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Mar 24 2016

Mommy and Me

by Hope L

MommyRecently the Workplace Advisory Group of the DeKalb County Public Library volunteered for a project to help the Mommy and Me Family Literacy Program located in Clarkston.  The DCPL volunteers will be fixing up a space in the school for mothers and their children to read and relax during their school day.

The Mommy and Me Refugee Family Literacy Program is a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston where immigrant mothers and their children learn together.

When I found out about this program, I was delighted.  For a time I worked at the Clarkston Branch of DCPL, and it was (and is) a very busy place!  There were many immigrant children, most of them refugees whose families fled to this country from their homelands.

According to their website, the school’s students come from more than a dozen countries from around the world: Eritrea, Burma, Bhutan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

From the Mommy and Me website,

​We are a nonprofit school located in the heart of Clarkston, Georgia where immigrant mothers and children learn together.

A family literacy program, we offer four components of instruction: (1) ESOL classes for refugee women, (2) onsite early childhood development program for their young children, (3) Parent and Child Time sessions to promote family engagement, and (4) weekly workshops on parenting, health/nutrition, and life skills.

“Clarkston’s transformation dates back to the late 1980’s, when the U.S. State Department and various resettlement agencies chose Clarkston as an ideal site for refugee resettlement.  A mass exodus of middle-class whites to Atlanta’s more affluent suburbs left behind inexpensive apartments that could serve as affordable housing for newly arrived refugee families.  The easternmost stop on MARTA, Clarkston also offered its residence access to public transit and a commute to employment opportunities in Atlanta.”

To find out more about the program or to volunteer or make a donation, click on the link below:

Mommy and Me Family Literacy | about us




Mar 8 2016

Supreme Decisions

by Hope L


The week after I started writing this particular blog, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly.

I was already writing a blog about the Supreme Court and how the upcoming presidential election would dramatically affect the Supreme Court of the U.S., or SCOTUS, as it is often referred to nowadays.

Now, the stakes are even higher as the highest court in the country is evenly split along ideological lines, with monumental cases hanging in the balance.

According to Jonathan Hobratsch, Writer Editor for the Literati Quarterly in a blog for The Huffington Post:

“If the next president wins two terms, regardless of the party, the Supreme Court could reach a near ideological monopoly unknown in the post-World War II era of American History, perhaps a monopoly never achieved since FDR’s eight Supreme Court nominations.

However, FDR presided during a time when both parties had liberal and conservative wings; therefore, there was more ideological overlap in a judicial nomination, even if he/she was from the opposing party.  With two deeply divided parties, the next president has a crucial influence on the future of the Supreme Court that is rarely discussed as we get closer to the 2016 election.”



Or, consider what USA Today’s Richard Wolf wrote in his USA Today News online report:

“Wedged between the Republican and Democratic national conventions next July will fall an event of greater long term significance for the future of the republic:  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s 80th birthday.

Barring unforeseen events, Kennedy will become the third sitting octogenarian on the court – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 82 (and as of writing this DCPL blog, she is 83) and Justice Antonin Scalia turns 80 in March.  That will mark the first time since George H.W. Bush entered the White House more than a quarter century ago that a president has inherited three justices that old.  at 78 by then, Justice Stephen Breyer will be close behind.”

Some major cases to be heard in 2016 include those on immigration, voting districts, affirmative action for higher education students, union practices, state laws on abortion availability, and the Obamacare mandate on contraceptive coverage for employees at churches and other religions institutions.

I started searching the stacks of DCPL for anything SCOTUS-related, and I was absolutely stunned at the volume of material on the subject.  I mean, everything about the high court has been documented, explored and opined about.

And, the end of the last century had something new to write about the Supreme Court – a first throughout its history:  the naming of a female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor.

O’Connor was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and garnered unanimous senate approval; ironically, she was the “key swing vote in many important cases, including the upholding or Roe v. Wade,” according to the website Bio.com.

DCPL has many books on O’Connor, including: “Sandra Day O’Connor : How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became its Most Influential Justice by Joan Biskupic.

But one of my favorite reads has been Robert Schnakenberg’s “Secret Lives of the Supreme Court:  What Your Teachers Never Told You About America’s Legendary Justices.



