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

February 2009

Feb 26 2009

John Adams: A Review

by Jimmy L

I’m no history buff, but recently I thought it would be interesting to read something about one of our overlooked founding fathers, John Adams. Unfortunately, the book (John Adams by David McCullough) is 752 pages long—too long for a passing interest, especially with 5 other books on my bedside table. So, with J’nai’s post about how to talk about books you haven’t read in mind, I will now talk about how much I loved this book. How do I know?  Simple: the book has been made into an HBO miniseries.

I half-expected it to be boring, as historical recreations often are. But I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was! So far, I’ve finished the first disc and I can’t wait for discs two and three (I’m #22 and #17 in the respective queues (and yes, library staff have to wait for holds just like everybody else!)).

The series covers Adams’s life from his days as a lawyer in Boston after the Boston Massacre up to the years after his presidency, including his death. Paul Giamatti gives a great performance as John Adams, but what really makes it work is the whole cast. The founding fathers come to life with David Morse as George Washington, Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson, and Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin. You can really taste the dynamic in congress as these men and their radically different personalities clash and come together towards a common goal.

I’ve not mentioned Abigail Adams (played by Laura Linney) yet. Though she was not an official politician, the series gives us a glimpse into how influential she was for John. I got the sense that she grounded him, and kept him honest. Her intellect and wisdom was a good complement for John’s passion and integrity.

You should really check out this series. I found it highly entertaining and educational as well. History doesn’t have to be boring!


Feb 24 2009

A Very Bookish Mardi Gras

by Jnai W

mardi grasIt’s Mardi Gras time again…and we’re stuck here in Atlanta. No offense, ATL, but I can’t help but envy all the Fat Tuesday revellers who’ll be traipsing down to New Orleans getting their fill of food, fun and festivities. But that’s okay. We book-lovers and, um, vacation-planning procrastinators still can kick up our heels–albeit quietly–here at the Library. There are lots of great titles at DCPL to satisfy one’s appetite for all things related to the Big Easy. So browse around, have fun and behave yourselves. But no beads, guys! Things get too out-of-hand…

Here are some fun Mardi Gras titles for the kiddies;

Mardi Gras by Dianne M. Macmillan (Enslow Publishers)

The Greentail Mouse by Leo Lionni (Alfred A. Knopf; Random House Children’s Books)

On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik (Dial Books for Young Readers): This one is a lively and beautifully illustrated book about Mardi Gras custome and festivities.

For more grown-up reading here are some more suggestions:

Carnival, American Style: Mardi Gras at New Orleans and Mobile by Sam Kinser (University of Chicago Press): I, for one, didn’t know there were Mardi Gras festivities in Mobile, Alabama. I’m gonna try to get my hands on this one myself–it seems really fascinating.

Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at The New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen (W. W. Norton): Now this title isn’t so much a Mardi Gras book but isn’t this the perfect time to delve into New Orleans’ culinary customs and traditions?

Up From The Cradle of Jazz: New Orleans Music Since World War II by Jason Berry, Jonathan Foose and Tad Jones (University of Georgia Press): Here’s a book that I’ve been reading that discusses New Orleans’ rich musical and cultural heritage. For those, such as myself, who are looking to gain insight into the Crescent City’s history and an introduction to such musical greats as Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and others, this is a great starting point.

All of this Mardi Gras jazz has really made me want to see New Orleans even more. For anyone looking for a tour guide into the Big Easy don’t forget the ever-popular and informative Frommer’s and Fodor’s guides to the city. If I get started planning right now, who knows? This time next year I may be doing this blog post from the French Quarter.


Feb 23 2009

In Tough Times…

by Amanda L

I volunteer with an organization that helps people over a tight spot with utilities and rent. Lately, we have seen many people who are having a hard time holding on to their mortgage or are just a few steps away from losing their house.

Here at DCPL, we try to anticipate the needs of our community. Last year, we began a section on our website called Subject Guides. This section contains lists of resources pertaining to subjects that many people in the community have asked about.

The most recent guide is on foreclosures. Under each listed resource–whether it be electronic, internet or print–there is a description of the type of information provided. Most of the weblinks provided on this list are to agencies that might help you or someone you know that is facing foreclosure.

Some of the books we have that you might find helpful are:

Fight Foreclosure:

This book explores options and alternatives available to you when you can’t make your monthly mortgage payment but want to avoid foreclosure. The author explains the pre-foreclosure process, using real life examples of families faced with foreclosure, their choices, and the steps/missteps taken.

