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

May 2015

May 29 2015

Common Threads

by Dea Anne M

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been teaching myself to sew. The whole process so far has been more fits than starts, if you know what I mean, but I think that I finally might be making some progress. I’m not really hoping to save money by eventually making most, or some, of my clothes. Fabric can be pricey, after all, not to mention thread and zippers and buttons and all the other notions necessary toward finishing a garment. Home sewing used to be a way to save money, but we live in a world now, and in a country, where clothing is available to us at price points that would have been inconceivably low some 50 or 60 years ago. A page from a 1955 Sears catalog shows a full-skirted, beautifully-detailed, satin dress on offer for $6.98, which would cost about $62.00 today. Jonathan Logan, a company that specialized in designing and producing higher-end dressy and career apparel for younger women throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, typically offered dresses hovering around the $25.00 mark–which would be about $220.00 today.

“$220.00!” you might say. “For one dress? I could get two dresses at Banana Republic for that kind of money–maybe three if I hit a sale. Or five dresses at H&M. Good dresses too. For $250.00 I could get ten dresses at Target. Ten dresses!

I suppose one could be forgiven for believing, given today’s array of choices and prices, that we are living in a Golden Age of clothing. But are we really? That vast selection of cheap clothing relies on the overseas outsourcing of nearly every aspect of the clothing production process. In 1950, 90% of the clothing worn by Americans was produced in this country. That percentage has dropped to 3%. The workers who make these clothes are almost always drastically underpaid and perform their jobs in conditions that can be shockingly unsafe. The 2012 fire that broke out in the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people and carries eerie echoes of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in this country. More recently, the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza, a complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which included several clothing manufacturers, killed over 1,100 people.

And, really, how good are the clothes? My experience of cheap clothing is that it often falls apart very easily. I have a two cardigan sweaters, one from Ross and the other from Target, that developed holes in the elbows after a mere two months of wear.  Necklines stretch out of shape and colors fade quickly. Most of the time, you can forget about quality details like French seam finishing or linings–even with higher-end goods. Now I don’t want to misrepresent myself here. I buy, or at least have bought, as much inexpensive stuff as anyone else. Lately overdressedthough, I’ve started to seriously rethink that clothing strategy, especially after reading Elizabeth L. Cline’s fascinating book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Candid and well-written, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the fashion industry and perhaps concerned about their own choices.

According to Cline, in 1930 the average American woman owned about nine outfits and probably considered herself well prepared for any given situation that might come up in her life. Today, the typical American–of any gender–will buy 60 or more pieces of clothing in a year. Yet many of us face cluttered, overstuffed closets combined with the nagging feeling of having nothing to wear. Weirdly enough, although the cost of clothing has overall gone down, our total spending on it has increased. In 1950, we spent about $7.82 billion dollars on clothing. Today, that number is about $375 billion per year. What are we getting for that money?

I don’t believe mass boycotting of companies that use overseas labor is necessarily the best answer to the ethical concerns that currently plague the fashion industry. The reality is the economy that we live in today is largely a global one. I do think there are steps that concerned folks can follow to reduce the negative effects of the clothing industry (which can be environmental as well as ethical). First, one can choose to spend more money on fewer clothes that will last longer and then take very good care of them. I know from experience that I have often “felt broke.” I’m also aware there are many, many people who truly have no money to spare. But maybe, those of us who can, should consider saving our dollars up a little longer for more special and durable items of clothing.  There is also the option of buying second hand clothes from thrift stores and consignment shops. Now, this has always been something of a yes-and-no proposition for me. I don’t always have the patience required to go through rack after rack of clothes to find something that appeals. Still, there are plenty of people who love the challenge and there are many sound reasons for giving a pre-worn garment a second life.

Finally, there is learning to sew well enough (not to mention enjoying it!) to construct some garments from scratch and to “refashion” other items that don’t quite suit. There’s a lot of help online should you be interested in pursuing this path, and two of my favorite sites are Refashionista and verysweetlife. The Refashionista is Jillian Owens, a South Carolina native who does some incredible transformations on some pretty hopeless looking thrift store goods. The mind behind verysweetlife is Sarah Kate Beaumont, who since 2008 has made all of her own clothes–and I mean all her clothes including lingerie and hats. Such skills do not come without years of dedicated pursuit and, in fact, both of these women are accomplished seamstresses. My ambitions, for now, tend towards the more modest end, but I have to admit to a personal desire to start doing some refashioning myself. This can be something as simple as switching out the buttons on a shirt to remaking a garment into something entirely new. Are you interested in pursuing this way of thinking about clothes? If so, DCPL has resources to help and inspire.

