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

February 2010

Feb 26 2010

Help Wanted – Optimal Resume

by Lesley B

This month the Library added a new online tool for our patrons – Optimal Resume (available through our Reference Databases page). As the name suggests, Optimal Resume assists you in creating a resume and cover letter but it has many other features that make it a comprehensive aid to job seekers. Every day, library staff help people using our computers make resumes and search for work. We’ve been looking for something that would make it easier for job seekers and Optimal Resume is the best product we’ve seen. It’s used in many college and university career centers and we’re happy to be able to offer it to DeKalb County residents.

To use Optimal Resume, you will need to first set up your account through the library’s website. If you’re accessing the website at home, you will need your library card number and PIN. You only have to go through the Library’s website the first time. Once you’ve set up your account, you can login directly to our Optimal Resume website.

Once you login, you’re taken to the Document Center. The resume and letter sections have lots of professionally written sample resumes and lots of online help (like a link that suggests appropriate “action verbs”). Optimal Resume takes you section by section through the resume process and formats the document for you. You can work with their examples, start your resume from scratch or upload an existing resume. You can customize your resume for different job openings and store all the versions online in your Optimal Resume account. No more keeping your resume as an email attachment or on your flash drive (we have a lot of flash drives in our lost-and-found drawers.)

Beyond creating resumes and letters, Optimal Resume will help you create your own website. You can post your resume, create an online portfolio and more. Your website can be public or password protected. I used several of the sample documents to create a resume and application letter for the imaginary Jane X. Sample. You can see her personal website at http://dekalblibrary.confidentialresume.com/Jane_X_Sample/.

If you have access to a webcam, you can use Optimal Resume to record yourself during a practice interview. A video “coach” offers advice on good ways to answer some of the usual interview questions. It’s a great way to rehearse for a real world interview.

The Libray is offering classes to help you get started with Optimal Resume and staff will be also be available to assist you with the site during any of our “Open Labs for Job Seekers”. Come in and try it out at any of our libraries or at any time from your home computer.

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Feb 25 2010

Salman Rushdie Archive

by Jimmy L

Celebrated British novelist Salman Rushdie will have a multimedia exhibit of his life and works at the Emory Library’s Schatten Gallery from February 26 to September 26, 2010.  The exhibit is called “A World Mapped by Stories: The Salman Rushdie Archive,” and as part of the opening festivities tomorrow (Friday, February 26) there will be a symposium with Rushdie and other authors.  Read the full press release to find out more details.

The DeKalb County Public Library has copies of many of Rushdie’s novels, including Shame, Midnight’s Children, which won the Man Booker Prize as well as the Best of Booker Prize in 2008, The Satanic Verses, Haroun and the Sea of Stories and about a kazillion others.

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Feb 22 2010

Literary Inspiration

by Jimmy L

I remember when I was a little boy I was so disappointed to find out that most adult books didn’t have pictures. What fun is a book without pictures? I was outraged. Today, still, I think pictures are a great way to enhance the reading experience. Luckily, I’ve found many others who agree with me. Some of them are visual artists who have been inspired by literature or literary figures. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight two blogs that show off a wide range of literary inspired art.

Picture Book Report

I love this blog. It’s a project where many different visual artists have agreed to re-illustrate the classics. Each artist chooses one book to work from, and each week we get new artwork illustrating key scenes from that book. Some of the books chosen so far have been Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, A Wrinkle in Time, Geek Love, and many others. The visual styles vary greatly from artist to artist. For me, it’s really illuminating to see someone else’s conception of a well loved classic.

Hey Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobberin’ Time!!!

Yes, it’s a silly name for a blog. I’m not sure what the story behind the name is, but it’s a fun website where different artists draw or paint portraits of their favorite literary authors or characters. There must be over a hundred artists participating, and they’ve drawn everyone from H.P. Lovecraft and Kurt Vonnegut to Willy Wonka and Ignatius J. Reilly.

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Feb 19 2010

OpenCourseWare

by Jesse M

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” Such was the wisdom of American industrialist Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company and father of the modern assembly line. I agree with the sentiment and attempt to make every day a learning experience (working in a library is a big help in this endeavor). If you feel like I do, then you may be interested in checking out one of the many OpenCourseWare offerings available online.

OpenCourseWare can be defined as the free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses. Such courses typically do not offer certification, or access to instructors, but are excellent resources for furthering your own knowledge in a given area. The first OpenCourseWare selections were offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 and since then a large and growing number of institutions (including many highly regarded universities such as Stanford, Yale, and Harvard Medical School, among others) have published their own OpenCourseWare projects. As of 2009, MIT had over 1900 courses available online, with reading lists and discussion topics, homework problems and exams (often with solutions) and lecture notes. Some courses also include interactive web demonstrations in Java or MATLAB, complete textbooks written by MIT professors, and streaming video lectures. Other institutions boast similar offerings.

