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

March 2008

Gardening1 Remember a few months ago, when you decided to get the yard back in shape this year?  Plant some flowers, maybe a few vegetables, get rid of that poison ivy, build a patio?  Well, if you haven’t already gotten started, it’s not too late!  I can’t help you get rid of the poison ivy (from everything I’ve read, it’s pretty impossible) but I can get you started on the rest of it.

First of all, go back and check out our earlier post on garden planning.  For more information, check out the books I’ve listed below, or come into the Library for one of our upcoming Gardening Series of programs.

All new square foot gardening: grow more in less space! by Mel Bartholomew:  An update of a classic on vegetable gardening.

The all-in-one garden: grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers in the same space by Graham Rice:  This book shows you how to plant ornamental and edible plants within the same garden space.  The author is a British Master Gardener, so while the info is pretty universal, keep in mind that it may list some plants or varieties that don’t commonly grow in Georgia.

Companion planting by Susan McClure and Sally Roth: One of several books in our catalog on the subject of companion planting.  Includes ideas and suggestions for plants that grow better when planted together, as well as those combinations that just don’t work so well.

Designing the new kitchen garden: an American potager handbook by Jennifer R. Bartley: This book explains the history of the classic kitchen garden, or potager (so called because it provides the ingredients for potage, a soup or broth with vegetables) and gives plans and advice for creating your own.

Vegetables Perennial vegetables : from artichoke to zuiki taro, a gardener’s guide to over 100 delicious, easy-to-grow edibles by Eric Toensmeier.

Rodale’s vegetable garden problem solver : the best and latest advice for beating pests, diseases, and weeds and staying a step ahead of trouble in the garden by Fern Marshall Bradley.

The truth about garden remedies: what works, what doesn’t & why by Jeff Gillman:  The author checks out many commercial, homemade, and traditional garden fixes and lets you know what works and what doesn’t.  Gillman has recently published another book about organic gardening along the same theme; it’s not currently in the DCPL catalog, but check later to see if it’s been added.

Your backyard herb garden : a gardener’s guide to growing over 50 herbs plus how to use them in cooking, crafts, companion planting, and more by Miranda Smith.

Gardening Series: How Green is Your Thumb? Join Lynwood Blackmon of the DeKalb Extension Service to learn the basics of environmentally friendly gardening.

Composting – Monday, April 28, 6:30 PM, Flat Shoals Library
Lawncare – Saturday, May 3, 11:30 AM, Redan-Trotti Library
Water Conservation – Monday, May 12, 6:30 PM Gresham Library
Xeriscaping – Saturday, May 17, 11:30 AM, Scott Candler Library



Mar 27 2008

Books are my “Wiki”-ness

by Jimmy L

You probably know what a wiki is, at least vaguely, from the most famous wiki website Wikipedia.  But did you know that wikis can help you read and enjoy a book more?

There is a whole subset of wikis dedicated to individual books,
authors, and book series.  These wikis are great for those thousand
page books (or series of books) where you may forget who some the characters are if you put
the book down for a few days.  Wikis come in handy here, as they
provide an almost encyclopedic knowledge concerning the universe of the
book or authors in question.  Here are some useful ones I found on the web:

I’ve only listed the most popular ones I can find, as those are the ones with the most content.  However, there are many more.  Here’s an index to some more wikis about books.

You don’t need to know much about wikis in order to enjoy them (just
think about Wikipedia; you can use it just like any other
website).  But if you wish to participate in content creation, it’s
very simple.  Here is a video that explains that process and the basic
concept of wikis in plain english:


Mar 26 2008

Not your run-of-the-mill jobs…

by David T

IndexShort on funds after paying your taxes? Want to sock away a little money for your summer vacation?  Check out Odd Jobs: 101 Ways to Make an Extra Buck, by Abigail R. Gehring.

According to the book’s publicity, the author herself has held 24 of the 101 jobs listed in its pages, some of which truly merit the adjective “odd.” In her introduction, Gehring says her book is for “anyone who could use a little extra cash, who wants to add some spice to his normal work routine, or who’s ready to murder his boss and jump the next plane to New Zealand.”

The book lists a multitude of part-time, temporary, and seasonal employment opportunities, from Crossing Guard to Mystery Shopper to Virtual Assistant. Among the many choices are ones that can be done from home or online, as well as some that require travel. For each, she provides the typical duties of the job, how to apply, what pay you can expect, expenses you’d have in getting started, and websites where more detailed information can be found. She also notes, with a nice sense of irony, “perks” and “downsides” of each job. Though you might not see yourself posing nude for a college art class, Gehring points out that the job is open to men and women of all body types, normally pays at least $15 an hour, and says encouragingly, “You’ll probably never make money doing less physically or mentally. Most of the time you just sit there.”

