Looking for Something New to Read?

Woman in silhouette against green sunny background, look at a book in her hands.
Contactless Pickup at HCLS Glenwood Branch.

By Eliana H.

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.

NoveList icon with a person reading a book while sitting in a tree with a orange background.

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!

Screenshot from within NoveList.

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).

My Teen is Bored! – Part 2

A frazzled parent’s guide to keeping your teen learning with the most powerful card in their wallet – their library card!

Quadrotor Flight Controller

By Lori C.

My last post explored the many fun and engaging ways to expand on your teen’s interests and hobbies with our online eResources. Let’s explore how your high school student can supplement their learning goals and expand their academic success with more eResources from HCLS.   

Test Prep:  While we don’t know if the current situation will change the testing landscape, it can’t hurt to keep practicing for the SAT and/or ACT tests as well as for high school AP tests. HCLS offers many resources for teens to keep their testing skills sharp and to supplement their learning: 

LearningExpress Library: Practice tests for AP exams, the GED, the SAT, grad school entrance exams, and various jobs. Also find tutorials for grades 4 – 12 on math, reading, and writing skills.  

Testing & Education Reference Center: Practice tests for entering private high school, the AP exams, the GED, the SAT, grad school entrance exams, various career tests, and the U.S. citizenship test. Also includes a scholarship and college search tool. 

Lynda.com: Search for Test Prep: PSAT, ACT or SAT for courses on test-taking skills and best practices for maximizing your standardized test score. 

Gale Courses: If your teen needs a more structured course to follow, try the six-week SAT/ACT Test Prep courses with rolling start dates throughout the next several months.  

Language Learning: Learn a new language or supplement classroom instruction with these three language learning tools: 

Mango: Teens and adults can engage in fun conversational online lessons in more than 70 languages.  

Pronunciator: Take your language skills to the next level. Learn 80 languages in any of 50 languages – for example, a native French speaker can learn Chinese in French! Also includes ESL for 50 non-English languages plus a comprehensive citizenship prep course.  

Rosetta Stone Online: Engage in the proven language immersion method that more than 22,000 schools and 12,000 businesses have trusted for over the last 20+ years. Select from 30 languages structured around core lessons in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. A microphone is required for speaking lessons. 

These additional educational opportunities can boost your teen’s confidence when taking standardized tests and improve their overall academic outcomes. In addition, your teen can add these courses to their resumé and college application forms. Guidance counselors and admissions officers will be looking for teens who used their time stuck at home to continue learning and expanding their academic skills. Keeping your teen busy and occupied is as easy as using the library’s online eResources! 

Lori C. has worked at the Glenwood Branch for six years.  She loves to read and knit, and is excited about the return of baseball. 

My Teen is Bored!

A student seated in front of a curtain peeks over the monitor of her computer.

By Lori C.

The traditional summer job or internship probably didn’t appear as an option this year, so what’s a bored teen to do? And how’s a frazzled parent going to keep them occupied while social distancing? 

Now’s the time for your teen to fully utilize the most powerful card in their wallet – their library card! HCLS offers so many fun and engaging ways to expand on your teen’s interests and hobbies with our online eContent.    

Gale Courses: This resource offers more than 300 six-week structured online classes on topics ranging from business to hobbies. Is your teen a budding entrepreneur? Take a class on starting your own business. Maybe photography or writing are of interest to your high schooler. If so, there are classes for digital photography as well as creative writing and publishing.  Gale also offers 44 personal enrichment classes ranging from an introduction to journaling to starting your own edible garden. 

Lynda.com: Find more than 3,600 streaming video tutorials taught by experts on technical skills, creative techniques, and business strategies with your HCLS access to Lynda.com. From individual classes to entire learning paths, your teen can explore a wide range of skills and hobbies from 3D animation to becoming a digital illustrator.  

ArtistWorks: Learn an instrument, vocal techniques, or art skills from award-winning teachers with these free, self-paced online video classes. Classes include traditional instruments such as piano and guitar, as well as less common ones such as mandolin and ukulele. Entice your teen with Hip Hop scratching lessons or dabble in a music theory class. Better yet, dust off that old harmonica and have your teen learn some songs to enliven summer nights in the backyard.  

Opportunities to expand your teen’s horizons abound with HCLS’ eContent. Not only will they gain new skills and grow their repertoire of talents, but they also can use these courses to boost their resumé and college applications. Future employers and admissions officers will be looking for teens who used their summer stuck at home to discover a newfound passion or to deepen their knowledge in a current hobby.   

My next post discusses how your high schooler can supplement their educational goals using the power of their library card and the eContent offered by HCLS.  Look for it soon!

Lori C. has worked at the Glenwood Branch for six years.  She loves to read and knit and is excited for the return of baseball.