Bicentennial Highlights!

A photo of Bicentennial Art Contest winner Rebecca Mueller's drawing held in front of the Friends of the Library bears.

In 2020 we turned 200! Although our year-long birthday bash didn’t go exactly as planned, we still have many achievements to celebrate. 

Bicentennial Staff Picks

To kick off our birthday celebration, we shared some of our personal favorite books. We solicited recommendations from staff working in all areas of the Library and came up with 200 of them! Though our interests are diverse, the list reflects our shared love of reading. Some staff members highlighted beloved books from their childhood, while others chose books that shaped their adult lives. From classics to comics, memoirs to picture books, there’s something for everyone on this list! 

Bicentennial Art Contest 

In early 2020 we invited you to submit original artwork with the theme “Imagine Monroe County Public Library in the Year 2220” to our bicentennial art contest! Winners were crowned from four age categories; Éowyn Eve Legler (6 and under), Quincy Morwick (7–11), Hina Zulkoaski (12–19), and Rebecca Mueller (20 and up). The winning pieces were so fun and creative! They were featured on bicentennial bookmarks and distributed throughout the year.

Bicentennial Book Bracket

Adult, teen, and childrens books faced off in our March showdown! Our Bicentennial Book Bracket was stacked with classic and new titles. Over 4,000 votes were cast on the road to choosing a winner. The final four featured heavy-hitters––Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone vs. To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women v.s The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. No upsets here, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone took down Little Women to take the championship!

Bicentennial Gifts 

Founded in 1965, the Friends of the Monroe County Public Library Foundation, Inc. has provided crucial support to our programs, collections, and resources for over fifty years. In honor of our birthday, the Friends produced two special gifts, a bicentennial mug and bicentennial ornament. Show your library love by shopping the virtual bookstore for either item––you can even pick up your purchase during curbside hours!

Bicentennial Birthday Song

How many years? 200! We dare you to listen to our Bicentennial Birthday Song and not sing along! Since 200 years is a pretty big deal, we thought a personalized birthday song was the perfect way to commemorate the achievement. The song lyrics, recording, and music video were a library-wide collaborative project, with multiple staff members contributing lyrics and participating in recording and filming.

Bicentennial History

In preparation for our big 2-0-0, we did some research into our history! Check out our timelines for the Main Library and Ellettsville Branch Library to learn some fun MCPL trivia. In 1830, our one-room Library housed 800 books and served around thirty families. We’ve come a long way! You can also read more about our 200th year in Bloom Magazine! In 2021, we look forward to building on this rich history as we plan for our new Southwest Branch Library

D&D Library Talk: An MCPL Podcast

D&D Library Talk MCPL

D&D Library Talk is our new podcast on the ins and outs of RPG systems, like Dungeons and Dragons! We talk about how to make sure everyone enjoys the game, whether as a player or game master.

The podcast features Teen Librarian Sam Ott, Senior Information Assistant Laura Wise, and library volunteer and game designer Scott Murray. It is edited and with music by Andrew Slater. 



  • Episode one: Learn group dynamics and how to create a session 0 so everyone can have their expectations met
  • Episode two: Learn about world building and how to create a campaign without burning out
  • Episode three: Learn about combat and encounters in RPGs and strategies for structuring them
  • Episode four: Learn about how RPGs function, some of the terminology and game mechanics, and the nuts and bolts of playing these games


Resources from Episodes


Staff Pick: The Camping Trip

In this picture book, a Black family explores the wonders and challenges of camping! Ernestine lives with her single dad in the city. When her aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha invite her to go camping with them she eagerly accepts. With dad's help, Ernestine gathers and packs all the essentials needed for an outdoor adventure. She imagines what camping will be like and can't wait!

But we all know that things don't always turn out the way we imagine... like the difficulty in putting up a tent, or that swimming in a lake - and not at the YMCA pool means - fish!

Ernestine tackles these new challenges with grace, and shows us that adventure and nature are for everyone willing to keep an open mind. Graphic novel style panels and the occasional word bubble pair perfectly with pencil collage illustrations. This is a slice of life story with a positive representation of a Black family, and a realistic and relatable main character. It is a great how-to book for first time campers! Recommended for ages 3-7.

Reviewed by Claire C., Senior Information Assistant

The Coiled Crown: A Fantasy-Themed Digital Escape Room

The Coiled Crown

Journey into a ruined fantasy world in search of an ancient queen's crown. Inspired by games like Dark Souls, Mortal Shell, and Metroid, you'll need to unearth the forgotten lore of haunted places like the Netherworld Forest, Scorched Keep, and Lost Catacombs in order to solve the adventure's puzzles.

