DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Dec 7 2017

The Season Of Giving

by Camille B

Wrapped Gifts 4

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and with it comes that good old feeling of Christmas cheer. We’re all in great spirits as we walk through the malls shopping. Our favorite holiday music filtering through the airwaves as we decorate our houses and Christmas trees or spend time cooking and baking with family and friends.

This is also the time of year when people seem to be even more generous with their giving, wanting to spread that good cheer to those around them by giving to charities, churches or food banks across the country.

While folks may be eager to dig deeper into their pockets during the holiday season, they can also be a little weary of those fake charities that pop up quite frequently from year to year, leaving many good Samaritans completely hoodwinked. And believe me, no one wants to be swindled out of their hard earned cash, especially while trying to do a good deed for someone else. They want to know that their generous donations are going to the right places and into the hands of the right people. People want to know their donations are being used for the purposes they were intended.

Fortunately, there are still many legitimate organizations out there that you can depend on to have your contributions make a difference in someone else’s life this Christmas; whether it be a child or another family who find themselves in less fortunate circumstances this year.

Some of them you’re probably already familiar with since they’ve been doing charitable work for years, and you’ve more than likely used them in the past. But if perchance there’s an organization out there that you’re not quite familiar with and need a bit of assurance about their work, you can always check first with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance at give.org to see if it’s a reputable one, before making your donations. Below are a few examples: 

Walmart Fill The Truck Toy Drive- this year will be Walmart’s fourth annual Fill the Truck Toy Drive. In partnership with The imagesSalvation Army, they collect hundreds of thousands of toys for children in need. Shoppers visiting participating Walmart stores on select weekends from November 27 through December 13, will have the opportunity to drop off new, unwrapped toys and coats for children who take part in The Salvation Army programs year-round. Lists of suggested gifts for local children will be provided to shoppers at participating Walmart locations. Once the truck or bin is full of donations, the Salvation Army will distribute the gifts to families in need. Find a Walmart near you at by visiting  http://www.walmart.com/store/finder.

toys for tots 2Toys for Tots Foundation-  the aim of Tots for Tots is to help kids throughout the United States who are less fortunate experience the joy of Christmas, by partnering with businesses such as Hallmark, Toys R Us and The Walt Disney Company. Their mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December of each year and distribute them as Christmas gifts to the less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. So you can purchase a new toy now and take it (unwrapped) to a Toys-for Tots drop off location. For more information visit  www.toysfortots.org

Clark’s Christmas Kids- every Christmas, Clark Howard and News/Talk WSB join with the Georgia Department clarkschristmaskids2017of Family and Children’s Services to provide gifts for the foster kids all across Georgia. This is their 27th year collecting toys and gifts. You can participate by donating online or visiting locations hosting this year’s toy drive. Clark Howard will be onsite at these locations. Click here on the link for a list of them www.clark.com

 

ChildOperation Christmas Child-  is part of the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief organization. It provides opportunities for giving abroad and providing gifts for children in Tanzania. The National Collection Week has passed, but it’s not too late to pack a box for the Operation Shoe Box program. Shoe box gifts collected in the United States in 2017 will be delivered to 114,240 children in Tanzania.

Just find a regular size shoe box, decide if you want to donate your gift to a boy or girl and choose the age category. Then select a medium to large “wow” item like a soccer ball with a pump or a stuffed animal, and complete it by filling it with other toys, hygiene items and school supplies. Click here to get an idea of some of the items you can include. If you don’t have time to shop for and pack an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift, with a few clicks of your mouse or swipes on your touchscreen, you can build one online. Make it your own by choosing from a list of gifts, then add a personal letter and photo. Your shoe box will be sent for you for a suggested donation of just $25.  www.samaritanspurse.org

The Empty Stocking Fund- the Empty Stocking Fund purchases brand new items for kids of different ages up to the age of 12 years old. The parents and guardians of these kids are invited to visit Santa’s Village and select gifts for their children. The organization is in great need of, not just monetary gifts, but also support from volunteers and sponsors to keep it going. If you are interested in supporting this Fund you can make your contribution here  www.emptystockingfund.org          Baby

The Christmas Spirit Foundation’s mission is to advance the Christmas Spirit for kids, families and the environment through programs and activities is a charitable organization. They work to recognize and support the true meaning of Christmas for U.S. troops and military families through the Trees for Troops program. This year, support Trees for Troops by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Christmas Spirit Foundation (some employers would match your donations), or by purchasing a collectible Trees for Troops teddy bear from their online store.                                            For more information visit www.christmasspiritfoundation.org

Remember, there are many kids and families out there whose Christmases would not be as merry and bright without our generous contributions. Even if this year might be a financially binding one for you as well, you can always give of yourself and your time. Many of these organizations function mainly with the help of volunteers and sponsors, so find out how you can lend a helping hand.

Get your kids, grand kids or nieces and nephews involved too., They can experience the side of Christmas that’s not just about getting presents on Christmas morning but also about giving to someone else who is not as fortunate as they are.

christmas-bells-with-holly-md

 

 

Blessings!

