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

January 2010

Jan 29 2010

Too Many Goodbyes

by Lesley B

CatcherThis has been a sad month for the world of books and readers. We lost Robert Parker, mystery writer, on January 19. Howard Zinn, the people’s historian, died January 27 and yesterday came the news that  J.D. Salinger, reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye, has died at the age of 91. According to their obituaries, Parker and Zinn were writing up to the very end. Parker was especially prolific and at least two finished books will appear after his death; but Salinger famously stopped publishing 45 years ago, although he continued to write fiction.  The author fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his unpublished letters private. If Salinger had novels and stories locked away, will his family decide to publish them? If they do, will you read them? I’m not sure I will. It seems disrespectful to read work the author so definitely did not want me to see. When unfinished works are published after an author dies,  I always wonder if the writer was really ready for me to see his work. We readers can be greedy and we want more of the characters and stories that we love, but I feel like I’ve arrived too early at a party. My company was requested—but not just yet, please.

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Jan 27 2010

Haiti

by Jnai W

My blog posts tend to be fairly random–just whatever’s on my mind at the moment. Right now that happens to be Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquakes that have ravaged the country.

For the past week or so I, like so many others, have been glued to the television and to the internet for any updates on the aftermath, relief efforts and ways to donate to the cause.  As heartbreaking as images and accounts of the tragedy have been, the outpouring of love and support has also been uplifting, encouraging and heartwarming.  Still, there’s always more that can be done, more that can be given.

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Jan 25 2010

What do you say, Dear?

by Patricia D

I vividly remember my maternal grandmother being horrified the day she caught me drinking the milk from my cereal bowl.  According to her I was obviously being raised by wolves and not her child since she hadn’t raised a hooligan.  I was five.   Please understand that this is the woman who insisted I learn how to curtsy (knowledge, much like working quadratic equations, I have never needed) and wear white gloves to church.  Even well into adult hood she was correcting my manners, scolding me for greeting her neighbors on our evening stroll with a nice “hey.”  “Hey,” she explained in no uncertain terms, was not a proper greeting in western Kentucky.  I will spare you my response but I tell you all this to explain, in some small way, my fascination with etiquette books.

I think one of the things I loved the most about the character Elle Woods, portrayed by Reese Witherspoon in the movie Legally Blonde is the fact that her manners are impeccable.  Even when she has been publicly humiliated she manages to keep her dignity AND find kind things to say to the woman who humiliated her.  By movie’s end she is much beloved, not because she can teach an entire salon full of women the “Bend and Snap” but because she never fails to be kind or stoops to the level of those around her.   She rises to every awkward and painful situation because  her manners are deeply ingrained and being able to react gracefully gives her the confidence to go on.   To paraphrase Miss Manners, also known as Judith Martin, manners are not meant to be used as blunt instruments on others but to put the other person at ease.  Of course, Judith Martin is the same woman who, as a young reporter for the Washington Post, was banned from Tricia Nixon’s wedding because she made the Nixon women “uncomfortable.”  No doubt Elle Woods would have been a more welcome guest.

If you just want some snappy reading try any of Miss Manner’s books.  Her detailed chart on weddings is a scream.  Categories include: Excruciatingly Correct, Less Formal and Over Miss Manners’ Dead Body.  If you just want to make certain you don’t bring up any little hooligans of your own, we have an app, er, book for that too.

Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin

What Do you Say when–Talking to People with Confidence on any Social or Business Occasion by Florence Isaacs

Civility Solution: What to Say When People are Rude by P.M. Forni

Teen Manners: From Malls to Meal to Messaging and Beyond by Cindy Post Senning

Being a Pig is Nice by Sally Lloyd-Jones

How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? by Jane Yolen

Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf by Judy Sierra

Smart Girl’s Guide to Manners: Secrets to Grace, Confidence and Being Your Best by Nancy Holyoke

Please is a Good Word to Say by Barbara Joose

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Jan 22 2010

Time Travel Fiction

by Jesse M

time-machine DCPLive imageIn this week’s post, I will discuss one of the most interesting and variable of genres, time travel fiction. For our purposes, time travel simply means either going forward or backward in time (for a more detailed explanation of time travel, go here). Time travel fiction can generally be divided into two distinct catagories, time travel fantasy vs. time travel science fiction. Generally, the categorization is made based upon the method of time travel; stories involving time travel devices and technologies are considered part of the science fiction genre, whereas stories that involve time travel through supernatural, magical, or unexplained means are considered part of the fantasy genre. Additionally, time travel science fiction is more likely to concern itself with the possible consequences of time travel, such as the Grandfather Paradox.