I have mentioned this book in a previous post, and Threads Sewing Guide: A Complete Reference from America’s Best-Loved Sewing Magazine remains an excellent reference for basic and more complicated sewing. Thismccalls book will be especially useful to those of us who need to alter the fit of purchased items (for me this is most of the time). Also, the photographs are beautiful. Another recommended reference for those of us interested in altering clothes to fit us (or others) perfectly is McCall’s Essential Guide to Sewing by Brigitte Binder, Jutta Kuhnle and Karin Roser.

An sewingapproach to “green sewing” is presented in Sewing Green: Projects and Ideas for Stitching with Organic, Repurposed, and Recycled Fabrics, Plus Tips and Resources for Earth-Friendly Stitching by Betz White. The idea here is to take a recyclable garment and turn it into something completely different. Thus, men’s dress shirts become aprons, pretty sheets become lounge pants, and a couple of old wool sweaters become a cute, felted scarf. Toys, baby blankets, colorful shopping totes–they’re all here. White’s ideas are really creative and, as a bonus, the book features profiles of designers and craftspeople behind such innovative companies as Harmony Art and Alabama Chanin. Very wardrobemuch worth your time.

Finally, keep an eye out for DIY Wardrobe Makeovers: Alter, Refresh & Refashion Your Clothes, Step-by-Step Sewing Tutorials by Suzannah Hamlin Stanley, which is currently on order at DCPL and promises to be a treasure trove of methods to help you–as the book’s subtitle indicates–alter, refresh and refashion your existing wardrobe.

How about you? Are you a lover of second-hand? Are you interested in refashioning and/or sewing clothes for yourself or for others?

 

{ 0 comments }

May 27 2015

Off the Leash

by Amie P

It was a mid-November evening in the Midwest, which means it was chilly and the sun went down early. All the other library supervisors had left the building, and I was in charge until closing. There were a few patrons on the computers, a handful of children reading with parents, and all was quiet.

Then the dog came.

An eighty-pound, enthusiastic pit bull mix managed to trigger the automatic doors and came streaking inside.  Terrified shrieks followed him around both floors of the building until he was cornered by two equally enthusiastic patrons. One produced a length of rope (I didn’t ask where it came from) and looped it lightly around the neck of the panting canine, then handed me the end.

“You can keep the rope.”

By 6:00 in the evening in rural Illinois, the animal control officers have all gone home. I called over to the police department, and they promised to contact the dog catcher and said they would send an officer over in the meantime “to help me out.”

I stood in the lobby of the building, repeatedly turning down offers from patrons to hold onto the dog until help arrived. (I wondered what the liability issues might be if I left a stray dog in someone else’s care on library property.) One 10-year-old boy came in and wanted to bike the dog around the neighborhood until someone came out to claim him. Not going to happen, kiddo.

The police officer arrived in about 10 minutes.

“Well, it looks like you have things under control here. Animal Control is on the way…he should get here in about an hour.”

Then he left.

And I held onto the dog.

And waited the full hour.

That wasn’t the only time I’ve encountered dogs in strange locations. Some of you may remember a couple of summers ago when a dog crawled out the open sunroof of a car and came into the Toco Hill Library to find his owners. (“I didn’t know he could do that!”) Just last week my husband and I were in Walmart when we heard someone yelling, “Snoopy, come back here!” Sure enough, a fairly portly Snoopy the dog came lumbering around the corner and bee-lined right to us. We hung onto his collar until his flustered parent could snap the leash on him. “He was in the car! I don’t understand how he followed me inside!”

Let’s be honest: there are plenty of dogs who are escape artists with a knack for getting themselves into trouble. Possibly the most famous is Marley, the golden retriever from Marley and Me by John Grogan. If you don’t want to read the book, try the movie.

dog catcherAre you curious about the kinds of situations that call for Animal Control? Try Tales From a Dog Catcher by Lisa Duffy-Korpics. Or to find out what happens after the shelter, read Tea and Dog Biscuits: Our First Topsy-Turvy Year Fostering Orphan Dogs by Barrie Hawkins.