Foreclosure Self-Defense for Dummies

This practical, no-nonsense guide helps you size up your options and increase your chances of saving your home. You’ll find out how to delay foreclosure, form a plan of attack, negotiate solutions with your lender, and restore your financial health.

Foreclosure Survival Guide

If you’re having trouble making your mortgage payments or are already in jeopardy of foreclosure, The Foreclosure Survival Guide gives you the practical information you need, step by step.

I hope that you find this list and many of the other subjects under the subject guides helpful. We are always looking for subjects that might be helpful to our community. If you have any suggestions please feel free to comment and we will see if we can create a list that would be helpful.


Feb 18 2009

Civil Rights on Film

by Jimmy L

Film Love is an on-going Atlanta film series at The Eyedrum Gallery and occasionally at other venues as well.  Its stated goal is to provide “access to great but rarely-screened films, and promotes awareness of the rich history of experimental and avant-garde filmmaking.”  Over the years I’ve been to many really great screenings of films that are not released anywhere on DVD or VHS.

This year Film Love is presenting a series of movies about African Americans’ struggle for civil rights.  The Civil Rights on Film series starts this Friday, February 20th and features four nights of rare films on African-American life, 1941-1967.  To learn more about the films, please visit their website.  Many of these films are not available anywhere else, so don’t miss this opportunity!  Note: the films will be screened at three different locations, so check the website for where each movie will be held.


If you have driven to your local branch and noticed it closed up tight today, that’s because we are closed for the Presidents Day holiday.  Instead of sitting at home reading and drinking coffee or whatever else we do on our days away from work, we are working to serve you better.

Today is our annual Staff Development Day. Every year for the past fifteen years, the entire staff from the guys that transfer the books from branch to branch to the Library Director attend this annual event. It is a day for us to learn new things and to fellowship with each other. The day is created by staff from the selection of the theme for the day, to finding instructors for the classes, to what we eat for that day.

Two people are “tapped” on the shoulder to oversee the day.  I was tapped several years ago and it was a great experience to manage a big project.  The food provided by the Friends of the Library and the Board of Trustees is always enjoyed by the staff. There is always a branch competition where we can show off our creative side. (If you did not already know it, the library staff is competitive!) The day is filled with eight hours of learning but there are always entertainment breaks throughout the day. The entertainment breaks are where we share our creative side and laugh together. Who would have known that an employee at Flat Shoals could compete on American Idol!

This year’s theme is Building Bridges: Creating Supportive Networks. The Keynote speaker is Dr. Shirley Garrett.  She is speaking about connecting with ourselves and others. Some of the breakout sessions that we are attending include those addressing special needs, programming for adults, new technologies, professional cleaning, and workplace boundaries.

Don’t forget that while we are busy spending the day learning ways to better serve you, our eLibrary is always open! There is a wealth of information on our eLibrary through the Reference Database page. We look forward to seeing everyone with our new found knowledge on Tuesday.


Feb 12 2009

Free Tax Filing at your Library

by Lesley B

One of the free IRS tax prep services that DeKalb County Public Library hosts each year is the AARP Tax-Aide program. AARP volunteers help hundreds of people each year file their taxes and collect their refunds. The IRS provides the computers and software. Volunteers complete approx. 100 hours of training before assisting low- and middle-income taxpayers of any age with their federal and state tax returns.

At the Dunwoody Library, Jerry Vitt is returning for his 12th year as an AARP Tax-Aide Coordinator. Last year his crew of volunteer tax counselors filed more than 750 tax returns. Mr. Vitt said, “The one thing I wish everyone knew is that this service really is absolutely free. It’s open to everyone, not just seniors, and you don’t have to be a member of AARP.” He added that even if someone doesn’t need to file a federal tax return, they should still come in to see if they’re eligible to claim the Georgia low income tax credit. The Dunwoody location files about 95% of the tax returns electronically, but they can print out a paper copy for those uncomfortable with the internet.

When you come to the library for tax help, bring the following with you:

  • current year’s tax forms and booklets
  • copy of last year’s tax return
  • all income forms, such as W-2, SSA-1099, all 1099 forms
  • child care provider information (name, employer, ID, SS#)
  • receipts or canceled checks if itemizing deductions.
  • Social Security cards or other official documentation for yourself and all dependents

Take a look at the AARP Tax-Aide website for more information about this program and for a list of all their locations, so you can let your grandmother in Florida know about this terrific FREE program.


Feb 10 2009

Hip Hop Hooray!

by Jnai W

I’ve taken a break from the book I blogged about two weeks ago (How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard) to do a number of things. Among my diversions from this book were other books including comedian Steve Martin’s brilliant memoir Born Standing Up (Scribner) and an intriguing book called Def Jam, Inc (One World Ballantine) by Stacy Gueraseva. In her book, Gueraseva chronicles the rise of Def Jam Recordings, the preeminent and pioneering record label that helped steer rap music into the mainstream.