 

 

Books at DCPL about Giving: 

Book

 

 

Giving, the sacred art: creating a lifestyle of generosity– Lauren Tyler Wright

Book 2

 

 

Give a little: how your small donations can transform our world– Wendy Smith

 

 

Book 3

The Power of giving: how giving back enriches us all– Azim Jamal

 

Book 4

In a Heartbeat; sharing the power of cheerful giving– Leigh Anne Tuohy

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Nov 17 2017

The Power Of Thanks

by Camille B

Thank you cardHave you ever gotten an unexpected thank you that came out of nowhere and from the unlikeliest of persons? It gives you a good feeling doesn’t it?

If you were “raised right” then you know the importance of a thank you. You grew up practicing good manners and used your thank yous at all the appropriate times: after receiving a gift or compliment, when someone lets you cut in front of them at the grocery store, even when you hear the words bless you after you sneeze.

But even though these are great instances to use them, they are also expected by the other person and can sometimes seem almost mechanical. A totally random thank you can be a truly genuine surprise for someone and make their day just a little more meaningful.

According to an article in Psych Central, saying thank you is more than just good manners, it can improve physical health, strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.

As we approach the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I encourage you to purposely be on the look out for opportunities to drop a thank you into someone else’s life. I promise you won’t have to look very far. Even if it was a favor or kind gesture done a while back that you’ve been meaning to say thank you for but haven’t gotten around to yet, go ahead and do it already. These are just a few examples:

Call your parents. I know, you’re probably thinking well duh. But we’re not talking about for something obvious that they did like watching the kids so you could run to the store or helping to fix the brakes on your car, that’s a given. Call them up on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week, just to let them know how much you appreciate everything they do for you.

Scroll through the contact list of your phone and find those friends and family members you really appreciate, for whatever contribution they’ve made to your life, and send them a thank you text or email.

Say thank you to someone who went above and beyond their duty and didn’t think anybody had noticed. But you did.

Send a thank you to your child’s teacher who goes above and beyond, giving that extra for your child even when they don’t have to. Send him or her a handmade note of gratitude.

Service people. We often hear the saying, well it’s a thankless job, but somebody’s got to do it. A thanks goes a long way to remind people that what they do matters to someone else. The waitress, the mailman or UPS delivery guy, the barista at the Starbucks, the receptionist at the dentist’s office and yes, even the girl at the McDonald’s window who is frazzled by the line of cars around the building and forgot to put pickles on your McDouble.

The custodian at your workplace or church. Sometimes  we’re so used to having a clean, shiny workplace that we take it for granted and forget that somebody works diligently every day to keep it looking that way. Let them know how much you appreciate what they do to enable you to have a pleasant environment to work in.

Your best friend who always has your back. Call them up and thank them for putting up with you and all of your moods.

Your spouse who  also has your back and puts up with you and all of your moods. Let them know that the days aren’t always sunny ones but you’re glad that they’re in it and appreciate all that they do.

Your siblings, children,  grandparents, coworker, boss, pastor, priest, teacher, the list goes on and on. Yes, some  of them are paid to do the job they do, but it’s a service they provide for us that we cannot provide for ourselves. We can show we are grateful that they can.

Even if you’re not a person of many words or are awkward with conversation, you can still buy a card or make a nice thank you note (signed of course, you don’t want to freak people out). You can mail, hand deliver or leave it where the recipient can find it during the course of the day.

In the busyness of the Thanksgiving hustle and bustle, when people tend to be a little more stressed and harried with shopping, travel and meal preparations, let us remember now more than ever to say thank you to others so that they know just how much we value them and what they do for us.

Book Cover

 

 

Thank You Notes: 40 homemade ways to show you’re grateful– Jan Stephenson, Kelly & Amy Appleyard

 

 

Book 2

 

 

101 ways to say thank you: notes of gratitude for all occasions– Kelly Browne

 

 

 

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Oct 27 2017

Marsy’s Law For Georgia

by Camille B

M.Law

Tamiko Pugh had finally gathered enough strength and fortitude to walk out of the abusive relationship she was in; but when she tried to do so, her abuser informed her that he would rather kill them both than allow her to leave.

While they were driving on the interstate, he grabbed the steering wheel of the car they were in and caused them to have a wreck. Tamiko woke up disoriented and in a panic, lying in the middle of I-85 as cars whizzed past her.

She filed charges against him and he was jailed that day. She decided to use that time to file a restraining order against him, but as she walked into the courthouse that morning to do so she heard a familiar, chilling voice behind her saying, “Hello Beautiful.”

Unbeknownst to her, her abuser had been allowed to exercise his legal rights and was released on bond; no one called to give her any warning that he was out. In the months that followed, he violated his restraining order several times, harassing her and even physically attacking her at her workplace. (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog, Victims’ Stories)

                                                                                                  ******

Just days before her death, Bridgette Flowers estranged husband assaulted her at a Walmart store. Surveillance video caught him punching her twice in the face, leaving her unconscious and laying on the floor. He was booked that night into the Bibb County Jail and the next day released on a special conditions bond- the special condition being that he could not contact his victim. Bridgette had no idea she could have had him re-arrested when he called and harassed her over and over again. The advocate’s office later told a reporter that it takes at least 30 days to give notification of rights to a crime victim. Bridgette Flowers died on Day 8. While with her children in a minivan on that fateful day in 2014, her husband Jasento Flowers, walked up, stuck a gun in the window and shot her. (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog, Victims’ Stories)

I wish I could tell you that Tamiko and Bridgette’s cases are isolated ones, that stories like these are few and far between but the truth is that there are hundreds of victims throughout  the state of Georgia who are left every day feeling defenseless and at the mercy of their attackers and abusers as they attempt to navigate the legal process with no real backing.

