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

April 2008

Apr 30 2008

13 Reasons Why

by Amanda L

You just received a package on your
front porch with no return address. Is it a bomb?  Who sent it? As you
daringly open the package, you find 7 cassette tapes inside. The
questions run through your mind. Who sent these cassette tapes? Where
am I going to find a cassette player? Why was I sent the cassette tapes?

Upon acquiring a cassette player, you pop in
the first tape. The voice on the machine is familiar. It sounds like
Hannah, a student in your class and a girl you have had a crush on. She
committed suicide a few weeks ago. As her voice fills the headphones,
she begins to explain why you received the mysterious cassette tapes.
She explains that each tape is dedicated to a specific person who was
partially to blame for her ending her life. But you received the
package.  What did you ever do that led to her death? You liked her and
were trying to get the courage to get to know her better. Who else has
received the package of tapes and why?

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Interested?
Check out 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I couldn’t put the book down and
have not talked to anyone else that was able to pry the book out of
their hands!! Once you are finished reading, please come back and let
us know what you thought about the book.

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If you’re like me, you don’t really learn much when reading instruction manuals or browsing through the “help” sections of computer programs. I’m one who does best when I can see how to do something, and I know I’m not alone in this. A big part of what we do in the library nowadays involves teaching people how to use computers, and unfortunately we don’t always have the time needed to really dig in and show people how word processors and other programs work. We have books on specific computer programs, and we offer classes in many of our branches on a regular basis on how to get started with computers, Internet, and word processing. But sometimes what we need is a quick visual tutorial to point people to, and that’s where web sites like In Pictures come in handy.

This website uses screenshots and basic, short text instructions to walk you through things like writing a letter in Microsoft Word 2007 (or 2003) or beginning OpenOffice.org Calc (a free spreadsheet program with many of the same functions as Microsoft Excel). Here’s a screenshot of the beginning Word tutorial:

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Here’s their web address: http://inpics.net/

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Apr 28 2008

Happy Birthday, Harper Lee

by Nolan R

Mockingbirdfirst_2

Often cited by American readers as their favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird has sold more than thirty million copies and has been translated into more than forty languages since its publication in 1960.  It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.  While it has shown up on ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books, To Kill a Mockingbird was also voted the Best Novel of the 20th Century by Library Journal, and was ranked second only to the Bible in a reader survey of most influential books. 

Today is the 82nd birthday of Nelle Harper Lee, who since the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird has sought a private life and makes few public appearances.  Ms. Lee was born and still lives in Monroeville, AL, which was also the childhood home of her longtime friend Truman Capote.  Every spring, thousands of tourists head to this small southwestern Alabama town–now known as the “Literary Capital of Alabama”–that inspired the fictional setting of the novel.  Monroeville presents an annual theater production of To Kill a Mockingbird in the historic courthouse and encourages visitors to tour the town.  Ms. Lee is seldom seen on these occasions, but does attend a high school To Kill a Mockingbird essay awards luncheon held each year at the University of Alabama.

In a rare public letter to O, the Oprah Magazine in 2006, Ms. Lee wrote about her love of books and reading: 

I arrived in the first grade, literate, with a curious cultural assimilation of American history, romance, the Rover Boys, Rapunzel, and The Mobile Press. Early signs of genius? Far from it. Reading was an accomplishment I shared with several local contemporaries. Why this endemic precocity? Because in my hometown, a remote village in the early 1930s, youngsters had little to do but read. A movie? Not often–movies weren’t for small children. A park for games? Not a hope. We’re talking unpaved streets here, and the Depression.

Books were scarce. There was nothing you could call a public library, we were a hundred miles away from a department store’s books section, so we children began to circulate reading material among ourselves until each child had read another’s entire stock. There were long dry spells broken by the new Christmas books, which started the rounds again.

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.

And, Oprah, can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up–some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.

Well said, Ms. Lee.  Happy birthday, and thank you for your wonderful book. 

