Recipe Exchange: Asian American Chefs and Asian American Cuisine

A colorful main dish is surrounded by smaller metal bowls of whole spices.

by Sahana C.

Come talk food with us!
Wednesday, May 24 at 7 pm | Savage Branch
Register here.

In Asian American households, food is a love language. Sliced fruit, set gently next to a workspace, is an invitation to take a break, or an apology. Homecomings are ushered in by welcome feasts, and almost every restaurant occasion ends with a polite battle over the bill. Food is affection, and especially in immigrant households, it is a connection to family, to a far-away home, and it is a consistent way of showing (but not telling) love.

Growing up with my Bengali mother, rainy days off meant khichdi (a mix of rice, lentils, and vegetables) and aloo bhaja (thinly sliced fried potatoes) for lunch. My brother and I would scrap over the last few aloo bhaja in the bowl, before our mother would smile indulgently and take a few from her plate to split between us. I’d sit in the kitchen as my mother cooked big, elaborate, multi-course meals, watch her season and spice, and wait for the oil to sputter specifically, never once consulting a recipe. She would have one of her aunts on speakerphone, talking about family back home and interjecting with quick questions on what to substitute to make our American ingredients taste as close as possible to the Indian ones.

I grew to appreciate food, to understand cooking, and to have a standard repertoire of recipes after learning from my mother. It was a common language we shared, this mutual culinary interest. And it’s only grown. I cook with and for friends, I follow cooking blogs and sites and social media accounts, I favorite every restaurant I pass by with an interesting-looking menu, and most of all, I like to talk about food with people. On desk at the library, I’ll see someone flipping through a cookbook I’ve read, and I’ll want to stop and talk. I’ll notice someone looking at a book written by one of my favorite food personalities, and I can’t help but smile at it. And most of all, I love when people share their recipes with me, when I can hear about the food, the stories, and the cuisines that influence them.

It’s important, also, to know about innovators. To know about the people who are pushing the cuisine, who are changing it, who are going back to the roots of a tradition or practice to better understand it. There are so many Asian American chefs who are pushing the envelope on what elevated Asian American cuisine looks like, and there are just as many Asian American chefs who are looking to create the most traditional experience they can with their food. All of that is what makes the cuisine not just Asian, but Asian American. It’s the blend of respect for culture and tradition, and the simultaneous push to the modern that makes Asian American food so unique.

To celebrate all of the above, we’re having a Recipe Exchange on Wednesday, May 24, from 7-8 pm at the Savage Branch. It’s themed around Asian American chefs and Asian American cuisine, where we’ll look at a few highlighted chefs and some of their most popular recipes. I’d love for you to join us and bring a recipe of your own to share. We’ll discuss our favorite tips, tricks, and techniques in community, and do it all the way food was meant to be enjoyed – together.

Sahana is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. They enjoy adding books to their “want to read” list despite having a mountain of books waiting for them already.

Mental Health Awareness Month: 988 and Suicide Prevention

The photograph shows lettered tiles in black and white spelling out the words "Mental Health Matters" against the background of a black and silver quartz countertop.

By Laura Torres

Have you or someone you know and love ever experienced symptoms of depression resulting in contemplating ending your/their life? Chances are you, or someone you know, has had these thoughts and experienced feelings of hopelessness and overwhelming sadness.

Suicide and attempted suicide are widespread in this country. Suicide was the twelfth leading cause of overall death in the United States in 2020, claiming the lives of more than 45,900 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among 10 to 14 year olds and 25 to 34 year olds, and the fourth leading cause for people between the ages of 35 and 44 (NIH).

In 2020 alone, the US had one death by suicide every 11 minutes. Despite the prevalence, suicide is a topic that most people feel uncomfortable talking about; one that, unfortunately, carries a great deal of stigma. Those suffering in silence often do not reach out for and receive the help they need, when they need it. A person struggling with thoughts and feelings of suicide is in a deeply painful and dark place, often not knowing how or where to turn for assistance and relief.

The image lists Howard County and surrounding jurisdictions (Baltimore City and County, Carroll County) and reads "Looking for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline? You can now reach us at 988. Call 988. We're here to help." in white letters against a purple background. "988" is highlighted in orange.

In July of 2022, to provide a resource – indeed, a lifeline – for those struggling, the federal government mandated that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline change its ten digits to a new, 3-digit number: 988. Making this change has increased awareness, providing more equitable and accessible crisis services to people across the country. The 988 helpline is confidential, free, and available 24/7/365 for anyone experiencing mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis.

