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

Adult Learning

VictHow many of you have watched the PBS series Victoria? This show is based on Queen Victoria of England. She was one of England’s longest reigning monarchs. At the library we have many opportunities to explore the various lives of women. Daisy Goodwin has, in her latest book Victoria, created a great a companion to the PBS program.

I find it so fascinating to read about another life. One that I will never experience. What is it like to be royal or a head of state? What constrictions does it place on one’s life? Can they truly have the freedom to marry who they choose or live where they want to?

 

Victoria became queen after her two uncles died with no heir. Her early life was spent at Kensington Palace. Where she often felt like a prisoner. Upon her uncle the King of England’s death she achieved the throne and her independence. What kind of monarch would she become? Who would her husband be?

Ms. Goodwin also introduces us to other characters such as: Lord Melbourne (Lord M), the Duchess of Kent, Sir John Conroy, King Leopold of Belgium, and Prince Albert. There are many others as well.

Readers will fly through the pages of the fabulous book on Victoria. The library has other books on Victoria listed here:

Victoria A Life by A.N. Wilson

We two: Victoria and Albert Rulers, Partners, Rivals by Gillian Gill

Queen Victoria At Home by Michael De-La-Noy

We also hYoung Elizabethave books that follow the lives of other monarchs of England who also are featured on current television shows, such as The Crown and The White Princess.  If you are not familiar with The Crown it follows the rise of Elizabeth II to the throne of England.  It also delves into the personal lives of the Queen and her family.  The White Princess on the other hand follows the conclusion of  the War of the Roses or the Cousins War.  It follows the perspective of the young princess Elizabeth of York.

 

Other titles include: 
Young Elizabeth: the Making of a Queen by Kate Wililams

Prince Philip: the turbulent early life of the man who married the Queen Elizabeth the Second by Philip Eade

 

The White Princess by Philippa GregoryPrincess of York

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir

Elizabeth of York, the mother of Henry VIII by Nancy Lenz Harvey

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Oct 10 2016

Out With The Old

by Camille B

picture-of-signboardWould you believe that you can still find a working payphone at the Decatur Library? I don’t mean a relic, barred off by velvet ropes where people can come by and stare in wonder (although they probably do). I’m talking about an actual, receiver- still- attached, working payphone.

You certainly don’t see these around anymore and many kids today have no idea what they are or how they work, just take a look here at the young man in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xm0CoT5n7A.

This youngster’s not alone, and it’s not just younger kids, teenagers too seem in awe of this blast from our past. I have a sixteen year old niece who has never seen an actual payphone, or a rotary phone for that matter, except for the ones on TV. Funny or sad, the most vivid recollection of the phone booth this modern generation might have in the  coming years, would be of Clark Kent using it to change into Superman.

Of course I couldn’t stop my mind from travelling down memory lane, wondering what else had faded away or died a quiet death while we weren’t looking? Those things which we believed to be so indispensable that are now simply memories that make our kids chortle and roll their eyes at us as though we lived during the Middle Ages.

Well honestly, quite a number of them that popped up are already pretty much obsolete and the others, though they’re putting up a brave fight to stay with us, will soon also be a thing of the past.

The following items came up repeatedly on various lists:

Rotary Phones- picture-of-rotary-phoneI think that the rotary phone would certainly be a great conversation piece among the younger and future generations. There were no buttons to press, not even for redial. Before thumbs rocked, the index finger ruled, for both scrolling down the pages of the telephone directory and dialing -the long way around. And if the phone rang, you picked it up, without knowing who was calling. If you missed a call, you dialed *69.

Mailing a letter- When was the last time you saw a teenager in line at the Post Office?  Just about everything is done online, even getting copies of grades and turning in assignments. All correspondence is done through text, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Disposable Cameras- Gone are the days of dropping off your disposable camera at Walgreens and anxiously waiting  the one hour for your honeymoon photos to be developed, hoping that the weird, grinning man you met doesn’t appear in any of the backgrounds.picture-of-disposable-camera

Today we can easily snap and store hundreds of photos to our heart’s content, using our tablets and smart phones and getting results in an instant. We now even have the option of developing them ourselves. And thanks to Photoshop, you can also say bye-bye to the weird grinning man in the background.

