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

August 2009

Aug 31 2009

It’s Not Easy Being Green

by Nolan R

sleeping_naked_is_greenWhen I ran across Vanessa Farquharson’s book, Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days, I was intrigued.  While I don’t think I’ll be unplugging my fridge anytime soon (is that even possible in this heat?), selling my car (sorry, Jnai!), or looking for love (my husband wouldn’t approve), I am interested in living a greener life without going insane (or appearing that way).

I have tried to make small changes at home to be more green.  My husband and I haven’t done anything too drastic–although our families think our recent decision to cloth diaper our twins is a little extreme–but we’ve made minor adjustments here and there that (we hope) will reduce our carbon footprint and maybe save a polar bear or two from extinction.  We changed all our lightbulbs to compact flourescent bulbs, swapped to cloth napkins for everyday, replaced paper towels in the kitchen with dishrags and towels, and put a bucket in the shower to catch the water as it heats (which we then use to water our garden).  We also recycle and compost when we can.  But do we really have to stop eating at restaurants that use styrofoam take-out containers or stop using antiperspirants?

Although afraid of losing her cool hipster status and being mistaken for a hippie, or worse yet, a blogger, Ms. Farquharson took the plunge and began a daily blog about her changes in an effort to provide a humorous real-life view on the effect that living green might have on a regular everyday person.  All the while bearing a tiny, imaginary Al Gore on her shoulder,  she makes changes both small and large:  “Switch to recycled paper towels,” “Lower the temperature on my water heater,” or “Sell my car.”  Some changes are a little more unusual (or just plain odd), such as “Skip gown at doctor’s office” or “Drip-dry dishes in dishwasher rack above houseplants.”

If you’d like to follow Ms. Farquharson’s continuing journey on the road to being green, check out her blog Green as a Thistle.  Interested in finding out your own carbon footprint and your impact on the environment?  Go to the EPA’s Household Emissions Calculator or The Nature Conservancy’s Carbon Footprint Calculator and get a personalized estimate.  Then maybe you, too, will decide to carry a totebag and give up on pajamas…

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celebrate_dlf_small_r2_c2Know a child who loves to read? Give them a library book for their birthday by donating to the DeKalb Library Foundation. You can mark a special occasion by having a book plate with their name on it placed in a book purchased for their favorite library. The book plates can also celebrate anniversaries, retirements, weddings or a new baby.  A plate can be in honor of or in memory of a special person. An acknowledgement card is sent to the honoree, noting the occasion and your name.

The first bookplates were also pasted into donated books. In 1480, Brother Hildebrand of Biberach donated his books, accompanied by bookplates, to his monastery. Old bookplates are sought after by collectors and scholars for the beauty of their designs and the information they provide as to the provenance of a book.

What’s provenance? It means knowing the history or origin of an object. Future readers will check your book out from the library and know who made their reading possible. It’s a great gift for any bookworms you might know and a great way to support the Library!

Donation forms are available at your local library or on our website.

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Have you ever wondered how modern society has become so mean-spirited, jaded and hurtful? Have you ever been trolling an Internet message board and felt a twinge of sympathy for, say, Jennifer Love Hewitt or any other celebrity who’d been excoriated on the Web for having cellulite or a muffin-top?

I’ve just finished reading the book Snark by David Denby and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the way that it examines the culture of snark from its classical Greek roots with Juvenal and Hipponax to its more modern incarnation with the advent of the Internet and snarky gossip mavens like Perez Hilton.

One of the aims of this book is to explore the nature, the functions and the hazards of snark. The seven chapters of this snappy yet insightful read are called “fits”–the inspiration for which is drawn from Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of The Snark” a poem in eight cantos or “fits”–and the Fifth Fit intrigues me the most. In this chapter Denby distinguishes between the art of ribald and witty verbal sparring versus the low-art of snark. There are many names for a hearty bout of verbal fisticuffs: “flyting” when practiced by 16th century Scottish poets, “trash talking” when it takes place on any sporting field, “battling” when opposing hip-hop artists duke it out on a stage, “joning” when you’re a grade school kid in the late 80s who has to defend against a “Yo Mama” diss. The art of the face-to-face battle of wits is as old as written history (if not older).

