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

July 2009

Jul 31 2009

Bugs and Books

by Lesley B

At a safety training session this week, our speaker had a great story. He said he was driving on I-285 when he felt Something Big crawling up his leg. He was in the fast lane, so he trapped the big thing with his hand, keeping it from climbing any higher.  He managed to ease over to the roadside where he faced a dilemma – to strip or not to strip? Fortunately for the passing drivers he managed to trap the Something Big with one hand and force it out of his pants with the other, whereupon he discovered he’d had a large Dung Beetle moving up his leg.

This is a great story only because it didn’t happen to me. But let’s say you’ve trapped an interesting bug in your pants and you’d like to identify your new friend. One place to start might be What’s That Bug? Two Los Angeles artists identify bugs from photos and letters sent in by the terrified and the fascinated. They don’t pretend to be bug experts but I still find it helpful, especially for identifying bugs commonly found around the house. If the WTB folks are stumped they often refer you to Bugguide.net, an amateur naturalist site created by Georgia resident Troy Bartlett and now hosted by Iowa State University.  Bugguide is more formally organized than WTB, with many useful links and books and some great photos (click on the Dung Beetle link above).

If you are interested in learning more about these creatures (not a bad idea since they seriously outnumber us) you might enjoy one of the following titles:

An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles by Arthur V. Evans and Charles L. Bellamy

Broadsides from the other orders: a book of bugs, by Sue Hubbell

The Superorganism: the beauty, elegance and strangeness of insect societies by Bert Holldobler and Edward O. Wilson

Of course the library also has insect guides that you can check out and take home. I generally recommend the take-home method as you may disturb other library patrons if you bring in Something Big in a jar.

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Jul 29 2009

National Black Arts Festival!

by Jnai W

With just a smidgeon of summer remaining, there is still plenty of fun to be had.  One event on the horizon is the 20th Annual National Black Arts Festival that begins today, July 29 through August 2. Among the notable performers, speakers and guests on the roster are actor/filmmaker/producer Robert Townsend (check out his independent film classic Hollywood Shuffle),author Nelson George and a tribute to one of my favorite singers Nina Simone by great vocalists such as Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright. This promises to be a truly special event in celebration of African cultural heritage in through film, theatre, dance, literature, music and art. Check out the festival’s website for more information . Don’t you wanna go?

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Jul 27 2009

Take your houseplant for a walk!

by Amanda L


Seriously, today is “Take Your Houseplant for a Walk” day. I found this out browsing a wonderful reference source called Chase’s Calendar of Events.” Back in the day, it was used frequently when people wanted to know about upcoming holidays. Now with the advent of the web, it sits on the shelf more but comes to the rescue especially when I am looking for blog topics.  Chase’s also lists birthdays of famous people on each day so you might check it out to see who was born on your special day.

So you may ask yourself what is “Take Your Houseplant for a Walk” day really about? It is a day created to promote the awareness of how to care for houseplants. It also encourages people to take their houseplants outside so they can get to know their environment.

The library has many books about houseplants and their care. Here is a sampling of what we have to offer.


Houseplants from A to Z


Indoor Gardening the Organic Way: how to create a natural and sustaining environment for your houseplants.


The complete guide to houseplants: the easy way to choose and grow healthy, happy houseplants.

As you can see from the picture above, I have one of my houseplants ready for its walk.  This particular Christmas cactus actually lives outside during the summer so it hangs out in its environment for quite a while. So are you going to join me and my cactus for a walk?