Trained mental health counselors are available through landlines, cell services, and voice-over-internet devices for conversations on the phone or through texts and chats. The counselors are available to listen to each caller, assess their level of need, identify whether they are in a crisis state, and provide them with the connections and resources to help. 988 is a helpline for everyone, of any age, anywhere in the US, regardless of their situation and circumstances.

It is sometimes difficult to know who is suffering or how to help those struggling with overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and/or any number of other stressors and emotional challenges. For this reason, it is important and necessary for everyone in our communities to share the 988 resource with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues – everyone in our social circles. No one is alone in their struggle. Help is here.

In partnership with Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center, HCLS Miller Branch is offering QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) Suicide Prevention Training Monday, May 15 at 6:30 pm. Some key components of QPR training include:

  • How to help someone who is considering suicide
  • The common causes of suicidal behavior
  • The warning signs of suicide
  • How to get help for someone in a suicide crisis

Register here for this training, specifically designed for people who do not have experience in suicide intervention.

In light of HCLS’ community partnership with Howard County General Hospital, Chapter Chats is pleased to have Laura Torres, LCSW-C, as a guest blogger today. Laura is the Behavioral Health Program Manager with the Population Health Department at Howard County General Hospital.

Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month

Several children stand around a library instructor, everyone strumming a ukulele.
Ukulele series Play, Practice & Perform, HCLS Savage Branch.

by Sahana C.

This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrate the incredible diversity and cultural influence of folks under the AAPI umbrella. AAPI culture has become more prominent recently, though it has long been an integral part of our community and our county. Going from K-Pop to Bollywood, from Vietnamese cuisine, Thai food, and Chinese staples, to things like ukuleles and tattooing that hail from the Pacific Islands, there are traces of and homages to AAPI influence across society. Howard County Library System has a World Language Collection, and while the specific materials may differ between branches, we have DVDs, books, and other materials in a wide variety of languages, including Bengali, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Hindi, Korean, Japanese, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese, to name a few.

I grew up listening to Bollywood and watching Bollywood movies that we would bring home from the library. Having the World Language Collection as a staple within the library has always been incredibly significant to me. It’s a tangible connection to my culture. I try always to recommend that folks looking for new and different movies give Bollywood a try, and the expanse of our World Language selection makes that possible.

This spring we have a wealth of classes to highlight AAPI authors, traditions, art, food, and culture. We’ll jam out at Savage Branch using ukuleles (that can be requested and borrowed!) with Savage Ukes. We’ll create origami flowers and learn about the history of kusudama, participate in Anime Clubs at Savage and Miller branches to talk about our favorite anime and manga, and read books like Interior Chinatown together (with the Reading Human Rights book discussion group) so that we can discuss in community.

We would love to see you at the branches, attending any of our events. Discover more on our classes and events calendar.

Asian Cuisine Made Easy!
For adults. Register here.
Thu Huynh, a registered dietitian nutritionist with the Health Living Team at Giant Food, presents seven top tips on how to incorporate Asian cuisine and lifestyle into your life.
Wed, May 3 | 7 – 8 pm

Nonfiction Addiction
For adults. Register here for the in-person session and here for the online/hybrid session.
Explore the genre of nonfiction.
In May: The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui.
Thu, May 18 | 7 – 8 pm
East Columbia Branch

Glenwood Goes to Hawaii
Ages 0-5. Ticketed; free tickets available 15 mins before class starts.
Shake off winter blues and go Hawaiian as we catch a wave. Enjoy tropical music, games, and stories under palm trees on beach blankets. Tropical attire encouraged.
Fri, May 19 | 10:30 – 11:15 am   
Glenwood Branch

High Tide in Hawaii: A Magic Tree House Special
Ages 6-10. Ticketed; free tickets available 15 mins before class starts.
Join Jack & Annie in the Magic Tree House as they escape high tide in Hawaii. Enjoy games, music, and a craft under palm trees and sunny skies. Tropical attire encouraged. Catch a wave!
Fri, May 19 | 2 – 3 pm     
Glenwood Branch

National Museum of Asian Art
All ages.
Investigate scenes and objects of daily life in works of art across Asia to discover what people in the past valued and how they celebrated through food and rituals. Through the objects you examine, compare daily life in the past to today.
Fri, May 19 | 2 – 3 pm
Elkridge Branch

