Lauren Martino: Welcome to Library Matters, I am Lauren Martino and I am here with my co-host David Payne.
David Payne: Hello.
Lauren Martino: And today we have a special episode on travel. I am here today with Assistant Director for Facilities and ADA Rita Gale.
Rita Gale: Hello.
Lauren Martino: And director of marketing for Visit Montgomery Cory Van Horn.
Cory Van Horn: Hi there, thank you for having me.
Lauren: So Rita is an avid traveler and has been to many places particularly national parks and soon she will be retiring and have lots and lots of time for new adventures. And Cory Van Horn is an authority on travel and particularly in our area and knows a lot about the tourism spots in Montgomery County that you really should know about, is that about accurate?
Cory: That’s pretty accurate, it is a choose your own adventure experience here at Montgomery County.
Lauren: Alright. So Rita, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and some of your traveling adventures?
Rita: Sure, I am a resident obviously of Maryland, Montgomery County, I live in Rockville. And I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. I got interested in actually traveling specifically to the national parks because I went to on a cruise to Alaska and visited Denali National Park which is one of the largest national parks in the country and that got me hooked on traveling in national parks. So I have visited many of the national parks. I will be taking a trip in September to the Utah parks which means that I will be visiting Bryce which is my favorite park in all the world. The Zion which I have only spent a day in and then Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef and will end in Monument Valley where we will see the Mittens and if we are there at the right time, we might see one reflected on the other.
David: Is that an organized tour or do you go individually and roam around?
Rita: No I go with my sister, she and I travel together and usually I plan the trips and we drive. So we don’t generally take tours.
Lauren: Is planning trips generally easier or harder than what you do from day to day, it sounds like you probably have a lot of skills that would transfer?
Rita: Well I would say that that is very true. Yes, actually planning is for me when I was working and am working, it is actually the hardest part is finding the time to do it, but I really enjoy planning and we obviously have great resources which we will be talking about shortly. And obviously the website, the national parks, service, etc., they are just great tools to use to actually plan trips to particularly national parks.
Lauren: What is it about National Parks that attracts you?
Rita: Well for me because I work long hours; going to a national park is partly just the serenity of being out in nature. And one of the great things for me for a national park, I don’t know that this is true for everybody is that once you go into a national park your cell phone doesn’t work, so literally you are sort of out there by yourself, you don’t hear what’s happening in the news, so literally you are disconnected and it is just great because nobody is walking around with their cell phones looking at things they are actually looking at nature, so.
Lauren: That’s amazing I didn’t know.
Rita: I find that very relaxing and I love seeing the variety of scenery that this country has in terms of the different kinds of national parks as well. So it’s a great experience to have with somebody else. I think it is great to travel with somebody when you are traveling to the national parks as well.
David: So it’s almost like a natural digital detox.
Rita: Yes, you are correct yes.
Lauren: Have you been to them all yet or are you trying to see them all?
Rita: No and there are more than gosh a 100 national parks. And I know that there are many people who actually make that their lives work to actually visit them all, I am just trying to get around to enough of them while I am still able to be mobile and everything to enjoy them. So I have visited mostly national parks on the west coast.
David: Well Cory from national parks to Visit Montgomery, you are making history today as our very first non-MCPL guest.
Cory: Wow, I feel so honored.
David: Representing Visit Montgomery, so tell us a bit about Visit Montgomery certainly the website is very well designed and informative. Do you have a tourism office, how are you set up, how do you work and basically what is --?
Cory: What is Visit Montgomery? Visit Montgomery is the official tourism office, tourism, it’ in the industry it’s known as a Destination Marketing Organization. So we are a non profit organization that our primary goal and mission is to bring visitors to Montgomery County and to celebrate all the amazing attractions and happenings that are going on around Montgomery County. We do have a tourism office we are actually co-sharing office suite with Economic Development and also Worksource Montgomery. So it is a lot of fun to have three different organizations, we all have some missions and our passion for Montgomery County, but have different you know audience per se. And it is just a lot of fun you know to kind of be creative with all them.
Lauren: So Cory there is a lot of small business owners in this area who kind of thrive off of individual restaurants and things, what would you be able to say to anybody with a business that would be of interest to tourists, some resources you have to promote what they do?
Cory: So small businesses have various opportunities, they can buy into a partnership program with us. And essentially what it does is it provides them with marketing expertise and promotional opportunities, networking events throughout the year. Hotels buy into the program as well because they want to connect with various groups and marketing efforts and it is a way to get listed in our website, be promoted through our social media channels and things like that. We find that particularly with small businesses, smaller attractions, restaurants of those types, they really find value in what we offer because not only are we providing support and services to a unique set of audience members, visitors, people who are not residents per se, but also because they have small to no marketing teams themselves and so they kind of view us as an extension of their marketing efforts.
David: So Rita as you head west to celebrate your retirement are there any particular resources that you are using to plan to journey and in addition to print travel guides are there any library resources that you might recommend for travel planning?
Rita: Well one of the things that I do for the national parks is I always visit the national park site. We also have travel guides in our collection and I usually check to see if the national park that I am interested has Informers guide, a Fodor’s guide, we also have Moon Handbooks as one of our guides or Lonely Planet. And there are standards for all of the national parks that I will look at for example Fodor’s is the complete guide to the national park of the west and there is also the geographic guide to national parks which has information about all of the parks in it.
In terms of electronics in addition to the website we have obviously electronic sources available through the Gale Virtual Reference Library. I found one this weekend when I was looking, when I was preparing for this that’s called DK Eyewitness Guides and Rough Guides which actually has information about various places to travel. And there are also e-Magazine is available on travel through RBdigital including Conde Nast Traveller, Lonely Planet Travel, and National Geographic Traveler; so we have tons of resources on travel.
David: There you have it, so lots of good resources on travel with MCPL.
Lauren: Do you have a favorite go to, for planning?
Rita: Well because we have a variety of different kinds of travel guides, I would probably mostly use the website, the national park website, but I do try to find at least one travel guide that focuses on a specific national park and Fodors, Informers, and Moon tend to do that more than the others. So I wouldn’t say I have one specific one because not all of those resources do all of the national parks.
David: And a sort of follow-up question for actually, possibly for you both, there are so many different publishers of travel guides and they all have their own style, what are the elements that would make up a perfect travel guide for you both?
Rita: Well for me usually I am going to a location that I haven’t been to before, so for me a travel guide that is all inclusive, that talks about okay what is the nearest airport that I fly into to get there, you know how do you get to the park, so is there rail travel or is it car travel. And then in national park what are the things to be seen there, is there lodging, some of the national parks have lodging within the park, some of them don’t. And quite a few the Frommers, Fodors do that do, but some of the guides that are out there are more about the experience of being in the park that they are about individuals who have been to a park and who talk about their experience. And I like to do that myself to actually have the experience so I am more about literally okay give me the facts so that I can plan the trip.
Lauren: You don’t want Bill Bryson’s take on it, before you go.
Cory: Which is interesting because I actually take an opposite stance on that where I look towards for planning and logistics more of the digital resources, because things change so quickly you know by the time a book gets printed, a restaurant could close or an attraction could be opened and things like that. I really look towards memoir as a way of being inspired by a location and it helps in terms of kind of seeing through their eyes and then being inspired to have similar, if not new experiences myself.
David: Great, thank you.
Lauren: So Cory I don’t know if there are a lot of memoirs about places in Montgomery County, but what are some of the most popular destinations right here that you would like to highlight?
Cory: In terms of attractions here at Montgomery County there are so many, I have mentioned this earlier in chatting that we really are a truly a choose your own adventure experience where you can have an downtown urban experience and then have a completely different up county, very country experience within 10 minutes, it’s really amazing. Our biggest attraction that locals don’t fully you know, know I think, but then also they know about it, but they don’t know is we have 93,000 acre Ag reserve. And not many people in the country can say that that we have that kind of resource and reserve. So people can go and go to Butler’s Orchard and pick your own fruits and they have various festivals throughout the year or go to Rocklands Farm and enjoy a wonderful glass of wine in the country or Waredaca and have a beautiful experience on a horse farm and drink some beer you know freshly brewed beer which is awesome, but then go down to Bethesda or the new Pike & Rose and have a very downtown urban experience all within the same day, so it’s amazing.
And then also it’s a very historic area our proximity to DC there is a lot of history involved with that. The C&O Canal, the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center which is currently under renovation right now, the center itself isn’t, but the canal is. And so I actually visited recently and it was all tore up, so we will have to revisit that one when it is finished, but I am sure it is going to be amazing. And then interesting enough in terms of the canal, you can actually stay, I don’t know if you know this you can actually stay in a lockhouse which is really cool. So there are several lockhouses I believe, there is eight or nine along the canal that are renovated within the period when the lockhouse was built, so to speak. So some of them are fairly primitive where there isn’t running water so some of them there are running water in facilities. And so it’s just a great way to experience history in a different way.
Lauren: Do they still have those boats that are like drawn by the donkeys?
Cory: They do actually and the main one here in the county is actually at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, they are not running it this year because of the refurbishment of the canal, but it is a very popular experience. I spoke with a park ranger and they said that last year we had more visitors for the canal than the Grand Canyon, so it’s super popular.
David: So Cory, this is a two part question from your marketing work, what are the trends that you are seeing in terms of travel, holidaying, leisure time and so on that help direct your marketing efforts. And secondly, can you give us a brief snap shot of the visitors that come to Montgomery County whether they come from what sort of profile would you give to them?
Cory: Absolutely, I have worked in travel marketing my whole career and the first thing that you do is you want to look at what the destination offers. And in this particular case again our proximity to DC and the fact that we have a Metro system that runs right through the county and connects you right into DC that’s a big factor and people are choosing Montgomery County to come visit, but what we are finding is that people tend to plan a trip to Washington DC, look around, they are a little nervous about the high energy that DC has, the big city experience so to speak.
Lauren: That’s one way of putting it.
Cory: And they are looking for a place that’s comfortable. And all the research that we do in terms of understanding our visitors that’s what they look for is, they look for a comfortable experience. So we find that visitors come here, they feel comfortable, you know they see the value and what Montgomery County offers and then they do the day trips into DC, they do all the fun stuffs and then once the Smithsonian close at 5 or 5:30, they come back here and have a good time, so it’s great.
In terms of trends, it’s culinary experiences anything where an experience relates to the localness of the community, food is the ultimate local experience, because it ties to memory you know it’s very relatable, it’s almost the universal language if you will. And that’s the beauty of Montgomery County is we are so diverse, we have over 1000 different restaurants and it is a great way to get that experience along the way. Weekend getaways is very popular, particularly people who are located within a three to four hour driving radius of Montgomery County so that takes you as far out as Pittsburgh up to New York City down to Richmond and then there is the direct flights from the three major airports we are perfectly positioned between PWI, Dallas and Reagan and those direct flights are coming out from Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, so it is a great easy weekend getaway experience.
David: Great, thank you.
Lauren: Rita do you look for these foods, for these memory when you are out, choosing your destination or is there something else that allows you to choose one national park over another, one destination over another?
Rita: Well I will say that in terms of food in the national parks, it is a little limited, because usually the national parks have a lodge and it has a restaurant in it. So I will say that Bryce which we are going to visit in September is one of the lodge there and the restaurant that they have there had some of the best food that I ever ate in a national park.
Lauren: Where is Bryce?
Rita: So Bryce is probably about 3 hours from Las Vegas in Utah. And it’s a park that you go down into that has what they call hoodoos which are spires made out of red sandstones so they are spectacular in the sunlight. And obviously it is a walking park or hiking park, but some of the parks are more either looking up in the case of Bryce you are looking down. But in terms of other food experiences because I do the national parks mostly, I have to say I don’t remember too much about other food experiences with them so.
David: That might say a lot.
Lauren: But is there is a reason you would choose one park over another or what do you look for when you are choosing a destination?
Rita: Well because I am primarily, I have to say that most of my vacations have been to the national parks, because I really love the concept of the national parks and I have already talked about you know the solitude, the fact that you can enjoy nature that you can actually have an experience, you can enjoy with somebody else. In terms of the national parks, we have gone mostly to the ones on the West Coast because of the scenery, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore we have been to. And so I don’t necessarily have a specific criteria for the national parks other than I am usually looking for, I happen to like mountain, valleys, wild flowers, that sort of thing, so nothing against the everglades, but that is not a park that I actually decided to go to, but I have been to certainly to Charleston and Fort Sumter, so for me it’s just the variation also that the national parks bring. So I will probably see many of them, but not necessarily all of them.
Lauren: Cory you also specialize in culinary tourism, is that correct?
Cory: It’s true, believe it or not I actually have a master’s degree in that yeah, so for me eating is a research.
Lauren: Is that really a fun degree to get?
Cory: It was absolutely, most of my friends are in software or in accounting and we are all getting our graduate degrees kind of around the same time and you know I just remember having conversations with them about, “Oh I have to do all these projects and you know what project are you doing?” I am like, “Well I have to eat at four different barbeque restaurants and write a paper on it,” it was a lot of fun so. My master’s degree is from Chatham University based in Pittsburgh and its part of their Falk School of Sustainability. And so it is a Masters in Food Studies and my research focus was culinary Tourism and Sustainable Community Development is what I focused on. So I actually have the credentials to eat. A big part of that was tourism development really looking and understanding what a community has to offer and developed either tours around it or various tourist attractions, so it was a lot of fun along the way.
Lauren: And what, do you have any special culinary experiences in Montgomery County you would like to share or think our audience should know about?
Cory: Well I think the brewery and winery scene here is really starting to flourish and it’s a very unique way to experience, it’s more than just you know drinking a beer, it’s the whole experience like Waredaca Brewing Company being on a horse farm and gathering together. And what is really interesting to me is, it is not just for adults like these are family type areas where you can bring your kids and you can have a picnic and just have a good time and just hang out. Those are very memorable, my favorite restaurant so far is I am fan of you know after work having a beverage and having appetizers, so I tend to go like Clyde’s at Tower Oaks Lodge.
Lauren: I love Clyde’s.
Cory: Yeah it’s a lot of fun. I have a regular go to server that I always happen to sit in their section, I don’t know if his real name is Phil, but I call him Phil, so it’s a lot of fun.
Lauren: Shout out to Phil.
Cory: Philip you are going to make my martinis, oh it’s a lot of fun. And all the various festivals that happen in downtown Silver Spring, the various food festivals, the Taste of Wheaton is a great memorable experience, so it is a lot of fun.
Lauren: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.
Lisa Navidi: Looking for a way to use that new Kindle or to check out a book without having to leave the house, look no further than MCPL’s e-books. All you need is a library card and you can read on your e-Reader, tablet, smart phone or a computer; the latest bestsellers, old classics, kids books, how-to manuals, travel guides and much more are available at the touch of your finger tips. And after three weeks they return themselves without you having to lift a finger. If you need help getting started ask one of our helpful librarians. We guarantee you will be enormously elated, you can find a link to MCPL’s e-book collections in this episode’s show notes.
Lauren: And now back to our program.
David: So Rita back to MCPL, can you tell us about some of the resources MCPL has for the traveler who might want to learn a language?
Rita: Certainly, so I am going to tell you what I know from our website and what I have learned having worked here. So we have books in nine world languages that include Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Amharic, Russian, French and Bengali. We have three online resources Mango Languages, Muzzy Online and Rosetta Stone. And we have Conversation Clubs that we offer in a variety of different libraries in English, French, and Spanish and we have language learning videos from annenbergfoundationlearner.org. So those are our resources that the library system offers.
Lauren: So you mentioned some of the food festivals around in the area, do you have any other events that take place in Montgomery County that you really feel everyone should know about?
Cory: So in terms of events, both residents and visitors actually end going to our website, visitmontgomery.com, it’s the events pages are by far our most popular pages on our website. So it has really become one of our top resources for those types of events. Some of the popular events that are going one throughout the county, throughout the summer, there is a farm tour and harvest sale that happens throughout the county.
Lauren: Farm tour; what does that entail? What do you get on a farm tour?
Cory: So it is a self-guided tour where there are various farms that participate throughout the Ag reserve and you can actually go to our website and check it out. We have a blog post about it where you can visit various farms and you know learn about the tour, you know learn about the farm itself and purchase our products and all that fun stuff, but really the ultimate goal is to learn a little bit more about the Ag reserve and what the offerings are there. As I mentioned, the Taste of Wheaton is another event that is happening in July and also in June the Tiger Woods Foundation is having the Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament here at the end of June. So that is actually a very popular event that is happening here in the county, it is a great opportunity for people that like golf. I am not a golfer myself, but I would certainly have a blast, just hanging out and watching other people golf.
Lauren: Can you explain to us a little bit, you have mentioned this Ag reserve a few times, I am not quite sure what an Ag reserve is, can you tell us a little more about that?