Snark, unlike any of the aforementioned, relies on anonymity and shuns hand-to-hand or wit-to-wit combat. According to Denby, snark seeks to “get into [its victim’s] face without presenting a face of its own”. It’s like posting an ugly message board comment about your least favorite reality show star anonymously. It’s easy and sometimes irresistible but, as the cover of this book exclaims, it’s also “mean, it’s personal and it’s ruining our conversation”.

This book struck a chord with me because lately I’ve been growing deeply concerned with US Weekly’s obsession with The Gosselin Family, the unfettered nastiness of your average Internet message board and other instances of snarkiness in today’s society. Is there a cure? I’m not so hopeful but at the very least Snark is a relief and, for me, kind of a revelation to read.

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Aug 24 2009

Is your food safe?

by Amanda L

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Two years ago the State of Georgia saw a change in how restaurants are “graded” as far as food safety.  In some areas of the state the restaurants and the health inspectors are still trying to understand the relatively new law called the 2007 GA Food code ( Public Health Division’s Chapter 290-5-14)

How does this affect the everyday customer of the local restaurants? The scoring is different and can vary according to the various violations. Interested in what the health inspectors are looking for and how the law has changed for the employees of a restaurant? Check out this frequently asked question and answer page that the Georgia Restaurant Association created. The Georgia Divison of Public Health also has a wealth of information about food safety and code revisions.

If you want to know where your favorite restaurant or potential new restaurant falls in the scoring, the Dekalb Board of Health has a website where they post current scores. It can be found here. This site also gives information on understanding scores and a reference for violations.

So what if you’re like me and you don’t eat out too often. The library has several books about food safety that can help home cooks keep their food safe.

Food Alert!: The ultimate sourcebook for food safety

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Food Safety

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Aug 21 2009

Free Rice

by Jesse M

It’s Friday once again and today I thought we’d start off the weekend by introducing a simple game that generates charitable food aid while building your vocabulary! The game is called Free Rice, and it is a non-profit website run by the United Nations Food Program. Free Rice has two goals, to provide education to everyone for free, and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. It works towards these goals by presenting visitors to the site with one word followed by a set of four possible definitions. Picking the correct definition allows you to move onto the next (more difficult) word and generates a donation of ten grains of rice. As the website notes, ten grains isn’t a particularly large amount, but when enough people play enough times, an enormous difference can be made in the lives of millions of those less fortunate all over the world. Since its inception in 2007 Free Rice has donated a total of 66,985,896,480 grains of rice! So the next time you have access to the internet and a few minutes to spare, consider spending them building up your vocabulary and helping to feed someone in need.

If you are interested in learning about the causes and possible solutions to the problem of world hunger, the library has several books in the catalog that can further inform you. A good book to start your exploration with is the well researched and argued Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel. Check it out.

psst – yes, we know this has been written about on this blog before, but we thought it was time for a reminder!

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Aug 19 2009

Wild Things

by Nancy M

wherethewildthingsare_l200904071204While the movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is not due to be released for another two months, there are plenty of Wild related things to keep our anticipation at bay and ensure that we will be ready to experience Spike Jonze’s movie to its fullest. If it has been awhile since you’ve read Sendak’s 1964 Caldecott winning book, you can check it out at the Library which has copies in English, Spanish and Chinese. If you haven’t seen the original movie trailer yet, which is pretty awesome, you can do so here.  And lucky us! A new trailer was released a couple of weeks ago, giving us a little bit more insight as to how they’ve taken a 10 sentence book and turned it into a feature-length film.

There are numerous people out there blogging about pretty much everything Wild related, but one of the coolest sites I’ve found is Terrible Yellow Eyes. The blogger was so inspired by Where the Wild Things Are that he set up a site that pays tribute to the book and its author. Artists from all over the world send in their own artistic reproductions of the book and the site is updated frequently.

The movie has been an enormous undertaking which has spanned many years and has involved hundreds of people. Check out Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are blog, We Love You So, to learn how the movie came to be.

And don’t forget to pre-order your Where the Wild Things Are figurines!

Do you have any fun Where the Wild Things Are sites to share?

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Aug 17 2009

A Good Yarn

by Vivian A

Cover image of Knitgrrl by Shannon OkeyTake two knitting needles, a skein of yarn and thou and what have you got? Hopefully a sweater, a scarf or at the very least – a pot holder. I am less than the very least. I cannot seem to get the hang of knitting.