I was reading about Def Jam as I watched the Grammys on Sunday night. I’d read snatches of the book during commercials, awkward podium banter and some of the performances (sorry, Kid Rock!). Watching the awards show with its genre-splicing rap performances–Jay-Z meets Coldplay! Lil Wayne and Allen Toussaint!–was quite a reminder of how far hip hop music has come. What was once an underground, New York-centered movement is now a global phenomenon. Lately I’ve grown curious about the roots of rap music, its cultural significance and what to expect for the future.

DCPL is a great source for all things hip-hop, from music to books to DVDs. Here are some other notable titles:

Beats, Rhymes and Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip-Hop (Harlem Moon/Broadway Books): This book features insightful essays, articles and interviews of some of hip hop music’s biggest names.

Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip -Hop by Michael Eric Dyson (Basic Civitas): Author Dyson examines and discusses the cultural significance of rap music not as a casual observer or a detached outsider but as a fan who appreciates hip hop and understand its roots.

In Ya Grill: The Faces of Hip-Hop (Billboard Book):This book, with photos by Michael Benabib, features the vivid, nostalgia-inducing images of some of hip-hops original all-stars including future Hollywood powerhouses Will Smith and Queen Latifah.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of The Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang (St. Martin’s Press)

Third Coast: OutKast, Timbaland and How Hip-Hop Became a Southern Thing by Roni Sarig (Da Capo Press): This book focuses on the rise of Southern rap and its contributions to the hip-hop community.

DCPL also has great DVDs that explore hip hop culture, including:

The MC: Why We Do It : This documentary features interviews with hip-hop’s preeminent voices including Slick Rick, Talib Kweli and Kanye West as they discuss their craft.

Krush Groove, a flick about an up and coming rap label in the ’80s and Style Wars, a documentary on hip-hop culture in early 80s NYC, are also worth a look.


Feb 9 2009

Book Swapping with the Teens

by Amanda L

A couple of Saturdays ago, the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) conducted a program for fellow teens. This was the first time that the TAB members created the idea for the program, organized it and ran it. For a first time attempt, it was very successful. There were close to twenty-five teens that participated.

What is the Teen Advisory Board, you may ask?  It is an opportunity for teens throughout DeKalb County to get together at the Library and give their opinions about books, movies, the teen portion of our website and programming at the Library for teens. The Board meets once a month on a Saturday. The teens that participate are eligible for volunteer hours.  If you are a teen and interested in joining, check out the information on the teen page.

So what was the program you may ask? It was a book swap.  The teens would bring in books that they no longer wanted to trade for new ones.  You would check in at the registration desk and get a ticket for each book that you were handing in. The books were then sorted by category.  You would then go around the room and select books that you wanted, up to the number that you brought. If you did not find enough books to swap, the teens gave credit for the next Book Swap. They hope to have one every three months or so.

I, personally, cannot wait to see what the next program TAB will be presenting. They have several in the works for the next six to nine months. Check the event calendar and your local branch for future programs. In the meanwhile, enjoy the pictures I took during the event.

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Feb 6 2009

Show Me the Love

by DCPLive

Love is in the air.  Valentine’s Day is only a week away.  You can’t go into a grocery store without seeing heart shaped candy boxes or tacky fake roses.  You’re probably counting all the ways you love your sweetie, but have you thought about the many ways you love your library?  I may be biased, but I think there are tons of reasons to love your library.  But we want to know why YOU, our patrons, love DeKalb County Public Library.  So go ahead, share your story and tell us why you love the library.

PS–By the way, the DeKalb Library Foundation has declared February “Love Your Library” month and is asking library patrons (that means you) to make a small donation to help us meet a $125,000 challenge grant we have been given by the Fitzgerald Foundation.  This donation will help us fund literacy services to underserved adults and children in DeKalb County.  Click here to make your online donation.

PPS– if you have a really good story, we just might use it in some PR piece.

Thanks!  Alison W.

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Feb 5 2009

Books Fit for a President

by Jimmy L

There’s no doubt that President Obama has a huge job ahead of him, so it comes as no surprise that he may need some advice on many different topics, including what books to read.  The editors of Washington Monthly recently asked many respected writers and thinkers for what they think the president should read and why.  The library has many, but not all, of these books, including:

And some of the recommendations are available on the web

What book would you recommend for President Obama?  Feel free to leave a comment.

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