It also might help to keep a spare leash handy, just in case.

{ 1 comment }

May 25 2015

Seriously Silly!

by Joseph M

Knuffle Bunny by Mo WillemsFans of best-selling children’s book author and illustrator Mo Willems may be interested in a new exhibition at the High Museum of Art. Seriously Silly! The art & whimsy of Mo Willems is a retrospective featuring over 100 works by the artist. It opened May 23 and will run through January 10, 2016. To find out more, see the event page on the High Museum website.

Whether you’re already a fan or if you just want to know what all the fuss is about, DCPL has a substantial collection of works by Mo Willems. Click here to take a look!

{ 1 comment }

May 22 2015

Maps to the Stars: A Classical Tragedy

by Rebekah B

Kafka on the Shore

Hello readers,

Japanese author Haruki Murakami claims in his novel Kafka on the Shore that in our dreams and our imagination lie the roots of responsibility–meaning that those who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions are also most likely to remain almost totally unaware of the dark depths of hidden meaning tugging at us from below the surface of our lives. Just as Adolf Eichmann considered his design of the final solution as a “practical problem,” his lack of imagination echoed his inability to see the moral implications of his acts. In this same novel, Murakami’s characters Kafka Tamura and Oshima also speak of “living spirits,” a common feature of Japanese tales. Unlike a ghost, a living spirit separates from the body of a person who has not yet died in order to accomplish certain acts without the consent or awareness of the person in question. The difference between living spirits and ghosts, and the notion of timelessness, are key to this novel. For example, a 15-year-old Miss Saeki visits Kafka Tamura in his room at night, while the adult Miss Saeki, in her later 40’s, is most likely asleep in her bed at home.

Kafka on the Shore deals with the myth of Oedipus, translated to contemporary Japan in the person of young Kafka Tamura who runs away from his father’s home to avoid the effects of the dire prophecy issued to him by his father, a famous sculptor. The memory of Kafka’s mother has been wiped from his memory. She and his older sister disappeared from his life when he was four years old. The depths of the soul and unconscious mind take a strange cast of characters to places within themselves and one another to carry out the injunctions of fate. Murakami’s vast intelligence is astounding and reveals the mysterious meaning of the ironies of our lives, as a variety of beings–some rational and highly intelligent, others bereft of their faculties yet connected to a deeper form of guidance–use their hearts and minds to lead them all to an interconnected destiny.

Kafka on the Shore quote 2

David Cronenberg’s film, Map to the Stars, stars Julianne Moore (aging neurotic actress Havana Segrand, haunted by the memory of her deceased and abusive mother), Evan Bird (Benjie, at 13 an appallingly overconfident child star and recovering addict), John Cusack (Stafford Weiss, somewhat creepy therapist to the stars and New Age self-help guru, also Benjie and Agatha’s father), Olivia Williams (Christina Weiss, an overwrought and sensitive woman, as Benjie and Agatha’s mother and ostensibly Stafford’s wife and sister), Mia Wasikowska (Agatha, Benjie’s schizophrenic older sister who has been banished years ago by her parents after trying to drug and immolate herself and Benjie), Sarah Gadon (Clarice Taggart, Havana Segrand’s mother and film legend who perished in her youth in a fire), and Robert Pattinson (Jerome Fontana, aspiring actor and limo driver). This link (spoiler alert) will take you to a New Yorker review of the film, although I find this review by Matt Zoller Seitz on RogerEbert.com to better capture the qualities of the film and the intentions of the director and writers.

mapstothestars

Of Cronenberg, critic Seitz says: “Maybe because he’s less interested in gore and goo than in the beasts within: the monstrous nature of obsession and desire; the difficulty of escaping oneself, physically or emotionally; the cruelty of the societies that enfold and define his characters. Look back over Cronenberg’s filmography, and you realize that he hasn’t made an according-to-Hoyle horror picture since 1986’s ‘The Fly.’ The horrific quality seems to come more from his being appalled by what people can be, and do—and from being sympathetic to their urges anyway.”

