Text Version      
Montgomery County Seal Montgomery County Seal
Home | Translate   Montgomery County Seal
Citizens ButtonGovernment ButtonBusinesses ButtonCulture & Leisure Button
Montgomery County Public Libraries

Contact Us | Home

catalog   MCPL webpages  

Weekly Shhhout-Out

Roaming librarians file dispatches from the world of information.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Don't You Know That I Love My Music!


MCPL has great electronic offerings that some of our users aren’t aware of. One that I LOVE is the downloadable music site Freegal (FREE and LEGAL, get it??). No piracy or illegal downloading here, folks.

Admittedly, there are quirks to using Freegal. The search mechanism is clunky, and the search box is only available from the home page. Many of the results returned if you’re doing a song title or performer search will be covers done not by the original artist, but by other people – there are pages of results for an artist search on "Beatles", but they are all cover bands, nothing by the actual Beatles.  So you need to check a little further to be sure of your search results.

One of the things I like most about Freegal is the discovery aspect of the collection. Freegal’s collection is limited to the Sony Music catalog. There is a lot of music that you won’t find there, so okay, it’s not a replacement for Itunes. But I really enjoy looking around at what IS available, and finding happy surprises. You can search by artist, album, song title, composer or genre. The four main genres are Pop, Rock, Country and Classical, but there are many genres, anything from Death Metal to Tango.

john wesley hardingTrue library story – A customer was looking for Bob Dylan’s 1967 album, "John Wesley Harding". We were having a lot of difficulty finding an active copy in the library system’s collection, and I also checked to see if I could find the album to borrow from another Maryland system. No dice. I then asked the customer if she had ever tried our Freegal Music downloading service. No, she had never heard of it. So we logged in to Freegal, and lo and behold there was Dylan’s "John Wesley Harding", free for the downloading! My customer was delighted, and so was I!

Now, each library  account is limited to 3 free downloads from Freegal each week, with the week beginning Monday at about 12:01 AM. So, it would take a while to download a whole album, but  you usually don’t want every single track from an album. You can preview a clip before you download, so that you’re sure you’re getting something you want.  The download is seamless, and pops the song right into to Itunes, or other place you've designated.

Second true story. I was (still am, I guess) a John Denver fan. Okay, I’m not ashamed of it!! My favorite album was 1973’s Farewell Andromeda, but somewhere along the way from age 20 to age 60 my copy disappeared. I was poking around in Freegal the other day, and happened to think about this album….and yep, there it was. Yay!!!

I also use Freegal to download more contemporary music. I create play lists to use at MGAA (equestrian sport) competitions, where many of the competitors are tweens and teens. I’m not a big fan of pop music from people like Miley Cyrus or One Direction, but lots of the people I’m making the play lists for are fans. So, rather than spend my hard earned pennies in Itunes for downloads at $1.29 a pop, I find the songs on Freegal (Miley Cyrus, One Direction, Pitbull, Pink, Justin Timberlake – all there).

 So give it try!  You can create an excellent music library which highlights your esoteric musical tastes for nothing more than a few minutes Freegalling!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucketanita

POSTED: 12:01:00 AM |

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Discovering Discworld

Did you ever wish you could visit the world created by a favorite author? Maybe to wander the streets and grab a pint in the local pub or to visit with a favorite character? I recently had the opportunity to do just that! Well, sort of.  I recently went to the North American Discworld Con (or NADWCon. “Con” having nothing to do with the Thieves’ Guild http://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/index.php/Thieves'_Guild but rather being the abbreviation for convention). The NADWCon was a chance to spend a long weekend in a hotel with nearly 1000 others who adore author Terry Pratchett and the Discworld he created as much as I do.


Pratchett is one of my favorite authors because of the sometimes goofy and sometimes sly humor, the sheer variety of characters with distinct personalities, the layered way a reader gains knowledge and insight about the characters and the Discworld itself as they read more and more of the books and the (not-so-subtle at times) satire of our own world that occasionally makes you want to pause in your reading to reflect on the magnitude of the idea that a seemingly silly book is really putting across to you. Discworld books are most generically classified as humorous fantasy but they offer so much more than that simple description can convey. Author Brandon Sanderson wrote a great description of Pratchett’s appeal recently (click here to read it).


Attending a Con of any type really didn’t cross my mind before this opportunity came my way. Mostly because I thought of Trekkies at Star Trek conventions (which were some of the first gatherings of fans for pop culture reasons) or thought only of the CosPlay aspect (i.e., costuming yourself as a character) of Comic Cons in New York or San Diego. The NADWCon had plenty of costumed attendees (more on that later) and die-hard Discworld fans, however it also had a very welcoming feel and plenty of friendly people who made it easy to relax and enjoy the experience. During the Con, I got to present as part of two discussion panels and I attended many others including the Guild of Thieves Good Practice Session (first rule: Always Leave a Receipt) and How to Commit the Perfect Murder (as sponsored by the Assassins Guild). Sir Terry connected with fans through video calls during which audience members could ask questions. My favorite question came from a young girl who asked about “the thing on the shelf” visible (but not clearly identifiable) behind him. (It was a black full-face motorcycle helmet, which drew laughs and cheers from the crowd.) I spent my days going to so many different panels or talking to different people that I usually forgot to eat lunch! 