Even if you’re not in the market for part-time work, Odd Jobs is fun to browse, and some of the occupations we’ll bet you’ve never heard of. Somewhere in the world today, there’s a worker earning money as a Motivational Dancer, Vacuum Dust Sorter, or Gustatory Athlete. Just think — it could be you.

So, DCPLivers, what’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had?


After working in a public library for nearly six years, it still strikes me the number of library users who are mystified by all those little numbers on our nonfiction books’ spine labels.  The Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) was invented by American library pioneer Melvil Dewey, a very odd but brilliant scholar and reformer.  Aside from his successful classification system and role in founding the American Library Association and the magazine Library Journal, Dewey was also a proponent of spelling reform, and attempted to change his birth name, “Melville Dewey” to “Melvil Dui” (only the first name’s spelling stuck).  His legacy to us, the public library users of the world, is a simple and effective system of classifying all human knowledge.  Here’s how it works:

Three Digits to Left, Up to Four Digits on the Right, or 364.1523 = True Crime

Every nonfiction book is assigned a number, known as a “call number.”  The three-digit number to the left of the decimal is associated with a certain subject.  For example, “005” is for computer programs, and “641” is for cooking (or “cookery” as the subject heading is known).  The numbers to the right of the decimal refine the subject, and allow you to get more specific about what type of computer program (“005.369” is where you would find Microsoft Office programs) or cooking (“641.595” is where you would find Chinese cookbooks).  Different library systems allow more decimal digits, which means you can further pinpoint what you’re searching for.  DCPL goes out to four digits, which works well for our needs.

What About the Letters Underneath?  or What does “Chi” mean?

While the call number gets you to the right subject area, some sections are so big that you need a little more information to get you to the exact book you’re looking for.  Let’s say you’re looking for The Way to Cook by Julia Child, and when you check the catalog, you just write down the number “641.5” and run to the shelf.  You would find that there are many (perhaps a hundred or more) titles filed under this number.  When you go back to the catalog you see that the full call number is “641.5 Chi.”  Yep, you guessed it – “Chi” is for “Child,” the first three letters of the author’s last name.  Lucky for you, we library staffers keep those letters in alphabetical order so that you can quickly find what you’re looking for.

Okay, Lets Review:

When you go to the catalog and find a specific call number (like 641.5 Chi), or you ask a staff member where cookbooks are and they tell you “in the 641s,” here’s how you find it:

  1. Find the three digit number to the left of the decimal (like 641).  The numbers are all in order from 001 to 999, so this part will be easy.
  2. Once you’re in the 641s, look at the numbers to the right of the decimal (also in order – 641.1, 641.2, etc.) until you find what you’re looking for.
  3. Once you’ve found the right number area, start looking for the letters, which are also filed alphabetically.

Voila!  You’ve found your book!  Happy searching!

Further Reading

Okay, if you’re actually interested in further reading about this, here’s a link to ways to begin a career in libraries!  For the simply curious, here are some good sources for Dewey Decimal information:

How to Use the Dewey Decimal System – a basic overview provided by the Monroe County (Indiana) Public Library.

Dewey Decimal Classification System – a user-friendly PowerPoint overview of the DDC provided by OCLC, the group that owns and manages the Dewey Decimal Classification system – Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 or higher (or a compatible program) required for viewing. 

Dewey decimal classification and relative index – why not read the current version of the whole thing?  (Four volumes, at Decatur Library reference department).  No, seriously – if you read this, you should really consider a career as a librarian!  🙂

{ 1 comment }

Mar 24 2008

Georgia Writer Flannery O’Connor

by Nolan R

Flannery O’Connor’s fiction often is labeled as “Southern Gothic” or “Southern Grotesque.” In response to this, O’Connor once said that “anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.”

I grew up reading the stories of Flannery O’Connor, but I’m not sure that high school students these days ever study her work.   A friend of mine is currently taking a graduate class at Georgia College & State University on O’Connor’s work, and while I enjoy O’Connor’s dark sense of humor, I believe my friend is a braver woman than I am to attempt such a class!