Related articles:

Harper Lee Emerges for ‘Mockingbird’ Award (audio from NPR)

Harper Lee, Gregarious for a Day (New York Times)

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Apr 24 2008

Interview with Poet Aaron Zaritzky

by Jimmy L

Aaron_sm
Aaron Zaritzky was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He graduated from the Creative Writing Workshop at Oberlin College (2000) and completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry from the University of Arizona (2004). The Pulitzer Prize winning press BOA Editions published his book-length translation of Felipe Benítez Reyes’ Probable Lives as part of the Lannan Series. One of these poems, “Fears,” was chosen to represent a day in National Poetry Month. Nobel Prize finalist Miguel Mendez, the Kennedy Center, and others have commissioned him to translate work. He is currently ghostwriting a book for his father and lives in Macon, Georgia with his wife, Yosálida, their daughter, Sofía, and their cat, Humo.

Aaron, can you tell me how you became a poet? It seems like an odd thing to be!

It does seem like an odd thing to be. And how does someone become a poet? And what is a poet, anyway? Is everyone who writes poems a poet? If so, that means most everyone has been a poet at some time in their lives. Or is a poet someone who has poems published?

There are a whole lot of people out there who spend much more time making a living at something other than writing poems who are still called poets. I would venture to say that almost every poet, at least in this country, finds him or herself having to “write poems on the side.” That’s just the nature of the thing, I guess. So, to answer your question, I first became interested in writing poems when I was in middle school. One day, for no real reason, I decided to try to write a poem about spilling Cheerios all over the kitchen counter. I realized, as I was doing this, that there were so many interesting ways to put words together and that interesting language often has more to do with the words you choose than with the “meaning” or “story” behind the thing you are writing. After that, I just kept writing on my own.

You’ve translated poems before, including the book Probable Lives by Felipe Benítez Reyes. What made you translate this book? Did you pick it, or did it pick you? Did you work closely with the original author?

[read the rest of this post…]

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Apr 23 2008

Let’s Go Fishing!!

by Amanda L

Lake
Spring is here and if you like to fish, the lakes are
calling! I used to fish for crappie or pan fish until one fatal day, I caught a bass on a worm. The fight seemed enormous after just a little bitty crappie fish. Now it is bass fishing or bust!

New to fishing?

Do you know the difference between a bait or spinner reel?
What about top water lures, plastic worms or spinner baits? The library
has several books on freshwater fishing, fly rod fishing and other
fishing topics. Fishing Fundamentals by In-Fisherman is a wonderful DVD that the library owns that is great for beginners or those of us who are looking for a new bait to fish with.

Now that we know the basics of fishing, what do we need to fish in Georgia?

Of  course you’ll need the gear, fishing pole, bait, a pair of pliers, etc.
To fish on public waters in Georgia, you also need to have a fishing
license. To obtain a license, check out the Georgia Department of
Natural Resources website
.
If it is your first time and you want to try it out, I highly
recommend fishing on one of the Free Fishing Days.  This year they
will be held on  June 6, 2009; June 13, 2009 and September 26, 2009. On
these three dates you can fish any public fishing water without a
license.

Where are some public fishing areas?

There are some great places to fish in the greater Atlanta
area.  The closest Public Fishing Area is  Marbin Farms located in
Jasper and Newton counties east of DeKalb.  There are the big lakes
like Atloona, Lanier, Sinclair, and Oconee, and of course Stone
Mountain has fishing areas. Several of the state parks have fishing
areas. Two of the closest are Sweetwater Creek and Hard Labor Creek.
Many of the surrounding counties have reservoirs that allow fishing. If
you are not a resident of the county, most counties set a nominal fee
usually per boat or car. Some reservoirs in the area are Lake Varner
(Newton County), Henry county has several , and Randy Poynter/Black Shoals Lake (Rockdale County).

