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

May 2008

May 29 2008

DVD Review: Harlan County, USA

by Jimmy L

The best documentaries, to me, are the ones that make you feel like you are actually there, going through the experience, meeting the people, and forming a relationship to them and the subject at hand.  Afterwards, you feel like you have lived it.  I recently watched the documentary Harlan County, USA which fulfilled every one of these expectations and more.  The Academy Award winning movie is about the coal miners of Harlan County, Kentucky, who went on strike for 13 months against the Duke Power Company.

Throughout the movie, director Barbara Kopple and her crew lived with, worked with, and fought alongside the coal miners and captured some amazing footage.  I never knew about the incredible injustices of the coal miner’s lives—the low wages, the cold, cramped spaces they worked in, and the lack of safety precautions in the caves.  I also knew only the bare minimum of what it meant to be “on strike”.  I didn’t know it could be so hard, so draining, and so violent.  The determination and will of these miners and their determination to fight to be treated humanely really moved me. 

I recommend this movie wholeheartedly.  The library has three copies, so watch it as soon as you’re done watching this preview:

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School’s out for the summer and your child is looking for something to read.  Newbery and Caldecott Award winners are a good place to start, but if you’ve exhausted those lists or you’re looking for something more recent, I’ve listed a few of my favorite sites below.

TeenReads is a great site for new releases, book reviews and author interviews.  They feature only books that are written for the teen audience, and have special sections for graphic novels and Christian fiction.  You can also browse their archive as far back as 2002 for books you might have missed when they first came out.

KidsReads is a similar site, but geared toward children in preschool through middle school age.  They review picture books, beginning chapter books, as well as fiction books for elementary and middle school.  Their special features include a list of books that have been turned into movies, popular series, and books soon to be released.

The American Library Association also has lots of good lists.  YALSA, the division of ALA devoted to young adults has lists of popular paperbacks, good books for college bound teens, great graphic novels and more.  ALSC, the division of ALA devoted to children’s services, has many lists, including bilingual books, books about diversity, and books for preschoolers, middle schoolers, and elementary age children.

The last site doesn’t contain book reviews, but it’s helpful if you’re looking for all the books by a particular author or the list of books in a series.  The Mid-Continent Public Library has put together a site that keeps an updated list of just about every series written for children and teens that you can think of.  You can search by title, author or series.  New books are added as they come out.  Books in a series are listed in chronological order so you’ll always know which one comes next.

If you have a favorite site to look for children’s books, list it in the comments.


May 27 2008

Who You Callin’ a Dummy?

by David T

Dummies About 20 years ago, a frustrated bookstore customer was looking for a basic, easy-to-read, straightforward handbook to the DOS computer operating system. Most of the books he found were too dry, dense, time-consuming to read, or cluttered with unnecessary detail. If only, he declared, someone would do a book called DOS for Dummies! Thus was a publishing phenomenon born.

Nowadays, the Dummies books, published by John Wiley, are so well-known to consumers, with their familiar yellow, black, and white covers, that library patrons often ask for them by name. No longer does this series consist solely of computer manuals. You can find Dummies volumes in our catalog that will help you with plumbing, protecting your pension, postpartum depression, speaking Portuguese — and those are just the P’s! Other publishers have jumped on the bandwagon with series like the Complete Idiot’s Guides.

So next time you want a beginner’s guide to a topic, don’t be insulted if your librarian says, “Would you like a Dummies book?”


May 23 2008

Got the Gas Pump Blues?

by Nolan R

Lots of folks are staying close to home this summer, due to rising gas costs.  Although usually the Library is the place to go for free summer fun, please remember that all DeKalb County Public Library branches will be closed on Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26 in observance of Memorial Day. 

Even though the Library is closed, there’s still a lot going on around town this weekend.  There’s some great fun to be had nearby at the 20th Annual Decatur Arts Festival, including the Artists Market and Literary Arts Festival.  Another Memorial Day tradition in Atlanta, the Atlanta Jazz Festival, is moving to Woodruff Park this year.  For other local events this holiday weekend, check out the AJC’s Access Atlanta or Creative Loafing.

If you happen to be amongst the one million Georgians who have decided to hit the road this weekend, you might want to check out these links to find the best gas prices nationwide.  And if you’re not heading out of town, you can at least feel some satisfaction that Georgia’s prices aren’t as high as some–gas in Spring Valley, NY is up to $4.98/gallon!

Automotive.com – Search by zip.

GasBuddy – Search by state or zip.  Allows search by type of gas (regular unleaded, premium, deisel).

MapQuest Gas Prices – Shows prices in a map format.  Zoom in or out for area desired.

MotorTrend Gas Prices – Search by zip code or click on

MSN Autos – Find prices by zip code.  Prices displayed on map and in list format.

And if you’re looking for gas mileage tips, gas prices, or gas mileage comparisons for new cars, check out www.fueleconomy.gov.



Imagine this.  Three or four writers sit down in a room and talk about everything from their own books to politics and culture.  Now there is a show available exclusively on the web that does just that.  It’s called Titlepage, and it’s hosted by Daniel Menaker, the former fiction editor at The New Yorker who left his post as executive editor in chief of the Random House Publishing Group in June to host the show.

“We’re hoping to let people listen in on the kind of conversation they might like to have themselves if there were a group of three or four people in a room,” said Mr. Menaker.

The most recent episode features a conversation with Simon Winchester, Aleksandar Hemon, Rabih Alameddine and Nam Le—all born outside the U.S.—talking about the riveting, global stories in their latest books, the strengths and beauty of the English language, and whether any writer can (or even should) try to represent an entire culture.