O’Connor was born in Savannah, GA on March 25, 1925, and the family moved to Milledgeville, GA in 1938.  O’Connor attended Peabody High School, and later Georgia State College for Women (now GCSU) in Milledgeville.  In 1945 O’Connor received a scholarship in journalism from the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa).  After completing her M.F.A. in 1947, O’Connor won the Rinehart-Iowa Fiction Award and was accepted at Yaddo, an artists’ retreat in Saratoga Springs, New York. At Yaddo, she worked on her novel Wise Blood and became friends with the poet Robert Lowell.  After leaving Yaddo in 1949, O’Connor lived briefly in New York City and Connecticut.  In 1950, however, O’Connor was stricken with lupus and was forced to return to Milledgeville permanently. Remaining there from 1951 until 1964, O’Connor lived at Andalusia, the family farm, where she managed to continue to write despite her illness.  On August 3, 1964, however, after several days in a coma, she died from complications of lupus following surgery.  She is buried beside her father in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.

In 1972, O’Connor was posthumously awarded the National Book Award for her collection The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor.

For more information on O’Connor:


Here is a video of Paula Poundstone with a message about the Friends of the Library:

Also, don’t miss out on this chance to see Paula Poundstone in person.  Paula Poundstone, Emmy-Award winning comedian and author and national spokesperson for Friends of Libraries USA (FOLUSA) will be performing at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center on Friday, March 28, at 8 p.m.  She will be signing books after her performance.


As many of us this past weekend and Monday embarked on our yearly celebration involving wearing a color we normally do not wear; we may have seen one of the many Irish shows on TV, went to a parade, went to a concert, or went to a pub. At some point during this time of year (when we are all Irish), we got to hear some music. As Irish music is near and dear to my heart, I thought I would post a little FAQ on the whole thing so next time you hear the music you can impress someone with saying “I really liked how the set began with a slide and ended with reels.”

Basically you can group Irish music into two main categories: music with singing and music without singing.

The most well known songs are pub tunes and ballads, many of which overlap or are both used in group performances. Pub tunes are moderate to fast-tempo, usually about having a good time or telling a tall tale of some sort, and often have crowd participation during the rollicking songs. Ballads are stories generally sung slowly and about sad topics such as love lost, death, war, troubles. Ballads have migrated from their sources on the British Isles over to America where we start to recognize them in bluegrass and country music. Both songs can be sung an Gaelige (in the Gaelic language), but generally the songs are in English so everyone can share in the craic (pronounced like crack and means having a good time). A very specific style of singing from Ireland is called Sean Nos (meaning “old style”), which is characterized by acapella singing often in Gaelic with difficult vocal ornamentation, breath control including glottal stops and glides, and melodic variation; sean nos also migrated to America where it influenced shape-note singing and the ‘high lonesome sound’ of old-time and bluegrass music (think “O, Brother Where Art Thou?“).

The instrumental music played by old and new bands, the stuff heard in any Irish movie, Riverdance, a certain scene in Titanic, and pretty much anything Irish has that music dancing around in the background is all considered traditional, trad, or folk music. These tunes were originally used for dancing at a ceili (big Irish dance party) or step-dancing (Riverdance style), so the songs tend to be played pretty fast and bouncy. The tunes can be divided into different types depending on time signatures (beats per measure), tempos, and rhythmic emphasis. The main types of tunes are reels, polkas, hornpipes, jigs, slides, and airs. When played, the highly ornamented melodies can be changed slightly depending on the musicians style so it sounds different when the same short 2/3 phrases are repeated to complete the tune. Tunes are usually played in sets of 3 or 4 of the same type (ie: 3 jigs or 4 polkas) but as with many aspects of playing this style of music, there are no hard and fast rules. Instruments used in the playing of Irish music are: fiddle, flute or whistle, Uilleann pipes, harp, accordion or concertina, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, and percussion in the form of a bodhran (Irish goat skin frame drum) but other kinds of drums and spoons or bones (two pieces of wood that make clacking sounds) are also used. Like other styles of folk music, Irish traditional is an evolving style with lots of room for different interpretations but with a firm basis in the thousands of similar tunes passed down for hundreds of years.

Some musicians to get you started include: Planxty, Lunasa, Dervish, Gaelic Storm, Solas, Altan, Cherish the Ladies, and of course the Chieftains.

More info on the web?

Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann– The large global organization promoting Irish music and culture.

The Session– Clearinghouse of tunes, discussions of music, and lists of sessions worldwide.

–This will be my final post on DCPLive, and I thank everyone for reading my posts!


