like as far as movies and TV shows and things like that I think people are still interested in watching like we've still seen redoing things like Jane Austen and those kinds of books. So there are certain classics, things like that. I don't think those are going to lose, those are timeless. We have seen things like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies things like that. So we've seen kind of some trying to update and get more of the young adult teen interested in that and trying to modernize some of that. But you’ve gotten things like Bridget Jones Diary, which is considered the chick lit in there. But I think what you have seen is maybe more acceptance of like the LGBT in with the romance genre with more of those characters with romance movies and TV series, things like that. I think that’s maybe the big change that we’ve have seen in past several years.
Michelle Halber: Even Downton Abbey, there was a lot of romance in Downton Abbey. And the arcs just kept going I mean, when the actor who played Matthew I think his name was left the show, they ended up trying to find that character another guy and that was part of the series. So they knew that even in something like Downton Abbey part of what was keeping people interested was a type of romance and there is some LGBT in that show. So they are definitely there are some new conversations that are being added to these books and these movies that make it I think a little bit more unique than there used to be.
Julie Dina: I'm glad you mentioned chick lit. What's the difference, what’s the primary difference between the two, between chick lit and romance?
Michelle Halber: The main difference is that with chick lit you don't always have to have its not always just to focus on romance between a woman and partner. A lot of times is more contemporary. You're looking at usually from the woman's point of view a lot of times it could be between about woman's friendships in her workplace and things like that. Again one of the iconics is Bridget Jones Diary that that's kind of an iconic chick lit book movie those kind of things. So I guess it's often the modern womanhood is what you're looking at with chick lit. You do have kind of a lot of controversy around some chick lit as far as you know is it really a legitimate kind of field and you know whether or not it's worth, you know, is it great to read.
Julie Dina: I like your expressions here. [Laughs]
Michelle Halber: But you know what, it’s very popular. And those books just they can have great storylines being great characters and strong characters. So chick lit is I’ll say I think it’s just as important. Those stories are just as important and people identify with those characters. So and they a lot of times do have romance and one of the lines that really sticks out in Bridget Jones you know that iconic he likes you just the way you are. So I love that line. So it gets flashing but it has great, they have great lines, great stories. So again, it's your choice what you read.
Carly Beveridge: And a lot of romance, especially contemporary romance does have a piece of like a romantic suspense to it either there is some danger and that wouldn't be in the chick lit or there is a kidnapping or I can even think. But there is more to what's happening in the romance because there can be military romances. So you could be on the battlefield, which you wouldn't see in a chick lit. There could be I don’t know sports brawls and all sort of things like that that wouldn't come up in a chick lit type novel. So especially with the contemporaries and that's usually what chick lit is, it’s usually a contemporary novel. There is some I hate to say there is sometimes a more depth in the romance then there is a chick lit but that's almost the way it is because there is usually a conflict in the romance that has a little bit stronger than the conflicts that would be in a chick lit that made any sense [Laughs].
David Payne: Yeah, so perfect sense to me.
Julie Dina: Perfect.
David Payne: Talking about terminology and I think you mentioned the term earlier called the bodice-ripper.
Carly Beveridge: Yeah.
David Payne: Something is always associated with the romance genre. Can you talk about what bodice-ripper actually is?
Carly Beveridge: I think a lot of that stigma has to do with again the whole Fabio covers with the romance. It’s, you know, just that whole picture in your head of the scene of just the woman's old-style bodice being bulled after like the elaborate sex scene. But really it's a lot of times in the stories you know that's a very small piece of what's actually happening. And you have a range from some stories that really there is just some small kissing to all the way to U genre like the erotic genre where it’s more in depth. But yeah, I think that’s really what it comes down to it’s just that whole stigma of that picture of you know just that scene in people heads.
Michelle Halber: And there is actually a sub genre of romance I mean, Carly was talking about some of them, but there is actually something called clean or Christian romance, which is a one without a whole lot of physicality mentioned descriptions or anything like that but it's all still romance. So it’s not just the bodice-ripper. It's not just the girl waiting to be saved. Courtney Milan, who is generally historical I mean, her characters what I love about her stuff and I think we have some of the books at Montgomery County Public Libraries but it’s also Overdrive. And even some of them are on cloudLibrary as well, which is the other downloadable e-book we can access through Montgomery County Public Libraries with your library card and your pin number, which is usually the year you were born.
She has got scientists. She has got just very unique characters. She has got one woman who was a champion chess player for many years when she was a child. She has got another one who is a scientist and had to hide her papers under her friends name because he was male and could take all of these really, really intellectual smart women struggling to survive in a time period where that love is difficult. I don’t even know how we got onto that the bodice-ripper. [Laughs] But it’s not like these women are necessarily stupid either, so there is just an intelligence about these characters that make it very appealing and it’s not the bodice-ripper is such a we don’t want people to think that that's how we don’t want you to view it that way anymore.
Carly Beveridge: Yes.
David Payne: Somewhat old-fashioned.
Carly Beveridge: Yes.
Michelle Halber: It’s an old-fashioned terminology of looking at, yes, there we go, thank you.
Julie Dina: There has been a change.
