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Local Interest

May 10 2013

Mama said… a lot

by Veronica W

In 1961 the Shirelles, a girls singing group, had a moderately successful hit with the song “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This.” However most of us knowGlass-5442_fs that mothers have a lot more to say than that. Even when I became an adult, my mother and Inever engaged in cozy, confidential chats. She acknowledged the factI was grown, but she always remained the elder. Dictates became helpful hints, suggestions and “good life counsel,” which she implicitly indicated I would be wise to follow. Being southern by orientation, if not inclination, many of her pearls were couched in folksy sayings,some of which my sisters and I compiled into amemory book. Here are just a few.

  • You can sift and sift and still get the husks. (Translation: It doesn’t pay to be too fussy)
  • Pretty is as pretty does (Translation: Looks aren’t everything)
  • You better save those tears?ou’re going to need them later (Translation: Don’t cry about trivial matters)
  • If it’s on your back, it’s not in the bank (Translation: Don’t dress to impress)
  • Make sure you have walls before you try to paint (Translation: Don’t try to improve a boyfriend who acts worthless)
  • Cow’s going to need his tail come fly time (Translation:Treat everyone well. You never know when you have to ask them for help.)

Susan Sarandon in Anywhere But Here. Doris Roberts in Raymond. Freaky Friday, Steel Magnolias, The Glass Menagerie…the list of mothers andtheir sense (and yes, sometimes non-sense) is almost endless. Sometimes memories of the things our mothers said are foggy or clouded by childhood impressions. However, there may be one or two thingsyou find yourself saying which are, to your amazement, amusement or horror,your mother’s. Perhapsyou knowof a book ormovie full of “momisms.” If so, please share. Remember, Mama said “If you do good, good will follow you.”

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Mar 15 2013

Red Means Go

by Veronica W

Imagine this. You are driving down a two lane road, traffic in one lane going east, the other travelling west. The eastbound lane, (yours, of course) is bumper-to-bumper, for some reason in the far distance. Suddenly you see in your side mirror that the driver of a car several lengths behind you, has decided not to wait and has shot out into the westbound lane.  He travels about twenty five feet, then makes a left turn onto a side street,  narrowly escaping a collision with 06-Prepare-to-be-Annoyeda car heading west. I don’t have to imagine this scenario because I have seen it, not once, not twice but three times in as many months.

I learned to drive in New York City, famous for its Andretti style driving.  In fact, I was told that Atlanta’s helter skelter traffic is due to all the transplanted, bad driving northerners who have invaded the Georgia roadways.  While I don’t know about that, I do know that once you’ve driven in gypsy cab land,—aka Manhattan—you can drive pretty much anywhere (…in the U.S. anyway. I hear driving in China is almost surreal). However what happens on the roads today can stress even the most skilled driver, because sometimes it’s impossible to defend yourself against the jaw-dropping, aberrant behavior of other drivers (road construction requires another post).

Tom Vanderbilt has written an informative but highly entertaining book entitled Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What it Says About Us).  For those people who want to listen to something while they drive, it comes in audio book form as well as print. In this book, these questions are answered:

  • Why I Became a Late Merger (and Why You Should Too)
  • Why Does the Other Lane Always Seem Faster
  • Why You’re Not as Good a Driver as You Think You Are
  • Why Ants Don’t Get into Traffic Jams (and Humans Do)
  • Why Women cause More Congestion Than Men (and Other Secrets of Traffic)
  • Why More Roads Lead to More Traffic (and What to Do About It)
  • How Traffic Explains the World

Ronin. Bullitt. What’s Up Doc?. Gone in 60 SecondsThe Bourne Identity.  What do all of these movies have in common? They are all on the Best Car Chase Movies of All Time list. I love car chase movies and  reality is suspended as I watch the mayhem caused by a car hurtling through a crowded street.  I’m not so thrilled when I witness the same recklessness on I-285. Although in my younger years I loved speed, today I often stay in the right lane; not because there is less lead in my foot but because sometimes I think the other two lanes are reserved for the racers. By the way, a car salesman recently told me the 4 cylinder is the new 6 cylinder, the 6 is the new 8, etc.  Hmmm. I wondered why all those little cars seemed so peppy.

