You’re Invited! Evening in the Stacks: Across Africa

Event Logo incorporates a textile pattern in blue, orang, and cream along with the title "Across Africa" in script next to a silhouette of the continent.

Join us on Saturday, May 14 at 7 pm for this year’s gala fundraiser! Taking place at our East Columbia Branch, Evening in the Stacks features authentic cuisine, an African marketplace, an open bar, a DJ and dancing, and so much more. We will celebrate the continent of Africa – from the Mediterranean coast and the Nile in the north to the cities, grasslands, and deserts in Central Africa to the rainforests of the south.

Tickets at a new price are on sale now.

Black tie is optional for all guests and formal African attire is welcomed for those who are part of or identify with an African culture. Evening in the Stacks is a fun party that raises money for Library initiatives. This year, our goal is to raise $150,000 to benefit the creation of welcoming and inviting teen spaces in the Library’s six branches. 

We are also highlighting two spectacular authors, who are participating in a virtual author panel in conversation with Elsa M. on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 pm.

Young Black man dressed in dark blue pants and a grey sweater show seated in a park, leaning against a memorial black. He is bald and wears glasses.
Tope Folarin by Justin Gellerson

“I think the most important message in the novel is about Identity Construction,” says Tope Folarin discussing his debut book A Particular Kind of a Black Man. “All of us have that option in the 21st century. Tunde, the protagonist in my novel is forced to construct a persona because the persona he inherits from his father and society doesn’t match who he actually is.” (Simon & Schuster Books)  

Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can’t escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won’t come off. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father’s accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school’s crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known. 

Winner of the Whiting Award for Fiction, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the meaning of memory, manhood, home, and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American. 

Based in Washington D.C., Tope Folarin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Lannan Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Georgetown University. He also serves as a board member of the Avalon Theater in Washington DC, the Vice President of the Board of the Pen/Faulkner Foundation, and as a member of the President’s Council of Pathfinder. He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Headshot of author against a grey background, where the author wears a vivid pattern in green and dark pink. She is looking off to the left.
NoViolet Bulawayo by NyeLynTho

Glory was inspired by the unexpected coup, in November 2017, of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president who took office in 1980 and never let go the reins of government. The rhythms and pace of the novel are enthralling and extraordinary, narrated by a chorus of animal voices. As the book begins, Old Horse stands in for Mugabe, with an entire host of donkeys, pigs, and other creatures forming the political court around him, each one wanting to maintain their own power at the expense of others. Inevitable echoes of George Orwell’s Animal Farm occur throughout Bulawayo’s novel, but the voice is purely her own. She gives us characters with names such as Marvellous and Destiny, and allows us to (re)discover the delight of breathtaking political satire.

A review in The Guardian explains, “even the stylistic use of the refrain “Tholukuthi”, meaning “only to discover” (as in, “you thought you were getting a novel as good as We Need New Names, tholukuthi Bulawayo’s second is even more dazzling”), nods to a social media moment. Around the time of the Zimbabwe coup, the song Tholukuthi Hey! was released, and once it went viral, the refrain became a meme. “Tholukuthi” serves both as incantation and a form of punctuation in a novel that will appeal across generations.”

NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of two novels, including the most recently published Glory and the PEN/Hemingway (among others) award-winning We Need New Names. Her first book was also shortlisted for the International Literature Award, the Man Booker Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University and has taught fiction writing at Cornell and Stanford Universities. She grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and is currently writing full-time from the wherevers.

National Library Week: Connect with Our Library!

National Library Week logo: Connect With Your Library. Connect is a white mouse with cord on a blue background. A black and white image of a plug on a deep yellow goes with "with your, and "library" is on red with an illustration of two hands getting ready to clasp.

Those of us who write for Chapter Chats want to connect with you, and want you to connect with the library. Most of the time, we’re going to share with you something new and different to read or watch. We enjoyed those titles so much that we want you to experience them, too. Check out recent popular reviews of the The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman or A Song of Wraith and Ruins by Roseanne Brown. If you’re an audiobook listener, we have you covered as well.

But the library has so much more to offer than books, and we want you to know about those things, too. Here’s a brief list of some blog posts that look at the other ways we’d like to connect with you:

Have you had a chance to visit Central Branch and tour the Undesign the Redline exhibit? It’s only here a little bit longer. Christie Lassen talks all about it in this Interview.

Have you been to Glenwood Branch recently? There’s so much that’s new for you! Visit the Makerspace and see the wonderful new play stations.

Our most liked blog post since Chapter Chats began about two years ago lets you know how to use the library’s subscription services to avoid news paywalls.