While time travel fiction has been around for centuries (many different cultures possess ancient myths and folktales in which the characters engage in something akin to forward time travel; examples include the Hindu account of King Kakudmi and the Japanese tale of Urashima Taro), it was in the 1800s that the genre came into its own. One of the earliest examples of time travel in fiction takes place in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (the ghosts of Christmas past and future serve as the medium by which the travel occurs, putting this into the time travel fantasy category). The latter part of the century saw the publication of the seminal time travel novel, H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, in which the protagonist builds a device which carries him to the far future, and eventually back again. The book marked the first appearance of a “time machine”, a term coined by Wells, and as such can be considered the first time travel science fiction novel (this is not entirely accurate, actually The Time Machine was his second published work involving the concept of time travel, the first being a short story titled The Chronic Argonauts, however The Time Machine was more successful and is responsible for popularizing the genre). Other novels published in the 1800s involving time travel include A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (which is an excellent example of time travel fantasy, as no explanation for the time travel is ever provided, and despite the protagonist’s introduction of ideas and technology well in advance of the time period, there is no examination of the potential consequences of this) by Mark Twain, and Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, the third largest best-seller of its time, which features a young American male who falls into a hypnotic sleep and wakes over 100 years in the future.

[read the rest of this post…]

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imagesThis past Monday the American Library Association announced the year’s best in children’s books and media. This much anticipated event includes a couple of the most well-known and prestigious awards- The Newbery and Caldecott Medals. The Newbery Medal is awarded to the author with the most outstanding contribution to American literature for children and has been awarded since 1922. The Caldecott Medal, awarded since 1937, is given to the artist with the most distinguished American children’s picture book.

And so, without further ado, the winner of this year’s Newbery Medal is:

Stead When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

And the winner of the Caldecott Medal is:

lion The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

For a complete list of youth awards given this year, check out the American Library Association’s website.

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Jan 15 2010

Out with the Old and in with the New

by Amanda L

Old Tucker library

Old Tucker library

I have had the honor over the last few weeks to help move the Tucker library from the old location to its new location. I say honor for several reasons. I grew up in the Tucker area and used the library since I was around four years old. I also worked at the branch from 1996-2001.

I worked the last day at the old location and it was truly a mix of emotions for many community members who came in and for myself. Did you know that the old location was built in 1965 and the entire library was contained in what we currently know as the Children’s area? The office in the Children’s area was the staff workroom and circulation area. The library opened with air conditioning which was uncommon for the time period. ( I remember on a hot summer day jumping for joy at a visit to the library to stand in front of the unit to cool off.)  The meeting room in the old location was the recreation center. Many of us that grew up in the 1970’s took ballet and other classes in that space. The space was renovated in the mid-1980’s.

Removing the materials from the building was physical work for the entire staff. We had movers to get the materials from the old location to the new. The staff however had to physically remove the material from the shelves and either box or place them in rolling containers. I can say now with experience that you don’t need a gym if you are moving a library.

Tucker_newThe dedication of the new library will be on Saturday, January 23 at 11:00 a.m. The library will be reopen for business on Monday, January 25, 2010.  It has been exciting to see all the new areas the Tucker library will hold. A few of my favorites are the fireplace, the teen area, the study carrels with their built-in electrical plugs and the wireless network.  The Library has posted many pictures of the new location on our Flickr page.  If you come by the new location, let me know what you like best about the new library. Post your best here, we would love to know what you think.