Cursive Writing- Alas, the lost art of cursive writing which was such an integral part of the schools’ curriculum and encouraged proper penmanship among students, today is almost non-existent. The logic behind it seems to be that we rarely put pen to paper anymore anyway. Maybe in years to  come there will be no need for pen and paper at all, so the thought is, I guess, why waste time with such a practice?

Still, I believe that there’s just something about a person having good penmanship, don’t you think? And it’s one of those things I’d most hate to see go. Some states and schools are still fighting the good fight to keep it as part of their school’s curriculum, Georgia included, but sadly it’s dying a slow death.

Renting a Movie- Years ago, we probably couldn’t imagine life without popular video rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. For many it was part of the weekend experience. You stopped off at the video store down the street Friday or Saturday night to rent four or five movies which you kept for a few days.

Good times for us, but hey, no love lost for the modern generation, not when they have Redbox, Netflix, Hulu and other ways to rent movies or stream them online in your own home.picture-of-blockbuster-sign

Remembering Phone Numbers- Before everyone had a cellphone with the capability of storing every possible phone number you could think of, there was just that one house phone, remember? With probably an extra line or two for everyone in the house to use. You could recite grandma’s number by heart and aunt Helen’s, the Vet, and Wong’s Chinese takeout on the corner. Any others were probably penciled in your telephone and address book that you carried with you in your handbag.

Mixed Tapes- Look at how far we’ve come from the mixed tape. Remember all that time spent compiling our favorite songs on a single cassette with 60 or 90 minutes worth of playing time? Arranging the songs in just the right order, then listening first to one side and then flipping it over to listen to the other? And who could forget using a pencil to reel the tape back in when it somehow got unraveled.

Today there are ipods, MP3 players, tablets and cellphones that enable us to create, download and store endless playlists all at the touch of a button.

And there is my absolute favorite…

Handwritten Letters- I can’think of a person who doesn’t love to get a handwritten letter. I most certainly do. How often do I get them? Not very often, I’m afraid. It is now very rare to receive a warm, handwritten letter from a friend or loved one. In the busyness of today’s world, all our new technology has completely replaced putting pen to paper.

But the memories are still there of the handwritten love letters we kept over the years, now yellowed with age.

Letters have brought comfort to men at war, cheer to sick loved ones, and solace to broken hearts. Letters and love notes have evoked the theme for many a love story.
There were so many other things on the ‘out with the old’ list that stirred up feelings of nostalgia as I did research for this post.  You can find a few more here on this link 50 things we don’t do anymore due to technology.

And though we say out with the old, we still pause to reminisce about those things that contributed to our lives in some small way over the years, even as we embrace all that technology and the future has to offer us today.

“We all have our time machines.  Some take us back, they’re called memories.  Some take us forward, they’re called dreams.”

– Jeremy Irons

Visit your local Dekalb Public Library or visit the website to find copies of these titles:

The great acceleration: how the world is getting faster, faster/ Robert Colville

The way we will be 50 years from today/edited by Mike Wallace

Toilets, toasters & telephones/ Susan Goldman Rubin

From radio to wireless web/ Joanne Mattern

The history of the telephone/ Elizabeth Raum

How to write anything: a complete guide/ Laura Brown

 

 

 

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JulieI have the book for you!  The book is Juliet by Anne Fortier, and is available to check out as a physical book.  It is also available in  downloadable audio in Overdrive.   The author Anne Fortier explores the real story behind Romeo and Juliet.   I have always said there is a little truth in all fiction.  This book also includes the genres of Fiction, Romance, Mystery, and Historical.

Julie and Janice Jacobs are coming home for the funeral of their recently deceased Aunt Rose.  Each women hopes to gain something from her estate.  Julie just wants a little money to cover her expenses and a place to live.  Janice just wants money.  Instead Janice is left with the house and all of its possessions.  Julie receives a mysterious key.  This key is linked to her past.  She is sent to Italy in hopes of finding treasure.  The first people she meets initially are Anna Maria Salenbini and her god son Lisandro on her way to Siena.   The first task is to go to the bank where her mother’s safety deposit box is located.   It includes the real story of Romeo and Juliet and the explanation of a curse on her family the Tolemaes and the Salenbinis.  Julie takes up the role of the modern Juliet.  Her given name from birth is Guiletta Tolemae.  But where is Romeo?  Why does Janice then make an appearance as well in Italy?  Is there really a treasure?