Lauren Martino: And now a brief message about MCPL service and resources.
Lisa Navidi: This month we celebrate Black History month not only with displays of books and DVDs, but also with special films, speakers, book discussion and a virtual trip from Selma to Montgomery. There is something for everyone in your family. You can find a link to our Black History month events and resources in this episode show notes.
Lauren Martino: Now back to our program.
Julie Dina: So do either of you have any favorite romance characters?
Michelle Halber: Okay, so I’d have to say one of my favorite is Jamie from Outlander. He is definitely one of my favorites.
Julie Dina: Are you in love?
Carly Beveridge: Yeah, I’ve got part of it, tattooed on my arm. Part of it’s because I’m Scottish but part of it has to with Outlander. I love my Outlander. [Multiple Speakers]
David Payne: Must be that kilt.
Carly Beveridge: Yeah, the kilt, the hair, and the accent.
Julie Dina: How about you Michelle?
Michelle Halber: No, I don’t think so. Well, I'm reading it. I can follow them with any character.
Julie Dina: Yeah.
Carly Beveridge: But no.
Julie Dina: That’s good too. And it could be in the next book.
Carly Beveridge: Could be. I could fall in love with the character in the next book and that’s always part of the fun.
Julie Dina: And I’m sure, MCPL will have to have book for you.
David Payne: So as I mentioned earlier we’re coming up to Valentine's Day. Do both of you have suggestions for anyone feeling particularly lonely on Valentine’s Day, where would you start?
Michelle Halber: I would absolutely not have them read a romance novel that might make me feel little lonely but I’ll lead them to a very interesting non-fiction perhaps. [Laughs] Something interesting, something about somewhat no, my gosh, no of course not. You think read one the day after they can read one day before but the day of Valentine’s Day, no. You got your friends. [Multiple Speakers] The joint motion like all the single ladies thing with Beyonce where they used to I don’t know if they still do. Don’t quote me where they used to teach the dance for women and men, presumably in their theater at one of their studios on Valentine's Day. So I would do and the power of being one. I wouldn’t focus on the fact that you don't necessarily have anybody to spend and I go and have fun, don’t read a romance novel that would be what I would say.
David Payne: How do you follow that Carly?
Carly Beveridge: I'm going to go if I go out, go have fun.
David Payne: And there you have it.
Carly Beveridge: Why do you do that to yourself?
David Payne: So do you have or both of you a favorite romance novel trope, is there a trope that you absolutely can’t stand.
Michelle Halber: I used to but I used to have these things that I didn't like, like oh please, like again. But yeah, these authors even when they're doing I mean, there is some that I will shy away from unless it’s an author I really, really trust. But there is always the surprise baby, there is always the old love, which turns out to be some of the best books I've read. So I’ve learned not to say no to anything. I'm willing to try it, that’s the neat thing about romance. There is the supernatural with Susanna Kearsley there is Lynsay’s and J.R. Ward is probably right in there for the vampires, right in the ones that Carly would like and there are werewolves and there is historical and it's just there is so much that I’ve learned not to say no to anything I’m willing to try it. But yeah there is a couple I would be like oh, please but not anymore.
Julie Dina: And what about you?
Carly Beveridge: No, there is not yeah, there is not too many that I won't. I mean, again like I said I like it to actually have a story just like any book. I wanted to have a good storyline. If I start reading it and I feel its storyline is weak or the characters just aren't connecting for me I’ll put it down just like when I talk, I told my kids, if it’s a story you’re starting to read it, don't like it put it back. So yeah, I'm willing to try. I’m going to try anything.
Julie Dina: Would you happen to know if any romance literature that has actually made it to the box office and it’s been a big hit?
Michelle Halber: Pride and Prejudice. Is that what you're asking? I mean, Pride and Prejudice is the classic romance. It's not even necessarily again but it’s more about communication and understanding and the different classes and caste system is that they have. But I think a lot of it does come from the Jane Austen beginnings. What do you think Carly?
Carly Beveridge: As far as movies that I can think of like I said Bridget Jones Diary that was came from chick lit some of the others Waiting to Exhale, there is another considered chick lit. More recently, you've got the Nicholas Sparks movies in the books that’s another big draw. Those are considered more contemporary then you got some of your others I'm trying to think of some of your other books that are considered YA.
Michelle Halber: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Carly Beveridge: Well, that one is almost like the young adult chick lit you could consider because they has to do with friendships. No, there is another one.
Julie Dina: Twilight.
Michelle Halber: Yeah, Twilight can be considered one, yeah and that one really bridges pretty much several genres. [Laughs] No, I have another one that I'm trying to think of that actually has to do with like it has to do with like Zombies but it's more of like a YA. Now when I can kind of think of is Stardust that came out a few years ago based on an older book but I love that one. Once a great one Robert De Niro’s and that one. Claire Danes and that one too. So that’s a great one if you haven't seen that one. But a lot of many more if they think there is some kind of audience they'll go for it.
Carly Beveridge: Yeah, they’ve even started a smaller company called Passionflix that you can subscribe to which is I know nothing about it, this is not an endorsement. I haven't seen any of their movies. But just to show you I mean romance is romance writing and romance books is a huge market.
