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

December 2009

Dec 30 2009

Auld Lang Syne

by Jnai W

My favorite thing about the holiday season is the beautiful seasonal songs: sacred hymns, traditional carols and even holiday pop classics. Now that Christmas time has passed most radio stations will be returning to their regular tunes. But there is one more holiday classic I look forward to hearing: the New Year’s standard “Auld Lang Syne”.

This song is widely regarded as the work of Scottish poet Robert Burns, even though several of the lyrics can also be attributed to other writers of similarly-titled works (such as “Old Long Syne”, a 1711 ballad by James Watson). Legend has it that Burns wrote a letter to a friend in which he spoke lovingly of the Scottish phrase “auld lang syne” and of an old folk song that “thrilled through [his]soul”. It is in this letter that he compiled and composed what would live on to become an enduring and well-loved holiday classic.

One of the things that fascinates me most about “Auld Lang Syne” is that, even though it has become a traditional New Year’s song throughout the world, it is still a widely misunderstood tune. There seems to be something missing in translation as holiday revelers warble the title, which roughly translates to “old long since” (and I mean that’s a rough, literal translation…or so I hear) and stumble over the lyrics.  But a simple internet search has been more than enough to uncover many wonderful things about “Auld Lang Syne” that I never knew, including full Scottish lyrics, a few nice translations of the song, and this gorgeous rendition of the song as performed by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis.

As the song says, upon further reflection, should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, perhaps we should take the time to kindly and fondly remember them. Over a pint perhaps at the pub? That’s neither here nor there, really. But this song does blossom into a moving, loving and heartfelt ballad…and strikes me as the perfect way to usher in a new year.

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet for auld lang syne…


Dec 28 2009

Poem for a Winter’s Day

by Patricia D

I have a dear friend who loves poetry and can quote huge chunks of it anytime you ask.  I envy her that because most of the time poetry doesn’t work for me.  I had a brief flirtation with John Donne in college but that light burned bright and then died quietly and though I’ve tried, I  haven’t been able to work up the will to take another ride on the Poetry Appreciation Train.  I want to ride but I  just don’t get most poetry.  I’ve often wondered if this disability is tied up with my inability to appreciate jazz or the Three Stooges–it’s something that works for some but not all.  I had grown accustomed to thinking that poetry, much like pro football, was never going to be for me.   However, I stumbled across a collection of sijo poems in the children’s collection a while back and finally found a crack in my poetry defenses.  My favorite from the book is called Wish and it so perfectly conveys how poetry should work on a person’s heart  that it almost makes me weep (almost.)  Thanks to this Korean form of poetry, which looks so innocent and non-threatening,  I’ve been tempted into the poetry section–that’s 811 to the Dewey Decimal users among us.  It’s still rocky going but I’ve now realized that  Edna St. Vincent Millay is not as twee and ladylike as I thought and that has been a marvelous discovery for me.  Maybe I’ll give John Donne a call.

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Dec 23 2009

The WOW Factor

by Kim H

Guinness BookThe holiday gift season has arrived. If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for a great gift idea for the kids. Knowing that books make wonderful, lasting gifts, I set out this year to find the perfect knock-your-socks-off, WOW factor book…something that would make even the most jaded ten year old smile.

My search didn’t take long because I soon stumbled upon the brand new 2010 Guinness Book of World Records. Kids LOVE this book! They repeatedly ask for it at my library, and once they sit down and start turning the pages, you hear them shrieking “ohhh’s” and “ahhh’s” as they feast upon the delights within.

Each year the folks at Guinness World Records publish an updated volume full of weird and freaky facts, photographs and information. Over 4 million copies are sold annually and total sales exceed 124 million, since first published in 1955. Each volume dazzles the eye and boggles the mind. It is a real crowd-pleaser, especially among the pre-teen set. The 2010 version has 287 pages of facts, figures and photographs, enough to keep young minds busy for hours, learning about records set around the globe.

Bound in a shiny, colorful cover, the 2010 edition is billed as the “Book of The Decade.” There are Actual Size offerings (which kids love) such as the “largest known land gastropod” (the African Giant Snail), a huge beast of a slug, weighing in at two pounds and measuring 15½ inches long.

For aspiring record setters, the 2010 edition has step-by-step information on how to go about identifying and breaking a record. One of my favorites is featured on page 62, which shows a photo of the man with the longest recorded ear hair. Visit page 125 to see a picture of the world’s heaviest lemon! It weighs almost 12 pounds. Awesome!