I loved this book!  Cassandra Campbell narrates the tale alternating between English and Italian accents.  She does an excellent job!  The story has many plot twists that will keep the reader guessing till the very end.   It had a slow start but became more interesting as the story evolved.  The reader will be left with a desire to meet their Romeo!

Please visit Overdrive for downloadable audiobook or the Catalog.  For  those of you who would like to read about the real story of  Romeo and Juliet read Understanding Romeo and Juliet by Thomas Thrasher.  See Romeo and Juliet a Duke Classic.

 

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May 9 2016

So You Want to Write a Book!

by Jencey G

How many of you have on your bucket list publishing a prize winning book? Where do you begin? What are your next steps?  How do you start a manuscript and see it through to the end that includes publication?  What makes for good plot and character development? Or just a good story?

The library can help.  One way to do this is to visit the experts.  You can attend programs at Georgia Center for the Book.  There is usually at least one program each week with many different authors and genres represented.  There almost always is a question and answer session at the end of the author’s talk for those with writing questions.

The next option would be to attend a writer’s group program at one of our many branches.  These groups can provide accountability and or work on skills that help progress your writing.  There are groups that have met at our locations at Wesley Chapel- William C. Brown, Stonecrest, Clarkston, Dunwoody, among others.  Some branches have speakers that come and focus on a certain skill in writing.  We had a program at Clarkston about the psychological effects of characters within your writing. Dunwoody has had a gentleman who comes and helps you work on the tools of writing.

There are many books that are perfect to help you wiJanet Evanovichth your writing and are also available on audiobook.   They may also be available in e-content as well. Your favorite authors get asked questions all the time about writing.  Janet Evanovich is one of those authors who has written a book about her writing process and the publishing field.  You can find, How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author at DCPL. I found it to be insightful.  One of the most recommended is Stephen King On Writing, A Memoir of Craft.  There are books available that focus on plot, character development, or how to read as a writer.

Please visit the catalog and see what can make writing your manuscript happen.  Please also visit the events page on the DeKalb Library website.  Maybe I will see you at a Georgia Center for the Book program!

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Mar 8 2016

Supreme Decisions

by Hope L

Supreme

The week after I started writing this particular blog, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly.

I was already writing a blog about the Supreme Court and how the upcoming presidential election would dramatically affect the Supreme Court of the U.S., or SCOTUS, as it is often referred to nowadays.

Now, the stakes are even higher as the highest court in the country is evenly split along ideological lines, with monumental cases hanging in the balance.

According to Jonathan Hobratsch, Writer Editor for the Literati Quarterly in a blog for The Huffington Post:

“If the next president wins two terms, regardless of the party, the Supreme Court could reach a near ideological monopoly unknown in the post-World War II era of American History, perhaps a monopoly never achieved since FDR’s eight Supreme Court nominations.

However, FDR presided during a time when both parties had liberal and conservative wings; therefore, there was more ideological overlap in a judicial nomination, even if he/she was from the opposing party.  With two deeply divided parties, the next president has a crucial influence on the future of the Supreme Court that is rarely discussed as we get closer to the 2016 election.”

justices

 

Or, consider what USA Today’s Richard Wolf wrote in his USA Today News online report:

“Wedged between the Republican and Democratic national conventions next July will fall an event of greater long term significance for the future of the republic:  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 80th birthday.

Barring unforeseen events, Kennedy will become the third sitting octogenarian on the court – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82 (and as of writing this DCPL blog, she is 83) and Justice Antonin Scalia turns 80 in March.  That will mark the first time since George H.W. Bush entered the White House more than a quarter century ago that a president has inherited three justices that old.  at 78 by then, Justice Stephen Breyer will be close behind.”

Some major cases to be heard in 2016 include those on immigration, voting districts, affirmative action for higher education students, union practices, state laws on abortion availability, and the Obamacare mandate on contraceptive coverage for employees at churches and other religions institutions.

I started searching the stacks of DCPL for anything SCOTUS-related, and I was absolutely stunned at the volume of material on the subject.  I mean, everything about the high court has been documented, explored and opined about.