An interesting tidbit from this book about John Marshall, who spent 34 years as chief justice:

“Beyond his noble birthright (a distant relative of Thomas Jefferson), there was nothing much about Marshall’s upbringing that screamed “father of American jurisprudence.”  He had only a year of formal schooling and attended law lectures for less than three months.”

“…he dressed in a plain, occasionally disheveled, manner and did all his own grocery shopping.  A Virginia neighbor once saw him lugging a turkey home from the market, mistook him for a servant, and threw him some spare change.  Marshall humbly pocketed the money and went on his way with his bird.  A truly genial man, he won many a legal argument through conciliation and persuasion rather than confrontation and coercion – a fact that infuriated his political opponents.”

And, another item which I vaguely remembered and is covered in the book (but many people don’t realize): that President William Howard Taft, who had served as a U.S. District Court judge in his native Ohio, always had aspired to sit on the Supreme Court. He was steered instead into the presidency by both his wife and the outgoing president, Theodore Roosevelt.  He got his opportunity, however, when Republican Warren G. Harding sought him for an appointment to the high court.  Taft is the only former president to have sworn a new president into office (Calvin Coolidge in 1925 and Herbert Hoover in 1929).

Who knows?  If a Democrat is elected, perhaps Barack O’Bama could be a future justice.

One thing is certain, however – this country will be seeing many new faces on the Supreme Court in the coming years.




I won’t be coming to work on the Monday holiday, the day we celebrate MLK, but his actual birthday is January 15.  It was no easy feat to have this national holiday. The following is a chronology, from The King Center website.  Note the date the first legislation was introduced and how long it took to be made a reality.

“Making of  The King Holiday – A Chronology”