Global Neighbors – Republic of Korea
All ages.
Experience the culture and contributions of one of the largest demographics in our community. Enjoy a presentation and celebration showcasing traditional Korean music, Taekwondo, Korean Fan Dance, K-Pop dance demonstration, and Korean origami and calligraphy. Celebrate the diversity of our community!
Sun, May 21 | 2 – 4 pm
Miller Branch

Craft Pop-up Shop: AAPI Heritage Month Edition
Ages 4 and up. Allow 15 minutes. Drop in.
Pop in and make a craft inspired by AAPI Heritage Month.
Tue, May 23 | 5:30 – 7 pm
Miller Branch

Recipe Exchange: Asians Chefs and Asian American Cuisine
For adults.
Learn about Asian chefs and the history of Asian American cuisine. Meet other foodies to learn new recipes or share some your favorites.
Wed, May 24 | 7 – 8 pm
Savage Branch

Sahana is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. They enjoy adding books to their “want to read” list despite having a mountain of books waiting for them already.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The picture shows three heads in silhouette in blue and white, with a beating pink heart in the lower left corner against a blue background. The words "Mental Health Awareness Month May 2023" are written in the upper left corner in white.

By Kimberly J.

In 2013, I was living overseas as a military spouse and was struggling with my mental health. Desperate for help, I did a quick internet search to find the number for the Mental Health Services on base. The first question asked was, “Are you active duty?” When I replied that I was not, the response I got was, “Then we can’t help you.” Hearing those words was devastating to my despairing mind and I felt defeated in that moment. The person on the other end then asked, “Are you experiencing suicidal thoughts or do you feel that you might harm yourself or others?” My reply was, “If I was, I’d be in trouble, since you just said you can’t help me!” I made it past the lies that depression was telling me and the very insensitive message that I received that day. I have been traveling a road of healing for the last 10 years. Some days are hard, but I now know that there is help.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I want to begin by saying three things:

1. You are not alone.

2. Help is always available.

3. You (and your mental health) matter.

You Are Not Alone

Almost everyone knows someone with a mental illness. Understanding the prevalence of mental health conditions is important in destigmatizing it. Nearly 450 million people worldwide are currently living with a mental illness. In the United States, one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Almost half of adults in the US will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. The three most common diagnoses are anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Life can be challenging, but every day shouldn’t feel out of control. Take time to ask yourself about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to see if this is part of a pattern that may be caused by a mental health condition. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Have things that used to feel easy started feeling difficult?
  • Does the idea of doing daily tasks like making your bed now feel really, really hard?
  • Have you lost interest in activities and hobbies you used to enjoy?
  • Do you feel irritated, possibly to the point of lashing out at people you care about?

If your answers to the any of the above are yes, start a conversation with your primary care provider, a trusted friend, or a family member about your mental health. Please note: A mental health provider (such as a doctor or a therapist) can give you a full assessment and talk to you about options for how to feel better.

Help is Always Available – Free Community Resources

  • 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline – offers free 24/7 call, text, and chat ( access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing suicidal thoughts, substance use, mental health crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. Just text or call 988 nationwide. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. While text and chat are available in English only, calling services are in English and Spanish and use Language Line Solutions to provide translation services in over 250 additional languages.
  • 211 Maryland is the state’s most comprehensive health and human services resource database. With more than 7,500 resources, individuals with essential needs can get connected to local help 24/7/365.
    • 211, Press 1 is an immediate, always-on-call suicide prevention, substance use intervention, and mental health emergency assistance line available in the state of Maryland. Dial 211 and Press 1. 211 specialists are also available to chat or text. For text services, text your ZIP code to 898-211.
    • 211 Health Check – provides proactive mental health check-ins to support those with anxiety, stress, and depression. The weekly connections provide one-on-one support with the goal of preventing suicide and other mental health emergencies. If requested, the 211 specialist can connect the caller with mental health resources. To sign up for weekly mental health checks, text MDMindHealth to 898-211.
    • MD Young Minds is a new resource for teens and adolescents who are struggling with their mental health. It sends supportive text messages, with a focus on teen and adolescent concerns and worries. To sign up, teens should text MDYoungMinds to 898-211. The ongoing messages also remind youth that immediate mental health support is always available through 211, Press 1.
  • Local Mental Health resources are available through the Howard County Health Department by visiting this website.

You (and your mental health) Matter

Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

No matter your age or stage in life, you and your mental health are important. If you’re looking for resources to help make self-care part of your routine, the library can help get you started.

