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

October 2010

It’s been some time since we posted about Google Street View, but I recently ran across a blog that adds a whole new dimension to Google’s mapping product, making it a little less creepy and a little more artsy.  Matt Bucher, a writer and editor from Austin, TX, searches for interesting photos on Google Street View and posts them to his blog Apres Garde.  His technique seems somewhat akin to the old game of spinning a globe and stopping it with your finger:  he takes Pegman, Google’s “plucky mascot,” and drops him down in the middle of a map and sees what comes up.  The photos vary from landscapes to street scenes and everything in between, and are posted out of context and without description.  Many of them capture an interesting moment in time and it’s easy to forget they were taken by a Google camera car.

In this post for Google Sightseeing, Bucher talks about his blog and explains some of the photos, as well as why he prefers not to label each photo.  If you prefer your photos as tour guide, not art, spend some time exploring Google Sightseeing.

I tried Bucher’s method myself and came up with some pretty landscape photos, but failed to find anything as interesting as the photos he’s posted with people in them.  I like the way Google captures people doing everyday things, and found it to be a great way to get a feel for a place without being there.  I’m also happy to find a use for Google Street View that doesn’t feel so invasive, somehow, although I’m not sure how those captured in the photos might feel about it.  What do you think?


Oct 27 2010

Play With Your Food

by Joseph M

With Thanksgiving a month away and Halloween just around the corner, pumpkin season is in full swing. This time of year, our taste buds are tantalized by a wide variety of pumpkin-flavored seasonal products, from tea to scones to milkshakes to Pop-Tarts, and my personal favorite, the delectable pumpkin pie (smothered in whipped cream!). And of course, the gourds themselves are in high demand for the traditional Halloween art form of jack-o-lantern carving.  The library has plenty of books on the subject, including fiction and nonfiction titles. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your pumpkin carving, you might try Kids Pumpkin Projects: Planting and Harvest Fun or In A Pumpkin Shell: Over 20 Pumpkin Projects for Kids . Or you could peruse the numerous jack-o-lantern galleries available online; I found one featuring zombie designs!

Even though pumpkins take center stage this time of year, there are lots of other foodstuffs that you can transform into surprising and delightful art projects as well. Take a look at some of these titles for ideas:

Have fun!

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Oct 25 2010

To Brie or Not To Brie

by Veronica W

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner,
because he was such a tease.
“I’d like to be good” he said, “and I would,
if only you’d give me some cheese!”

Old Mother Hubbard went to her cupboard
and pulled it open with ease.
It contained juicy bones but her dog wanted none –
what he craved was some Camembert cheese.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
she had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
They were rowdy ragamuffins and could not be appeased,
except with large servings of  pasta and cheese.

By now you can probably guess where this is going. In my opinion, if there is a perfect food, it has to be cheese. You may not agree, however even professed cheese haters admit to enjoying at least one thing with some kind of cheese in or on it. It could be pizza, a dessert, soup or crackers. Without turning this into ” The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” I must admit to enjoying cheese in many, if not all, forms and varieties (even some of the “pungent” ones) and it doesn’t take much research to see there are legions of folk who feel the same way.

While there are too many cheesy cookbooks to attempt to name them all, honesty compels me to admit that I usually check out those with colorful illustrations (I’m very careful not to drool on library property). A couple of favorites are Cheese Glorious Cheese and A Passion for Cheese. If you are interested in the process as well as the end product, look into The Ideal Cheese Book and The World Cheese Book. Information about  the different varieties can be found in Complete Guide to Over 300 Cheeses of Distinction.

True turophiles gather around the globe at many festivals, competitions and conferences. The “World’s Largest Cheese Festival ” is reportedly held bi-annually in Piedmont, North West Italy, although this seems to be in dispute, since the biennial competition held in Madison, Wisconsin claims that title as well. To check out other less renowned festivals, visit this webpage.

According to the Constitution, you have the right to believe that something else is the perfect food. However, we who know that a Greek salad without feta cheese is just fancy lettuce and olives, unite and sing,

The cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone,
hi-ho the dairy- o, the cheese stands alone.”

