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

February 2012

Feb 27 2012

Guerilla Libraries

by Jesse M

NYC phone booth guerilla libraryI’ve posted before on the subject of phone booth-to-library conversion, specifically, about the English village of Westbury-sub-Mendip and their beloved red phone box library. Today’s post also concerns phone booth-to-library conversion, but of a slightly different sort. Whereas the conversion of the Westbury-sub-Mendip phone booth was a project approved by the parish council, the “guerilla libraries” installed by Columbia architecture grad John Locke and sponsored by the fictitious “Department of Urban Betterment” are an independent attempt at re-purposing the mostly obsolete New York City phone booths into something that adds value to the community.

Locke’s bookshelves are simple plywood consoles that slip over payphones “as neatly as aprons”, no hardware or fasteners required, leaving the payphone usable while creating additional shelf space for library materials. Thus far, Locke has set up two phone booth libraries, with plans for many more.

The Atlantic has published an interview with Locke where he discusses his inspiration, process, public reception, and plans for future projects (which include “planning an unsolicited redesign of the MTA to help solve their very real multimillion-dollar budget gap, as well as the design of a distributed pavilion, the pieces of which people in the area can download, print and keep with them to assemble whenever a quorum of users is reached”).

How do you feel about projects like this? Would you appreciate seeing something similar happen in your neighborhood? Would it make a difference whether it was government run/approved? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!


Feb 24 2012

Leap year, the end of the World and 1940

by Patricia D

2012 is a really special year.  We’ve got an entire extra day to mess with at the end of February, which will be nice since according to some folks the world is going to end (again) in December.  We’ve got all the excitement and discussion (because that’s what we call it in my bi-partisan family) of a presidential election.   However,  there is something else.  Something that only comes every 10 years.   Something that has me a’quiverin’ with anticipation.  Yep, it’s time for another federal census to be released.  Access to each census is restricted for 72 years, and for the 1940 census that 72 years is just about up.  The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will release the 1940 census on its website on April 2, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.

There are some good things and some things that will get better.  For example, although the records will be available FREE at the NARA website, it’s going to take some time to get them indexed.  For a while, unless you have an address or enumeration district,  looking for your folks is going to be a little frustrating.  The NARA has a great FAQ regarding the census, ideas on how best to construct searches without an index, and will have enumeration district maps available on-line to help with tracking down your quarry.  This will be a little frustrating to new genealogists who have only ever known the indexed information available online, but to those folks who remember reading an entire enumeration district to hit paydirt it will bring back strong memories—in my case memories of nausea from watching the microfilm whiz by.

Along with the NARA website, Ancestry.com will also have free access  but only through 2013.  Indexing will be done by volunteers.  If you’re interested there’s a webpage where you can register  and download the templates you’ll need. There’s also a Twitter feed (@the1940census)  and a Facebook page.  All of this is great, but leaves my head spinning when I think back to the release of the 1920 census.  It was quietly done, and we had to wait a loooong time for an index and an even longer time for digital access.

So.  Leap Day will be fun, I don’t really think the world is going to end on December 21, and I love the excitement of a presidential election.  2012 is all good for me.   April 2 will just be the buttercream (real buttercream, not that stuff the grocery store calls buttercream) icing on the cake.  In the 1940 census, people were asked 45 questions about their households and identifies, for the first time ever, the person giving the information.  Not only will I finally be finding people I have met (I know exactly where six of my great-grandparents were in 1940,)  but I’ll finally know which of my grandmothers liked to play fast and loose with the facts.


Feb 22 2012

Celebrating African American Women

by Dea Anne M

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by sculptor Augusta Savage

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by sculptor Augusta Savage

February is Black History Month and this year the celebration’s special focus has been “Black Women in American Culture and History.”  Though the month is drawing to a close, there’s still time to remember and celebrate some of the very interesting African American women who, though well known, are perhaps less often heralded than others but are, nonetheless, just as important. Here’s an admittedly small sampling:

Bessie Coleman (1893-1926) – the first African American female pilot and the first African American to hold an international pilots license.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) – the first widely known African American poet and the first African American woman to publish her writing.

Harriet Ida Pickins and Frances Willis – the first African American female U.S. Navy officers.

Bridget Mason (1818- 1891) – nurse, midwife, philanthropist and real estate entrepreneur. She was one of the first African Americans, and the first female, to own land in Los Angeles.

Augusta Savage (1892- 1962) – sculptor and highly influential teacher and activist throughout the Harlem Renaissance and beyond. Her sculpture Lift Every Voice and Sing was created for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

If you want to learn more about these women and others, DCPL has materials available to you.

Kids can do their own research with these (selected) titles:

I’m sure I’ve left out many notable women. Who would you add to the list?


Feb 15 2012

Love Your Library

by Joseph M

Love Your Library logoValentine’s Day may be over, but you can still show you care by participating in our Love Your Library campaign, ongoing through the month of February.  A donation of $1 will get you a heart with your name on it posted at your local library branch.  You can also donate online if you prefer.  Your contributions will go to support important literacy work among children and adults in DeKalb county, so show some love and help make a difference in your community!


