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The opportunities and resources available at public libraries in Southern Maryland go beyond books these days.

While a visitor to any of the area’s public library branches will still find thousands of volumes, they will also find programs, activities, concerts, art galleries and more.

Robyn Truslow, public relations coordinator for the Calvert library system, said the reason the libraries offer so much outside the world of print is that “one of the library’s roles is to be a community builder.”

She said the library system tries to meet the community’s needs via lifelong learning.

Some programs available at the library systems in Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties include workshops and programs based on topics such as learning to use computers and computer programs.

There are also job resources available in all three counties. For example, a volunteer comes into the Calvert libraries to assist with resume writing and job search techniques.

St. Mary’s libraries have job centers with related resources.

Emily Ferren, director of the Charles County Public Library, said the libraries are places that offer opportunities for lifelong learning and that “lifelong learning is not just print.”

She said not everyone is enrolled in school and not everyone is affiliated with a college, “but everyone can get a library card and use the [library’s] services.”

Children benefit from many of the services through story times, special programs and opportunities such as 500 by 5, a program that began in Calvert, spread to all three counties and encourages children to read 500 books by age 5. This can include the same book. Marilyn Lash, publicity specialist for the St. Mary’s Public Library indicated that many children have a favorite. If the child reads it 10 times, it counts as reading 10 books.

Lash said some examples of other children’s programs in St. Mary’s include Lego and science programs.

The programs are aimed at helping children not only with their development skills but also to foster a love of reading.

Not every service available is to expand knowledge. Some are simply for entertainment.

Those interested in board games can take advantage of Brain Games on Saturdays in Calvert, where folks come in for games such as Mahjong.

Calvert and Charles counties have concert series at their branches. Local artists come in to showcase their talents.

St. Mary’s offers poetry readings and open mic nights.

Ferren said the Charles County branches also showcase local artists with art galleries at their branches.

Movies also are a big hit at libraries, and many of the branches offer movie nights.

In January, Charles County branches will begin showing award-winning romantic comedies.

Along with movies on special nights, Calvert County has a program called Schemes and Skeins where those interested come in to crochet while watching episodes of “Downton Abbey,” a popular PBS program.

Lash said the importance of offering such a variety of programming and activities is that “libraries are the hub of the community.”

All three counties offer e-books through Maryland’s E-Library Consortium.

Branches have e-readers available for in-house reading or checkout, depending on the branch.

Lash said that while one cannot check out an e-reader from a St. Mary’s library, they are available in the library and staff is on hand to instruct an e-reader on the relatively new technology.

All three county library spokeswomen said e-readers were a big hit over the holidays, and many people are coming into libraries with questions.

Each branch offers outreach programs where library staff go out and essentially bring the library and many programs to day care centers, schools and places where individuals may not be able to get to their local library.

Because the library is a place for lifelong learning opportunities, Ferren said library staff does its best to respond to customer requests.

Upcoming programs at Charles County libraries

On Jan. 14 and 28, at 9:30 and 10:15 a.m., Raising Readers Preschool Story Time at P.D. Brown library, 50 Village St., Waldorf. The activity will promote language development and pre-literacy through stories, music and hands-on activities for children younger than 3. Siblings are welcome. Parents/caregivers stay and participate in the group. The group will focus on building attention span and increasing language development. No registration required.

On Jan. 14 and 28, at 9:30 a.m., Bouncing Babies Story Time at Waldorf West library, 10450 O’Donnell Place, Waldorf. The story time will introduce a love for books, songs, movement and activities. It is designed for children up to 24 months and their parents. It is a 20-minute program and is limited to 25 babies.

On Jan. 17, 24 and 31, at 10 and 11 a.m., story times at the La Plata Library, 2 Garrett Ave., La Plata. Learning and fun for children ages 2-5.

If your New Year’s resolution is to save money, eliminate debt and/or improve your financial health, try a financial planning class. The library will offer a class at 10 a.m. Jan. 12 at the Potomac branch, 3225 Ruth B. Swann Drive, Indian Head and at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at the La Plata library.

