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

February 2011

Feb 28 2011

The Rites of Spring

by Greg H

The Super Bowl is now over so the baseball fans among us will soon hear the terse yet soothing sentence “Pitchers and catchers report.”  These four words, more than the appearance of robins or crocuses, tell us that spring and the return of baseball are truly not far off. Fortunately, for those of us who live in the south, neither are they very far away.  Approximately 500 miles separates Atlantans from the spring training sites of numerous American and National League teams, including our own Atlanta Braves.

For the baseball fan spring training offers some very satisfying moments that the regular season can’t.  The first, and most obvious, is a chance to enjoy genuine spring weather while the calendar still says it’s winter.  Friends back home are still wearing coats and checking the weather reports for snow but you are wearing shorts and checking to make sure you brought sun block.  (And you should!  It isn’t usually very hot but the sun it still strong.)

Another treat is the sense that you are getting an insider look at the baseball season before it begins; sort of like being able to watch rehearsals for a Broadway production from the wings.  All the legends and rookies and free agents are arrayed before you.  Watch them perform and guess who the next star will be!  You’ll know before anyone back home.

Are you a people person?  You’ll find that everyone sitting around you is a fan just like you so the ice is already broken!  You might be sharing your row with a family from Minnesota or some young women from Toronto or an older man who just happens to be from very near your home town. It doesn’t matter. Everyone has stories to tell and reminiscences to share. You may not be there to root for the Cleveland Indians but you’re part of a tribe nonetheless.

Still not convinced? Well, the ball parks are smaller, autographs and foul balls are easier to get and tickets and concessions are less expensive than at the regular season games.  But if you still need a nudge, consider these books which are available at your Dekalb County Public Library system.

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Strahov Theological Hall in Prague, Czech Republic

I’ve posted about beautiful library buildings on the blog before, but I’ve recently stumbled across another set of fifteen stunning library structures that I’d like to share. These buildings are awesome in the truest sense of the word, and the money and manpower expended to construct them is a testament to how important and well-regarded libraries are worldwide. Go here to view the complete list of images.

If you enjoyed that, you might also be interested in checking out the following titles, available through the DCPL catalog:

The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World, which profiles over 20 library institutions worldwide.

The Library: An Illustrated History, which presents the history of libraries from ancient to modern times along with illustrations and photographs.

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Feb 23 2011

Gutenberg’s revolution

by Dea Anne M

If you visit the New York Public Library at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street you will, no doubt, find yourself in the magnificent McGraw Rotunda which is famous for its huge four-panel mural called The Story of the Recorded Word. One of these panels, Gutenberg Showing a Proof to the Elector of Mainz, depicts Johannes Gutenberg, the German printer and publisher whose introduction in Europe of movable type printing and the invention of the printing press helped to usher in what we think of as the modern world. His most famous production was, of course, The Gutenberg Bible, which first appeared on or around February 23, 1455. Communication, including the dissemination of knowledge, was changed forever. The fact that books printed in this way were inexpensive and widely available led to controversies throughout the continent but there is no denying that Gutenberg’s invention was one of the most important in history.

For more about the Gutenberg Bible (the New York Public library owns a copy!) check out Mankind’s Greatest Invention and the Story of the First Printed Bible by John M. Fontana.

For more about Gutenberg himself, try Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World With Words by John Man

If you’re interested in how the existence of books, and libraries, has often been challenged, and defended, throughout history check out  Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battles.

For an interesting fictional take on a controversial printing project in Renaissance Venice try The Floating Book by Michelle Lovric.

As far as revolutionary ideas go, few would argue that the Internet continues to change the way we communicate…and think. The February 14th issue of  The  New Yorker features an article by Adam Gopnik in which he addresses this phenomenon with his characteristic humor by profiling a series of new titles that are, as he describes them, “books explaining why books no longer matter”.  Provocative and definitely worth checking out.

