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

April 2008

Apr 14 2008

Book Awards for Children

by Ginny C

There are so many awards given out each year to children’s and young adult books that it can be difficult to keep them all separate.  The biggest awards in children’s literature are the Caldecott and the Newbery. The Caldecott Medal is awarded for outstanding illustrations in a picture book.  Generally, these books are written for preschool and elementary age children.  The Newbery Medal is awarded for outstanding writing in a chapter book.  Books that win the Newbery are often written for children in upper elementary through middle school, although some books written for the teen audience have won the award.

Although the Caldecott and the Newbery are the most well known, there are other awards to be aware of.  The Sibert Award is given to the best children’s informational book (i.e. non-fiction.)  The Pura Belpre Award is award to the author/illustrator of the book that best depicts the Latino culture.  The Michael L. Printz Award is given to the author of the best book for young adults. 

The above awards are sponsored by the American Library Association and are given on a national level.  On a statewide level, Georgia also gives awards to outstanding childrens books.   The University of Georgia’s College of Education sponsors the Georgia Book Awards.  Once a year they release a list of 20 nominees in two categories: Picture Storybooks (for k – 3rd grade) and Chapter Books (for 4th – 8th grade.)  Throughout the year, children read and vote on their favorites and the winner is announced the following year.

For Georgia teens, there is the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers.  Started in 2004, it highlights fiction and non-fiction books written for grades 9 through 12.  Teens can vote for their favorite titles in schools and public libraries.

Check out the websites for complete lists of current and past winners and nominees.  They are a great place to start if you’re looking for something for your child or teenager (or for yourself) to read.  And don’t forget that most of the titles are available in the library!


Apr 10 2008

Interview with Poet Sarah Vap

by Jimmy L

Sarah Vap is the author of American Spikenard, which won the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize, and Dummy Fire, which won the 2006 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her love, the poet Todd Fredson, their one year old son, and a 30 year old horse. She teaches at Olympic College.

You can read some of Sarah’s poems online!

Sarah, when did you first become interested in poetry?

I first started to write poems when I was very little. I would leave them on my parents’ pillows at night, before I could fall asleep… to clear my heart or conscience, I think, in order to sleep. They were usually some variety of apology poem for something horrible I’d said or done that day. One particular memory… in the kitchen, my mom was cooking, and she asked me if spaghetti sounded good for dinner. It didn’t sound good, so I said it didn’t sound good. Then I realized, by the very tender look on her face, that she hadn’t actually wanted to hear whether or not I really thought it sounded good, but she’d wanted to say some variety of “I’ve done something for you, sweet child!” and for me to respond with some variety of “I accept!” But I didn’t know that until I saw her face after I said no. I didn’t even know that about questions, until then… that sometimes they were asking something completely different than the words indicated. I was, as you can imagine, tormented by my cruel misinterpretation until I could write her that letter poem that night. My parents never really responded to those agonized letter poems, that I can remember, but they did keep them, and read them. My father still has one hanging up in his darkroom. The instinct of apology is still strong with me.

Did you know you wanted to be a poet then, or was there another moment when you made that decision?

[read the rest of this post…]


I love classical music. In fact, words fail me to say just how much, and that’s perfectly ok. As someone said (I think it was the composer and author Ned Rorem), if what music expresses could be said in words, then we wouldn’t need music.

Sdinnerstein Recently, I’ve been listening to a wonderful new recording of the Goldberg Variations, one of my favorite pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach. This isn’t Bach’s title for the piece (his is more formal), but it’s come to be known by this name due to a story told by Bach’s first biographer, Johann Nikolas Forkel. According to this story, a Count asked Bach for keyboard music which would soothe him when he couldn’t sleep. Bach complied with a large set of variations on a tune he had written years earlier. The Count happened to employ a keyboardist whose last name was Goldberg (coincidentally his first name was also Johann – bringing our total to three in this short post), and this is why the piece is known as the “Goldberg” Variations. There’s an interesting article on the web which will tell you much more about this incredible piece, including why the story is probably untrue.

If this intrigues you, try the new recording I’ve been listening to, by Simone Dinnerstein. It’s received praise from such diverse sources as the New Yorker, Fanfare (a classical recording journal), the New York Times, and O Magazine (Oprah). I’m a pianist myself (that was my first career), and I was really struck by the gorgeous sound of the 1903 Hamburg Steinway played by Ms. Dinnerstein in this recording. In fact, this piano has a story all its own (read about it in the Telarc recording press release).

In my view, much of the praise for this lovely sound is due to Dinnerstein. For all the piano’s wonderful qualities, it is just a lovely piece of furniture without a pianist, who makes the music happen (as a wise teacher once reminded me). Dinnerstein does this in a compelling way thoughout the more than 78 minutes she takes on her journey through this music. I heard details in this recording that I had never noticed in the piece before. The music has tremendous variety; it’s elegant, brooding, virtuosic, buoyant, ceremonious, and even heartbreaking. Ms. Dinnerstein is indeed a match for this music.

If you hear this recording and like the piece, try Glenn Gould’s famous interpretation for a real contrast.

Once you’re hooked, then try it on harpsichord (for which it was originally intended), string ensemble, or even jazz ensemble.


Apr 8 2008

A Poem for the Week

by Chris S

For me, Langston Hughes’ writing epitomizes the beauty of the Harlem Renaissance in its passion, its vibrancy, and its fullness.  Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought I would share one of his best-known and well-loved poems.