And the costumes!  There were ladies wearing beautiful hand-crafted Victorian style gowns and men in dapper suits of a bygone era representing the Lords and Ladies of Ankh-Morpork, city watch members in chain mail and bits of armor, dwarves (some taller than you might think), wizards and witches aplenty, Tiffany Aching with her frying pan and some Nac Mac Feegle, the Unseen University Librarian (ook!) and I believe I caught a glimpse of Death once or twice. I didn’t have the extra money to spend for the Gala Banquet but I gathered with others also not attending the banquet to form a slapdash paparazzi horde at the entry doors.


If you want to explore Discworld for yourself, here is a handy guide to help you get startedIt will help you to know that this is not the kind of series you have to read in strict chronological order! The guide shows groupings, each group with its own “starter book.” 


If you have already tackled all of Discworld, here are some other reading suggestions culled from one of the panels at NADWCon:

Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series (start with Heartless; Adult paperback fiction)

Tom Holt’s books, like Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages (Adult fiction)

China Mieville’s books (Adult and Young Adult fiction)

P.G. Wodehouse’s books (Adult fiction)

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (Adult fiction and Reading List)

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern (Young Adult)

Going Bovine and Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (Young Adult)

The Elfish Gene by Mark Barrowcliffe (Biography: reflection on growing up playing Dungeons and Dragons)  

CATEGORIES: Characters , Fantasy , Reading , Tina R. , Books
POSTED: 11:40:00 AM |

Monday, July 08, 2013

Books About Books For Book Clubs

The End of Your Life Book Club 

I had heard about a book with the intriguing title of “The End of Your Life Book Club”, which a friend told me sounds like the perfect book for a librarian. So I had to read it. It’s a memoir about a man and his mother, quite a memorable, well traveled woman, who was getting chemo treatments for her inoperable pancreatic cancer. As they wait each week for the treatment, they talk about what is most important to both of them: books. They have formed a little book club of their own. Each chapter is about a specific title and how it relates to their lives. Sometimes it’s depressing, sometimes it’s inspirational. But it is always interesting. As you are learning about that book, you are learning about their lives as well. I am sure you have read at least some of these well known books:



And if not, there are some good titles to choose from for your next book club, preferably not for the end of your life, however.


Speaking of book clubs (you may have read this article) there was a fascinating article in the Washington Post on June 28, 2013 written by Ron Charles, the Washington Post book critic: “A Book Critic’s Night on the Town” wherein he meets a woman on the metro who is reading a book he critiqued, and they strike up a conversation. He eventually attends their book club and is energized about the titles they discuss.




And if you are looking for books about books, you need go no further than Nancy Pearl who is the undisputed readers advisory library super star. She even has her own action figure which when you push the button on the back, her arm goes into the “shushing” mode! I am privileged to own such a figure and even more privileged to have it signed by her.

Her books “Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason  “More Book Lust” and “Book Crush: for Kids and Teens” are designed to get you off your seat and into the stacks,  or at least into the virtual stacks where you will get lost in the literary world, be it fiction or non-fiction.

I just opened "Book Lust" and fell upon a chapter called “Epistolary Novels” (novels written in letter form, as in The Epistles) a particular favorite of mine, and I found a book that I’ve never read: "Ella Minnow Pea", a lippogrammatic epistolary fable, which means something written without using one or more letters of the alphabet! Even this world weary librarian is discovering new titles. Ms Pearl will do that to you.

And if you would like some more suggestions about book clubs click onto Reader's Cafe and slide down to "Tips for Book Discussions" most of which came from our Super Star Nancy Pearl.

Happy reading!

Lisa N.


CATEGORIES: Lisa N. , Books
POSTED: 4:10:00 PM |

Thursday, July 04, 2013

A Nearly Perfect Con-Man

I’m pretty sure there are con-woman books, too, but the characters that come to my mind are all men.  Why is that?
There’s Catch Me If You Can : The Amazing True Story of The Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in The History of Fun and Profit by Frank W. Abagnale.   It was made into a great movie.  The DVD has an extra feature.  It is a very entertaining interview with Frank Abagnale himself who seemed to be quite pleased with DiCaprio impersonating him.
Recently I saw a PBS American Experience documentary The Rockefellers.  Quite interesting since I just finished reading The Man in The Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Impostor by Mark Seal.  The Man in The Rockefeller Suite
Across the Atlantic, Ronnie Cornwell, John le Carre’s father makes an appearance in The Perfect Spy as Rick Pym, the father of Magnus Pym in le Carre’s thinly disguised autobiographical fiction.
I wonder if anyone did a study on the con-men vs con-women.  Maybe women never get caught.  I posed the question to my colleague.  She said, “also it wasn’t really an occupation open to women?”

    Megumi L.

POSTED: 4:00:00 AM |
Montgomery County Public Libraries
Montgomery County Public Libraries

Library Policies | Friends of the Library | Library Board | Library Jobs | Contact Us

Last edited: 11/6/2007