The stories I read were shared by victims who felt like they had no voice while they waited for resolutions to cases that sometimes never came, and if they did, it would sometimes be after the fact and they never get a chance to be a part of the proceedings, to have an input, as was the case for Tammy Berryhil whose 19 year old daughter was killed by a distracted driver.

I called monthly to the Columbus DAs office asking for updates as to when the case would come to  trial…I was told that I would be given a call so I could be present and be a voice for my daughter. To my shock and dismay, one month when I called I was told that the case had already been to trial and was over. The accused was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and allowed to leave the state…my daughter’s voice was silenced. And by not being notified or being able to be present in court, I feel like her voice was silenced all over again.”

I find this totally unacceptable. Crime victims and their families are often times still grieving for their loved ones, or living in fear of their offenders even as they try get their lives back to some semblance of normalcy; to find relief, justice or closure; treating them like a number or statistic, would simply be adding insult to injury.

I believe they deserve to have rights that are recognized at the highest levels. Accused and convicted criminals have more than 20 individual rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. Crime victims have none, at least none that can be enforced, and as one person rightly said “Rights that are not enforceable are not really rights at all.” This is where Marsy’s Law comes in.

WHAT IS MARSY’S LAW?

Marsy’s Law was named in memory of Marsalee Nicholas, a 21 year old University student from California, who in 1983 was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. A week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother were confronted by the accused murderer in the grocery store. They had no idea that he had been released on bail. They were not informed because the courts and law enforcement, though they meant well, were not obligated by law to keep them informed. Marsalee’s brother Dr. Henry Nicholas later founded Marsy’s Law for All. Since the beginning  of their fight for the legal rights of crime victims and their families, 35 states have adopted versions of Marsy’s Law as constitutional protections.

 STATUS OF MARSY’S LAW IN GEORGIA

Georgia is one of only 15 states that does not give equal constitutional rights and protections to crime victims.

It has had a crime victim’s bill of rights since 2010, which is a good thing in those jurisdictions that adhere to the state’s statutory laws protecting crime victims, but there is no recourse for crime victims in those that don’t. This is why many committed Georgians are pushing for the state to adopt its own version of Marsy’s Law to be written into the state constitution. (Ledger-Enquirer)

The Law is now under consideration in the Georgia State Senate, it was introduced by State Senator John F. Kennedy (R-Macon), during the 2017 General Assembly, passing the Senate 50-4 and crossing over to the House which will consider the constitutional amendment next year. You can contact your representative to learn more. 

Marsy’s Law would give victims:

-The right to be treated with courtesy, fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice proceedings,

-The right to receive information about their rights and the services available to crime victims.

-The right to receive timely notification of proceedings and other major developments in their case.

-The right to receive timely notification of changes to the offender’s custodial status

-The right to be present in court proceedings. The right to provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized.

-The right to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings or any process that may result in the offender’s release.

-The right to restitution.

You can also visit the website where you hear others share their stories.

” The goal of Marsy’s law is to (1) give crime victims equal constitutional standing in court with the accused or convicted criminal and (2) enforceable rights and remedy. Neither one of these rights is afforded to Georgia crime victims in our current law. Once we pass through the Georgia House and Senate, we will be on the 2018 ballot for the people of Georgia to vote.

No abuser should have more rights than the person they abused.”

Ann Casas (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog)SM-M2Juj

 

Giving Victims A Voice

 

 

 

 

 

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Oct 17 2017

Fun Facts About Authors We Love

by Camille B

authors we love 1If you’re an avid reader you most likely have a favorite author; probably more than one depending on the particular genre you’re reading at the time. You enjoy their books and get on the waiting list for their latest release, visit their websites regularly and even sign up to receive newsletters.

And though you may not go overboard like some do with their beloved celebrities, waiting outside their homes and going through their trash to see what brand of toothpaste they buy or try to sell their retainers on E-bay, you’re none-the-less intrigued by them and have a keen and ‘normal‘ fascination with their everyday lives: how they spend their time writing, what inspires them etc.

You’re sometimes tickled by what you find, or even a little surprised. I have to admit I was a little of both as I began doing the research about some of these authors. I found myself laughing quite a bit as I tried to envision some of the things I was reading.

If the authors listed here are any of your personal favorites, you’re probably already versed in everything ‘them.’ For the others I hope you enjoy seeing the human, everyday side of them the way I did.

