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


Fall is officially here and while the crisp weather hasn’t quite hit us yet, the days are getting shorter and the leaves are showing a hint of color, which is enough to convince me that summer really is over and all is right with the world. I don’t need much to put me in a fall kind of mood, but if you and your kids are looking to get in the spirit without hauling yourselves to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch, why not stop by the Library and pick up a book? Here are some of my favorite fall (and Halloween) picture books (click on the picture to take you to the catalog listing):








There are plenty of fun, fall-festive programs for kids at your local Library. Listen to Ghost Stories with Sherry Norfolk at the Dunwoody Library, learn about Bats! Creatures of the Night at the Gresham Library, or attend Stone Mountain Library’s Preschool Fall Festival. For more information and a complete list of fall programs, click here.

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There is still time to register for the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta’s 5K Run/Walk for Literacy! The Literacy Alliance of Metropolitan Atlanta (LAMA) is a practical and innovative coalition that seeks to achieve 100% literacy among metro Atlanta’s adults and families. The 5K Run/Walk for literacy is an excellent way to get fit and promote literacy at the same time. Don’t miss out on this family-friendly event with prize giveaways! 100% of the proceeds support literacy programming and initiatives throughout Metro Atlanta.

To register, follow this link. Please select “DeKalb County Public Library Foundation” as the organization to benefit from your registration.

Online registration is $20 for individuals or $60 for a group (up to 4 individuals); day of registration is $25 for individuals and $70 for a group.

Online registration closes on Friday, September 28 at 6:49 PM. The race starts in Decatur Square on Saturday, September 29 at 8:00 AM.

For more information on the Literacy Alliance of Metro Atlanta, please click here.


May 25 2012

…and the livin’ is easy.

by Veronica W

“I don’t need no stinkin’ grill!” he stated emphatically, with an impish grin. He then proceeded to dig a hole in the backyard, fill it with charcoal and other combustible stuff and top it with a purloined, foil wrapped rack from the oven.  This was his ritual for the first barbecue of the summer.  It was something his dad did when he was growing up and that, along with buying the first watermelon of the season, signaled the beginning of summer for him.  Of course after that, the “stinkin’ grill” was pulled out and used with frequency until Labor Day.

Memorial Day is the official beginning of summer and the parks and pools fill with people who have waited for this starter gun.  Yet there are many folk who don’t feel that summer has arrived until they until they have, do or experience something.  As a child , I knew it was summer when I heard the ice cream truck coming down the street.  Part of the fun was scrambling for change and then racing after the truck, yelling “Wait! Wait!” as it started to pull away.  Nothing tastes so good as a creamsicle (orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream) that you’ve had to work for.

As an adult, I’m not so easily pleased (if  lack of dignity and good knees would allow me to race after an ice cream truck).  However summer has arrived for me when I am not awakened by the rumbling of school buses. I also have one very sheer, “floozy” skirt that I wear only when it’s very hot. I’ve had it for years and fortunately it has an elastic waistband.

If you need some help slipping into the season, listen to any rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime and check out these books to get you in the spirit:

Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue –  100 recipes for backyard cooking

The Ultimate Ice Cream Book – wonderful recipes for ice creams, sorbets and more

10 Best of Everything National Parks –  top selections of parks

Perhaps, however,  there’s something else that helps signal summer for you. If it’s not digging a hole in the backyard, we’d like to hear what it is.


May 23 2012

Dream Big—READ!

by Nancy M

I know I am not alone when I say I cannot believe this school year is over already! But what a year it was and another summer is upon us—so gather up your kids and let’s make it a great one! This could be the summer your child meets renowned author Carmen Deedy, or is inspired by the storytelling skills of Barry Stewart Mann. This could be the summer you encourage your child’s love of snakes, while your own reptilian fears manifest in new and disturbing ways. Or maybe, just maybe, this is the summer where your child wins the Path2College sweepstakes, over $5,000 that goes towards his or her future college education.  One thing is for sure, we have worked hard to make this the best summer yet and with so many fun, free and educational programs being offered, DeKalb County Public Library is the place to be!

This summer’s Vacation Reading Program, Dream Big—READ! begins on Saturday, May 26 and continues through July 31. This reading incentive program is a great way to keep kids reading through the summer. Sign up online or at any DeKalb County Public Library branch. The teen program, Own the Night, is for teens ages 13-17 years old. Visit the teen page for more information. And who says kids have all the fun? DCPL is offering an adult reading program, Between the Covers, from May 29-September 4. You can pick up the guidelines at any of our branches, or sign up online.

We will be kicking off the summer at the Tucker, Stonecrest and Decatur branches with a magic show by Ken Scott as well as crafts and other activities fun for the whole family. A list of dates and times can be found here.


May 11 2012

How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Grays

by Veronica W

"I'm going to need a hug, Maurice--it's from the A.A.R.P."

I remember it so well. We were “out on the town,” enjoying dinner and a movie. We had just left a restaurant and were standing in line to get our tickets for the movie Taken. When our turn came, my husband stepped up and said “Two seniors for Taken.” The  lovely young cashier looked at me and said  “Two? Really?”  Bless her heart. I smiled at her, while thinking “Senior? Me? Am I really there already?”