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Oct 22 2010

AHC 4th Annual Booksale

by Jesse M

Want to get a jump on your Christmas shopping for book-loving friends and family this year? Then you may want to check out the Atlanta History Center’s 4th annual book sale this Saturday, October 23, from 9:00am-2:00pm. Held in the Kenan Research Center’s Draper Members Room, shoppers will be able to choose from a selection of over 2000 titles in subjects including American and world history, genealogy, biography, and fiction. While acquiring books at bargain prices shoppers are also helping the Research Center; proceeds from the sale support the mission of the archives and library in promoting the preservation, conservation, and care of the permanent collections. Once you finish shopping, make a day of it and check out some of the fascinating exhibitions at the Atlanta History Center. And don’t forget to keep your receipt! Proof of purchase from the sale entitles visitors to enjoy a $5 discount on admission (but only on that day, October 23). For more information on the sale, call 404-814-4049.

And the bargain shopping need not end there! Many DCPL branches host ongoing book sales where books, magazines, and other media can be procured at rock bottom prices, with proceeds from all purchases going to support your local library. Contact individual branches for pricing and other details. A full list of branches is available on our website.  You can also check out the many book sales held by the Friends of the Library, by checking this page.


Oct 18 2010

Go forth into Autumn’s glory

by Patricia D

We’re slooooowly coming into my favorite time of year.  I love the particular shade of blue the sky gets right now and the way the air seems somehow sharper, even here in the city where we are still suffering through some code orange days.   I once had occasion to fly over the Appalachian mountains at the height of the season’s turning and was enchanted by the unending colors undulating below.  While nothing can compare with Spring in the South I truly believe that Autumn is the best time of year for basking in nature’s glow.  It’s also the time of year for every little town to have a festival.  Where I come from it’s apple butter, bratwurst and pumpkins.  In this part of the world (http://www.southfest.com) it seems to be, among other things, apples, marble and beer.  North or South these wonderful events always have a parade, a festival queen,  bouncy fings (as we say at my house) and face painting for the kids, crafts fairs and food vendors.  This is when I can count on getting a corn dog and indulge my taste for fresh fried pork rinds.  Yep, for me, this time of year is way better than Christmas.

I worried about moving this far South because I thought I would be robbed of  a decent season change.  Though I still haven’t adjusted to thinking about yard work in late February  I can be content with the Autumn colors and when that’s not enough I can run away to the mountains.  The Georgia Department of Natural Resources currently has the Leaf Watch going, with tips for the best trails for color and even a webcam on Black Rock Mountain.  I check out a Georgia Park Pass, grab a few books out of the collection, including a few to explain the color change to the Back Seat Club and we’re on our way, perhaps stopping at a roadside stand for fresh cider and a peck of apples.

Afoot and Afield in Atlanta by Marcus Woolf

Nature Adventures in The North Georgia Mountains by Mary Ellen Hammond

Hiking Georgia by Donald W. Pfitzer

Hiking Trails of the Great Smoky Mountains by Kenneth Wise

Investigating Why Leaves Change Color by Ellen Rene

Autumn Leaves by Ken Robbins


Oct 16 2010

Wizard Rock Redux

by Fran W

Thought about making Decatur Library’s first wizard rock show, but it didn’t fit into your schedule?  Had an amazing time and can’t wait for more wrock?  You’re in luck: DeKalb County Public Library is partnering with City of Decatur Active Living to bring wizard rock back to Decatur!

The Whomping Willows, Lauren Fairweather, Justin Finch-Fletchley and Armoured Bearcub will perform on Thursday, October 21st at 5:30pm at the Decatur Recreation Center.  Click here for the event listing on the library’s website, and here for our original blog post explaining wizard rock.