You can attempt this escape room by yourself or as a group. Make sure to read the instructions on the first page of the escape room since it explains how the game is set up. This escape room is intended for teens, but adults can test out their mettle too! Good luck!

Created for the Library by Sersa Victory.


Start your adventure



Light-Up Winter Card: A Take & Make Teen Program

Follow along to learn how to make a light-up winter card! Watch the video then use the step-by-step instructions listed below for additional guidance in creating your card! This project uses supplies included in our Light-Up Winter Card: A Take & Make Teen program. If you weren't able to snag a kit you can still create a card, you'll just need the supplies listed below!

Supplies included in the Take & Make Teen kit:

  • Pre printed Cardstock paper Circuit Template
  • 2032 3v Coin Cell Battery
  • About 2-3’ Conductive Copper Tape
  • 4 LEDs
  • A Piece of transparency  
  • Assorted Cardstock Shapes
  • And the Paperclip that attached the bag to the template


Additional supplies needed:

  • Clear Tape
  • Scissors
  • A sharp knife
  • Permanent Marker
  • Drawing Materials, etc.


Step 1: Test the LEDs

If you look at the LEDs you’ll notice that it looks like a little bulb with two wires, also known as leads, emerging from it. One of the wires is longer than the other. The longer of the two leads is known as the anode or positive lead. The shorter of the two is called the cathode or negative lead. Electricity only can flow in one direction through this part, from the anode to the cathode or from positive to negative. We call components which work only in one direction “polarized”

The battery is also polarized. On the top of the coin cell battery, you should see a + sign. This is the positive side of the battery. The negative side is not marked.

We can create a simple circuit and test our LEDs in the process by connecting the + side of the LED to the + side of the battery, and the - side of the LED to the - side of the battery. The easiest way to do this is to take your battery and insert it between the two leeds of the LED, with the longer leed on the top part of the battery and the shorter on the rough underside. It should light up! If it doesn’t try flipping the LED around and reinserting the battery. Do this for all of your LEDs. Experiment, try putting more than one LED on? What happens?


Step 2: Create Your Paper Circuit

Included in this kit is a couple of feet of conductive copper tape. Conductive means in this case that you can use it to transmit electricity. We are going to create a circuit to provide power to light up our LEDs to use them as decoration for a fun, light-up wintery card.

We’re going to take out tape and stick it to the cardstock, following the pattern laid out here. This pattern is just like the ones used in conventional circuits, just a lot bigger, and we call these copper patterns traces. Our circuit consists of two traces, one of them leading from the positive side of the battery to the positive sides of our LED, and the other from the negative side of our battery to the negative side of the LEDs.

It is important that these traces never touch. If they do, this will cause a short circuit, and drain the battery prematurely. In general, it's better to use one strip of copper tape per a trace if you can, removing the backing as you go and sticking it down and folding it to get around corners. Many smaller strips may look neater, but can cause failures in the circuit if they are not joined properly and usually are not worth it.

After you’ve got your traces laid down, fold up the bottom corner of the card along the dotted line. Place the battery on the dotted circle with the + side facing up. Tape just the edges of the battery down, if you cover it in tape it will not work. Now when you press down on the folded  over portion, electricity can flow through your circuit.

Take one of your LEDs, and splay out the two leads in opposite directions, making sure that you remember which one was longer. I often find it helpful to add a small mark onto this lead with a permanent marker.

I like to be able to test my LEDs as I go to make sure I put them on the right way, so I use the paper clip to hold down the flap to the battery so that the circuit is always on. Make sure you have a good connection, and that the copper tape is being securely held to the battery.

Now take your LED and hold it across the two traces you have just made, with the longer of the two leads on the + trace and the shorter on the - trace. Hold it to the traces with your fingers, don’t worry, the amount of electricity that the battery can put out will not harm you when used like this. Press down on the battery flap, does the LED light up? If not, try flipping the LED around.

If it doesn’t work, check your traces, are they touching anywhere? Are they broken? Is the negative trace go underneath the battery? Does the positive trace touch the battery and not the tape holding the battery down? Is the battery flap securely held by the paper clip? Carefully inspect your circuit, and if trouble still persists, remove and test out the battery again with another LED.

Once you have your LED lighting up, consider using the paperclip to keep your circuit live while constructing the rest of the circuit. That way if there is a problem, you’ll know right away.

Ok, so now we’re going to attach the LEDs to the traces at the locations indicated on the template using the remaining copper tape.

I find that it works best to have the leads cross the copper trace and then to tape each of the LED’s leads to the traces with a small pieces of copper tape. I then use clear tape to secure the whole thing to the card.

Once you have your first LED in place, repeat the process of taping each of your LED’s leads to the appropriate trace, either positive for the longer leg, or negative for the shorter leg, making sure that they each light up.