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Feb 18 2011

Ask Not…

by Tammy H

Many Americans are quite familiar with President John F. Kennedy’s well-known quote. Fifty years ago on January 20, 1961; during his inaugural address he stated, “And so my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country”. Often, I like to relate his quote to the world of libraries. Here is my quote “so my fellow library patrons: ask not what your library can do for you—ask what you can do for your library.” Libraries have the propensity to change the quality of life for all patrons. Therefore, here is my list of things library patrons can do for their library.

  1. Sign up for a library card.
  2. Attend library programs, such as children’s storytimes, book discussions, author talks, teen activities and computer classes.
  3. Check out library materials; books, CD’s, DVD’s and audio books.
  4. Join your local library’s Friends of the Library group.
  5. Volunteer at your local library.
  6. Donate money to the Library’s Foundation.

Libraries and library patrons go hand in hand impacting individual lives as well as communities. Actively participating with your local library will make a lifetime impact. Please visit your local library soon.

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Feb 17 2011

Brian Jacques, 1939-2011

by Joseph M

Brian Jacques, English author of the popular Redwall series of books, among others, died last week at the age of 71.

Reflecting the rich tradition of such works as Watership Down and The Wind in the Willows, the Redwall novels feature anthropomorphic animals in a medieval setting. The series currently consists of twenty-one novels and two picture books, with another novel slated for publication later this year, and adaptations have been created for television and even opera. You can find Redwall and other stories by Brian Jacques in our catalog. Happy reading.

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Feb 14 2011

Better Than a Teddy Bear

by Veronica W

On this day, the street corners are blossoming with enormous white teddy bears holding red hearts, baskets of red roses and assorted goodies as well as  bunches of red, white  and pink balloons. The stationery aisles in drug stores and grocery stores are packed with people looking for cards and, wonder of wonders, most of them are men. It’s Valentine’s Day. While I am certainly in favor of this love fest, I wonder how many of these same people would cavil at the simplest, cheapest yet most effective expression of affection and good will—a hug.

I’m told that Americans are way behind in their ability to touch, and yet it’s becoming more and more apparent that hugs heal.  For premature babies, touch comforts, increases weight and ultimately decreases medical costs. ABC’s Diane Sawyer talked with psychologist Matthew Herenstein about the power of communication through touch.  You may want to listen in on their conversation.

However this is not late breaking news. In 1983 Kathleen Keating published Hug Therapy, which was touted as a “playful parody on therapy with a serious message about the power of compassionate, healing touch.”  In the introduction to her book , Ms. Keating says “Hugging is an intimate form of touch. We are suffering in our society from a sad condition best described as touch deprivation, skin hunger and hug inhibition. We need to recognize that every human being has a profound physical and emotional need for touch—men and women and children. And even our animal companions!”

In looking for books on the subject, I found it interesting that so many of them are juvenile.  Just go to the catalog and type in “hug” as a keyword. Children seem to be spontaneous huggers while adults write about it even when they find it hard to do. Two of my favorite books are Willie is Not the Hugging Kind and Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present.

I confess it’s a matter of  “Don’t do as I do, do as I say do.”  Like many people,  casually touching and being touched  invades my comfort zone, especially if it’s full body contact.  However, I resolve today to reach out and touch at least five people, even if it’s just a pat on the arm. Who knows, if we’re in the same vicinity, it might be you. If it’s  not,  then across space and time, consider yourself gently touched. Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Feb 11 2011

Life Imitates Art

by Jesse M

In an essay titled The Decay of Lying, 19th century author Oscar Wilde made the claim that “Life imitates art…”. This statement is being borne out by a curious phenomenon occurring in the literary world, where fake books which have appeared in fictional stories are being produced and published.