The bands are touring this fall in the memory of Esther Earl, a 16-year-old Potter fan who passed away recently from thyroid cancer.  Earl inspired those in the Harry Potter community through her positive outlook, witty humor, and her message to love and live to the fullest.  Through their tour, This Star Won’t Go Out: A Tour For Esther, the bands hope to raise money to help Earl’s family pay for her medical expenses.  The Boston Globe recently wrote a wonderful article about Earl; it can be accessed here.


I am always looking for a way to occupy my time during my long daily commute.  I used to check out audiobooks from the Library but have recently migrated to using the Library’s downloadable audiobook service, OverDrive. I love that I can “check out” an audiobook even when the Library is closed. It can be a little tricky at first especially when trying to use it with an Apple product. To begin using the service, first check out the Library’s OverDrive Page. Both the Quick Start Guide and Guided Tour can help you get started downloading and transfering audiobook files fast.  Here are ten tips that I have found helpful:

10.  You will need your DeKalb County library card number and PIN.

9. Make sure you download the Overdrive Media Console. (This is OverDrive’s software.)

8.  If transferring to an Apple device, make sure you have the most current version of iTunes loaded onto your computer.  In addition, iTunes needs to be set to enable “Manually Manage Music” setting.  See here for further instructions.

7. If using a Windows computer, make sure you have version 9 or higher of Windows Media player.  Also, make sure you have installed the Windows Media Player Security Upgrade by going into OverDrive Media Console, clicking on “Tools”, then clicking on “Windows Media Player Security Upgrade”.

6. You can browse titles by categories (listed on the left under “Fiction” and “Nonfiction”) or you can use the search box on the top right corner if you are looking for something specific.  An easy way to search for available titles is to click “Advance Search” (top right, inside of the orange search box) and make sure “Only show titles with copies available” is checked.  You can leave the other spaces blank, if you just wish to browse.

5. Each downloadable audiobook has different technical and license restrictions, so when looking at an audiobook, pay attention to the “Plays On” icons.  These icons tell you what computers and devices the audiobook will and will not work on based on whether or not they are lit up.  One tricky situation: if the icons indicate iPod-compatibility but not Mac-compatibility, then the only way you can transfer it to your iPod is through a PC.

4. During the check out process, you will be asked to choose a lending period, either 7, 14, or 21 days.  You can only have 2 downloadable audiobooks checked out at any one time, and you may not “return” a book earlier than your selected lending period, so choose carefully.

3. After checking out your audiobook, click on “Download”.  This should automatically open up OverDrive Media Console.  You can then choose how many parts (if not all) you wish to download.   If you wish to play, transfer, or download more parts of the same audiobook within the same lending period, you need only open up Overdrive Media Console and go from there. You would not have to go through the OverDrive website again within the same lending period unless you are checking out a new title.

2. To transfer the audiobook file(s) to a device make sure that you click the transfer button in Overdrive Media Console.

1. The digital file will stay on your computer or digital device even though you might not be able to listen to it past your lending period. You can delete the file the same way you do any other file you have on your computer or device.

Still needing some help with our new audiobook service? Representatives from OverDrive will be at the Dunwoody Library on October 28 with their Digital Bookmobile for you to get some hands on experience with the experts.  Full details here.


Oct 13 2010

A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed

by Joseph M

Autumn is in the air, and as the weather gets chilly and your warm bed begins to seem more and more inviting, you may find yourself looking for a snuggle buddy to help get you through the cold season ahead. October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, so it’s a great time to consider adding a furry friend to the family. There are several organizations that can help you find and adopt the right dog for you, including the American Humane Society, the ASPCA, and PAWS Atlanta. Check out their websites for a variety of tools, resources, and links to local shelters and rescue groups. The library also has some related books on the subject, including Old Dog, New Tricks: Understanding and Retraining Older and Rescued Dogs, and Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays.