The Little Book of Rest: 100 Ways to Relax and Restore Your Mind, Body, and Soul by Stephanie Thomas is a book that can help you formulate your own actionable self-care plan. Everyone is unique, so make a self-care routine that works for YOU. This book is divided into four sections, with plenty of ideas for each category: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual exercises to give yourself time and space to focus on wellness.

In The Self-Healing Mind, Dr. Gregory Brown advocates for a holistic approach to mental health treatment. Dr. Brown supports integrating conventional treatments (medication and talk therapy) with lifestyle changes that he calls the pillars of self-care: breathing mindfully, sleep, spirituality, nutrition, and movement.

Mindful Moments for Kids is an audio CD that is broken down into one-minute “mind breaks” – including guided meditations, relaxing music, nature sounds, and breathing exercises. Using these moments can help calm, focus, and inspire mental health as an everyday practice.

As a form of self-care, you can also try out meditation with some beginner’s meditation classes on HCLS’ YouTube Channel. There are three meditation sessions available:

Finally, HCLS Miller Branch is offering Suicide Prevention Training on Monday, May 15 at 6:30 pm, in partnership with Grassroots Crisis Prevention Center. Register here (starting Monday, May 8) for this training, which will show you how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and is designed for people who do not have experience in suicide intervention.

These are just a few of the resources and opportunities available at Howard County Library System.

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide,
tell someone who can help right away.
Call 911 for emergency services.
Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat.

Para ayuda en español, llame al 988.

Sources:,,, National Institute of Mental Health

Kimberly J is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the HCLS Glenwood Branch. She enjoys reading, photography, creating, crafting, and baking.

April is National Poetry Month

Black and white drawing of two children peering over the edge of a crumbling sidewalk edge, with the title beneath. A dog has fallen partway through behind them.

by Kristen B.

April is National Poetry Month. We need at least that long to appreciate all the wonderful poets and poems that enrich our lives. Poetry allows us the see the world in new ways. The rhythms and allusions of poetry open views or thoughts that ordinary prose simply cannot elicit through standard structures. Whether recounting lengthy epics like the Iliad or appreciating life’s little joyous moments with Mary Oliver, poetry’s language can transport us.

Do you have any favorites? Do any memorized pieces live in your mind? I first read Dylan Thomas‘ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” the year my father was diagnosed with cancer. “Rage, rage, against the dying of the light” has been with me ever since. In less fraught circumstances, my sister memorized Shel Silverstein‘s “Sick” when she was in elementary school – it’s still fun to recall its whimsical truth as adults. I know quite a few people who can recite all the nonsensical words of the heroic “Jabberwocky,” from Lewis Carroll’s classic story, Through the Looking Glass – famously performed by the Muppets, in case you haven’t seen it.

We invite you to celebrate a month of poetry. Whether you borrow a volume or anthology of poetry, or attend a class, we hope that you take a moment or two to enjoy some wonderful words. And, on April 27 – official Poem in Your Pocket Day – you can keep handy an old favorite or a new, original composition to share throughout the day.

Creating from Wounds: A Generative Workshop
Adults. Register.
The power of poems is that they allow us to create from disaster, making something out of the brokenness to process and cope. In this workshop, Meg Eden shares tools that she has used in writing her latest poetry collection. Compose using interactive prompts, then receive resources to continue with your writing.
Sat, Apr 15
12:30 – 1:30 pm
Savage Branch

Poets Corner
Ages 6-11, 45 minutes. Ticketed; free tickets available 15 minutes before class starts.
There’s a poem in your head just shouting to come out! Discover the tools poets use to create verses that sparkle and shine. Read, write, and have fun sharing poems!
Sat, Apr 22
2 – 2:45 pm
Elkridge Branch

Playful Poetry
Ages 6-9, 45 minutes. Ticketed; free tickets available 15 minutes before class starts.
April is National Poetry Month – celebrate by joining us to hear and share fun poems from a variety of creators. Participants are welcome to bring a poem they love to share with the group. Maybe you will even be inspired to compose a poem of your own!
Thu, Apr 27
5 – 5:45 pm
Elkridge Branch

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, dance, and watch baseball in season (but not all at the same time).

Library’s Got Game

A single orange basketball sits on a wooden court.

by Brandon B.