Cory: Absolutely, people, you can actually visit the Office of Agriculture their website, they do a great description and explanation of what the Ag reserve is. Essentially what it’s, is 93,000 acres that’s reserved solely for agricultural use. So there are parameters around the reserve that limit the amount of development that occurs, one parameter is that you can only have one house or structure per 25 acres. And so the whole goal of it was that back in the day development was happening so quickly that we were very concerned about having all of our land used up for development. And so the county decided to reserve pretty much most of up county for agricultural use, so that way we still have that open space.
Lauren: So that’s why we still have all that farm land there, that makes a lot of sense. So this is a question for both of you, do you have any more favorite vacation destinations, you haven’t already planned Rita, because I know you have got a lot planned, that are still on your Bucket List that you are dying to experience?
Cory: I am actually, I am an avid traveler, I mean I feel that I am the type of person that basically turns my passion for food and travel into a job and so that’s actually been a lot of fun. So I spent a lot of time in the country exploring, I haven’t been to as many national parks as I want to so I am actually going to visit those resources that you just recommended. So I actually am kind of putting my focus more towards the international ground in terms of visiting. So I have been to Africa and explored Africa, but I want to check out South America, Brazil, I want to go to Iceland, Ireland, those are the places that I want to visit, right now they are top of my list. And at some point I will probably end up visiting Australia, but that is a long haul, that’s quite the commitment.
Cory: But on a local level I recently moved to Montgomery County, so I moved from Pittsburgh to Montgomery County back in September. And so it’s actually been fun to visit the county as a tourist, even though I market it, it has been fun.
Lauren: Do you have any staycation ideas besides the ones you have mentioned for those of us who aren’t going anywhere?
Cory: So if you consider yourself a shopaholic you can spend the day up in Clarksburg Premium Outlets.
Lauren: Rita is not in.
Cory: Oh Clarksburg Premium Outlets.
David: Yes yes.
Lauren: I am thinking, I keep driving past it, but I never actually stopped, it’s always where we go like on the way to Sugarloaf or whatever it is out there.
David: You can’t miss it.
Cory: Yeah you can’t miss it. I am a fan of bike riding so riding along the Capital Crescent Trail is actually a lot of fun and it’s just believe it or not I know this is probably going to surprise you, but I actually enjoy riding the Metro.
Lauren: I do too.
Cory: And you can actually do a pretty cool staycation just by riding the Metro and that’s what is so interesting and even here where we are located, you know where we recording this in Rockville, there is a Metro station just a 10 minute walk away, you can hop down and just randomly get off at a stop and --.
David: And it is a great way of seeing the very diverse parts of the area I am thinking.
Cory: Absolutely it really is. And then I also love hoping on the Metro and going in to DC for the day it’s a lot of fun and then I come back out here.
Lauren: We visited when I was five and the Metro was like the standout part of the trip besides the heat and the fact that we didn’t get to see the White House, the train was definitely what sticks with me from when I was five.
Lauren: How about you Rita is there any place that’s not a national park that you were dying to go to?
Rita: Well I have had the good fortune to go to Hawaii and I would like to go back again. We went to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park at that point and of course that is currently closed and Kīlauea is erupting, so we will have to wait to go back for that to settle. I have never done a Fall Color Tour and I have always wanted to do that, I haven’t been able to figure out exactly how to time it so that you are actually seeing the colors. And years and years ago I went to Disney World and I would like to go back I mean --.
Lauren: Disney World.
Rita: I am just, I guess a kid at heart so, but Epcot Center that kind of peace of Disney World. One thing that I do want to mention in terms of travel when you mentioned the Metro, I think that one of the things that people here forget in terms of staycations is that the museums down in Washington DC are all free and when you go anyplace else in the country, usually if you go to a museum you have to pay to go to it. And I think that is one of the important things to remember about this area that you actually can stay in this area and you can do it fairly inexpensively because most of the museums around here don’t charge large amounts of money to get into them.
Lauren: Not even the zoo charges, that just -- my mind.
Rita: Yes, yes.
David: And even actually a lot of the museum in Montgomery County they are either free or very, very low cost. You know the only one that I am really familiar with the charges is the National Capital Trolley Museum and it’s what like $4 or something --, and it’s a cute museum.
Lauren: Well worth your $4.
David: It’s well worth your time.
Cory: It has some great value there.
Lauren: Okay so Rita as you head off into the sunset into the great west and national parks, what are you going to miss most about working at MCPL?
Rita: Well I would say there are several things that I have loved working with a variety of people that I have had a chance to work with in terms of our staff and the branches, our managers. I have had the good fortune to have done many different things in my life here in Montgomery County to have a wide variety of experiences. I would say that the last 10 years working facilities has been my greatest joy, I have really loved doing the work for on our full scale renovations which were Gaithersburg and Olney, on the new construction that we did was Silver Spring and now with Wheaton. And you know my personal passion it is the Refresh Projects that we have introduced where we have actually been able to refurbish, refresh branches much faster than had we put them into the normal renovation cycles. So that has given me an opportunity to not only learn about design and construction, but you know to do the fun things like picking out carpet colors and paint colors. And you know the satisfaction of also delivering buildings to the community where the community really appreciates our facilities. Montgomery County has got individuals of our communities really loves libraries and our refresh projects were meant to be six month closers and even for six months our customers are really, from the day we close to the day we open, they are wanting to know when are we going to open again. And I think that is terrific and we certainly appreciate it a lot and it has been a great joy to work with the community that loves libraries that much.
Lauren: So Rita you have been involved in a lot of refreshes, a lot of new libraries, is there something you want to tell Cory about something you have done that makes Montgomery Library a destination that he should be telling his customers about?
Rita: Well I would say that our libraries are destinations simply because each one of them is very individualistic and very different. Probably one of my favorite renovation facilities is the Olney Library which really calls to people from the road. When we built that facility the community said that nobody could find that library because it was set back from the road. And so when we did that renovation the architect actually pulled that building to the road. And so it has a glass front. So the question was okay what is going to activate that, what’s going to make people see that building and I said, “Put the children’s room there because there is always something happening in the children’s room” and I can say that about most of our libraries, you know I have often thought that we should have a standard design for our facilities just like grocery stores do, but that has never happened with any of our buildings each of them are individualistic and in that respect they are unique experiences. And you have a variety of resources that you can see and we have branches that have painting displays, you know other kinds of displays. So there is a great variety of things that you can see in any of our facilities.
Cory: Well it is actually true, I couldn’t agree more in terms of libraries. I mean when I travel 9 times out of 10 I end up going to even just a bookstore, right, just to check it out. And I feel libraries are so much more than just the book right, it’s a community space, it’s a third place, if you will where you have a chance. Especially people travelers who are looking for a local experience or they want to meet with the locals, the place to be is in the library you really get to experience what a local life is like.
David: So we usually close each episode by asking our guests to tell us about a book they are currently reading, perhaps something other than the travel guide, so I will start with you Rita.
Rita: Well as I have said I am retiring so I can’t read because literally I don’t have the time, but what I will tell you is I have a couple of books that I am anxious to read, one is Madeleine L'Engle' Wrinkle in Time because of the movie that just has come out which is a fabulous movie and as a result of that I want to go back to actually re-read that book, which I read when I was in high school. So I want to see whether or not it is still resonates with me. I just saw Camelot at the Shakespeare Theatre over the weekend and so T.H. White’s Once and Future King is a huge book, but I thought and I think I would like to go back and read that as well. And then years ago I saw Wicked at the National Theatre and Gregory Maguire has a series of books on that theme and so that’s one of the other ones that I want to read.
Lauren: Happy reading Rita, you have earned it.
David: How about you Cory?
Cory: For me my go to a book as I said before I tend to lean on the memoir particular food memoir is Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, it is by far my favorite go to book, she is such a beautiful writer based in New York. And so that right now actually what I am reading is David Sedaris’s new book Calypso, it is really good, a little different than what he has written in the past, but that’s the top of my list. And believe it or not you will actually probably see me more in the periodical section than you would in the book section actually. I read a lot of magazines, Afar Magazine is high on my list, I read Bethesda Magazine actually quite a bit, because it’s a great way to just know what is happening in the area. You know the Condé Nast Traveller all those type, you know Saveur, got to get my recipes. So that’s probably where you will see me the most.
David: Well Rita and Cory thank you very much for sharing your travel interest with us, it has been great having you. And we have certainly learnt a lot today and wish you happy travels.
Rita: Thank you very much.
Cory: Thank you so much.
David: Keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcast. Also please review and rate us on our Apple podcast, we love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today. See you next time.
Summary: Retiring MCPL Assistant Director Rita Gale and Visit Montgomery Marketing Director Cory Van Horn talk about travel and tourism. Rita shares her enthusiasm for America's National Parks and highlights MCPL's travel resources. Cory discusses the incredibly diverse array things to do and see right here in Montgomery County, from the vibrant energy and restaurants of urban centers like Silver Spring and Bethesda Row, to the history and beauty of the C & O Canal. Looking for a brewery on a horse farm? Yeah, we've got one of those. You'll find years worth of local and national travel ideas in this episode.
Recording Date: June 6, 2018
Guests: Rita Gale is MCPL's Assistant Director for Facilities and ADA. She has been with MCPL for over 30 years and will soon be retiring. Cory Van Horn is the Director of Marketing for Visit Montgomery, the official Conference and Visitors bureau of Montgomery County, MD.
Featured MCPL Resource: E-books. Customer can download popular fiction and non-fiction titles from two e-book collections, cloudLibrary and Maryland's Digital eLibrary Consortium (Overdrive). Our Gale Virtual Reference Library includes DK Eyewitness Travel and Pocket Rough Guides that you can read in your browser. See our E-Library Page for a complete list of MCPL e-book collections.
What Our Guests Are Reading (or Will Be Once Their Retire!):
Cory Van Horn: Calypso by David Sedaris. Cory also loves the book Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. He can often be found among the magazines reading Afar, Bethesda, Conde Nast Traveler (available through the RBDigital e-magazine collection), and Saveur.
MCPL Resources Mentioned During this Episode:
Fodor's The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West by Shelley Arenas, et al.
Guide to the National Parks of the United States (various editions)
RBDigital: Travel magazines available through this online e-magazine collection include Backpacker, Conde Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet Traveler, and National Geographic Traveler.
Destinations Near and Far Mentioned During This Episode:
(Destinations in or near Montgomery County are marked local)
Bethesda Row (local)
Butler's Orchard (local)
C & O Canal (local)
Canal Quarters (local) - Spend a night in a C & O Canal lockhouse.
Capital Crescent Trail (local)
Clarksburg Premium Outlets (local)
Clydes at Tower Oaks Lodge (local)
Metrorail, AKA the Metro (local)
Montgomery County Farm Tour (local): Saturday, 7/28 - 7/29
National Trolley Museum (local)
Pike and Rose (local)
Taste of Wheaton (local)
Waredaca Brewing Company (local)
Other Items of Interest:
Bill Bryson: Well regarded humorous travel writer.
Lauren Martino: Hello. Welcome to Library Matters. My name is Lauren Martino and I’m here with a wonderful group of library staff who are crazy about audiobooks. With me today is Vincent Mui – hi, Vincent.
Vincent Mui: Hello.
Lauren Martino: And Barbara Shansby. Welcome to the show, Barbara.
Barbara Shansby: Thank you
Lauren Martino: And Maranda Schoppert.
Maranda Schoppert: Hi, guys.
Lauren Martino: Thank you so much for coming. So I’m going to start with Barbara. Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start listening to audiobooks and like how frequent an audiobook listener are you.
Barbara Shansby: Well, I figured I’ve probably been listening to audiobooks for close to 30 years. I started when they were books on tape, literal cassette tapes that you put in the machine and push the play button, and rewind, and the whole thing. I got kind of hooked because a friend had suggested to me when I needed dental work to listen to music and I thought, “Well, I’m not so much a music person, but I love reading, so maybe if I listen to a book on tape that would distract me enough from the dental torture that I would be okay, and it was great. And I was completely hooked. And now, I always have a book in my car to listen to. I probably listen to about four or five, six a year or something like that. It takes me a long time because I don’t drive that much, and that’s the primary time I listened to but –
Lauren Martino: Or go to the dentist that much.
Barbara Shansby: Right. I’m thinking this. I’m finished with that for now. But I really do enjoy them. I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to read more and to do it in a kind of a different way.
Lauren Martino: Thanks, Barbara. How about you, Vincent, what gets you into audiobooks?
Vincent Mui: So, at one of my previous jobs, I had a long commute, it was maybe an hour and a half in the afternoons, 45 minutes in the morning, and I was going a bit crazy listening to the radio because you can only handle so much of the same personality day in and day out.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Vincent Mui: So, I started listening and then I go through phases between podcast, audiobooks, music, but more recently when I started at the library in June this year, I admittedly did not have a library card until I started because I didn’t see a reason to at the time, but now I see all the resources available to me. And my wife being a librarian gave me a really hard time about not having a library card to the –
Lauren Martino: As she should, yes.
Barbara Shansby: Yeah.
Vincent Mui: So I regret my decision, but I’ve been listening to many, many books over the past year and I’ve – it’s been incorporated into my routine actually. Besides my driving, I listen to it while I’m cooking or doing yard work or at the gym as well.
Lauren Martino: Just to clarify a little bit, Vincent’s a graphic designer so that’s why he can be excused for not having a library card; although, being married to a librarian, Vincent, really?
Vincent Mui: I found it very ironic.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, yeah, but we’re glad you have one now.
Vincent Mui: Yes.
Lauren Martino: You’ve discovered the lovely audiobooks available to you now. How about you, Maranda?
Maranda Schoppert: Well, I’m a little bit like Barbara. I don’t listen to music. I only listen to my audiobooks in the car, like you said, cooking, Vincent. I probably go for go through about 1 a week, depending on how long they are. I’m in the middle of a 32-hour one right now and that’s not going to be done in a week.
Vincent Mui: Goodness.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Maranda Schoppert: But just like you guys, I sort of started with listening to audiobooks when I started commuting and that was it, I’m involved. Audiobooks and me, we’re involved now.
Lauren Martino: Where you’re a thing.
Maranda Schoppert: Yup.
Lauren Martino: So, Maranda, what are qualities that you look for in an audiobook? What makes it something you’re going to choose even if, oh, it’s 32 hours? Wow. Apparently, length is not a – not a matter to turn –
Maranda Schoppert: Nope. Life doesn’t deter me. I listen to the whole Outlander series on audio. And, goodness, that is a long one. For me, the performer is definitely the most important. They need to be able to bring the book to life without trying too hard.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Maranda Schoppert: You know, there’s been a couple of audiobooks where you just, you know, that voice isn’t working. It isn’t working for you. But one of the important things also for me is sound quality. I have a really hard time when the volume in the audiobooks go up and down. The one I’m current currently listening to right now, I have to – depending on the narrator – I have to turn the volume up or turn the volume down. All of a sudden, someone’s screaming at me so –
Lauren Martino: Oh, that’s no good.
Maranda Schoppert: No.
Lauren Martino: So, Vincent, what do you look for when choosing an audiobook?
Vincent Mui: When looking for an audiobook, the story is really important to me. In the beginning of the year – I’m sorry, the beginning of when I first started here, I was more focused on self-improvement, self-help books, but then I decided to change towards more sequential books where – oh, well, I’m sorry, like young adult novels. For example, I guess, the Percy Jackson series, I was listening to that because the storyline is more of very, I guess, kind of viscerally primal, like I have to save the world. It’s a lot of action base so it makes me feel good when the heroes finally saved the day at the end. And then the narrator will be kind of second there.
Lauren Martino: So the plot really drives before you.
Vincent Mui: Yes, the plot is the – that’s that – I guess, that’s how I describe it.
Lauren Martino: Would you say like go on kicks like, you know, okay, it’s time to read all the Percy Jackson books and then.
Vincent Mui: Preferably, I would like to listen to all the books in order. However, if a particular series is a bit heavy, I will have to switch back and forth. I like more lighthearted tone stuff. I was listening to also Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. I’m on the fourth book now but I can’t listen to them in order because I’m pretty sure in every book so far, he’s gotten really close to death or beaten up horribly and –
Lauren Martino: And Percy Jackson doesn’t?
Vincent Mui: Well, not the way it’s – since it’s a young adult, it’s not as bad Jim Butcher –
Lauren Martino: Yeah, it’s lighter.
Vincent Mui: Yeah, it’s more adult-oriented, so there’s a lot more. He describes getting beat up very well and there’s a lot of it involved.
Lauren Martino: Realistically?
Vincent Mui: Yes. He’s constantly bruised, bleeding. But Percy Jackson, it’s more he got cut, he’s not doing really well. So there’s less, I guess, detail there but it’s just –
Lauren Martino: He’s making stupid comments about it.
Vincent Mui: Yeah. Yeah, I need to switch between a bit more lighthearted or I guess maybe because young adult stuff is – it doesn’t really go into describing rather just pacing and narrating the action going on and more action – yeah, there’s – they are doing more rather than describing what they are thinking what they are doing.
