It has been over two years since the beginning of the recession, and though the economy is slowly recovering, dramatically reduced tax revenues along with higher demand for public services and assistance has left many municipalities with vast budget shortfalls. In order to balance the books, many local governments have had to reduce or even eliminate public services considered to be non-essential, and unfortunately one of the first targets is often the library system.
New York City is no exception to this sad story. The New York Public Library faces a funding cut of $37million, a staggering amount of money whose absence could lead to nearly a dozen branch closures, reduced service days (four per week rather than six), and the elimination of numerous programs for kids and adults. Fortunately NYPL isn’t taking this lying down and has initiated an advocacy campaign called Don’t Close the Book on Libraries, which encourages people to write letters to their representatives on the Library’s behalf and/or donate funds directly to the Library. In order to help get the message out, NYPL has partnered with Improv Everywhere (who describe themselves as a “long form improvisation troupe which executes pre-planned ‘missions’ which usually involve socially awkward or unusual situations.”) to produce a viral video in the library. Specifically, they decided to stage a sort of recreation of a scene from the 1984 film Ghostbusters which was shot in the Rose Main Reading Room. You can watch video of the “mission” below:
Of course, NYPL isn’t the only library system feeling the pinch. The American Library Association has a list of links to websites dedicated to saving the library systems in their states which you can view here.
Working in DCPL, for me, is like being a kid in a candy store. All day long I’m surrounded by intriguing and irresistible books and media. As a result, I often take leave of my senses and borrow more items than I can reasonably read in 3, 6 or even 9 weeks. Thus, I find myself returning many items before I have the chance to complete them, vowing to one day pick up each book where I left off. Here are a few titles that top my To Be Continued list:
Evil: An Investigation by Lance Morrow: Of all the different types of books in the Library, I find that I’m drawn to nonfiction more than anything else. I love books that are thought-provoking, informative, startling and, in many cases, infuriating. So you can imagine how intrigued I’d be by a book entitled Evil. Morrow’s essay is an examination of an idea that’s as ancient as time and as elusive as eternity. What is evil? Can it be quantified? Can it be controlled or vanquished? How should I know? I didn’t get to finish this one.
Paint It Black by Janet Fitch: This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed and came this close to finishing but I think it was fairly new at the time and I couldn’t renew it. Either way, this story introduces us to Josie Tyrell, a young actress/model, coping with the death of her boyfriend and forging an uneasy relationship with Meredith, her boyfriend’s mother. It’s a book that I poured over and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Alas, that wasn’t enough to allow me to finish reading it in my three allotted weeks.
Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography by Andrew Morton: Normally, I have little trouble reading through Unauthorized Biographies. They are easy to digest, chock full of gossip and delicious dish from reliably unreliable sources and, perhaps most importantly, once one has finished reading it, there’s no distracting aftertaste of profundity and a lesson learned. I don’t remember what, if anything, I learned from the few pages I read of this. But everytime I watch Jerry Maguire it reminds me I never did finish that Tom Cruise book.
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien: I’ve tried several times throughout my life to finish this one. Not that it’s not a classic and an incredible book. It’s just that, whenever I’m in the midst of this book, another book always comes along and catches my eye. But I’ve been watching the animated film since I was kid so maybe I that’s why I keep skipping it over on my To Be Continued List (“Well, I do already know the story…and I did see all of the Lord of The Rings films. I’ll just come back to it…”). But that’s not really much of an excuse, is it?
I have been using Twitter for a year and a half now. If you don’t know what Twitter is, it is a social networking and micro blogging service. It enables you to send a 140 character post.
Although you can send posts out into the world, you may also “follow” people and hear what they have to say. The Twitter world has evolved where you can add hash tags (#) with words to enable others to search grouped comments.
Recently I was interested in the Dove Awards and was disappointed that I would not be able to see who won since it was not carried live nor did I get the cable station it was shown on later. I was able to find out who won from following many of the artists. As the awards were being announced, both the winners and those artists attending sent tweets into the world. Following the variety of tweets, I almost felt like I was there. I was also able to know who won before it was announced in a variety of media. (How cool is that?)