For example, in the final installment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, protagonist Hermione Granger is bequeathed a book of wizarding fairy tales titled The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Rowling began writing the book after finishing work on Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, initially producing just a small quantity of handmade copies then later releasing editions for the general public in 2008. Rowling has also published two other “fake” books referenced in her fiction, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Rowling is in good company. Author Michael Chabon partnered with Dark Horse Comics to publish a comic book series based on the The Escapist, a superhero invented by fictional authors Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay featured in his book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. And Dean Koontz published a limited edition of The Book of Counted Sorrows after receiving a high volume of correspondence from fans and librarians requesting aid in locating the non-existent book, verses from which were “quoted” in a number of Koontz’s stories.

Check out this article for more examples of fake books that have become real.

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Feb 9 2011

Foodie Fiction

by Dea Anne M

I was among the stacks the other day and a title caught my eye – American Cookery: A Novel by Laura Kalpakian. Readers of this blog may know by now how enamoured I am of all matters cuisine oriented, and fiction that uses food and cooking as a theme is a favorite. American Cookery does not disappoint on any level. A rich, sprawling saga set in Southern California during the early and middle 20th century, it features strong characters, beautifully observed detail, and a guiding motif that illustrates the centrality of food and cooking in family life.

…the good cook wastes nothing, uses everything – and not just everything in the kitchen, but here and here.” Afton touched the top of her head and her heart.
— from American Cookery: A Novel by Laura Kalpakian.

Here are some other of my favorite titles in which cooking and food play a major role.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel is a delicious novel that has to be on many lists of irresistible food oriented fiction.

Gertrudis got on her horse and rose away. She wasn’t riding alone – she carried her childhood beside her, in the cream fritters she had enclosed in a jar in her saddlebag.
— from Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Feb 7 2011

To E(book) or not to E(book)

by Patricia D

Kindle.  Nook.  Literati.  Something produced by Apple.   Someone you know got an eBook reader for Christmas.  If that someone had the same sales person as my sister-in-law, they were told the public library has electronic books to download onto said eBook reader (with the exception of the Kindle, because we all know only Amazon purchased content can be viewed on a Kindle.)   Sad fact:  DCPL currently does not have electronic books to be loaded onto any eBook reader currently on the market.  We would love to have them, primarily because our mission is to provide the materials and information our patrons want.  Also, some of us got eBook readers for Christmas too and for me, paying for a book is a verrrrrry hard idea to get my head around.  However, Economic Reality is most certainly Coyote Ugly these days and adding another dimension to DCPL’s collections is something we can plan but not implement.

We can offer, thanks in large part to the generous support of the Friends of the Dunwoody Library, a very nice downloadable audiobook collection, which can be played on computers, MP3 players and in some instances, iPods, though at the moment I have yet to figure out how to manage that technological feat (for more technical help with downloadable audiobooks, please see this post).  These downloadable audiobooks can be accessed from either our OverDrive page or from the catalog, where they are being added as quickly as we can catalog them.  I find it amusing that we’re cataloging something we can’t actually hold—it’s a little like trying to catalog Daniel Tiger’s (Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood  character) imaginary best friend, which was part of the cataloging final in graduate school.  Keep an eye out for the “downloadable audiobook” format as you search the catalog and please know, as soon as we are able, that there will be listings for “electronic books” as well.

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Have you read a young adult (YA) novel recently? Have you heard about Mockingjay or Twilight? While these are the most recognized titles, there are so many more well written and fun story lines. The Library’s Teen page offers a look at a variety of books for teens and adults looking for a good read. There are even readalike lists for those who have read Mockingjay or Twilight.

So you say you haven’t read a YA novel and never would? Your favorite author may be writing his or her next book at as a YA novel. One of the fastest growing markets in the publishing world is the market for young adults. There are genres that match all of the adult offerings and adult authors are taking notice.

Below are a few popular adult authors who have already begun writing books for teens.  So the next time you put a hold on a John Grisham or James Patterson, do not be surprised if it is a YA book that you just ordered. (To limit the list to young adult titles, use the drop down menu to limit the list and select “Young Adult materials” or “Juvenile materials”. This is located on the right-hand side of the screen). Need additional help finding great reads? Ask a staff member.

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