Lauren Martino: How about you, Barbara? What’s the deciding factor for you in choosing an audiobook?
Barbara Shansby: Well, I do try to – when I was thinking about the question I was like, “Oh, it’s a good writing. That’s what I’m really looking for,” but, you know, that’s – is that true? Probably not. And I didn’t realize until I heard you talking, Vincent, that I do the same thing. I switch around. So I really don’t like to read two mysteries in a row or two biographies in a row. So I guess that drives me a lot. And the other thing, which is I’m not entirely sure why I’m so obsessed about this, but I really only want new books to listen to.
Lauren Martino: New books?
Barbara Shansby: Yeah, new. I don’t know.
Lauren Martino: Like what you haven’t listened to before or like new –
Barbara Shansby: No. I mean, new after 2016 or something.
Lauren Martino: Really?
Barbara Shansby: When I pick it up, it says 2013, no, I can’t read it. I don’t know. I just – I feel like I have to know the hot new things even though, like, it doesn’t really matter but I do –
Lauren Martino: Like librarian pressure?
Barbara Shansby: Library – yes. You know, that’s it.
Lauren Martino: After ending up on the latest stuff?
Barbara Shansby: Exactly, exactly. If I don’t know the new things, I am just – it’s just this serious problem, so.
Lauren Martino: You know, I won’t tell anybody if you happen to find something from 2009 that you – really strikes your fancy.
Barbara Shansby: I worry.
Lauren Martino: Do any of you find yourself choosing audiobooks that you wouldn’t read in print or vice versa?
Barbara Shansby: Yeah, absolutely. I read – I listened to a lot of nonfiction. I hardly ever read it. I also listen to a lot more mysteries than I read. Again, I agree with Vincent that it’s easier to listen to something that’s a little bit lighter. It’s – I love a good thick book where that’s a bit heavy, although, I don’t read them all the time but I’ll sit down and read it. But to sit and listen, I’m not as willing to do that. And I have to say, I admire you, Maranda, because I also am not willing to take on those big fat ones. It just intimidates me. I’m just like, “No, I can’t do it.”
Maranda Schoppert: I generally don’t realize there that long until after I’ve already started and then it’s too late.
Lauren Martino: You’re already into it?
Maranda Schoppert: I’m a little bit different though. I normally – well, I’m a big fiction girl. For me, listening to the audiobooks, it’s mostly a matter of availability. If the book I want to read is not on the shelf but I can get it in audio or vice versa, that’s what I’ll do. If I’ve started a series in audio, I must finish it in audio. But the one genre that I don’t read that I will occasionally listen to is biographies.
Lauren Martino: Well, what is it about listening biography that makes it okay?
Maranda Schoppert: I actually will only listen to the biographies that are narrated by the person.
Lauren Martino: Oh.
Maranda Schoppert: So, Anna Kendrick’s “Scrappy Little Nobody”. She narrated that one. Felicia Day, she narrated “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)”. Those were really entertaining and I don’t think they would have been done as well by an outside narrator.
Vincent Mui: I’ve only listened to one biography so far narrated by the author which is “Crazy is My Superpower” by A.J. Lee. I’m a wrestling –
Maranda Schoppert: What a great title.
Vincent Mui: Yeah. I’m a wrestling fan and her life is – she used to be a wrestler but she had to retire. However, just hearing it from them is much more personable and you can understand – you can understand the intricacies of it but you pick up on more intricacies on how they’re telling you. And there’s one part where I think she got very emotional and it kind of – you will not get that necessary from a narrator because it did not go through her life. So that’s why if I were to listen to more biographies, it would probably – I would prefer books narrated by the author.
Lauren Martino: So aside from biographies, do you guys prefer books narrated by the author or does it make a difference to you or –
Vincent Mui: I think you have to have a good voice because if it – there is another book I listened to called “The Four Tendencies” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a great book but her voice I’m not fond of and I feel bad now that I’m saying it out loud. But it’s a great book so I was able to listen through it.
Maranda Schoppert: I don’t want an author to narrate my fiction.
Lauren Martino: No?
Maranda Schoppert: I’m not going to lie. I want the professionals to do it. I hate to say that but –
Barbara Shansby: Right. Yeah. I kind of agree. I think they’re usually better if an actor does them but I – just a month or two ago, I listened to Elizabeth Berg, The Story of Arthur Truluv and she narrated it herself, and I don’t know that she has any acting experience, and it was really lovely. She wasn’t the best narrator that I’ve ever listened to but it absolutely worked and it was really wonderful book.
Lauren Martino: I tend to exclude Neil Gaiman from any kind of – like Neil Gaiman can narrate anything, I’m sorry.
Barbara Shansby: Right, right. Yeah.
Lauren Martino: He’s got the duo tap [Phonetic] [0:12:33].
Maranda Schoppert: All right, she’s the exception.
Lauren Martino: He is the exception. He can –
Barbara Shansby: Yeah. What was that The Graveyard Book? Oh, my God, that was wonderful. Oh, that was so wonderful.
Lauren Martino: And Coraline, did you listen to Coraline?
Barbara Shansby: No. Coraline, I read and I really, really did not like it.
Lauren Martino: Really?
Barbara Shansby: So I bet if I had listened to it, it would have been a lot better.
Lauren Martino: The rat’s singing, it’s the scariest thing ever.
Barbara Shansby: I thought it was a pretty disturbing book.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. Also Jason Reynolds, I think, did really well. Like he did – one of his – I think he did Ghost, which was – sorry – children’s librarian. But, yeah, that was a good one. Do you tend to prefer famous actors or do you think, you know, your standard, you know, “I’m a voice actor and that’s what I do” is better or adequate?
Maranda Schoppert: You know what? I will say it’s not 100% true because I love Edward Herrmann who – the grandfather on Gilmore Girls for –
Lauren Martino: Right, right, he – yeah. He’s very good.
Maranda Schoppert: He’s an actor and, yet, he did pass away late 2014 but he narrated The Boys in the Boat and Unbroken and he’s done a bunch of other non-fiction that’s really great.
Barbara Shansby: Yes, I’ve heard him too.
Maranda Schoppert: So I think it depends on the actor. There are some voice actors out there. My personal –
Barbara Shansby: Brendan Fraser.
Maranda Schoppert: Yeah.
Barbara Shansby: Sorry
Maranda Schoppert: – that can’t do – you can’t, you know, just you need that body, you need that interaction between, you know, someone else. And then there are some actors that can do both.
Barbara Shansby: Well, I have to make a comment, which is that when I thought about this question, I realized how many times I love a narrator and then I look on the back of the CD case to see who it was and I’ve never heard of this person. And I read their credits and I would say about 90% of the time that person was in Law & Order. Why is that?
Maranda Schoppert: Everyone Law in Order.
Barbara Shansby: I just –
Lauren Martino: Wow.
Barbara Shansby: I don’t know why. It’s like is that a requirement for reading a book or I don’t know.
Maranda Schoppert: Writing a passage.
Vincent Mui: I –
Lauren Martino: That’s wild.
Barbara Shansby: Isn’t that funny?
Vincent Mui: Listening to the Dresden Files, I didn’t know James Marsters was on Buffy until I looked him up.
Lauren Martino: Wow.
Vincent Mui: He’s played Spike. And then I looked up his age and then it made me realize how old I am because Buffy still feels new to me but it was over 10 years ago at this point.
Lauren Martino: I hate to tell you.
Vincent Mui: But his voice is perfect for the main character and people actually complained when he switched one of the books he did not narrate and people were very – kind of angry about him not being, because you need that consistent voice and did a great job.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Vincent Mui: I was also pleasantly surprised when I was reading – listening to Ready Player One and Will Wheaton is the narrator, and that made perfect sense.
Lauren Martino: Oh yeah.
Vincent Mui: On top of that, there’s a joke in there about Will Wheaton and I’m just chuckling to myself. I’m thinking, “What?” I wonder what he’s feeling right now reading that part.
Barbara Shansby: Now, I have to listen to that one. I read it but now I have to listen to it.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. He did Redshirts too. Are you familiar with Redshirts?
Vincent Mui: No, I’m not.
Lauren Martino: It’s basically – it’s this book long, like, making fun of Star Trek.
Maranda Schoppert: Oh, wow.
Vincent Mui: That’s great.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. And it – but it’s like Will Wheaton was the perfect, perfect choice. I mean, he’s got this kind of second career. It’s like he’s not really an actor anymore, he’s kind of a personality and – but I think audiobook narration works well.
Vincent Mui: Yeah. He’s really had a second resurgence in terms of fame with his board gaming stuff and also his podcasting as well.
Lauren Martino: Have you ever had to give up a book entirely after listening to some of it because the narrator was so grating.
Barbara Shansby: Oh, yeah.
Vincent Mui: I definitely have.
Barbara Shansby: I am very picky. I mean, I think I’m really picky about reading in general. I pick up a book or read a chapter, I’m like, “No, I don’t – it doesn’t – it’s not doing it for me.” But audiobooks I think it’s even harder because you have to like the voice, you have to like – you have to find it captivating. I will sometimes listen to like three minutes of something and just pop it out and take it back, start over.
Maranda Schoppert: Not me. No.
Lauren Martino: No?
Maranda Schoppert: If I start a book, if I start an audiobook, as torturous as it is, I will finish it.
Barbara Shansby: Really?
Maranda Schoppert: The only book I have ever not finished after I started was Moby Dick.
Barbara Shansby: Wow.
Maranda Schoppert: And, yes, it gets painful.
Lauren Martino: You’re stuck with it that long, huh.
Maranda Schoppert: You are, especially if you’re not into – if it’s a boring audiobook and you have a boring narrator, I mean –
Barbara Shansby: There’s no saving to that.
Barbara Shansby: Yeah. I kind of just find myself spacing out in the car a little bit while I’m listening.
Vincent Mui: I had one book. The only time I had to stop was because the narrator was narrating an evil character. His voice got so creepy. I personally got very uncomfortable and I had to stop and I’m not going to name the book just because I was so crept out by his voice.
Maranda Schoppert: Will you tell me later?
Vincent Mui: Yes, I can tell you that later.
Lauren Martino: Can we put it on the show notes?
Vincent Mui: I don’t remember – I don’t know if the library actually has it.
Lauren Martino: Okay, I mean –
Vincent Mui: Yeah, that’s why I didn’t want to bring it up.
Lauren Martino: Oh, okay. But, yeah, that one is too good.
Maranda Schoppert: I love creepy.
Lauren Martino: She had you on for a horror episode. So, Barbara, can you tell us a little bit about MCPL’s resources for audiobooks. What do we have available for just ways of delivering audiobooks to people?
Barbara Shansby: You can get CD books. We have a lot available from many years past. We have them in – we have adult books, fiction and nonfiction, as we said. We have children’s books. We have books for young adults. We also have a series that I wanted to mention, The Teaching Company does courses that are on CD that you can check out and those are really interesting to listen to. We also have a lot of ebook – e-audiobooks available through a few of our – excuse me, digital subscriptions. You can get them through OverDrive, The Maryland Library Consortium. You can get them from a new subscription that we have called RBdigital. They can be downloaded or listen to remotely. All right, and also they do have, again, fiction, nonfiction, adult, children, teen books, all kinds of resources.
Maranda Schoppert: Other resources that the library has for audio or different resources like Project Gutenberg. You can listen to free audiobooks on there. They have a collection. There’s also a couple of different ones on there. Tumble Books for kids. You can listen to different languages.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Barbara Shansby: Oh, I forgot about that. That’s a great resource.
Lauren Martino: So you mentioned Tumble Books. Can you tell us a little bit more about that resource?
Maranda Schoppert: Tumble Books is geared toward the kids. Basically, they’re – it’s animated ebooks that you can check out on the computers that kids can, you know, follow along with the story as well as listen to it. Plus, you might see a little bunny jumping on the screen depending on the book. So it’s really a way to get at the kids in all different directions. You can – they’re reading, they’re watching, they’re doing the screen time, they’re also listening. So you’re sort of helping them get with their literacy, you know, get that early literacy in there in a way that this generation of children can really relate to, I think.
Barbara Shansby: It’s kind of like Reading Rainbow for today’s kids.
Maranda Schoppert: Yeah, definitely. That’s a good – that’s a good one.
Lauren Martino: And my daughter suddenly got into Reading Rainbow, it makes me so happy. I got the old episodes on Amazon. She’s like, “Can we read it again?” I’m like, “Yes. Yes, we can, darling.”
Narrator: And now a brief message about MCPL Services and Resources.
Female Narrator: Hey, if you’re not doing anything Saturday night, June 9th, come and listen to an award-winning author talk about his inspiring work. Ethiopian American author, Dinaw Mengestu will speak about his novel “The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears”, about an Ethiopian immigrant who runs a failing convenience store in Washington D.C. This book is the pick for the 2018 Big Read Montgomery sponsored by National Endowment for the Arts. The event will be held Saturday June 9th at 7:30 at the Silver Spring Library. You must register online. You can find more information about this event in this episode’s show notes.
Narrator: Now back to our program.
Lauren Martino: So we all agree audiobooks are amazing. Are there any downsides to listening to something on audiobook or any reason you’d avoid audiobook versus like the print version of something?
Vincent Mui: So, my main disadvantage with audiobooks is that I would get into them too much. I was listening to – I don’t remember what portion it was but it was something funny and I was at the gym and there was a heavyweight over me and it almost – I could have hurt myself seriously because I started laughing in the gym and I had to really put the weight down. And when you’re lifting higher weights, it’s a little bit dangerous. And I – actually, I had two incidents where the weight fell on me. I rolled it off when I was bench pressing.
Barbara Shansby: Oh, no.
Vincent Mui: I was fine. It just I had to be more aware. Maybe I should not listen to something funny while I’m lifting something heavy over my head.
Lauren Martino: Do you think there’s – I’m sorry. That’s not funny. You’re –
Vincent Mui: No, no it is funny. I love telling the story. Audiobooks can seriously injure you.
Barbara Shansby: Right. Beware.
Lauren Martino: Is there anything you wanted to talk about the evils and dangers of audiobooks, Barbara?
Barbara Shansby: Well, it can’t match –
Lauren Martino: Corrupted youth.
Barbara Shansby: Absolutely, it can’t match Vincent’s story, but I was just going to say that I realized that when you’re listening to a book, you’re listening to every word; whereas, when you read a book, you can just skip over certain things. So, sometimes they’ll have a list of whatever. And in an audiobook, they have to read every single thing on the list.
Lauren Martino: Oh, gosh.
Barbara Shansby: Right? If you were sitting there in your chair at home with the actual book, you would just turn the pages. About two weeks ago, I was listening to a book called Seven Days of Us, which was really fun and it was written as a series of letters and emails and notes and – so, every email that was in the book she read – the narrator read out the entire address. Mary underscore Wilson at, you know, Maryland dot Library dot U.S. dot – like, I’m like what?
Lauren Martino: Just glance at it and not even paying that much attention, yeah.
Barbara Shansby: So that was kind of annoying but it was a good enough book that I kept listening.
Maranda Schoppert: You do sometimes miss out on certain things unless you look at the accompanying material. A lot of audiobooks will have, check out this PDF afterwards. So like Dan Brown’s Origin, same thing, you’re missing all these kind of like symbol images and whatnot, part of the symbolism of the story that you either have to go back and look in the book or see if they have that, you know, PDF copy in – with it.
Lauren Martino: That’s kind of like the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” audios, I’ve never actually listened to one but I’m like, “Why? Why?” Or, yeah, I think I listen to a Stephen Hawking book once like the Brief History of Time and it’s like, “I need a diagram for this. I do not understand what’s going on.”
Barbara Shansby: Well, I don’t know. I listen to Curious Incident of a Dog which apparently had a lot of illustrations and I thought it was fantastic, amazing on audio, and I loved it. And I didn’t miss those illustrations or whatever or diagrams that they included in the book but I didn’t care, you know. I had a different experience.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, sometimes a narrator is good enough to make up for it. All right, so here’s your chance, gush about any favorite audiobooks, any favorite narrators, anything that sticks out in your mind as memorable.
Maranda Schoppert: Well, I’m going to gush about a book for a second. But first, I will say that one of my favorite narrators is Fiona Hardingham. She does a lot of Y.A. Sometimes I don’t even know it’s her until the end and I’m like, “That’s why I love this book. It’s Fiona Hardingham.”
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Maranda Schoppert: She narrates some Maggie Stiefvater, Sabaa Tahir “An Ember in the Ashes”, Sophie Kingsley, Kiersten White. And she just had such a diverse voice. I mean, you go to – you go and look at her bio, she’s got pages and pages of audiobooks that she does. Primarily Y.A., so she does a really good job with that. But I’m going to gush over Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It’s one of my favorite books and I think it’s more for the plot rather than the narrator. The narrator has a very thick accent that was really hard to get over in the beginning, but then I’m like – I probably listened to this audiobook like three times already, so – and I’ve read the book twice. So, there are definitely are some that you can just, “It’s different every time you listen to it.”