March Madness historically has been known as one of the most exciting sporting events of the calendar year. Before you fill out your bracket for the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments, consider brushing up on your basketball bona fides with the Library. Sixty-eight teams earn spots in the men’s tournament and 32 teams for the women every year. All teams compete in the three-week basketball tournament in their respective regions, vying to make it through to the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four on their way to the Championship game.

Read some terrific accounts celebrating the joy of the game from HCLS’ collection. Former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose wrote Got to Give the People What They Want to explain his experiences as a student-athlete at the University of Michigan. Rose was a part of the first college basketball team to start five freshmen in a season.

Kwame Alexander’s Newbery Award-winning The Crossover is a great book for teens who have a passion for sports and poetry. The Crossover is available in a number of accessible formats for teens. The original novel is available as a print book, an audiobook on CD, an e-book and an e-audiobook from Libby/OverDrive, and as an e-book from CloudLibrary. The 2019 graphic novel version, which was a nominee for the Black-Eyed Susan Award, is available in print and as an e-book from Libby/OverDrive.

Cover of Sum It Up by Pat Summitt, with a close up of her face looking to the right.

University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s book Sum it Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective (also available as an e-audiobook from Libby/OverDrive) chronicles her life journey and legendary career, which resulted in eight national championships. In her memoir, Pat Summitt also shares her battles with Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

You can also watch some of the great basketball films to get in the spirit. The classic film Hoosiers, starring Gene Hackman, showcases a team that battles adversity and triumphs just like all the colleges in the NCAA tournament. Love and Basketball stars Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps and tells the story of two childhood friends who share their love for each other through their basketball journey.

Just like a great novel or film, the end or destination is not the best part but the journey. When the champion is crowned at the NCAA tournament this year, hard work, determination and adversity, are important characteristics that will help them succeed. It’s time for the tip-off; enjoy the games!

Brandon is a Customer Service Specialist at HCLS Central Branch who loves reading, football, and taking nice long walks around his neighborhood.

March is Women’s History Month

Two large flowers: a pink hibiscus above a white plumeria, with other yellow petals behind the plumeria and a blue background above the hibiscus. Overall, a bright pastel compostion.
Georgia O’Keeffe, Hibiscus with Plumeria, 1939, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Same Rose and Julie Walters, 2004.30.6

By Emily B.

In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s take a closer look at the “Mother of American Modernism,” Georgia O’Keeffe. One of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, O’Keeffe is best known for her large-scale paintings of flowers.

O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin in 1887, the second of seven children. By age 10, O’Keeffe decided she would be an artist. Her big break came in 1916 when, unbeknownst to her, famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz presented her art in New York City. This marked the beginning of O’Keeffe and Stieglitz’s tumultuous relationship. O’Keeffe would soon move to New York and become Stieglitz’s muse, appearing in hundreds of his photographs. The pair would go on to marry, following an intense affair.

O’Keeffe’s marriage to Stieglitz, who was 23 years her senior, was far from perfect. Though Stieglitz provided O’Keeffe with studio space and connections in the art world, there was a major power imbalance and he was not faithful. His long-term affair with another photographer took a toll on O’Keeffe’s mental health. Despite this, the pair remained married until Stieglitz’s death in 1946.
In the 1920s, O’Keefe began creating large-form flower paintings. Almost immediately, male art critics began to assert that the “essence of very womanhood permeates her pictures.” While her husband promoted and capitalized off these remarks, O’Keeffe was not comfortable with the claims. She said, “…when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower — and I don’t.”

O’Keeffe’s artistry was highly sought after. In 1938, she was sent to Hawaii on an all-expenses paid trip, where she was meant to produce a pineapple painting for an advertisement campaign. After nine weeks in Hawaii, O’Keefe had the beginnings of many beautiful works depicting Hawaii and its flora, but there was nary a pineapple painting. She would not complete the contracted pineapple painting until the fruit was shipped to her in New York City.

Through her career, O’Keeffe would befriend other artistic greats. O’Keeffe and Ansel Adams had a friendship spanning 50 years, no doubt bonding over their deep passion for the natural world. O’Keeffe befriended Frida Kahlo in 1931 and there is evidence to suggest they perhaps were romantically involved.

Throughout her life, Georgia’s passion for art never wavered. Even as she grew frail and her eyesight began to deteriorate, continued painting with assistance and even learned to work with clay. O’Keeffe’s appreciation for nature is timeless and is surely why she has remained one of the most beloved American artists.

Artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe and her artist friends is available to borrow from the Art Education Collection at the Central and Glenwood branches.