  • April 8, 1968 Four days after Dr. King is assassinated, Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) introduces first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday.
  • June 26, 1968 – The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center is founded in Atlanta. The mission is to establish a living memorial to Dr. King, to preserve his papers and promote his teachings. Shortly after, King Center Founder Coretta Scott King, directs the small staff to being planning for the first annual observance of Dr. King’s birthday.
  • January 15, 1969 – The King Center sponsors the first annual observance of Dr. King’s birthday with an ecumenical service and other events and calls for nation-wide commemorations of Dr. King’s birthday. This observance becomes the model for subsequent annual commemorations of Dr. King’s birthday nation-wide, setting the tone of celebration of Dr. King’s life, education in his teachings and nonviolent action to carry forward his unfinished work.
  • April, 1971 – Petitions gathered by SCLC bearing 3 million signatures in support of King Holiday are presented to Congress. But Congress takes no action to move holiday legislation forward.
  • 1973 – First state King Holiday bill (sponsored by then Assemblyman Harold Washington) signed into law in Illinois.
  • 1974 – Massachusetts, Connecticut enact statewide King Holidays.
  • 1975 – New Jersey State Supreme Court rules that state must provide a paid holiday in honor of Dr. King in accordance with the state government’s labor contract with the New Jersey State Employees Association.
  • November 4, 1978 – National Council of Churches calls on Congress to pass King Holiday.
  • February 19, 1979 – Coretta Scott King testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in behalf of the King Holiday. She urges Rep. Conyers to bring the holiday bill up for a floor vote in the House of Representatives.
  • March 27, 1979 – Mrs. King testifies before Joint Hearings of Congress in support of King Holiday bill.
  • 1979 – Mrs. King directs King Center staff to begin intensive organizing of a nation-wide citizens lobby for a national Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. King Center launches new nationwide King Holiday petition campaign, which is signed by more than 300,000 before end of year. President Carter calls on Congress to pass national King Holiday. The King Holiday bill finally begins to move through Congressional committees.
  • November, 1979 – The Conyers King Holiday bill is defeated in floor vote in U.S. House of Representatives by just 5 votes.
  • 1980 –Stevie Wonder releases “Happy Birthday,” a song celebrating Dr. King and urging a holiday in his honor. It becomes a hit and a rallying cry for the holiday.
  • May 2, 1980 – Coretta Scott King testifies in U.S. House of Representative in support of establishing a National Historic Site in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • September 11, 1980 – Mrs. King testifies in U.S. Senate in support of establishing a National Historic Site in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • 1981 – King Center President Coretta Scott King writes to governors, mayors, chairpersons of city council across the U.S., requesting them to pass resolutions and proclamations commemorating the Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and send them to The King Center’s Archives. She asks them to recognize celebrations and programs of observance.
  • February 23, 1982 – Mrs. King testifies in support of the Holiday before the Subcommittee on Census and Population of the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service.
  • 1982 – The King Center calls for and mobilizes a conference to commemorate and serve as cosponsors of the 19th anniversary of the March on Washington. More than 100 organizations participated. King Center mobilizes coalition to lobby for the holiday. Stevie Wonder funds holiday lobbying office and staff based in Washington, D.C.
  • 1982 – Mrs. King and Stevie Wonder present King Center petitions bearing more than 6 million signatures in support of King Holiday to Tip O’Neil, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • June, 1983 – Mrs. King testifies before Congress in behalf of The King Holiday bill again.
  • August, 1983 – The House of Representatives passes King Holiday Bill, providing for the King Holiday to be observed on the third Monday in January. The bill, which is sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), passes by a vote of 338 to 90.
  • August 27, 1983 – King Center convenes the “20th Anniversary March on Washington,” supported by more than 750 organizations. More than 500,000 people attend the March at the Lincoln Memorial, and all of the speakers call on the U.S. Senate and President Reagan to pass the King Holiday.
  • October 19, 1983 – Holiday Bill sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) passes U.S. Senate by a vote of 78-22.
  • November 3, 1983 – President Reagan signs bill establishing the 3rd Monday of every January as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday, beginning in 1986.
  • April-May, 1984 – King Center develops legislative proposal to establish the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. Mrs. King meets with leadership of the House and Senate and appeals to Congress to legislate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. The legislation passes Congress by a voice vote.
  • August 27, 1984 – President Reagan signs legislation providing for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission, to last for a term of five years, with an option to renew for another 5 years.
  • November, 1984 – First meeting of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission. Coretta Scott King is unanimously elected Chairperson
  • January 20, 1986 – First national King Holiday Observed. By this time 17 states had official King holidays. The King Holiday Commissioners are sworn in by federal district Judge Horace Ward.
  • January 16, 1989 – As a result of leadership of the King Holiday Commission, the number of states which enacted a MLK holiday grows to 44.
  • 1990 – The United Auto Workers negotiate contracts with the big three auto companies requiring a paid holiday for all their employees.
  • January 15, 1990 – The Wall St. Journal Reports that only 18 % of 317 corporate employers surveyed by the Bureau of National Affairs provide a paid King Holiday.
  • November 3, 1992 – After a coalition of citizens for an Arizona King Holiday launches successful protest and boycott campaigns, the people of Arizona pass referendum establishing Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday.
  • January, 1993 – Arizona observes first statewide King Holiday, leaving only New Hampshire without a state holiday in honor of Dr. King.
  • 1994 – Citing Dr. King’s statement that “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve,” Coretta Scott King testifies before Congress in support of making the King Holiday an official national day of humanitarian service.
  • August 23, 1994 – President Clinton signs the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday and Service Act, expanding the mission of the holiday as a day of community service, interracial cooperation and youth anti-violence initiatives.
  • 1996 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday Commission concludes mission, transfers responsibility for coordinating nationwide holiday programs and activities to The King Center.
  • 1998 – A Bureau of National Affairs survey of 458 employers found that 26 percent provide a paid holiday for their workers on the King Holiday. The survey found that 33 percent of firms with union contracts provided the paid King Holiday, compared to 22 percent of nonunion shops.
  • June 7, 1999 – Governor Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire signs the King Holiday legislation into law, completing enactment of holiday in all states.
  • October 29, 1999 – U.S. Senate unanimously passes legislation requiring federal institutions to fly the U.S. flag on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.
  • August 2000 – The King Center’s National Holiday Advisory Committee (replacing the Federal King Holiday Commission) is established to promote the Holiday throughout the 50 states. Each governor of the 50 states is asked to appoint two state representatives to coordinate celebration in their state.
  • Today – The King Holiday is celebrated in U.S. installations and is observed by local groups in more than 100 other nations. Trinidad and other nations have also established a holiday in honor of Dr. King.

The King Holiday should highlight remembrance and celebration and should encourage people everywhere to reflect on the principles of nonviolent social change and racial equality as espoused by Martin Luther King, Jr. It should be a day of community and humanitarian service, and interracial cooperation.

The King Holiday should be a day of which the majority of local and state governments close, and one on which private organizations and the majority of businesses honor Dr. King by encouraging their employees to undertake community service work to address social needs.