William Faulkner

  • He never graduated from high school or had a college degree, yet he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, two Pulitzers and the National Book Award
  • H declined a dinner invitation from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and was quoted by LIFE magazine as saying  “Why that’s a hundred miles away, that’s a long way to go just to eat.”
  • He served as a postmaster at the University of Mississippi for two years but found the job boring. It was reported that he would get there late, leave early, play cards and work on his writing. He eventually quit in 1924 saying, “…I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.” Ironically the United States Postal Service issued a 22 cent stamp in his honor in 1987

Mayo Angelou

  • She moved to Cairo, Egypt in 1961 where she was an editor for The Arab Observer
  • She mastered French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Fanti
  • She rejected modesty, saying that true arrogance lay in denying one’s own specialness and denying the specialness of others
  • She became the second poet in history to read a poem during a presidential inauguration.  She wrote and read “On the Pulse of Morning” for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.
  • She won a Grammy in 1993 in the Best Spoken Word category for an audio recording of that same poem

Beverly Cleary

  • She celebrated her 101st birthday this year (yep, amazing)
  • She had no access to a public library growing up. Her mother contacted the state library and ordered books to be sent to their town and with those books made a makeshift library above a bank where she became the acting librarian
  • She received an initial rejection for her book, originally called “Henry Huggins and Spareribs,” but later it was accepted after she changed “Spareribs” to “Ribsy” and added the characters Beezus and Ramona
  • She baked at the same time she wrote.“I used to bake bread while I wrote.” she says.“I’d mix the dough up and sit down and start to write. After a while, the dough would rise and I’d punch it down and write some more. When the dough rose the second time, I’d put it in the oven and have the yeasty smell of bread as I typed.”
  • She was honored with an elementary school in Portland with her name, as well as a sculpture garden that features bronze statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Ribsy the dog

DAN BROWN

  • He was inspired to write thrillers from Sidney Sheldon’s novel The Doomsday Conspiracy
  • He’s always been interested in secrets and puzzles; as a child growing up there were always ciphers, anagrams and other puzzles laying around the house for him and his siblings to solve
  • He gets up every day at 4 am to write, and prepares a smoothie before he begins, comprised of blueberries, spinach, banana, coconut water, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds
  • His computer is programmed to freeze for 60 seconds each hour, during which time Mr. Brown performs push-ups, situps and anything else he needs to take care of
  • In 2004 all four of his novels were featured in the New York Times Best Seller List in the same week

ALICE WALKER

  • She and her husband were the first legally married interracial couple to live in the state of Mississippi
  • She created and taught the first class in the country dedicated to African-American Women Writers at Wellesley College
  • Her favorite word is “irregardless” and is also on her license plate
  • Some of her favorite music influences are Bob Marley and Sweet Honey in the Rock

MAURICE SENDAK 

  • Where The Wild Things Are was President’s Obama’s choice of children’s book to read over the Easter weekend for the 2016 Easter Egg Roll at the White House
  • The “Things” in the book were based on Maurice’s Jewish relatives and the way he viewed them as a child, they came every week for Sunday lunch and would always tell him he looked so good they could eat him up

DANIELLE STEEL

  • Is not very fond of email and says that she doesn’t trust it “Half the time I send them to the wrong people and the other half I delete.”
  • In 1981 her name made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times best-seller list for 381 consecutive weeks
  • She writes her books on a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter,”I paid $20 for that typewriter at the beginning of my career,” she said “And I’m getting my money out of it.”

LORRAINE HANSBERRY

  • A Raisin in the Sun was originally called The Crystal Stairs
  • Nina Simone wrote a song based on her unfinished play titled To Be Young, Gifted and Black
  • She met Robert Kennedy to test his position on Civil Rights
  • After her death, her ex-husband finished her play Les Blancs
  • A Raisin in the Sun was performed 530 times

ROALD DAHL

  • Was a fighter pilot in World War II and a spy who passed intelligence to MI6 from Washington
  • He never learned how to type
  • He wrote screenplays for the James Bond hits You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory was inspired by Cadbury and Rowntree’s, and the secrecy in their development process
  • In 1971, just before the movie was released, a real man named Willy Wonka wrote to him, a postman from Nebraska; the letter and his response to it are part of the display at the Road Dahl Museum and Story Center
  • When he died in 1990 he was buried with some of his favorite things including a power drill, chocolate and HB pencils

MARY HIGGINS CLARK

  • Did not start out as a suspense writer, her first book, a romance called Aspire to the Heavens, was published in 1968 and tells the love story between George and Martha Washington. The book was published again in 2000 as Mount Vernon Love Story
  • In 1981 when President  Reagan was shot, she managed to make her way to the press area where she ended up being one of the few people allowed to ask questions during the event
  • She worked as a secretary for Remington-Rand and sometimes modeled for their catalogs, one time even doing a photo shoot with Grace Kelly
  • Before marrying her first husband she worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am

Rachel Renee Russell

  • Worked as a bankruptcy lawyer before the Dork Diaries took off
  • Her daughters Erin and Nikki helps with the writing and illustrating of her books, Nikki with the illustrations and Erin with the writing
  • She wrote her first book in the sixth grade as a birthday gift for her younger twin brothers

George R.R. Martin

  • Still does his writing with a DOS word processor, Word Star 4.0 (yep, I almost fell out of my chair too)
  • He was a writer and producer on the  TV series Beauty and the Beast in the 1980s
  • He owns his own cinema in New Mexico called the Jean Cocteau Cinema

Nicholas Sparks

  • While writing and trying to sell his first novel he worked at various jobs; a real estate appraisal, home restoration, and various food services
  • The Notebook became a bestseller in its first week of being released
  • The inspiration for the main character in A Walk to Remember was his younger sister Danielle who died from a brain tumor.
  • He has a two-lane bowling alley in his home.

