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

April 2013

Apr 26 2013

No Thumbs Fun

by Veronica W

I’m going shopping today for hula hoops for an upcoming library program. I confess I’m excited because it takes me back to the days of my childhood, when I could actually play games that required running and jumping and large muscles movement. As I remember it, the only game that required my thumbs was “I Declare War.”

Looking at me today, you would not believe once upon a time I jumped double dutch,  played hopscotch and was a terror on the handball court (Try playing it with a  hard, pink Spalding ball, if you dare) . When sitting down, my friends, sisters and I played hand clapping games.  (Anyone out there know “Old Mary Mack Mack Mack” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as hand games?)  As much as  hot, cloudless days, road trips and dripping ice cream cones, the games of my childhood summon forth memories of summer.

If you have young folk in your life or just want to reminisce, look through a sampling of  game books such as Step It Down,  The Way to PlayLike It Was or Sidewalk Games, then head for the streets to try them out. Teens may drag their feet at first but I guarantee you they will end up enjoying themselves, if for no other reason than the fun of laughing at you.  The delightful, happy ladies below don’t care and neither will you. Go for it!



npm2013_logoSo tax day came and went and I hadn’t even given a thought to the fact that April (in addition to being National freakout about W2s Month) is also National Poetry Month. I’ve written more seriously about NPM before (here and here), but this year I wanted to loosen up a bit and share a few fun/funny experiments with you.

A coworker sent me a link to Times Haiku, a site which collects serendipitous poetry from The New York Times. As you may remember from gradeschool, the basic definition of a haiku is 5/7/5. Syllables, that is (though if you want to get all technical, the Japanese have other requirements, and the syllable count isn’t exactly accurate nor that important in modern day haikus). Anyway, the website finds sentences in The New York Times that conform to this 5/7/5 structure and posts them. Some are even surprisingly poetic:

Optimism fills
their lives, though there are degrees
of optimism.

If you’re interested in learning and reading more about haikus, check out this slim volume of traditional Japanese haikus: Cricket Songs. Here’s one I like from that book.

Broken and broken
again on the sea, the moon
so easily mends.

Speaking of serendipitous poems, Pentametron is a website that generates sonnets taken from random Twitter feeds. It uses a computer algorithm to find tweets that conform to the iambic pentameter line. Then it lines up 14 of these tweets in a row so that they rhyme. The result is often quite nonsensical, interesting, and every once in a while, even poetic. See for yourself:

Selena Gomez has a pretty face
Another day, Another paper chase!
Just seen the biggest fattest bumble bee ☺
Ya allah, ada ada aja si (˘̩̩̩⌣˘̩̩̩)

Did you appreciate yourself today?
replay replay replay replay replay
Pray always, lazy never ever do.. :P
Another day, another interview!

@Fly_kidd_11 kindly follow back
Another sleepless night! #Insomniac
I couldn’t even stand a while ago. “/
I’m not a very social person though.

Im salter then a Lays potato ship
I’m itching for another Cali trip…..

Hmm… not Shakespeare, but I guess it will do. If you’re in the mood for poetry in April, check out these poetry events at the library.


Apr 17 2013

Backyard Birds (part 2)

by Dea Anne M

ssialisI posted here awhile back about my newly discovered fascination with (and delight in) the many birds who inhabit my backyard and neighborhood. I see a lot of small songbirds at the feeder along with larger birds like cardinals, woodpeckers, and the occasional comical mourning dove who’s always a little too round of belly to perch long enough to get his fill.  I often hear an owl hooting in the early morning hours and sometimes catch sight of the hawk that lives in the neighborhood. While the bird feeder gets heavy use all year, my pleasure so far this spring has been to observe the birds as they prepare nests and get ready to bring new birds into the world.

I’m especially happy to see this year, for the first time, Eastern Bluebirds appearing at the feeder. To encourage them to make a home in the back yard, we’ve put up a special bluebird box. The instructions tell us not to be discouraged if the birds choose not to nest there the first year but it’s looking hopeful for young bluebirds and I couldn’t be more excited. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, everything starts with the male bluebird depositing bits of nesting material into the box which he then stands on top of and madly flaps his wings. Once this breathtakingly suave display has secured him a mate, it’s up to the female to actually build the nest and incubate the eggs. Last week, I observed a male bird in full flap on top of the box and since this weekend I’ve seen the female going in and out. The bird box instructs one to check it regularly to be sure rival birds such as house sparrows aren’t squatting (so to speak) but this morning’s monitoring confirms that the box is holding the small, cup-shaped nest made up of fine grasses that is the hallmark of the Eastern Bluebird. Hooray!

Here lately, the only thing that makes me happier than seeing one bluebird is the thought of seeing a lot more. Though bluebirds are migratory, those that live in the Southeastern states often stay put all year. You might have bluebirds in your neighborhood too! Do you want to know more? Check out the North American Bluebird Society for more information or visit the University of Georgia’s site for its Museum of Natural History for facts related to bluebirds in Georgia.backyard

If you’re new to bird watching or if you are, like me, mainly a “Whats that outside the kitchen window?” bird watcher, then you can’t do much better than Backyard Birding: a guide to attracting and identifying birds by Randi Minetor. Packed with high quality photographs and information about everything bird, the author also includes great information about creating a bird’s paradise such as providing water sources and attractive nesting materials as well as dealing effectively with predators.

For the thorough types among us, National Geographic’s Bird Watcher’s Bible: a complete treasury is everything that the title promises. Filled with exhaustive information and the type of high-caliber photography that National Geographic is known for, you will find hours worth of entertainment and knowledge about all things avian.national

If you find that you want to go more deeply into birding (or already have), then don’t miss Derek Lovitch’s How To Be a Better Birder. Lovitch advocates for what he calls a “whole bird” approach to watching and identifying birds and incorporates meteorology, geography and radar along with traditional observation. Lovitch also calls upon avid bird watchers to get involved in conservation efforts—a sentiment with which I must agree.