Lauren Martino: Sometimes the plot just takes over and you don’t care what the – right – what the narrator sounds like.
Maranda Schoppert: Yup. Absolutely.
Lauren Martino: How about you, Vincent?
Vincent Mui: I just want to give a shout out to the narrator of the Percy Jackson series only because there’s a Pegasus in the book and he tries to talk like a horse.
Lauren Martino: That’s awesome.
Vincent Mui: I think that’s what caused me to almost hurt myself at the gym now that I think about it, because he talked like Mister Ed and I had to give him props, like the effort. He actually went to create a new character voice for him. I was very – that was a great moment for me.
Lauren Martino: So you’re not discriminating against the horse characters?
Vincent Mui: Nope.
Lauren Martino: I love it.
Barbara Shansby: Okay. So I have to say when I started listening to audiobooks, there were probably about 20 actors who read – who consistently read books, and so everybody have their favorites, and now it’s wonderful because I don’t even know who I like. I just listen to the book. There are so many different readers but I do have a weakness for British accents, so any –
Vincent Mui: I think everybody does.
Barbara Shansby: Yeah. Any book that’s takes place in England or whatever, that’s a good book. And I guess three that I really, really enjoyed were among my most memorable. I listen to the sequel to Peter Pan called Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean and it was so much fun on audio. I really loved it. And then I went back and listened to the original Peter Pan just to –
Lauren Martino: Jim Dale?
Barbara Shansby: And that’s Jim Dale.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Barbara Shansby: Which, I mean, he was amazing on Harry Potter but I think I got a little tired of him somehow but it was totally different. Peter Pan was terrific. And then the other audiobook that I really want to mention because it was just so much fun was Martin Short did an autobiography called I Must Say and he sang on it and he tells his stories that are so funny. Actually, I started listening to it and then I decided it was too funny I have to save it for a trip so my husband can listen to it too.
Lauren Martino: Oh, for when you’re weightlifting.
Barbara Shansby: And then for my weightlifting, so I get it. I just loved it. And that’s – also Steve Martin did an autobiography.
Lauren Martino: Oh, boy.
Barbara Shansby: Right. Which again so funny, with another one that I listen to with my husband on a long trip.
Lauren Martino: Was he playing the banjo.
Barbara Shansby: I don’t think he did.
Lauren Martino: No?
Barbara Shansby: Maybe at the beginning, maybe the entrance. So, and now I’m listening to a book, although that’s going to be your last question what book are you listening to, right? I’m listening to a book about a lady’s choir, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and they have some choir singing for a few of the hymns that they talk about, so that’s pretty neat.
Lauren Martino: Oh, that’s cool.
Barbara Shansby: Yeah. I remember listening to a book about Marian Anderson and I’m just like, “You got to put –” like, it’s probably in the public domain, Marian Anderson. You could probably have stuck her in there.
Barbara Shansby: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: So I know some people feel very, very strongly about a single narrator versus full cast. Where do you guys stand on that?
Maranda Schoppert: I prefer a single narrator. It’s not the end of the world if there are multiple narrators but I just think a good narrator can achieve the same thing by doing it by themselves rather than having a cast of narrators. I don’t know. That’s just me. I’m also not a big fan of having sound effects in my audiobooks.
Vincent Mui: Oh.
Maranda Schoppert: For children’s books, yes, because I think that helps.
Barbara Shansby: Sure, why not.
Maranda Schoppert: But I want the narrator to be entirely on the narrator, but that’s just – that’s just me.
Lauren Martino: It can be distracting.
Maranda Schoppert: Yeah. It can be a little distracting and I almost find – sometimes find it a little cheesy. Like, you know, the drums are beating and then you hear drums in the background and you’re like, “Really? Like, okay.”
Lauren Martino: I could have inferred that.
Maranda Schoppert: Yeah.
Vincent Mui: I don’t think I’ve listened to any audiobooks with more than one narrator. However, I do like narrators that have a lot of range, particularly if it’s – if they’re narrating the main character and then women, if there’s – some of them can do a good female voice, some of them can’t.
Barbara Shansby: Not so much.
Vincent Mui: And I do actually appreciate some music in the background but very subtle. I think I was listening to the Thrawn novel and he would have ambient space noise, which really suited the – oh, actually, now that I think about it, there were laser blasts but it’s a Star Wars novel, so I was okay with it. But his range was really good in terms of engrossing me into the book.
Barbara Shansby: Yes. So, I was thinking that that’s another thing that maybe has changed somewhat over time. Seems to me when I started listening to audiobooks, it was more likely to be a full cast kind of thing with different narrators. And I think it just depends on the book for me, sometimes that’s – that enriches the experience. I listened to, what’s it called, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, and they had different readers for the different characters and it was really good. And then I was just thinking that I have listened to a book like that in a long time and this one that I’m – this Chilbury Ladies’ Choir is a cast and it has different characters narrated by different actors and it’s great. So, but I think the trend is much, much more to a single narrator. And I kind of agree with Maranda on the whole, if you asked me which I prefer, usually that’s kind of makes it more like the reading experience, it’s a little bit more seamless.
Lauren Martino: So we’ve heard what Barbara’s reading. Vincent What are you reading right now or listening to that you’d like to talk to us about.
Vincent Mui: I am actually listening to the Divergent series by Veronica Roth and it’s very different because it’s – the target demographic for the Divergent series is young women. So the writing style is different and there’s a lot more description about physical closeness.
Maranda Schoppert: Huh.
Vincent Mui: And –
Lauren Martino: That’s a teen book for you.
Vincent Mui: Yes. It’s a teen book but gears toward young women. So I’m having a bit of trouble because I feel awkward listening to her describe a kiss or her physical closeness to the male character that she is attracted to and I get a little uncomfortable a bit. I was with my wife in the car on our way back from New York City. I drive back and forth occasionally and I like to listen to audiobooks. I started – she – I don’t think she tolerated me very well because of my reactions to listening to the scenes of, yeah, I don’t – yeah, that’s –
Barbara Shansby: Were you giggling?
Vincent Mui: No, I was – I was more like, “Are you serious?” How many times do I have to listen to her describe, like, feeling electric or shivering or her heart beating, pounding through her ears, and it’s just – I got uncomfortable because the protagonist is 16.
Lauren Martino: Oh, God.
Barbara Shansby: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Like, hon, you’re too young.
Vincent Mui: I am twice her age and a guy and married and it’s just – I can’t relate. I just wanted more of the action but –
Lauren Martino: You should probably not listen to Twilight.
Vincent Mui: Oh, no, no, not even going to – hmm.
Maranda Schoppert: Well, Vincent, you might like listening to what the series I’m currently listening to. I’m listening to the fourth and I will say hopefully final book in the Red Rising series, Iron Gold, by Pierce Brown. The first three books are fantastic and the third book actually I was completely like the ending ended perfectly, there should not be a fourth book but there is a fourth book and so far it’s okay. It’s one of those 23 plus hour ones though.
Vincent Mui: Oh, goodness.
Barbara Shansby: Wow.
Maranda Schoppert: But it’s definitely got a lot of action. There are some, you know, basically like lightsabers type of fighting with these – yeah.
Vincent Mui: Oh, okay, I’m down for this.
Maranda Schoppert: And it takes place through space and everything like that, so that one’s got a lot of action and it’s actually an example of one with multiple narrators that, like, I’m kind of like, “Hmm,” because the first three books only had one narrator.
Vincent Mui: Oh.
Maranda Schoppert: And now this fourth one has three.
Vincent Mui: Yeah, that’s a bit jarring when the narrator changes in the middle of a series because they say things slightly different.
Barbara Shansby: Oh, yeah.
Vincent Mui: So, the Percy Jackson series had one narrator then the Heroes of Olympus, which came afterwards, was a different narrator and he was saying their names differently.
Maranda Schoppert: Oh, gosh, drives me crazy.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Vincent Mui: And I was – and I was screaming in my mind saying, “You’re not seeing it right. The other guy didn’t say it this way. Why are you saying it that way?” I got over it eventually.
Maranda Schoppert: Or like sometimes when you read a book and then it’s so good you decide you listen to it but the way you said the characters names in your head is not the way the narrator says it and you’re like, “Oh, man. Either you’re like I’m wrong or you’re mad because it should be a different way.”
Barbara Shansby: Right, right. That happened to me with that Alexander McCall Smith, his #1 Ladies which I read as a book and then I listened to one of them, the mysteries and I wasn’t even close to getting the names of any of these African people. But I really was glad to hear how they’re supposed to sound.
Lauren Martino: Well, thank you so much for joining us, Barbara, Vincent, and Maranda. And thank you for listening to our podcast and taking time out of your busy audiobook’ listening schedule to listen to our podcast. Make sure to put whatever you like on hold because people will be asking for it all summer long as they are getting ready for vacation, so we wish you a very happy listening on any drive or – you may be taking or while mowing the lawn. And please 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 rate us on Apple Podcasts. We’d love to know what you think. Thanks for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.
Summary: Audiobook enthusiasts and MCPL staff members Vincent Mui, Maranda Schoppert, and Barbara Shansby share their love for audiobooks; talk about the advantages, disadvantages, and hazards of audiobooks; and recommend titles that will be music to your ears.
Recording Date: May 9, 2018
Host: Lauren Martino
Featured MCPL Resource: Award-winning author and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Dinaw Mengestu will speak about the inspiration for his book The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears and his experiences as an Ethiopian immigrant. Silver Spring Library, Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 7:30 PM. Registration required.
What Our Guests Are Reading:
Books Mentioned During this Episode:
#1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Narrated by Lisette Lecat.
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. Narrated by Steve Martin.
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. Narrated by Michael Jackson.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Narrated by Neil Gaiman.
Crazy Is My Superpower by A.J. Mendez. Narrated by A.J. Mendez.
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon. Narrated by Jeff Woodman.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. Narrated by Ramon De Ocampo.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. Narrated by Gretchen Rubin.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Narrated by Guy Lockard.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Narrated by Neil Gaiman.
I Must Say by Martin Short. Narrated by Martin Short.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Narrated by Rob Inglis.
Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Narrators vary.
My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Picoult. Narrated by an ensemble cast.
Origin by Dan Brown. Narrated by Paul Michael.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (series) by Rick Riordan. Narrated by Jesse Bernstein.
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. Narrators vary.
Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean. Narrated by Tim Curry.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Narrated by Will Wheaton.
Redshirts by John Scalzi. Narrated by Will Wheaton.
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick. Narrated by Anna Kendrick.
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak. Narrated by Jilly Bond.
Thrawn by Timothy Zahn. Narrated by Marc Thompson.
Uprooted by Naomi Novak. Narrated by Julia Emelin.
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day. Narrated by Felicia Day.
Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Popular American supernatural television series which featured noted audiobook narrator James Marsters as Spike.
The Great Courses by The Teaching Company: A popular series of academic lectures in audio or video format covering a vast array of topics, from Victorian Britain to Cybersecurity.
Law & Order: Popular American police procedural that anecdotally has featured many people who have also narrated audiobooks.
Project Gutenberg: A vast collection of free ebooks and audiobooks. The audiobooks are mostly out-of-copyright titles read by volunteers.
Reading Rainbow: A PBS educational television series that ran from 1983 to 2006. Each episode focused on a topic from a book or children's literature and included reading recommendations.
Tumblebooks: An online collection of animated, talking picture books. Includes story books, chapter books, nonfiction, videos, and more.
David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.
Julie Dina: And I’m Julie Dina.
David Payne: And in today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about Summer Read and Learn 2018. The summer period is, for those of us who work in public libraries, without a doubt, the busiest time of the year. And while summer reading has changed in the way it’s organized, the way it’s done over the years, the overall aim is still very much the same of stimulating and encouraging reading. And talking about MCPL’s upcoming Summer Read and Learn Program, we have two guests today, first of all, Christine Freeman. Welcome, Christine.
Christine Freeman: Hi, thank you.
David Payne: Christine is the Manager of the Noyes branch as well as the Early Literacy and Children Services Manager as well. So thank you for taking time in your undoubtedly busy schedule to be with us.
Christine Freeman: I’m glad to be here.
David Payne: And joining us today as well, we have a voice you may well recognize if you’re a regular listener, that of Lauren Martino, our head of Children’s Services at the Silver Spring Branch.
Lauren Martino: Hi, David. Thanks for having me.
David Payne: And if you’re confused, don’t be. Lauren is, as you may well know, usually found in the hosts chair. She’s now in the guest chair. I will know if you’re really confused if you start asking me questions about something. Anyway, welcome, Lauren.
Lauren Martino: Thanks David.
David Payne: So let’s start with our first question and let me start with Christine. Tell us about yourself, your role as MCPL’s Early Literacy and Children’s Services Manager.
Christine Freeman: So my name is Christine Freeman. I was previously the – I’m head of Services and Children Services at Noyes Library and I’m the Branch Manager of Noyes Library. As the Early Literacy and Children’s Services Program Manager, my responsibilities include all of our reading programs, which include Summer Read and Learn and 1000 Books before Kindergarten. And don’t forget you can sign up for both of them at the same time if your children are under fives. Summer Read and Learn is going to be a lot of fun this year. The theme is Libraries Rock because we do.
And we have lots of fun programs that feature actual rocks and rock music. So there’s something for everyone. We have game boards for the kids. You can log things online. It’s just fantastic. We also have game boards for even little kids for zero to five. We have early literacy and game, so we won’t need the little ones out this year. And children’s, we have six to 12, and then of course our teens, we don’t want to forget them, they are 13 to 17.
David Payne: And Lauren, and your role as Head of Children’s at Silver Spring, tell us a bit about your department how you’re preparing for summer reading.
Lauren Martino: Oh, gosh. We’re doing what we can. Right now we are contacting all of the schools and, well, I’ve contacted them and now I’m following them, getting back to the ones that haven’t gotten back into me just to make sure we visit all the schools and get the word out. We are coordinating volunteers to help us out because this is a big undertaking. I know a lot of people, I guess you come to the library and you see all of these faces but so many – we’ve got so many volunteers that help out every year, teens that come out of the woodwork ready to help. We are just getting our materials organized.
I feel like I’ve got like battle plans drawn up in my office, kind of my organizational software out there, it’s color coded. Yeah. So this is – and just getting everybody on board, just making sure all the staff members know like this is what you do. And we have so many like subs that come through Silver Springs. So it’s like not only the people that are here all the time, the people that, you know, may not be here all the time.
David Payne: Do you find with each year that you do it, you have more of it nailed down?
Lauren Martino: I do. I do. This has been – let’s see, this is year number – this is the fourth year I’ve been doing this as the person in charge of a branch or a – not a branch but a department, so, yeah, slowly, I’m getting, you know, the first year I was like, “You want me to do what? What? We never did this. What are you doing?” But, yeah, we’re getting better and just as, you know, we have a place to put everything now. That first year, we were open at Silver Spring. It was like we’re carrying all our summer reading materials around in bags, like, it was just, you know, anytime you open a new branch, it’s like you can figure out what you’re doing. But, yeah, we got that all down this year. I think it’s going to be a good year.
David Payne: Great.
Julie Dina: Yay.
Christine Freeman: I do think too that since the last past couple of years, we’re trying to make it easier for customers and more simple of a program for staff so that is more fun and easier too.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. And I think it has gotten a lot better. Yeah, I think we’re getting in the groove of it.
Julie Dina: So with all of this excitement, you know, and I – not only staff is excited but I bet the kids who are going to be participating are also excited, when exactly does the summer reading program begin and end?
Christine Freeman: It begins on June 9th and we will go all through the summer up until September 9th, so there’s plenty of time to get it finished. So everybody should complete their summer reading challenge this year.
Lauren Martino: Yes, don’t just start, complete everybody. You can do it.
Julie Dina: Is there anyone who doesn’t?
Christine Freeman: Just a few. We’re working on that this year. We’re working on that this year.
Julie Dina: Now, another question that I wanted to ask is why exactly is it important for kids to read over the summer.
Lauren Martino: Well, there’s been a lot of talk about this phenomenon called the Summer Slide where some research suggests that kids that don’t read over the summer especially lower-income kids, kids that are kind of disadvantaged in general can actually start the next school year a month behind where they stopped. So imagine going to school in September and you’re, you know, a seventh grader who’s, you know, gotten through school in April instead of May and some people suggest that this is actually cumulative so, you know, you lose one month one year and then you lose another month the next year and, you know, you can see how you’d go through and be almost a year behind at the end of your schooling.