On Jan. 31, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the P.D. Brown branch, Richard Ramos will cover basic budgeting.

On Jan. 12, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., members of the Archie Edwards Blue Heritage Foundation will perform a blues concert at the La Plata library. Archie Edwards was a Washington, D.C., bluesman and barber known for performing country or Piedmont blues. He had regular Saturday afternoon jam sessions at his barbershop in northeast Washington, D.C. The concert will feature country, delta and Chicago blues. Performers will explain the composition and history of the blues and share stories of the old local bluesmen. A “barbershop”-style jam session will follow the concert. Musicians welcome.

For more information, call the La Plata library at 301-934-9001, P.D. Brown library at 301-645-2864 or 301-843-7688, Potomac library at 301-375-7375, and Waldorf West library at 301-645-1395.

Upcoming events at St. Mary’s County libraries

Artwork of Candy Cummings is on display at the Lexington Park Library Art Gallery through Feb. 28. Cummings will display artwork that chronicles her very early years through the present and represent her numerous “collections.” Artists interested in displaying artwork should contact Candy Cummings at 301-863-6693. Library is at 21677 FDR Blvd., Lexington Park.

Use your Kindle Fire to check out eBooks 9 to 10 a.m. Jan. 12 at the Leonardtown library, 23250 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown. Adults will learn to download eBooks from the library’s collection onto their Kindle Fires. No registration required.

Introduction to the Nook will be 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 14 at Charlotte Hall Library, 37600 New Market Road, Charlotte Hall. Adults will learn how to use a Nook and download books from the library’s collection. Free. Registration required.

Book discussion at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Lexington Park library. “The Better Angel: Walt Whitman in the Civil War” by Roy Morris Jr. will be the topic. The book is the account of Whitman’s transformative Civil War years and an examination of the Union’s treatment of its sick and wounded through the eyes of the poet.

Introduction to PowerPoint 2010 will be 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Leonardtown library. Adults will learn the basics of creating multimedia presentations. Must be able to use a mouse. Free. Registration required.

LEGO FunFriday Jan. 18 at the Charlotte Hall branch; 10 to 11 a.m. for ages 3-6; 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. for ages 6 and older.

For more information, call the Leonardtown library at 301-475-2846, the Charlotte Hall library at 301-884-2211 or the Lexington Park library at 301-863-8188.

Upcoming events at Calvert County libraries

On Feb. 6, join the Prince Frederick library as it presents a romantic drama based on Audrey Niffenegger’s novel “The Time Traveler’s Wife.” It is the story of a Chicago librarian who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him to time travel involuntarily. Despite this complication, he tries to build a stable future with the beautiful young woman he loves.

Lights go down at 6 p.m., and the film will be followed by a discussion ending by 8:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Call Robyn Truslow at 410-535-0291 or 301-855-1862. The library is at 850 Costley Way, Prince Frederick.

Register and drop off a stuffed animal to Teddy Bear Camp Calvert at the Prince Frederick library 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 4-6. Then, from noon-2 p.m. Feb. 9, bring a picnic lunch and return to the library to pick up your stuffed animal, watch the overnight exploits of the “campers” on a big screen, read stories, play games and make s’mores. Call 410-535-0291.

Are you looking for a low-key but special night out?[CR] Do you love your library?[CR] Friends of Calvert Library is hosting the annual Books & Bubbly party 7 to 9[CR] p.m. [CR]Jan. 18 at Prince Frederick library.[CR]There will be live entertainment in the form of author Christine Trent and music by the All Saints House Band. Trent will be giving participants a sneak peak of her book that will be coming out Feb. 26, “Lady of Ashes,” about a female Victorian undertaker being pursued by a crazed killer.[CR]Trent has a series of books all based on strong female characters in unusual professions.[CR] All Saints House Band will provide music to dance to and there will opportunity to mingle with library supporters.[CR]Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at any Calvert library location. Call 410- 535-0291 or 301-855-1862.

For more information, go to or call the central branch at 410-535-0291 or 301-855-1862, the Fairview branch at 410-257-2101, the Twin Beaches branch at 410-257-2411, or the Southern branch at 410-326-5289.