A fairly recent addition to the DCPL collection, Map to the Stars features a fatefully interconnected group of human beings as they face the deepest of all fears, both personal and collective. Haunted with ghosts and visions, several of the characters are compelled by these shades to behave in ways which appear to be beyond their conscious control. While on the surface the story seems to involve the superficial realms and ambitions of the rich and famous in Hollywood, very quickly the viewer realizes that below the surface there is much more to the story than the apparently ridiculous struggles of an aging actress to reassert herself on screen and maintain her reputation. The taboos of incest and the Oedipal conflict as well as the conflict between reason and the irrational are the primary themes of this film. Violent without being overwhelmed by gore, the characters are torn by their fears and desires, and a dominating sense of fatalism prevails. Despite several graphically violent scenes, the characters, as in Murakami’s novel, maintain a certain level of self-awareness. Each is a seeker, and each is aware of the limits of the rational mind.  All are haunted by secrets and ghosts of lost love and opportunities and by grief caused by relationships and choices gone wrong. And yet the dramatic and tragic unfolding of these tormented souls is somehow poetic. The violence is at times pervaded by a peaceful sense of human beings finding their own dignity within tragedy, although a sense of the ridiculous is never far away.

{ 0 comments }

May 18 2015

What’s In a Story?

by Jencey G

Mary Alice MonroeMary Alice Monroe stopped by DCPLive to discuss her new book coming soon to DeKalb County Public Library. I first met her at a Georgia Center for the Book event while she was giving a talk on The Butterfly’s Daughter. I have had the honor to read and share some of her other books. Her most recent series is the Lowcountry Summer Trilogy, which includes The Summer Girls and The Summer Wind. It will end this year with the publication of The Summer’s End.

Thank you for coming! I am excited to discuss The Summer’s End. Could you tell our readers why it was important to tell this story in three different books: The Summer Girls, Summer Wind, and Summer’s End?

Summer GirlsMary Alice Monroe:  This story required more words! Dolphins are an exceptional and beloved species. Dolphins excel in communication, have strong family and community bonds, and live in the present. Three issues face dolphins that needed attention: feeding of wild dolphins, water quality, and injuries. I needed a strong trilogy with memorable characters to carry through all the themes: communication in The Summer Girls as the estranged sisters reconnect; healing in The Summer Wind as Dora and Delphine heal from wounds, and release in The Summer’s End as each woman discovers her own voice and path.

How did you decide to focus your books around the lives of animals? Why is it important to tell their story?

MAM: The inspiration for my books is always some aspect of nature. I wait for some signal–either from a person or event–to alert me it’s time to write about that species now. For the trilogy, it was learning that 49% of Charleston’s resident dolphins were deemed “not healthy.” That number is 52% in Florida. I didn’t want to write Flipper but a book that was relevant today.

What do you hope it accomplishes?

MAM: I believe in the power of story to effect change. I’m a storyteller. I do not preach or tell my readers what to do. Instead, I create compelling stories peopled with rich, well-rounded characters that will bring my readers into the story world. When my readers connect emotionally with the animals, then they care.

The focus in this novel is the bottlenose dolphin. What other animals have you written about?

MAM: The list is growing. In The Beach House novels I’ve written about sea turtles. I’m still on the turtle team, so maybe another is in the pipeline. The monarch butterfly is in The Butterfly’s Daughter; raptors–hawks, owls, eagles–in Skyward; the shrimping industry in Last Light Over Carolina, The Summer Windand the disappearing grass and craft of sweetgrass baskets in Sweetgrass.

Can you tell us about your next project?

MAM:  In the Lowcountry Summer novels I told the story of three women during one remarkable summer on Sullivan’s Island. There is an engagement, or two…so, you’re all invited to a wedding next summer! I’m writing A Lowcountry Wedding and having the best time. My daughter had a lowcountry wedding so I’ve a lot to share. It will be fun to bring back the summer girls, and especially the dueling grannies Mamaw and Granny James!

Do you think you would write another series?

MAM:  Yes, when the story idea merits the time and effort. Each book of a series must stand alone and yet continue the themes of the series. It’s a complex, challenging process and not every story idea can or should extend beyond one book.

How can readers support your cause that you are so passionate about?

Summer's EndMAM:  When I was young and overwhelmed with all I wanted to do to help the planet, my Daddy told me to just “light one candle.” It was very wise and has guided me throughout my life. My hope is that if a reader is inspired by my book, she will find her own path to help that species through volunteering or donations, or her vote–and, perhaps discover what candle she can light in her own life. One small change in one life can change the world!

Could they visit or support the Georgia Aquarium?

MAM:  The Georgia Aquarium has several ongoing research and conservation programs that all make a difference for species and for the community.

Thank you again.