The King Holiday should officially and appropriately be observed by the United Nations and its members. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who severed as Chair, Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday Commission and Founding President of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, is quoted as saying:

“As a nation chooses its heroes and heroines, a nation interprets its history and shapes its destiny. The commemoration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. can help America realize its true destiny as the global model for democracy, economic and social justice, and as the first nonviolent society in human history.”

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Jul 31 2014

Museum of the Missing

by Hope L

mus2The introduction to Simon Houpt’s book Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft begins with the heartbreaking true story:

“It may be the most haunting work of art in the world.

It has no canvas, no oil paint, no artist’s signature.  Official appraisals would say it is worthless.  It is just a single carved wood frame, the color of burnished gold, hanging on an easel draped in heavy brown fabric.  Until one late winter night in 1990, that frame held The Concert, one of only thirty-six known works by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer.  Like so many of Vermeer’s paintings, The Concert is famously enigmatic.  It quietly imposes itself on the viewer, insisting on contemplation.  And here, in the Dutch Room on the second floor of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, a wide-backed chair upholstered in light green Victorian fabric sits in front of the easel, courteously placed there so that a visitor might pause to reflect on the painting’s luminous beauty and the many secrets it holds.

But in 1990, when two thieves ransacked the museum during the city’s post-St. Patrick’s Day inebriated haze, plucking the Vermeer and twelve other treasures, including three Rembrandts and a Govaert Flinck from this same room, the greatest secret of The Concert became its location.  Now, if you go to the Gardner, you will see a heartbreaking tableau:  that chair staring up at the empty frame, as if in eternal contemplation of the loss.”

As noted on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum website, the stolen works include: “Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee (1633),  A Lady and Gentleman in Black (1633) and a Self Portrait (1634), an etching on paper; Vermeer’s The Concert (1658–1660); and Govaert Flinck’s Landscape with an Obelisk (1638); and a Chinese vase or Ku, all taken from the Dutch Room on the second floor. Also stolen from the second floor were five works on paper by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas and a finial from the top of a pole support for a Napoleonic silk flag, both from the Short Gallery. Edouard Manet’s Chez Tortoni (1878–1880) was taken from the Blue Room on the first floor.”


The approximately $500 million worth of art stolen from the Gardner is still an open case, and there is a $5 million reward for information leading to the recovery of the 13 pieces. The FBI maintains a dedicated webpage on the case.

The latter portion of Houpt’s book contains the Gallery of Missing Art, an assortment of artwork that has been stolen with a brief paragraph on each piece.  And of course, the color pictures of the stolen art are amazing.

There were two security guards on duty that night in 1990 at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (they were unscathed). I’m so glad I wasn’t one of them–the thieves duped the guards by dressing up as city policemen, stating that they were there for a call.

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feed-the-birdsHello readers,

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism is a small book written in question and answer format by Naoki Higashida, first published in 2007. Naoki is unable to speak, but he has an incredible degree of self-awareness and compassion for his own humanity and a passionate need to communicate with others.  Using a Japanese language alphabet board, he was painstakingly able to transmit his thoughts about his condition as well as what it is like, as far as he knows, to be autistic.  The book is introduced by and translated by David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas) and his wife, KA Yoshida, who have an autistic child together. Naoki’s purpose is to help others who are not personally affected by autism to understand and feel empathy for those whose every moment is a struggle against time, emotions, and the limits of the physical body.


His descriptions of his states of being are precise, sensitive, and pricelessly valuable to those of us who seek to understand others and appreciate the value of the differences in perception and experience that other ways of being and perceiving can bring to the human experience.  Today, as a young adult, Naoki is an advocate for those affected by autism, a motivational speaker, and author of several books. Please click on this link if you would like to visit his blog.

One of the passages in The Reason I Jump, which literally jumped out at me, is Question 58: “What are your thoughts on autism itself?”  I quote it here:  “I think that people with autism are born outside the regime of civilization.  Sure, this is just my own made-up theory, but I think that, as a result of all the killings in the world and the selfish planet-wrecking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists.  Autism has somehow arisen out of this.  Although people with autism look like other people physically, we are in fact very different in many ways.  We are more like travelers from the distant, distant past.  And if, by our being here, we could help the people of the world remember what truly matters for the Earth, that would give us a quiet pleasure.”

