Howard County Library
Teacher Notes From Howard County Library

Chess Club

image of chess pieces on chess boardAre your students interested in honing their ability to think strategically? Do they like playing games? If so, they may enjoy the Miller Branch’s Chess Club. The Chess Club provides an opportunity for students to meet and compete with others who share their enthusiasm for this classic game in an informal setting. All skill levels are welcome, but players must have a basic understanding of the rules of the game.  Tuesday, September 27 from 7 – 8 pm.  No registration required.  Ages 9-17.

Courtney Gardinier – Howard County Library System, Miller Branch

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Books for the Beast

books for the beast logo  The biennial conference “Books for the Beast” devotes itself to showcasing and discussing the best in young adult literature. The conference, sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Free Library, was established in 1991 by Dr. Mary K. Chelton and a statewide steering committee, as a way to pay tribute to Margaret Alexander Edwards who was a pioneer in the development of reader’s advisory services for young adults. The “Books for the Beast” Conference gets its name from Edwards’ highly regarded book about serving teens in libraries The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts. You and your students have the opportunity to attend the eleventh annual conference this year. Check out the schedule for the day, a list of guest speakers, and the titles selected for discussion, then register for the conference.

Each conference features outstanding young adult writers who present unique perspectives on this growing field of literature. Morning and afternoon discussion groups that focus on young adult genres: Fantasy/Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Multicultural, Romance, Real Life, and Suspense/Horror. Where appropriate, genres may include graphic novels, nonfiction, or a suggested audiobook. In 1993, the conference began its popular practice of inviting as many as fifty teen readers to participate, free of charge, as a way of including their important insights on what has been written about and for young people. Students can register for the conference by printing and completing the PDF registration form, and mailing it in.

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Science Club

glass beakers with different colored liquidWant to promote the idea that science is more than a subject at school? Have your students join the club! The Science Club is dedicated to all things science. Join us at the Miller Branch Wednesday, September 28 from 7 – 8 pm, as we use our senses of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight to discover what is hidden in the box.  Would you be brave enough to stick your hand in the box?

Registration Required.  Ages 11-17.

Courtney Gardinier – Howard County Library System, Miller Branch


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Polaris Power-Tip for Teachers: Set It and Forget It!

image of card catalog drawerDo you currently place holds on materials for you and your students through

You may have noticed a new feature of placing your requests online with an advance activation date. For educators who know the wisdom of planning, this new feature is life-changing. Some examples of how to use this Polaris Power-Tip include:

  • You are an elementary school teacher and want to plan your read-alouds. You can now find and request your favorite books for the entire year! Requesting a copy of  The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything now so you can read it at Halloween is entirely possible. If you want it at the end of October, I recommend requesting it to activate in mid-September if you are using your A+ card, so you have it in plenty of time for a spooky read-aloud. Remember: Your A+ Educator Card checks out items for six weeks, so you have some wiggle room!
  • You are a middle or high school teacher who prepares a unit every February on careers, and you want to make sure you have a good variety of print and nonfiction video resources for your students. You can locate items at any time with a subject search, request them, then set your activation date for mid-January. If for some reason, your schedule changes (snow days?), you can always use your account to adjust the activation dates. The only caveat is that once the items have been shipped, the activation date is no longer adjustable. You can always request them again.
  • If you have trouble finding time to read for personal education or enjoyment during the school year. Maybe you’ve been wanting to read The Help, but you know you probably won’t have time until winter break. You can set the activation for early-December. Even though in August almost 300 people are on hold for it, you will continue to move up the queue until you reach the top spot, where you stay until you activate the request. You will easily have your book in time for vacation.

I hope this feature helps you as much as it helped me! I use this feature extensively for planning my book clubs, personal reading, and for upcoming HCLS classes. Stay tuned for another great Polaris Power-Tip for Teachers soon. In the meantime check out some other exciting features of the new HCLS catalog!

Sarah Russo
Howard County Library System, Elkridge Branch

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Welcome Back!

howard county library system logoWelcome back to Teacher Notes for the 2011-12 school year. We’re looking forward to connecting your students with great information this year, and sharing details of our resources and activities with you.