Now that you are playing with the idea of leaving your car at home, how will you get to where you need to go?  The “MARTA is smarter” people advocate public transportation.  Fitness folk suggest you walk… or at the very least, ride a bicycle. Since none of these options are viable choices for me, I’ve decided it’s less aggravating to care for and feed a horse. Buggies are optional.

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As we transition from the old year to the new, our thoughts naturally turn to contemplation of the future and what it holds in store for us. For those of us working in public libraries, it is a good opportunity to ask, “What should we be focusing on?”, and in order to help us make that determination, we need feedback from the communities we serve. That’s where you come in.

First of all, I’d like to invite you to participate in a short (roughly five minute) survey being conducted on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries Initiative.

The purpose of the survey is to help the Global Libraries Initiative identify opportunities to focus their current support of public libraries in ways that foster innovation and dramatically accelerate positive and lasting change in libraries throughout the U.S. and around the world.

To participate in the survey, click here.

Secondly, I’d like to invite you to provide your valuable feedback on a more local level. Currently DCPL is in the process of developing a strategic plan, and is soliciting input through public feedback sessions to help the Library set priorities for the next three years. While the majority of the sessions have already occurred, the final session takes place on Tuesday, January 8 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Hairston Crossing Library, and we’d love to see you there! For more information, call 404.370.8450, ext. 2228.

Have a happy new year!

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Oct 26 2012

Bless Her Heart

by Veronica W

In the movie Steel Magnolias, two middle aged southern women, Clairee and Truvy, are at a wedding reception, watching one of their peers dance. Her “form fitting” dress shows all her curves and extras, in rolling, gyrating splendor.

Truvy: Clairee, you know I’d rather walk on my lips than criticize  anybody…but…Janice Van Meer…

Clairee: I know…

Truvy: I bet you money she’s paid $500 for that dress and doesn’t even bother to wear a girdle.

Clairee: It’s like two pigs fighting under a blanket.

Truvy: Well, I haven’t left the house without Lycra on these thighs since I was 14.

Clairee: You were brought up right.

This movie remains one of my favorites. It gave me an insight into a type of womanhood which I, growing up in my Yankee environment, would never have experienced otherwise. Although my mother was from Richmond, Virginia, there was little, if any, venom in her and she would have considered the above conversation in questionable taste. Then again, she had spent much of her adult life in the icy north.

There are so many books with southern women as main characters that I will only give you books or authors with whom I am personally familiar.  One of my favorite authors is Anne Rivers Siddons, whose Homeplace and Low Country delve into the lives of women returning to their southern roots.  The Secret Life of Bees, Cold Sassy Tree and Saving Grace are also good choices if you want to explore the hearts and minds of Dixie women. For pure fun, read the Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross.

One of the most intriguing books I ever read was Kindred by Octavia Butler. In the story, a modern day, young African American woman goes back in time to live on a post civil war plantation. Without much warning, the young woman disappears from her current surroundings and reappears on the plantation. Only extreme, life threatening danger brings her back to her current time. On one such trip her husband, who is white, manages to hold onto her and he goes back with her, which causes all kinds of other problems. The premise is a fascinating one and a lot of insight is given into the relationship between black and white southern women.

For non-fiction fans, Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’ is an incredible paean to his Alabama mother, who “went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes and picked other people’s cotton so that her children wouldn’t have to live on welfare.” It is the story of the “steel” that is not always evident beneath the slow, southern cadence or the often slower, rather deliberate movements of southern women. While I confess that much of my reading involves escapist fiction, I was enthralled by this book.

Two middle aged women sit in the crowded waiting room, their soft, honeyed drawls in big contrast to the litany of faults they obviously found in a mutual acquaintance. I unashamedly eavesdrop, my unread book in my hands.

