Anime & Manga Club ヘようこそ

The title of the club is printed in stylized letters that are cut from photographs of various Asian scenes, including temples, cities, a bamboo forest, a woman in a kimono walking with an umbrella, a cherry blossom tree, and a Hokusai blue wave print.

By Peter N.

Calling all anime- and manga-loving teens! Join other like-minded teens the last Wednesday of every month (subject to change) at HCLS Miller Branch for Anime & Manga Club. 

What will you be doing there? Glad you asked! Come and enjoy a hangout especially for teens where you can enjoy anime-related programming, a craft or two, and discussions of the latest mangas and animes to hit the scene. You also have the opportunity to get recommendations from staff and your peers for what to read or watch next. 

Are you looking for a classic manga like Fruits Basket, Dragon Ball, or The Prince of Tennis? Or are you looking for something newer like Jujutsu Kaisen, Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba, or my personal favorite, One-Punch Man? We’ll talk about them all! Or do you want to know if the Ghibli films are really all they’re cracked up to be? You’ll have to join us to find out!

Also learn how you can access anime and manga using your library card through online resources such as Libby, Cloud Library, and Hoopla. 

The next meeting of Miller’s Anime & Manga Club takes place Wednesday, November 30 at 6 pm. We hope to see you there!

よろしく!

Peter is an Instructor and Research Specialist at the Miller Branch who desperately hoped that the digital world and Digimon were real when he was a kid, and still remembers seeing the first Pokémon movie in theaters and crying with Pikachu when Ash “died.

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

A pale blue background shows a blonde girl holding up a a pink envelope with three red "kisses" around the title. The envelope reads, "To get the girl, first you have to find her."

by Ash B.

I previously shared a review for Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop, and I’m happy to report that their YA debut, I Kissed Shara Wheeler, is an absolute pleasure to read as well.

A contemporary coming-of-age story with a mystery twist, I didn’t want to put down this temptingly readable book once I was pulled into the story. Popular girl Shara Wheeler has the audacity to pull a disappearing act a month before graduation. Chloe Green, academic rival of Shara and protagonist of the novel, wants nothing more than to bring her back in time to see Chloe win valedictorian – because what’s the point of winning without a worthy competitor?  

For better or worse, Shara left behind a trail of clues designed specifically for the three people she kissed before disappearing – her quarterback boyfriend Smith, the boy-next-door Rory, and quite shockingly, Chloe. Shocking mostly because Shara – little miss perfect, daughter of the principal, and “it girl” of their small Alabama town – is, as far as anyone knows, entirely straight. However, the set-up of the novel makes it pretty clear that this is an enemies-to-lovers type of situation. The rivalry and frustration Chloe feels regarding Shara – really a mask for their magnetic attraction – is high-grade narrative fuel. What made me fall in love with the story, however, is the friendships that Chloe develops with Smith and Rory. 

Chloe, Smith, and Rory come from different tiers of the Willowsgrove High hierarchy. They don’t appear to have anything in common, aside from a connection to Shara. However, the more time they spend together, the more the dynamic shifts, and the more they learn about each other and themselves. By spending time with Smith and Rory, and their respective friend groups, Chloe realizes that the way she’s looked at many of her peers has been flawed. 

When it comes to stories set in high school cliques, I often proverbially roll my eyes, unconvinced that heavy-handed stereotypes of jocks, nerds, goths, prom queens, and such represent the average teen experience. I Kissed Shara Wheeler incorporates student group dynamics in a way that feels realistic and reminds me of my high school experience (Mt. Hebron, Class of 2015, what’s up!). The different social circles are often based on interests and activities – student athletes, band kids, and theater kids. However, each of those kids is nuanced, and the groups can overlap.  

For example, Ace plays on the football team with Smith. He tried out for the school play and snagged the lead, and Chloe’s group of artsy, queer, nerdy friends assumed Ace did it as a joke. However, Ace is a big musical theater fan and always dreamed of being in the school’s productions. He was nervous to audition, let alone star, mainly because he was concerned about being teased by the football crew. There certainly are some rude, insufferable jocks at their school – one in particular displays misogynistic, sexually objectifying behavior towards Chloe. There are also jocks like Ace and Smith, who are kind, who try to shut down the misogyny of their peers, and who have other interests besides sports… but are pigeonholed. It’s very much like Nick (the love interest) in Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

One of my favorite scenes happens at the senior theater party, where we hear Ace confess to Chloe about auditioning and preparing for the school musical. It shifts Chloe’s perspective about Ace, and it opens her mind to what all her other peers might be going through. Also, we get a lovely interaction when Ace and Smith get their makeup done by Chloe’s artsiest friend Ash, who happens to be nonbinary – which results in a conversation about gender that leads Smith to start questioning his gender identity:

“You know… if being a guy feels like something you have to do, like it’s an obligation or something,” Ash says carefully. “Maybe think about that.” 