For a list of institutions offering OpenCourseWare resources, click here. The listings are divided into nine categories, including Academic Behemoths (MIT), Ivy League (Yale), and International (University of Tokyo). Or, if you prefer, you can utilize the OCW Finder, which, as its name suggests, helps people find OpenCourseWare.

Of course, if you are interested in autodidacticism you needn’t venture farther than your neighborhood library. The DCPL catalog contains two excellent educational series (Great Courses and Modern Scholar) available for checkout in both CD and DVD format.

So take advantage of these resources and keep your mind young for life!

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Feb 17 2010

Podcasting + Short Stories = ?

by Jimmy L

As you might remember from my podcasting blog post from a few months ago, I’m a huge fan of podcasts!  Recently I’ve also become a huge fan of short stories.  I don’t know why they are not more popular.  Think about it: people have less time than ever,  they are constantly on the move, and with so much to read and do, who has time to finish a tome like this one or this other one.  What a better format than a 20 page short story that you can read at the bus stop?  Better yet, a 20 minute short story you can listen to while working out?  I think the combination of podcasts and short stories is up there in the list of genius combinations with rice and beans, Romeo and Juliet, and jeans and t-shirts.  So without further ado, here are some of my favorite free short story podcasts:

Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast

Miette reads both classic and contemporary short stories in her soothing English accent.  This is one of my favorite podcasts, and true to its name, I’ve fallen asleep many times while listening (though sometimes the stories gives me weird dreams).  The best part about this podcast is that all the stories are handpicked by Miette herself, who has unpredictably quirky but excellent taste.

The New Yorker Fiction Podcast

Every month in this podcast they ask one short story writer to pick and read any story from The New Yorker archives that has influenced them or that they just really enjoy.  Afterwards, the writer talks about the story with fiction editor, Deborah Treisman.  It’s interesting to see what stories different writers pick.  For instance, I thought it was surprising that George Saunders chose Isaac Babel’s short story “You Must Know Everything,”  (which was one of my favorite stories in this whole series, and introduced me to a great writer).

PRI: Selected Shorts Podcast

This podcast gets professional actors to read short stories in front of  a studio audience.  Each episode follows a theme for an hour, and usually contains 3 or 4 short stories.  The performances are top-notch and really draw you in.

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Feb 12 2010

Who is Brett Favre?

by Amanda L

I often have questions come to me about information concerning a variety of people. The Library has a wonderful resource called Biography Resource Center. I have found that if the person is even remotely famous, you can find information about him/her in this resource.

The type of information available ranges from short biographical entries to very detailed biographical information.  Biography Resource Center often provides links to magazine articles. If you have a library card with us, you can access this resource 24/7 using your library card and PIN number.  It is located on our Reference Database page under the History and Biography section.

To answer my original question, Brett Favre is a quarterback who has been playing professional football since 1991. He has played for the Atlanta Falcons (drafted),  Green Bay Packers,  New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. Want to know more about Brett Favre? Check out the Biography Resource Center. Of course, we also have a few biographies about him if you want a more detailed account about his life.

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It’s T-minus 10 hours before this blog post is due to appear on the Library’s website and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m panicking a little bit. My muse had been M.I.A until just now as I’m hammering out this idea.

This post was originally gonna be about New Year’s Resolutions (i.e “So how are you guys doing with your resolutions? I’m doing horribly! Go to the Library. Done.”). But that idea got boring so I decided to maybe post about not having anything good to wear in my closet and to perhaps recommend one of the Library’s style books (namely How To Have Style by Isaac Mizrahi). That idea didn’t really go anywhere either but I did remember one of my favorite ideas from the Mizrahi book.  Mizrahi suggests that before buying a whole new wardrobe, one good thing to do is to get some inspiration.

Inspiration is a good thing…and that brings us closer to the point of this blog post.  Mizrahi’s idea is to create an inspiration board–a large corkboard upon which to post photos and images of things that inspire you and can perhaps inspire your  personal style. I’ve written a list of the people/images that would fill my corkboard should I ever get around to creating one: dandelions, Ugly Betty, Eric Carle illustrations and libraries.  Then I started thinking of how great it would be if I could create a virtual corkboard filled with video clips and images that I like.

From there I did a Google search and found this video about an online corkboard of sorts called Spaaze.com. Now I’m sure, considering how tech savvy DCPL patrons are, this may not be news to many people. But in case it is, take a look at this clip:

I find this pretty fascinating and I look forward to tooling around with it. It’s also nice to know how to pronounce its name (for the past few hours I couldn’t decide if it was pronounced spas or spazz).