Naoki expresses his love of nature, of beauty, and of detail, as his condition allows him to zero in on very minute fragments of experience and to immerse himself in the moment.  Doing so allows him to slow down time and to soothe the disconnections between his body, mind, and the world which causes incessant suffering that he describes as a constant struggle in his daily life.

The reason the passage above struck such a deep chord in me is twofold.  For one, I personally identify with Naoki’s sentiment of being outside of “normal” contemporary human civilization.  When he expresses his feeling of being a primeval being, a messenger come to peacefully remind modern humans to slow down, to appreciate what we have been given to enjoy, and to understand how we are all connected to one another and to nature, I am reminded of a novel for young adults that I started to write last year.  In this story, autistic and transgender children are messengers of this sort, exactly as described by Naoki.  It is uncanny.

As I read Naoki’s book, I thought back to a few works of fiction that I have read in our DCPL collection in which either the protagonists or secondary characters are autistic.  I feel that the medium of fiction often allows a reader to become immersed in another person’s world and way of being in his or her environment. Below my short list of books are several links to blogs and web pages with extensive listings and reviews of books and film centered around characters affected by autism spectrum disorders.

1. Unsaid by Neil Abramson – One of the minor characters in this novel is a young boy who has a deeply intuitive connection to animals.  The theme of the book is centered around the relationships between animals and humans, and the need for animals, who are not able to speak, to have human advocates.

2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon – The main character of this novel is an autistic teen, Christopher Boone.  The well-regulated universe of the 15 year-old becomes upset when the neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed, and Christopher sets out to solve the mystery.

3. The Uninvited by Liz Jensen – Dystopian speculative fiction/thriller, this novel features an anthropologist with Asperger’s named Hespeth Lock.

The Nerdy Book Club blog has a list of books with autism spectrum characters for kids and teens.

Wikipedia features a listing of fictional characters on the autism spectrum in literature, film, and television.

Goodreads has a list of autism in fiction books.

The Quixotic Autistic blog is about autism in literature.

Autism Book and Movie Reviews blog highlights reviews of films and books with autistic characters.

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May 2 2014

How to cook a book

by Dea Anne M

Cookbook publishing, in this country at least, used to have a fairly rigid path. You might be an “expert” such as Fannie Farmer, a domestic scientist whose Boston Cooking School Cookbook came out in 1896. As immensely  popular as Farmer’s book became, she paid for it to be published.  You might be a corporate entity such as General Mills, whose creation–Betty Crocker–became a cultural icon and birthed a seemingly endless series of cookbooks such as Betty Crocker’s Country Cooking and Betty Crocker the Big Book of Cakes. You might be an established chef such as Jacques Pepin, whose first book, La Technique, is still used as a textbook today and who has published numerous books since including Fast Food My Way and Essential Pepin: More than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food.  Naturally, there have always been talented amateurs like Irma Rombauer whose Joy of Cooking has been continuously in print since 1936. Generally speaking though,  getting a cookbook published could be very difficult for anyone without the right credentials or connections–or enough financial wherewithal to pay for an initial printing (as Rombauer did).

Well, the advent of the personal blog has changed the publishing landscape and the popularity of cooking blogs cannot be denied. Part of the appeal, I think, lies in the fact that these bloggers are not usually professionals (i.e., chefs) and though many may have experience in the food industry, for the most part they have no specialized training. What the most popular food bloggers share, and convey through their writing, is enthusiasm and a unique vision. A good photographer doesn’t hurt either. Blogging about food and cooking isn’t a guaranteed path to print publication. One has to be able to write well, of course, and most bloggers who get book deals have a lengthy and firmly established presence online as well as a following of devoted fans.

Would you like to check out the print offerings of some of these bloggers? DCPL has plenty to choose from. Here are some that are fairly recent and certainly notable.

First up is Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook: Taking Your Favorite Foods and Stuffing Them to Make New, Different and Delicious Meals by Dan Whalen. On first flipping through the book, you may very well say to yourself, “Wow, this guy really likes Mac and Cheese!” You’ll find Lobster Stuffed Mac and Cheese Balls, Mac and Cheese Stuffed Chile Relleno, Mac and Cheese Ravioli and what has to be the ultimate…uh…”stuffed food”…Mac and Cheese Stuffed Burgers. This is the somewhat startling item featured on the book’s cover. (Whalen did his own photography, and he is good). It doesn’t look like my sort of dish but I know a couple of ten-year-old boys who would consider it completely awesome. Whalen is the author of the popular blog The Food In My Beard. Whalen’s writing style is humorous and upbeat, his recipes creative, and his enthusiasm for cooking is infectious. Stuffed is a fun book and well worth your time. You might pass on stuffing a hamburger with mac and cheese, but you will certainly be inspired to get into the kitchen.