To learn more about bottlenose dolphins, check out these fine books: Hope for Winter: The True Story of a Remarkable Dolphin Friendship told by David Yates, Craig Hatkoff, Juliana Hatkoff, and Isabella Hatkoff (and the related story Winter’s Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again), The Dolphins of Shark Bay by Pamela S. Turner, Eight Dolphins of Katrina: A True Tale of Survival by Janet Wyman Coleman, and Dolphins by Anna Claybourne.

{ 1 comment }

May 15 2015

(Not So Still) Life with Soil

by Dea Anne M

So yesterday morning I walked out my back door to head off to work only to find a squirrel rooting through my strawberry bed. I yelled at it, and it hopped away–but before he disappeared, he turned around, sat up on his hind legs and showed me the fat strawberry he was holding in his mouth. “Time to buy some netting,” I thought. The berries are coming in buckets right now and are proving irresistible to the birds as well. While I think of myself as a friend to wildlife, I am a selfish creature when it comes to strawberries and I’m not growing them to share with the non-human citizens of the backyard. Regular readers of this blog know that I have gardened for years. Despite limited success with such experiments as square foot gardening and ongoing battles with–yes–squirrels, growing fruits and vegetables remains a passion…in spite of smug furry animals thumbing their small noses at me.

Are you interested in testing the gardening waters for yourself? Have you experimented with gardening and now hope to broaden your skills? Maybe you would like to explore the experiences of others. If so, DCPL has the resources that you want.

Just getting started? Check out Grow Cook Eat: A Food Lover’s Guide to Kitchen Gardening, including 50 Recipes, plus Harvesting and Storage Tips by Willi Galloway. Not only will you find here a wealth of information grow cookto help you begin your gardening adventure, you’ll also find tips on storing your harvest and recipes with which to cook it. And if you want to start small, Jane Courtier’s Fast, Fresh Garden Edibles: Quick Crops for Small Spaces will tell you everything you need to know about growing an effective garden in containers and window boxes. My very first garden was a pepper and two tomato plants in large pots on my back deck. There was no going back after that.

If you’ve been gardening for a while and you’re interested in expanding the scope of what you grow, then Brett L. Markham’s The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Growing: Self-Sufficiency from Asparagus to Zucchini might be just what you’re looking for, wildlifeespecially if you have ambitions at self-sufficiency. If you’re anything like the kind of gardener I am, then just the title of Tammi Hartung’s The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener: How to Grow Food in Harmony with Nature is enough to make you break into snorting laughter. My first act on discovering that rabbits were decimating my lettuce plants would certainly not be to plant parsley, just for them, to graze on instead. It makes sense though. Overall, Hartung makes an excellent case for living in harmony with the fauna in our gardens, and I would expect that she speaks from deep experience since she runs a successful (and large) organic herb and vegetable farm in Colorado.

Gardening is, all in all, a rewarding pastime and pleasure for me and for so many others who have embraced it.

…and then, there’s farming. Many people farm, of course, because farming has been a part of their family for generations. There’s another type of farmer, though, who becomes such by making a radical change in a lifestyle (often urban) that has lost its charm. Sometimes, these people write books about the experience. Her are three good ones available at DCPL.

One of my favorite accounts is The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristan Kimball. Kimball was a dirty lifejournalist living in New York City who encountered a young farmer named Mark for a story that she was working on. Soon enough, she found herself married to him and part-owner of Essex Farm in upstate New York. Kimball doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships of farm life. She and her husband use horses instead of tractors and for years they hand milked their dairy herd instead of using machines. Yet, the ongoing satisfaction and pleasures of building a successful farm and the joy of falling deeply in love–both with her husband and the beautiful land–comes shining through on every page. Highly recommended. You can read a story about Kimball that ran on NPR in 2010, as well as an excerpt from the book here.

dirtKimberly Schaye and Christopher Losee’s Stronger Than Dirt: How One Urban Couple Grew a Business, a Family, and a New Way of Life from the Ground Up is an account of the couple’s journey from busy, yet increasingly unsatisfying, urban lives to owning a 30-acre farm in upstate NY. Schaye and Losee alternate chapters. Each is an engaging writer, and the result is a vivid tale of their difficult–and ultimately successful–struggle to start Silverpetals Farm, which now sells flowers and vegetables at greenmarkets throughout the Northeast. True optimists, these two never give in or give up. Schaye breaks her leg at a certain point but the couple soldiers on. Inspiring.