This holiday season, why not make yourself the most popular uncle or aunt in your family. Give the 2010 Guinness Book of World Records to your favorite niece or nephew. They will remember you forever. (They might even name their first-born child after you.) Visit your local DCPL library to take a sneak peek before you buy.


Dec 21 2009

CDs and DVDs and Audiobooks-Oh my!

by Vivian A

If you dread hearing “How much longer?” or “Counting cows is boring!” check out your local library for things to check out for your Christmas roadtrips. DCPL has tons of interesting, entertaining and educational DVDs, audiobooks and CDs to engage you and your children on the way to grandmother’s house or wherever you’re headed this holiday season.

Try out any or all of the Harry Potter books read by the vastly talented Jim Dale. Or get a life and listen to someone’s biography or autobiography. Watch a holiday classic like It’s A Wonderful Life or Home Alone.

All it takes is a scan of your library card and you can entertain yourself and your passengers for miles. Who knows you might be so engrossed in your story that you won’t want to stop for anything but gas. If not you can always go back to counting state license plates.


Dec 18 2009

Celebrating the Birth of two Georgians

by Amanda L

Today is the anniversary of the birth for two famous Georgians.  These two men made an impact in their respective fields. I knew the first one, Ty Cobb, was from Georgia but I was surprised that Ossie Davis was from Georgia.

Ty Cobb made his impact on the baseball world.  He was born in 1886 in Narrows, Georgia. He was known as the “Georgia Peach” and was considered an outstanding offensive player of all time.  He played for Augusta in the minor South Atlantic League. He set many Major League records. Several are still intact today.  Ty Cobb  was the first man elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame which was established in Cooperstown, Ohio in 1936.

Want to learn more about Ty Cobb? Check out these books.

Ty Cobb by Charles C Alexander

Cobb_A biography Cobb: a biography by Al Stump

Ossie Davis made an impact in films. He was born in Cogdell Georgia in 1917.  He was known as one of the busiest African-American Entertainers in the 1970’s.  In his career he wrote plays and books. He was a director, playwright and producer. He co-starred in a radio program with his wife in the mid-1970’s.

Want to learn more or see some of Ossie Davis’s work? Check out the following.

Black Directors in Hollywood by Melvin Donaldson

Finding Buck McHenry

Miss Ever’s boys

Ossie With Ossie Davis and Ruby: in this life together

Ossie pic book Just Like Martin by Ossie Davis

Want more information about these gentleman but can’t get into a library? You can use the Library’s electronic resource, Biography Resource Center. This resource along with other electronic resources can be found on our Reference Database page.


Dec 16 2009

Christmas Time Is Here…

by Jnai W

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, at least to me, now that the winter cold is finally upon us. It always takes me a bit longer to get into the Christmas spirit than most people I know. I won’t say that I’m a Grinch or anything but, when it comes to the holidays, I’m definitely more of a Charlie Brown.

It had been years since I’d watched the beloved Christmas classic A Charlie Brown Christmas so I figured now was as good of a time as any for a nostalgic dose of holiday cheer. I needed a little reminder of the true meaning of the holiday and, thanks to the Peanuts gang,  I’ve got a new lease on this Christmas season.

As a little kid the original Charlie Brown Christmas special was a holiday tradition. But even then I can’t say that I truly understood the plight of our greatly put-upon protagonist Charlie Brown. In those days I couldn’t understand why Chuck was so glum; it was Christmas, after all. In hindsight, of course, it’s easy to see why Charlie Brown, a youngster possessed of a thirtysomething’s melancholy,was having trouble getting into the Christmas spirit. He’d become disenchanted with the commercialism of the holiday, a  complaint that has grown much timelier in this day and age. His efforts to celebrate Christmas in a more meaningful way–from agreeing to direct the Christmas play to selecting a spindly, pathetic Christmas tree–are unpopular at first. But eventually the gang come to appreciate Charlie Brown’s sensitivity and simplicity–at least, until the next holiday special rolls around.

This is one of my favorite Christmas programs of all time for a number of reasons–the sweet and simple story featuring Charles Schulz‘s well-loved characters, the use of non-professional children in the voice cast. But one of the things I love most about this special is its  soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi, a charming score that lends a sweetness yet sophistication to the show. Not only does this soundtrack boast “Linus and Lucy”, the song that has come to be the Peanuts theme but it also features one of my favorite modern Christmas songs “Christmas Time is Here”.