This has come under some scrutiny there are people that suggest that, you know, studies say different things. I’ve seen a lot of people that suggest too. It’s like, “Well, if you’re forgetting it or if you’ve really learned it –” like library programs in general and just reading for fun in general really focuses kids on doing stuff that’s fun, it’s learning but it’s fun and that fun is going to make whatever they learn stick in their brains that much better. So anything that they would have learned that, you know, is just going to slide off of them because they’ve learned it for the test because, gosh, I know that was like for college career, you know, but you’ve read it. It’s like, you know, what you get from reading the entire Captain Underpants series? You know, seriously, you know, it’s, you know, and the parents will come in and it’s like, “I don’t want my kids reading that trash.” And, you know, there’s, you know, something going to be said for expanding horizons and –
David Payne: They’re reading, that’s the main point, yeah, yeah.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, but, you know, it’s like the quantity really makes a difference. When you’re reading a lot of stuff, and kids read a lot of stuff and they’re reading stuff that’s fun, so we’re really just out to get kids to look at that and to try some of this stuff out. And we’ve got other activities that we’re going – that we’re encouraging kids to do through this program, things like make a pet rock or, let’s see, read a book that takes place in another country. They’re going to, you know, ask them to expand those horizons a little bit. But we will count any book in place of any of these activities. So if you want to read all the Captain Underpants, you know, you can – that’s your program, you know. We will count that. Do you have anything to add, Christine?
Christine Freeman: I just said a lot of the activities that we have on our boards are not only to keep the kids engaged but also to have families and kids engaged together. So like one of them is listen to a grown-up favorite song. So you have to ask your grown-up what is your favorite song and then you can listen to it together, then you can talk about it, maybe do a little dance. So just –
Lauren Martino: Karaoke.
Christine Freeman: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
Christine Freeman: Just mashed potatoes twist, I’m not sure.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Christine Freeman: So it’s just getting parents and kids to do things together instead of just sitting on the couch watching TV but actually doing activities together, I think.
Julie Dina: I like the sound of that.
David Payne: Sounds good.
Julie Dina: Yeah.
David Payne: Yeah. So each summer reading program every year has a different theme. And perhaps, you can tell us, Christine, a bit about this year’s Summer Read and Learn theme and what kinds of events that we have lined up that tie-in with that theme.
Christine Freeman: So this year’s theme is Libraries Rock and that’s for all of our age groups. And I think the most exciting program we’re going to have is going to be our dance parties and we’re going to have them all across the county and libraries throughout the system. And those dance parties, we have a bubble machine, we have some colored lights to fastened on the ceiling.
Lauren Martino: I’m so excited when I read about that. It’s going to be awesome.
Christine Freeman: We have some day-glow bracelets for the kids. We’re going to have a photo op so the kids will could then become just as the favorite rock star or music musician or they can just come with some crazy hair, and we’re going to have photo opportunities for them to take pictures and hopefully tag us on Instagram or Facebook. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun this year. I’m excited for our theme.
David Payne: That’s great. And, Lauren, how are you preparing for Libraries Rock?
Lauren Martino: Libraries Rock. Oh, I got this one program that we’re really excited about called Video Games at the Symphony. We actually have this group called The Washington Metropolitan Gamer Symphony Orchestra coming and presenting this event where they’re going to, you know, talk about video game music a little bit, which is, you know, a thing. This is a thing. People create this gorgeous music for video games. And then, you know, they’re going to perform and then the kids get to play with the instruments, which I’ve kind of been wanting to do something like that forever and then, you know, this kind of fell into our laps like, yeah, yeah, we’ll do this.
Somebody that actually listened to the CD that came with my Wii that’s like nothing but Zelda Music. And, yeah, my daughter like just starts dancing to it. I’m like, “Yeah, this is good music.” So we’re really excited about that. Let’s see, we’ve got a clown coming for our kickoff June 9th. Everybody, I think just about all the libraries are doing some sort of kickoff event or some sort of open house event, so we’re really hoping people will come out for that.
David Payne: Sounds exciting.
Julie Dina: Yeah.
Christine Freeman: Yeah. That should be good. We also have that program at Rockville as well.
Lauren Martino: Oh, the gamer program, yes.
David Payne: So, Christine, did you come up with a theme? How do you arrive at with this theme?
Christine Freeman: So the theme was selected by the CSLP, which is a Collaborative Summer Library Program, that’s a nationwide program that libraries use for themes. And they have graphics that we can use. They have activities we can use, booklist, that type of thing. But this year I think it’s going to be really fun to incorporate music and rocks into our program.
Lauren Martino: I love the summer reading theme where it’s like, you know, dig into reading or it’s like, archeology or construction or you get someone to play with it.
Christine Freeman: Yeah, archeology.
David Payne: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Yeah.
David Payne: Great, thank you. And so do they come up with the theme sort of year by year or do they have a sort of five-year plan of –
Christine Freeman: They do you think ahead and next year will be type of a space theme. It’s being blogged at the moment.
Lauren Martino: I’m excited with that.
David Payne: Interesting. Okay.
Christine Freeman: I think that’ll be a lot of fun.
David Payne: Correct.
Christine Freeman: But they do think ahead of time. They actually will get this I think from the moment it stops, they start up again. Basically, the same as we do here at Montgomery County.
David Payne: Great.
Christine Freeman: We take like a two-week break and then start up again for next year.
David Payne: Right, it never ends, yeah, yeah.
Christine Freeman: It’s ongoing.
Julie Dina: I know you mentioned the dance parties earlier, will that be at all of MCPL branches or only specific ones?
Christine Freeman: It won’t be at all of them but it will be at the majority of them. So you can check our ongoing calendar on our website and that will tell you all the dance parties will be located or you can check your branch specifically and look for the dance parties or ask your librarian and they’ll be happy to tell you.
Julie Dina: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.
Lisa Navidi: Summer may mean vacations, beaches, travel, and sunscreen. But at MCPL, it also means summer reading. Whether you and your family are on the beach, on your porch or in a plane, we have a reading list tailored to your child’s age and grade, and a special list just for adults. You can find a link to our reading lists in this episodes show notes.
Julie Dina: Now back to our program.
David Payne: So one of the important parts important, important elements of summer readings are always the programming that goes along with it. And I think animal programs are probably some of the most popular ones that we find. As in past years, can we expect animal programs throughout the MCPL system? And how can we find out when and where?
Christine Freeman: Yes. We will actually have Glen Echo Park Aquarium. They do Touch the Sea Programs throughout and we have different themes. Like one of them will be sharks, so they’ll probably have a baby shark, love it. They bring live animals out in an aquarium and they had this really cool microscope that they can project that up to the wall so everybody gets to see even if they’re a little bit in the back. And then at the end, usually less people walk by and they can get a close-up look of the animals. But he breaks it down and makes it very interactive with the children and the adults and it’s learning as well as having fun.
Lauren Martino: See, we’ve got a number of other programs going on around the system as a – see, we’ve got Nature on Wheels presenting “Raptors!” on June 7th at Rockville. We’ve got a program called Reptile Rangers going on in the Maggie Nightingale Library on Saturday June 23rd. And the Maryland Zoo is presenting a number of programs as well. They’re going to Kensington on July 28th and they’ll also be at Germantown on August 22nd, presenting amazing adaptations.
Julie Dina: So it’s to no surprise that the Montgomery County Public Library runs a great summer reading program. However, I will like for you, either of you, to tell us some of the challenges that you actually come across in running a great program.
Lauren Martino: Wrapping your head around everything that is to happen? Yeah, it’s a lot. I found having really good volunteers on-hand helps a lot. Let’s see, just making sure everybody knows what’s going on. I work at a very, very big branch. I don’t know, this is probably a different challenge than maybe what Noyes, for example, faces with, you know, three people. But just making sure everybody knows what’s going on and what to do and where everything is located and things like that. Just also that in the libraries, which is super busy during the summer anyway.
Julie Dina: I imagine.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, I just – I always forget just how exhausting summer is but it’s all worth it, it’s all worth it. You see kids that you don’t see as much during the year and they’ve got big smiles on their faces and they’re just so excited. And when they come in and they’ve gotten their prize, you know, it’s like, yeah, that makes it all worth it.
Christine Freeman: I think for me in planning the program, the challenge I find is finding prizes that everybody will like. So this year, this year –
Lauren Martino: This year.
Christine Freeman: – we have a big treasure chest and it’s going to have all kinds of prizes in it. So I’m sure that you can find something you like. And some of those things will be recorders. There’ll be mustache whistles. They’ll be, for the little ones, Play-Doh. There’ll go charts for the little ones. I’m trying to think of all the cool stuff that’s in there. But lots of music type things, blow-up guitars, everybody wants a blow-up guitar.
Lauren Martino: I really want to see those book parts at our dance parties. I’ve seen them.
Christine Freeman: Yeah. We have bandanas -- bandanas that are decorated for our theme, Libraries Rock. So I think the good thing is the kids can choose a prize that they like, and hopefully that will encourage them to keep it over the summer because the more they read, the more prizes they get.
Lauren Martino: I’m also digging these like Rockstar themed rubber duckies. Yeah.
David Payne: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Oh gosh. And these are ribbons to dance with.
Christine Freeman: The dance ribbons are fun.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Christine Freeman: And we have the sticks.
Lauren Martino: The didgeridoo type of sticks?
Christine Freeman: The groan sticks.
Lauren Martino: Oh, so the groan.
Christine Freeman: So you turn them upside down and they go, "Rrrawn!" and then you put all handful of them together.
Lauren Martino: Hey, kids, take this down to the fourth floor where the grownups are all studying.
Christine Freeman: You can use the kazoos to wake up your parents in the morning.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah.
Christine Freeman: Lots of fun stuff in the treasure chest.
David Payne: Yeah. Yeah.
Christine Freeman: And for the teens, we have cool stuff too and they live in a teen prize bag, not a treasure chest, a teen prize bag.
Lauren Martino: Oh.
David Payne: Oh.
Christine Freeman: And in there, we have like fidgets, we have some coloring pencils and color books. We have PopSockets for phones, we have ear buds that type of things.
Julie Dina: Teens always love that.
Christine Freeman: Yeah. They get to pick something cool also.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. We felt really old around them just like, “What does this PopSockets thing we’re giving out?” No, it’s cute. And I noticed them on every teen’s phone, like, cool, you guys are way ahead of us.
David Payne: Some great prizes there. So, now, I’m going to put you on the spot a bit and ask both of you, if you had a choice, who would be your dream Summer Read and Learn performer?
Lauren Martino: We can choose anybody?
David Payne: Yes, absolutely anyone.
Lauren Martino: Oh, gosh. I love Laurie Berkner or Jim Gill. We just went to a workshop with him.
Julie Dina: Jim Gill.
Lauren Martino: Oh, my gosh, I want Jim Gill. Jim Gill, if you’re listening, I love your workshop the other day.
Christine Freeman: Do you want to see librarians fan girl?
Lauren Martino: Oh, my God. Oh, yeah, yeah, no, we saw it. We saw it. Some girl brought her ukulele to be signed at this workshop and I’m like, “Oh, I should have brought mine” Oh, my goodness. I should have brought my banjo.
Julie Dina: Should have brought everything.
Lauren Martino: I should have brought – oh, gosh, I could have him signed everything.
Christine Freeman: He is amazing.
Lauren Martino: He is amazing. Just somebody who really – it started off like in special – he was doing like family playtime like in college, just working with kids with special needs and then he got a Master’s in Education. You know, he is a fun musician. But he just gets kids and he gets what’s he needs to do. He gets it, so, okay.
Julie Dina: Wow.
Christine Freeman: And everything he does so looks so well with every child ready to read because he is all about play and he is all about seeing, he is all about reading, he is all about writing. So it’s just – it works so well.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. Although you know –
Christine Freeman: We'll stop fan girling, really.
Lauren Martino: And fan girl. Oh, I don’t know. So Damascus is having milkshake, I think that would be pretty awesome too you know. And Jacks Are Wild, you know, you know, some of these dream programs that I would like to have at my branch or happening at other branches this year. So, go out and take advantage, guys. It’s like, yeah, I feel like – I had a co-worker the other day who was like, “Jacks Are Wild. Let’s get them, let’s get them.” And we can get them for our branch. But Gaithersburg has them June 16th, so.
David Payne: Maybe next year.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. Oh, gosh.
Julie Dina: It’ll be your turn.
Lauren Martino: Christine, if you’re scheduling. That’s what we want.
Christine Freeman: And we have some other great performers. We have Eric Energy. We have Groovy Nate. We’re going to have just many, many performers, too many to name, all over the system. And if you miss them at One Library, check out calendar because more than likely, they will be in another library during the summer. You can always ask our librarians, they can help you. Look at all calendar and see if they’re available at the library.
Julie Dina: So while we’re on that same topic, is there a specific picture book or chapter book you wish every kid could read over the summer?
Lauren Martino: I was thinking about this last night. Picture book, I have to go with Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. I’m sorry if I’m slaughtering her name. But, yeah, it’s about this little boy and it’s just he goes up, climbs that – he gets to that diving board and he’s in front of the line and then he’s next in line and then he’s, you know, a couple of people back in line because he’s perfecting his technique. He is, you know, thinking really hard about the way he wants to jump down this diving board and, you know, basically, you know, he’s conquering his fear of going up on the diving board.
and his dad and his sister there and they’re cheering him on and they’re, you know, walking him through this whole process of fear and, you know, it’s like, “Okay, you don’t need to be afraid, that’s all right, you know, this is how you deal with it,” and it just was really moving to me especially since as a kid during the summer I had an experience like that. Like, I got to the top of the diving board and like stopped and, you know, waited like for five minutes, I couldn’t jump while the rest of the people are like – so this happens. And, I mean, gosh, this is about like a seven-year old. I think I was like 13 at the time, you know, so it happens. And it was just – it’s just – it’s surreal and just something that we all face and just beautifully drawn and just, you know, sun-washed. It’s like this is what a pool, you know, this is the color, this is the pool midsummer.
Julie Dina: Christine?
Christine Freeman: For textbooks, I’m going to go old school and go with Watson’s Go To Birmingham. It’s one of my favorites, it’s just classic. I love it because it’s about a real family. And even here’s tragedy in the book, there’s like laughter and there’s just a family being a family. And I think everybody can relate to some parts of this book. And it’s historical fiction, which I think kids don’t normally go to unless to do an assignment. But once they start reading this book, they’ll forget that it’s historical fiction book because they’ll just relate so much to the family, I believe.
Lauren Martino: Well, you just have to start that first chapter where he’s got his tongue stuck to the mirror of the car. I think that’s enough to sell it.
Christine Freeman: So in his books, his – Christopher Paul Curtis’s books are so great for listening to on audio. I know I listen to Bud, Not Buddy on audio. And the people in the car had listened to it because I was listening to it and I could hear my kids laughing in the back, like they were getting into it even though I thought they were sleeping, so it’s –
Lauren Martino: Isn’t it nice?
Christine Freeman: Yeah. It was – it was great to listen to it aloud.
Lauren Martino: I got to have those audio books for car trips.
Christine Freeman: Yes, for sure.
Lauren Martino: Also put down Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Garcia Williams. And I had to think about this. I feel like, “Oh, yeah, it’s the third book in the series. That’s my favorite.”
Christine Freeman: Oh, yeah, it’s the third book. I only have the first book.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, I feel like they get better because I enjoyed the first one and then I enjoyed the second one even more. And by the third one, I’m like, “This is the best one.” But, yeah, so, like, three girls and I – it gets – it’s sort of, you know, like Watsons Go to Birmingham. They’re in the Deep South for the summer. They’re from up north, they’re Black, it’s, you know, but they’re with their family. And, you know, kind of gradually realize their family, you know, goes back a ways to the fact that, you know, you got the family, the Black family over here. And, you know, they’ve got family that was like plantation owners. You got this guy over here, he’s a member the Ku Klux Klan and he’s still a part of their family.
you know, it’s like it’s really complicated, like look into family relationships and, you know, what does it mean to be family. But, yeah, and – but the three sisters are just so real, like, they love each other, they’re going to be there for each other but they are going to annoy the heck out of each other on the way. And something happens in the middle of the book, I don’t want to spoil it or anything but, like, just blindsides you, like to the point where it’s like, I don’t know how this book’s going to end, you know, nothing – I can’t take, you know, I’m not taking anything for granted at this point. So, yeah, I think it’s the best, you know, read the whole series, please. But if you don’t read any of the other ones, read Gone Crazy in Alabama.
Christine Freeman: You’ve convinced me. I’m going to go get it.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. Yeah. You know –
Christine Freeman: I’ll try – I got the first one. I know there’s a second and third, so I’m going to go check them out today.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, PSPL love it and it’s good. Yes. And the audiobooks are quite good.
Julie Dina: How many books are there in this series?
Lauren Martino: There are three.
Julie Dina: Okay.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. And the first one is like, “We spend the summer with mom who’s in California and she’s a Black Panther.”
Christine Freeman: Which is in Oakland, close to my hometown.
Lauren Martino: Oh, yeah, okay.
Christine Freeman: So, that’s why I was interested in the first one but –
Lauren Martino: But, yeah, it’s, you know, all the historical stuff and also, you know, I’m going to annoy the heck out of my sisters because they’re annoying me back. Oh, yeah.