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s-ashesFrancis “Frank” McCourt, an Irish-American high school teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, died July 19 at the age of 73. He is best known as the author of Angela’s Ashes, a gripping memoir about his childhood growing up in both America and Ireland during the 1930s and 1940s. Angela’s Ashes was awarded the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, as well as the 1996 National Book Critics Circle Award (Biography) and the 1997 Boeke Prize. It’s success led to it’s adaptation as a feature film released in 1999 by Paramount Pictures. Along with Angela’s Ashes, McCourt has published two additional autobiographical works which continue chronicling his life after his move back to America. ‘Tis examines his experiences attempting to acclimate to life in New York City, his stint in the Army, and his attendance and eventual graduation from NYU and later Brooklyn College, while Teacher Man focuses mainly on his life as a teacher in NYC public high schools. In addition to his autobiographical works, McCourt has also written a children’s picture book entitled Angela and the Baby Jesus and appeared as the host of a travel DVD entitled The Historic Pubs of Dublin. For those interested in more information on Mr. McCourt, Time magazine has published an obituary replete with details of his life and work. Additionally, I have linked to a NY Times piece wherein several of his former students have written letters sharing their recollections of him and the affect he had on their lives.

“My dream was to have a Library of Congress catalog number, that’s all,” said McCourt, speaking of his modest hopes for the success of Angela’s Ashes. It went on to sell over 5 million copies. Sometimes dreams come true, and then some. E 184.I6 .M117 1996


Jul 22 2009

Summer is not over yet!

by Nancy M

poster20color1The countdown is on with only 10 days left of the Vacation Reading Program! If you haven’t returned your reading logs for your prizes and raffle tickets, don’t fret, you have until closing on July 31st to do so.

Feeling the back to school blues creeping up on you? DeKalb County Public Libraries are still offering plenty of programs for children and teens. There is nothing like attending a Tween Chocolate Party, attending a magic show, or catching a free movie to lift those spirits! You can see a full list of programs offered through July here.

expressyourselfposterFor teens there is still time to enter Express Yourself contests, such as the digital photo contest at the Dunwoody Library, or the Lithonia-Davidson Library art contest. And don’t forget to log your reading hours online.

Enjoy the rest of summer!


Jul 20 2009

DCPL Unshelved

by Vivian A

Doesn’t it sound cool and mysterious?  DCPL Unshelved is a precision drill team that pushes library carts.The ten members (from our many different library branches) put on sparkly silver newsboy caps, matching t-shirts, black pants and their dancing shoes.

Performing movements like the Flying Geese and Shooting Star make for a lively performance. The crowd was in awe at the team’s debut for the fourth of July in Decatur’s Pied Piper Parade.  See the YouTube clip below for a video of their performance.

The songs they push to are “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge, “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant, “We Will Rock You” by Queen and more upbeat lively numbers.

If you want to see DCPL Unshelved for yourself, the team will be performing as part of the August 15 Dunwoody festivities for the dedication of their newly renovated library, at the end of the morning program, which begins at 10:00. Or check out the Decatur Book Festival. You’ll be glad you did! Who knew library carts could be so versatile?


final-jamie-fox-quilt-picture-2-websiteBack in February the Library hosted a quilt exhibition by members of the Brown Sugar Stitchers Quilt Guild. The exhibition was such a hit that we wanted to let you know about another exhibition by the Ebony Stitchers Quilt Guild, a group related to Brown Sugar Stitchers.  The Ebony Stitchers Quilt Guild has partnered with the National Black Arts Festival to host an exhibition at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center. The exhibition, entitled “Award Winning,” will feature quilts by Aisha Lumumba that celebrate African American Academy Award winners in the areas of motion picture and music. There will be several activities such as quilting classes, workshops and lectures for adults and children to participate in throughout the weekend. The Opening Night Reception is Thursday, July 23 at 6:30 p.m. The exhibition will run from July 24 — 26 at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center and from July 29 — August 1 at the Woodruff Arts Center. Hours for both locations will be 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For more information click here.


Jul 15 2009

Harry Potter Revisited

by Jnai W

The original plan was to blog about a perky little book that I’m reading called Against Happiness (it’s actually more life-affirming than it sounds) but the new Harry Potter movie opens today so I’m putting all grown-up high-seriousness aside to revisit J.K Rowling’s captivating tale of a boy wizard with an incredible destiny. If you’re trying to get re-acquainted with the characters and the saga to defeat the evil He Who Must Not Be Named then you should really stop by DCPL for your Harry Potter refresher materials.

