Back to School? We Can Help!

August 23rd, 2011

backtoschoolEverything is new on the first day of school – new clothes, new school supplies, new teachers, new friends. It can be exciting to begin a new year… but also pretty stressful.

Parents can use a little help when getting their child ready for all these new experiences. Trying to get your child caught up on their reading or math skills? Is your high schooler looking for help in their foreign language class? What about those research projects that are sure to be piling up soon? Or maybe you’re looking for a place where your toddler can start interacting with other children and learning the early literacy skills that will initiate their education?

Your library can be the solution to all of these tricky school year necessities, and so much more…

We’ve got lots of resources for students at all reading levels. Consult any of our wonderful children’s librarians for great suggestions for your budding reader. For middle school and high school students struggling to advance their reading skills, we have Hi/Lo Readers, books with subjects that will interest older readers, but are written at an easier level. Of course, we also have plenty of fiction and non-fiction for all age groups and interests. Talk to our reference librarians about reading recommendations.

For those who are struggling in a particular class (math and physics were my most dreaded subjects) we have helpful books that explain the subject matter in an approachable format, using everyday language. Try a book from the popular “For Dummies” or “Idiot’s Guide” series. Don’t be put off by the title — they really are helpful! A popular author for teens struggling with math is Danica McKellar, author of Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss and Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail.

And those pesky research assignments… we have extensive databases on a wide variety of subjects, including science and math, history, biographies and current events, just to name a few. These databases are accessible from our website anytime, even from home! Just have your library card number ready. Maryland libraries also offer AskUsNow!, an online virtual reference chat service with librarians available to answer your reference questions 24/7! If you’re working on a paper in the middle of the night or studying for a big test and you run into a road block, a librarian is online to help you get through it.

Are you dreading the new school year? Perhaps we can help!

Steampunk Mania

August 19th, 2011

twenty thousandDear Librarian: What in the world is a Steampunk book?

Dear Reader,
Oh, I am so glad you asked that question. I love Steampunk! Excessive amounts of coffee and Steampunk books are my two favorite guilty pleasures. According to, Steampunk is “a genre of science fiction set in Victorian times when steam was the main source of machine power.” Technically, that definition is right on, but it sounds a bit too boring for me. Personally, I like this definition from “To me, Steampunk has always been first and foremost a literary genre, or at least a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century (the steam) usually with some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against parts of it (the punk).”

Dear reader, keep in mind that there is no strict, absolute or final definition for this imaginative fiction genre, so you may find some disagreements out there. Classic Steampunk titles include Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Some current popular Steampunk titles are The Map of Time by Felix Palma, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld & Keith Thompson, Clockwork Angel (Book One of the Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare and my personal favorite Soulless (Book One of the Parasol Protectorate Series) by Gail Carriger. For even more titles, try out this list of favorites from our staff, Steampunk: Gears, Goggles and Great Adventure. Cecil County Public Library carries all the titles mentioned here, plus lots more!

Steampunk has even influenced fashion, decor and movies in recent years.  To see interesting pics of Steampunk styles and read more about the trend, check out this New York Times article.

What do you think of the Steampunk movement? Are you a fan?

This article is an excerpt from a recent “People Are Asking” column, published each Tuesday in the Cecil Whig.

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