Prepare to explore an immersive, intellectually stimulating game of friendship and betrayal, with spies and imposters, alliances and rivals. Will you witness a campaign of persuasion, or one of war and pestilence? Hoarded resources or shared technology? How is trade conducted? Who are the players on the board?
No, I am not referring to a game of Among Us or a Dungeons and Dragons adventure. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to complete the 2021 National History Day project, Debate and Diplomacy in History: Failures, Successes, Consequences.
Tumble down primary and secondary source rabbit holes following an historical topic. Analyze immediate and long term impacts, its connection to the annual theme, and create a structured presentation model showcasing extensive research and conclusions in a national competition for grades, glory, and potential monetary awards! Sports have nothing on this competition.
Parents, we are here to help. It is not cheating for students to get research assistance. Students, tap your teachers and parents and the local, free, natural habitat for history and research nerds eager to help search for buried sources – the Howard County Library System.
Employment scams were already the riskiest scam in both 2018 and 2019, according to Better Business Bureau’s Risk Index report. During 2020, the growth of this dangerous breeding ground skyrocketed, largely due to the influx in work-from-home scams during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An estimated 14 million people are exposed to employment scams with more than $2 billion lost per year, not counting time or emotional losses. Join BBB to learn why you’re more vulnerable than you think, how to spot the red flags, and tips for saying no to employment scams while you’re on your job search.
Presented in partnership with Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Maryland, bbb.org.
Small Business Resources at HCLS
The how, when, and where of work evolves over a lifetime. Priorities involved with earning a living change depending on whether the employee is a student, parent, family caretaker, or senior. Some careers accommodate a work-from-home model; others require laborers on the front lines. An employee may want to operate within a traditional organization or a small startup. Some have the entrepreneurial spirit to make the rules and create their own dream vocations.
Without a doubt, the pandemic has affected how people work and refocused their goals. HCLS supports the education and provides the resources sought by job seekers at all stages of their careers. Recent events have inspired bad actors, so HCLS is offering an employment scam class in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau, as well as on-demand classes on its YouTube channel. Select the Resume and Career Skills playlist for information on resume building, cover letter writing, social media presence, apprenticeships, certifications, interviewing, and salary negotiation.
Visit or call our branches for one-on-one assistance with job applications and small business research.
eResources for Small Business Owners
Get FREE tools to write a business plan, launch your business, grow it, manage it, and protect it. From researching the market to selecting a name to obtaining permits, funding, hiring, networking, and more, all that you need is available with an HCLS card and an Internet connection!
AtoZ Database: Research companies nationwide and find employer contact information.
Gale Courses & LinkedIn Learning offer training for employers, employees, and business owners. Refresh and expand your computer skills with lessons and video tutorials.
As always, our instructors and research specialists are just a library visit or phone call away! Please contact us or visit your local branch if you have questions about classes and events, online learning, or research databases that can help you with your small business needs.
Cherise Tasker is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.
As local Covid rates drop and vaccination numbers rise, some of you are embarking on long-anticipated journeys. Whether day-tripping down to the shore or jet-setting to a distant locale, the act of travel brings a sense of relief to many who are longing to break out of their quarantine bubbles and go – somewhere, anywhere!
For others of you the time for travel hasn’t yet arrived. Finances, health, or other constraints may limit your current trip planning to a run to the grocery store or a drive across town to check on a friend. Tropical oases may beckon, but for now you just need to let that call go to voicemail.
Wanderlust – a desire to travel or roam – is something we all feel, these post(?)-pandemic days more keenly than ever. Whether you are an actual or an armchair traveler this summer, let usbroaden your horizons with a terrific eResource. National Geographic has partnered with Gale to deliver a virtual steamer trunk full of high-quality digital content that brings the world to your door. Your library card is your all-access pass to theNational Geographic Virtual Library (search under Magazines & Newspapers), an extensive database that includes the National Geographic Magazine digital archive from 1888 to the present (new issues are added after a minimum 45-day embargo period), National Geographic: People, Animals, and the World, and National Geographic Kids.
Since its launch in October 1888, National Geographic Magazine has been regarded for its in-depth reporting, innovative storytelling, and splendid photography. Complete digital issues of National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, and National Geographic History are available for browsing, with audio options and search functions available. Citation tools are built in, making this database a great resource for historical, social, and scientific research.
National Geographic: People, Animals, and the World connects you with even more content, including full-text books on travel, science & technology, history, the environment, animals, photography, and peoples & cultures. Also included are cross-searchable videos, full-color maps, charts, graphs, and a wealth of National Geographic’s iconic photographs and digital images.