Ever wonder how to spend quality time in the kitchen when your days are filled with caring for your family? Check out The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life by Kelsey Banfield. Banfield, a passionate cook, found her usual naptimecooking patterns completely thrown after the birth of her daughter.  Once the baby started napping in the afternoon though, Banfield discovered how to cook all or parts of meals during that quiet time and began sharing her techniques and tips on her blog The Naptime Chef. As most regular cooks know,  it isn’t the actual cooking time but the time spent prepping a dish that can be an issue. Banfield provides really practical make-ahead tips with each recipe as well as a “naptime stopwatch,” which tells you how much time you’ll spend prepping the dish and how much time cooking. Preparation time for most of the recipes is 20 minutes or less, so you really can prepare meals during your child’s naptime, or soccer practice, or after bedtime. I am not a parent myself, and the book assumes a certain level of basic skill, but it seems to me The Naptime Chef could well be a valuable resource for any busy parent.

In 2005, Anna Ginsberg committed to baking a different cookie every day for acookie year and to writing about it on her blog Cookie Madness. Nine years later, the site is still going strong and includes recipes for pies, cakes, and other baked goods. The Daily Cookie: 365 Tempting Treats for the Sweetest Year of Your Life is the in-print result of Ginsberg’s baking adventures. It’s one of the most fun cookie books I’ve seen. Each day’s recipe is themed to a “holiday.” Are you an Elvis fan? Pay tribute by baking a batch of Peanut Browned Butter Banana Bacon Cookies on The King’s birthday (January 8th). Is celebrating Barbie’s birthday (March 9th) a must at your house? If so, don’t miss the Pretty Pink Melt-Aways. One feature that I especially like about this book is that a color photograph accompanies each recipe. I’ve recently dropped wheat and wheat products from my diet, but Ginsberg provides gluten-free as well as vegan options.  The Daily Cookie is a must try for anyone who like to bake (or eat!) the sweet things in life.

Merril Stubbs and Amanda Hesser’s elegant website Food52 is the inspiration behind The Food52 Cookbook: 140 Winning Recipes from Exceptional Home Cooks. A distinctive feature of the site is that many of the enormous number of 52recipes come from the site’s followers. These home cooks hail from everywhere and together have created what is literally an online community cookbook. The best of these recipes have been collected in The Food52 Cookbook. This is a gorgeous book with its clean layout and color photographs of each recipe.  The recipes are organized by season and include such delicious sounding fare as Lemon Basil Sherbet (summer), Cider Braised Pork with Calvados, Mustard and Thyme (fall), Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Night (winter) and Absurdly Addictive Asparagus (spring).  Make no mistake, this is not a cookbook for kitchen novices or anyone on the hunt for “quick and easy” recipes but for experienced and passionate cooks this one is a definite must.

Finally, we come to Deb Perelman who creates the wildly popular blog Smitten smittenKitchen. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook features the inventive recipes, witty writing and lovely photography that have won Perelman’s blog so many devoted fans. She provides do-ahead tips, fun anecdotes and a fair number of delicious sounding vegetarian recipes such as the tempting looking Mushroom Bourguignon. Perelman is obviously a devoted baker and the number of bread, scone, cookie and cake recipes might make the carb wary take pause. Regardless,  I would urge any devoted cook to take a look at The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It will be well worth your time.

Do you follow food blogs? What are some of your favorites?


Located on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, often referred to as the “main branch” of the New York Public Library, is an iconic structure. From the pair of stone lions (“Patience” and “Fortitude”) guarding the entrance to the famous Rose Main Reading Room, it is easily recognizable, even for individuals like myself who have never seen it in person.