I can’t think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit than this:


Dec 14 2009

The Best Thing to Spend on Children

by Patricia D

Years ago I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Eddie Bonnemere.  He had played piano for Duke Ellington and told wonderful stories of late rehearsals and long road trips.  One story that stuck with me was this: whenever the band finally stopped for a meal Mr. Ellington would return thanks not only for the food but for the time and company as well.  All these years later I’m still grateful to Mr. Ellington, by way of Mr. Bonnemere, for reminding me that time and the people we choose to spend it on are precious.

Now, let me get to my point.  As a children’s librarian I am frequently asked, especially this time of year, by Grandma and Uncle and godpapa to help them choose books for the darling young person in their lives.  They have gotten the message that books are good for youngsters and are eager to do their part in setting that child on the path to academic success.  There’s a second, delicious part to the equation though.  Books are great gifts, but they are all the better when a much loved adult spends time reading them with the child.  If the adult is too far away there is reading together over the phone, or a video call, or even a homemade read-along with a CD or (yikes) a cassette tape of the adult reading.  Jim Trelease can tell you all about the benefits of reading aloud, even to older children, and offers many wonderful suggestions.  Any children’s staff member at DCPL can do the same.  So, buy the books, check them out of the library, it really doesn’t matter either way but be certain to treat yourself, and that special child, to time together talking, laughing or crying over a book.  Books are great, but books + time together is the best.


Dec 11 2009

Neil Gaiman on Audiobooks

by Jesse M

Coraline on audiobookRecently, award winning author Neil Gaiman hosted a segment on the National Public Radio program Morning Edition during which he talked about the past and future of the audiobook format. Among the subjects he addressed were whether authors should narrate their own audiobooks (appropriate for some, while others “should never be allowed in front of a microphone”), the various challenges of the recording process (including audiobook performers whose “loud stomach noises” are equal in volume to their voices), and the difference between audiobooks and traditional books.

The segment also includes brief interviews with author David Sedaris and audiobook performer Martin Jarvis. If you are interested in hearing more than the excerpts included in the piece, you can head over to Neil’s blog to listen to the full length interviews.

Of the four audiobooks authored by Gaiman available in the DCPL catalog, he has acted as his own narrator half of the time; both were books produced for younger readers (Coraline and The Graveyard Book). If you, like Neil, enjoy the sound of your own voice, you might enjoy doing some volunteer work for LibriVox, a website which provides free audiobooks from the public domain. Volunteers simply record themselves reading chapters of eligible books and then those recordings are uploaded and released online as free audiobooks (you can search their catalog of available titles here).

One final note: Gaiman will be in town speaking and then signing books at Agnes Scott College’s Presser Hall on December 14th. As the tickets were free, and of limited quantity, it is unlikely there are any available at this point, but I felt it worth mentioning nonetheless. Click here for more info.


Dec 9 2009

Boarding School Fiction

by Nancy M

300px-Hog2wartsFor some people, high school is four years that are fondly remembered as the best years in life. I am not one of those people. I started 9th grade as a New England transplant placed in a southern suburban high school of over 2,000 students. I hated every minute of it. I begged and pleaded with my parents to send me to boarding school back up north and they in turn, laughed at me. And while I begrudgingly made it through 4 tough years and moved on, I still can’t help but romanticize boarding school and dream of the school days I never had- cavorting around foggy school grounds, lessons in Charms and Divination, cheering on me mates at the Quidditch pitch, er…ok, so Hogwarts doesn’t really exist, but like I said, it’s a dream. Fantasy or reality, boarding schools make great settings for books. Below are a few of my favorites.

brayA Great and Terrible Beauty by Linda Bray

greenLooking for Alaska by John Green

halePrincess Academy by Shannon Hale

lockhartThe Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart

spudSpud by John Van de Ruit

Do you have any boarding school fiction recommendations?


Dec 7 2009

Oh, The Places You Will Go: India

by Zakiyyah W

india1I just had the amazing opportunity of spending two weeks backpacking Northern India along with two other friends. We started in Delhi and made our way around the Golden Triangle stopping in Agra, Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Ranthambore, and Mathura. I can only describe India as one of the most interesting experiences of a lifetime.  Here are my five can’t miss sights and activities:

5. Jaipur aka The Pink City

This entire city is built of pink stucco, even the walls that surround it, hence the name “The Pink City”. It is known for its beautiful palaces, rugged fortresses, and the most amazing sunset colors known to mankind… well at least in my opinion.

During the time we visited, the Indian holiday Dewali was in full force. The streets were exceedingly crowded and chaos surrounded us. After several attempts to fit in with the madness we retreated to a roof top restaurant and enjoyed the views and activities from a comfortable distance.

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