Below are a few additional titles that may be of further interest to Potter fans:

A Charmed Life: The Spirituality of Potterworld: I’ve been tempted to read this book because it looks incredibly fascinating but I stopped short when I noticed the chapter called “The Mirror of Erised” and realized that I’d kind of forgotten what that was (it’s been a loooong time since I’ve read these books). But if you’re a true Potter scholar then this may be a great read for you.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide To The World Of  Harry Potter: Too pressed for time to bone up on the series? Here are some great options for you: 1) Just rent the DVDs, I guess. They’ll give you a taste of what all the fuss has been about. 2) You are never too busy for Pottermania! 3) Never mind option #2 and check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide from DCPL. This could be a decent stopgap while you’re waiting in the request queue for the Harry Potter novels to become available.

The Tales of Beedle The Bard: I kind of glossed over the bits about Beedle The Bard during the last book because  I was so anxious to see the showdown between Harry and Lord Blankedy-Blank. But apparently Hermione Granger and Professor Dumbledore (with the help of Ms. Rowling) have compiled Beedle The Bard’s classic wizarding fables into a lovely volume for us Muggles.

Have fun, Potter fans!

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Jul 14 2009

Johnny Can’t Read

by Ev S


I am so worried that my five year old still can’t read.  I see all these other kids reading and wonder “What am I doing wrong?”  Being me, I started doing some research.  There is a ton of literature out there for the worried parent.

The book that really started this out was Why Johnny Can’t Read – And what you can do about it by Rudolf Flesch.  This book was published in 1955 and parents are still using it at home.  It’s based on the phonics method of reading.  The  public schools have swayed from the phonics method to whole language  learning and back again since my husband and I were children (early to mid 1970s).  Until I started researching about reading I had no idea that there were basically two ways to teach reading.

Straight Talk about Reading: how parents can make a difference during the early years by Susan Hall and Louisa C. Moats pretty much details how the two different methods work and why phonics is a more successful method.  Actually, I did not find much that supported the whole language method.

Starting Out Right: A guide to promoting children’s reading success by the National Research Council specifically spells out activities to do with my five year old.  The book starts out with what is needed to be considered literate; and it’s not just about reading.  The National Research Council details activities and practices for every age group from preschool to grade three.  This is basically a how-to manual.

The best thing I learned about reading is that it happens at the child’s pace and not because the worried, conscientious, proactive parent is doing anything “wrong”.  I can finally sleep at night.

Here is a list of other titles in the library system:

Prescription for Reading–teach them phonics by Ernest H Christman

The Writing Road to Reading: the Spalding method for teaching speech, spelling, writing, and reading by Romalda Bishop Spalding

Parents Who Love Reading, Kids Who Don’t : how it happens and what you can do about it by Mary Leonhardt

Building Blocks : building a parent-child literacy program at your library by Sharon Snow

Yes, if you’re wondering if DCPL has a building blocks program.  Just check out our calendar of events, look for the red.


Jul 13 2009

Paula Deen would be so proud!

by Amanda L

If you know anything about Paula Deen, you know she likes butter.  I have to confess that I like to have butter on a variety of dishes too.  Butter has been around forever. In fact, it is said to have been around two thousand years before Christ. As all good things, it was discovered by mistake when people were collecting a variety of milks and kept stirring the liquids which turned into what we know today as butter.

I discovered a great website devoted to butter. The website is interestingly enough called Butter through the Ages. The site is part of WebExhibits an interactive online non-profit museum.

Butter was the only food that the United States Congress defined before the creation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 . Did you know that it takes 21 pounds of cows milk to make a pound of butter? The site includes a lot of interesting facts including the history, how it’s made, how to cook with it, and the composition of it .

The library of course has books on butter and a variety of Paula Deen’s cookbooks. Here is a sampling of books we have on butter:


The Great Big Butter Cookbook: because everything is better with butter



What Einstein told his Cook


On Food and Cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen


Paula Deen’s books