I’m not going to lie; it’s pretty cool to see a fellow nonbinary Ash reflected in a book I love, especially when the character gets lines like this. I lived for this conversation! 

Overall, this was such a fun, joyous read. McQuiston relied on beloved tropes and archetypes that feel both familiar and fresh, thanks to the way they are subverted. Serious subjects are explored without being insensitive. The dramatic tension quickly propels the narrative forward, but there are also plenty of laughs along the way to keep the reader from feeling too stressed. (Seriously, how is CMQ so seemingly-effortlessly funny in their writing?)  

Perhaps best of all, the queer friendships are exactly what I think many readers will hope for. The ending is satisfying, with the youth banding together and standing up to ‘the system,’ and starting the work of unlearning the harmful messages that they’ve internalized so they can fully accept themselves and each other. If you’re interested in a compelling mystery full of warmth, hilarity, and character growth, check out I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston in print, e-book, or e-audiobook.

Ash is an Instructor & Research Specialist at Central Branch and is a co-facilitator for Reads of Acceptance, HCLS’ first LGBTQ-focused book club. Their favorite place to read is spread out on a blanket under the shade of the tree. 

DeadEndia & Dead End: Paranormal Park

The main characters of DeadEndia: The Watcher's Tesst appear against a segmented background of devilish figures.

by Ash B.

Set in haunted amusement park themed around the life and career of fictional actress-superstar Pauline Phoenix, the world of DeadEndia is full of spooky, supernatural fun. If you’ve got a Netflix account and a kid older than 7, or you’re fan of cartoons with great representation, you’ve probably heard about Dead End: Paranormal Park. The Netflix show was adapted from a graphic novel series called DeadEndia, which you can borrow from the library.

The main characters of Norma, Barney, and Pugsley began as an animated web short for Cartoon Hangover. Creator Hamish Steele used this as inspiration for a new webcomic, which, in turn, became DeadEndia: The Watcher’s Test and DeadEndia: The Broken Halo graphic novels. The third and final book is anticipated to release next year.

I was first introduced to the world through the graphic novels – so, imagine my excitement when one of my favorite reads became an extremely well-adapted animation! The show diverges quite a bit from the graphic novels in some ways, particularly how the main characters meet and the story begins. From there, the first episode of the show lines up pretty closely with the first chapter of DeadEndia: The Watcher’s Test. The demon king is summoned and possesses Barney’s dog, Pugsley, instead of one of the humans as planned; Norma cleverly figures out how to defeat the demon king; Pugsley is left with magical powers, including the ability to talk. The story continues with a balance of paranormal adventures, such as “monster of the week” style demon-fighting episodes/chapters, along with the emotional rollercoasters of personal identity, mental health, romance, and family struggles.

The novels strongly resonated with me because of the way Barney’s transmasculine experiences were included. In both the comics and the show, we find out that he was primarily interested in getting a job so that he could gain independence from his parents. The show allows for more development of Barney’s relationship, though. I think the cast and crew nailed it, with a family that goes through realistic misunderstandings and growing pains, but makes it through the rough patch to fully embrace the LGBTQ+ kid. 

The graphic novels have a special place in my heart for certain heartwarming details. For example, Barney gives Pugsley a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar as he learns to read, and Pugsley compares Barney to the titular caterpillar. Pugsley eventually clarifies: “My comparison was due to the fact that we all start off looking and sounding a little different to how we turn out. Some more than others. But that doesn’t change who we are on the inside.” This line, especially in the context of the rest of the chapter (which I won’t spoil here), is so gentle and comforting to a trans reader like me. 

Probably the most notable point of difference between the show and comics is the target audience. The comics are aimed at young adults (ages 14+), with Barney, Norma, and their peers being in their early twenties. When adapted for the small screen, the characters were aged down to be in their teens and the material made suitable for a younger audience. The graphic novels can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike, and you can borrow them in print from HCLS. 