Octavia Butler

  • Was the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1995 which allowed her to buy a house for her mother
  • She was a world traveler and traveled across the globe often while doing research for her writing
  • She moved to Seattle in 1999 and brought 300 boxes of books with her, many of the books she’d had from childhood
  • She grappled with severe writer’s block in the early 2000s
  • She was a fan of Fantastic Four comics and collected them, and also Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels

E.B. White

  • He loved sailing
  • He struggled with writing and procrastination and in an interview admitted to walking around the house straightening and fixing before sitting down to write
  • He fought to keep the animated version of Charlotte’s Web true to the book; the studio wanted to change the ending by not having Charlotte die but he pushed back against it
  • He struggled with anxiety and had trouble meeting new people and speaking in public
  • He had Alzheimer’s disease but according to his family, fought it with grace and humor

Harper Lee

  • Was a Mets fan
  • She kept in touch with her favorite English teacher from high school, Ms. Gladys Watson, and sent her the final draft of To Kill a Mockingbird for proofreading before sending it off to her publishers; after the book was finally published she flew Ms. Watson out to New York City to visit and took her on a month-long trip to England as a gesture of thanks.
  • She initially wanted Spencer Tracy to play Atticus Finch in the Mockingbird movie

James Patterson

  • Worked in advertising before he started writing. He was the chairman of J. Walter Thompson for seven years
  • He wrote his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, when he was just 26. It received 31 rejections before finally being accepted by a publisher and going on to win an Edgar Award
  • He started the Readkiddoread online movement to help parents find books that their children would actually want to read
  • His favorite book as a child was Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

S.E. Hinton

  • Wrote The Outsiders while she was still in High School; according to her, she had written the novel for herself and hadn’t planned on publishing it, until the mother of one of her friends read a draft and thought it deserved a wider audience
  • Her first Royalty check was for $10
  •  She was involved in the making of the movie The Outsiders, and even made a cameo as a nurse

TONI MORRISON

  • She was born Chloe Anthony Wofford but changed her name because people found Chloe hard to pronounce
  • When she entered the first grade she was the only black child and the only one who could read
  • One of her favorite authors is Jane Austen
  • She was one of the few black editors at Random House
  •  In 1993 she was the first African-American woman to be selected for the Nobel Prize in Literature

TOM CLANCY

  • He was working as an insurance broker when he began writing The Hunt For Red October
  • His wife begged him to give up his writing because she felt he was wasting his time- until she read his book
  • A woman who read the book loved it so much she gave a copy to all of her friends, one of those friends? President Reagan, who publicly complimented the book which went on to be a best seller
  • Of all the actors who played Jack Ryan, Ben Affleck was his favorite

I sincerely wished that I could include all of the authors that you’ve read and loved down through the years in this post, but it’s just not possible, instead I admonish you to check out the vast Biography collection at any of our DCPL branches where you can find many more of your favorite authors to choose from.

Book

 

Why We Write– edited by Meredith Maran

The Writing Life- commentary by  Marie Arana

 

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Wrongful Conviction Day – October 2

An estimated 3-5% of the nation’s incarcerated population is wrongfully convicted — that translates to roughly 1,500-3,000 innocent people in Georgia who are currently serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit. October 2, 2017, is the fourth annual Wrongful Conviction Day, an international day to increase awareness about the plight of those who are wrongfully convicted and the systemic factors that lead to wrongful convictions. The day is meant to encourage dialogue about this important issue and promote policy remedies at a grassroots level. See the list below for a sampling of books and DVDs to help you get that dialogue going.

Also right here in DeKalb County, the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) is a small nonprofit organization that fights to free innocent men and women from Georgia and Alabama prisons. GIP works to find DNA evidence that will prove who the true perpetrator was and to ultimately petition the court for the person’s release based on the new evidence. Part of GIP’s mission is to educate the public that wrongful convictions are neither rare nor isolated incidents. You can see news and updates from GIP on their Facebook page and Twitter.

ExonereePhoto2

On a recent day, four exonerees enjoyed the afternoon in Decatur. Their names and the number of years they spent wrongfully convicted in Georgia prisons are (L-R), John White (27 years), Clarence Harrison (17 years), Calvin Johnson (16 years) and Pete Williams (22 years). photo by Grace Akan

Check these out at DCPL

After Innocence (DVD) produced by the American Film Foundation and Showtime

Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted edited by Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger

The Central Park Five (DVD) from Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns

The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding by Sarah Burns

Convicting the Innocent: Death Row and America’s Broken System of Justice by Stanley Cohen

Devil in the Grove :Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (also available as an eBook)

Exit to Freedom by Calvin Johnson (The author is from Georgia and is in the picture. He spent 16 years in prison before being exonerated.)

Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter by James S. Hirsch.

Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (also available as an audiobook and eBook)

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo

Thank you to guest contributor Raylynn Hughes for this DCPLive post.

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Sep 28 2017

Take the Internet Home with You

by admin

mobilehotspotwebDeKalb County Public Library is offering a new service, funded by the DeKalb Library Foundation, that gives library cardholders 18 and older access to the internet free of charge. Available for check out are mobile hotspots which are portable, rechargeable devices that can be connected to laptops, smartphones, or tablets to access the internet through the device’s wireless signal. Hotspots are available for check out for 21 days at the following branches – Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Flat Shoals, and Stonecrest.