David Payne: Well, reading this is always very helpful in terms of connecting readers to books. Will MCPL be providing reading lists for all ages? And how can parents find new books for their kids to read?
Lauren Martino: Well, when you’re signing up for summer reading, you’re also signing up for something called Beanstack. And, so, automatically, you’ve got something built in right there. You can – there’s a box that you check or leave unchecked that will send recommendations right to your email for kids that are your kids’ age. So that’s a good way. We’ve also got lists on our website. And I think most of the branches have lists available of just lists that our librarians have put together for each grade because I know parents come in and they’re like, “Oh, where are the first grade books?” or “Where the fifth grade books?”
it’s hard if you don’t know, you know, how to choose a book for, you know, how old your child is, and we get that. And for, you know, fairness reasons, we don’t categorize stuff by age. You know, I’ve seen libraries that did this and I actually was – had a pile of books with these ages written on them and had a group full of kids and they’re like, “I can’t read this book. It’s a fifth grade book, I’m a 6th grader,” you know, and that’s what, you know, you’re trying to avoid because, you know, there’s plenty of books that work for fifth graders and sixth graders and fourth graders. You know, the lists are kind of good that way because there’s a range.
So for each grade, there are some that are easier and some that are harder. So there’s something on it that’s going to work for your kid. And, also, you know, ask your librarian. People don’t think about it. But, you know, and they always act like they’re bothering us, you’re not bothering us. Just ask us, we are happy, we are – I’m shelving books there or, you know, putting stuff on display just waiting for you to ask me a question. So, please, ask me and I’m happy to find a book that’s going to be great for your child.
Christine Freeman: Yeah. And we do have to restate that parents can print them from home, they’re available in our website. If you’re interested, you can print them at home also. We can go to our library and ask the librarians to print them out for you.
David Payne: So, listen, just ask a librarian.
Julie Dina: And I’ll be asking you this question. What would be your favorite summer reading memory from childhood or with your own kids?
Lauren Martino: I have to say I don’t think we’ve participated much with summer reading as a kid. I do remember being a volunteer in signing people up and I just felt so important and, like, this weigh of this responsibility they were trusting me with all the stuff. And, you know, they just, you know, they put me in my place and they just kind of went off and did their thing and, you know, here I am, signing kids up for summer reading. You know, I didn’t realize that then that I’d be, you know, doing this my whole life.
But, yeah, I’ve got a four-year old at home and, you know, we’ve been working on some of them but – and I want to encourage people to consider this, you know, like, your summer is busy, you may not always have time to do all these stuff, but if you have parents that get to take your kids for any length of time, grandparents love to do this stuff with the kids. So, you know, we want you to spend time with your kids and we want you to have these experiences, these enriching experience. But, you know, you can share them with grandma, you can share them with uncles and aunts and cousins. Yeah, you can share the wealth, and it’s a really great experience for everybody.
Christine Freeman: And I think for me, I remember my son, I was a library page, so I’m responsible for putting books on the shelf, and I would take my son to work with me and I would make him put the picture books away because they were the easiest and that way I didn’t have to do it. And then afterwards, he would –
Lauren Martino: Nice. Smart.
Christine Freeman: Afterwards, he would go and he would do the summer reading game, and he loved it because they had, like, a little spinner. So if you completed so many, you got to do the spinner and get a price. So he really enjoyed doing that when he go to the library with me.
Lauren Martino: Great memories.
David Payne: So we always close our episodes by asking the guests what they’re reading now. So let me ask, let’s start with you, Christine, what’s in your bookshelf right now?
Christine Freeman: Right now, I’m reading travel guides to England because I’ve been traveling there and I’m trying to make a plan. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. So lots of travel guides live on my shelf right now. I’m also reading Matt de la Pena’s We Were Here. I’m a bit halfway through it. I picked it up because the setup was done in Stockton and I relocated from Stockton so that’s why I went and had picked that up. So that’s what I’m reading right now. Nonfiction and fiction, which is unusual for me because I usually don’t read nonfiction.
Lauren Martino: I am slugging my way through this book in French. I actually read it in English and I saw the movie and I really liked it in English and then the – and the movie. It’s called the Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It is, I believe, the only book I know of that’s been dictated entirely with eye blinks because –
David Payne: Right. It was very, very unusual.
Lauren Martino: Yeah. The author, he was like chief editor, I believe, of Elle in France for a while and he had, like, a stroke or something and ended up, like, with locked-in syndrome. So he basically can’t move –
David Payne: Couldn’t communicate.
Lauren Martino: Couldn’t move, he can winked one eye because his other eyes is closed. He can wink one eye, he can’t talk, he can’t sign, he can’t do anything but he can blink one eye. So, they developed this system of, like, they’d read the alphabet out and in an order in which, you know, just by the frequency they occur in French and he would blink an eye when he got to the right letter. So it’s spell out word by word what he wanted to say. And, yeah, and he wrote a book this way.
Christine Freeman: That amazing.
Lauren Martino: I know. It’s incredible.
David Payne: Yeah.
Lauren Martino: And he’s also super well-educated and as you know, you know, French is not my first language, you know. I’m just like, “Vocabulary, vocabulary.” Yeah. I had the same problem with the Elegance of the Hedgehog and, like, so, you know, it’s taking me awhile. But the book in the English was very good. And the movie – there’s a movie too that’s incredible that they made on the same subject, so.
David Payne: I can see you’ll be busy with that for a while.
Lauren Martino: Yes. I’m almost to the end, you know. So, you know, I keep thinking like, you know, it’s taking me awhile to read, you know, how long did it take him to write? I can’t complain.
Christine Freeman: Right.
Julie Dina: So many blinks until you finish?
Lauren Martino: Okay. Luckily, I don’t have to blink. Yeah. But it’s just about, you know, he’s talking a little bit about the hospital, you know, and you just, you know, the intricacies of, you know, people coming to visit him and how they feel and how he feels and just –
David Payne: Incredible story. Yeah.
Lauren Martino: Yeah, it’s an incredible story. And he told them little snippets and, like, he composed this, he memorized everything like he, you know, spend hours, you know, alone in his room, in his bed like memorizing what he wanted to say until he could get somebody that would dictate for him and then he would just let it all out. So it’s in like little chapters, like little bits at a time, but just fascinating.
Julie Dina: You’ve guys have wowed us.
David Payne: You sold us on summer reading.
Julie Dina: Yes. You really have been. I want to thank you, Christine and Lauren, for all the wonderful information you’ve given us this afternoon. 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 podcast. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcast. We love to know what you think. Thank you for listening for our conversation today and see you next time.
Summary: Librarians Christine Freeman and Lauren Martino talk about MCPL's upcoming Summer Read and Learn program, which starts June 9 and runs through September 9. This program offers children and teens fun incentives to read and learn all summer long. There will be amazing events at MCPL branches throughout the summer as well. Join us for the fun!
Recording Date: May 9, 2018
Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne
Guests: Christine Freeman is MCPL's Early Literacy and Children's Services Manager, as well as Branch Manager for the Noyes Library for Young Children. Lauren Martino is a Children's Librarian at our Silver Spring branch. She is also one of the hosts of the Library Matters podcast.
Featured MCPL Resource: MCPL offers reading lists by grade and age, including a list for adults. Find something new to read today!
What Our Guests Are Reading:
Books Mentioned During this Episode:
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
The Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Paul Curtis
Other Items of Interest Mentioned During this Episode:
1000 Books Before Kindergarten: Prepare your child for kindergarten with this fun, effective program that will engage your child with books, songs, fingerplays, and other learning activities.
Beanstack: A fun site for logging books and more. MCPL uses Beanstack for many programs, including 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, our Reading Challenge, and our Summer Read and Learn programs. Customers can also opt to receive weekly emails with suggested books for their readers.
Collaborative Summer Library Program: A consortium of states working together to provide high-quality summer reading program materials for children, teens, and adults at the lowest cost possible for their public libraries.
Eric Energy: An energetic scientist who will amaze children during his hands-on, interactive science show.
Jacks Are Wild: Don't miss Mario and Bella, a pair of spirited Jack Russell terriers who perform amazing tricks that will delight children of all ages.
Libraries Rock! Dance Party: Put on your best pop star outfit or wear your craziest hair and come join us to dance! dance! dance! We will have photo props, a bubble machine and a music playlist to keep you moving.
Nature on Wheels - Raptors!: Learn about raptors. like bald eagles and hawks, while surrounded by your favorite books!
Summer Read and Learn Kickoff Events: Several MCPL branches are celebrating the start of our Summer Read and Learn program June 9.
Zoomobile: Discover some of the amazing adaptations animals have for life in the wild and try some challenging activities to compare those adaptations to our own abilities.
Lauren Martino: Hello, welcome to Library Matters. I'm Lauren Martino and I'm here with my co-host Julie Dina. Hi Julie.
Julie Dina: Hello.
Lauren: And we are also here with Adrienne Miles Holderbaum who is expecting. She is a Senior Librarian at Germantown. Hi Adrienne.
Adrienne Miles: Hello. Hi, excited to be here.
Lauren: And we're also here with Maranda Schoppert who has a very small child; who made a lovely appearance at MoComCon by the way. Hi Maranda.
Maranda Schoppert: Hi guys.
Lauren: So tell us a little bit about yourself Maranda. How old is your baby now?
Maranda: Well, my – I have a baby girl, her name is Lyla. She is almost five months old, doing sort of really good now. We're starting to move our toes and our legs. We have found our feet.
Lauren: Yes, cute.
Maranda: And this is my first baby, so everything is new for me. So we're just enjoying it, me and my husband. We just are so in love with her and it's just fun and tiring.
Lauren: How about you Adrienne?
Adrienne: Sure. I have a daughter who is 3 years old. I'm expecting another baby in May and it’s another girl. The 3-year-old is awesome. She is a lot of -- she has a lot of -- it takes a lot of energy. So being pregnant this time around is very different. I'm more tired for obvious reasons, and it's hard to focus on actually being pregnant this time which is kind of good and kind of bad. Yeah. Like age 3 is like the peak of all your energy you will have in your entire life. It's so much fun. It's like my favourite age for kids. Everything is new and they're able to express themselves, it is awesome. Congratulations and good luck.
Julie: Well congratulations again Adrienne. You're getting a lot of those today. So since both you and Maranda are actually sort of experts in this field, [Laughing] for this episode, could you tell us or give us tips for those who it will really be helpful for as to having a smooth pregnancy especially in the first trimester because I know I had a horrible one for both my pregnancies.
Adrienne: Okay. The first trimester I think resting and taking the time out to rest and not pushing it is really important. I was fortunate enough to not have nausea or like any other symptoms, I just -- I'm very tired at the beginning. So for my second pregnancy it was harder to find time for myself, so asking my husband to take my daughter out of the house or relying on family members too, and then also I like screen time I – it’s been awesome. So put a movie on and like take a little 20-minute catnap, it’s just been awesome. So self-care first trimester just really -- because it's important, it's one of the most important. Each trimester is important but the first is really you need to not be stressed and just rest.
Maranda: While I was nauseous quite a bit. So my biggest help for that was many meals often, string cheese, those little individual prune wrappers, yogurt drinks, peanut butter crackers, anything that you can have a lot at multiple times a day. I totally just skipped any main meal you know. My other advice - practice your smile and nod.
Lauren: That’s awesome.
Maranda: So much advice kept coming my way and after a while I just was like uh-huh, I'm going to smile, I'm going to nod my head. I'm taking your advice and I'm just -- I'm just I'm thinking about it. And that was the sort of saving grace by the time I got to the end of the first trimester, I knew to do that going forward.
Lauren: That sounds like something fun to roleplay at home.
Lauren: Like hit me with your best shot, your most outrageous comment and I'm going to nod and smile.
Maranda: Yeah, I'm going to practice keeping that on my face.
Lauren: So there are a million and one pregnancy books out there and they all conflict. So do you Adrienne have any advice for sorting through them and figuring out which ones you're going to pay attention to and which ones you're just going to dismiss.
Adrienne: So for me I feel like these -- for me I'm more into books that are more holistic and less medically focused. And I think it's important to have the medical knowledge of what goes on with your body and on labor and delivery. But I'm more interested in how our bodies deal with pregnancy and how our bodies are amazing and can do this in a positive and about female empowerment. I think that's really important for me but not for everyone, so for me that's what I kind of use to guide what I'm reading during pregnancy. I like reputable authors of course, so doctors, midwives, yeah people that have done it and around it and had a lot of experience with it.
Lauren: How about you Maranda? Do you have an approach?
Maranda: I kind of went a little bit of a different route. I wanted to find books that were written by medical professionals who are also parents not just moms, dads too that was fine with me. I sort of wanted the play-by-play. I wanted to know week-by-week what to expect. And I also wanted the latest addition. So if there was anything new information out there wise I wanted to know, so that was important to me.
Lauren: Because they keep changing.
Maranda: Yes. You never know.
Adrienne: Yeah, it is so interesting because my favourite book is about like the history like how women have been doing it for like ever and midwife because I'm really into midwifery, so it was about like what they did before was medicalised and what they did at home. So it's so interesting that like your--
Maranda: Well, my hospital sent in a midwife at some point and I was like "Oh, I didn't ask for you, but hi." I mean it was great getting a different perspective but I didn't totally didn’t expect it you know.
Lauren: What's the name of that book Adrienne by the way?
Maranda: Which one? The one that-
Lauren: The history.
Adrienne: Oh, that was Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. She mentions the history of midwifery but it's not the focus of the book but she does talk about it. And that book also focuses a lot on birth stories -- positive birth stories, because when you're pregnant everyone tells you about the horror -- horrible experiences they have. So that book I didn't read it as much in my first pregnancy; this pregnancy I definitely have been reading it, because I'm like I need to hear the positive birth stories, and you know, the amazing things that our bodies can do to birth the child.
I started watching 'Call the Midwife' when I was pregnant. One episode, I'm like okay and [crosstalk]. I made it to episode 5 and then I couldn't do it anymore. And it was when I was pregnant too. I was like, I just can't, you're strong, I couldn't do it.
Julie: So do either of you have any favourite books for trying to conceive?
Maranda: So for us we went more on the app and article route for trying to conceive. Apps like Glow where you could sort of track and sort of know when your highest times to conceive were. I also used Parents magazine. I read a lot of those articles. And we actually -- I even subscribed for their emails which I still get and are still handy, that kind of follow the ages too which is neat. But I know we have our Parents magazine on RBdigital, so that's something that you guys can get from the library. I also took some advice from people in sort of my same boat from the bump, but definitely the apps were the way that we went.
Adrienne: So I did not read any books for trying to conceive but I did try to make sure I was in a great place physically and emotionally before I had a child. So I made sure that you know, I'm confident and I felt I was very spiritual, so I was like I feel good and you know, I feel like it's a good time to do that. So that was -- and then I just -- we just kind of saw what happened.
Reading this question I was like, “Oh, okay, let me see what books we have in our collection.” And there is a book that is called 'The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant by Jean Twenge, and it was very useful. I wish I did read it because one of the useful things is so simple about like charting your cycles. And I just kind of was more like, "Oh whatever, we'll see what happens." But I think the importance of knowing your conception date in relation to your due dates.
So when I -- I had to be induced because I was post-dates but I wasn't charting my cycle, so I didn't -- this is really TMI [Laughter]. I didn't know like I knew when my last period was, but maybe I was wrong when I actually ovulated, because when you go post-dates then they want to induce you. So I think if I would have known like more accurately how far along I was to give that information to the doctor then it might have been a little bit different.
Maranda: Well, see that's sort of the good things about the apps for us. They kept telling us that we were further along and that the baby was too big and you know, you're definitely you know 10 days further along. And I'm like, "No, we couldn't be. There is no way." So that really helped with my doctor like not changing our due date, so that way we didn't go too far over or too far too soon.
Adrienne: I think that's very useful and I think being aware of that, so using an app or just knowing it would be very helpful during pregnancy.
Maranda: And beyond they are asking you, like those questions all the time when you are at the doctor’s –.
Adrienne: They ask all the time.
Adrienne: I don't remember.
Maranda: Oh god a Tuesday. Yeah, yeah.
Adrienne: So it was less – it wasn't – it was not stressful to like get pregnant for me. But I think that in retrospect I wish I would have paid more attention to that. And I didn't pay attention the second time either cause I didn't read this book.
Julie: Well now that you know about the book maybe you use it for the third one.
Adrienne: Exactly, yeah. Um. Third one?
Lauren: I like what you did there Julie I looked at that one too, yeah, so it's really good about like sorting through like so-and-so says this and so and so say this, this is what we know. This is what we're fairly certain about, follow this advice, you know, sorts through all –.
Adrienne: Yeah it was awesome. Oh it is awesome.
Lauren: So Maranda, do you have anything specific you'd like to recommend for pregnancy. Anything that jumps out at you from everything that you were looking at.