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Feb 8 2010

The Other List

by Patricia D

I’ve reached the point in my life where I just can’t sit through dramas, thrillers or a movie with a message.  I have a  Movies I Will Always Be Glad I Saw list.  It contains titles like The Great Escape.  Amazing film because for one thing, the cast is cool.  It also puts Chicken Run into context and raises it from just a crazy claymation piece to something hilarious—watching a chicken do her best Cooler King impression, well, that’s worth quite a bit.  However, that last scene, in the field?  Did me in and broke my heart.  I’ll never watch Amadeus again—brilliant but also heartbreaking, which is the same reason I’ll never again sit through RanThelma and Louise, The Seven Samurai or  Sophie’s Choice.

Naturally, there are movies I will always watch, no matter when they are on or where I am—Star Wars, because c’mon, Han Solo in the cantina?  You better believe it.  The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Great Race, When Harry Met Sally, Wilby Wonderful, Rush Hour, Strictly Ballroom—all on the Pleasant Ways to Fritter Away Time list.

Now, for the Other List.  I’m going to share this without shame or fear of condemnation because I believe everyone has a list like this.  It’s the Stupid Movies I’m Almost Ashamed to Admit I Watch list.  On a really tough day at the office I need some Dodge Ball.  It tickles me so much but there is no chance ever that someone will put it on a list of great movies.  Sometimes I also need Talladega Nights—for heaven’s sake, Will Farrell chews the scenery worse than a bored Labrador Retriever but I can’t  stop laughing.  There’s also The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension, Miss Congeniality, Shanghai Noon, Wedding Crashers, Lethal Weapon (because sometimes I like watching stuff blow up) and The Last Boy Scout (for the same reason, plus even after all these years I still have a soft spot for Bruce Willis).

‘Fess up here, folks.  Stand up straight and tall and join me with your own  list—don’t be ashamed to admit you’ll watch Bring it On anytime you find it while flipping channels—I’m not.

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Feb 5 2010

A new breed of community libraries

by Jesse M

With the global economy still reeling from the sub-prime housing crisis and its various aftershocks, governments everywhere are feeling the pinch, particularly at the local levels.  Budgets have been slashed and when the hard decisions must be made as to how to balance them, departments considered to be “non-essential” are usually first on the chopping block.  Sadly, this category often includes the local library.  The Dekalb County Public Library system has been very fortunate and hasn’t been forced to make any service reductions or branch closures, however others have not been so lucky. In this environment of reduced and discontinued services, a few communities have decided to take matters into their own hands.

In Hannover, Germany, some neighborhoods are served by a community bookshelf. The shelves are placed in various areas around the city and completely free and accessible to all. Borrowers don’t need library cards, nor must they worry about overdue fines. In return, all that is asked of borrowers is that they donate a couple of books of their own in order to ensure that a healthy supply is available.

In Westbury-sub-Mendip, a small village in southwest England, residents raised an outcry when they learned they were to lose their “beloved” red phone booth, fresh on the heels of the discontinuation of their mobile library service. So when one creative resident suggested transforming the phone booth into a miniature library, the idea was accepted immediately. The parish council purchased the red phone booth, outfitted it with four wooden shelves, residents donated books (and a notice reading “Silence please”), and the mini-library began operation. It quickly became a hit. The library is open 24/7 (it is lit at night), and the inventory is checked regularly in order to identify titles which are not circulating (which are then donated to charity), in order to keep the selection fresh. And the residents of Westbury-sub-Mendip are not the only ones who have had the bright idea to re-purpose a phone booth. British Telecom has received 770 applications from communities to “adopt a kiosk”, and thus far 350 booths have been distributed to parish councils throughout England.

I’d love to have something like this in my neighborhood, how about you?

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Feb 3 2010

Happy New Year!

by Nancy M

Chinese New Year, that is. Chinese New Year is a centuries-old celebration that is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. The New Year celebrations begin on the first full moon of the year and last for about a week to 15 days.  This year marks the year of the Tiger and will begin on February 14. Festivities take place all over the world and many images that characterize the New Year include dragons, lanterns, fireworks and parades. Check out some wonderful images from last year’s celebrations at The Big Picture.

If you would like your child to learn more about Chinese New Year, the Library is an excellent resource! Check out the following books:

Celebrate Chinese New Year by Carolyn Otto

Paper Crafts for Chinese New Year by Randel McGee

D is for Dragon Dance by Ying Chang Compestine

The Chamblee Library will be hosting fun and festive programs in honor of the New Year and the Year of the Tiger. Children can drop by the Library by February 13 to pick up a tiger to decorate and enter in their Chinese New Year Art Contest and they can attend the Chinese New Year Craft on February 6. And don’t miss out on Chamblee Library’s Chinese New Year Celebration kickoff on February 13. There will be traditional drumming, dancing, and more! For more information call the Chamblee Library at (770) 936-1380 or check their online event schedule.

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