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Jan 13 2010

Divas at DCPL

by Jnai W

I happen to love all kinds of music but more than anything else I love The Divas. You know the types: singing sensations who have been blessed with extraordinary musical talent, undeniable charisma and, in a few cases, possible delusions of grandeur (even though, in truth, such singers are grand). Thanks to the Library, I’ve been able to “discover” the amazing singers of previous  generations (I hate to say of past generations because, to me, that implies that their impact has somehow diminished with time). I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect upon my favorite Divas of all time:

The Greatest Star/DivaBarbra Streisand: I had been wholly unfamiliar with Barbra Streisand’s work until a few years ago.  The first record I’d ever heard of hers was The Movie Album featuring the Charlie Chaplin classic “Smile” (one of my favorite songs of all time). I remember being in awe of the power, clarity and beauty of her voice, thinking I wanna hear every song this woman has ever sung! I haven’t yet, but I figured I should start with a greatest hits compilation (The Essential Barbra Streisand is a great place to start for the uninitiated). It also occurred to me to read up on the Brooklyn-born legend so I’ve picked up a fascinating book about her, Barbra: The Way She Is by Christopher Andersen.  It’s a captivating, fast-paced read that, if any of it is to be believed, casts Streisand as the Diva of all Divas; a woman of magnificent talent, unfettered ambition and enormous ego (but what’s a diva without an ego?).

Diva SupremeDiana Ross: I’ve always loved the Supremes, probably a little more than I’d enjoyed Diana Ross’ solo work but she’s another unabashed Diva. DCPL has lots of music by Diana Ross, as a Supreme (we have this great box set, covered in magenta velvet, that I really like) and as a soloist. Also for fans of unauthorized biographies, such as myself, J. Randy Taraborrelli has written a fun, action-packed tome about this diva.

Over The Rainbow DivaJudy Garland: I’ve been a fan of Judy Garland since seeing her in The Wizard of Oz as a youngster. Her voice is an instrument of heartbreaking beauty; rich and soaring with its distinctive vibrato . The Library also has lots of music and several books about the magnificent Ms. Garland.

Material DivaMadonna: Arguably, Madonna can’t exactly hold a candle (vocally, at least) to the aforementioned Divas, even though she’s delivered many of the seminal pop classics of the late 20th century. But she is remarkable in her ability to re-imagine and reinvent herself with the times.  She’s also got several tell-all books devoted to her mythic and perhaps even cutthroat journey to the top, including one by her brother Christopher Ciccone.

I Will Always Love This DivaDolly Parton: I’ve always admired Dolly Parton as a talented, ambitious and shrewd performer, businesswoman and artist. Also, she happens to be one of my all-time favorite songwriters, having penned such classics as “Coat of Many Colors,” “Joshua” and “I Will Always Love You” (which has been covered by another Diva, Whitney Houston). Her way with words and her one of a kind, crystalline voice (not to mention her country-girl-made-good sense of style) put her into a class all by herself.

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So here’s how it happened:  I was cruising around on Amazon and I found  a magazine article for sale on a topic in which I have a great interest.   I wanted to read this article but suspected it wasn’t something I was going to want to keep and it was an absolute that I didn’t want to pay $10.00 for the privilege of downloading it.  I know–you think I just went to the magazine’s web page and read the article there, right?  You may be forgiven for thinking that because frequently that is exactly what I do.  In this case though, the magazine didn’t even have a website.  I was not to be denied in my quest and I did the next best thing.  I went to www.dekalblibrary.org, logged on with my library card number and PIN and then chose the Research header on the home page.  I then chose Magazines and Newspapers and clicked on Research Library at ProQuest.  I plugged in the title of the article and there it was.  Guess what–I appreciated the article but  I was awfully glad I didn’t have to cough up a tenner to read it.

But wait!  There’s more!  Hypothetically speaking, you are sitting in your kitchen at 1:30 in the morning, worrying about the smashed bumper on your car, which is your own fault because you were doing something stupid in the driveway.  You can’t sleep for the worry and your brother, who just wants to go to bed says, “If we had a  Chilton’s right now I could tell you if I can fix it with a part from the junkyard.”  You shout, “Hey! We have something that looks exactly like Chilton’s and we can look at it now.”  Then you fire up the computer, go to www.dekalblibrary.org and log in.  After that you choose Reference Databases and then AutoRepair Reference Center and you now know that you can sleep because your brother looks over the pages he needs and says, “Yeah, we can fix it easy, we’ll just call the junkyard in the morning.  Now go to bed.”