Congratulations, you’re done with the electronics portion of this craft!


Step 3: Decorate!

Now for the creative part, You can decorate this card however you want, but we’ve included some supplies to make a card with a neat popup, backlit effect.  The first thing we need to do is to cut out these areas so that the LEDs can protrude from the front of the card. Start by folding the card in half on the dotted line.

Use your knife or another sharp implement to poke holes in the top part of the card so that the LEDs can protrude from the front of the card. Fold the card over to make sure the LEDs do poke out of these holes.

In the kit there will be several precut shapes, either snowflakes or trees or circles (ornaments). We’re going to raise them a bit above the LEDs, by making som pop-up supports out of the strip of clear acetate in your kit.

We will be making these strips in pairs, to evenly support the cut out shape. To make them the same length, fold the acetate strip in half and cut them both at the same time. I made most of mine about ¾” of an inch long, but feel free to improvise.

You are going to want to fold these into pairs of ‘z’ shapes. I did this by first folding them in half and then folding one side in half again the opposite direction. You then want to apply a bit of tape to them so that you can stick one side of them to the back of the shape, and the other to the card. I found it helpful to put both pieces of tape on at the same time,  Take your cardstock shape and stick it down to the card, covering one or more of the LEDs. When you turn the LEDs on, you should see a neat, backlit effect!

Do this for all of the shapes, overlapping them as you please. I added some other elements after I got my shapes on there, so feel free to get creative!

Example of the final light-up cards. One has snowflakes while the other is a snowman with a pine treen.

Now you’ve made yourself a fun, light up wintery card! Congratulations on your paper circuit!

Did you like this craft? Be sure and show us what you made. We’re on Instagram or join our new teen Discord and share it with us there! Thanks!


Get to Know Your Family!

Get To Know Your Family!

For many of us, connecting with friends and family has been especially challenging this year. If you’re unable to spend time with loved ones in person this holiday season, here are some tools to help you connect with them online! 

To access these resources you’ll need your library card number and password. If you’re not sure where to find that information, visit our eLibrary access guide to get started.


Discover your family’s story with Their 3,000+ databases hold billions of census records, immigration passenger lists, military records, and more that will help you piece together your family tree! Archived birth certificates and yearbook photos help you to connect and understand your family history. Through March 2021, Ancestry is temporarily accessible from anywhere with your library card number and password!

Newspaper Archive

Learn about the events that shaped your ancestors’ lives. Newspaper Archive covers Indiana history from 1800–2017 and its easy-to-use search interface makes it an invaluable tool for genealogy and family research. This resource can be especially helpful in uncovering obituaries and events involving ancestors. Use your findings as a springboard to contact relatives and ask them what they remember, then preserve their stories for future generations.

Access World News

This powerful database offers more than 665 million current and archived articles spanning more than three decades that can be searched, browsed, printed, emailed and even cited from over 10,000 news sources around the world. The database includes unique and trusted sources you won’t find anywhere else!

Reference Solutions

Did you discover new family members during your research? Lost touch with a loved one and want to reconnect? Reference Solutions can help you find their contact information! The resource gathers data from voter registration files, utility connects, real estate assessments and more to build a database which includes 89 million U.S. households. Reference Solutions is continuously updated to offer the most current and accurate information possible.

These four resources will keep you busy for a while, but they’re just the beginning! Dig even deeper with the databases in our local and family history eLibrary. Share your findings on social media and tag us @mcplindiana on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

November Teen Social Roundup

November Teen Social Roundup

Did you know that the Library has an Instagram account JUST for teens? We post fun things like craft ideas and book recommendations along with announcements for special programs. Here is a round up of some of the topics and events we posted in November, if you like what you see, give us a follow at so you do not miss out!


Comics and Cookies

Comics and Cookies, our virtual graphic novel book club, resumed this month. We read and discussed This Place: 150 Years Retold, an anthology of stories by Indigenious authors.

In December we will be reading and discussing Sleepless Vol. 1 by Sarah Vaughn, you can access a copy instantly on Hoopla!

a drawing of two librarians in front of the cover of the book This Place


We Need Diverse Books

We highlighted some new November YA books to keep an eye out for by Asian, Black, and Hispanic authors:

An Image titled New November YA Books by Asian Authors with the covers of The Ever Cruel Kingdom, The Surprising POwer of a Good Dumpling, These Violent Delights, Super Fake Love Song, White Ivy, and Tent a Boyfriend on it.
An Image titled New November YA Books by Black Authors with the cover of Rebel Sisters on it.
An Image titled New November YA Books by Latinx Authors with the covers of A cuban Girls Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, Tales of the Feathered Serpent, and Here the Whole Time on it.

