Howard County Library
Teacher Notes From Howard County Library

Your Best College Application Essay

image of 4 green apples and 1 red apple with a hand reaching for the red appleThe college application essay doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Students can learn tips and tricks Monday, September 17 at 7 pm as Howard County Library System’s Central Branch hosts Jill Kasprzak, director of college counseling at a private high school and former assistant director of admissions at Loyola University Maryland. The discussion focuses on the art of writing a good college application essay. The class provides helpful information about what college admissions officers are seeking, what makes an essay successful, how to brainstorm, and how to complete the essays without stressing out.

Please encourage interested students to register for this class.



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Mango Languages

mango languages database logoDo you want to learn Pirate? How about more standard languages such as Spanish, French and German? Practice languages like Vietnamese or Tagalog? Or even Irish or Hawaiian?

Howard County Library System recently added Mango for Libraries to our growing collection of specialized online research tools. Mango offers forty-five multi-lesson classes for native English speakers in a variety of foreign languages, as well as sixteen customized multi-lesson classes for native speakers of other languages who are learning English.

In addition, Little Pim, a companion collection of videos and resource cards, introduces preschool students to vocabulary in ten languages.  Little Pim teaches 60 words and phrases per session for a total of 180 kid-friendly words. Little Pim’s 15 languages include Spanish, French, Hebrew, and ESL English.

Both resources require Javascript and Adobe Flash Player, and can be accessed from our list of Research Tools by selecting the Language subject area. Mango Languages can be accessed at any of HCLS’s six branches, or from school or home with your library card number. Add Mango Languages to your collection of language learning tools!

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Word Up Poetry Contest 2012

word up logo - teen poetry contestOf Aging

It is a Sunday night, raining, and I am eating oatmeal
There is a language to be learned, a list to dominate

And I can’t hear what’s being said upstairs, but I can
Make out my mother’s butterscotch laughter, my
Father’s heavy lidded footsteps, the sound of the
Ice-maker and the rain. These singular things that

Make a childhood. Yet there is a butterfly effect to
This life. A waltz that you can’t see, but you feel the
Big band strike up the music in your blood. Why
Are people always leaving? Spun round and round

In overlapping rotations. If only in this world
That is mostly linoleum and revolving doors
Things could be as familiar as my childhood staircase.
As familiar as rainy Sunday nights and oatmeal

Mallory Smith. Grade 9, Howard High School
First Place, 8th / 9th Grade Group, 2011 Word Up Contest

The 2012 Word Up! poetry contest is now open!  All Howard County students in grades 6 through 12 are eligible to enter. Cash prizes are awarded for first, second, and third place in three age groups.  Winners are invited to read their poems at a special event on Wednesday April 25 at 7pm at the Miller Branch.

Poems may be submitted electronically at You can download the Word Up! Educator Resource Brochure or request a session of Writer’s Camp for your students. The deadline to submit up to three entries is March 14, & we look forward to receiving poems by your students.

Word Up! is sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library.

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Career & Technology Education Expo Sessions

career and technology education logoThis is an exciting opportunity to share with your students.

Students and their parents are invited to learn more about the Howard County Public School System’s Career Academies, which prepare high school students for college and 21st century careers at two upcoming showcase sessions. Current academy students demonstrate their skills and provide information about their courses of study.

  • Tue., Jan. 17, 7-8 p.m., Miller Branch, Howard County Library System, 9421 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. (410) 313-1950
  • Thur., Jan. 26, 7-8 p.m., East Columbia Branch, Howard County Library System, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. (410) 313-7700

For more information, contact the Howard County Public Schools System Office of Career and Technology Education at 410-313-6629.

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College: Let’s Make It Make Cents!

painting of mortarboard as a bank with money falling into itThe decisions surrounding going to college can have a great impact on a person’s life. Choices start with the most fundamental ones about whether to pursue a degree and when – immediately after high school or wait a year. From there, prospective students consider to which college(s) they wish to apply and what course of study (majors, minors, other classes) to pursue. Last but not least, there is the question of how to afford tuition, room and board, and books.

Students (and their parents) need to consider these questions and others carefully, and (as needed) seek expert assistance. As your students make these crucial college decisions, encourage them to attend College: Let’s Make It Make Cents! to learn about the application process and how to secure financial aid.