Twitter has become the go to news source for many people. I know that I can find out what is going on locally by either searching by hash tags or keywords if I have heard of an event or incident. The Library of Congress has also noticed this phenomenon. Since they have the capability to archive digital files they are in the process of archiving all of the tweets that have ever been posted. An article about this was recently written in the American Prospect.
Want to learn more about Twitter? Listed below are a few books we have on Twitter. As with any technology, if you’re interested go play with it. Of course if you want to find out what is happening at your local library follow us on Twitter.
School might be out and summer vacation here, but that doesn’t mean your child should be taking a hiatus from reading and learning. Yes, summer can be filled with camp, vacations, the pool, movies and sheer laziness (oh, how I miss those days) but kids who neglect reading for 3 months start off the next school year a lot worse off than those who don’t.
But do not fret, DeKalb County Public Libraries are here for you and your children! Every summer DCPL, along with libraries all across the country, offer the Vacation Reading Program. This year’s theme is Make a Splash—Read! and it is a reading incentive program for children of all ages. Sign up begins on Saturday, May 22 and will continue through July 31. Visit any DeKalb County Public Library branch to sign up. You can view sign-up instructions and rules here.
Many years ago a friend handed me a book to read. I immediately put it down because it was a romance and I did not read romances. My experiences with the genre had come primarily at the hands of the good folks at Harlequin Publications and I had learned, even as a tender teen, that I can’t abide stories where the plot hinges on the heroine being stupid to a fault. However, I have pushy friends. So, I read Georgette Heyer’s Friday’s Child and was hooked. Her Regency romances were my new passion. All these years later she still is one of my favorite writers and though there are others who have tried to tread the Regency Romance stage (Marion Chesney, Patricia Veryan, Patricia Wrede) they, IMHO as we now say, have been found lacking. Yes, I know. Calm down. You are sitting there screaming “What about Jane Austen!” She is, it should not need saying, magnificent. She is sharp, satirical and a wonderful window to her times and a woman’s lot in them. For all her sterling qualities though, she’s never made me laugh so hard I dropped the book. Ms. Heyer gives us one heroine who accidentally puts off a proposal by requesting Restorative Pork Jelly of her suitor (Frederica, which is currently on order for our collection) and another who shoots her cousin’s jilted suitor in an effort to drum up some sympathy for him (The Grand Sophy, also on order for the collection) and is not at all surprised when her plans actually produce the intended results.
Georgette Heyer was an accomplished historian and I believe it is this fact alone that ranks her work so far above others. Her books are filled with romance and manners but she thoroughly grounds them in the times, providing a sweet counterpoint to Bernard Cornwell’s equally well researched Richard Sharpe stories. It is Georgette Heyer who led me to delve so deeply into the non-fiction section, and frankly, I’d rather get my Regency fix reading a good biography than slogging my way through a pale imitation of Austen or Heyer. Some titles I turn to are:
Baen books also offers something else which sets them apart from their peers: free downloads of select published works by their stable of authors through The Baen Free Library. Baen author Eric Flint explains:
“Baen Books is now making available — for free — a number of its titles in electronic format. We’re calling it the Baen Free Library. Anyone who wishes can read these titles online — no conditions, no strings attached.”
The idea is that rather than adopt the restrictive digital rights management approach, authors could choose to allow the opening novel in a series to be read online for free, under the theory that a free copy would get people interested in the author and would not only increase sales of the physical book itself but also create return buyers for the other titles in the series. Additionally, as Flint points out, their approach is an effective way to generate word of mouth advertising:
“How many people who read a book they like which they obtained from a public library never mention it to anyone? As a rule, in my experience, people who frequently borrow books from libraries are bibliophiles. And bibliophiles, in my experience, usually can’t refrain from talking about books they like.”