Oct 11 2010

Shall We Gather at the Ramada

by Veronica W

There is a delightful, award-winning children’s book entitled The Relatives Came , by Cynthia Rylant.  It tells the story of  family members from Virginia, who came to visit in a station wagon that could “hold a crowd of folk and looked like a rainbow.”  An exact destination is not given but they “left at 4 in the morning, came up from Virginia, drove all day long and into the night.”  The illustrations show exuberant hugging, (“Those relatives just passed us all around their car, pulling us against their wrinkled Virginia clothes”) joyous feasting and at the end of the day, everyone bunking up wherever there was a free space. This book depicts the true spirit of family reunions, if not the reality, since reunion “war stories” abound.

Summer seems to be the favorite time of year for a gathering of the clans. Like Rylant’s group, my kith and kin came up from Virginia, although they arrived in a classic, flare- finned Cadillac. To my young Yankee way of thinking, they were  coca- cola drinking, grits-eating (They must have brought their own) full-of-life exotics. Their visit involved very little planning, except for a letter or phone call stating the day of arrival. My mother had remained true to some old southern traditions, so  it never occurred to her to look into hotels for them.  Instead, I had to bunk up with cousins I barely knew. Nevertheless, it was usually a wonderful, warm time of eating and reminiscing and our house always seemed emptier after they left.

Today reunions are big business and as soon as one is finished, plans start for the next one. They often require a finance committee, a search committee and an events planner. The number of attendees can range from a few dozen to a few hundred, depending on how near your dear ones are and how many of the family tree branches you want to include.

A project of this size requires lots of work and fortunately, there are plenty of resources available. An excellent help is The DeKalb Visitors Bureau. They provide extensive  reunion services, which include finding budget friendly accommodations, events planning assistance, lists of local attractions and dining recommendations. They also conduct planning workshops around the county and even provide volunteers to assist with your activities. To visit their website, go to  www.dcvb.orgReunions Magazine at www.reunionsmag.com offers assistance as well, as does www.family-reunion.com, “The web’s Most Popular Family Reunion Planning Site.” If you prefer a book to have on hand, check out a copy of Your Family Reunion: How to Plan it, Organize it and Enjoy It. It’s an exhaustive look at planning a successful reunion and covers event sizes, locations, cost, pursuing family genealogy, food, games and much, much more. Best of all, at the end of each chapter there is a page of internet resources dealing with that subject.

The word reunion means “to come together again.”  Whether it’s with a small, informal gathering or an extravaganza, tightening the family ties can be nourishing, fulfilling and rewarding—especially if you don’t have to give up your bed.

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Oct 8 2010

Turn to page 99

by Jesse M

If you are tired of being forced to make decisions on whether or not to read a book based solely on the summary and author blurbs contained on the inside flap or printed on back, then you may be interested to hear of another method by which the quality of a piece of writing may be ascertained quickly, the page 99 test. How it works is simple: just open a book, flip to page 99, and read the content there. If you find it intriguing enough that you want to read more, then you’ll probably end up enjoying the book. However, if page 99 doesn’t catch your interest, it’s unlikely the rest of the book will either.

The theory, as expressed in this article, is that by page 99 (which in most books is about 1/4 to 1/3 of the total length) “the characters should be established, the author should have hit his or her stride…and it is far enough in to allow glimpses of an unfolding plot but too early to give away any vital clues or twists”.

The site, which launches sometime this month, will offer authors the opportunity to publish the 99th page of their works and receive feedback from readers on whether they would be interested in reading more or possibly even purchasing a copy. There’s no need to wait until the site goes live however, as you can conduct the page 99 test yourself with already published books, either by browsing in your local library branch or utilizing Google Books, which allows you to page through a digital copy of the text (not all books are available for preview in this fashion, but many are).

The question is, how well does it work? To answer that I decided to test it out on two books I recently checked out from the library but haven’t yet begun reading, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Corey Doctorow and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (if you want to sneak a peak at page 99 of either book you can view them on google books here and here, respectively). The results were mixed. I can’t say that page 99 of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom did much other than confuse me, but page 99 of Catch-22 did spark my interest (though admittedly it was also a bit confusing). I plan to read both books and once I’ve completed them I’ll report back here on the efficacy of the page 99 test. Try it out yourself and tell us how it works out!