Dream Variation

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.

Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
            Dark like me –
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! whirl! whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening. . . .
A tall, slim tree. . . .
Night coming tenderly
            Black like me.

– found in The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry


Apr 7 2008

Summer and Kids

by Ev S

It’s that time of year again moms and dads. The time where we start counting the days until the kids go back to school. Yup, it’s summer vacation.  While the kids are hopping around in joy, you’re probably wondering what to do with the little critters for the summer.

Now if you’d like you can go for some high cost options: American Adventures, Six Flags Over Georgia, and Six Flags White Water.  You’ll spend a ton of money at these places. I know, I once went with five adults, one teenager, and two children. We were all broke and exhausted by day’s end. But even if you go to all these places twice during the summer you’ll still get the infamous “I’m booooored!” whine.

There are less expensive places that are educational like: Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain Park, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, BabyLand General, Imagine It! Children’s Museum, and CNN tours.  But you get the same set of problems as from the more expensive places; they’re bored and you’re broke.

There is really only one place that I know of that will not break the bank and keep the kids happy. Yup, you guessed it (or should have), the library.  We’ve got the same thing we have all year round: books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, and computers.  But we also have dynamic children’s programming.  I know that at my branch we will have storytellers, magicians, crafts, food, animals, how to draw comics, and more. And that’s just one library.

So check out what’s going on this summer at your library. Not only are these programs fun and educational, they’re FREE!


Apr 3 2008

It’s National Poetry Month!

by Jimmy L

				It is difficult

to get the news from poems

		yet men die miserably every day

				for lack

of what is found there.

    – from “Asphodel, that Greeny Flower” by William Carlos Williams

Everyone knows April is the cruellest month, but don’t worry, it is also National Poetry Month! Most of the time we only think of poets as established older writers who have been poets since the beginning of time.  Think of Walt Whitman and you immediately see his long flowing white beard.  We seldom think of people, young people today, actually choosing to become poets. So for this month only, I will post a series of interviews with new up and
coming young poets who have only published their first or second books
of poetry. Check back on DCPLive throughout the month for the interviews.  In the meantime, here are a few good poetry links:

Poetry Daily – a new poem every day from established and emerging writers as well as an archive of all the past featured poems.
Poets.org – biographical information on major poets both old and new, with sample poems.
The Plagiarist – many poems archived here, browsable by poet or title.
PennSound – listen to recordings of poets reading from their own work!  A huge archive of goodies here.

Just a tiny sampling of the good poetry books available at the library:

The Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop (read a sample poem)
Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (read a sample poem)

Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (read a sample poem)

The City in Which I Love You by Li Young Lee (read a sample poem)

Human Wishes by Robert Hass (read a sample poem)

77 Dream Songs
by John Berryman (read a sample poem)

by Gregory Corso (read a sample poem)

Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich (read a sample poem)

Collected Poems by Czeslaw Milosz
(read a sample poem)

Trilogy by H.D. (read a sample poem)

Tristia by Osip Mandelstam (read a sample poem)

Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser (read a sample poem)

Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda (read a sample poem)


Lots of folks call the library for phone directory assistance. It’s time we revealed a “secret weapon” which helps us give quick answers for those requests! The library staff loves a database called RefUSA. It can be found on our databases menu, under Business and Consumer, or under Directories, where it is listed as U.S. Business and Residential Directory. It is very versatile, and you’re going to love some of the things it can do for you.

It is a quick easy source for listed phone numbers for both residence and business. You may search either the business or the residential parts separately. The Quick Search feature in both allows you to search by name (individual first and last name in residence or company name in business), city and state. You can also perform a phone number search in either section to obtain a name and address. In either the Business or Residence areas, you can see more information, including zip codes, by clicking on the blue link for the name in the results list.

A Custom Search can be very useful as well. For example, sometimes we are asked to find a listing of businesses within a certain area, like metro Atlanta, or a city or specific zip code. With RefUSA, you can easily retrieve a list like this, since you can search by any of these criteria. The key you need for this search is the SIC (Standard Industry Classification) code assigned to the business type. These are available online. (If I’m not sure how a business might be classified, I usually search for one business that’s a good example of what I’m looking for, and go into the business record in RefUSA by clicking the blue link name of the business; the six digit SIC code is listed in the record.) Once you have the SIC code, you can combine this with the area you are searching in the Custom Search, and retrieve a list of all the businesses of that type in the area. The custom search is also helpful in finding competitors for those who are starting a business.

The above search trick is one that we introduce in a Business Research Class that will be taught on April 23rd at 7:00 p.m. in the Decatur Library. A Business Research cheat sheet (PDF, 26k) of useful resources is included in the class. The Library is also co-sponsoring business classes with the Small Business Association. Check the classes section of our website, for types of classes and dates.


Apr 1 2008

April Foolishness on the Web!

by Chris S

Take a break at some point today to enjoy some pranks from April Fools’ past – like this gem from Burger King in 1998:In 1998 Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today
announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed
Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans.
According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same
ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty,
etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit
of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a
follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a
hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the
new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, “many
others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.”

– from The Museum of Hoaxes’ Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time

There’s also an extensive (and apparently reliable) article on Wikipedia about the origins of April Fools Day and a very long list of notable pranks.


Got a favorite prank?  Let us know by commenting! 🙂

#8: The Left-Handed Whopper