And, the end of the last century had something new to write about the Supreme Court – a first throughout its history:  the naming of a female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

O’Connor was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and garnered unanimous senate approval; ironically, she was the “key swing vote in many important cases, including the upholding or Roe v. Wade,” according to the website Bio.com.

DCPL has many books on O’Connor, including: “Sandra Day O’Connor : How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became its Most Influential Justice by Joan Biskupic.

But one of my favorite reads has been Robert Schnakenberg’s “Secret Lives of the Supreme Court:  What Your Teachers Never Told You About America’s Legendary Justices.

 

supremebook

An interesting tidbit from this book about John Marshall, who spent 34 years as chief justice:

“Beyond his noble birthright (a distant relative of Thomas Jefferson), there was nothing much about Marshall’s upbringing that screamed “father of American jurisprudence.”  He had only a year of formal schooling and attended law lectures for less than three months.”

“…he dressed in a plain, occasionally disheveled, manner and did all his own grocery shopping.  A Virginia neighbor once saw him lugging a turkey home from the market, mistook him for a servant, and threw him some spare change.  Marshall humbly pocketed the money and went on his way with his bird.  A truly genial man, he won many a legal argument through conciliation and persuasion rather than confrontation and coercion – a fact that infuriated his political opponents.”

And, another item which I vaguely remembered and is covered in the book (but many people don’t realize): that President William Howard Taft, who had served as a U.S. District Court judge in his native Ohio, always had aspired to sit on the Supreme Court. He was steered instead into the presidency by both his wife and the outgoing president, Theodore Roosevelt.  He got his opportunity, however, when Republican Warren G. Harding sought him for an appointment to the high court.  Taft is the only former president to have sworn a new president into office (Calvin Coolidge in 1925 and Herbert Hoover in 1929).

Who knows?  If a Democrat is elected, perhaps Barack O’Bama could be a future justice.

One thing is certain, however – this country will be seeing many new faces on the Supreme Court in the coming years.

 

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Dec 28 2015

Whale of a Story

by Hope L

SmithsonianDec2015My favorite quick read, which is available at DCPL (natch), is Smithsonian Magazine*–and the December issue certainly does not disappoint.

The article “Quakers with a Vengeance” is all about the history of Nantucket, so of course it delves into the history of whaling–and, of course, it talks about Herman Melville and Moby Dick. And it explores a more recent item: Ron Howard’s new movie In the Heart of the Sea, now in theaters.

One fascinating tidbit I just picked up from reading this piece is that Melville had never been to Nantucket (the place where his famous classic is at shore) when he wrote his famous story. Turns out he only visited it a year after Moby Dick was published. I did know however (being a Card-Carrying Know-It-All and everything), that Melville’s book was a flop during his lifetime, which is indeed a shame. The more I read about Herman Melville, the more I respect him as a writer and an adventurer. (You, too, can be a Card-Carrying Know-It-All by signing up today for a DCPL library card.)

I haven’t been this excited about whaling since I visited Provincetown, MA, a few years ago. Not quite Nantucket, but it’s the closest I’ve been to the world-famous home of whalers, that little island out there off of Cape Cod. It also turns out that Nantucket and its environs had little in the way of whales in any nearby waters after about 1800, having been all fished out. Still, the infrastructure was in place for the processing of whale blubber, and Nantucket continued to be the top producer of whaling oil in the world.

The thing about Melville’s Moby Dick is that initially one could mistake it as a difficult and monotonous read, as I did before I became a die-hard ship/sea stories/whaling aficionado. But when I read it years later, I was smitten.

melville

Melville’s tales of his seafaring adventures led to his success as a writer with Typee published in 1846. Other books followed, with Moby Dick being published in 1851 to little acclaim.

So, if you care to dream about ocean adventures while in landlocked Atlanta, DCPL has an assortment of whaling and seafaring books in addition to Melville’s writings, for example:

Looking for a Ship (1990) by John McPhee

Seaworthy: Adrift with William Willis in the Golden Age of Rafting (2006) by T.R. Pearson

The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America (2008) by Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith

*The Smithsonian Magazine is available in print (paper) at various DCPL branches. Check with your local library. You can read full-color, digital issues of the Smithsonian Magazine in our DCPL Zinio Library Collection, and the magazine is also available full-text via EBSCOhost from GALILEO.

