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

September 2012

Sep 28 2012

What If Friday’s Mad at You?

by Veronica W

I don’t imagine I will ever find myself alone on a desert island. At any given part of the day, I can be in contact with someone, if I so desire. I can also see a movie, go shopping, surf the internet and engage in any number of other activities. If time really hangs heavily on my hands, I can even clean my house; except for cleaning his “house,” Robinson Crusoe did not have any of these options.

Daniel DeFoe gave Robinson Crusoe one companion, Friday. If they had a disagreement, Crusoe really needed to have a good book handy. Given a choice, what do you think he would want? Better still, if you were Robinson Crusoe—or Tom Hanks in Castaway—what book(s) would you want to salvage from your sinking ship? If you’re uncertain, Amazon.com actually has a Desert Island Book List and there are lots of other sites such as listal.com which can give you some ideas.

If I could plan to be stranded on a desert island and could carry three or four books off my boat, they would be a bible, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Brian Jacques’ Redwall (The animals in Redwall forest know some fantastic recipes for all the edibles found there) and Georgette Heyer’s Pistols for Two and Other Stories.  With Pistols, I would get a variety of her works in one volume.

No one plans to be on a leaky boat—and I don’t know where there are any desert islands anyway. However those folk who love cruises may want to pack a favorite book or two the next time they sail…just in case.

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There is still time to register for the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta’s 5K Run/Walk for Literacy! The Literacy Alliance of Metropolitan Atlanta (LAMA) is a practical and innovative coalition that seeks to achieve 100% literacy among metro Atlanta’s adults and families. The 5K Run/Walk for literacy is an excellent way to get fit and promote literacy at the same time. Don’t miss out on this family-friendly event with prize giveaways! 100% of the proceeds support literacy programming and initiatives throughout Metro Atlanta.

To register, follow this link. Please select “DeKalb County Public Library Foundation” as the organization to benefit from your registration.

Online registration is $20 for individuals or $60 for a group (up to 4 individuals); day of registration is $25 for individuals and $70 for a group.

Online registration closes on Friday, September 28 at 6:49 PM. The race starts in Decatur Square on Saturday, September 29 at 8:00 AM.

For more information on the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta, please click here.

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Sep 24 2012

Curiosity

by Jnai W

I thought of naming this blog post, in homage to the recent spate of feline-inspired writings on DCPLive, “Okay, Enough With The Cat Posts, Already”. But I decided against such a tongue-in-cheek title for two reasons: 1) these cat posts are terrific (big ups to Veronica and Amanda) 2) I’m a cat person myself (big ups to my cat baby, Smudge) and 3) the idea of librarians having a deep-seated affinity for cats is the kernel at the center of this post.

(Okay, that was three reasons…)

There’s an immediate association with cats and curiosity that, as anyone who has even casually observed a cat in action knows, is more than just a stereotype. I beg to suggest that just as it is among a cat’s defining traits, curiosity is also a characteristic that proves indispensable for any self-respecting capital-L Librarian. I’ve come to this conclusion with the help of an incredible book that I’ve been listening to called This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. I was immediately struck by a passage early on in this book in which Johnson describes the nature of the library field and of its operatives. Any good librarian, according to Johnson, “possess[es] all of the skills and characteristics required for that work: curiosity, wide-ranging knowledge, good memories, organizational and analytical skills and discretion”. While all of these traits serve a librarian extremely well, curiosity, in my opinion, is arguably most crucial to anyone in this field. (And in touching on the cat-librarian dynamic for the second-to-last time here: name me one cat who doesn’t fit the aforementioned description of a librarian…and I’ll name you a very cleverly disguised dog—okay, just kidding, dog people). Johnson’s book is an incredibly insightful, well-written and informative read for anyone who might be curious about why, in the age of Google and Wikipedia, a good librarian is a terrible thing to waste.

My earliest memories of librarians—public, school and church librarians alike—were of people who seemed genuinely interested in answering any question posed to them. A great librarian need not know all of the answers but he should at the very least be as thirsty as his patron is for the answer.  Since the moment I stumble tush-over-tea-kettle into library work myself I’ve tried to treat every patron query as an opportunity to expand my own horizons in some way. Every question is an adventure. Every answer is a treasure. And many times the quest for knowledge is just as thrilling as the attainment of it.

