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

December 2008

Dec 30 2008

What’s In A Name?

by Jnai W

Ahhh…it’s the last week of December; the time for reflecting upon the passing year and anticipating the one to come. This time of year is also a writer or a blogger’s dream as we compile those wonderful, snarky and slightly judgmental End-Of-Year lists. You know the ones–the Best and Worst Albums, Movies or Political Moments of 2008, etc. I love reading those things!

One list that I’ve found is one that ranks the worst Celebrity Baby Names of 2008. I know, I know–it’s silly. But this intrigued me for a couple of reasons. Reason 1: I love names. As someone with an unusual name I’ve developed a fascination for all things name-related. Where do our names originate? What do they mean? How do they strike the ear or roll off of the tongue? It’s something to think about. Reason 2: Rampant Celebrity Baby-Naming produced some, um, colorful choices.  To be fair, it’s not my place to judge what some rock star names her kid. But I think someone’s gonna owe poor little Bronx Mowgli Wentz an explanation…and a hefty trust fund as consolation. This whole thing has me considering a move to Hollywood to become a professional Celebrity Baby-Namer. It’ll be the easiest money I’ll ever make! Here’s a list of name-related books that I’d take with me:

Classic Biblical Baby Names: Timeless Names For Modern Parents by Judith Tropea (Bantam): For those of us who’d rather stick to tried-and-true (read: good ol’ fashioned sensible) this is a great reminder that the classics never die. Most of us know a Mary or a David or a Michael but this is also a good source for namers with a yen for more exotic monikers like, say, Delaiah or Cozbi.

A Book About Names by Milton Meltzer (Thomas Y. Crowell):  Author Meltzer provides great insight into the history and cultural significance of names throughout the world. This little book also examines the impact of naming on American culture. Does your family still bear the same surname that your Great-Great Granddad left The Old Country with? If not, this book gives a concise explanation to this and other surname-related queries. This is juvenile non-fiction, which means it’s very reader-friendly…and it has illustrations.

The Best Baby Names In The World From Around The World (Facts on File, Inc.): Here’s a great example of your standard, expansive dictionary of names. As a kid I liked to refer to big baby names books like these when christening my baby dolls.  This one is pretty good as it classifies names by gender and nationality while also providing meanings and derivation. One minor quip: I searched that book from cover to cover and found no J’nai (or Jenay or Jenee…)

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Dec 29 2008

Making Music and Not With Plastic

by Amanda L

Have you ever wanted to play an instrument? While I waited for Rock Band 2 to arrive with my plastic instruments, I thought of where I have gone to learn to play my real instruments. I have always wanted to play the drums, but whomever I live with refuses my pleas to learn! I have decided the plastic drum will have to suffice.

I have always turned to the Library and the variety of resources they have to learn the basics of every instrument I have ever wanted to play. The picture on the left shows a sampling of some of the musical instruments that I own and have learned to play. Here is a sampling of material that the Library has to help you learn how to play your instrument of choice.

For the Piano, the Library has several books and DVDs/Videos. Here are two commonly asked about items:

Play the Piano Today

Complete Idiots Guide to Playing the Piano

For the Violin, we have a few books:

Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching

The Mastery of the Bow

For the Guitar, we have several books and Video/DVDS. Here are two items often requested:

Learning Guitar for Dummies

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Guitars

For the Harmonica, we have a DVD:

Anyone Can Play the Harmonica: A Beginners Guide

Once you have begun mastering your new instrument, you might be interested in some music to play. The Library has a few songbooks in the collection. Check out these two for starters:

Acoustic Guitar Songs for Dummies

The great family songbook: a treasury of favorite folk songs, popular tunes, children’s melodies, international songs, hymns, holiday jingles, and more: for piano and guitar

Looking for other instruments? In our catalog, under keyword searching, try Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation. This publishing company produces many instructional DVDs for learning a variety of instruments.

Still can’t find anything? Try a keyword search for the specific instrument and instructional. If we have anything, it should come up. Looking for more music? We are in the process of ordering more song books, so check back in a bit.

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Dec 25 2008

Happy Holidays! Don’t Be Listless!

by Jimmy L

‘Tis the season for the library to be closed in observance of Christmas! So if you’re bundling yourself up to head out to the library, take heed: our doors are closed today. But fear not, here are some year-end book, movie, and music lists to tide you over.

Book Lists

Movie Lists

Music Lists

What are some of your favorite books, movies, and music of 2008? Please share in the comments section.

Note (12/29/2008): These links are meant as resources only.  The library owns many (but not all) of the books, CDs, and DVDs mentioned in these lists.


Dec 23 2008

Making a list, checking it twice

by Heather S

If you have procrastinated in shopping for your holiday gifts, as I have, then my list of last minute book purchases might help as you frantically dash through your local mall.