Looking for more places or fishing reports? Try these two online sources: Best Fishing in Georgia and Georgia Outdoor News . Have a favorite fishing hole? Please share with us.  Hope to see you on the lakes!!

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Apr 22 2008

Check Out the New GALILEO!

by Chris S

One of the best services the Library has to offer is GALILEO, which stands for GeorgiA LIbrary LEarning Online. With a DeKalb County Public Library card you get access to many many electronic resources, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, magazines, historical documents, and newspapers, not to mention academic and trade journals and other powerful research tools. GALILEO has been working on a web site redesign for the last couple of years and they just released their new version last month. Here’s a screenshot:

Galileo_2

GALILEO is one the best resources you have at your fingertips. Don’t take our word for it, though – try it yourself!

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Apr 21 2008

Paris, je t’aime

by Nolan R

Eiffel_towerAh, Paris in the springtime.  It makes me imagine flowers blooming, picnics in the park, people-watching from a cafe terrace…or at least it did until I got there last week!  Instead, I discovered that springtime in Paris is actually a few weeks behind ours here in Georgia.  Temperatures were in the 30s and 40s instead of the 50s as predicted, so we spent more time walking to stay warm than we did people-watching.  If you’re planning a visit in the early spring, I advise drinking lots of chocolat chaud–hot chocolate–and wearing the biggest scarf you can find!   

I had a great time despite the cold weather, and since my return, I’ve started digging through books and DVDs at the library to learn more about the people and culture of the magical City of Light.  I wanted to share a few of them with you, but bear in mind that some of the descriptions are pulled from reviews since I haven’t had a chance to read them all yet!   

Books:Paris_moon

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnik: In 1995, New Yorker Adam Gopnik, his wife, and their infant son left the familiar comforts and hassles of New York City for the urbane glamour of the City of Light.  This funny and tender book provides a delightful, often hilarious look at what it was to be an American family man in Paris at the end of the twentieth century.

Almost_french Almost French: love and a new life in Paris, by Sarah Turnbull: The charming true story of a spirited young Australian woman who finds adventure–and the love of her life–in Paris. “This isn’t like me. I’m not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn’t even been part of my travel plan…” A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor.

Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t be Wrong: why we love France but not the French, by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow:  Described as “a journey into the French heart, mind and soul.” Decrypting French ideas about land, privacy and language, Nadeau and Barlow weave together the threads of French society–from centralization and the Napoleonic Code to elite education and even street protests–giving us, for the first time, a complete picture of the French.

French Toast, by Harriet Welty Rochefort: Did you know that in Paris it is quite normal to bang the cars in front and back of you as you maneuver in and out of a parking place? Or that you should fold and not cut the lettuce in your salad and that even fruit is eaten with a knife and fork? Fortunately, for those unacquainted with the finer points of French etiquette, Rochefort’s book bridges the culture gap admirably. Drawing on personal experience, she records her observations about Frenchwomen; French attitudes to food, love, marriage, and money; the French educational system; and the dynamics of living in Paris.

Designing the New Kitchen Garden: an American potager handbook, by Jennifer R. Bartley: I’ve mentioned this one before, but wanted to share it again.  While this book is about American gardens, the author discusses the history of the traditional European potager garden, like the one designed for Louis XIV. (I dragged my husband around the town of Versailles for two hours searching for this garden before we finally found it–apparently it’s not a big tourist site!)

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway:  Hemingway’s memoirs of 1920s Paris when he lived there with his wife Hadley, surrounded by a circle of fellow American expatraiate writers.  The book was published posthumously in 1964.  The Shakespeare & Company bookstore claims this is the most requested book by visitors to their store.

DVDs:

Amelie:  This is a delightful story of a young woman with a lot of imagination and a lot of heart.  She decides to get involved with the lives of those around her and solve their problems–without their knowledge.  Much of this film takes place in the area of Montmartre, although artistic liberties have been taken with the neighborhood’s geography.

