American Library Tour

<p>A celebration of American Libraries & Culture during the Pandemic </p>
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AACPL & Discoveries | Prose of a Traveling Man

As I drove into the parking lot of Anne Arundel Public Library (AACPL) I was impressed by the architecture as well as the EV charging stations for electric vehicles. The new building was completed last year and has a very modern design. Entering the library there lay a map of the Chesapeake Bay on the floor and a beautiful wooden plaque commemorating the donors who helped make this library possible. It’s a wide open space with smaller areas dedicated to all age groups from early childhood through adulthood. AACPL is celebrating 100 years of serving the community and what better way than with a brand new building and some amazing resources.

I was introduced to some of the staff by manager/s Gloria and Dianne. Gabby, a staff member, gave me a tour of an area of the library that allows space for different STEM activities. This area has state of the art resources including a 3-D printer, sewing machines, t-shirt presser, snap circuits (for kids to learn the basics of electric engineering) and ceramic resources for members in the community looking to try their hand at pottery. AACPL provides in-person classes as well as virtual classes for many of their services. The online pottery course has been a big hit and has over 20 people signed up. Gloria also shared a story about a proactive local eagle scout who came in to sew on his own eagle scout badge.

After the STEM area of the library, Gloria showed me the early childhood corner as a librarian was reading Storytime to several toddlers and their parents. This area seemed like a great resource for the children and had a colorful magnetic wall that had a presentation of the city of Annapolis as well as the Maryland library mascot “Sneeks”. The magnetic wall also provided letters along with visual cues on how to pronounce different sounds, giving kids a chance to spell their names and other words they were interested in

The teenage area of the library sat in the middle between the early childhood corner and adult section. The alcove was well equipped with computers, providing all the tools needed for research. There is also an ample amount of space for teens to socialize with comfortable seating for talking, games to play on systems like the Nintendo Switch, as well as a green screen for different types of presentations teens can use on various projects. AACPL also provides events such as movie nights for teens.

Finally, I made my way to the Annapolis Mall and stopped in at Discoveries. This is a branch of the library that sits in the corner of the mall. I was welcomed by Aurelia who explained that this branch provided a gamut of programs for all ages as well as a food pantry for those in need. Discoveries provides support for about 30-40 customers per week with essentials like diapers and women’s products. Like AACPL, this branch provides a space for young children as well as teens to gather and socialize in a safe place. Aurelia explained that they were setting up for a Mario Kart tournament and another employee, Peter said that this Saturday they will be hosting a Cat Castle “Caturday” where friends and families can partake in making their own cat home for their pets.

I was bound to the feeling of encouragement when I saw the various resources available for all ages at both of these sites. It was a pleasure to get a chance to see how the Anne Arundel Annapolis Public Library and Discoveries have their feet grounded in the past with a mindful idea of how to reach their community with modern advancements looking towards the future.

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The Prose of a Traveling Man: Middletown Township Public Library

From the modest beginnings of Dorothy Norton travelling miles to deliver books to her community, to today’s challenge of providing services during a pandemic, Middletown Township Public Library is celebrating their centennial anniversary this month and at the same time looking towards the future.

The Middletown Township Public Library is the first stop of this American tour!  I was welcomed by the director, Heather, who shared a fun time capsule which was buried  in the 1970’s and recently dug up. It contained some interesting items from that decade as well as some monthly magazines. 

Throughout the years Middletown Township Public Library has offered programs for all ages.  They have many different programs and services they provide for their community;  outreach services, literacy initiatives, employment and small business resources, expanding information services, computer training, internet access, and other means of community support and enrichment.  During last year’s school year, the library housed students who needed a place to learn virtually.  The library recently purchased lockers so that individuals can pick up and return books and other resources without going indoors.

Visiting the Middletown Township Public Library was a great beginning to my tour. It was eye opening  to know there are libraries in my own county providing necessary services and doing so much for their communities during these very challenging times.

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Introduction: The Prose of a Traveling Man

Hello everyone and welcome to the Prose of a Travelling Man!  This is the beginning of a long and winding road that hopefully you’ll tune in and think (no I don’t think dropping out is the best option). 