See, DeKalb County Public Library is there for me, 24/7, saving me money and sleep.  Take some time to play on our site and get to know what’s there that can save you the same.

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Jan 8 2010

Read, Record, Remember

by Jesse M

Happy new year, and welcome to 2010!  In addition to making resolutions that I’m unlikely to keep, there is another new year’s tradition I’ve been observing the past few years; creating and updating a reading list.

Working in libraries, something I hear regularly from patrons is that they have trouble recalling whether or not they have read a certain title.  This problem is particularly common with patrons who enjoy reading the output of prolific authors such as James Patterson or Nora Roberts (for instance, Nora Roberts has just short of 200 published full-length works under her belt). I advise these patrons to do what I do, and start a list of works read, perhaps with a brief summary and review of the book so that they can recall not only having read the book, but whether they enjoyed it or not (if you are really motivated, you might even include information such as genre, author’s gender, and any other variables you might like to keep track of and compare later). This process is rewarding not only in the sense that it acts to bolster your memory of books completed, but also in the way it gives you a tangible view of the amount of reading you have accomplished throughout the year. I typically set a goal for myself of 52 books per year (that is, one book completed per week, on average), an objective I have yet to achieve but enjoy striving for. Once you have collected more than one year’s worth of data, you can begin manipulating the numbers to get a very detailed picture of your reading habits and proclivities.

For an example of the sort of information that can be generated from such a list, take a gander at the breakdown from the reading list of Jessamyn West of Librarian.net. Just at a glance, we can see that she read more at the beginning of the year than at the end, that she read slightly more fiction than non-fiction, that the majority of books she read were produced by male authors, and that, for the most part, she enjoys the books she picks (if you are interested in following Jessamyn as she logs and reviews her book conquests, visit her booklist here). The more information you include when recording the completed book in your log, the more data you will have to work with when doing future analysis of your reading patterns.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Jan 6 2010

What’s Cooking @ the Library?

by Nancy M

Every year, like so many others, I half-heartedly attempt a New Year’s resolution. Gone are the days where I try to guilt myself into going to the gym, being more organized, and wasting less time on Facebook. As I get older, I realize I’m just setting myself up for failure. But last year in an attempt to save more money and eat healthier (hopefully eliminating the gym altogether), I resolved to stop eating out so much and start cooking at home. While my resolution wasn’t a complete success—I still like to eat out a lot—I did learn that I actually can cook. Well, I can follow a recipe. This year I plan on getting more serious, which isn’t that hard to do since the Library has tons of great cookbooks with cuisines from all over the world. It’s fun to bring a new one home and try out the recipes rather than commit to buying one. A few of my favorites include:

barefootcontessaBarefoot Contessa Back to Basics by Ina Garten

cleanfoodClean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source by Terry Walters

howtocookHow to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food  by Mark Bittman

There are also some great websites and cooking blogs worth checking out:

Fine Cooking

Their slogan is “We bring out the cook in you” and I couldn’t agree more. Thousands of free top-notch recipes that make me look like I am a better cook than I really am.

The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummon, a.k.a. Pioneer Woman, shows how to cook delicious homemade fare with step-by-step photos.

Supercook

Life is about to get much easier since I discovered this site. You simply type in the ingredients you have at home and Supercook finds you a recipe. You can also start an account and keep a running list of ingredients.

The Library has plenty of cookbooks for children and teens. These books can help children learn their way around the kitchen and teach them the importance of eating right; international cuisines can serve as an introduction to a new culture.

growitGrow It Cook edited by Deborah Lock

holyHoly Guacamole!: and Other Scrumptious Snacks by Nick Fauchald

cookThe Spatulatta Cookbook by Isabella and Olivia Gerasole

Cookbooks can be found in your Library under the Call Number 641. Books about food and culture can be found under 394.

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