Michelle Halber: It is the number one selling genre.
Julie Dina: Really.
Carly Beveridge: And so Passionflix is creating I think their goal is to create books based on and movies based on the books that people are loving that are not necessarily coming out into the theaters that are making it that way. But yet clearly have a huge audience maybe some of them are Robert stuff will be in there. I don't exactly even remember what, who is the authors that are being filmed. But and I don't know how good they’re going to be. But there is a huge market for romance.
David Payne: You think just because people want to escape, is that the biggest reason, does it offer that escape for people?
Carly Beveridge: Yeah, I think for some its escape. I think again it's you’re having more authors that have good storylines, good books. You do have I think the percentage of men who are actually reading romance is still small, but you do have seen a bit of an increase in male writers in the romance genre, which is nice. But yeah, some of its escape, some of its because there are good quality books out there, good series books out there.
Michelle Halber: And a lot of people start by the self-publishing and they can get a lot of I shouldn’t say a lot, a number of them can get into the traditional book publishing system because they have enough of the market. They have created enough of an audience that they have and their books are good. Obviously there is a lot of stuff that wouldn't necessarily be good either but hopefully people will learn to separate that. But because it's such a huge industry and publishing it’s even though something I think New York Times is like taking out their books, the romance stuff from the lists that they’re giving it a try. They’re giving the writing a try.
David Payne: Well, we normally wrap up our podcasts by asking our guests to talk about the book they’re current reading and enjoying or book they recently read and enjoyed. So let me turn to Carly first, romance or not romance.
Carly Beveridge: Oh, gosh, okay. So I'm one of those people who read like two and three books at a time because I’m usually listening to one and I'm reading some. Okay, so one that I’ve got two that I kind of want to recommend. So I just this past year I read Carve the Mark definitely highly recommend that one. You’ve got some romance in there, but you've also got some kind of fantasy sci-fi in that as well. So that’s the great it’s in the young adult and I've seen in the regular kind of adult as well. We’ve got in both and in Montgomery County. So that is a definite recommendation. And the other one I would recommend that I have read not too long ago is Alex & Eliza. It has to it's a historical romance, young adult, and it is fabulous and we have on order the second book that is coming out. And it has to do with Eliza Hamilton and his wife when they are teenagers during the American Revolution it’s really good.
Michelle Halber: This is going to sound funny after we've been talking about the books that end with a happy ending. But my best book of 2017 was actually a young adult titled They Both Die at the End, it's a phenomenal. It talks about its kind of pose at this dystopian world where people are being notified when they're going to die that day. And so it talks about these two different people and how they decide to live their lives. There is a day that they think it's going to be the last day like if they walk out of the house move staying in the house keep them safe and protected and will they survive or if they walk out of the house it’s like these choices that you make.
But the book is actually more about how you live and how you choose to live rather than how you may or may not die. So that was my best book of 2017. Right now my husband and I listening to the audio book of Endurance by Scott Kelly and we are fascinated by that. He is an astronaut who has been in the international space station for over a year and he comes back and he is talking about just the whole process and like what happens to him after and how he goes before it’s fascinating. And then what else am I reading, again a ton because I have X number of books on cloudLibrary, I’ve X number of books on Overdrive.
Carly Beveridge: Me too and audible and yeah.
Michelle Halber: Plus all the children’s books I'm reviewing and meeting for the children’s librarian stuff. So I’m still I got to finish Alyssa Cole’s. I think it's an undivided and that’s why I was trying to Google real quickly while Carly was talking. I think it's an undivided union is book one in her series and so that’s what I’m reading at the moment.
Julie Dina: Well, thank you so much Carly and Michelle for joining us today. I've got to say this was a very fun episode. 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 podcasts. We’ll love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.
Episode Summary: Romance enthusiasts Carly Beveridge and Michelle Halber share their love for the characters, stories, and increasing diversity of romance books, movies, and TV series.
Recording Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne
Guests: Carly Beveridge, children’s librarian at Silver Spring library, and Michelle Halber, also a children's librarian at Silver Spring library.
Featured MCPL Resource: Celebrate Black History Month with MCPL's many inspiring and informative events, books, and other resources.
What Our Guests Are Reading:
Authors Mentioned During this Episode:
Books, Movies, and TV Shows Mentioned During this Episode:
Bridget Jones Diary - The book by Helen Fielding, was made into a movie.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - The book is the first of a series. Two movies were made based on the book series.
Stardust - The book, by Neil Gaiman, was made into a movie.
Waiting to Exhale - The book, by Terry McMillan, was made into a movie.
Warm Bodies - The novel, by Isaac Marion, was, yep, made into a movie.
Other Items of Interest:
cloudLibrary - Collection of fiction and non-fiction ebooks available for MCPL customers to borrow.
The Harry Potter Rule - If a series has more than 7 books in it, guest Michelle Halber is not interested.
Fabio - Ubiquitous model for romance novel covers during the 1980s and 1990s.
Overdrive - Collection of fiction and non-fiction e-books, as well as online audiobooks, available for MCPL customers to borrow.
Passionflix - Online collection of movies based on popular romance novels. Alas, not an MCPL resource.