Maranda: Well one of the books that I will say I read cover-to-cover, because the other ones you might have just browsed flipped through a little bit. But the one I read cover-to-cover was the Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy. This was written by a bunch of the doctors at the Mayo Clinic, all of who had kids of their own. So that was great. And one of the things I really liked about it was like I said it gave you a month-by-month, what happens in month one, what to expect, how your baby is growing. They give you little diagrams and then it also had – it was really great. The layout was just awesome, because if you had any questions about, “Oh I'm having back pain,” just flip to that chapter.
So I didn't have to be overwhelmed by reading the whole book right away. I actually read it like I would read month two during month one. You know, so see what was coming. So I didn't – I could take it little pieces at a time and I didn't have to be like, “Oh my god in eight months I'm going to feel this.”
Lauren: And here's all the horrible awful things that might be happening to you.
Maranda: Yeah I could just live in the moment.
Lauren: How about you Adrienne, do you have anything specific you'd like to recommend?
Adrienne: Sure, there's a couple of books. One is called Bumpology: The Myth-Busting Pregnancy Book for Curious Parents-To-to-Be by Linda Geddes. It was a favorite of mine, its statistics and fact based. It's fun and it answers pregnancy myths we've all heard. And I as a librarian, I really enjoyed it because it was a lot of random information and I like random information. So some of the questions that it answers is, “Can the shape of my bump or anything else predict the gender of my child?” “Why don't pregnant women topple over?” What's more painful.
Adrienne: It talks about your center of gravity and nature is amazing. “What's more painful childbirth or having your leg chopped off?’ “Does having a membrane sweep work as an epidural make a c-section more likely?” “Can prevent sagging breasts, if you wean your child solely from breastfeeding.” So these are questions that you may have or maybe you don't –
Lauren: But everyone is telling you –
Adrienne: Yeah everyone's telling you like the gender prediction of the shape of your–. I hear it all the time.
Maranda: The needle of the belly or you know– oh my gosh.
Adrienne: Right. And I'm like my you know my sonographer is wrong. And so yeah you're right. I can have a boy like I hear that talking all the time. Because, you know, you're carrying like you're having a boy. So I hear that all day long, we’re like–. And I heard it the last time and I had a girl child.
Maranda: Everyone tells you, “Oh you're high,” and then the next person that walks by, “Oh you're carrying so low,” and you’re like no, that’s different views.
Adrienne: Yeah different views. So I think knowing that it really won't – it doesn't matter it’s good. And then another book that really changed my idea of having a child is Ina May’s “Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. So I skimmed it during the first pregnancy. I did not read it cover-to-cover because I took classes, I had a doula and I like – I was like I don't – you know I'll figure it out. And I just educated myself in different ways. But this book I just kept hearing people say ‘It's amazing, it's amazing if you're about holistic birth then you know doing in a different way.’ And I read it and it changed my life about my body. And to read all these positive birth stories from these midwives that have been doing it since the 60s. They have a farm in Tennessee called The Farm. And people would come from all over to deliver their babies there and they live on. It's like a commune sort of, it was started by hippies. But women can go there and it's like they get free care and they have a farm literally where you raise food and then you have your child there.
Some people live there and work there, but I'm very – it’s very hippie, it’s very crunchy. I'm not super hippy or crunchy but I loved it. And there's a movie called the, ‘The Business of Being Born’ that was on Netflix, I don't know if it's still streaming, but it's – they –. So it's production, Ricki Lake produced it – the old television host. But so she has The Farm, Ina May Gaskin the author she's in that documentary. So that's how I was first exposed to this author, because she's a midwife. So they talk about you know the medicalization of pregnancy. And you know it's more about what our bodies can do.
And I had a really difficult first childbirth, because I didn't know what to expect and you don't know what to expect. And I had midwives the first time, and I had a new baby and it just didn't go how I wanted it to go, because I didn't understand really what was going on. I didn't really you know what our bodies could do and what, you know, intuition and the mind body connection and how important it is. And I have examples of, you know, if some of the woman's stressed out how their body reacts with their cervix like opening – it's just so crazy.
But I really found it very empowering and one of the most important messages that she gives is like your body is not a women. So when you have a baby sometimes we're always like troubleshooting the pregnancy like what went wrong or how to avoid what's wrong, but not trusting that our bodies can do this. And sometimes they can't, and sometimes you do need medical intervention and it's totally okay to do that.
But that book kind of made me think differently about how I approach childbirth and labor. I would recommend it to anyone, sounds like –. Even if you are into medical birth I would still read it just so you could get some inspiration.
Julie: I'm inspired.
David Payne: And now a brief message about MCPL’s Services and Resources.
Lisa: How exciting. You're going to be a new mom and we're here for you. MCPL not only has many books and DVDs on this most important topic, but our health databases can help you find the specific information you are seeking. You can find a link to our health resources in this episode’s show notes.
David Payne: Now back to our program.
Julie: So there are a lot of books suggested for moms, you know, and a lot of advice from moms, can both of you suggest or recommend books that are great for expectant dads.
Maranda: Well the book I got for my husband was called “The Expectant Father: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-To-Be” by Brott, my husband very slowly got into this. I think maybe around like the seventh trimester he was like, “Okay I'm going to read these – I am going to start reading.”
But he did become more and more interested as he went along. It has a month-to-month guide the trend here for dads sort of – like just like the Mayo Clinic has for them moms. But it also has a lot of topics that men worry about that maybe women don't have at the forefront of their mind like the finances. A lot of men that's like, “We're having a baby, oh my God I need to start saving so much money.” It talks about that, it talks about balancing work and family. You know what – what to expect that your spouse is going through. But those other things that like come sort of first to their minds. It was a great book for them – for him to look at.
Adrienne: I brought that book to, as I am preparing for this question because my husband didn't read any book. He refused to, but I was like “Oh let me just see.”
Lauren: So he relied on you.
Adrienne: He relied on me, yeah. So I – the expectant father was awesome. I saw that and like even the titles, “What's going on with your partner physically and emotionally, what's going on with the baby, what's going with you as father.” Like I just thought that was awesome.
Maranda: It was one they could definitely flip through. They didn't have to read it cover-to-cover if they didn't want to. But yeah it was a good one.
Julie: So it was made just for dads.
Adrienne: There's another book called “The Birth Partner: The Complete Guide to Childbirth for Dads, Doulas, and Other Labor Companions.” So it's not just for dads it's for any, you know, anyone who's of company or men that's having a baby. I did not read it, but thought that it looked interesting. So I also found one that I don't recommend, but it’s “What to Expect When Your Wife Is Expanding.” Like time is hell. So I came across that.
Maranda: Just for the title –
Lauren: Expanding what.
Adrienne: And one of the sections is, “What is Your Wife Complaining About This Month.” So maybe it works, maybe it works for some men. I don't know, but –
Maranda: Read that one under the covers after –.
Adrienne: Yeah– don’t let your wife – exactly don’t let your wife see you reading it.
Lauren: Maybe there's the random man that's not going to read the other one.
Adrienne: This one honey.
Julie: Yeah there's something for everyone.
Lauren: Right. So in addition to ‘What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding’ is there any other books or advice that you found particularly not helpful.
Adrienne: [0:20:04] So I think in general any book that tries to scare women into thinking about everything that could go wrong with their pregnancy or their body. And that one that makes pregnancies seem like an illness. Some of them are very like, like, like based on problems, but people would find that useful. I'm not saying that it's not helpful and if you're in that situation it helps. But personally I didn't.
Maranda: [0:20:30] For me I miss a little bit of the opposite of Adrienne. I'm not sent into really the holistic approach or anything I wanted it to be all about me. So any of those stories about -- oh, well, when I was pregnant dah, dah, dah, dah, like okay cool that's fine but I'm pregnant.
And I want my own experience. So that was sort of, I didn't mind hearing a little bit of advice here and there but I kind -- I wanted to know what to expect and more of a grander scheme of things. I didn't want to hear that in the second -- in the first trimester you're going to be super, super sick all the time. But what if I'm not? Like I don't want to be told I was going you know.
So I kind of wanted to sort of see all the sights, I didn't want to just hear one person's story. So anything that was more like seemed more biographical I shied away from.
Julie: So we do know after delivery people bring their kids to story times at the library, which brings me to this question. Do either of you have any favorite books you would recommend to read to newborns?
Maranda: Well, I'm going to tell you my husband's favorite. My husband loved reading to Lyla right off the bat even just like a week or two. I mean she can't even see that, right. He loved reading Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.
Lauren: [0:21:52] Oh, yeah I remember that.
Maranda: [0:21:39] He loved doing that one. And then once Lyla started you know tracking you a little bit anything with color or numbers, she loves counting anytime you can even if the book doesn't have counting in it. Not about counting at all. You count those leaves on the page like that seemed more interesting than anything else. But yeah, to get those -- get those guys to read Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed you can't go wrong.
Adrienne: I liked that one. That was a good one. So I -- we read Goodnight Moon pretty early to her and loved it and it was the last book we read at night. And we'd say goodnight to everything in the room and the book. And then we'd say goodnight to the room and her actual room and then we put her down and it worked every time. So I have really good memories of that. Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt, we don't own it because it's a touch-and-feel book so I imagine it may be --
Lauren: It gets destroyed.
Adrienne: Yeah. We maybe owned it before, but it gets destroyed but she really liked that book too and she was a little teeny baby. So those were the books that I enjoy reading to her.
Lauren: So do you have an idea of when you're going to bring your baby to get her very first library card.
Adrienne: Sure. So I brought my daughter when she was I think like two months or a month to get her first card. This one I'll do the same maybe even sooner. And you know you can bring your child from zero, you take them out of the house. The first place you can bring them is the library to get their own library card. Go to story time. It's never too early. We have the wonderful program 1000 books before kindergarten, so you can start right then getting your kid on her on his or her way to a thousand books for kindergarten.
Maranda: And coming to story time.
Adrienne: And coming to story time.
Maranda: So you get how many seashells just going to story time.
Lauren: [0:23:44] You do. You get so many....
Adrienne: Rack at the seashells.
Adrienne: We started bringing our child when she was six weeks to story time. So it was just. And she was just a little thing and didn't really pay attention but it was so nice to bring her there and she kind of looked at other babies and I would going to do the same with this baby. So yeah we are going to get her a card.
Maranda: We're sharing my card right now.
Adrienne: Which is fine.
Maranda: I just don't want too many to look hang on to at the moment. So when she -- yeah. For right now we're going to share mommy's.
Lauren: [0:24:17] Kind of where we're at in our house too.
Julie: So are there any other programs or resources that you would like to mention that are actually specifically geared toward expectant moms as well as new moms.
Adrienne: [0:24:32] Sure. So we talked about story times three little ones and 1000 books before kindergarten, which is our system wide program to encourage early literacy from zero to five year olds. Also I would say there's yoga classes and meditation classes, which are good if your yoga is good. If you're expecting be careful don't do any of the crazy poses. Prenatal DVDs which I find I really helpful. So exercise or prenatal yoga there's like a prenatal like weightlifting like one that I use. It's awesome.
Maranda: Download your play list off for Eagle for the delivery room.
Adrienne: And when they're -- like all the newborn nursery rhymes too, you have playlists for that. Those are very helpful..
Maranda: We offer for free. And we have our discovery rooms several of the branches have playrooms for the kids that have early literacy toys. So if you're someone like Adrienne and you have a 3 year old and you can have a newborn it's a contained space for them to play and you know maybe run around a little bed and get out some of the energy and you can't lose them.
Adrienne: And also our health databases. So if you have questions about pregnancy you can use. I don't remember the titles exactly right now of those databases but we'll put them in the show notes for you to look at.
Julie: And what's so great about all of this is that we offer all these resources you know and there is something for everyone. And the bottom line is it's free. So on Library Matters we like to ask all of our guests what are you reading right now that you want to tell us about Adrienne?.
Adrienne: [0:25:58] Sure. So reading is something I enjoy and that I don't get to do very often. Having a 3 year old. So aside from lots of picture books my daughter loves Madeline and books with horses and mermaids, and she likes anything with the frozen characters. So aside from that what I'm what am I reading, so I just finished the looming tower by Lawrence Wright. It's so good. There's a TV show, there's a TV show on. Actually it's on Hulu. And this is a book that the show is based on, it's nonfiction. It's about the rise of al-Qaeda. I find it very interesting it talks about the book half of the book talks about the history of the Muslim Brotherhood and history of the Middle East and how you know Saudi Arabia and Egypt and it just it's so interesting to me because I don't know a lot about that region of the world. So I finished that and it was so good that I'm obsessed. Also I just finished a fiction book called The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. It is supposedly the Gone Girl of 2018. I finished it. So that's good.
That means it was engaging. I couldn't put it down and I kept reading it. And then so I finished those two but I'm currently reading black flags by Joby Warrick and that's about ISIS. I'm also -- there's a parenting book called There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather. A Scandinavian Mom Secrets her raising healthy resilient and confident kids from -- it's a Swedish name. So this is the title, a Scandanavian Mom's Secret for Raising Healthy, Resilient and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge) and those are Swedish words [Crosstalk] by Linda Åkeson McGurk. And it's about embracing nature and making your kids go out and explore and
Lauren: How about you Maranda, anything you're dying to tell us about?
Maranda: Well it's a go with the baby theme first before my pleasure reading. We're just starting solids for Lyla so I'm we're clueless. We have no idea what to do. So I just checked out the other day Super Baby Food by Yaron. So I'm going to look through that and hopefully get know what to give her next.
We started with avocado thought that was pretty safe and she loves it. But in terms of pleasure reading I sort of like my escapism in my books. Give me a good fantasy any day. So I'm actually reading the book two of The Ancestor. It's called Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence. It's an adult fantasy novel that takes place in this world covered by ice. There is like a 50 mile corridor along the Earth's equator where everyone lives.
And the story follows this pretty violent girl who is training to become a nun.
But these are like Kick-butt Nuns like --
Lauren: [0:29:11] I love stories about Kick-butt Nuns.
Maranda: Think like Harry Potter school meets Mortal Kombat. So it's pretty entertaining and that's a book too so. It's a new release and I'm really enjoying it.
Julie: [0:29:28] All sounds wonderful. So once again I would like to thank both Maranda and Adrianne for joining us today. We really appreciate all the information you've given us. 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 read 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.
[End of transcript]
Summary: Senior Librarian Adrienne Miles Holderbaum and Children's Librarian Maranda Schoppert discuss their experiences as expectant and new mothers, as well as the pregnancy and new baby resources MCPL offers.
Recording Date: April 11, 2018
Hosts: Julie Dina and Lauren Martino
Guests: Adrienne Miles Holderbaum, co-producer of Library Matters and Senior Librarian at Germantown Library. Adrienne has a 3-year-old daughter and is pregnant with her second daughter. Maranda Schoppert is a Children's Librarian at Germantown Library and has a 5-month-old daughter.
Featured MCPL Resource: MCPL's online health resources include:
What Our Guests Are Reading:
Adrienne Miles Holderbaum:
Books and Movies Mentioned During this Episode:
Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
Call the Midwife (BBC TV series)
The Expectant Father: the Ultimate Guide for Dads to Be by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May
Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
Impatient Women's Guide to Getting Pregnant by Jean M Twenge
Mayo Clinic Guide to a Health Pregnancy ed. by Roger Harms and Myra Wick
What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Muroff and Sharon Mazel
What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding (mentioned, but not recommended) by Thomas Hill
Other Items of Interest:
1000 Books Before Kindergarten: Prepare your child for kindergarten with this fun, effective program that will engage your child with books, songs, fingerplays, and other learning activities.
Discovery Rooms: Available at Gaithersburg, Germantown, Praisner, and Quince Orchard, Discovery Rooms are designed for children from newborns to 8 years old and their caregivers to encourage learning through play.
The Farm Midwifery Center: A center in Tennessee focused on providing women supportive, empowering, safe, and fulfilling prenatal, birth, and postnatal experiences.
Freegal: Legally download 5 songs each week for free.
Glow: A pregnancy app offering information on fetal development, maternal health logging, appointment scheduling, and more.
Parents: Website of Parents magazines which offers information on many aspects of parenting, including pregnancy and infant care.
Storytimes at MCPL: Storytimes for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and families are available at MCPL branches throughout the County.
David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with your host David Payne.
Julie Dina: And I'm Julie Dina.
David Payne: And today we’re going to take you outside in a matter of speaking to the garden. I think it's safe to say that spring is finally here. I hope it is and in spring it's always a time when many of us start thinking about our gardens. So what better than to invite one of our green thumb librarians, Beth Chandler, avid gardener to join us today and talk about her garden and her passion for gardening. So Beth, welcome.
Beth Chandler: Thank you, David. I’m glad to be here. And I've already gotten started on my garden with some cool season items such as spinach.
David Payne: Very good, very good I'm actually glad to see you back. Listeners may remember Beth from her previous appearance talking about sci-fi and I know you enjoyed it so much you’ve come back.
Beth Chandler: I have many interests and as one of the selectors I buy our garden books for the library and landscaping books.