This college readiness and financial literacy event happens at Howard County Library System Savage Branch on Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 3 pm. The event features presentations and a panel discussion with representatives from the Maryland Higher Education Commission, The University of Maryland’s Academic Achievement Program and Howard Community College‘s admissions and financial aid departments.

Your students should gain information to succeed in high school, after high school, and beyond!

Brian Hart – Howard County Library System Savage Branch

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Chill Out With a Book: Teen Winter Reading

teen winter reading logo

From December 1st 2011 to February 29th 2012 we’re offering Middle and High School students the chance to chill out with a book as part of Teen Winter Reading. Howard County Library System’s Teen Instructors have selected 46 titles for the 2011-12 Winter Reading List and prepared a three-question quiz about each selected title. The list includes materials for ages 11-17 from collections throughout the library, so there’s something available for everyone.

Between December 1st, 2011 and February 29, 2012, teen readers are invited to select and read (or listen to) a book from the list, and answer the three-question quiz about that book. Teen readers who read three books and answer three quizzes will be entered into a prize draw to win a book bundle. Prizes will be drawn in March, after Teen Winter Reading concludes. Your students  can read as many books off the list as they want to, and enter the draw each time they read three new books and complete three new quizzes.

There are printed copies of the book list in your closest branch. You can also view the list and questions at Please share this information with your students and encourage them to take part!


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Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Awards

The Maryland Library Association, Children’s Services Division has announced the 2011 winners of the Maryland Blue Crab Awards. Blue Crabs are awarded to authors of books for beginning or transitional readers. This year’s winners are:

A complete list of honor books, and winners and honors from previous years, as well a description of the criteria for the award, can be found on the MLA website.

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Howard County Library System Spelling Bee

spelling bee logo

Howard County Library System invites public and private schools, and home school associations, to participate in the seventh annual Howard County Library Spelling Bee. Classroom and/or school bees for students in grades 4 through 8 should be held between November 1, 2011 and January 27, 2012. Winners of school and home school association bees will advance to the Library’s regional bee on March 9, 2011. The winning speller will compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.

The Howard County Library Spelling Bee is organized under the rules of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and sponsored by BB&T.

For students in grades 1 – 3: BumbleBee

The sixth annual BumbleBee, spelling bees held in schools for first through third graders, begins again this fall and culminates with an awards ceremony on March 5, 2012. Through the BumbleBee, students build vocabularies, learn spelling tips, and gain confidence in front of an audience.

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Book Clubs

image of girl reading a book while sitting on a globeDo you have students who already have a sincere love of reading? Or maybe some in whom you’d like to instill a greater appreciation of books and their many delights? Howard County Library System hosts many monthly book clubs to encourage students to read for fun.


Book – N – Chat meets on one Tuesday evening each month, for ages 6 – 8, and discusses a picture book and presents other activities.

Classics Club Jr gets together on the last Wednesday of the month, for ages 7 – 9, to take a look at some classic children’s novels.

Classics Club has a similar focus for students ages 9 & up.

Pageturners, for ages 8 – 11, examines a theme each quarter. For this fall, they’ve been reading about rats. The November 15 meeting is about Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynn Jonell.


Elks Starters offers a monthly celebration of reading with a fun, fast-paced discussion of stories for young readers (ages 7 – 8), designed to inspire reading. In November, the group is reading Jake Drake, Bully Buster by Andrew Clements.

Elks Comics Club is the right place for those ages 9 – 11 who love comics, graphic novels, and comic inspired books. It also has activities to inspire students to create their own comic books. In November, the club is looking at How to Grow Up and Rule the World by Scott Seegart.

Tween Book Club, for ages 10 – 13, is a place for those “in between” other groups to get together, discuss great book, and participate in fun activities. In November, this club is discussing No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman.

For more details about these and other opportunities to foster good reading skills, visit and look up the individual session in the classes and events calendar, pick up a copy of source, or visit one of the branches listed above. All specific titles listed are available for borrowing.

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Battle of the Books!

battle of the books logo

Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books is an academic competition for fifth grade students. Teams of five contestants answer questions about 16 books they have read from a preselected list. The fourth annual Battle takes place April 20, 2012.

Online registration begins October 24 and closes November 4. Details at

Mandatory coach meetings

EAST COLUMBIA (410.313.7750)

Tuesday, Nov 15 at 7 pm, or

Thursday, Nov 17 at 7 pm

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