Previous discussions include writers as far ranging as Richard Price, Susan Choi, Edward Hirsch, David Hajdu, Sloan Crosley, and Elizabeth Strout (just to name a few).

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to check out the monthly Georgia Center for the Book Author Talk events at your local DeKalb County Public Library branches!


May 21 2008

Catch the Reading Bug!

by Ginny C

If you have a school age child, you know why he or she is looking forward to Friday, May 23.  It’s the last day of school, of course.  Another day to look forward to is Saturday, May 24.  That’s the first day of the 2008 Vacation Reading Program.  This year Georgia has joined with 47 other states to Catch the Reading Bug (our theme for this year’s program.)  We have a reading program for children of all ages: Wee Reader for babies from birth to two years; Catch the Reading Bug for those ages 3-12; and Metamorphosis for teens ages 13-17.

Signing up is easy.  Just visit any DeKalb County Public Library and tell a staff member you want to participate.  You can view the rules here.  Prizes include tickets to Zoo Atlanta and Fernbank Museum of Natural History.

On Tuesday, May 27 musician Eric Litwin will help us celebrate the start of our Vacation Reading Program at our kick off parties at 3 locations around the county.  There’s one near you so we hope you’ll come out and join us for songs, storytelling and crafts.

Come in anytime between May 24 and July 31 to Catch the Reading Bug.  And don’t forget to check out our program schedule for special children’s programs all summer long.


May 20 2008

Best Teen Book of the Year

by Heather S

The ballots
have been cast and counted for the 2007-2008 Georgia Peach Award. After a year
of reading the twenty nominated titles, high school students across the state
voted for their favorite one at their public and school libraries.

And, the winner is Twilight
by Stephanie Meyer!

Honor book winners for the year are I’d
tell you that I love you but then I’d have to kill you
by Ally Carter and Peeps
by Scott Westerfield.

To see a
list of the nominated titles for 2007-2008 or for more information on what the award
is all about, check out the Georgia Library Media Association’s page on the Peach Award

Stay tuned
for the nominees for 2008-2009!


May 19 2008

Embrace Your Inner Librarian

by Nolan R

Librarything_2 So you’re at the Friends of the Library booksale, and you can’t remember if you already own a copy of a particular book.  It’s only a dollar, so you buy it, only to get home and realize you already own not one, but two copies.  If only you’d known about LibraryThing sooner!  Similar to GoodReads, which will help you remember if you’ve already read a book, LibraryThing will help you keep up with which books you actually own.   

According to the website: LibraryThing is a full-powered cataloging application, searching the Library of Congress, all five national Amazon sites, and more than 80 world libraries. You can edit your information, search and sort it, “tag” books with your own subjects, or use the Library of Congress and Dewey systems to organize your collection.

By setting up a user name and password, you can input and catalog up to 200 titles for free.  If 200 titles doesn’t quite cover your personal library, then you can pay to catalog unlimited titles ($10/year or $25/lifetime membership).  Memberships are also available for non-profits, book discussion groups, and for-profit companies.  LibraryThing provides options for social networking, local event information, online book discussions and personalized recommendations.  You can check out other people’s libraries for ideas, and even buy an inexpensive barcode scanner if you want to add large numbers of books quickly.  You can view your library online, sort by author, title, subject, call number and more, and create a printable list of your library.

All that, and you don’t even have to sit through a single class in library school!


May 15 2008

Find Full Text Books Online!

by Jimmy L

Did you know you can find the full text of entire books online?  There are several places you can do this, and—like the library—it’s all free.

A list of six of these places can be found on our Electronic Books links webpage.

  • netLibrary over 27,000 electronic books that may be borrowed (checked out) for onscreen viewing.  This resource can only be accessed through the library website.  After clicking the link, you will have to click the “netLibrary” link again on the DCPL website.
  • Project Gutenberg provides access to book titles in the public domain. Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, digitized by volunteers on their website. 
  • African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers. A part of the Digital Schomburg, this collection provides access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920.
  • Bartleby.com publishes the classics of literature, nonfiction, and reference free of charge for the home, classroom, and desktop.
  • Classic Book Shelf electronic library providing free access to great works of classic literature.
  • Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts full text electronic collection of international folktales.

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May 14 2008

Read It Again

by Ginny C

“Read it again! Read it again!” How many times have you heard that after reading Horton Hears a Who to your pre-schooler for the third time in one night? Do you have Brown Bear, Brown Bear memorized from repeated readings to a toddler who begs to hear it again and again?

Don’t despair. It’s perfectly natural for children to request favorite books over and over. Even if you’re tired of reading them, your child may not be. With each reading, he or she is learning something new, from associating the pictures with the words to how a story is structured. They also learn the joy of being able to “predict” what is going to happen.  Following the text with your finger as you read will help reinforce this.
You may want to ask your child what happens next. Can they tell you what the
purple cat sees in Brown Bear, Brown Bear? Chances are, after a couple
of readings, they know the purple cat sees a white dog.  And how smart
they feel for knowing that!  After hearing the same story several times,
they may even have memorized enough to be able to “read” it to you. As they get older and more familiar with the alphabet, they’ll start to recognize specific letters and words. They will learn that c-a-t spells cat which corresponds with the picture.

These are just a few reasons to encourage repeated readings. Follow this link for a more detailed explanation of the benefits of reading it again, put together by The University of Texas at Austin. The next time your child demands that you “read it again,” you’ll be happy to pick up Goodnight Moon.  For the tenth time. In one day.

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