What we truly are often differs from how we see ourselves—just ask the author of  How Did I Get to Be 70 When I’m 35 Inside. Inside I am a great singer and when I hear music, songs just well up and burst forth. Unfortunately what comes out is not as wonderful as what I hear in my own head. Not only am I a great singer, but I am lots of great things—and I am forever 30.

There are two schools of thought about becoming a senior. (By the way, when is that exactly? I’ve heard 50, 55, 60, and 65.) The School of Blatant Denial says I don’t look it, I don’t act it and I have all my original teeth. These are the folk whose grandchildren call them clever names that give nothing away. MeeMaw? However people enrolled in The School of Hurray for Senior Discounts can’t wait to get their A.A.R.P. cards and they proudly wear t-shirts proclaiming “50 and loving it!”

Whatever school you attend, everyone reaches a decade marker at some point;  it could be 20, 30, 40 and beyond. Editor Ronnie Sellers has written a book for those who reach the 50s marker and are not sure what to do now that they’re there. The title is 50 Things to Do When You Turn 50.  Judith Viorst wants to know How Did I Get to be Forty…And Other Atrocities. Perhaps it’s turning 30 that has you depressed. (20 is no problem because I have yet to find one 19-year-old who doesn’t want to turn 21.)  For you, there is Ready or Not, Here Life Comes or Time Happens.

Did you meet your most recent decade  by dancing ’til dawn with friends or cowering under the covers, moaning? (The ladies don’t have to tell which birthday if,  like Mae West, they believe “A woman who will tell her age will tell anything.”)  Perhaps, like 101-year-old Virgil Coffman, you decided you only go around once and bought the one thing of which you’ve always dreamed.  Mr. Coffman purchased a bright, “screaming yellow”  Transformers’ special edition 426 hp Camaro. He said, “Once in a while I like to kick it up.”

I know the feeling.  Just about the time I turned 40, my son moved to NY and I appropriated his 5.0 Mustang GT. It was maroon, shiny and very fast, with a spoiler, oversized tires, a black stripe and a varoooom that told everyone I was coming. Bonus—it was a standard!  As I raced teenagers and Andretti wannabes up and down 285, it didn’t matter that I had reached middle age or that my knee ached a bit when I had to work the clutch. Life was good and 40 was just a number.

May is Older Americans Month and the library has a wealth of entertaining and informational activities going on. If the story of Mr. Coffman has struck a cord in you, you also may want to visit a car dealership to see what catches your fancy. Whatever decade you’ve reached, however, it’s worth a celebration.


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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Dec 2 2011

Are you on the same page?

by Patricia D

We are.  We’re laughing our way through Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth at my house in preparation of meeting the author a week from Friday at the final event of the On the Same Page campaign, sponsored by Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, the Decatur Book Festival, the DeKalb Rotary and the Decatur Education Foundation.

We’re a little late to the game because my childhood copy of the Tollbooth, which survived two camping trips, a great Dane, and my brothers,  is stashed in my parents’ attic.  We had to wait for our copy from the library, but it’s been worth the wait.  It’s great fun to visit with Milo and Tock again.  The things I loved as a child are hilarious to me as an adult and I now have the added bonus of shushing Junior’s giggles as we read.  The word play mostly goes over her head but there’s a good solid story under the silliness, plenty of slapstick and Jules Feiffer’s amazing illustrations.   Nothing sounds better to me (and is accompanied by Puss-in-Boots eyes)  than, “Please, Mama, just one more chapter?”  I almost never say no, hoping that I am nurturing a love of reading and not just aiding and abetting in prolonging bedtime.

There is a 50th anniversary edition now out, but what has me twitching with excitement is the Annotated Phantom Tollbooth.  Leonard Marcus based his comments on interviews with Juster and careful perusal of early drafts.  He takes the story to a whole new level,  giving incredible insight into the process of creating and showing the goofy everyday stuff that happens along the way.  If you ever said, “I’m going to write a children’s book, how hard could it be?” you need to read this book.  It will give you perspective and (I hope) a great deal of respect for children’s authors.

Leonard Marcus is a rock star in his field and if you are a children’s literature geek like me you must, must, must read not only Dear Genius: the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom but also The Minders of Make-Believe.   Genius is not a sit down and read in one setting kind of book, it’s more for dipping into during those random moments when you need something to read but don’t have a lot of time, say, before bedtime.   Ms. Nordstrom was a mover and shaker in children’s publishing during the heyday of the four martini business lunch and an inveterate letter writer who, lucky for us, kept copies of every letter she wrote.  She had a lot to say about a lot of things, including sniping at Anne Carroll Moore, Queen of Children’s Services for the New York Public Library  and praising the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) which provided monies to public libraries for books.  Minders of Make-Believe is a solid and entertaining history of children’s publishing in the United States and the scholarship is impeccable.   Of course these aren’t the only two books we’ve got by Mr. Marcus, but they are two of my favorites.  Look him up and give the others a try as well.