And in touching on the cat-librarian dynamic for the last time: I’m not sure exactly what a cat does when she attains knowledge for a patron. Does she wind The Knowledge around her paws like so much baby yarn? Does she smack The Knowledge back and forth like some poor defenseless chipmunk caught in her clutches?  Or does she leave The Knowledge laying in the floor for me to trip over while she gives herself a bath? I’m curious…

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Sep 19 2012

Living in Color

by Dea Anne M

Every fall and spring,  the color giant Pantone releases its “Pantone Fashion Color Report.” Timed to coincide with the twice yearly Fashion Weeks held in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, the report spotlights a handful of colors corresponding to Pantone’s famous Color Matching System that appear prominently throughout the collections. The report is widely used by the fashion and home decor industries to establish the colors that we will all potentially wear and live with through the coming months (although most of us don’t replace our clothes and furnishings that often!). The Fashion Color Report for Spring 2013 is out now. Also, check out the color report specific to menswear here. Along with the color reports, Pantone chooses a “color of the year” which is selected using input from prominent players in the international color, fashion, and design industries. This is a color meant to represent current global trends and moods. 2012’s Color of the Year is Tangerine Tango which will, according to Pantone’s website, “provide the energy boost we need to recharge and move forward.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about color recently because I’ve undertaken a project to turn a seldom used office in my house into a dedicated crafting and art space. Since I want this room to be a place that will both soothe and inspire me, the right colors seem essential. Lucky for me, there’s a wealth of ideas and guidance on online (Pinterest being a particular favorite) and great resources right here at DCPL. One of my favorites is Color Style: how to identify the colors that are right for your home by Carolyn Warrender.  The author presents seven color palettes – six inspired by the elements plus one called Naturals. Each palette has a “cool” and “warm” spectrum. There’s even a questionnaire to help you determine your type. I haven’t taken it yet but I know that I’m drawn to the rich colors of the “warm” choices in the Fire and Earth palettes. Another book that I’ve found helpful is Color Idea Book by Robin Strangis. The author shows how to combine colors to create specific effects and moods. Now, for my art space do I want to go Sophisticated or Earthy? Classic or Adventurous? I can’t decide, at least not yet since I still need to get everything up off the floor! I do know that I love the author’s suggestion to visit a museum and find a painting that appeals to me and note the colors that I see.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Sep 17 2012

Happy Cat Month!

by Amanda L

Did you know that September is Happy Cat month? In my house, according to my husband, every month is happy cat month. We have three cats and a border collie. For my three cats to be happy they need food, shelter and for the dog to know when they are finished playing. Many an evening the game of chase is on when all three cats and the dog run down the long hallway sounding like a herd of elephants playing hide and seek.

For those times when one of the cats are not feeling that great and we can’t get to the vet, I turn to a few books for reference. One of the newer titles that the Library has is Cat Calls: wonderful stories and practical advice from a veteran cat sitter by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan. Complete cat care: what every cat lover needs to know by Bruce Fogle informs owners on topics such as hygiene and disease.

If you are a cat lover and a reader, you might enjoy a good fiction read about cats. Have you tried Lilian Jackson Braun’s the cat who series? The first one is The Cat Who Could Read Backwards.  Another cat series you might try is Rita Mae Brown’s Sneaky Pie Brown Series. The first one is Wish You Were Here.   A third cat series you might try is by Leann Sweeny. The first title in her series is The Cat, the Quilt and the Corpse.  

For all cat lovers who allow their cats to go outside, you may have wondered what they do with their time. We now have a glimpse into the outside experience of cats, thanks to the research folks up at the Warnell school at the University of Georgia. They wanted to know the same thing so they let a few folks around Athens, Georgia put a camcorder on their cat and record what they experienced at night. Check out their site to watch a variety of videos that the cats recorded during the two weeks of the research study. What is your favorite cat book or thing that your cat does?

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Sep 14 2012

Feline Fancy

by Veronica W

I recently read a quote which stated “All real librarians have cats, some deviant librarians also have dogs.” Although this may be something of a generalization, I have noticed that an inordinate number of library staff have cats. There is something about a purring cat on your lap, as you read a good book, that spells tranquility. In my opinion, while dogs are great as jogging companions or alarm systems, it’s hard to cuddle up with one in front of a fireplace. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

According to history cats were used in ancient Egypt to keep rodents and snakes from the preserved papyrus housed in temple libraries. The famous New York Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude, have been greeting patrons since 1911 and are said to “symbolize felines as the guardians over literary works.”  If you visit catster.com, you’ll see other  friendly felines who have made their home among the stacks and are adored by staff and patrons alike.

I know all cats are not wonderful, especially since I started watching Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell with Jackson Galaxy. I  confess  I am amazed at what some cat lovers will put up with and it’s fascinating to watch him work with what were considered irredeemable cats since cats are, by reputation, not trainable. Mr. Galaxy, whose sympathies are  obviously with the cats, has written a book entitled Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean. 

The world’s population is divided by their preference for cats and dogs—or so I’m told. A few undecided folks claim to like both. Question: If, for your birthday, you received a surprise box with air holes, what would you want to find when you opened it? (Reptile and bird people may refrain from answering.)

DeKalb County Public Library has recently acquired a wonderful addition to their library card offerings. James Dean’s Pete the Cat card is sure to please feline fanciers. For a donation of twenty dollars to the DeKalb Library Foundation, you can have this charming “passport” to everything the library has to offer. After all, what’s not to like about a cat wearing red and white sneakers?