Staff Mini Reviews

Looking for a good book to read? Here are two recommendations from our teen staff!

An Image titled Mini Book Review Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger with a picture of Lizzy given the book 4 stars and saying An adventurous, supernatural murder myster that is steeped in Lipan Apache culture. I love this reimagined world where all types of monsters are real and ghost dogs are your best friends!
An Image titled Mini Book Review This Place:150 Years Retold with a picture of Macklin giving the book 4 stars and saying This anthology of graphic short stories cover the last 150 years of Candian history from an Indigenous perspective. It contains psychic battles, space travels, and rebellion against unjust authority.

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, here are some of our favorites! If you’d like to see a full list of books by Native American authors, check out our Stories by and About Indigenous Peoples book list here.

An Image titled Native American Heritage Month Reads with the covers of Elatsoe, This Place, Hearts Unbroken, In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse, The Marrow Thieves, Strangers, Love beyond Body, Space, and Time, and Give me Some Truth on it.

Transgender Awareness Week

Each year between November 13 – 19, people and organizations around the country participate in Transgender Awareness Week to help raise the visibility about transgender people and address issues members of the community face. This all leads up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. To learn more, go to

Here are some of our favorite books with trans characters!

An Image titled Transgender Awareness Week with the covers of Pet, Felix Ever After, Cemetery Boys, When the Moon was Ours, Gender Queer, The deep & Dark BLue, All OUt, and The Spire on it.

Want to join in the fun on our Discord server? Anyone aged 13-19 who lives in Monroe County can sign up for Discord here.

Staff Picks: Go with the Flow

What’s worse than being bullied the first week at your new school? Getting period on your white pants!

Thankfully, new sophomore Sasha Chen is whisked away by three friends, Brit, Abby, and Christine, who help Sasha and welcome her to their friend group. United over friendship and periods, the girls tackle the problem of the feminine product vending machines constantly being empty by appealing to the administration to keep the machines restocked or, even better, provide period products for free. Will the friends succeed on their mission?

Go with the Flow is the perfect book to demystify menstruation – it educates readers about various issues surrounding menstruation helping to break down common feelings of shame surrounding this natural part of life. Go with the Flow also provides facts about periods, a period history, and other resources for readers. It is a great book for fans of graphic novels like Shannon Hale’s Real Friends and Svetlana Chmakova’s Berrybrook Middle School series, or Kim Harrington’s novel Revenge of the Red Club. Appropriate for ages 9+

Reviewed by Kim B.

Health Insurance Marketplace Assistance with ASPIN

person using a computer

Open enrollment for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace is available now through December 15, 2020 for coverage beginning January 1.

Affiliated Service Providers of Indiana (ASPIN) uses certified Navigators who are dually trained as Community Health Workers (CHWs) to help consumers and families with the following from anywhere in the state using secure and convenient technology:

  • Enrolling and re-enrolling individuals in Federal Marketplace plans, Medicaid, Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), and Children's Health Insurance (CHIP)
  • Assisting in updating insurance profiles
  • Assisting enrollees with questions about health plan coverage
  • Providing education on utilizing health insurance benefits
  • Conducting public education and outreach activities through Zoom or Skype to raise awareness about health insurance

ASPIN navigators are working from home but you can set up an appointment by calling toll-free 877-313-7215 or visiting their website. All services are free of charge. Check out the video to get answers to frequently asked questions and to learn more about ASPIN.

The ASPIN Health Navigator Project is supported by Funding Opportunity Number CA-NAV-19-002 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Race to the Sun

Nizhoni Begay is a young Navajo girl. Her mom left their family when she was just a toddler, leaving Nizhoni, her dad, and her younger brother Mac on their own. Though she has aspirations to become famous and make something of herself, Nizhoni considers herself to be a pretty standard kid—until she begins to see monsters, that is. Things become more dire when Nizhoni sees her dad's new boss for what he truly is—a monster. When her dad disappears suddenly, she, her best friend Davery, and brother Mac must make a run for it. Through their journey to recover their father, Nizhoni and Mac discover their true identity as Monster Slayers.

This middle grade fantasy novel centers on the Navajo legends of the Hero Twins, bringing in legendary cultural characters such as Spider Woman and Rock Crystal Boy. It's a much needed representation of Navajo and first nation stories and culture; however, adapting the cultural information into a fantasy narrative presents a large creative license taken by the author. Ultimately, it finds its value as a spin off variant of some of the traditional legends, not necessarily a firm example of the true legends. The fast pace, adventure, humor, and snark are sure to please fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series or Robert Beatty's Serafina series. Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed by Ginny H.