Three of my more than patient co-workers, a knitting store and a few books with huge pictures cannot seem to get my needles and yarn going in the right direction to make anything more than some impressive knots. Not the knits that I was striving for.

I just wanted to join the ranks of the fifty-three million women who know how to knit or crochet (another dismal failure). This is an impressive fifty-one percent increase in the past ten years.

Plus, I wanted to join celebrity knitters like Madonna, Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts. In fact, Julia is set to star in an upcoming movie about knitting called The Friday Night Knitting Club. (Also a book you can check out of the library.)

I longed to whip through patterns in Stitch and Bitch by Debbie Stoller or even Knitgrrl by Shannon Okey although I am much too old to check it out.

Knitting is so cool that it has blogs like www.yarnharlot.com. Or www.ravelry.com which is like Facebook for knitters with nearly 400,000 members.  I give up, I am turning in my needles (and crochet hook) for something like ?????

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Aug 14 2009

What’s a good time for you?

by Lesley B

Ever try to set a date for an activity involving more than two people? Well, a friend recently introduced me to a handy little web thingie called Doodle.  She was organizing a book club and trying to set a date for our first meeting. All club members got an email with a link to a calendar. Everyone entered the dates they were available, making it easy to see the best day for the meeting. No more ‘reply all’!

You can also use Doodle to help a group make a choice. Here’s a sample poll for a book club:picture-31

Schedule events and help you make a choice, that’s all Doodle does. Simple is good, especially if your book club is very ambitious. Sigh. No one liked my haiku suggestion.

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Aug 12 2009

The Art of The Book Trailer

by Jnai W


I’d only been browsing the Internet in search of news, blog ideas and the latest Web sensation when I stumbled upon a book trailer for The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom. Not only am I really interested in reading this book now but I’m also intrigued by the idea of the book trailer.

While this strikes me as novel (and strikes my bookish brother, who’s reading this over my shoulder, as slightly blasphemous), book trailers have been growing in popularity for a few years now.  There are some great websites such as bookscreening.com and cosproductions.com that feature teaser trailers for books of most genres.  There is even information online about creating your own book trailers. Whether you’re trying to whet the appetite of a finicky teenage reader or browsing the Web for your own next great read, book trailers just seem like an innovative and creative way to spread the word about good books.


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Aug 10 2009

Homework, Help!

by Amanda L

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With school starting back today, homework is not far behind for the students of DeKalb County. How many times as a parent have you had your child come to you early in the evening and say  “I have an assignment due tomorrow morning, and I need to go to the Library!” I know my first thoughts are I don’t want to go out now.  My second thought is usually, the library will be closing shortly or is already closed.

We have a variety of electronic resources that may help you or your child with homework from home. They can be found on our Reference Database page.  For elementary and lower middle school children, many of the resources can be found on our Children’s page. You will need your DeKalb County library card number and your personal identification number (PIN) to access these resources. (The PIN is a 4 digit number.)

For general research help, we have online encyclopedias such as Groliers and Britannica. For social studies homework, there is Grolier’s Passport, Sirs Researcher, Student Resource Center for middle school and younger. For high school or older students, we also have CQ Researcher available.  For Science homework, there is Student Resource Center, Encyclopedia of Animals, and the National Science Digital Library  (available through GALILEO).  For literature homework, there is Literature Criticisms Online and Literature Resources from GALE.

Although the Learning Express Library is listed under test preparation, this resource has several tutorials, tests and diagnostic tests that can help with homework. For instance, they have practice and diagnostic tests for reading comprehension, a variety of math for all levels and vocabulary for high school students. This resource also has a few courses available such as Middle School Writing Courses, and some basic math courses.

Searching for newspaper or journal articles? We have a couple of resources for this type of research. The easiest way to search is to go to GALILEO.  (It will ask you for your library card and PIN numbers and then give you the current password. You will then type in the password to proceed.)  If you click on the search button and type in your keywords, it will search for relevant articles.  These are just a sampling of electronic resources that you have available at your fingertips from home.  Feel free to browse our database page or GALILEO.  If you need specific help on where to start your search, don’t forget to use our Email A Librarian service. It can be found under the Research tab on our home page.  Be sure to select “I need help finding information.”

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