Recently Morgan Holzer, Information Architect at NYPL, teamed up with Nate Bolt to provide us with a novel view of the NYPL; through the eyes of Lucy IV, a DJI Phantom aerial drone! Shooting after hours, they capture footage of Astor Hall, the Rose Main Reading Room, and the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. As Holzer mentions in her write-up of the project, the different perspective provided by the drone “astounded me over and over again.” Take a look at the embedded video below and see for yourself! As noted in the description, “lots of safety precautions were taken and no books were harmed in the making of this video.” If you are interested in catching a glimpse of the drone itself, make sure to watch the video all the way through; it appears around 2:10.


Nov 8 2013

Taking School Home

by Rebekah B

At the library, I often encounter homeschooling families.  In fact, a mom recently asked how she could make a donation to the library as a gesture of thanks for all of the great resources we have available  in our catalog or through our online reference data bases which help her teach her kids at home.  I had been searching the catalog prior to her visit, looking for items specially designed for homeschoolers.  I found a series of kits created by FLIP, the Family Literacy Involvement Program, made available to our library system through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  These kits are designed to support early learning and literacy through home and family-centered activities.  The kits contain books, activity guides, art and school supplies and other materials and are available to all patrons for checkout.  There is even a homeschooling page on the DCPL website containing books, reference databases, web links to outside resources, book club kits for kids (Book Buddies Take Out).  Another website I found called Homeschool World has a lot of resources for homeschool families including contact information for groups locally and around the world, events, teaching materials, contests, and articles.  Another fun site I found is an online art gallery for homeschooled budding artists.  Many museums, including the High Museum of Art,  have programs for homeschoolers.

web page

Homeschooling or un-schooling, as some people call it, is an increasingly popular trend in education.  For some, the desire to remove children from public or private collective establishments might be for religious or spiritual reasons, for others the choice might be motivated by social or philosophical reasons.  Some children have special needs to which a larger institution might not be able to effectively cater.  Families might wish to preserve a native language or languages by promoting multilingual skills.  Homeschooling allows parents as educators a great deal of flexibility in scheduling,  curriculum, dietary choices, and in the style and content of material presented.  It seems to me that creativity, freedom of expression, and flexibility are great advantages of this type of educational focus.

[read the rest of this post…]

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Aug 9 2013

Andrew Carnegie…our hero?

by Dea Anne M

Carnegie_Library_of_Moultrie“The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” This famous statement comes from Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist and steel baron who amassed a huge fortune and then spent the latter part of his life giving the majority of it away. Perhaps the best known of his philanthropies is Carnegie Hall, Manhattan’s famous concert venue which Carnegie paid to have built. Others include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Mellon University and numerous museums. The most important of his projects, at least to those of us who love libraries, would be the Carnegie libraries. The image at right shows the Old Carnegie Library in Moultrie, GA.  Built in 1906, it is no longer in use as a library but is on the National Register of Historic Places. 1690 of these libraries were built in the United States alone and many more in other parts of the world. A huge proponent of self-improvement, Carnegie didn’t provide endowments for these libraries. Rather, he insisted that any community interested in building a library aided by Carnegie funds be willing to abide by certain requirements:

  • demonstrate the need for a public library;
  • provide the building site;
  • annually provide ten percent of the cost of the library’s construction to support its operation; and,
  • provide free service to all.

This last point created its contradictions. In the strictly segregated American South, for example, Carnegie funded separate libraries for African Americans in many communities. In any case, Carnegie rarely denied a request and many of these buildings, beautifully designed and executed, often became known as the most distinguished structures in their communities (check out some images here). The unique design of these buildings also featured an element brand new to libraries—self service stacks which encouraged patrons to browse and discover books, either on their on or with the guidance of library staff. Prior to this, patrons asked librarians to retrieve specific items from closed stacks.

carnegieAndrew Carnegie was a proponent of political egalitarianism and professed his support for labor unions. At the same time, he held his own workers to long hours at low pay and his reputation would be forever tarred by his actions during the Homestead Steel Strike.  In spite of these contradictions, I believe that Carnegie has to be recognized as a major figure in shaping the mission of the modern public library. NPR recently ran a very interesting piece on Carnegie’s legacy that is well worth checking out. It includes a very lively comments section as well. If you’d like to learn more about Andrew Carnegie’s life, DCPL carries (among other resources) two well-regarded biographies Carnegie by Peter Krass and Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw.

Did you use your hometown’s library (or libraries) when you were growing up? Did your town ever have a Carnegie library? Speaking of hometown libraries don’t miss Joseph’s fun post from earlier this week!

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May 20 2013

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by Jimmy L

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