Emily is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch. She enjoys puzzling, reading, listening to music, and re-watching old seasons of Survivor. 

Selected Women’s History Month Classes

Creating the Legacy
For adults. Register here.
In the world of codes and ciphers, women have always played a role. Throughout American history, women have provided vital information to military leaders, searched for enemy secrets, and pioneered new scientific fields. Learn about the contributions and talents women have brought to cryptology. Presented by Jennifer Wilcox, Director of Education for the National Cryptologic Museum.
Sat, Mar 11; 3 – 4 pm
Savage Branch

Forgotten Women Writers of the 17th Century and Beyond
For adults. Register here.
Women’s History Month provides the perfect time to recognize that for every Austen, Dickinson, and Bronte, another unheard-of author lived who was every bit as good! Discover new-to-you women authors to add to your To Be Read list.
Wed, Mar 15; 7 – 8 pm
Central Branch

Women’s History Month Button Making
For all ages; under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. Register here.
Votes for Women! Celebrate the historical significance of buttons in the women’s suffrage movement by making one. Design your own or use a template featuring historical women’s suffrage slogans and important women throughout history.
Wed, Mar 22; 7 – 8 pm       
Central Branch

Amazing Women: How Did They Build That?
Ages 6-10, 45 minutes. Ticketed; free tickets available in branch 15 mins before class.
Learn about artist/architects Maya Lin and Zaha Hadid, the innovative structures they created, and how they stay up. Design and build structures with various materials.
Fri, Mar 31; 2 – 2:45 pm
Central Branch

Books and Classes for Black History Month

The illustration reads Black History Month, with two silhouetted figures to either side and a diamond patter in green, red, and black above and below. The lower pattern

by Brandon B.

February calls us, as a society, to reflect and honor the contributions of Black Americans who made our country. The late, great Carter G. Woodson is considered the father of Black History Month. Woodson is the second African American to earn a Ph.D., after Edward Alexander Bouchet earned one in physics from Yale in 1876. The fight for equality, justice, and humanity for African Americans has always been a topic of discussion.

In the past century, Blacks have had to overcome Jim Crow laws. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Supreme Court cases to desegregate schools helped to change American culture. Thurgood Marshall and a team of NAACP attorneys fought against the “separate but equal” doctrine in Brown vs Board of Education. Signed by Lyndon B. Johnson, the Voting Rights Act strengthened the right to vote that had been granted to Black men with the 15th Amendment. All women had to wait for the 19th Amendment to grant suffrage.

To celebrate Black History, consider a visit to the Equity Resource Center at HCLS Central Branch, which has a great selection of books, movies, and audio materials that showcase many groups. Some classic titles that celebrate Black culture and contributions include James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk and The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Consider watching films, such as Selma, that tell the story of Civil Rights leaders and a collective group of individuals, who fought for the right to vote.

Black History Month is a time of reflection, healing, and celebration. In February, take the opportunity to learn about Black culture and history through classes, books, and films.

Art Wars! Black History Month Edition 
Tue   Feb 7         6:30 – 8 pm  
HCLS Miller Branch
Ages 11-18. Registration required, drop-in if space permits.
Create artwork in 40 mins! Learn a little about prominent African American artists, then use that inspiration. Enter the Art War contest for a chance to win a prize, or just create and enjoy! Materials provided.  

Wiki Edit-a-Thon: A Celebration of Black Authors and Artists 
Thu   Feb 9    5:30 – 8:30 pm
For adults. Register.
Edit Wikipedia pages of Black authors and artists whose works are found in our library collection. The evening is dedicated to collaborating on research, writing, and editing relevant Wikipedia pages. Participants check pages and cite sources as they work.

Black History of Howard County 
Sat Feb 11 1 – 2:30 pm
HCLS Savage Branch
Ages 14-18 and adults. Register.
Learn about the history of African Americans in Howard County and the town of Savage, as collected in History of Blacks in Howard County, Maryland: Oral History, Schooling, and Contemporary Issues. Hear about particular players in local history and learn why Howard County is the way it is today, with historical and personal perspective from Deborah Costley, local historian and genealogist. Share any experiences brought up as part of our Brave Voices, Brave Choices project.

African Experience Tour 
Wed Feb 15 4:30 – 5:30 pm & 7 – 8 pm 
HCLS Miller Branch
Ages 8-11. 60 min. Ticket required. Tickets available at the children’s desk 15 minutes before class. 
Learn about the diversity of African culture through hands-on exploration of artwork, videos, and discussion, facilitated by Doris Ligon, director and co-founder of the African Art Museum of Maryland.