Ash is an Instructor & Research Specialist at Central Branch and is a co-facilitator for Reads of Acceptance, HCLS’ first LGBTQ-focused book club. Their favorite place to read is spread out on a blanket under the shade of the tree. 

Crossing the History Day Frontier

The picture is of the National HIstory Day logo, with black lettering on a white background and red stripes in between the lines.

by Jean B.

Middle and high school students participating in the 2023 National History Day competition can count on HCLS to be their partner as they explore the theme, Frontiers in History. It’s easy to cross the frontier into your neighborhood library for support and materials. In fact, many HCLS resources are available to you without leaving home! Go to our History Day web page where you can find details on the local, state, and national contest rules and timelines, and a gateway to curated support for your journey:

Inspiration and guidance. You’ll find classes and workshops at many HCLS branches where you can meet History Day judges and learn important tips and tools, from choosing a topic, to thinking about a research strategy, to completing an annotated bibliography. Search National History Day on our calendar of events for dates, locations, and details.

Personalized support. Once you have an idea for your project, sign up for a one-on-one meeting with an HCLS teen instructor to develop your thesis, learn how to use library research tools, access appropriate primary and secondary source materials, or have your work reviewed. Request an appointment at hclibrary.org/new-a-main/students/history-day-research.

Authoritative primary source materials. Did you know that you can read The Ellicott City Times from the 1920s to the 1950s on microfilm at the Central Branch? That’s one classic way to cross history’s frontiers! But with your A+ Student account and a computer, tablet, or phone, you can access the vast range of historical documents found in HCLS’ online databases, like these:

  • American Periodicals: Includes more than 1,500 magazines and journals published from 1740 – 1940.
  • Archives Unbound: Includes Maryland’s city and business directories from 1752 – 1929, letters and reports from the War of 1812, and Confederate newspapers.
  • Baltimore Afro-American Archives: Search issues of the most widely circulated African American weekly newspaper on the East Coast (1893-1988).
  • Indigenous Peoples of North America: Find short films, photos, newspaper articles, manuscripts, and much more about Native Americans.

Hitch your wagon to HCLS for History Day success and start your journey today.

Jean B. is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch and loves reading books for all ages when she isn’t enjoying the outdoors.

Author Works with Naima Coster: What’s Mine and Yours – 2022 One Maryland One Book 

By Piyali C.

Swatches of color in pale green, beige-pink, cranberry, orange read, and yellow are layered above the silhouette of a town. The swatches resolve to be

Tue, October 4 | 7 – 8 pm
HCLS Miller Branch
Register at this link. 

The theme for One Maryland One Book this year was “new beginning.” As a member of the selection committee, I was assigned to read What’s Mine and Yours as a potential title. It took me a while to recognize the theme in this story, but I realized that instead of the theme being overarching, hope or a new beginning, operates somewhat cyclically in this novel.  

The story opens with the prospect of new beginnings – two men stand at the cusp of a beautiful, happy life. Two fathers share a cigarette and a brief conversation one day about their dreams surrounding the amazing lives that they envision for their children. However, disaster strikes soon after and the lives of both those families take vastly different turns than what the fathers dreamed.  

The story revolves around two families who confront each other over a busing initiative in 2002 in Piedmont, North Carolina. Jade has suffered an immeasurable loss in her life already. Now she wants her only son, Gee, to get all the opportunities that she did not have so he can become a successful, sensitive Black man in America. After her husband is incarcerated, Lacy May, a White woman, is equally determined to keep children like Gee away from her White-passing, biracial daughters. She does not want them influenced by the children from the east side of town at their predominantly white school.

However, Gee and Noelle, Lacy May’s eldest daughter, become friends, which soon turns into more when they meet during a school play. The lives of these two families intersect despite the mothers being on opposite sides of the debate over the county’s decision to enforce integration. The busing initiative provides the primary conflict, with the repercussions manifested in the adult lives of the central characters – Jade and Gee, Lacy May and her three daughters. Despite the different directions each character grows, they all manage to find their new beginnings by the end of the book, in big ways and small.  

Although the story begins in Piedmont, North Carolina, the issues addressed in What’s Mine and Yours are relevant to other parts of United States, including in Maryland and even Howard County. The theme of school desegregation to address socioeconomic disparity is especially pertinent as The Baltimore Sun reports, by 2014, Maryland was the third most racially segregated state in the nation, with one-quarter of its schools considered highly segregated.  