Do you like to craft? Or maybe bake? The DIY Center at Elkridge Branch may be able to help. The staff there can also help you with tools to get your yard cleaned up after winter and ready for spring fun.

And, now that it’s actually spring and random snow flurries have finally ended, take a drive to Ellicott City to visit the Enchanted Garden at HCLS Miller Branch.

One of our teen volunteers who frequents the Savage Branch (and writes for the blog) recently discovered that we lend toys. She is entirely on board with this idea.

We are even bringing the library to you with our PopUp Library van, which visits neighborhoods and community events.

So, take this as a reminder and an invitation to stop by frequently and see what’s going on in the blog – and at the Library. We love our library and connecting with you in all the ways we can imagine.

National Library Week: Reach Out!

County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball and HCLS President & CEO Tonya Aikens, with other officials, cut the ribbon for the new mobile library van, whichis decorated in bright colors with many photos.

by Katie DiSalvo-Thronson, Community Engagement and Partnership Manager

I believe outreach is for everybody, and it’s a first step towards many good things. Why not do some outreach today, and consider reaching out to the library?  

Wait, what?  

I’m Katie DiSalvo-Thronson, and I’ve got about 20 years of community engagement experience from girl scout cookie sales, to working for a community school in the Dominican Republic, to community organizing. I’ve seen the power of outreach and steps that can follow, again and again.  

Today is also Library Outreach Day. It’s also National Library Week, and this year’s theme is Connect With the Library. In honor of all that, I want to share some inspiration!  

I view “outreach” as simply reaching out. It can be as easy as a hello at the mailbox. It is extending a welcome to someone new and inviting them to start being in a relationship with you.  

Reaching out helps us live in friendlier, more connected communities. Connecting to people outside of our familiar circles helps us gain new understanding of the world. New relationships and new knowledge mean new possibilities.  Reaching out also gives us a chance to share who we are with others. 

It’s a step outside of the familiar and predictable. It’s a small, brave thing to do that makes the world a better place. 

StoryWalk station two dislays the cover and first page of Janey Monarch Seed. The black metal frame stands in lush greenery.

What is library outreach? Library outreach gives us a chance to share about the library  – and we have beautiful spaces, incredible books and other resources, and tremendous free classes and events! Reaching out with that is phenomenal! We are committed to bringing as much as we can to the community. Did you know that we also have a new mobile unit, that provides books, children’s classes, and community engagement all over the county? 

Library outreach also gives us a chance to listen and hear you! Did you know that we’ve recently talked to people at a flea market, a rock climbing event, and Howard Community College? That we connect with local civic, business, and cultural groups every day? Did you know that we’d like to connect to and hear from your community group? (we really would!) 

Three Native American dancers in traditional costume danicng at the Native American Heritage Celebration held at the East Columbia Branch Library in the fall.

But then what? 

After we’ve reached out and gotten to know each other, that’s when the magic can happen. 

  • A Native American Heritage Month event with Ani Begay Auld, a local artist and activist, and the Howard County Office of Human Rights and Equity.
  • Presentations about library resources followed by a craft class with the Howard County Family Child Care Association.
  • Library-based food distributions by the Indian Cultural Association.
  • Presenting related Library books at an education session with Community Advocates of Rainbow Youth about how to support trans/non-binary youth.
  • A collaboration on story walks in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area with local environmentalists and Howard County Recreation and Parks.
  • The NAACP’s young men’s group meeting in the Library’s new Equity Resource Center.
  • A great author event on the history of Muslim cooking with the Muslim Family Center. 
  • A new project lending chromebooks and providing remote English Language Conversation Classes to parents at Deep Run Elementary School.
  • Local heroes featured on the Library podcast.

These are just a few of the ways we are collaborating with community members.  

Bring your dreams here. Help your Library System provide the educational opportunities, community connections, culture, and joy that matter to you. Reach out to us, and let’s work on it together.  

I mean it. Reach out to us! Talk to your favorite branch staffer or email me at
Katie.disalvo-thronson@hclibrary.org

And try saying hi to someone new today. Odds are it’ll make you smile. 

National Library Week 2022: State of Howard County Library System

National Library Week logo: Connect With Your Library. Connect is a white mouse with cord on a blue background. A black and white image of a plug on a deep yellow goes with "with your, and "library" is on red with an illustration of two hands getting ready to clasp.

by Tonya Aikens, President & CEO, Howard County Library System

It’s National Library Week! First observed in 1958, National Library Week is a time to celebrate our nation’s libraries, library staff, and promote library use and support. This year’s theme, Connect With Your Library, promotes libraries as places to connect – to technology, to learning, and, most importantly, to each other.  