So where to begin? Here are five things you might do to start the new school year:

  1. Download our 2011-12 Curriculum Enhancement Guide (PDF) for details of the many classes we can teach. Would you like to start a book club? Are your students beginning a research project? We can support History Day, Science Fair, Big 6 and Careers, amongst many others. Look on page 4 of the guide (elementary) or page 9 (secondary) to find the name and contact information for your A+ liaison, or use our directory. Each school in the county is partnered with one of our six library branches, and staff from that branch will serve as your first point of contact as you schedule a class.
  2. Complete the online application for an educator library card if you do not already have one. With this new card, educators may borrow up to 30 items each visit, keep materials as long as six weeks (42 days), borrow all library materials (except non-instructional videocassettes and DVDs), and renew materials once. A+ Educator library cards are not exempt from fines, but materials returned within 10 days of the due date will be fine free.
  3. Bookmark our elementary or secondary assignment alert form, so that we can assemble a collection of resources at your chosen branch for a particular assignment. Give us the information about your assignment ahead of time, and we will assemble a collection of age-appropriate resources for your students at the branch (or branches) of your choice.
  4. Ask us about our Specialized Online Research Tools, and about Online Homework Assistance from Brainfuse.
  5. Invite a research specialist and instructor to Back-to-School night to share these resources with parents and with your colleagues.

We look forward to working closely with you this year to bring these and other resources to your students. Subscribe to the RSS feed of Teacher Notes using your favorite feed reader to have this information delivered to you.

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Have a great summer!

cartoon image of kids holding a sign reading school's outIt’s that time of year again -  bulletin boards are blank, desks are stacked with chairs…it’s time for summer break! We here at the Howard County Library System hope that you have had a successful school year full of achievement and growth. When you come back in the Fall, we will be here again, giving you weekly information about classes, events, and other resources we offer here at HCLS to benefit your students. Until then, have a great and safe summer break!

Amy Stephens, Howard County Library Glenwood Branch



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Fancy Flip Flops

green flip flopsWe’re offering your students the chance to get set for the beach with a one-of-a-kind pair of custom flip-flops that they have designed and created themselves. Please encourage your students to join us at the Savage Branch at 7 pm on June 29 to customize a pair of flip-flops to showcase their unique style.

All materials will be provided. Registration is required. Students can register online or call 410.880.5980 beginning June 15.

Image by Steve Johnson

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Family Movie Fridays

box of popcornWould your students like to start the weekend with a movie? Invite them to join us at the Savage Branch throughout the summer on alternate Fridays at 3:30 pm. We’ll screen family-friendly movies to kick the weekend off in style.

  • Jun 24 – How to Train Your Dragon (PG)
  • Jul 8 – Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (PG)
  • Jul 22 – Monsters vs. Aliens (PG)
  • Aug 5 – Legend of the Guardians: the Owls of Ga’Hoole (PG)

No registration required.

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Howard County Library Teen Idol

cartoon image of a microphoneInvite your students … the ones who are always humming or singing in the hallways … to sing their way to stardom at Howard County Library’s seventh annual Idol contest, open to all Howard County middle and high school students. The winner receives a $100 cash prize, music lessons from Mike’s Music, and an invitation to sing the national anthem at a Bowie Baysox game.

Two runners up receive a $75 cash prize. All finalists receive a music lesson from Mike’s Music. Registration is required to audition. Five finalists will be chosen from each audition session to compete in the finals. No registration is required to attend as a spectator. Registration for auditions opens on June 7.

Auditions: June 21 & Jun 22, Miller Branch, 7 – 9 pm.

Finals: June 23, Howard County Center For The Arts (8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City), 7 – 9 pm.

Sponsored by Friends of Howard County Library.

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The Great Scavenger Hunt

great scavenger hunt contest logoWe like to find cool and interesting ways to keep students motivated to read, as well as refer back to time-honored classics. Scavenger hunts have always been popular, but have your students check out our updated version. Students can answer questions about their favorite books for a chance to win a $50 gift card to a favorite bookstore.

Here’s how it works:

Visit for the list of selected titles and trivia questions.

Read any of the books.

Complete the questions for that book.

Submit answers to any Howard County Library branch.

Entries with at least eight correct answers will be submitted to the national contest for monthly drawings. This is a country-wide hunt, but students can come into any Howard County Library branch to submit entries.

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