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a delightful, charming short film about people who devote their lives to books and books who return the favor. Using a variety of techniques such as miniatures, computer animation, and 2D animation, creators William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg have produced a story whose style harkens back to the silent film era. The film has won awards at a number of competitions (including Best Animated Short at the Cinequest Film Fest, Audience Favorite Award at the Palm Springs International ShortFest, and Best in Show at SIGGRAPH), and is one of five animated short films that will be considered for outstanding film achievements of 2011 in the 84th Academy Awards (you can view the rest of the nominees here).

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.

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Feb 10 2012

Stories for African American History Month

by Patricia D

I think history is best taught through stories. Facts and dates are fine for knowing, but it is through story that we can best come to a deeper understanding of what those facts and dates mean. I think that’s why genealogy is such an addictive hobby—the facts are easier than ever to track down with all the tools available on the Internet (sites such as  Heritage Quest, Ancestry and Rootsweb) but it takes going to the place, finding the people who know the stories that go with those facts, for the facts to matter—at least that’s how it works for me. In honor of the month, I’ve pulled together a list of children’s titles that I think give heart and that deeper understanding to various points of African American history.  Most of these are picture books, a few are novels. This list is by no means comprehensive, just some things I’ve loved over the years.   The DCPL collection is loaded with lots of wonderful non-fiction for children, as well as for adults,  so once you’ve cruised through my list, type  “African americans literature” in the keyword search section of the catalog and browse the collection.  Don’t forget to use the word juvenile in the keyword search to narrow the selection down to children’s materials.


Feb 8 2012

Planting a promise

by Dea Anne M

Most of us know that Arbor Day is a holiday celebrated by planting trees.  The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska on April 19 1872 and an estimated million trees were planted that day. Arbor Day is now celebrated worldwide, though dates vary, of course, due to climate and other considerations. The best time for planting trees in Georgia is between November and mid-March so this year, Georgia’s Arbor Day will be celebrated on February 17th. The Georgia Forestry Commission is encouraging everyone to get out there and plant a tree and leave “a lasting legacy for future generations.”

Do you want to learn more about planting and tending trees in Georgia? Check out these resources from DCPL.

…and young gardeners can learn more about Arbor Day and trees with Arbor Day by Kelly Bennett and Tree by David Burnie which is part of the wonderful Eyewitness series of photograph laden, non-fiction books for children. If you’re interested in planting more trees throughout the year, you could also become involved with Trees Atlanta, a non-profit group dedicated to replenishing the urban forest in metro Atlanta.


Growing up the only time the slow cooker came out of its resting place was when we were having chili. Recently, I have been wanting to use my slow cooker for more than just for chili.  So I’ve been checking out a variety of cookbooks for more recipes. Did you know that you can cook oatmeal in the slow cooker? It is great. You can put the ingredients in before you go to bed and have breakfast waiting for you upon waking.

I have learned so much from the books I’ve checked out  from the Library about slow cookery. Did you know that you can make risotto in the slow cooker? No more standing at the stove and constantly stirring. You can even make polenta in the slow cooker.

The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone has several recipes for making polenta and risotto. There are even a few dessert recipes.

Another book that I thoroughly enjoyed was the 1001 best slow-cooker recipes cookbook you’ll ever need by Sue Spitler with Linda R. Yoakam. There is a great recipe for cube steak stew. It was delicious and I’ve been spreading that recipe around. This cookbook also has recipes for drinks, sides and even a few salad selections.

The Library has several more books on the subject of slow cookery. To see the other cookbooks, go to the catalog and under the keyword subject box, type in slow cookery. As the Italians say…. Mangia! Mangia!


Feb 2 2012

Groundhog Day

by Joseph M

These days, meteorologists use a wide variety of technologies to predict upcoming weather patterns, from weather balloons to Doppler radar.  On February 2nd, however, modern techniques take a back seat to a decidedly less scientific method.  I’m talking, of course, about Groundhog Day.  How does a groundhog forecast the weather?  Here’s the answer, courtesy of Wikipedia:  “According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, it will leave the burrow, signifying that winter-like weather will soon end. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its burrow, and the winter weather will continue for six more weeks.”

Explanations differ as to the exactly how or where the custom originated, but it has been linked to German settlers in central and southeastern Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Many areas now have festivals celebrating local groundhog soothsayers.  The most famous of these events is probably the one held in Punxsutawney, PA (popularized in the film Groundhog Day), where the star of the show is Punxsutawney Phil.  Georgia has its own groundhog prognosticator, General Beauregard Lee, who lives at the Yellow River Game Ranch outside Atlanta, Georgia.  You can visit his website here.

Interestingly enough, Punxsutawney Phil and General Beauregard Lee had conflicting predictions this year.  The Pennsylvania groundhog forecasted six more weeks of Winter, but the General declared we could expect an early Spring.

Visit our catalog to find out more about groundhogs, meteorology, and lots of other fun stuff!

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