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Features (Places)

You can get (most) anything you want — even a good book

If the medium is the message, then there’s more to be learned from Calvert Library’s huge festival of local authors than you’ll read in this week’s feature story, The Writers Next Door.
    Your neighbor may have written just the one for you, I say, introducing 33 authors and their latest (or favorite) books. These are quick introductions, the literary equivalent of speed dating, with a life compressed into one sentence and a plot into another. At the May 31 festival, you’ll meet even more authors from 9:30 am to 4pm.
    All that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    The submerged message is that Calvert County’s ­public library system is ambitious in a big way to be a place where people connect with ideas and each other.
    You see it in the Prince Frederick library building, built in 2006 to change the way people use their libraries. Twenty-first century libraries will trend that way, using architecture and location to draw people in and interior design to make them feel comfortable, welcome and ready to stay a while.
    Libraries of the future will be community centers — with the visual appeal of bookstores — according to Anne Arundel Public Library director Skip Auld, who’s thinking toward a new Annapolis Public Library that will be state-of-the-art.
    Sending the message that your library is the center of your community is more than putting it in a place people are likely to go. It’s more than a light-filled building with maritime and local allusions, human-sized spaces and comfortable chairs.
    The medium of that message has to be that here, as in Alice’s Restaurant of Arlo Guthrie’s song, you can get anything you want.
    That’s just about true of our 19 libraries, in Anne Arundel as well as in Calvert.
    They’re open when you want to go. This year, Anne Arundel libraries regained the county funding to open every branch from 9am to 9pm four days a week, and until 5pm Fridays and Saturdays, with some Sunday hours in regional centers. Calvert’s libraries have always opened 9am to 9pm four days, with shorter hours Friday (noon-5pm) and Saturday (9am-5pm).
    Along with longer hours, the Anne Arundel library system added 31 new staffers.
    Many of Anne Arundel’s new service are devoted to kids. The libraries’ Early Literacy Initiative runs 144 programs a year for infants through five-year-olds, as well as reaching out to schools and Head Start centers.
    Bay Weekly’s Kids Time at the Libraries lists as many as 50 kids programs each week. Of course kids programs involve grown-ups as well, and often stuffed animals.
    That’s another part of the message: programs for people of all ages. Stories, songs, fingerplays and stuffed-animal sleepovers for kiddies … Legos, homework help and tutors on call for kids … pizza parties and games, both board and electronic, for teens … and for all ages, computers, shelves and shelves of books in print (large and small) and on recording, collections of databases, movies, music and games — and all for free.

Jump right in at Calvert Marine Museum

Visit Calvert Marine Museum starting October 11 and you’ll see all the way from the heights of the sky to the sheltering shallows to the dark depths. You’ll see life beneath the surface. You’ll see octopoid special effects that outsmart CGI animation, part of the ordinary antics of 150 species in the greater Chesapeake community.
    What you won’t see is how this miracle of 21st century estuarine immersion came to be.
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Bayside History Museum

Museums like the Smithsonians we visit in Washington show us the wonders of the world. Little community museums tell us our own stories excavated from the sands of time.
    In North Beach, the Bayside History Museum takes threads of families, activities, and places over the last 130 years and presents them in a wonderful quilt of fun, tradition and culture.
    The story spins out of the place it’s rooted.

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Annapolis Maritime Museum fits big stuff in little package

Like the Little Engine that Could, the Annapolis Maritime Museum has to do everything its bigger counterparts do, just in a smaller package.
    Measured by how many people it touches each year, the little museum grows in stature, with 10,000 tourists visiting in a year plus 5,000 locals stopping by for visits and events and 3,000 students coming for education programs.
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Unearthing a forgotten past

At Serenity Farm in Benedict, you’ll find 100 acres devoted to Farming 4 Hunger (see this week’s feature story). It’s also a place for farm tours and events, hayrides and petting zoo, shearing sheep and tobacco barns.
    Maryland’s history is rooted there, too.
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The closest you can get to World War II

A legendary World War II-era B-17 Flying Fortress takes to the skies this weekend.
    “This is the closest thing you can get to the battlefield experience,” said Bob Hill, chief Liberty Foundation pilot.
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On and in the waters of the Patuxent

Old barns dripping with honeysuckle and trumpet vines, owlets in cobwebbed rafters, fishermen’s shacks on piers glistening with old fish scales, swallows’ nests glued beneath the splintery planks, pilings where ospreys build their messy nests like ornithological games of pick-up-sticks, duck blinds where wild ducks nest …
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Visiting friends and family gets you go-go-going

I lived on the verge of our nation’s capital my whole life until I moved to Vermont to go to college. Only when a friend from Sweden came home with me for spring break did I understand the treasure I’d taken for granted.
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One good trip recommends another

Scene: Living Room

Mackenzie: Mom! What are we going to do for vacation this year?

Heather: I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far. Any ideas?

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Sweeten your travels with smart fun

Did you know that the blue crab’s Latin name is Callinectes Sapidus, meaning beautiful savory swimmer? Maryland Bay Game, released by Department of Natural Resources to add smart fun to your home-state travels, is full of fun facts like this plus nature-related games.
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