We invite you to connect with us and your neighbors when you attend a class or event, participate in a book discussion group, visit an exhibit, get a passport, study or conduct research, browse the collection, or simply stop by for a visit.  

Get inspired and collaborate with others in our new makerspace at the Glenwood Branch, dream up projects with the team at our DIY Center in Elkridge, and gain new perspectives when you borrow books from our new equity collection at the Central Branch or read Brave Stories from fellow Howard Countians on our website.  

At Howard County Library System, we are focused on making connections with and between members of our community. We launched our new mobile unit last summer, bringing classes and materials to preschoolers and their families in communities less able to come to our branches.  

We reopened the renovated Glenwood Branch in December, and families are now spending hours in our new Builders Barn and interactive play spaces. After school, teens flock to the cozy booths, play games, and record raps in the recording booth at our makerspace. 

Over the past year, we also embarked on an equity journey. We formed a Racial Equity Alliance, comprising 20 people representing a broad cross-section of the community, which guides and partners with us in our racial equity work. We launched our Brave Voices, Brave Choices initiative which hosted racial equity training for more than 400 community members, collected more than 600 stories of racism, bias, and discrimination, and convened circles of people seeking to make sense of what they learned and discuss how we should move forward as a community. 

In response to requests for a physical space where people can come together to learn more about one another, to learn more about people different than them – whether that’s a different race or culture or belief or gender identity – we created an Equity Resource Center at our Central Branch. This new Center includes space to gather, for exhibits, and for a new 9,000-plus title equity collection.  

Libraries serve the entire community and provide opportunities to connect and bring people together across conversation…to hear, listen and understand our differences, to learn how we can make meaning of them, and how we can find and increase common ground. 

When we create connections, the fabric of our community is stronger. Libraries are unique places where all people, regardless of background or means, are welcome. Whether you connect with us online or in person, we hope to see you soon. 

New Ways to Play at Glenwood

View of children's area of HCLS Glenwood Branch, featuring bright, colorful tall whirligig and three play stations.

By Alastair S.

Recent visitors Glenwood’s children section may have been surprised to be greeted by a beautiful ten-foot beautiful ‘whirligig’ flower. The moving construction, which children can set spinning by turning a cog at the base is one of series of new spectacular, interactive learning installations designed and delivered by the Burgeon Group. Burgeon specializes in creating child-centred works of art that also function as play experiences. This approach be seen not only in the large-scale whimsy of the new whirligig flower, but in the powerful appeal of the three large interactive large ‘seed-pod’ play centers, which also invite children into the space. Young learners can wander between the attractive panels that make up the seed pods, exploring textures, colors, and sound. They can look through kaleidoscopic insect eyes, make frogs jump, recreate nursery rhymes, turn dials to create a story, play with magnets, thread patterns, and otherwise touch, move, and discover a host of other details.

Young boy wearing a white shirt and a mask climbs through a opening in a bright green play station wall.

HCLS takes seriously the idea that play is crucial to children’s learning. These gorgeous inventions installed at Glenwood welcome customers into an area that is already buzzing with activity. The space not only boasts a range of toys carefully selected to encourage learning across the entire curriculum, but also includes our popular Builders’ Barn. The Builders’ Barn is a space for children of all ages, stuffed with easily accessible resources such as paper, card, tissue, recycled materials, fabric, wool, popsicle sticks, glue, tape all waiting to be used for the creation of whatever you’d like to create!

It’s such a pleasure to walk through the Glenwood children’s place and see customers spending a morning enthralled by books they’ve discovered in the collection, deeply engaged in imaginative play with a toy farm or train track or absorbed in sticking the legs back onto whatever amazing creation is emerging from Builder’s Barn. Now we have wonderful constructions enhancing all of this and adding an audible chorus of “wow!’ as customers come in and see it for the first time. Drop by – we’re having some serious fun over here!

A little girl with a explosion of a pony tail peeks at herself in a convex mirror on a play station wall.
Alastair S. is the Children’s Instruction and Research Supervisor at HCLS Glenwood Branch. Originally from England, Alastair has worked variously as an international kindergarten teacher, political report writer, ghost tour guide, and librarian. He has two children, two cats, and a very patient wife. 

Did You Know? The Library Lends Toys

You can see a black puzzle of the solar system that includes brightly colored planets and other objects, as well as the orange toy label.

by Eliana, teen volunteer at HCLS Savage Branch

I have been a volunteer at the Savage Branch for years, and a daily customer of the library since middle school. Howard County Library System offers so many services that I have only just discovered!