The integration efforts described in the book will touch a relatable chord and inspire interesting and, hopefully, productive discussions. While the story revolves around an effort to desegregate schools, the book explores other, hugely relevant issues, such as the struggles of Black teens trying to prove that they are good enough to be in a White-dominated world, the question of why they have to prove that they are good enough, White-passing biracial people and issues that they deal with, complicated relationships between lovers, sisters, LGBTQIA+ identity, infidelity, abortion, and miscarriage – all things relevant to our present moment. 

We are thrilled that Howard County Library system is the only public library in Maryland on author Naima Coster’s six-stop tour! 

A young Black woman with short curly hair, wearing a black V-neck shirt stands by a wall painted in flowers.

Naima Coster is a graduate of Yale University, Fordham University, and the Columbia University School of the Arts where she earned her MFA. She has taught writing for more than a decade in community settings, youth programs, and universities. She currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University in L.A. She is a 2022 mentor for the Periplus Collective.

One Maryland One Book is a program of Maryland Humanities. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Maryland State Library. We would also like to thank our valuable partners Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo) and the Office of Human Rights & Equity (OHRE) and the Last Word bookstore.  

What’s Mine and Yours is available in print and e-audiobook

Piyali is an instructor and research specialist at the Miller Branch of HCLS, where she co-facilitates both Global Reads and Strictly Historical Fiction and keeps the hope alive that someday she will reach the bottom of her to-read list.
 

The Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix

The illustration shows a young man in blue holding a very small bell standing back-to-backwith a young wman in brown with knives drawn. A white cat sneaks along side them.

by Kristen B.

One of my favorite series debuted a long time ago with the publication of Sabriel in 1995, which introduced us to the Old Kingdom and Ancelstierre – a magical world and a vaguely Victorian British country joined by mysterious means across a Wall. Author Garth Nix has written in this world off and on for almost 30 years. It’s not a huge series with a new book available annually, but it includes the first trilogy, a variety of short stories, a sequel, a side story about a secondary character, and now the newest installment of Terciel and Elinor.

Title character Sabriel is a young woman finishing her rather unusual education at Wyverly College, a boarding school in Ancelstierre close to the Wall. Her father is a powerful mage from the Old Kingdom, the Abhorsen – an inherited position responsible for making sure the dead remain dead. Death is presented as a river with many precincts that sweeps souls along to their final rest beyond the Ninth Gate. Unfortunately, in the Old Kingdom, the dead don’t always stay that way and necromancers try to increase their power by manipulating Death. It’s all wonderfully gothic and atmospheric (but not particularly scary) with appeal for teens and adults alike. Abhorsens battle the necromancers and Greater Dead with their magical bells and sword, with each bell sounding a specific command – like walking or sleeping.

Back in Ancelstierre, Sabriel receives a bandolier of bells and a sword and realizes that something has gone very wrong with her father. She travels into the Old Kingdom to discover that Bad Things are afoot. With the help of a lost prince and a talking cat who is much more than he seems, Sabriel must conquer an old nemesis and restore the Kingdom. The next two books move forward a generation, but they continue with fraught necessity the quest to defeat the ultimate evil and save the world. Honestly, what more could you ask for?!

Nix published Terciel and Elinor in 2021, and it tells the story of Sabriel’s parents, of how they met and fell in love. It explains so much of the background for the original series, while still giving us new characters to root for. Elinor is a delight as a neglected but independent daughter with a passion for stagecraft and a willingness to meet whatever comes her way with knives drawn. Terciel matches the orphan vibe with a sketchy background of his own, as he reluctantly accepts his future role as the Abhorsen. A competent ranger and taciturn current Abhorsen provide good counterpoints to the young (rather callow) and energetic main characters. I think this sort of immediate prequel is immensely difficult to do well precisely because we know the ending of the story, nonetheless this was an enjoyable read with high enough stakes to keep me turning pages well into the night.

You can start reading either with the newest book, or read in original publication order beginning with Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen. For a real treat, listen to the audiobooks narrated by actor Tim Curry, whose dark voice perfectly suits a series that features the river of Death.

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 (but not all at the same time).

Equity Resource Center – Children’s and Teen Collections 

Wide view of the upstairs at Central Branch of Howard County Library System, where the Equity Resource Center is housed.

by Ash B.

Enrich your summer with entertainment and educational materials from the Equity Resource Collection!

