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

January 2014

Jan 23 2014

Downton Abbey

by Joseph M

Downtown AbbeyOne of my favorite TV shows is the British period drama Downton Abbey. Airing in the US on PBS as part of the Masterpiece Classics series, Downton Abbey follows the lives of an aristocratic family in England during the early twentieth century. The show is currently in its fourth season, which began earlier this month, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting each new episode.

If you are interested in Downton Abbey but haven’t seen the previous installments, DCPL can help you catch up. The library owns the first three seasons on DVD; click here to see a catalog listing.

Seen all the seasons, but still can’t get enough? The library also has a selection of books related to Downton Abbey including books that provided inspiration for the series as well as books inspired by the series. Take a look by clicking here.

DCPL has also been screening the first season of Downton Abbey in January. It’s still not too late to attend the last of these screenings. On Tuesday, January 28, we will be showing Season One, Episode 7 at the Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library, at 1:00 p.m.

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Jan 16 2014

Winter Olympics

by Glenda

Sochi 2014 OlympicsDid you know the Winter Olympics start February 7, 2014 and are being held in Sochi, Russia? When I think of the Winter Olympics I think of my favorite winter sport, which happens to be figure skating. I think of all the wonderful figure skaters that I have had the pleasure of watching compete in Winter Olympics past, skaters like Michelle Kwan, Kristy Yamaguchi and Tara Lipinski. I am so excited that the anticipation of the games has me wanting to go ice skating.

The Olympic Games will also allow us to watch sports that do not get a lot of media coverage like bobsledding and speed skating. Everytime I think of the Olympics either Winter or Summer, I always think back to Atlanta 1996. Yes, right here. I think back to Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic torch starting the Olympic Games.

If you would like to learn more about the Winter Olympics visit your local library and pick up a few books. Here are a few suggested titles:

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Jan 13 2014

The Library Without Books

by Hope L

I read in a recent issue of Time magazine (October 7, “Smoked Stacks”) that  “in 2002, Arizona’s Tucson-Pima Public Library system opened a branch without books, the first in the U.S. to attempt an all-digital existence.  But just a few years later, the library phased in printed materials.  Patrons demanded them.”

“I don’t think people could really envision a library without any books in it,” says Susan Husband, the Santa Rosa Branch manager.

My, how times have changed! San Antonio’s new Bexar County Digital Library is now touted as the nation’s only all-digital public library.

“The $2.4 million, 4,000-sq.-ft. space, also known as BiblioTech, opened September 14 and has been likened to an orange-hued Apple Store.  Stocked with 10,000 e-books, 500 e-readers, 48 computers and 20 iPads and laptops, the digital library includes a children’s area, community rooms and a Starbucksesque cafe to encourage collaboration among patrons in an inviting space.  And it will have zero print materials.”

Go ahead, call me old-fashioned—I just don’t  like the idea of a library without books.

According to the Time article, “The library is no longer the place where you walk in and the thing you pay the most attention to is the book collection,” says American Library Association President Maureen Sullivan. “It’s now a place where you’re immediately attuned to the variety of ways that people are making use of that space.”

Yikes!  Libraries with0ut books?  That’s like Superman without his cape,  a lemonade stand without anything to drink, a gym without weights, or politics without scandals.

It just won’t be the same. Luckily, DCPL still has both physical and non-physical books. If you’re after non-physical books, you can download some through the library’s free OverDrive eBooks and downloadable audiobooks service.

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Jan 10 2014

Chez Panisse and its legacy

by Dea Anne M

Over forty years ago, a culinary event occurred which would have an influence far beyond anything that anyone could have predicted at the time. In 1971, Alice Waters, along with a group of friends and investors, opened Chez Panisse, the Berkeley, CA restaurant which has become a model everywhere for restaurant menus featuring seasonal, locally based cuisine. In fact, one could argue, as have many, that Chez Panisse changed forever what we think of in this country as “fine dining.”