Let’s face it, most of our lives are touched by the need to access the internet on a daily basis. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have that access at home. Libraries across the nation offer internet access, but now DeKalb County Public Library provides a service which allows patrons to take the internet home with them.

Since the launch of the hotspot service, the devices have been checked out more than 585 times. Patrons wait in the library for them to be returned. Users complete a survey when they return the devices, and most indicate they generally access the internet at either the library or on their cell phone. Based on this information, we believe the program provides a valuable service to our patrons.

To learn more about how this service assists our patrons, we interviewed Yolanda C. who checked out a device so her children could access the internet at home to complete homework.

DLF: Why did you check out the mobile hotspot?

YC: I am a single mother of two teenagers in high school. On my salary, I cannot afford to have WiFi at home. My children have assigned homework on a regular basis that requires research on the internet. Having the mobile hotspot allowed me to be home preparing dinner while the children were getting their assignments done. Otherwise, we would be out past dinner time using the WiFi at the library, which disrupts the evening and they get to bed too late.

DLF: How did you use it?

YC: As I mentioned above, homework was the biggest reason for us to have it. I used it as a backup phone system with the Hang Out app, reducing the need to use the limited minutes on my cell phone for communication. I also often need to download legal and other documents and need WiFi to do so.

DLF: How often do you need to access the internet?

YC: Especially during the school year, every day.

DLF: Do you have other devices to use to access the internet?

YC: I have a tablet and a smart phone with very limited minutes. It is too expensive to use on a regular basis.

DLF: Describe your overall experience and feedback about the mobile hotspot program.

YC: It was great! I loved it! It made a substantial difference in the quality of life as a single, low-income parent. It provided a resource that I would not have been able to afford.

DLF: Would you check it out again?

YC: Yes! As often as possible!

DLF: What was your experience checking the device out?

YC: It is very easy to check out. The only problem is the demand is so high, it is hit or miss when they come in and are available for check-out.

Many of our survey comments echo Yolanda’s experience.

Here are a few quotes from those surveys:

  • I used it for a job search.
  • This was great for me to have internet access while I am currently unable to afford internet access at home. This was great!
  • Great, as a mom without enough income for internet at home.
  • My internet is down so the hotspot was very timely.
  • This is an incredible asset to the community for parents who cannot afford internet access.
  • This is a great service to patrons. Thank you.

The demand for the hotspot devices and the comments from the user surveys indicate this is a worthy service to provide our patrons. The DeKalb Library Foundation plans to seek additional funding to expand the “Take the Internet Home with You” program across the library system in the coming year. If you are interested in helping us meet this basic need, please consider donating by visiting dekalblibraryfoundation.org.

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Sep 22 2017

Coloring For Adults

by Camille B

MuralAs a child growing up, one of my favorite pastimes was coloring. I couldn’t get enough of it. Coloring books, colored pencils, the works.

Even as I grew older the fascination remained, and every once in a while I’d still find myself picking up a page or two because I found it so relaxing. Of course I kept this to myself for fear that I’d find myself on a psychiatrist’s couch somewhere pouring my heart out.

Turns out my fears were unfounded, because little did I know that while I was secretly having the crush of the crayons, coloring had become quite the craze, and a very popular form of relaxation among adults. Great! No more coloring in secret.

I finally shared my love of coloring with a co-worker who quickly brought me up to speed with all that was out there in the world of adult coloring. Until that point, I had no idea they even made coloring books for adults! I was still buying the basic ones at the dollar store.

It was amazing to see the wide variety of coloring books out there, from simple designs to very intricate mandala prints; some of them so widely popular they actually made it onto bestsellers’ lists. The Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book made it onto Amazon’s bestseller lists in both the U.S. and Toronto, alongside books like Girl on a Train and All the Light We Cannot See.

There are also entire websites dedicated to coloring, like The Color.com and Online-coloring.com where you can color online as well as print the pages, and countless apps  for your phone and tablets  dedicated to your coloring experience. One of my favorites is Teazel Ltd which provides over 500 pictures from which to choose.

There are giant, table-size coloring sheets that can be done as a family or group effort, and which can probably be used Muralas murals afterwards. There are elaborate wine and coloring parties and now even a National coloring book day dedicated to this latest trend.

So what makes such a childlike pastime so appealing? Coloring can be therapeutic. It helps to calm the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the way we react to certain stimuli or emotion that causes us angst. The amygdala can lessen the effect of these negative emotions while you engage in a coloring exercise

According to clinical psychologist Dr. Scot Bea, when thoughts are focused on a simple activity, your brain tends to relax. We are not disturbed by our own thoughts and appraisals. “It has everything to do with refocusing our attention,” he says. “Adult coloring requires modest attention focused outside of self-awareness. It is a simple activity that takes us outside ourselves in the same way cutting the lawn, knitting, or taking a Sunday drive can all be relaxing.”

Even cancer patients are now turning to coloring as a way to manage the stress of their treatments, admitting that it makes the hours go by faster and relaxes their mind and body when they concentrate on just that one task.