Did you know that customers of Howard County Library System can borrow educational toys? That’s right: each branch offers a wide array of toys for customers to borrow for free. Here’s how to access them:

Ask at the children’s desk for their “Flip and Views,” which have a picture of the toy and the toy’s name. They are sorted into five categories: cognitive toys, motor toys, puppets of all kinds, social toys, and a wide variety of puzzles. Pick a slip, any slip, and hand it to a staff member.

After receiving the Flip and View, the staff member retrieves the toy for you. The toys aren’t available on the library floor like books in order to keep things clean and orderly. The toys come in Howard County Library System bags with nifty labels. These labels list the components of the toy – especially if it’s a set – and an age level recommendation. All you need to do is check the tag to make sure everything is included. Once the toy has been checked out, it’s all yours to enjoy at home for three weeks!

When a customer is ready to return a toy, simply return it in its bag along with your books. If a toy gets broken, simply take it to the front desk and explain what happened. The library staff are super understanding about these sorts of things. Your library would rather know when something is broken. The toy may end up in the library’s “toy hospital” where they replace spare parts and mend broken toys.

Once returned, each toy is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before its corresponding flip and view returns to view for the public. After that, the toy is officially available to borrow once more!

Photo of teenager wearing a jean jacket, glasses and a mask holding rainbow ribboned sticks with bells.

Every Howard County Library Branch offers this free service. If you are interested in a toy, please speak to the staff at your branch and they will be delighted to assist. You can also view the educational toy collection here on the HCLS website. As for me, those ribbon bells look quite appealing. I think I may check those out myself so that I might frolic about the back hills like the majestic creature that I am.

Eliana is a teen volunteer (and frequent visitor) at HCLS Savage Branch.

DIY Tools for Spring Needs

The blue Hi circle from the Library's logo lays on the floor surrounded by tools and books from the DIY collection.

by Eric L.

I like all the seasons, I like something beginning, then I grow tired as it persists, and I then I enjoy the start of something different. Autumn is just barely my favorite season. I even love the winter, as well, and then I’m rather happy when it comes to end. (I’m thankful it’s not winter forever, that would be pretty bleak)

I don’t want to get overly philosophical or trite about it, but the rebirth and renewal of spring is a wonderful time of year. Observing the daily greening of nature just makes me feel happy, it is my favorite color.

That said, you may look outside and see your yard, large or small, and it may look a bit drab in early spring. Moreover, there is likely debris in your beds, garden, or yard (e.g., sticks, leaves). I’ll be honest when I was younger, had less patience, and “better” things to do, I used dislike yard work. However, I’ve come to embrace the relaxing nature of yard work, and perhaps the completed product. Keep in mind, there really isn’t a deadline, just pick a nice sunny day and get out there and take it on at your own pace.

The library has so many great tools to lend you (for free!) at the Elkridge DIY Education Center to get most of your outdoor jobs complete. Anyone 21 or older who lives, works, or attends school in Maryland may apply for an HCLS DIY library card at the branch.

Leaf and tine rakes will help you get all the aforementioned yard debris up. We have cordless blowers, so perhaps you can rake less. You can borrow numerous varieties of manual trimmers, tree limb saws, and tree pruners to get all those bushes and trees in shape. We’ll even lend you an extendable (up to 14 feet) pole trimmer to get those high limbs. The battery powered electric hedge trimmers are just wonderful (I’ve literally “cut the cord” on the other style). We even have battery powered string trimmers, if you’d like to clear a small area, or just trim some grass or weeds. You can borrow a variety of shovels for the bushes, flowers, plants, or trees you’d like to plant, replant, or dig up.

I would invest in some garden gloves, or you may just want to literally get your hands dirty, that’s your choice. And, so many other great tools to lend. I’d recommend you stop by, chat with us, and see what we have to offer.

Happy spring!

Eric is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the Elkridge branch. He enjoys reading, films, music, doing nearly anything outside, and people.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Close up of lily of the valley flowers, white bells, green stems and a dark background.

by Ann H.

With the Library’s help, of course! The Enchanted Garden celebrates its 10th season this coming spring, during which the garden and the gardeners have grown! We’ve had challenges to learn from and victories to savor. Together they position us well for our best season yet.

While the garden rests under a blanket of snow, this gardener dreams! Spring conjures up visions of colorful blooms, warm sunshine, plentiful rain, and rich soil. New garden catalogs, books, and now webinars spark grand ideas and plans. I am eager to get my hands in the soil and nurture all the plants and wildlife (not bunnies!) that create our abundant garden.