“Poor thing,” one says with a sigh. “She just can’t seem to get her life straight.” Shaking her head, the other lady tacks onto this final assessment, the benediction “Bless her heart.” I smile to myself. Magnolias in full bloom.

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Oct 24 2012

Haunted Libraries

by Jesse M

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it appropriate to share Ellyssa Kroski’s excellent write-ups about haunted libraries, both in the United States and around the world. Each list features ten spooky libraries with a brief description of each, as well as a link you can follow to find out more information. Some of the libraries even offer “proof” of their paranormal inhabitants:
The Old Benton Library (formerly the Saline County Library) in Arkansas was investigated by a team of ghost hunters, and you can view their findings, including a video of them purportedly communicating with a ghost using the flashlight method; while the The Willard Library in Indiana allows prospective ghost hunters a chance to hunt for spirits themselves by viewing webcams located in the Children’s room, Research room, and Basement Hall.

Want a list of haunted libraries a little closer to home? Check out this page on library ghosts in the Southern US. Astute readers may notice that there aren’t any Georgia libraries on the list, however, according to the Shadowlands Haunted Places Index, Chestatee Regional Library in Gainesville has experienced its share of spectral happenings:

After hours the apparition of a young brown haired girl is seen. Books also tumble off the shelves. The library was built on the site of a hotel where a murder may have occurred.

Scary stuff!  Although generally speaking I’m skeptical of reports of paranormal phenomena, this blogger is happy to work in a library that isn’t haunted.

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Oct 15 2012

October…Think Pink

by Amanda L

This month is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every year there seems to be more activities available to participate in raising awareness and money to fight breast cancer in the Atlanta area. Most people are aware of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. This year it is being held October 19-21, 2012. There are a variety of other events listed on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure-Greater Atlanta website.

On October 20, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., the Stonecrest Library will be the host site for the Pink Heart Awareness Conference. The guest speaker for the conference is breast cancer survivor, Shondia McFadden-Sabari. All ages are invited to attend this conference.

Sometimes when we or a loved one goes through a situation it is comforting to read stories where characters experience similar situations.  I was touched deeply by breast cancer over a decade ago when a friend died at the age of thirty.  Below are a list of books where the characters are breast cancer survivors.

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Oct 5 2012

Building Common Ground

by Patricia D

I’m really not accustomed to having culturally important landmarks in my backyard.  We did have the home of Louis Bromfield near where I grew up,  as well as the Ohio State Reformatory, site of the films Tango & Cash (ah yes, such a great film) and the Shawshank Redemption.  OSR is no longer a maximum security prison but it is a terrifying Haunted House.  Folks come from all over the Midwest and Middle Atlantic and pay to get into the place Kurt Russell and Tim Robbins worked so hard to escape.  Even though organizers could get by with just handing over a flashlight and sending you into the abandoned cell block (no joke, that place is seriously creepy, and not in a Scooby Doo  way) they go all out with decorating, actors  and animatronics.  That,  on top of actually being in an old prison (lots of bad energy in those walls), makes for a really good show, if you’re into that sort of thing.  So that’s my hometown’s  claim to cultural significance .  I had to move to Georgia just to up the ante.  Now I can claim all sorts of things,  including the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, part of which is in southeastern DeKalb County.  It is one of only 49 National Heritage Areas in the United States.

There are two huge things that make Arabia Mountain so special, neither of which is that it was one of the locations for the movie Pet Sematary II.   One is the ecosystem on Arabia Mountain itself.  Animals such as lichen grasshoppers, marbled and spotted salamanders, coachwhip and hognose snakes, great- horned owls, deer and bobcats make their home on the monadnock.  It is home to the world’s largest population of  Isoetes melanospora (black spotted quillwort), a Federally protected plant.  It’s also home to the rare Small’s Stonecrop, a plant that makes a living out of almost nothing.  There are also the the less rare, but lovely,  Sunnybells, Sparkleberry, Yellow Daisy, Fringetree and Georgia Oak.

