Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County Public Library
For most of us, the library represents fond memories as a child. Whether it was getting your first library card, checking out stacks of children's books or listening intently to every word from the storyteller, the library was a special place that made us feel special, too! As we grew older, the library evolved along with us. During those tumultuous teenage years, the library was a refuge from our parents, a place to meet friends and to get homework assignments accomplished while giving us a sense of independence in a comfortable environment. As adults, we continued visiting the library for beach reads, to rent weekend DVDs and then eventually with our own children to relive our childhood memories and to begin making new ones. For many of us, the library shaped or changed our lives in one way or another.
National Library Week kicks off this Sunday, April 13, and continues through April 19. The theme for this year's celebration is "Lives Change @ Your Library." As part of the weeklong celebration, the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) is hosting a Facebook contest for folks to submit a photo and a caption that highlights how the library has changed his or her life. The selected top five entries will have their photos and captions up in lights on BCPL's electronic sign in Towson, and one lucky winner will receive a $100 VISA gift card. The contest runs through April 30, and all the details can be found on BCPL's Facebook page.
In addition to the Facebook contest, all of BCPL's 18 branches are celebrating with special events and giveaways throughout National Library Week. Please note the Parkville branch is currently closed through June for renovation. So, what are you waiting for? Come visit BCPL to make memories and discover how lives change @ your library. Don't forget to capture a photo or two for our Facebook page. For more information, please visit our website.
Rob Stradling, Director
Baltimore County Office of Information Technology
Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) Director Jim Fish has good reason to boast about their circulation numbers, which show that BCPL continues to be one of the best and busiest library systems in the country and is being used by more people for more reasons than ever before. In 2012, BCPL checked out a whopping 10.7 million pieces of material and serviced 5.5 million walk-in customers in its 19 branches and 4 bookmobiles. Most of us see traditional libraries as buildings filled with books, music and movies, but if you pay a visit to your local branch, you’ll see how the traditional public library is changing. For example, did you know that in 2012, BCPL also had more than 5 million hits on its website, provided computer access to over 1.1 million citizens through the use of its public PCs and Wi-Fi network, and circulated more than 226,000 electronic books?
Today, libraries, including BCPL, depend on their ability to adapt to the needs of the community, with technology fueling much of that adaptability. The typical library customer is changing, too. In addition to countless shelves of traditional printed materials, Baltimore County residents will soon have reliable high-speed access to the digital world, when the County installs a broadband fiber-optic network (BCON) to connect various County buildings, including the Library and its branches. The County will begin by connecting BCPL Administrative Offices and 10 branches, with the cost savings increasing as the remaining branches are connected to BCON.
To satisfy customer demand and take advantage of technology, I worked with BCPL Director Jim Fish to conduct a Business Process Analysis (BPA) of the Library’s technology function to improve service delivery, streamline workflows and reduce redundancies. The BPA identified several major areas in which BCPL and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) were duplicating efforts, resources and contracts. Consolidation in these areas will save significant taxpayer dollars — more than $143,000 annually.
Overall, the measures identified in the BPA will save the Library nearly $500,000 by the end of FY15. Even more importantly, these projects lay the foundation for OIT and BCPL to work together to continue to uncover more innovative ways to deliver improved services at lower costs. Additionally, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz intends to fund the Library Equipment Refresher Projects to the tune of $1 million, which will replace the Library’s technology equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life.
Future innovations will include many similar technology projects. Continually seeking and exploiting the combined resources of OIT and the Library’s Technical Support functions will reinforce the existing partnership between OIT and BCPL. Over time, that spirit of cooperation and unity will reward the citizens of Baltimore County with a library that still includes those bookshelves, but one that also lives on the forefront of technology.
Baltimore County Public Library’s Collection Development Staff Members
Baltimore County Public Library has recommendations for your summer vacation reads, no matter what your taste!