The DCPL catalog contains many titles by these authors, so if one of the free ebooks available from Baen piques your interest in a series, it is likely you can get the rest of the books for free as well, from your local library.
Although you can get many magazines online these days, to me there’s nothing better than sitting down with a good cup of coffee or tea and perusing the nice shiny pages of a magazine.
The library offers over 300 choices from AARP to Z magazine. This breaks out to 1700 subscriptions among the branches. We have three subscriptions in Chinese, three in Spanish and one in Russian. The issues found at most of the branches include Oprah, Newsweek and Essence.
Did you know you can check out up to five issues at a time for three weeks? If you’d rather look online, you can use GALILEO to search EBSCOhost or ProQuest. (See your reference librarian if you’re not sure how to do this.)
Unfortunately, DCPL has been hit with cutbacks and many subscriptions have been cut. My branch alone cut nearly thirty titles. There is a bright side to all this, the library accepts gift subscriptions from patrons like you. So the next time you’re missing your Economist or InStyle magazine, know that you can give back to DCPL.
Recently, I saw a documentary on MTV about American Idiot, the brand new Broadway show based on the smash hit Green Day album of the same title. Technically, I can’t call myself a true Green Day fan (I’m not so familiar with their music, really) but I loved their American Idiot album so I’m pretty excited about the show (I’ll add “Seeing American Idiot on Broadway” to my 30th birthday wishlist).
Anyway, this whole thing really started me thinking about Broadway and, specifically, musical theatre. There’s something so invigorating, so infectious and so glorious about seeing a musical. Nothing beats live theatre for a great time and some top notch entertainment. Luckily, though, if you can’t hop a flight to NYC for a night on the Great White Way, you can get your theater kicks vicariously through DCPL. Here are some of my favorite materials:
Broadway: The American Musical—This is an amazing PBS documentary series tracing the modern American musical from its vaudevillian roots to its current, big-business incarnation. The venerable Julie Andrews is the host of this program which features clips of some of the amazing Broadway performers of past and present. This was so informative I took notes.
Show Business: The Road To Broadway—Here is a fascinating documentary of the 2003-2004 Broadway season, focusing on four of the biggest shows of that season: the blockbuster hit Wicked, the critically-acclaimed Caroline, or Change, the irreverent sleeper hit Avenue Q and the commercial flop Taboo. I was spellbound from start to finish as this film chronicled the inner workings of Broadway business.
Broadway’s Lost Treasures—If you’re simply looking to revisit the best of Broadway from seasons past, this might be a great series to check out. Broadway’s Lost Treasures is a compilation of showstopping performances from past Tony Awards shows. You may also want to take a look at volumes 2 and 3 of this series for more treasures.
Now, I know this post has been leaning more toward the musical theatre side of Broadway but DCPL has a wealth of great resources on dramatic (and non-musical) productions. I can’t say that I’ve read them yet but I’m pretty sure they’re fabulous (would they be in the Library if they weren’t?).
We are beyond lucky in DeKalb County to be the host site for the Georgia Center for the Book. The GCB’s mission is to provide support to libraries, literary programs and, whaddaya know, literature. They do it in fine style and though the mission is to serve the entire state many of the programs are based in the metro area. Over the years I have attended many GCB events at the Decatur Library and the Carter Center. I missed Christopher Moore discussing Fool and Paula Deen sharing her story in Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin’ because I had to work, but I also had the great pleasure of meeting Annette Gordon Reed when she was here discussing her amazing, Pulitzer prize winning The Hemingses of Monticello. Many of the GCB Author Talks are also available on the website as downloadable podcasts. As a children’s librarian I have a tough time keeping up with adult literature and have to work hard to find things I might like. Thanks to GCB programs I have read many books I would otherwise have skipped (Finn by Jon Clinch and Martha Washington: An America Life by Patricia Brady) which is why I’m so pleased to see the “25 Books All Georgian’s Should Read” list. I probably won’t get to read everything on it in 2010 but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into this list. You should try it out too. See the completed list here.