Visitors to the Enchanted Garden can expect to be wowed by the tried and true as well as something new.

Here’s what you can look forward to:
• An expanded Edible Landscape that combines flowers, herbs, and vegetables lovely enough for your front yard.

• A traditional Native American garden named The Three Sisters featuring corn, beans, and squash.

• Companion planting pairings to help plants get the nutrients they need, fend off pests, attract pollinators, and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

• Container gardens showcasing vegetables, herbs, and flowers for small spaces.

• 500 pounds (fingers crossed!) of food raised for the Howard County Food Bank.

• A healthy environment that provides for people and pollinators without the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides.

Ambitious plans require many helping hands. We look forward to the return of volunteers, teens, tweens, and children to our Enchanted Garden. Stay tuned for classes and events to be offered all season long!

Ann is a Master Gardener and the Enchanted Garden Coordinator at the HCLS Miller Branch, where she has worked for many years. You can find her smiling in the garden and sharing her passion for plants, nature, and our community.

Get Cozy and Crafty with the DIY Collection at Elkridge

A pile of colorful skeins of yarn.


by Emily T. and Eric L., HCLS Elkridge Branch

In this dark and chilly season, creative activities like making and baking can light us up from within. Tapping into creativity is a proven mood-booster, whether you complete a masterpiece or simply enjoy the process. With the DIY Collection at Elkridge, find a trove of inspiration and tools to help you get cozy and crafty.

Love the warmth of freshly baked treats? Get creative with our fun seasonal cookie cutters or cupcake tins with our icing piping kit. Or, go big with specialty cake pans like Frozen’s Elsa, a magical castle, or a smiling dinosaur.

Or, brighten those long sunless hours with the glorious colors and textures of fiber arts. Our yarn winding and spinning kits are a meditative joy and get any project off to a smooth start. Try our knitting needles or crochet hook sets for stitching comfy blankets, hats, and more. Our fabric cutting mats and tools pair perfectly with our ever-popular sewing machines – and be sure to check out our excellent pattern and technique guidebooks, too.

With the DIY Collection, you can even try your hand at leathercrafting, tile mosaics, and more. Whatever you choose, we hope you’ll be basking in the glow of creativity! Anyone 21 or older who lives, works, or attends school in Maryland may apply for an HCLS DIY library card (instructions and more information here).

Emily is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Elkridge Branch. Because she is solar-powered, her favorite winter activities involve warm, sunny window seats and brisk walks outside if she’s feeling adventurous. 

Eric is a DIY Instructor and Research Specialist at the Elkridge branch. He enjoys reading, films, music, doing nearly anything outside, and people.

The Baltimore Bead Society at the Miller Branch

A picture of the Baltimore Bead Society collection in the Miller Branch display cases, with an assortment of beaded necklaces in red, pink, earth tones, and gold (clockwise from upper right corner).
The Baltimore Bead Society display at the Miller Branch.

HCLS Miller Branch is delighted to partner with the Baltimore Bead Society (BBS) to exhibit beautiful displays of innovative jewelry designed and created by BBS members! Please visit the Miller Branch through mid-January and view the glass cases in the meeting room hallway to examine and explore the unique handiwork of these gifted local artisans.

The Baltimore Bead Society is a nonprofit group of enthusiasts who love jewelry, and especially love making all kinds of jewelry. Having been around for more than 28 years, the group has experienced amazing growth in membership as more people develop a desire and passion for making jewelry, even with the advent of more mass-produced jewelry. The BBS provides many educational opportunities, including programs, workshops, networking, outreach for individuals who need a healing peace in their lives, and classes for those wanting to learn traditional and new techniques.

A small hexagonal trinket box with a design of sailing ships on the ocean worked in beads, with a red and white striped lighthouse and small outbuilding and bushes on top of the trinket box.

The Baltimore Bead Society presents its 14th Winter Bead and Jewelry Show on January 15-16, 2022 at the Howard County Fairgrounds. You can visit on Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday from 10 am – 4 pm. Experts offer a wide assortment of classes each day, from how to make your own jewelry to advanced techniques, with pop-up demos featured concurrently during the entire show. Jewelry makers and crafters will also find an extensive selection of supplies from many of the top vendors.

For further information about the BBS’s 2022 Winter Bead & Jewelry Show, visit their website, www.baltimorebead.org.

And if you are a jeweler, artist, crafter, or enthusiast for all things creative and lovely, please check out this list of related jewelry-making books and other resources available from Howard County Library System. HCLS also has a wide variety of DIY and crafting classes to help you get in touch with your creative side!