Mar 18 2008

Learn About Your Government

by Chris S

A few months ago we had a couple of posts about choosing presidential candidates (original here and follow up here). Now that one party has settled on a candidate, and the other race seems to have reached a temporary stalemate, consider taking this time to learn more about your federal, state, and local governments and how they work.

Federal Government

The Library subscribes to databases provided by Congressional Quarterly (CQ) that you can use to learn about the inner workings of the U.S. Government:

CQ Researcher – “CQ Researcher is noted for its in-depth, unbiased coverage of
health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs,
education, the environment, technology, and the economy” [from their site]. This database allows you to search by issue or topic.

CQ Congress Collection – Delve into past and present legislation and learn how these laws affect our everyday lives.

CQ Supreme Court Collection – Search through cases, both famous and obscure, that have shaped the way we all think about our U.S. Constitution, including the biggies like Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and many others.

If it’s books you want, the Dewey Decimal call number for politics and government are in the 320s.

American history books are in the 973s and the most recent political histories are at 973.31.

Georgia State Government

Your one-stop link is Georgia.gov, which allows you to search by branch or agency of state government. There are also many print resources that we keep in our reference departments, including copies of the Official Code of Georgia, and many local histories.

For information on elected state officials, visit the League of Women Voters of Georgia web site.

DeKalb County Government

The main county web site is www.co.dekalb.ga.us, where you can find many contact numbers for departments and county commissioners. For information about DeKalb County elected officials check out the League of Women Voters of Dekalb County.

Also, check out the Government & Law links on our web site, where you’ll find convenient links to city governments in DeKalb County and other government agencies in the Metro Atlanta area.


I wrote today’s post last week, well before this past weekend’s devastating weather.  My heart goes out to those who suffered losses in the storms.  Please note that my last tip involves the City of Atlanta.  Unfortunately, many in the city are involuntarily without power this morning, and whether or not Atlanta will still be participating in Earth Hour 2008, I am not sure.  Please check their websites for more info at a later date.

Being environmentally-friendly has never been so trendy, although I’m hoping it’s here to stay!  Here are ten quick and fairly easy tips for going “green” on St. Patrick’s Day–and every day!

  1. Buy locally grown produce!  Check out the Decatur Organic Farmers Market on Wednesdays from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at the corner of Commerce and Church St.
  2. Conserve resources by contributing to Georgia Power’s Green Energy program.
  3. Start a compost heap in your backyard and put your leftovers to good use (check out your county Extension Office and watch for spring programs at the Library!).
  4. Dumpster-dive from the convenience of your own home with Freecycle.
  5. Bike, walk, or carpool to work.
  6. Swap out your light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and save money and energy (don’t throw them away, though–they contain mercury so be sure to recycle!).
  7. Don’t throw away that old broken cell phone, radio, or VCR–recycle it! Check out the City of Decatur 2008 Spring Electronics Recycling Day at Decatur High School on March 29th from 9am-1pm.  Information on regular local recycling locations can be found at Earth 911, DeKalb County drop-off locations, or at Your DeKalb Farmers Market
  8. Conserve water by checking out these tips from the DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management.
  9. Save money and the environment by using natural cleaning formulas.  Check out a book for more info.  (For more titles, click on “Title Info” and then on one of the subject areas for more books on those topics.)
  10. Participate in Earth Hour 2008.  Join the City of Atlanta and thousands around the world and turn off your lights for one hour on March 29th from 8-9pm.

Small changes can make a big difference in the long run, and sometimes a small change in thinking can lead to an eventual and overall lifestyle change.  Send us your tips for recycling, reusing, or reducing!


Mar 13 2008

Shake It Like A Polaroid Picture

by Jimmy L

I recently learned that Polaroid (the company) will no longer be producing Polaroids (the instant photos that we love so much)! Though the instantaneous nature of Polaroids aren’t as instantaneous as, say, digital photography, they still hold a special nostalgic value. Photos taken with this technology have a special look and feel that you can’t get from a digital camera or even a normal camera.

Artists have been quick to make the Polaroid into an art form. A quick search on the web yielded many results including Stefanie Schneider. I also learned that some artists have learned how to produce special effects with their Polaroid pictures, as seen here. To learn how to create this effect, see these instructions.

It’s no surprise that artists are lamenting this loss. If you’re like me and think that nothing can replace this unique medium, then maybe you can use the comfort of a few good books:

Land’s Polaroid : a company and the man who invented it by Peter C. Wensberg

Innovation/imagination : 50 years of Polaroid photography

Polaroid Land photography by Ansel Adams

{ 1 comment }