Mr. Marcus will be interviewing Mr. Juster on stage at Agnes Scott on Friday, December 9.  If you’ve been lucky enough to get a ticket perhaps I’ll see you there.


Nov 2 2011

40 acres…

by Dea Anne M

This year marks the sesquicentennial, i.e. 150th anniversary, of the onset of the United States Civil War and the Stonecrest branch of DCPL will be hosting a special event to help mark this very important period in American history. On Saturday, November 5th at 12:00 pm the exhibit Forty Acres and More: African Americans and the Civil War will open at Stonecrest with a reception and the unveiling of the exhibit. The exhibit is an impressive collection of documents, pictures, newspapers, and other historic items collected by local historian and former NBA player Mike Glenn and documents the African American presence and participation in the Civil War.  Documents include minutes from the Philadelphia Negro Convention of 1833 and Fredrick Douglass’ speech “Men of Color to Arms.” You’ll find more information at the Mike Glenn Foundation (www.mikeglenn.com) but be sure not to miss this important exhibit!

Are you interested in learning more about the presence and influence of African Americans in the Civil War? Check out these resources at DCPL.

Firebrand of Liberty: the story of two Black regiments that changed the course of the Civil War by Stephen V. Ash tells the story of the seizure of Jacksonville in 1863 by nine hundred African American Union soldiers. Although the mission was deemed a failure at the time, the regiments’  success in holding off the Confederate forces was part of what persuaded Lincoln to begin full-scale recruitment of Black troops, a measure which almost certainly changed the course of the war.

The well-received  Like Men of War: Black troops in the Civil War by Noah Andre Trudeau uses original source material and a unique narrative style to tell the intimate stories of the thousands of brave and determined men who took up arms.

Did you know that as many as one in six Union navy sailors was African American? Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens: African Americans in the Union Navy by Steven Ramold pulls from diaries, court documents and other source material to document the enormous contribution that African Americans made to the naval effort. This book also features rare photographs of the daily lives of these sailors.

Young history buffs will also want to research this interesting topic. Till Victory is Won: black soldiers in the Civil War by Zak Mettger and Black, Blue, and Gray: African Americans in the Civil War by Jim Haskins are two good sources.

… and for a night at home with a DVD, please consider Glory starring Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, Denzel Washington, and Matthew Broderick. The film was nominated for many major awards and won Oscars for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. As well, Denzel Washington won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his stirring performance as Private Trip. Not to be missed!




Oct 26 2011

Decatur Electronics Recycling Day

by Joseph M

Do you have any old electronic items sitting around at home gathering dust because you aren’t sure about the best way to dispose of them?  Check out Decatur Recycling Day, a biannual event taking place this Saturday, October 29 in the Decatur High School parking lot from 9am to 1pm.  Almost anything with an electrical cord can be recycled at no cost, including cell phones, computer components, cameras, DVD players, batteries and more.  Television sets can also be recycled for a charge of $10 cash.  In a change from previous years, styrofoam will no longer be accepted.  For more information, including a list of acceptable items, please visit this link on the City of Decatur website.

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Oct 19 2011

Friends indeed…

by Dea Anne M

This week, October 16-22, is National Friends of Libraries Week. Library Friends groups across the nation will be promoting their libraries and libraries themselves will be staging special events and other appreciations of  the Library Friends who help them so much. DCPL branches will be offering patrons the chances to show support by purchasing a “leaf of support” for $1 each. We also have many events planned. Go to our own Friends of the Library page for more information.

I’ve known people who take the existence of public libraries for granted but, as recent economic news has shown, it’s best not to take too nonchalant an attitude, that is if you value your library and what it can provide to you and to your community.

How long have public libraries existed in the United States? As early as the 1600’s, churches and private individual established libraries in towns and parishes through donations of books. In 1731, Benjamin Franklin helped establish the Library Company of Philadelphia which was a subscription library lending to those who paid to become a member. True public libraries, as we know them, began emerging in the 1800’s when New Hampshire establishing the first tax-supported public library operating under the motto “open to all and free of charge.” However, it wasn’t until 1881, with the establishment of Andrew Carnegie’s legacy, that the U.S. saw the vast expansion of the public library system that so many of us enjoy and benefit from today.

If you’re a library buff in general, be sure to check out The Most Beautiful Libraries in the World (mentioned in a previous post by fellow blogger Jesse). There are some truly spectacular libraries featured in the book including two of my favorites: Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland and the New York Public Library. Also, don’t miss Library: the drama within another book of photographs presenting a variety of libraries—from the grand national library in Paris, to prison libraries, to tiny branch libraries in small towns.

For a very readable history of libraries and the important role that they have played in history, try Library: An Unquiet History by Matthew Battle.

What’s it like to actually work in a public library? Free for all: oddballs, geeks, and gangstas in the public library by Don Borchert is an amusing account of life on the front lines of a public library in Los Angeles told by a man who has truly seen it all.

Remember, this week is your chance to come out and show your support for your local branch and the wonderful Friends groups who provide so much of their hard work year round. Buy a leaf for a dollar at any branch of DCPL and show your love!