Many public libraries are now hosting coloring events as well, including DCPL. You can visit our participating branches: Chamblee, Covington, Doraville, Redan, Stone Mountain and Wesley Chapel to attend upcoming events like: Coffee and Coloring, Color Me Relaxed, Art Expressions and much more. Click here for further details.

And maybe coloring just isn’t your cup of tea, here are some other suggestions for hobbies and interests you might also find relaxing and appealing:

Get a Hobby! : 101 all-consuming diversions for any lifestyle– Tina Barseghian

Practical course in drawing and painting– Martin Roig

52 more scrapbooking challenges– Elizabeth Kartchner

Stylish sewing: 35 patterns and instructions  for clothes, toys and home accessories– Laura Wilheim

Contemporary quilting: exciting techniques and quilts  from award winning quilters– Cindy Walter

The beginner’s guide to growing heirloom vegetables– Marie Iannotti

 

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Aug 25 2017

Hashtag This…

by Camille B

TH_hashtag politics_hands

Remember when the hashtag was just that plain old number sign on your keyboard? Or as some would call it, the pound sign? You would press pound for further options on your phone, or even use the enlarged symbol to play a fierce game of tic-tac-toe with a friend?

Well who would have thought that this seemingly insignificant symbol would play such an important role in social media today?

I have to admit that I’ve never used a hashtag before, but I’ve always been curious about who does, when and where they use it, and for what purpose?

As it turns out I wasn’t alone. Searching showed that there were many who were asking the same questions, wanting to know what a hashtag was, how it was used, why it was called a hashtag, and who or what started it?

At a glance it seems like the phenomenon popped up overnight doesn’t it? One minute it didn’t exist at all, and the next it was hashtag this and hashtag that. Well the inventor, Chris Messina, would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t quite that simple and the idea was initially dismissed by most of the tech community when he first pitched it.

This is his first, now famous tweet, using a hashtag:  how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in [msg]?

He felt that the pound sign at the beginning of a relevant word or phrase would be an easy way to bring people together who were discussing the same topic online. He said he chose the # symbol because that character was easy to reach on his 2007 Nokia feature phone.  Two days later another friend, Stowe Boyd, suggested the name hashtag for the symbol because it was catchier.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Messina said that Twitter totally rejected the idea. “They told me flat out, ‘These things are for nerds. They’re never going to catch on.'” Can you imagine?

Well, what did they know? Today the hashtag is being used not only by Twitter, but other social networking sites including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr. It picked up slowly as Messina used the hashtag in his own tweets and encouraged friends to do the same.

The really seismic shift came during the 2007 San Diego fire when people were tracking the fire using a system set up by Twitter. The spaces between the words San Diego and fire made the tracking difficult, so Messina suggested that they use the hashtag with no spaces. “That caused other people to see that behavior and it kind of continued in that form. At that point it became easier to use.”

In 2008 conservative groups began to use the symbol to encourage Congress to vote on an energy bill and the jump from the tech crowd to the political one, he said, was a huge one. By 2009, Twitter adopted the idea and that’s when it’s usage skyrocketed.

You can place hashtags anywhere in your posts on social media, linking similar conversations by different users together. You can then find these related topics by clicking on the hashtag symbol. How helpful is any of this? It depends. To some it seems to be a bit of an annoyance, one  journalist even referring to it as an eyesore and incredibly lazy.

Yet others find it quite handy for keeping up with news stories and events as well as a promotional tool for business and services. In recent years the hashtag has been used in some of the most publicized events around the world including the death of Michael Jackson, Hurricane Sandy and the wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William.

So how much money did Messina make with his invention? None. He never patented it. He felt that a government-granted monopoly would have inhibited their adoption, which was the opposite of what he wanted. “They are born of the internet and should be owned by no one. The value and satisfaction I derive from seeing my funny little hack used as widely as it is today is valuable enough for me to be relieved that I had the foresight not to try to lock down this stupidly simple but effective idea.”

 

Brush up on your social media at DCPL:

The Twitter Book– Tim O’Reilly

AARP Facebook: tech to connect– Marsha Collier

Facebook & Twitter for seniors for dummies- Marsha Collier

 

 

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Aug 9 2017

Becoming An American Citizen

by Camille B

Photo AOn July 3rd, 2017 I became a citizen of the United States. Standing alongside 72 other candidates, all from different countries around the world, I solemnly took the Oath of Allegiance to Support and defend the Constitution and laws of this great nation.

I remember the lady sitting next to me was from Cuba, the gentleman to my right was from Jamaica, and I listened intently as one by one the names of the various countries present were called: China, Nigeria, Canada, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Ecuador…

One by one we stood, looking solemn and a little nervous, as we prepared to embrace this country as our own. We were now about to become Americans not by birth but by choice. In reality, most of us had already done so, having borne permanent resident status for many years, which granted us the freedom to do such things as work, pay taxes, get a driver’s license, go to school etc. But it was something different to be called an American citizen, to now have a voice and be counted when and where it really mattered.

Later that day a family member asked me how I felt, and I thought they were being a little dramatic. It wasn’t like I’d had surgery. But on further reflection, I realized that it was a valid question. How did I feel besides being excited and a little overwhelmed?