David Payne: All right, that sounds like fun.
Beth Chandler: It is. I enjoy that.
Julie Dina: So Beth, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and actually what got you interested in gardening?
Beth Chandler: Well, I grew up on the outskirts of a small town and my dad had grown up on a farm so we had gardens growing up. I like to play in the dirt, including practical things like digging up the dirt and planting cucumber seeds, which were one of my favorites. And my grandmother had a truck farm so I got to see something more extensive operation when I visited her. And that's what got me interested and then as an adult I started getting interested in eating organic foods and I missed the fresh foods that I could get growing up.
David Payne: So Beth you obviously have a very great passion for gardening. What do you particularly enjoy about it?
Beth Chandler: There are many things. I find it – it makes me feel very serene. I love working in the Earth and with the Earth making things grow as satisfying. It's something that I can enjoy and that I and also my husband and anyone else I might share things with gets the bounty of everything from strawberries to lettuces and baby carrots. Also I like it because it gets me out of the house in relaxing and it more or less coincides with Formula One season which my husband will be watching on TV so he doesn't feel like a gardening widower and I don't feel like a Formula One widow.
David Payne: So you leave him in the house and you go out and do.
Beth Chandler: Yes, I do.
David Payne: Sounds like a good comprise.
Beth Chandler: Then I come in and say look fresh baby carrots for dinner.
David Payne: So Beth there are many different kinds of gardening activities we can do with flowers, with vegetables, with herbs, what do you most enjoy do you do a bit of everything or do you prefer specializing in one or the other?
Beth Chandler: I prefer everything. I grow fruit for flowers, vegetables, herbs we also had some wonderful plantings already in our yard when we moved into our home. So I do some pruning too.
David Payne: And are there any particular kind of herbs that you particularly enjoy?
Beth Chandler: I like some of the easier to grow herbs such as parsley and oregano. So my absolute favorite is lilacs and year after we moved in I was determined I was going to buy and plant a lilac tree and I did. Seem to have a bit of a problem with powdery mildew last year but I'm hopeful for this year and every year I get more of those wonderful fragrant blossoms.
David Payne: You almost smell the fragrance.
Beth Chandler: Oh, yes.
Julie Dina: Smelling it now.
Beth Chandler: Yes, they’re in leaf.
Julie Dina: One thing for sure is for the plants and the herbs for them to grow they need water. Thus, the popular phrase April showers brings May flowers. So can you share with us tips on how to get the best garden in the block.
Beth Chandler: Well, water as you said is very important and watering when we have dry seasons which we often do in the summer here in Maryland. Having good soil is important. You can buy pretty cheap pH test to see what the acid or base level of your garden soil is. If you have really bad soil which I did you might prefer to do container pots and fill them with materials you buy from a garden store, at least at the beginning. I've also done some composting and put compost in. You can also amend the soil which is another word for putting in fertilizer or digging in mulch or manure whatever your particular plant needs. But pay attention to what it says your plant needs on the little piece that’s stuck into the pot or if you buy seeds on the back of the seed packet it’s really helpful.
Julie Dina: I never knew that that’s the first thing I tossed out.
David Payne: Not anymore.
Julie Dina: No wonder they don’t live.
Beth Chandler: You need to be careful is it full sun, part sun, part shade or full shade.
Julie Dina: And you hear that folks.
David Payne: So do you have any particularly favorite flowers or plants?
Beth Chandler: Well I mentioned the lilacs.
David Payne: Yeah.
Beth Chandler: And I was also happy when we moved in to find out that we had beautiful pink climbing roses which are scented. They only bloom for a few weeks but I think they're worth it. And then of course I plant other things around them such as morning glories, which bloom later in the year. So that part of the garden is colorful for a good portion of the growing season.
David Payne: Let me just ask a follow-up to that. Do you obviously some people for perennial, some people for annuals, their advantages, disadvantages to both how do you feel about the perennial, annual question?
Beth Chandler: I love to have both. And since I grow vegetables and herbs many of them are annuals. Although there are some perennials, I'm convinced you just can't kill chives. And oregano is just as sturdy so I like to have some perennials but then I also can't resist annuals. I recently bought a geranium which I'm coddling indoors until it’s warm enough to put it out. And I love pansies here in Maryland we can keep them growing at least till November and if you're lucky they’ll come back in the spring.
Julie Dina: Now if you could grow anything in your garden that doesn't already grow on a plant such as money, candy what exactly would you pick to plant?
Beth Chandler: Well, money is always good because you can buy just about anything with which. But you know, already fully formed chocolates since I can’t really grow my own the cacao trees around here would be good. And of course there is books.
Julie Dina: Have you ever thought about doing any of those?
Beth Chandler: It is tempting. I just found a wonderful I love for Pinterest for Garden Ideas and I just found one which showed a little bookcase with books in it and I thought maybe my favorite garden needs some books in it.
Julie Dina: That will make it unique.
David Payne: So almost the business question since you’re a selector in our collection management department, what's new in gardening books that you’re really excited about?
Beth Chandler: Well, there has been contain in gardening things for a while and I've noticed recently there is real surge in the last couple of years in butterfly and be friendly plants to help keep our pollinators fed and healthy. Also I recently bought a new book on permaculture it just came into the branches, The Minimalist Gardener which is from England, but still has a lot of ideas that are relevant to our Mid-Atlantic climate here in Maryland.
Julie Dina: David, you should know about that particular book since you’re from England.
David Payne: I have to check it out, yeah.
Beth Chandler: And I should explain permaculture is something that will go on long-term. Usually it's also a very diverse sort of garden and the minimalist ideas that you plant things that are either native to the area or that can do with very little assistance in which since so many of us are very busy and stressed these days it is nice to plant a garden that you only have to do a little bit of work and doesn't require hours every weekend.
David Payne: Well, keeping with the books theme, are there any particular books that you have read that have really helped you or formed you as a gardener?
Beth Chandler: I've read more all across from things on the internet, you can't trust everything on the internet but you really can just about trust just about anything you get from a cooperative extension website, Maryland Cooperative Extension has some good things and does Maryland Master Gardeners. And also there is a book I referred to regularly it's called What's Wrong with My Plant by Deardorff and Wadsworth.
We do have several copies in the library. It's wonderful because it shows pictures of the various kinds of spots in the way bits and other things you might find on your plant leaves or stems or in the fruit. So it's very helpful for finding out what you need to do and it leans towards organic resources and it tells you that the safest and then going to conventional things when you need to kill off a really nasty pest.
David Payne: Sounds very useful.
Beth Chandler: Yeah.
Julie Dina: So Beth we do know there are lots of books that are actually in our library system for adults who enjoy gardening. Would you say we have plenty of books for children who are actually interested in gardening and would like to check any of these books out?
Beth Chandler: We do have a new series for children. The titles are Super Simple Butterfly Gardens and then other thing Super Simple I think there is Indoor Gardens and so on. So if you just type in super simple you should come up with a list and see what kind of a garden you and your child or children want to grow.
Julie Dina: And so what you're saying these books are really simple.
Beth Chandler: They're really easy, yes. And so they also might be good for adults who want to start from the very beginning or who decide it might be better if they have a child help them. Yeah, they can really help with the digging I'm sure a lot of children.
Julie Dina: That's the one I'll be checking out. Now to be successful in gardening do you really need the gift of the green thumb?
Beth Chandler: Not really. My mother, for example, has a rather black thumb. And she would be the first to admit herself and if you get plants that are fairly unkillable and just manage to water them and if you’re fortunate enough to either have good soil or to be able to buy some you can do fine. There are some very easy to grow plants marigolds are pretty easy and you can buy them just about anywhere, including off in the grocery store and just pop them in your yard. Cucumbers actually grow in really bad soil so they're pretty easy. And the aforementioned pansies are easy. It's just about impossible as I said to kill parsley or oregano or chives. So those are some I’d recommend for people who really feel they have a black thumb. And as long as you water them when it gets a bit dry outside you should do okay.
Julie Dina: I’m going to go out and purchase those.
David Payne: There you go. We’ll check back and see how you’re doing.
Julie Dina: Yeah, a successful gardener.
David Payne: So having said that what recommendations do you have for anybody who is just starting out in gardening and may be a bit overwhelmed or find it intimidating or has no experience. How would you get them started? What advice would you give or any particular books you might suggest for them?
Beth Chandler: I would say start with some of the herbs I mentioned that are easy to grow or maybe marigolds, pansies, zinnias are fairly easy to grow also. Our flower, state flower, the Blackeyed Susan is also very easy to grow and does well in our hot dry summers. One of the recent books we got would be pretty good. It's called The New Small Garden and since we do live in an area on the very edge of a major city a lot of people don't have much room. So that one again caught The New Small Garden would be helpful to most people. We also have a wonderful book Mid-Atlantic Getting Started Garden Guide. It's a few years old but it's specifically targeted at our area. So if you're doubtful about your ability to pick plants or to do the things that fit this climate that's where to go.
Julie Dina: And now a brief message about MCPL services and resources.
Lisa Navidi: Love to garden but have a brown thumb or a problem with a specific plant or a flower MCPL can help. Our dedicated Master Gardeners visit several Montgomery County branches from April through September and are there to answer your questions and calm your fears. You can find more information about our Master Gardener Program and are many other gardening resources in this episode show notes.
Julie Dina: Now back to our program. What would be your recommendation for those who say you know, I don't really have much time, I'm busy but I'll like to plant my own herbs or my own plants?
Beth Chandler: I would say you start with a window garden or just a couple of pots on your front or back porch. And herbs the seeds or seedlings are pretty cheap and you can get a lot of return for your money and you won’t have to run out to buy parsley if you want some for the dinner that you have planned.
Julie Dina: Any other ones?
Beth Chandler: We have all kinds of books. If you want to just try a little terrarium and you can build them so they are mostly self-sustaining and will go on with maybe a drop of water. There is also growing perfect vegetables, which I don't know how perfect one can actually get them but does give a lot of assistance. And there is one or two books on particularly growing things in the shade such as Glorious Shade.
So if you have a little shady backyard that might be a good book to pick up to find out what will grow well. And I can tell you again one of my favorites parsley does grow well in the shade, and so do salad greens if you want to stop buying those packaged salad greens all the time and spending all that money for the cost of one you could get maybe two packets of mixed greens to plant in your yard.
Julie Dina: And where will I get the seeds for those because I'm always buying packets of salads that would be me.
Beth Chandler: Home & Garden shop, some larger grocery stores, health food stores, garden and nursery shops, lot of different places.
David Payne: Now talking about vegetables I mean, I've always found it fairly easy to grow tomatoes well varying success. But amongst the different kinds of tomato are there ones that you suggest the easier perhaps to grow, perhaps with the new gardener you might just want to plunk them in there and keep watering or they both all about the same as far as the work involved in the maintenance.
Beth Chandler: Oh, I have a confession. I have no luck in growing tomatoes on my own. I don't know why. I would say that for cucumbers, which as I mentioned are easy and grow in soil that’s not very high quality. Straight Eight's brand comes up pretty well. They don't have those scary curves that make them hard to peel. And Spacemaster which is probably a brand name but any bush type cucumbers you could even grow in a large-size planter pot if you just have an apartment and no access to an actual plot of land.
Julie Dina: You've given us a lot of recommendations and I know there are people who would say you know I don't really have enough space. I only have a balcony or a windowsill that I will like to maximize its use. Do you have any recommendations for such people?
Beth Chandler: Again, definitely a little windowsill garden with herbs and it doesn't have to be windowsill, your sill might not be large enough. If you have a table reasonably near the sun you can put a few small pots or maybe even one or two. I have a friend who does that she always keeps catnip for her cats in one of the windowsill gardens.
Julie Dina: Any particular ones that grow easily?
Beth Chandler: The catnip and most mints aren't too bad and it’s the usual for. Also if you remember the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Thyme can be a little tricky, but the other three aren’t too bad.
Julie Dina: Okay, I'll give it some thyme.
Beth Chandler: Actually excuse me it’s rosemary that's a bit tricky.
Julie Dina: And rosemary too.
David Payne: I was waiting for a follow-up with that.
Julie Dina: Well, you got it.
Beth Chandler: But the parts parsley, the sage if anyone needs oregano you can come to my place. I always have more than I need that's how well it grows. I attempted to use it as a groundcover.
David Payne: Well, MCPL has a lot of resources for the gardener. Any particular resources that you can particularly recommend such as the Master Gardening Program?
Beth Chandler: Well, I notice that currently the Master Gardeners in the Davis area are holding plant workshops. You can bring your plant and find out how to take care of it or perhaps cure it. There are Master Gardeners all over and I fondly remember the ones at Aspen Hill who kept up the beautiful flowers at the entryway to Aspen Hill and actually identified one of the flowers that was doing particularly well in the middle of a hot summer so I’ll pass that on. Coreopsis is a perennial, you can buy it plant it once. And as long as you don't let it get totally waterless when we have a drought, it will pretty much keep on blooming for a couple of months at least.
But definitely the Master Gardeners since they pop up various places and the Master Gardeners, there is as I had mentioned there is a Maryland organization and they’re smaller chapters. There is usually at least one in every town, sometimes multiple ones. And if you go on your local email discussion list or patch and then of course for your library website you can get help from the Master Gardeners who are people who know a lot about plants and gardening and get together and learn even more about it.
Julie Dina: So since we’re still talking about the Master Gardeners I remember when I worked at the Wheaton branch we had a lot of customers who would come in Saturday morning because the Master Gardeners would have workshops at the Wheaton Library. Now do they offer these workshops at all of our branches or only specific ones?
Beth Chandler: Specific ones at different times. You can check our events section to find out who is offering it. Just put in the word gardening and you will find what they're doing.
Julie Dina: And does it cost anything?
Beth Chandler: No programs at the library are free so that would not cost anything. So if you want to learn to become a Master Gardener you don't need to already be good. You can just find out when they’re meeting and go to a meeting and often they use library meeting rooms.
Julie Dina: Do you know how often they offer that?
Beth Chandler: I think meetings are usually monthly but it depends on the group.
David Payne: Now being an expert with a green thumb do you plan on attending the Montgomery County GreenFest on May 5?
Beth Chandler: Well, I have to take a look because I think that might be the same weekend as something related to another one of my hobbies the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival since I’m a crocheter. So I could have a conflict of hobbies. [Multiple Speakers]
Julie Dina: Watch out the next episode.
David Payne: So Beth now that you’ve made gardeners out of all of us as you know from your previous appearance we usually end our podcast by asking you what you’re reading now. So anything that you have read recently or reading now that you care to tell us about.
Beth Chandler: As I mentioned before, I just started The Minimalist Gardener to find out how I can have a wonderful garden for less and hopefully take up more of the backyard, which means less mowing the lawn. And in other areas speaking of my crocheting and that I have other hobbies I am reading Crafting for Cat Ladies.
Julie Dina: Sounds good.
Beth Chandler: Yes.
Julie Dina: I guess you’re a cat lady then.
Beth Chandler: Oh, I’m a totally crazy cat lady. I have one cat and that's all it took. So I might even be making something in his colors, silver gray and jade green.
Julie Dina: Well, that's been very enlightening. Thank you so much Beth for joining us today. Let's keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on the new Apple podcast app, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple podcast. We’ll love to know what you think. Thank you for listening to our conversation today and see you next time.
Episode Summary: Gardening enthusiast Beth Chandler, a librarian in our Collection Management department, shares her joy of and experience with gardening while suggesting books that help novice and expert gardeners grow their knowledge.
Recording Date: April 11, 2018
Hosts: Julie Dina and David Payne
Guests: Beth Chandler, who was also a guest on our December 2017 science fiction episode.
Featured MCPL Resource: Master Gardener Plant Clinics. Bring your ailing plants or other gardening, lawn care, or landscaping questions to the experienced gardeners of the Montgomery County Cooperative Extension. This free walk-in service is available Saturdays, April through September, at MCPL branches throughout the county.
What Our Guest Is Reading:
The Minimalist Gardener by Patrick Whitefield
Crafting for Cat Ladies: 35 Purr-fect Feline Projects by Kat Roberts
Plants Mentioned During this Episode:
Books Mentioned During this Episode:
The Mid-Atlantic Getting Started Garden Guide by Andre Viette, Mark Viette, and Jacqueline Heriteau
The New Small Garden by Peter Loewer
What Wrong with My Plant (and How Do I Fix It?) by David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth
Other Items of Interest:
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, May 5 & 6, 2018: Celebrating all things sheep, from hoof to handwoven.
Master Gardener Program of the University of Maryland Extension: Master Gardeners are volunteers who combine their love of plants, people, and the environment to help residents in their communities solve problems and make environmentally-sound decisions.
Montgomery County GreenFest, May 5, 2018: GreenFest is the largest, annual environmental festival in Montgomery County, MD. A free event, GreenFest is a chance for residents, businesses, nonprofits and neighbors, to come together, share ideas and learn.