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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.

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Dec 19 2013

National Hobby Month

by Glenda

January is National Hobby Month. If you do not have a hobby (or need a new one) I have a few suggestions. The DeKalb County Public Library offers a variety of programs throughout the year. For example, the Crochet Group or the Quilting Workshop would be perfect for those who are a little crafty or just want to learn. You might say “I am not a crafty person.” Well, did you know the library is offering Symphony in Your Neighborhood? This program brings the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to your neighborhood for free. Meaning you do not have to sit in Buckhead traffic to experience the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. What if music is not your thing? Are you a reader? Well, the library has book discussion groups for you avid readers. Did you know that the library also has a program for those of you who would like to learn a new language? The International Café meets once a month so that you may practice your Spanish skills. Okay, so none of this has sparked your interest? What about movies? The library has a New Movie Series where we show recent movies. And how about taking a free yoga class? For more ideas, you can also check out the book Get a hobby!: 101 all-consuming diversion for any lifestyle by Tina Barseghian.

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cafecroissantmini

Multiple magazine articles, both scholarly and popular extoll the benefits of bilingualism or multilingualism for the health and efficiency of the human brain.  It is said that those who learn multiple languages from birth are less likely, for example, to develop early onset Alzheimer’s disease…if the disease does appear, it is more likely to be delayed proportionately to the fluency and depth of understanding attained in a second language.  Foreign languages are promoted as a means to make your child (or self) appear more sophisticated and cognitively advanced, leading parents to believe their child will become a front running contender for advanced educational programs, degrees, and be more competitive in the job markets of the future.  Of course, certain languages are considered more useful than others, depending on where you live in the world.  In a not so distant past, it was believed that learning a second language could cause developmental delays, but this is no longer the current consensus.

From my readings, I often gather that an overlying assumption motivates parents’ wishes for their children to learn foreign languages: that it makes their minds more logical and mathematical, and therefore better prepared for our technical and information age.   While I understand these arguments, some of which seem plausible and worthy, I have my own reasons for defending and promoting multi-lingualism.  To learn a new language means to learn to understand and assimilate a new culture.  Culture includes body language and unspoken assumptions about time, proximity, morality, justice, love and how affection is demonstrated or withheld, diet, and so much more.  Simply learning grammatical constructs, while being great gymnastics for the rational mind, is only a small part of the benefits of bilingualism.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Dec 2 2013

The Know-it-All

by Hope L

The book of general ignoranceOkay, I’ll just admit it:  I vacillate between two extremes:  either I feel like I know everything about everything, or I feel like I know absolutely nothing about anything.  And as annoying as I know it must be, you could call me a ‘Know-It-All’ most days.

But after reading The Book of General Ignorance: Everything You Think You Know is Wrong by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson, I’m convinced that I’m a ‘Know-Nothing.’

Here are a few examples that perhaps you don’t know either:

“No ostrich has ever been observed to bury its head in the sand.  It would suffocate if it did.  When danger threatens, ostriches run away like any other sensible animal.”

And

“What killed most sailors in an eighteenth-century sea battle?  A nasty splinter.  Cannon balls fired from men o- war didn’t actually explode (no matter what Hollywood thinks), they just tore through the hull of the ship, causing huge splinters of wood to fly around the decks at high speed, lacerating anyone within range.”

Or

“Whips were invented in China seven thousand years ago but it wasn’t until the invention of high-speed photography in 1927 that the crack of the whip was seen to be a mini sonic boom and not the leather hitting the handle.”

Say what?!!!  I had noooo idea!  This last one, however, some of us knew in the back of our minds …

“Work is a bigger killer than alcohol, drugs, or war.  Around two million people die every year from work-related accidents and diseases, as opposed to a mere 650,000 who are killed in wars.  …Worldwide, the most dangerous jobs are in agriculture, mining and construction.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the year 2000, 5,915 people died at work – including those who had a heart attack at their desks.”

I’ll remember that next time someone says their job is killing them!  And if I say it aloud, youll  just have to call me a know-it-all.

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