The Equity Resource Collection (ERC) launched in October 2021 in response to growing community demand for materials related to racial equity, especially in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the increase in mainstream attention to #BlackLivesMatter and systemic racism. 

The special collection was created along with the Equity Resource Center, a 700 square foot space located on the second floor of the Central Branch, directly behind the public access computers. An intentional space for learning, healing, and discussing issues, the Center also provides room for thoughtful exhibits (such as Undesign the Redline). This area houses thousands of new ERC materials, including movies, documentaries, and music CDs, as well as fiction and nonfiction books and audiobooks.  

While HCLS works hard to maintain a diverse, balanced general collection, the ERC is specifically focused on centering equity, diversity, and inclusive representation, including but not limited to race/ethnicity and racism, immigration, disability, gender, and sexual orientation. By concentrating these titles in a specific place, the ERC serves as a resource if you are interested in books on one of these topics but aren’t sure where to start. I find this particularly beneficial when browsing the children’s ERC and all the nonfiction ERC shelves.

Some titles in the ERC are duplicated in our general collection, particularly popular titles, whereas other titles exclusively belong to the Equity Resource Collection. However, all ERC titles can be requested for pickup at any HCLS branch – which we highly encourage!

If you visit the Central Branch, you might notice three “Equity Resource Center” areas, with materials located in the children’s and teen area in addition to the upstairs section. All ERC DVDs, however, are located in the main Equity Resource Center along with the adult materials, including family-friendly movies like Moana.

Children’s 

Located on the main floor behind and around the research desk, the children’s ERC contains chapter books, picture books, and nonfiction books for a variety of ages and interests.

The collection provides exceptional “mirrors, window, and sliding glass doors” for young readers – allowing youth to discover books about and by people who look like them, as well as to learn about people who may be different from them. Some of these titles are clearly informational in nature – defining terminology, explaining concepts, and narrating history. These range from textbook-like materials for tweens to picture books for the earliest of readers! 

A pastel background shows four young folx, with the two on either side holding plants that fountain with all sorts of flowers and artistry. One person is sitting in a wheelchair with a ukulele.

One example of the latter is It Feels Good to Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity, written by Theresa Thorn and illustrated by Noah Grigni. This gorgeously illustrated book shows examples of gender identity – boy, girl, both, neither – in a way that is nuanced but extremely clear for children (and adults!) to understand. It is simple without being oversimplified, which is an excellent achievement! If you’ve ever wondered “how do I explain gender to a child?” – or if you are new to learning about trans and nonbinary gender identities – then this book is for you! 

The Equity Resource Collection also includes children’s books that aren’t necessarily educational in the didactic sense but are still rich sources of learning, with stories about a wide variety of experiences, identities, and cultures. This is the window and doors part of what I was talking about earlier.

A young girl with dark hair and brown skin sits on a suitcase between a house in the a tropical seeting and an urban environment, with a plane overhead.

One of my favorite recent reads is Home Is In Between written by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Lavanya Naidu. In this picture book, a young Indian girl moves to the U.S. with her parents, while their extended family remains in India. Vibrant and heart-warming, Home Is In Between tenderly depicts the immigrant experience by conveying the excitement of new things and the challenges of feeling ‘in between’ two cultures. The illustrations are gorgeous, too!

Teen 

Also located on the main floor, you will find the Teen ERC in the far right corner, with organization similar to the children’s area. Some teen and adult graphic novels reside on the top left shelf, followed by novels and short story anthologies, then fiction audiobooks, and finally, nonfiction. 

Compilation of: You Should See Me In a Crown that features a young Black girl with natural hair and a tiara drawn on top; Cemetery Boys with two young men standing back-to-back with a mysterious figure in front of a full moon; and We Are Not Free with sketched carachters sitting on a pile of luggage and boxes.

Some of these novels center the high school experience, such as the award-winning You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, which follows a poor, queer, Midwestern Black girl’s pursuit of prom queen-dom, in the hope of earning a scholarship. The recipient of a Black-Eyed Susan award, Stonewall Book honor, and one of TIME’s best 100 YA books of all time, this title has earned high praise – it’s a sweet, joyous read that evokes the spirit of great teen movies. 

Other titles delve into cultural practices, such as Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, which brings together traditions from various Latinx cultures in a supernatural, urban fantasy setting – along with a gay rom-com storyline for a trans male protagonist. With its humor, heart, mystery-adventure, and magic, this is one of my personal favorite books (also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook from Libby/OverDrive)!