Paris, je t’aime: A panoramic view of Paris from twenty filmmakers who bring their own personal touch to various neighborhoods of Paris.  Each short film highlights a different arrondissement. There are too many actors to list, including: Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe, Gérard Depardieu, Ben Gazzara, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bob Hoskins, Nick Nolte,  Natalie Portman, Miranda Richardson, Gena Rowlands, Rufus Sewell, and Elijah Wood.

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Johnespinoza_resized
John Olivares Espinoza was raised in southern California where he worked as a landscaper for his father. He is the author of two previous chapbooks and holds an MFA in creative writing from Arizona State University. He currently teaches writing, literature, and ethnic studies at the National Hispanic University. His first full-length collection of poetry, The Date Fruit Elegies, will be out this year from the Bilingual Press.

John has a website at john-olivares-espinoza.com

John, what draws you to poetry? Why did you choose it? What can you achieve in poetry that you can’t achieve through other mediums?

After twenty years of being repelled by poetry, I was drawn to it because of the emotional experience I received reading it. Isn’t that why we read books, go to the movies, or concert performances—so we can get blown away by the drama and visceral experience? Poetry does all this in 50, 25, 12, or 2 lines. This is some power. But unlike a movie or rock concert that takes hours to get to that point of experience, or books that take weeks, a poem takes two minutes to read. I chose this medium because it can make the reader gasp, sigh, laugh, and relate in just one short shot.

I noticed that your unique background as a landscaper for your father often factors into your poems. Can you tell me a little bit more about this?

[read the rest of this post…]

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Apr 16 2008

Better World Books

by Laura H

Bwb_logo
An interesting phenomena is the growing number of websites that tie social good with making money.  One such site is BetterWorldBooks.com which sells new and used books to profit and promote literacy programs such as Room to Read, Books for Africa , Worldfund, and National Center for Family Literacy.  What a “novel” idea.

The multi-tiered library also gives public libraries a chance to profit-share in the sale of their older weeded or donated books.  On top of that, the folks who started this business saw an opportunity to plan smart for minimal negative environmental effect.  Here’s what they say on their website: “we got in touch with a very smart engineer from Carnegie Mellon who has studied the environmental impacts of that other e-commerce bookstore. We asked him, how can we do it better? That led to the invention of an e-commerce first: the Carbon Neutral Shopping Cart. No more global warming emissions weighing down our operations! Working with Carbonfund.org, the leading non-profit provider of carbon offsets, we collect a few cents from every customer at checkout. The proceeds from this carbon offset are enough to purchase renewable energy credits and support reforestation. We not only offset our shipping, but also the shipping of our literacy partners. And since we sell a lot of books, that is enough to keep tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.”

If you go to their about page, you’ll see that these are real people operating out of Middle American to make a difference.  Go to the bottom of that page to learn more about their “Triple Bottom Line” and to buy or sell books to help literacy causes in an environmentally conscious way.

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Apr 15 2008

Bob Dylan Wins a Pulitzer

by Chris S

Dylan
Bob Dylan has been one of my favorite musicians for the last fifteen years. I “discovered” him twice – once in college when my brother shared with me some of Dylan’s early comic songs (like “Motorpsycho Nightmare” or “Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues”), and once in my late 20s when I became entranced with Dylan’s masterful poetic folk-rock works like “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “Desolation Row.” Dylan’s career has spanned five decades, and like Picasso, he has gone through many artistic phases, from his earliest days as a disciple of Woody Guthrie, through his dark-shades-wearing aloof hipster/poet phase, through a born-again Christian period of the late 70s/early 80s, and even a country phase (or two). These different faces of Dylan were the subject of I’m Not There, a recent critically-acclaimed film.

Last week, Dylan’s work got more recognition with a Pulitzer Prize. The Special Citation award describes “his profound
impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical
compositions of extraordinary poetic power.”

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs:

[read the rest of this post…]

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