Well, strangely enough, amidst all the other emotions I was feeling, I realized that I was having some anxiety wondering how my family and friends back home would react to the news; the people I had grown up with from childhood; and gone to school with, worked with. Would they celebrate my newfound citizenship? Or would they think I had turned my back on my country of birth? And if, perchance they did feel this way, how did I explain that it was not the case?

I guess the only example I could draw on was the same bitter-sweet feeling a bride must have felt in the olden days when she had to leave her parents home and give up her name for her husband’s. Yes she was in love and ready to start a new life with him, but she was also leaving her family behind. But this didn’t mean she loved them any less. They still remained a very important part of her life. It was the same feeling I had about my native land.

The Naturalization Process

The road to citizenship can sometimes be a long one, and for some confusing, but I found everything that I needed to help me through the process both on the USCIS and DCPL websites.

The Application

Form N-400 is the one needed to file for Application for Naturalization and can be downloaded at uscis.gov/n-400, submit it along with the appropriate fees (as of December 23, 2016 the application fee has increased to $640, the biometrics fee remains $85). You will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS office letting you know that they’ve received your application and will be contacting you with a date, time and location for your biometric screening.

Biometrics Appointment

The biometrics screening process requires you to be fingerprinted and photographed for the purpose of conducting an FBI criminal background check. All applicants must have background checks completed before USCIS will schedule an interview, so if there are skeletons in your closet, beware. Biometrics

The Citizenship Test/ Naturalization Interview

Some time after having your biometrics screening done, you will receive an appointment notice scheduling a date and time for an interview with USCIS. The wait time for this can take several months, and you should use this time to study for the test which is broken into four categories: civics, reading, writing and speaking.Exam Book

The civics test consists of questions based on American history and government as well as integrated civics questions. You will be given 100 questions to study out of which you will be asked 10 randomly at the interview. You must correctly answer 6 of these questions  in order to pass this portion of the test.

Next, you must read one out of three sentences correctly to show your ability to read in English, write one out of three sentences to show your ability to write in English, and answer questions from your submitted application to determine your ability to speak English.

The Oath of Allegiance Swearing-In Ceremony

If you are successful in passing your interview, there is a possibility that you can take your Oath of Allegiance that same day. If not, USCIS will mail you a notification with the date, time, and location of your scheduled oath ceremony. You are not a U.S. citizen until you take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony.

The Oath of Allegiance is administered, either by USCIS at an administrative ceremony or by a judge in a judicial ceremony, and you receive your Certificate of Naturalization on the same day after taking it. On this day you will also be turning in your permanent resident card (Green card) to USCIS.

What it Means To Be a Citizen

So now that it’s all said and done, what does this mean to you the new American citizen? Well you now have certain rights that you didn’t have before:

-The right to vote

-The right to run for certain public offices

-The right to have a U.S. passport

-The right to obtain a federal government job

-The right to have U.S. government protection and help when traveling to other countries

You also have responsibilities as a citizen such as:

-Supporting and defending the Constitution and U.S. laws

-Serving on a jury

-Registering to vote

-Voting

-Serving in the armed forces of the United States when required

As I mentioned earlier, there were many great books at DCPL that helped me through the naturalization process from beginning to end, and I’ve listed a few of them here. As well as the Learning Express Library database on the website where you can find helpful resources including practice questions for the English and Civics test.

 

Nolo Book

Becoming a U.S. citizen- a Guide to the Law, Exam & Interview (IIona Bray)

 

Exam BookPass the U.S. citizenship exam 

 

 

Kaplan's Book

 

Becoming a U.S. citizen: understanding the naturalization process

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Reese Witherspoon  (RW) loves to read!  She has her own production company that recently put together the Emmy nominated Big Little Lies series on HBO.  Big Little Lies was based on Liane Moriarty’s very successful book by the same title.  Many of her picks have ended up oThe Alice Networkn the big screen.  She recently starred in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle which will be out next year some time.  Reese Witherspoon has many connections to the literary world.

Her RW book club selection for July was The Alice Network by Kate Quinn.  I don’t know if it will end up on the big screen like some of her other projects.  One can hope!  There was a poll for her readers and The Alice Network was picked.

I recently read this book. The Alice Network tells the story of Eve Gardiner and Charlie St. Clair.  Each has a very important mission.  Charlie goes to Eve for help finding her cousin Rose Fournier.  Rose’s last known location was Limoges, France.  She worked at a restaurant for a character named Rene Bordelon.  Eve and Charlie journey to France with Eve’s driver Finn.  They start looking for answers to what might have happened to Rose.  Questions arise as you read such as, What will happen when Charlie finds her? Will it be a happy reunion or a chance to mourn an important loss?  Charlie’s clues help Eve find what she has been looking for since the First World War. Eve worked as a spy in Rene’s restaurant Le Lethe in Lille, France.   What does the future hold for both of them?

I enjoyed this book.  What interested me initially is the story of Eve becoming a spy during World War I.  I was not as interested in Charlie’s history until her path and Eve’s intertwined.  Kate Quinn also did a great job of showing the historical facts of that time period.

There is a lot to discuss in The Alice Network.  What will your next book club read be?  Reese’s next selection for the RW book club in August is The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.  You can follow the RW bookclub here.

Visit the catalog for :

The Alice Network  by Kate Quinn

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle

The Lying Game  by Ruth Ware

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