First are two novels set in traditional summer settings, the Jersey Shore and Summer camp:
“All the Summer Girls” by Meg Donohue
Travel to the Jersey Shore as three childhood friends who were supposed to be meeting in Vegas for a bachelorette weekend regroup when the bride-to-be is dumped by her fiancé. Instead, the three young women head to the familiar comfort of Avalon and its stretches of glorious beaches. The happy memories shared by Kate, Dani and Vanessa are overshadowed by the specter of Kate’s twin brother’s tragic drowning eight years earlier. What the three don’t know is that each harbors secrets that could impact the others’ lives, and each is at a crossroads in her life.
“Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer
This book follows a group of teenaged friends (who call themselves “Interestings”) from their 1974 meeting at an arty summer camp through to middle age. The novel skips back and forth over time, revealing more about the friends’ triumphs and tragedies over the years. Of course, there are secrets kept and long-harbored resentments over the years as their lives diverge and reconnect. “Interestings” is an ambitious, sprawling and insightful novel.
Like the summer destination, the amusement park, summer is a great time for thrills and chills. Below are some suggested books that range from thrilling to downright scary:
“Out of Range” by Hank Steinberg
Charlie Davis is a political reporter for the Los Angeles Times, but becomes an investigator in search of his wife, Julie, when she goes missing. This action-packed thriller by the creator of the television show “Without a Trace” leads Charlie and readers to Uzbekistan, the country where Charlie and Julie fell in love. As he frantically pursues his missing wife, he becomes embroiled in international intrigue and also finds disturbing clues pointing to his wife’s possible infidelity and secret life.
“Crime of Privilege” by Walter Walker
Twelve years earlier, when he was in college, George Becket sees his preppy friends rape a young woman at a Palm Beach party. Now an Assistant D.A., he risks everything investigating his powerful and connected friends in the unsolved murder of a girl in Cape Cod. Crime of Privilege is a page-turning, twisty adventure into the world of the rich and powerful.
“The Execution of Noa P. Singleton” by Elizabeth L. Silver
Six months before her execution date, death row inmate Noa is approached by attorney Marlene Dixon, who offers to petition the state for clemency on Noa’s behalf. Marlene is the mother of Noa’s victim, and she wants to know why Noa killed her daughter. This gripping debut novel will appeal to fans of legal thrillers, and the complexity of the characters and moral issues at stake also make it a perfect pick for book clubs.
“The Shining Girls” by Lauren Beukes
A time-travelling serial killer and the only survivor of his attacks are on a collision course toward each other in this grisly, pulse-pounding thriller.
There are no Olympics this summer, so let’s go back to one of the most famous Olympic events of all time:
“The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics” by Daniel Brown
The 1936 Berlin Olympics are most memorable, due in large part to the tense international climate and the performance of Jesse Owens. However, another remarkable story from the same Games involved the rowing team from the University of Washington, who defeated elite rivals on Hitler’s big stage. These sons of farmers and loggers were able to first defeat the cream of the crop from Britain’s finest universities before triumphing over the team from Germany. Readers will enjoy this irresistible and inspirational story about the little guys beating the odds in dramatic fashion on the world stage.
Romance is great for summer reading for adults and teens:
“Just One Kiss” by Susan Mallery
When Justice Garrett moves back to Fool’s Gold, California, he gets a second chance at love with his childhood friend, Patience McGraw. This is the first of three new entries in Mallery’s popular Fool’s Gold series.
“The Moon and More” by Sarah Dessen
Emaline is in that awkward summer between the end of high school and beginning of college, waiting for the next stage of her life to begin, when young indie-filmmaker Theo arrives in her small North Carolina beach town. Reconsidering the options for her future, Emaline comes to a surprising decision.
Finally, a road trip is perfect for an engaging listen:
“Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” by David Sedaris
NPR commentator and humorist Sedaris is back with a collection of essays steeped in his trademark dark humor and insights into our human condition. His slightly nerdy tone has always made these essays great on the page but even better as a listen.