Seattle restauranteur Kurt Timmermeister was only looking for an affordable growinghome when he found himself purchasing four acres of land on Vashon Island. Since then, Kurtwood Farms has grown into a profitable 13-acre farm that produces not only fruits and vegetables, but also meat, cheese and honey. In his book Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land, Timmermeister comes across as humble yet determined, and he certainly doesn’t gloss over how difficult–sometimes almost impossible seeming–farming can be. Here’s an article on Timmermeister that the New York Times ran in December of 2013.

In The Dirty Life, author Kimball tells of a man she met who spoke of his dream to have a farm someday and really get away from things and relax. Kimball thought to herself, “You don’t want a farm. What you want is a garden.” Well, I for one, recognize my limitations as well as my desires. I have an ongoing dream to live in the country (though not too far out in the country) and have not only a larger garden, but chickens and goats as well. I certainly harbor no ambitions for farming myself, although I admire those who do it. Anyway, for now, my modest raised beds give me all that my gardening heart desires.

Do you dream of gardening someday? Do you already garden? Do you use raised beds, containers, or do you garden in the ground?

{ 1 comment }

May 13 2015

National Barbecue Month

by Glenda

BBQDid you know that May is National Barbecue Month? Barbecuing is a very popular pastime in our country. No matter if you prefer charcoal or gas, barbecuing is American as apple pie. Most people use barbecues to get together with family and friends. Barbecuing is also a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather. It can also be very healthy. Usually when people barbecue they use fresh food, which is better for our bodies. Barbecuing can be economical because making food at home is usually cheaper than eating out.

When I think of barbecue, I think of ribs smothered in sauce, shish kebabs and grilled corn. I think of being with my family and having a good time. I think of fireworks and being at various Atlanta area parks. Barbecues are about so much more than the food. If you have barbecued food on the brain, stop by your local library and pick up some of the wonderful books on barbecuing.

The Gardener and the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Good Housekeeping Grilling: More Than 275 Perfect Year Round Recipes, Rosemary Ellis, Editor-in-Chief

Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire: 125 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors by Michael Chiarello

100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

So enjoy all of May–and if you can, barbecue every day for the rest of the month.

 

{ 1 comment }

May 8 2015

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

by Camille B

A few nights ago, a patron came to the library to pick up her holds. She was quite pleased when she came to the desk to check out, simply because everything had come in quickly and all at the same time. She thanked us for our service and walked away smiling. After she’d gone, I pondered to myself, hmm, how did people place items on hold in the old days? I mean you have a small town, where everybody knows everybody else, and there is no internet access for you to use and request items–how did it work?

And so I imagine Gladys. She goes to the library to search for a copy of Wuthering Heights and it’s not there. “Sorry, Gladys,” says the librarian, “Dorothy just borrowed that book yesterday, and it won’t be back for another three weeks. I’ll write your name down on our list, and make sure you are next in line to get the book.”

I smile to myself as I try to envision what that scenario would look like today if we had to write “Gladys” on a piece of paper and give her a call when her book finally comes in. Or better yet, send someone over to knock on her door. Maybe it’s just me, but it will never cease to amaze me the things we can accomplish with technology today–the many steps we can skip with just the push of a button or tap of an app–progress that many of our parents and grandparents only dreamed of.

No longer do we have to swallow our disappointment when the book we want is not on the shelf, or become so bored when we run out of reading material that we begin reading the words off of the cereal box. The avenues for having books at our fingertips are now endless as opposed to how it was for Gladys. Not only is it easy to put books on hold at the library, technology has now afforded us the luxury of sitting in the comfort of our homes, downloading audiobooks, eBooks and eMagazines onto electronic devices for our reading and listening  pleasure. Smartphones, computers, eReaders and tablets have now expedited the reading process.

For those of you reading this and thinking to yourselves, “Well, I’m just not that tech savvy.” Or you figure that surely, you must be brilliant to get the hang of any of this–that’s simply not true. It’s really not as daunting as you think, and there are so many great library resources that can guide you along the way to becoming better equipped at navigating your way in the eWorld.

Maybe you’re a grandparent and received your very first tablet from your grandkids last year. You didn’t have the heart to tell them you’re clueless and quite frankly intimidated by the device. So instead, you smiled, thanked them for it, and it’s now sitting in the back of your cabinet with the other knick-knacks, hidden behind the china cow.