Fantastic historical fiction novels also address legacies of injustice, such as the incarceration of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, as depicted in We Are Not Free by Traci Chee. The granddaughter of Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned as teenagers at that time, Chee felt personally invested in bringing attention to this oft-neglected history. With many moments inspired by the stories of her relatives, this is an incredibly powerful story about fear, hope and resilience. 

Compilation of: The Burning which features yellow flame motif and red lettering; The Stonewall Riots which features illustrated crowd and rainbow sky; A Disability History of the United States which features seven photographs of people with physical ailments; Trouble Maker for Justice features a young Bayard Rustin against a faded photo of a protest; Protest features Olympic Medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad in her fencing gear; Rolling Warrior features the illustration of a white woman in a wheelchair holding a sign that says Rights Now!

Of course, there are also excellent nonfiction titles to help you learn about history. Some delve into specific events, such as The Burning: Black Wall Street and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 (Young Readers’ edition) by Tim Madigan and Stonewall Riots: Coming Out in the Streets by Gayle E. Pitman. Other titles use a broader lens to approach the history of marginalized people, such as A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen. There’s also important history to be learned in biographies and memoirs of icons of the past and present, from the Civil Rights organizer Bayard Rustin, to Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, to disability rights activist Judith Heumann. 

For aspiring activists, there are books that can serve as guides as well as stories of youth who are speaking out and affecting change today. Kids on the March by Michael G. Long talks about youth protests from the 1903 March of the Mill Children to the recent movements of Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, and the Climate Strike. 

There is so much to discover and learn within the Equity Resource Collection! We highly encourage you to come visit if you can… and stay tuned for Part 2 to learn about the other areas of the collection! 

Ash is an Instructor & Research Specialist at Central Branch and is a co-facilitator for Reads of Acceptance, HCLS’ first LGBTQ-focused book club. Their favorite place to read is spread out on a blanket under the shade of the tree.

Creating a safer space for LGBTQ+ students

The photograph shows an open hand holding a white ceramic heart, with a rainbow above on a dark background.

by Sarah C.

Here at HCLS, we try to make our spaces as welcoming and inclusive as possible, especially for our tweens and teens, as that age range can include a time of many changes, questions, issues, excitement, and experiences both good and bad. Do you remember middle school? Exactly, ugh! I sure do, and at age 42 I’m still slightly traumatized by some of those memories!

As June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, I’d like to touch on some things we do to create a safer space here at HCLS for our wonderful rainbow students.

Something as simple as wearing a rainbow button or bracelet, or having a “safe space” sticker on your office door can make a huge difference, especially if a student does not know you yet. It identifies you as a someone they can approach for LGBTQ+ books, ask about LGBTQ+ events and groups, or just someone who they can talk to who will listen and not judge them.

I am not subtle about my support of LGBTQ+ students. I visually identify myself as such with the above examples and am very vocal with all my students about respecting ALL people. That has been instrumental in our students feeling not just welcome here, but represented and celebrated. Our students of all ages know that some people and/or spaces are not LGBTQ+ friendly and have learned they need to be cautious. It’s not fair, but it is our reality, so please consider identifying yourself as a supportive person for them and help grow their circle of safety.

HCLS also hosts LGBTQ+ author visits, participates in community events such as HOCO Pride, assists with local SAGA/GSA school groups, helps with book clubs like the Rainbow Reads book club, and offers classes such as Make Your Own Pronoun Buttons and Let’s Talk About LGBTQ+ Issues in Education featuring Freestate Justice.

And of course, since we are a library system, we purchase and display many books written and/or illustrated by LGBTQ+ authors that feature LGBTQ+ main characters. We also have Rainbow Reading lists for adults, teens, and a new one for children! Grab a printed copy at your local branch or find other recommendations online. Check out the review of Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe on the library’s blog. The post talks about why books that represent all experiences are so vital.

Sarah is the Teens’ Instructor and Research Specialist at the Savage Branch, where she can be found geeking out over new graphic novels, spotting rainbows and drinking day-old coffee.

Raffle Tickets & Flower Baskets

Faded image of Glenwodd Branch's teen area with text overlayed, "2022 Spring Fundraiser! Glorious flower baskets, branch raffles featuring amazing local prizes, chances to win tickets to Evening in the Stacks or a Microsoft tablet, a wine pull - all to benefit Teen Spaces at every HCLS branch!"

by Mickey Gomez, President, Friends & Foundation of HCLS

Spring is here, and that means it’s time for Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System’s Second Annual Spring Fundraiser!