The second reason Arabia Mountain is so special is the people.  The area has been inhabited for thousands of years—Native Americans, Scots immigrants, Trappist Monks—but it is the Flat Rock community, established by freed slaves, that will be the focus of Building Common Ground: Discussions of Community, Civility and Compassion, a series of programs at the DeKalb County Public Library that will celebrate the history, diversity and preservation of the community.

Flat Rock began as a small area south of what would become I-20.  It was an agricultural community  bordered by three small slave-holding farms and grew after the  Civil War into a bustling community of churches, schools, and civic organizations.  It thrived for decades, done in finally by the Great Migration and the Great Depression.  It is also the site of one of the few intact slave cemeteries left in Georgia. Today it provides a glimpse into the lives of freed slaves and their descendants.

Building Common Ground is funded by a grant from the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute.  DCPL’s partners include the Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance, the Flat Rock Archives and Museum and Arabia Mountain High School.  The four programs will be hosted by the amazing staff at the Stonecrest Library. You may also listen to interviews with community members on the Building Common Ground page conducted by StoryCorps.

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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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May 23 2012

Dream Big—READ!

by Nancy M

I know I am not alone when I say I cannot believe this school year is over already! But what a year it was and another summer is upon us—so gather up your kids and let’s make it a great one! This could be the summer your child meets renowned author Carmen Deedy, or is inspired by the storytelling skills of Barry Stewart Mann. This could be the summer you encourage your child’s love of snakes, while your own reptilian fears manifest in new and disturbing ways. Or maybe, just maybe, this is the summer where your child wins the Path2College sweepstakes, over $5,000 that goes towards his or her future college education.  One thing is for sure, we have worked hard to make this the best summer yet and with so many fun, free and educational programs being offered, DeKalb County Public Library is the place to be!

This summer’s Vacation Reading Program, Dream Big—READ! begins on Saturday, May 26 and continues through July 31. This reading incentive program is a great way to keep kids reading through the summer. Sign up online or at any DeKalb County Public Library branch. The teen program, Own the Night, is for teens ages 13-17 years old. Visit the teen page for more information. And who says kids have all the fun? DCPL is offering an adult reading program, Between the Covers, from May 29-September 4. You can pick up the guidelines at any of our branches, or sign up online.

We will be kicking off the summer at the Tucker, Stonecrest and Decatur branches with a magic show by Ken Scott as well as crafts and other activities fun for the whole family. A list of dates and times can be found here.

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Apr 30 2012

The Fenway Way

by Greg H

This April marked the 1ooth anniversary of the opening of Boston’s Fenway Park.  Plenty has been said and written about this landmark’s centennial and I can’t think of much to add except by way of a juxtaposition. Here in Atlanta we’re talking about demolishing a perfectly serviceable twenty year old stadium to build a new facility with that most fashionable of all features: a retractable roof. The cost is projected to be in the neighborhood of one billion dollars.  Readers can take sides over which number is the more outrageous; the one billion dollars for the new structure or the mere 20 years in age of the old.

We have always been a disposable society, but there must have been a time when, at the very least, a twenty year old, multimillion dollar building was not considered something suitable only for the wrecking ball.  Fenway Park, then maybe only ninety years old, was once thought to be ready for demolition.  That was, however,  before three and four generations of Red Sox fans, and baseball fans everywhere, considered the memories and history that Fenway embodied and decided it needed to be restored, not replaced.

Comparing Fenway Park to the Georgia Dome is an apples and oranges type of exercise.  And I’m not suggesting that  Bostonians  have a more cultivated sense of history than Georgians do. (After all, look at the lengths to which Atlanta went to preserve the Margaret Mitchell House.)  It’s just that places become special precisely because they’ve been given time to become special. If the Georgia Dome’s days are numbered,  here’s hoping that maybe Turner Field can, someday,  be like Fenway.

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