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Sep 12 2012

Why Support Your Local Library?

by Jesse M

Take a look at this useful infographic detailing why it’s so important to support your local library. While it may seem counter-intuitive, library budgets need to be expanded during tough economic times rather than reduced, because demand for our services increases. Click the “read more” link to see the graphic.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Sep 10 2012

On Nina Simone

by Jnai W

Of late, I’ve become a bit of an enthusiast for jazz, particularly for jazz vocalists. Not an aficionado yet but someone who appreciates the beauty, the verve and the mastery required of the jazz greats. Lately I’ve been reading fascinating biographies of some of my favorite performers.

One of these singers is jazz great Nina Simone though, in her autobiography I Put A Spell On You, she denounces the designation of “jazz singer”, feeling that such a label didn’t fully describe her music. The late Simone, nee Eunice Kathleen Waymon, was possessed of prodigious piano talent from a very young age and classically trained ever after, aspiring to a career as a concert pianist. Not to disparage the genre of jazz, she viewed herself as a classical musician who, if anything else had more in common with the folk and blues musicians coming up alongside her during the 50s and 60s. In listening to her song choices, as diverse as show tunes like “I Loves You Porgy”, blues such as “Trouble In Mind” and art songs like “Pirate Jenny”, one can see that her repertoire boasts many different musical influences besides jazz.

But still a great case is made for her classification as a jazz musician in the way she describes how she arrived at her distinctive musical style. In I Put A Spell On You she describes the song-craft of her earliest musical performances.

“I knew hundreds of popular songs and dozens of classical pieces, so what I did was combine them: I arrived [at a gig] prepared with classical pieces, hymns and gospel songs and improvised on those, occasionally slipping in a part from a popular tune.”

While Nina Simone bristled a bit at being clumped casually by music critics into the same box as other great though quite different performers as Billie Holliday or Sarah Vaughan, there is no doubt in my mind that her musical style was (is) the epitome of incredible jazz.

I Put A Spell On You offers incredible insight into the life and talents of Nina Simone. Written with Stephen Cleary, Simone describes in plain-spoken detail her advent from concert-hall bound, Julliard-trained prodigy to international music sensation and all the trials and triumphs along the way. I found quite interesting the fact that she fell into pop music stardom almost by accident. She played dive bars and supper clubs by night while teaching piano by day all in an effort to earn money for continued study at Julliard (she even aspired to return to Julliard well into a successful pop career).

She was an incredibly gifted though complex woman, it would seem. Simone was confident in her craft but racked with severe stage fright. She was a woman with a disdain for pop music (and for the pop-listening public at times) but who, through pop music success, found a platform for joining the Civil Rights Movement and addressing social inequality. She loved her family, financially supporting her mother throughout her career, but a devastating falling-out with her beloved father hardened her against visiting him on her death.  Her music was her battle-cry, her comfort and her gift to the world.

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Sep 7 2012

Know Your Type!

by Jimmy L

What type of book reader are you? That’s what a recent article in The Atlantic Wire aimed to help you answer. Are you always starting a book with enthusiasm only to be distracted by another book and never finishing the first one? Then obviously, you pick up a third book and forget all about the second? If so, you may be a “promiscuous reader.” Or do you only have time to read for the 5 minutes before you fall asleep every day? If so, you may be a “sleepy bedtime reader.” But the types outlined in this article left a lot out, and an addendum was written with many other types, including my favorite type, “the Cat”: “Sometimes, if you’re lucky, your owner has left [a book] open, and you lie on top of it and let its smooth pages touch your whiskers.”

I think most readers are probably a combination of several categories. When reading through these, I really identified with being both a “book buster” and a “critic”. What type are you?

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Sep 5 2012

Mozart’s Last Aria

by Ken M

I recently had a few days vacation, and on one of them, I found myself in a bookstore. At the end of an aisle, I saw a paperback called Mozart’s Last Aria. Right above the title were three sinister words meant to hook fans of the film: Amadeus is over. A recommendation from Tess Gerritsen hung above the portrait of a woman in a dress with a large flowing skirt, whose back was to the reader.

I was intrigued, and browsed a little. After getting home, I went straight to the library catalog to place a request on it. I’ve just finished it, and if you love the film Amadeus, or Mozart, you should read this. The main character is Mozart’s prodigiously talented sister, Nannerl, who traveled throughout Europe, performing with him when they were children. The novel is an imaginative theory of how Mozart might have died.

While I usually enjoy historical fiction, sometimes I don’t enjoy fiction based on the lives of classical musicians because authors misuse musical terminology, their portrait of a famous musician contains factual errors that put me off, or the depiction rings false. For me, Matt Rees (also the author of a popular series of  Omar Yussef crime novels ) gets it right from beginning to end. His descriptions of performances are completely credible. His musical references always serve to enhance the story, but they won’t bog down a reader who hasn’t studied music.  The mystery of who might have been responsible for Mozart’s death is the main event.

Readers of cozies should give this a try too, if the subject matter grabs you. There’s not a lot of violence here, no gore, and hardly any language which would offend. There is a well developed mystery which does in some way seem to me like a sequel to the Milos Forman film (whether or not this was the author’s intention). I expect I’ll be reading more about Mozart and his family in the months to come. Best of all, I know I’ll be listening to more Mozart.

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