There is plenty to engage young students with National Geographic Kids. This database includes the complete archive of National Geographic Kids Magazine from 2009 to the present, as well as books, videos, and images galore. With an intuitive, visual interface, National Geographic Kids offers age-appropriate content that supports Common Core standards. Subject indexing and easy search features empower young explorers to embark on exciting learning adventures.
Expired passport? No problem. We can help with that, too, at the East Columbia Branch. Or, use your HCLS library card to book a virtual trip this summer via the National Geographic Virtual Library.
Holly is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She enjoys knitting and appreciates an audiobook with a good narrator.
Do you know when Women’s History Month began? I didn’t until I started writing this post and realized I knew very little about the annual commemoration. It began in 1981 with Women’s History Week; then in 1987, Congress passed legislation designating March as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents have issued proclamations and celebrated the contributions of certain historical figures during this time. That’s all within my lifetime! Maybe I’m more “historical” (read old) than I like to think.
HCLS has a couple of classes on the topic, along with always-available free online tools. For example, the Liberty Magazine Archives (1924-1950), listed under magazines and newspapers, includes valuable insight into everyday life in the United States during the Depression Era and World War II. American women sought advice about writing to servicemen, using their husbands’ names, and being drafted. Greta Garbo even wrote a guest piece in 1932 called “Why I Will Not Marry.” You can use a variety of other historical databases to research biographies and certain historical events, like the Seneca Falls Convention. You can also always chat with an HCLS staff member to find books and other resources on a specific topic.
On March 16, author and jewelry historian Elyse Zorn Karlin discusses how the suffragettes, and those who supported them, used jewelry and other accessories to express their politics. Register for “Making a Statement: Jewelry and Other Adornments of the Suffragist Movement” to participate via Zoom.
There are certain women with whom I have always been fascinated. Growing up in Maryland, Harriet Tubman was always part of our local history and I can’t remember not knowing about her. I was always intrigued by her story of courage in escaping slavery, but also her determination to bring others to freedom. The recent movie, Harriet, knocked my socks off, and I plan to watch it again soon.
Dr. Richard Bell joins us on March 23 to talk about the two Harriets: Beecher Stowe and Tubman. Many people, including President Abraham Lincoln, believed that Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin helped precipitate the Civil War. Lincoln may just as well have been talking about Harriet Tubman, the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. When asked about why he chose these two historical figures, Dr. Bell replied, “I consider Harriet Tubman a truly great American, a woman who fought for freedom against the toughest possible odds on the Underground Railroad. Harriet Beecher Stowe is less well-known today than Tubman, but back before the Civil War it was the other way around. Too often we forget the central roles that American women played in driving the United States towards the reckoning of the Civil War.” Register to participate via Zoom. Dr. Richard Bell is Professor of History at the University of Maryland and the author of Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and their Astonishing Odyssey Home.
Join us for any and all of these opportunities! I hope you celebrate the women in your life along with all the women who have contributed in every way throughout history. If you’d like to read more on the subject, here are several lists: adult fiction, adult nonfiction, and books for children and teens.
Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, and take walks in the park.
Trying new things can be costly. For instance, learning a new instrument has a considerable price tag after you add up the purchases for the instrument, books, and lessons. Then, there’s that thing that sometimes happens. You know, when you’ve spent all this money and realize you’re just not that into it? Yikes!
Well, the quintessential “try before you buy” scenario can be found at our library. That is, if you’d like to learn to play the ukulele. Yes, you can borrow a ukulele kit, chord and song books, and even get ukulele lessons through ArtistWorks for FREE.
What if you’re not interested in ukuleles? The library can still help offset your costs through offering materials in our collection and through interlibrary loan, and ArtistWorks. Private music lessons in Howard County range from $35-$80 per hour (depending on the instrument and the instructor’s expertise). ArtistWorks can help you discern your desire to learn a new instrument before making a large financial investment.
ArtistWorks is a database comprised of Grammy Award-winning musicians and renowned teachers providing guided instruction for an assortment of instruments. These online music lessons offer step-by-step professional instruction at your pace. Each course include videos, documents (e.g. sheet music, lyrics, chords), and music tracks when appropriate. There are 35 active lessons spanning percussion, winds, horns, strings, and vocals. ArtistWorks occasionally updates their offerings. They’ve provided lessons on watercolors and oil painting in the past and have recently added scratching records and music theory. Truly an assortment of artistry is available for you to peruse and use.
If you’re interested in exploring ArtistWorks you will need an HCLS library card and PIN number to access this resource via hclibrary.org. Once you’ve accessed ArtistWorks, you’ll need to register, creating a username and password, to access the lessons. I wish you great joy as you take on the adventure of learning a new instrument (or more)! May your strings never snap, your reeds never splinter, and your voice carry a tune! Good luck!