Years spent studying in France during college sharpened Waters’  ideas of what American cuisine could be and her involvement in the Free Speech Movement of the 1960’s shaped her as a lifelong activist. Waters’  strong vision, combined with persistence and a genius for collaboration, brought Chez Panisse into being. She conceived the restaurant as a place that would be like having dinner at someone’s house. The emphasis would be on the quality of the food and the warmth of the atmosphere. Up until that time, most fine restaurants tended to be chilly temples of cuisine where chefs ruled supreme and the idea of using organic, locally sourced ingredients was uncommon to say the least. Chez Panisse (named for Waters’ favorite character from a trilogy of films by the French director Marcel Pagnol) changed all of that. Also new to many dinners was the idea of a strictly limited menu. From the beginning, the restaurant (there is a separate cafe upstairs) has served one meal a night at a fixed price. On opening night, the menu was Pate en Croute, Duck with Olives, and a plum tart priced at $3.95. The meal on offer January 11th of this year will include (among other things) Dungeness crab, grass-fed beef, and a chocolate tart and will cost $100. Times do change.

In recent years, Alice Waters has extended her focus to include such projects as The Edible Schoolyard which gets children involved in growing, harvesting and preparing their own food and which has affiliates throughout the country.  This program has spawned an important off-shoot in the School Lunch Initiative which seeks to make a healthy, sustainable and fresh meal part of every school child’s day.

40 yearsIf you’d like to learn more about what Alice Waters is up to now, check out this article from the Epicurious website.

If you want to learn more about the evolution of Chez Panisse, DCPL can offer 40 years of Chez Panisse: the power of gathering by Alice Waters and friends. The book features lavish photographs and eloquent text as well as gorgeous reproductions of the beautiful menus designed for the restaurant by Waters’ long-time friend Patty Curtan.

Do you think you’d like to cook at home like they do at Chez Panisse? If so, check out these titles from DCPL.

Also from Alice Waters:

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Finally,  if you’d like to learn more about the culinary “revolution” that occurred in this country throughout the 1960’s and 70’s (and beyond), don’t miss David Kamp’s funny, dishy, and very well researched book The United States of Arugula: how we became a nation of gourmets. This one comes highly recommended (by me…but then I’m the one writing this post!).

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Jan 6 2014

Resolving to Renew

by Rebekah B

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As creatures who enjoy habits, creating or finding meaning, patterns, and structure in our lives, most humans keep track of time for these very reasons.  Our connections of the cycles of the seasons and the passage of time are intimately connected to our sense of identity.  With this comes the resolutions of the new year.

The sentiment of being given a clean slate (tabula rasa) is literally refreshing, the idea that we can each start anew, let go of some less than savory habits, pounds, grudges, and dedicate ourselves to healthier eating or exercise regimens, better financial planning, or creative pursuits we have previously allowed to fall by the wayside.  I think about checking out only as many library items as I can possibly read, listen to, or watch.  Hmmm…

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That most of us, soon after the January rollover, will also roll back to our previous comfort zones is probably inevitable and statistically about 80% of Americans do fall back to old habits, but this state of affairs does nothing to prevent us from hoping that our will power will be made of sturdier stuff than it was in previous years.  And some of us will accomplish or at least come nearer to the goals we have set for ourselves.  I might add that it is probably helpful to our self-esteem to set goals that are realistically achievable, as this is encouraging to the continuity of the process itself.  This blog post  contains a short history of new year’s resolutions and traditions and suggests writing down the goals, tracking your progress, and relying on friends to remind and support you along the path.  In fact, this site includes a page where you can record and track your goals.

While the ancient Babylonians modestly paid off old debts or returned borrowed items to turn a new leaf, the Romans offered promises of improved conduct to their two-faced god, Janus, at the beginning of the year.  As Janus was able to look backward into the past as well as into the future, this seems appropriate!

Here are a few recently published books available through DCPL that might help you focus and organize on your goals, or for those less goal oriented, to show gratitude and appreciation for self and the gifts you already enjoy.

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