Your sense of dread isn’t necessary. At DCPL we can help you find what you need along the way while you learn at your own pace, and you can even Book a Librarian if you figure you’d get a better start in a one-on-one setting.

All and in all there are some days, too many in fact, when I take a lot of our modern services and technology for granted because they’ve now become so much a part of our everyday lives. But the truth is, I still think they’re pretty awesome–and I’d like to think that this is how our patron felt the night she came in to pick up her holds, simply grateful.

And you know what? If Gladys were here today, I bet that she too would be beside herself with joy.

android phones and tablets

See what’s available to download now:

Overdrive at DCPL provides eBooks and downloadable audiobooks.

DCPL’s Zinio collection has full color digital copies of magazines.

{ 1 comment }

TeegeHow would you feel if you opened a book one day and found out your grandfather was a high-ranking Nazi commandant? That’s exactly what happened to Jennifer Teege.

The Georgia Center for the Book presented Teege in April at the Decatur Library. She spoke about her book My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past.

Ralph Fiennes played her grandfather in his haunting portrayal of Amon Goeth, the maniacal Nazi death camp commander in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. Teege, who was adopted, learned the surprising fact that her biological mother was the daughter of Goeth, the “Butcher of Plaszow,” one day as she was looking for a book on depression.  She happened to see a book with the familiar face of her mother on the cover.

According to People Magazine‘s online article by Michelle Tauber:

The first shock was the sheer discovery of a book about my mother and my family, which had information about me and my identity that had been kept hidden from me, Teege, 44, had told Israeli newspaper Haaretz in a story featured on NPR.

“I knew almost nothing about the life of my biological mother, nor did my adoptive family, she said. I hoped to find answers to questions that had disturbed me and to the depression I had suffered from. The second shock was the information about my grandfather’s deeds.”

Teege’s book, co-written by Nikola Sellmair, is available at DCPL. You might also be interested in The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List by Mietek Pemper, in collaboration with Viktoria Hertling, or The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible–On Schindler’s List, A Memoir by Leon Leyson, with Marilyn J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson.

{ 0 comments }

Fans of George R. R. Martin’s phenomenal fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire experienced some disappointing news recently when Martin confirmed that his long-awaited next installment in the series, The Winds of Winter (hereafter referred to as TWOW for brevity’s sake), won’t be released in 2015. Initial hints that he was aiming for a 2016 release emerged in an EW interview published a few weeks ago in which he stated:

Having The Winds of Winter published before season 6 of Thrones airs next spring “has been important to me all along,” says the best-selling New Mexico author. “I wish it was out now. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about how quickly I can finish. But I canceled two convention appearances, I’m turning down a lot more interviews—anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done.”

Further confirmation that it wouldn’t be out this year came soon after, in a comment reply on his blog. In response to a question about whether TWOW would be nominated for a HUGO award in 2016, he answered that it wouldn’t be eligible for nomination. Only titles published during the previous year are eligible for HUGO nominations, thus the implication was that TWOW wouldn’t be published in 2015.

While it is unfortunate that we won’t get our hands on TWOW this year, Martin has been sporadically releasing excerpts from the book for the past several years, and recently confirmed that more will be forthcoming. So far, sample chapters that have been officially released online include Theon Greyjoy, Arianne Martell, Arya Stark, and Sansa Stark. In addition to the excerpts made available online, all official excerpts as well as another unreleased elsewhere (from POV character Tyrion Lannister) are available for free along with the World of Ice and Fire app. Still want more? Several fan summaries (and in one case, a video) of chapter readings that Martin has done at conventions and appearances over the years are available for the following characters: Arianne Martell (part 2), Victarion Greyjoy (video), and Barristan Selmy.

Hat tip to the folks at the ASOIAF subreddit for compiling all of the sample chapters and excerpts on their wiki.

A World of Ice and Fire coverAnother good way to get your fix of all things Westeros is to watch the TV adaptation of the ASOIAF series, Game of Thrones. Season five is currently airing, and you can catch up on all four previous seasons through DCPL! Or check out Mr. Martin’s most recently published work, The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones. This gorgeous and comprehensive guide will tell series readers all they might want to know about the history and culture of Westeros and the lands beyond the Narrow Sea, including never before published material.

{ 2 comments }