This year, with HCLS’s much anticipated gala event Evening in the Stacks moving to May, we’ve bundled our fundraising efforts together in a single online location.

Our gorgeous flower baskets are back, and already in high demand! Last year they sold out, so if you’d enjoy welcoming May with a 12” hanging basket of cheerful sun-loving flowers while supporting your favorite library system, you’ll want to act fast! Baskets will be available for pickup May 4th, 5th, and 7th at the Miller Branch.

This year’s raffle includes six unique gift baskets individually curated by each HCLS branch, featuring a remarkable array of local gift cards to restaurants, stores, shops, and markets, tickets to local events, tours, and museums, unique collectables, and more! The baskets range in value from $500 to $1,000, and you’ll definitely want to check them all out before deciding which to try for – or you can try for them all!

We’ll also have drawings for two tickets to Evening in the Stacks: Across Africa along with our Grand Prize: a Microsoft Surface Go 3 tablet.

And for our wine connoisseurs, we’re once again offering a Wine Pull available exclusively at Evening in the Stacks. Your ticket will get you a randomly selected bottle of fabulous wine, each valued at an estimated $20+.

All proceeds this year go to support teen spaces, safe and welcoming locations in each HCLS branch that allow teens to gather without paying for a membership or having to buy something. They’ll have access to interest-driven learning along with resources promoting empowerment, mental wellness, digital and tech fluency, and more!

You can also donate directly to support STEM tools for teens who have expressed an interest in engaging with coding or digital media creation such as 3D modeling, music-making, graphic design, video production, and social and educational gaming – all in a fun, inclusive, and positive environment.

I could not be any more excited about any of this, which is saying a lot considering how much I love our local library system. On behalf of Friends & Foundation of HCLS, we hope you’ll join in the fun while supporting Teen Spaces and HCLS. Thank you!

#FriendsMakeItHappen

Weaving Our Way to the Moon 

An older woman works with computer guidance parts for the Apollo space program.
image courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Register for class: https://howardcounty.librarycalendar.com/events/weaving-our-way-moon 
Saturday, March 19; 3 – 4 pm
HCLS Glenwood Branch
Ages 11 and up. Allow 20 minutes. 

by Lori C.

Learn the fascinating forgotten history of the LOLs – the Little Old Ladies of NASA’s Apollo Missions – with a hands-on STEM activity that celebrates the women who “wove our way to the moon.” Discover how core rope memory powered spaceflight, then create a simple beaded message using binary code. 

When you hear the word, “weaving” and the phrase, “little old ladies,” what image comes to mind? Most likely the mental picture is not one of making a sophisticated computer program designed to send the Apollo spacecraft to the moon! For Women’s History Month, we are going to celebrate the women who, using ferrite core beads and copper wire, literally wove the components that made up software programs for the Apollo Guidance Computer.  

The “little old ladies” or LOLs moniker certainly was not the most progressive way of referring to these highly skilled factory workers who crafted the core rope memory for NASA. Their precise weaving and manufacturing skills were crucial to the success of the Apollo program and to the astronauts arriving safely on the Moon.  

The NASA Apollo Guidance Computer used read-only, core rope memory to store its programs. The weaving was complicated: “The cores are arranged in ropes of 1024 cores each. 10 inhibit pairs (20 wires) provide the address-decoder weave as 2^10=1024. Although the memory words are 16 bits wide, each core has up to 64 sense wires woven through it.”* Remarkably, this guidance system used only 72k of memory, which is equivalent to the memory of a simple calculator. 

Want to try your hand at making a simple version of core rope memory in the tradition of the LOLs? Join us at the Glenwood Branch for a brief history overview of the contributions of these amazing women who “wove our way to the moon” and then craft a single word-weaving project using binary code, thread, and beads.   

Lori, the Teens’ Instructor & Research Specialist at the Glenwood Branch, idolizes Sally Ride and in an alternate life would have trained to be an astronaut. She also loves baseball, knitting, and reading dystopian novels. 

*Core Rope & Woven-Wire Memory Systems by B. Hilpert, April 2015
https://web.archive.org/web/20160822041959/http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~hilpert/e/corerope/index.html