For my friends, K, who reads everything, and R, who doesn’t read anything: Water for elephants

For my cousin, S, who loves Twilight: Wicked lovely

For my cousin, M, who loves the Harry Potter series: The lightning thief, the first book of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

For my sister, who hates reading: Babymouse, queen of the world

For my dad, who is a history buff: The Hemingses of Monticello

For my mom, who is a small town librarian and a crazy cat lady (I love you): Dewey: A small town library cat who touched the world

What are you hoping to unwrap during your holiday celebrations? I still have a few people that I’m shopping for, so any help with great books will be much appreciated! And, to those listed above, if you happen to stumble upon this post, I am sorry that it ruined the surprise. Happy holidays to our readers; may you and your family and friends have a warm and happy holiday season!

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Dec 22 2008

Confused Consumer

by Ev S

Have you ever been to a home or appliance store and looked at about a million can openers and thought “Which one should I buy?” Me too. In this particular case, it was humidifiers. There’s a bunch out there on the market and I was a little overwhelmed. So I did as all librarians tend to do — I did a little research.

The first place I went was Consumer Reports. I’ve been using Consumer Reports for years to help me buy anything that I want to last for more than a couple of years or that will cost more than a few hundred dollars. CR, for short, is a nonprofit, independent agency that helps us poor befuddled consumers navigate the world of stuff.

I was at home and didn’t want to wait until the next morning to go to work, so I powered up my old computer. I could have gone to the Consumer Reports website.  But you can’t get the entire article without logging in as a member. So I went to our “Reference Databases,” clicked on “Databases A to Z,” and then selected “MasterFILE Premier at EBSCOhost.” This took me to a search page for “MasterFILE Premier”. I did a rather complicated search.  But, it turns out I could have just typed in “Consumer Reports and humidifier”, and I would have gotten the same results. I tried it just to be sure, and got the same results with less typing. Silly me. I got the information that I wanted and so armed, I ventured out into the World Wide Web to buy a humidifier.

Now if I was the patient sort, I could have waited until I got to work the next day and looked at the actual  magazine in the Library. It has the exact same information as on the database.

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Dec 18 2008

Nite B 4 Xmas

by Lesley B

The man in the picture is Clement C. Moore, author of the famous holiday poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, and one of the founding fathers of the American Christmas. The poem is better known as “The Night Before Christmas”; and before it became popular, St. Nicholas was a stern man wearing a red archbishop’s robe. He travelled on a white horse or in a wagon pulled by goats, handing out coal and switches to the naughty. Mr. Moore gave him a sleigh and some reindeer with funny names and turned St. Nicholas into the fat and jolly old St. Nick everyone loves today.

Now the Library has many beautifully illustrated copies of Moore’s poem on the shelves at J 811.2 Moo in the non-fiction section or at E Moo and J E Moo in the childrens’ picture book area. Ask your librarian to help you find them. But just as St. Nick changed his name to Santa Claus and learned to work with central heating instead of fireplaces, the poem itself has been updated and parodied many times. Maybe The Soldiers’ Night Before Christmas would suit your holiday better (starring a buff and beardless Sergeant McClaus). Your family might prefer Twas the Night B’fore Christmas: An African-American Version or Prairie Night Before Christmas. One of my fellow library staffers recommends Cajun Night Before Christmas, where Santa comes in a skiff pulled by 8 alligators. He says his father reads it to them every year:

“An’ I hear him shout loud

As a splashin’ he go

“Merry Christmas to all

‘Til I saw you some mo’!”


Three Silhouetted Long Haired Women Wearing Colorful And Fashionable Clothes And Taking Long Strides While Shopping In A MallI know that there is still time before January 1, but I’ve been contemplating my goals and aspirations for the New Year. There are lots of things I’d like to accomplish–furnishing and decorating my apartment (dare to dream!), making a final decision about librarian’s school, learning to sew, etc.–but in an effort to not overwhelm myself I’ve decided to start small. It’s a fairly light-hearted goal but it’s a starting point.

I’m going to start dressing better.

It’s silly but maybe not, really. I’ve been a grown-up now for at least 10 years (even though no one over the age of 25 should ever use the words “grown-up”) so perhaps it’s time I started dressing like one. I’ve been perusing the fashion magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair and Elle for ideas (stop by DCPL to check them out if your budget’s tight–also see Amanda’s blog post!). All of this fashion research leaves me wondering what it would be like to dress like some sort of professional person. I bet it would be awesome!

If you’re looking for style inspiration there are still other options besides the aforementioned overpriced, advertorial-heavy “fashion books” (seriously, don’t buy them unless you like using money as confetti!) . Look no further than the Library for great books on dressing well, looking classy and celebrating life.

Some intriguing titles here at DCPL include:

The Science of Sexy by Bradley Bayou (Gotham): Here is an enjoyable book by a stylist to the stars (Salma Hayek! Oprah Winfrey! Eva Longoria!). He offers useful tips on how to make the most of your figure and body type.

Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding The Style That’s Right For Your Body by Stacy London & Clinton Kelly (Three Rivers Press): The hosts of TLC’s What Not To Wear offer a well-illustrated, light-hearted and surprisingly thorough how-to guide for style-impaired women of all sizes. One minor quip I had with this book, however, is the authors’ overuse of the words “curvy” and “extra curvy” to describe women of average size and up. Is “full-figured” politically incorrect now?

Style is Not A Size: Looking and Feeling Great In The Body You Have by Hara Estroff Marano (Bantam Books): Initially I was put off by the cover model of this book: beautiful but decked out in a Bill Cosby sweater, baggy red knit pants & moderate-to-severe 80s makeup and accessories. But this book offers great insight into the definition of style vs. fashion. It’s a good reminder that style has nothing to do with the number on the clothes tag. You may have to tussle for this one, though: there are only 2 copies of it in the system.

The Beauty of Color by Iman (Putnam): Gorgeous, glamorous Iman’s book offers great illustrations and beauty tips on cosmetics and color, which is great for the makeup-phobic such as myself.

Off The Cuff: The Essential Style Guide for Men and The Women Who Love Them by Carson Kressley (Dutton): Here’s a little something for the men in search of style or for women who need a little reinforcement when saying something like “Honey, those pants are too baggy.” Everyone from a Bravo TV show should write a style book! I haven’t read Tim Gunn’s book yet but the Library has it for anyone who’s interested.

What's Your Body Type?The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your BodyFront Cover


With money being tight this year, I am sure if you are like me, you have thought about canceling that magazine subscription. Do not fret; you might still be able to read People, O, The Oprah Magazine, Ebony or a variety of other titles AND still cancel your subscriptions.  There are several options worth checking out.

The Library

The Library subscribes to over three hundred magazines. You can check older issues out at all of the branches EXCEPT Decatur. Decatur keeps back issues of everything the branch subscribes to for at least one year, often longer. If you need to find out what magazines your Library subscribes to, call us or use our Email a Librarian service.  We try our best to respond to emails within forty-eight hours, but we usually respond within a few hours. Be sure to select the “I need help finding information” option.

Cannot find that older issue at a branch or Decatur is too far to drive to?  The Library subscribes to many online resources that carry the articles printed in numerous magazines and journals.

The titles available can be found two ways:

1. From the Library’s home page: Go to the Research tab, and click on Magazines & Newspapers. Under General Magazines, there is a link to Magazines Available Online. Here you can search for a particular title.

2. From GALILEO:  Go to the GALILEO icon on the home page.  After signing in, click on the Magazines A-Z tab.  Again, you can search for a particular title.  A warning about this access, since publisher give access to the vendor and GALILEO, some of the magazines can have a three month or so delay before they are available. Some magazines, such as People, you can access the current issue electronically.


Many magazines have an Internet presence. Unfortunately, due to the economy, some publishers have made the decision to produce a magazine totally online. Two of the biggest publications are Christian Science Monitor and PC Magazine. Several publishers have started digitizing back issues. Not all back issues are currently available, but it might be a good place to start.  Some examples are Every Day with Rachel Ray, Dance Magazine, Esquire, Discover and The New Yorker.

Google announced and added on Wednesday, December 10, an archive search to their Google Book Search. You will be able to search the archives of many magazines such as New York Magazine and Popular Mechanics. The archived articles are also available through the publisher’s websites, but this search feature should be helpful.

If you have not renewed your subscription or you always wanted to read a particular magazine but could not justify the expense, please check your library or one of the other options listed above.


Dec 11 2008

The Strongest Link

by Jimmy L

The linked short story collection is a literary form that has largely flown under the radar.  We know what a novel is, and we know what a short story is too.  So what is this “linked short story” thing?  Well, it’s sort of a middle ground between the two.  A linked short story collection tells a big-picture story, but does it through a collection of short stories.  These stories may have similar characters or locations, but each one can stand on its own and be read as a short story as well.  The best of both worlds?  You decide.  Here are a few linked short story collections the library owns:

Have you read any books in this genre?  If so, please share in the comments section.

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Dec 9 2008

Book vs. Movie

by Heather S

Ginny’s post last Thursday reminded me of a perennial debate with friends – Which is better, the book or the movie adaption? What are your favorite and least favorite books to film adaptations? What books should never, ever be made into a movie?

I hold to the position that the book is better than the movie. For example, I slept through Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil yet stayed up all night to finish the book. I have yet to watch all of Gone with the Wind, but the book is one of my all time favorites. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of the few that I was happy to see on the silver screen; I have tried and tried to read Tolkien, but have never been able to get past page 100. With the movies, I can follow and enjoy the story.

So, readers, what are your thoughts?