JP has worked for HCLS since 2006. She loves learning new things and playing disc golf, albeit as a novice.
2020 was a difficult year, and we all know it. In difficult times, we often turn to things that bring us comfort such as books, music, movies, or food, and oftentimes our favorites are the ones we turn to many times over and never get tired of. What brings me comfort? The movie Julie & Julia. This 2009 film is based on Julie Powell’s 2005 book and intertwines the story of Julia Child as she grows into a chef extraordinaire with the life of government worker Julie Powell as she cooks her way through all of the recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This is a favorite film of mine for many reasons: Meryl Streep as Julia Child, Stanley Tucci, comedy, and last but not least…FOOD. Seriously, I could watch this movie once a week for forever.
As a child we didn’t have cable so I had to rely on watching whatever our TV antenna was able to pick up and most often it was PBS. I remember seeing Julia Child and Jacques Pépin cook dish after dish, and they (along with many other PBS cooking shows) are one of the reasons I became the foodie I am today.
But back to Julie & Julia: as I mentioned before, there are many reasons why I love this movie, but what I didn’t mention was that it has one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. It’s…relaxing, for lack of a better term. When I turn on this movie, it is often just in the background as I cook, clean, or when I just want to free my mind of all the clutter. Don’t believe me? Well, check it out – it is available to stream and download from Freegal through Howard County Library System. All you’ll need is your library card number and PIN. It’s that easy!
Meryl Streep shines as Julia Child accompanied by Stanley Tucci as her husband Paul. Their onscreen chemistry makes you believe in love and triumph through hard work and determination, and I love every single scene with them. Amy Adams, however, is no slouch, and her portrayal of Julie Powell perfectly conveys how arduous the task was to cook more than 500 of Julia Child’s recipes, all while enjoying most of it, despite a few burnouts and tantrums along the way. When she describes her childhood memory of the magic of Julia’s bœuf bourguignon I am sorely tempted to make the recipe myself (but would end up eating by myself thanks to my vegetarian partner).
I leave you with a quote from Julia Child:
People who love to eat are always the best people.
Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch where he is one of the nerdiest people you could meet.
Rely on hclibrary.org as your job seeker support system. Our excellent databases and classes can assist in your job search and career development, including Peterson’s Test and Career Prep. You may be familiar with the Testing & Education Reference Center and have used its tools or maybe read about its resources. Renamed “Peterson’s,” this database has so much to offer on your job search journey.
Looking for a job is a full-time pursuit, so you will be thrilled to know that 24-hour access to Peterson’s requires only your library card (Do you need one?). Once logged in, select the “Explore Careers” tile and dig in to all the available and FREE information. Click on “Get Started,” then explore “Find a Career” or “Career Advice” or “Create a Resume.”
The “Find a Career” section is especially useful, with a series of aptitude assessments that lead to recommended career paths. Complete all four – Interests, Values, Personality, and Workplace Preferences – to discover the most complete view of how your interests and skills mesh with different career paths. Once an assessment is completed, Peterson’s links to the job aggregator site Indeed.com with relevant current job posts.
Peterson’s will direct you to Career Matches by subject, including education; finance; health science; IT and computer science; human services; science, engineering, and mathematics; government, military, and public administration; business management and administration; marketing and sales; law and public safety; arts, media, and communication; agriculture, food, and natural resources; hospitality and tourism; transportation, distribution, and logistics; manufacturing and manual operations; and architecture and construction. Using the assessment results, Peterson’s calculates an individualized job fit.
“Career Advice” includes a virtual career library of online instruction. Access this area for advice on changing careers, transitioning out of the military, acing an interview, and negotiating a salary. You can use modules for constructing a resume, pursuing an effective job search, and writing a strong cover letter.
Under the “Create a Resume” tile, you can find nine sample resume templates that you can save to your device or in your Peterson’s account. You can choose to import your resume or even to publish your resume publicly via a Peterson-generated URL address. Check out the cover letter formatting assistant as well.
Remember to explore our class calendar. We post new classes on a regular basis. Upcoming events include Mastering the Elevator Pitch and Interview on Wednesday, January 27 and Networking or Not Working on Tuesday, February 9 and Thursday, February 11. Networking and Not Working provides a total of four hours of in-depth job search skills personalized to attendees’ needs. HCLS also provides drop-in online help in filling out job applications. Twice a month, you may register for a small group session to answer job application questions and address job search concerns.
Cherise Tasker is an Adult Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch. When not immersed in literary fiction, Cherise can be found singing along to musical theater soundtracks.
Howard County Library System wishes you all the best during the holiday season. Thank you for reading our new blog, which we began in May. We hope you’ve enjoyed the reviews and maybe discovered a new electronic resource or two.