Finally, if you’re planning a trip to the beach, don’t miss The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal by John Yow. From the Outer Banks to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Yow shares his personal journey of discovery in studying the birds unique to our seacoast. Filled with wit and anecdote, Yow’s book will appeal even if you plan to never pick up a pair of binoculars.


Apr 12 2013

If I Had My Druthers

by Veronica W

The temperature hit 81 degrees the other day—at least according to my car’s thermometer. An even better gauge, however, was the amount of flesh exposed by strolling pedestrians. The folks meandering along, enjoying the noon day sun, were obviously more organized than I. They were able to go from fur-trimmed, hooded coats to the briefest of shorts, all on a moment’s notice. I, on the other hand, had to send a request form (in triplicate) down to the garage so that my “summer” clothes could be hauled out and up the stairs.  I love the changing seasons but I do not love changing wardrobes to accommodate them. As I grumbled to myself, while sifting through boxes and zippered bags, I thought how nice it would be if I could always wear the faded, ratty old sweatshirt and patched, cotton, used-to-have-a-drawstring-Fancy-Nancy-Collectionbut-it-broke-off-inside-the-waistband pants I had on.  At the time I actually felt like I would if I could.

I came across a quote recently, which stated “Style is what you wear when no one’s watching.”  Hmmm. One of my favorite characters in children’s literature is Fancy Nancy, who does for fashion what Junie B. Jones does for the English language; they display tremendous individual style. For some reason we think it’s cute to see a child in red fire fighter’s boots, a pink tutu and a bright yellow Daffy Duck tee shirt; an adult, no so much. At work we must be in office attire or at least business casual. At home we must be company ready. If you need some help finding your personal style, check out Style Clinic: How to Look Fabulous All the Time, At Any Age, For Any Occasion or The Truth About Style, by Stacy London, co-host of TLC’s “What Not  to Wear.”

However, if clothing to you is simply elemental covering, needed because you have no fur, then what would you like to wear?  Better still, if I set aside good manners and dropped in on you unexpectedly in the middle of the day, what “stylish” attire would you have on?  Family friendly comments, please. (smile)


Apr 8 2013

The Art of The Album Booklet

by Jnai W

This past Saturday was just an ordinary weekend spent working at Decatur Library. I was downstairs checking in patron returns when my eye happened upon Fiona Apple’s latest album, the brilliant The Idler Wheel… This is an album I recently purchased from iTunes without hearing any singles from or having to know anything about because, hey, it’s Fiona Apple so I knew it would be remarkable. I downloaded the deluxe edition of this album which included the LP, three video clips of Ms. Apple’s live performance at SXSW, and a digital booklet featuring liner notes, artwork and lyrics to the songs.

The library’s copy of this CD was locked and ready to be placed on Decatur’s holds pickup shelf for one very lucky patron with discerning musical taste (You’ll love it, Patron-I-Don’t-Know! Trust me!). But I had to open it to see the booklet. Yeah, iTunes provided a digital booklet but to me nothing beats the simplicity, the tangibility of holding an album booklet in hand and carefully pouring over it. In this case, I scanned the booklet to read the production credits and the lyrics. Then, of course, I put the booklet back in its rightful place and got back to work.

That little booklet reading break served two purposes: 1) to clarify a lyric I’d been mishearing in the song “Jonathan” (“just tolerate my little fist/ tugging on your forest-chest”…oh, that’s what she’s saying) and 2) to remind me of why the digital-music experience will never completely replace a physical album in hand. At least, it doesn’t for me anyway.

Since Saturday I’ve been rifling through my CD collection making sure all of my album booklets were in their proper places. But also I’ve grown slightly regretful about digital music purchases I’ve made in the past. While I enjoy the convenience of being instantly able to obtain an album with the swipe of a finger and the confirmation of one’s Apple ID, the listening experience of a new album still seems a bit lacking without a fresh booklet to peel open and images to scan over as you absorb this new addition to your music collection.

There are several books in the Library that touch on how we music-lovers experience an album. Here are a couple that you may enjoy:

The Perfect Thing: How The iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture and Coolness by Steven Levy:  With the advent of the iPhone and the iPad, the sweet little gadget that started it all, the iPod, seems a bit quaint in comparison. Still, author Steven Levy’s insightful and engaging 2007 book is a great read on the creation, the success and the cultural impact of the iPod.

100 Best Album Covers by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell:  Storm Thorgerson is the acclaimed designer of several classic album covers including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon. I feel it only fair to mention this as folks may wonder what makes him an authority on the best album covers ever. This is still a cool book that offers fascinating back story on the creation of many well-loved album covers.  Of course, lists like this are subjective but they make for fun debate.

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Apr 1 2013

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

by Jencey G

24 Hour Read A ThonDewey’s Read-a-Thon is a 24 hour reading challenge that takes place on April 27. To participate you need a computer to access the Dewey’s Read-a-Thon website and Facebook page. Then you will need that stack of books you have been dying to read. Finally you will need to pick food and drink with tons of caffeine to keep you going during the evening hours.

What do you do during the challenge? You read. You also update your blog intermittently with comments about your reading experience during the challenge. This often qualifies you for prizes. There are also challenges from book bloggers that include everything from crosswords to title scrambles. There’s even an opportuniy for you to raise money for charities.

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon was started in 2007 by a woman who was left alone while her husband and son went to a 24 hour Comic Day. She to use those 24 hours to read and blog about it. She died in 2008, but the Read-a-Thon lives on, run by the women who helped her carry it out twice a year.

I look forward to this year’s challenge. I hope that you will join me!