Brandon is a Customer Service Specialist at HCLS Central Branch who loves reading, football, and taking nice long walks around his neighborhood.

Cover image by Freepik.

Wrapping Up 2022

Kristen B. and Julie F., Chapter Chats editors

Thank you! We appreciate our readers and subscribers who have followed Chapter Chats through another year. We share a wide variety of posts with you, from Winter Reading selections to upcoming author events to a tremendous selection of reviews – fiction and nonfiction, for adults, teens, and children.

A fairly plain cover with a red edge and the title in script and the author's name hand lettered. A small wolf stands between author and title lines.

Here are some of the most-viewed posts of the year:

These posts garnered fewer views, but are definitely worth a look if you missed them:

A black cover with gold text and a mysterious illustration of the phases of the moon, a mystical eyes, and spiral all centered above a book.

And, by far, the most viewed post since Chapter Chats began in 2020: How to Bypass the News Paywall with Your Library Card.

For more great book recommendations: HiJinx, the HCLS podcast, wrapped up its year with folks talking about their favorite reads of 2022: listen here.

We hope you’ll stick with us as we head into 2023! Happy New Year!

Local History with Marcus Nicks

Marcus Nicks, dressed in a grey suit and striped tie, stands out

Marcus Sankofa Nicks is an educator, researcher, and historian of African American History. He regularly facilitates conversations surrounding the African American historical experience, the topic of race, and its present-day implications. He has served in the Howard County Public School System for more than 12 years, primarily supporting Black/African American students through a culturally relevant, trauma-informed approach. Since then, he has established History Heals Consulting, LLC, which uses African American history as a vehicle to aid schools, institutions, and businesses in fostering healthy and inclusive environments.

Nicks offers a multi-session course that takes a comprehensive and expansive look at the history of African Americans in Howard County. It covers the influences and contributions of African Americans from the earliest beginnings of Howard County up to the contemporary era. He provides historical accounts and a wide range of perspectives on the diverse experiences of African Americans.

The Establishment of Columbia, The Rouse Dream, and Its Impact on African Americans

Monday, Dec 12 at 6:30 – 8:30 pm Central Branch
Register at

Upcoming sessions in 2023:
January 9: Influential African American Trailblazers & Pioneers in Howard County

February 13: Finding New Meaning and Perspective Through the Lens of History

From an interview with Marcus Nicks:

What was your first job?
After graduating from Bowie State, an Historically Black University, I became a substitute teacher. I taught in Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore Counties, and the educational landscape of these school systems helped give me a broad sense of how to engage students of various ages, backgrounds, and socioeconomic statuses. After a year, I decided to return home to the Howard County Public School System as a full time educator.

What is a book you’ve read that changed how you think about a topic or your life?
A book that significantly shaped how I think about life and see the world was The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley. I remember there being so many mixed depictions about Malcolm X, so I decided to read the book for myself. I read it as a college student and remember it being more intriguing to me than any textbook. I found a lot of resonance to my life as a young adult. The book had many themes that provoked me into thinking more broadly on topics such as coming of age, trauma, racism, colorism, mental health, family dynamics, the incarceration system, Black Nationalism, peer relationships, Black history, and leadership. I found Malcolm’s X’s evolution inspiring and believe that we share similar qualities, such as the intent to educate and be studious, a work ethic, being a researcher, and using words and speech to analyze society critically.

What inspires/motivates you?
My family inspires and motivates me every day, since I know that what I do builds off a generational legacy. My parents always encouraged me to pursue education. My wife and life partner has always fully supported me along my journey.
I am deeply inspired by my daughter, who pushes me to be the best version of myself possible as a father. She continues to give me a reason to leave behind a legacy for her to be proud of.

I am further inspired each day through the lessons of history and the stories of those who rose above adversity amidst seemingly insurmountable odds. Lastly, I am inspired and motivated by anyone who is passionate about their craft.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I’m generally content with a quiet space to read and study (haha), but I would love to visit the continent of Africa. Africa has given so much to the world. I would love to visit the place where scientists have said human life first began. I would also love to experience the culture of various countries throughout the continent. Africa has been such an integral aspect of my studies, and I believe traveling there directly would have such a profound impact on me and my family that it couldn’t be put into words.