A little bit about myself.  My name is Brendan Coulson and I am a few things at this point in my life (College Graduate – University of Delaware, Teacher of Special Education for 7 years, and a very proud uncle of a niece and 3 nephews). Born and raised  in Monmouth County New Jersey. Have taught in several districts in Monmouth County, including Freehold Twp., Bradley Beach and Freehold Boro. 

Teaching opened me up to the concept that taking on a career/vocation like education serves a purpose beyond ourselves.  As an individual  each one of us has the potential to educate, enlighten, empathize and engage other individuals.  This is what drove me to be an educator.   Throughout my 7 years of teaching I found pride in a profession where I was giving back but always had my ears to the speaker. Finding comfort in a sense of purpose beyond myself was vital in my own development and I find myself continuing that journey through the vibrations of music.

                Welcome to the Journey,

Beginning my career in education began with the intention to make a difference in other individuals’ lives that could be of benefit to them no matter the circumstance.   I truly feel I did that to the best of my degree and am excited to take the next step on this journey.  I don’t say this lightly, every person on this planet has been affected/effected by the CoronaVirus Pandemic and like any world changing event, it will have its repercussions good/bad.  I believe that it is it important to extend yourself towards the best of a situation and to be aware of the risks as you do so. 

I was in my apartment alone on a daily basis during the beginning of the pandemic.   I rediscovered solace and creativity within myself during this time through music. 

Music has been a part of my life well… since I was born and I’m sure the rest of humanity could agree on that statement.  I have felt vibrations of pattern throughout my life since I was conceived and once again I don’t stand alone in this observation.  Throughout my life it has been the soundtrack towards good/bad (I can expand with more time). At 8 years old I took up playing the saxophone.  Through my continued love of music I also learned how to play guitar, bass, and drums.  I’m looking to play piano moving forward. I found myself through the pandemic time and time again coming back to what brought me home… music.

                Throughout my life I have seen and felt music change people’s lives whether through amazing moments like Woodstock or something smaller but no less significant like attending a high school concert with my brothers when I was in middle school and being blown away by the energy that music brought to the collective.  I was hooked and continued to discover how music was a force that could change lives all around the world.  It is something beyond language and older too.  People were making music before they could use words to communicate.  The rhythm of life through vibrations is essential to human understanding. For me, this is a purpose that is worth pursuing.

Music has been essential to communities and there has been no place that is a safer haven than a library to help with access to a resource like music.  On my adventure I am elated to get the opportunity to visit libraries across the country who have been a safe haven for communities.  Throughout our country libraries have been a backbone to help support people in ways that are ever changing, evolving with the intention to serve always serve their communities.  It’s a place where people can come together.  Having spent 7 years teaching children and being a part of wonderful programs that help with the growth of children (like sports i.e., wrestling and baseball, afterschool programs or extended school years.)  I’m excited to see how libraries are serving their communities and celebrating those accomplishments.  I’m looking forward to seeing different libraries and their service to their communities as well as how music effects/affects the lives of people across this country and engage within the craft.

Music has been a catalyst that has shown me humility and the beauty in learning.  Libraries are pillars that help communities to learn and grow.  I can’t wait to get a chance to share in this beauty of learning with you all!

Stay Tuned:

-Middletown Township Public Library

                Celebrating 100 Years

                Resource for virtual learning through pandemic

 The Prose of a Travelling Man

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SMART Trek: An American Library Tour

A celebration of American Libraries & Culture during the Pandemic

Over the past 20 years, public libraries have adapted their programs and services to become community hubs. As an active contributor in the Public Library sector, Comprise is committed to advancing the cause of “Library as Community”. In keeping with our commitment, we are pleased to participate in supporting the “SMART Trek”, a cross country journey by teacher/blogger Brendan Coulson to highlight some of the ways libraries play a role in the culture of their communities.

Follow Brendan’s journey on our website & our social media accounts.

Click here to read our blog.

About your tour guide: Brendan Coulson is an educator taking a year to travel America to discover and chronicle local culture, with a particular interest in how that culture is expressed through regional music and community events.

Will you join us as we give voice to this journey and read about libraries like yours?!