We published nearly 95 posts this year; here were some of the most-read posts of 2020:
Do you sometimes wonder what to read next? But now it’s even more difficult because our buildings aren’t open for browsing the stacks? Sometimes I take calls from customers with just those sorts of questions. I and other library staff are always happy to help our community find a good book, but I will admit that it’s not always easy to find the right book. Thankfully, we have NoveList, a tool that can help us answer those “what should I read” questions.
The great part is YOU can access that tool also! On our Research Tools page, click Book Recommendations, then NoveList, and you’ll find yourself on a Remote Authentication page where you need to enter your library card barcode and PIN (if you’re not sure what these are, visit My Account and use the links below the boxes to have your information emailed to you).
Now, you are inside the treasure trove that is NoveList. Choose from highlighted themes and styles, browse genres by age range, or check out a Recommended Reads List. If you have something specific that you want to match, enter it in the search bar and explore title or author read-alikes. Maybe you have read all of the books Louise Penny has written, but you’re looking for something that has a similar feel to the Inspector Gamache mysteries. If you enter her name in the search bar, you can choose Title Read-alikes, Author Read-alikes, or Series Read-alikes below any of the books from that series that come up in your results list. Considering any of the “Read-alike” options shows you a list with a brief explanation of what the two items have in common.
While you’re in NoveList, preview some of the “Recommended Reads Lists” in the left-hand panel. These are fixtures, but staff at NoveList update them periodically. For instance, right now there’s a “Reading During Pandemic” category. Each of the categories has several sub-categories before you get to the actual list. For instance, if you click on “Reading During Pandemic,” you will see “Quarantine Reads: Cozy and Gentle Stories,” “Quarantine Reads: Fast-paced Thrillers,” “Quarantine Reads: Heartwarming Reads,” and “Quarantine Reads: Pandemic Apocalypse Fiction.” You will obviously see very different options across those categories!
One thing to note is the “Check Availability” button that appears at the bottom of the listing for a title. Unfortunately, HCLS does not own every title listed in NoveList. You can use “Check Availability” to see if we do own it, though, and how many copies are on the shelf. The listing within NoveList only includes print and ebook formats, but you can search in our catalog to see audiobook (including eAudio) options. If you find a listing you want to read that says “Not owned by this library,” you can always take a look in Interlibrary Loan or suggest we add the title to our collection via the purchase suggestion option on our website.
I hope you take the time to explore NoveList and find some great titles to enjoy. Feel free to leave some of your own recommendations for fellow readers in the comments!
Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).
I suspect many of you have heard the term “public domain” thrown out here and there – as have I – but what does it really mean? When I ask myself this question, my thinking runs along the lines of “free, up for grabs, no questions asked, right?” Well, yes… but there is a catch.
When a work is placed in the public domain, it is broadly defined as being free of protection from intellectual property rights including copyright, trademark, and patents. But how does work end up in the public domain? There are three main ways. First, the work was never protected by copyright law to begin with. Second, the owner places the work in the public domain before the copyright has expired. Third, the copyright has expired, either due to the terms of the copyright or the owner failing to follow copyright renewal rules. Once a work is placed in the public domain it is, in a general sense, free to be used without restriction. As with any legal perspective, there are exceptions. I am not a copyright expert, and, let’s be honest, have already spent all of the mental bandwidth I can muster for this topic, so I can’t give you all the legality behind those exceptions. If, however, copyright law is your jam, there is a great resource from Cornell University that takes a detailed look at copyright and the public domain.
So why, as readers and lovers of knowledge, do we care about this? Well, the public domain covers a lot of creative works, but one material abundant in the public domain is books. I know what you’re thinking: “free books, great, yes, sign me up,” and you’re absolutely right. The public domain offers us free access to thousands of books and writings. But remember, I said there was a catch. When a book is placed in the public domain, it allows for people to do any number of things with that book, including selling it. Books in the public domain are not always free; in fact, if you look up a public domain title online, it will most definitely have a listed price. Luckily for us, this is not always the case. There are some great people out their dedicating their time to digitizing these books and building them a home on the internet so everyone can have access to them.
Now, and I know I made you wait for this, how do you access these books? Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer-run website and organization that digitizes and distributes works in the public domain at no cost. Books found on Project Gutenberg can be downloaded in multiple file formats, including PDF and EPub, so you can read them on any device or eReader. If you don’t have a tablet or eReader, you also have the option to read on their website.
And that’s it! Time to go explore the public domain. There really are too many books to name: everything from classic novels to unpublished fiction. So, if you are overwhelmed and need a place to start, here are some of my recommendations.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The Odyssey by Homer
Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm