DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Apr 30 2018

How to Find a Book

by Dea Anne M

bookspostI worked as a bookseller for a number of years and I’d have to say that the most rewarding aspect of that job for me was helping my customers pick out great books to read. Of course a lot of folks would come in knowing already what they wanted to purchase (“Do you have the latest John Grisham?” Where are your yoga books?” “Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Harry Potter!”), but more people than you might think want to have books recommended to them. Not to brag (except that, of course, I’m bragging), but I took a lot of pride in my ability to ask the right questions in order to guide my customer to just the right book.

Not so for a co-worker of mine at another store (at the time I was working for a small local chain of “neighborhood” bookstores). This guy was famous for his love of the thriller genre. I mean that’s all he ever read. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone has their preferences. The problem was that thrillers were all that he’d ever recommend…to anybody. I’d heard this about him, but I’m not sure that I completely believed it (how could a devoted bookseller be so wedded to a genre?) until he filled in at my store for a week. It was true! Whatever the customer’s expressed preference – lush romance, civil war novels, the hardest of sci-fi – he’d show them all the same thriller that he’d been raving about all week – let’s call it “Be Very Afraid!”

Me – “That lady asked for an historical romance set in late 1800’s Colorado.”

Him – “Yeah. So?”

Me – “You showed her “Be Very Afraid!”

Him – “She wanted a good book and that’s a good book!”

Me – “So if someone came through that door right now and wanted a good book for her seven year old nephew who loves dinosaurs, color wheels and knock-knock jokes would you show her “Be Very Afraid?”

Him – “It’s never too early to get kids hooked on quality fiction!”

Anyway, I’m sure you get the picture.

Now some of you might look at the title of this post and think “Well, gee, she works in a library! How hard can it be to find a book? Just go to the shelf!” I can assure you that even when surrounded by books it can often be difficult to find just the right one. Luckily, DCPL is here to help.


Sometimes you might just want to know what other people have read and enjoyed because the odds are pretty good that you might enjoy it too.  In Ten Years In the Tub , novelist Nick Hornby chronicles his own pursuit of the pleasures of reading. He talks about the books he has read and loved, the books that he’s purchased then shelved never to be picked up again, and those books hurled across the room in anger or set down in bored indifference. You might get new reading ideas from this very gifted writer – plus he’s very, bookshelfvery funny.

My Ideal Bookshelf Thessaly La Force (editor) and Jane Mount (illustrator) is a charming idea, and beautifully executed. La Force invited authors, chefs and other luminaries (Malcolm Gladwell, Alice Waters and James Patterson to name a few) to name the books that have been the most important in shaping their lives. Mount then created charming paintings featuring the spines of said books. Also included is commentary from each contributor illuminating the personal importance of each title. This is a gorgeous coffee table that might just inspire some new choices for you.reads

Sometimes you want your book to be more of a snack than a seven-course meal. For those times, you’ll want to peruse 100 One-Night Reads: A Book Lover’s Guide by David C. Major and John C. Majors. As you might suspect from the title, the book surveys a number of very short books – both fiction and non-fiction. It’s clear that the Majors brothers are deep readers with a breadth of interest. The summary of each title is succinct, while still compelling, and the authors often include biographical information on the author and some of the publishing history as well. It’s true that the most recently published recommendation is probably Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf: A New Verse Translation but that shouldn’t deter you. Classics are, after all, classic for a reason.

magicFinally, we come to a fabulous tool that’s available to you through DCPL’s website. This wonder is NoveList Plus (scroll down under Books and Literature and click NoveList Plus link) and you’ll find it among our reference databases . You can use NoveList Plus to search for potential great reads in all sorts of useful ways. I happen to love Elizabeth Hand’s novel Waking the Moon and NoveList Plus provides me with a handy list of “Title Read-alikes” such as Counterfeit Magic by Kelly Armstrong. I can also look up “Author Read-alikes” to find authors who share a similar style such as Stephen Baxter.  I can also search for books that I might enjoy by inputting appeal terms that mirror aspects of Hand’s work flightsuch as “complex” (character), “atmospheric” (tone) and “richly detailed” (writing style). This brings up suggestions like Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver and The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks.  You can search by genre or by audience (adult, teen, ages 9-12 and ages 0-8). You can specify books of a certain lexile range or narrow your search to authors of a specific cultural identity. You can even use NoveList Plus to look for non-fiction. I can’t recommend this tool highly enough if you’re looking for your next great read. And if you work in a library (like me!) NoveList Plus is one of the best tools out there that you can use to find good books for your patrons.

How do you find a book?

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Apr 23 2018

A Room Of One’s Own

by Camille B

Cosy Room 2I remember seeing a TV commercial some years ago where a mother was desperately trying  to find a little peace and quiet from her little ones. Seeking refuge in the restroom, she sat there for a few minutes with the door closed trying to catch her breath. But it wasn’t long before she looked down to see tiny fingers wiggling beneath the restroom door, trying to get her attention once again.

We can all relate to reaching that level of exhaustion where we need to just take some time away to breathe. And even though we may not be dealing with small kids on a daily basis, we know when our mental batteries are drained and need recharging.

When we’ve had a horrible day, sat in traffic for hours, got flipped off by an impatient driver, picked up the kids late from school- again, forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer for dinner, the list goes on and on.

But where do you go to find that alone time? Where is that sacred place that’s yours and yours alone? Where you can hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door and have it respected? Where is your place you can kick off your shoes and unwind, preferably with a glass of wine, or a cup of coffee or tea?

Some of you are probably laughing to yourself, wondering “Is she serious? I can barely take a restroom break for a full five minutes without being interrupted, much less find time for, what is it? Rest and Relaxation?”

And it’s understandable that we feel this way, with the whirlwind of life around us. Slowing down or stopping for anything “me related”  seems like such a luxury, and many women claim to feel that twinge of guilt when they step back for a moment to take care of anything that doesn’t involve their family or loved ones–like that mother probably must have when she saw the tiny fingers peeping under the bathroom door.

The truth is though, we’re no good to ourselves or anyone else when we get like this. Stress left unchecked can lead to other health problems in the long run such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. According to an article in the Huffington Post “Having your own space—where you can think, dream, ponder, plan and create, or just be—is essential in our fast-paced, over-connected world.”

Still the question remains, where is that place that we go when we need to retreat and refuel? Daddy has his Man Cave, the kids have their game rooms or tree houses. And let’s face it, they would be contented just about anywhere as long as they have their smart phones with them.

What is the woman’s version of a Man Cave? And if one more person says it’s the kitchen, I’ll scream. Because I’m betting you that as much as Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray love their kitchens, it is not the place they go when they need to relax and unwind.

She Sheds are now becoming quite popular with women everywhere, and before I began writing this post I had actually never heard of them. They are apparently the woman’s version of a Man Cave and women are becoming very creative with building their own. So if you have the space and resources, this might be the way to create your getaway. Check out She sheds: a room of your own by Erika Kotite at your DCPL branch for interesting ideas for this project.

But having your own space doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a She Shed, nor does it have to be an entire room, although that would be ideal. It could be just a nook or cranny, an unused storage room or closet, whatever space you have available in the home. Not all of us have the luxury of a backyard shed or greenhouse that we can turn into that idyllic place, but we all have a place in the house where we can set up our own sanctuary.

In his book A Room of Her Own: women’s personal spaces, Chris Madden shows you how you can use whatever space you have to create that level of comfort you want. A review on Amazon describes the book: Full-color photography and a charming text capture the special places that women have created as retreats from busy daily routines and offer creative and inspirational decorating ideas to help transform one’s dream room into reality. 

Maybe you’ve had it at the back of your mind for a long time to create that reading room, or crafting room. A place where you can take a mental holiday, exercise, light a scented candle and pray or meditate, do yoga, take a nap, or unplug. But somehow you haven’t gotten around to it as yet. Here’s hoping that the seed of an idea has been replanted once again and that you’ll be inspired to start wherever you are, using whatever you have. Because we all deserve to have a room of our own.


Check out these titles at DCPL:





A room of her own: women’s personal spaces– Chris Casson Madden


Book 2




Small Spaces /the editors of House Beautiful magazine






500 ideas for small spaces: Kimberly Seldon










Mar 6 2018

Are You A Luddite?

by Camille B

technophobe 2

So what exactly is a Luddite?  Is it, a) A type of religion? b) Some form of igneous rock or stone? Or is it c) A person opposed to increased or new technology?

Well if you’re like me, your first answer was probably a or b. Because doesn’t it sound very much like some type of religious order or semi-precious stone? When in truth and in fact the answer is c, a person who is- not just opposed to technology- but is downright hostile towards it.

A Luddite can be your Uncle Bob who refuses to be harassed into updating his rotary phone for a cell- not even a push button one. Or your mother, bless her heart, who presses the buttons on the computer like they’re hot, all the while reminiscing about the good old days of pen and paper.

The origination of the word Luddite came about in 1811 during the British Industrial Uprising, when skilled workers, who mostly worked in the textile industry, attacked the automated, steam-powered looms that were threatening to replace them. It is said that the workers got their inspiration from the fabled General Ludd (King Ludd), who lived in the Sherwood forest and supposedly led the movement.

The Luddites feared that the new machines were going to replace them and cut their wages, since factory owners were hiring less-skilled workers to operate them at a lower pay rate. They fought with government soldiers and sent threatening letters to their employers, attacking them as well as magistrates and food merchants. They also carried out nighttime raids, breaking into factories and destroying the new machinery by smashing them with sledgehammers.

The breaking of the machines spread to the West Yorkshire wool workers as well as the Lancashire cotton mills, and these workers followed the same pattern, even going as far as burning down some of the mills; eventually leading to machine breaking becoming a capital offence.

Today, the meaning of the word Luddite has taken on a slightly different meaning. It is now used to describe a person who, while they may not break their computer screen or smartphone in anger, has a certain fear or dread towards modern technology. A more familiar word would be a technophobe.

We can all think of someone who falls into this category, be it a family member, friend or co-worker. Just the thought of having to use a new machine or gadget causes them to break out in a cold sweat. They would rather leave well enough alone and stick to what they know.

Some of these individuals may not own a computer or even know how to use one. They don’t text, and they read all of their news from the newspapers. They still use paper maps even though they have a GPS, and they would never be found standing in self-check out lines.

Even in the workplace you have individuals who are hesitant and sometimes downright reluctant to “get with the program.” A new machine or program is introduced, and they disappear like clockwork whenever an occasion arises to use them. You’re seriously beginning to worry about Craig and what’s causing him to run off to the restroom every half an hour, and are getting just a little peeved with Margaret for taking so many breaks back to back, when it suddenly dawns on you that the new copy machine came in on Monday. The one with all those fancy buttons. It needs to be avoided at all costs.

So how do you assist people who are afraid of, or have a strong aversion to new technology? Well first of all, maybe the reason behind their reluctance should first be identified, because I’m sure that not all of it is stubbornness.

Is it an irrational fear? Or is it justifiable? Maybe they’ve had a bad experience using new technology in the past that has left them a little weary. Maybe they’re embarrassed or uncomfortable  because they figure that they should know how to use it.

This is one of the main reasons I believe many people shy away from embracing new technology. No-one likes to seem incompetent in front of others, and so would rather feign knowledge or avoid an embarassing situation all together.

As library staff we interact with patrons everyday who come in to use our computers, printers and copy machines. They can sometime get pretty nervous or anxious if they’re not quite sure about what they’re doing, approaching the machines like they would a swarm of bees.

But these same people, if you let them know that 1) it’s really not that hard, and 2) there are some things that you yourself are still learning, they immediately relax. They realize you’re not judging and are there to help, and so they open up a little more to embrace what you’re showing them.

Also, a person struggling with new technology would probably find it harder to learn from someone who is a technophile and delights in new technology. The techie’s mantra is, the newer the better. Gizmos, gadgets, digital thingies, it belongs in their world and they’re fluent is all things tech related. So while grandma is still trying to remember the password to the Yahoo account she created yesterday, Junior has already retrieved the code from her cell phone and is already typing it in.

Overall, patience and a simple approach is needed in dealing with a person who is technologically challenged. Anything that’s perceived to be harder than it really is will be met with resistance. Better small steps than no steps at all.

Below is a list of books at DCPL to help you get a hang of some of the gadgets you possess but never use.


Teach yourself visually Android  phones and tablets– Guy Hart-Davis

Android tablets for dummies– Dan Gookin

Overdrive at DCPL provides eBooks and downloadable audiobooks.

Book 2

Laptops for seniors in easy steps: Windows 10- Nick vandome

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Jan 26 2018

Vision Boarding

by Camille B

vision-board-What are your goals for 2018? Do you have a pretty good idea of what you want to achieve for the coming year, or no clue at all as to where to begin? After all, you may still have some goals left over from 2017 that you’ve somehow managed to drag over into the New Year. Why would you want to add more to that?

Each year, millions of people set out to make New Year’s resolutions which they sincerely intend to keep but somehow never quite make it to the finish line. Research shows that about 80% of people won’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions for longer than six weeks. That’s a huge number. This year, not wanting to find myself in that percentile yet again, I decided to try a different approach to tackling my goals; one that’s actually been around for quite some time, and has brought success to many: vision boarding. I figure that visualization might be just the thing I need this year to help me stay the course in achieving my goals.

What is a Vision Board?

A Vision Board, or Dream Board as some people call it, is a collage of images, pictures and affirmations of one’s dreams and desires, designed to serve as a source of inspiration and motivation.

They can be created to represent the goals you want to achieve in the different areas of your life such as travel, relationship, finance, career, home, personal growth, spirituality, health, education or any combination of these.

The purpose of your Vision Board can vary. It can be made to cover the different areas of your life at once or tailor made to focus on one very specific aspect of it, like planning a wedding, getting a book published or taking that dream vacation.

You can also use separate poster boards if you prefer to compartmentalize the different areas of your life and have a cleaner, less cluttered look. For example, you might have one board for your financial goals and another that represents your personal goals.

Rose 3


Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blue print, and begin to build. Robert Collier



Why Do I Need A Vision Board?

Now you may be asking, “Why do I even need a vision board? Why can’t I simply get a yellow legal pad and make a list of all the things I want to accomplish for the new year?”

Well you can, if that’s the way you want to go, after all you have to use what works best for you. But there’s just something about visualizing what you want and having a clear picture of it.

According to author and motivational speaker Jack Canefield, “The daily practice of visualizing your dreams as already complete can rapidly accelerate your achievement of those dreams, goals and ambitions: it activates your creative subconscious, it programs your brain, it activates the law of attraction and it builds your internal motivation.”

What You’ll Need For Your Vision Board

Although you can make a virtual vision board on your computer with photos and images using a special program, the most common way is with an actual, tangible board (poster or cork). You’ll also need glue, paste, magazines for cutting images and quotes, scissors, tape, pins, markers, stickers and anything that inspires you and helps you bring that mental picture to life.

Write down your goals by hand instead of using a computer. Studies done with participants on goal-setting showed that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down on paper.

And don’t just write down goals for the near future, but the long term ones as well. Because you may not be able to take that trip to the Bahamas until 2019, but you can eliminate a debt, finish a course or lose ten pounds by the end of 2018. Go ahead and pin up that little black dress in size eight on your board.

Bring all of your senses into play as you make your board, without overthinking or stressing over it. It is supposed to be a fun and creative process, so play some music in the background, sip some wine (not too much in case you end up with a totally different board than the one you intended). But you get the picture, anything that puts you in a positive and creative mood.

Rose 3


Make sure you visualize what you really want, not what someone else wants for you. Jerry Gillies



What Do You Want It To Say?

Your Vision Board should reflect all things you. Put on it all the things that motivate you and give you inspiration. Go ahead and photo shop yourself into some of the images. You should feel good every time you look at it. Find photos that correspond to your goals or dreams.

For instance, if I wanted to publish a book by the end of 2018, I would probably put things on my board that inspire that particular dream such as pictures of my favorite authors, quotes by writers who inspire me, special book covers, scenery that inspire me to write the kind of stories I want to write, even a mock book cover of what I want my published book to look like.

Place It Where You Can See It

It makes no sense going through all the trouble of making a Vision Board, engaging in such an awesome creative process, then placing it where it’s seldom seen. You want to see it every day! Let it be your sacred place if you will. Even if you don’t see it all day every day, you want to be able to see it at some point during the day, even if it’s first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Place it in your closet, on your bedroom wall, office, cubicle, study desk or even in your kitchen if that’s where you spend most of your time.

Rose 3


To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act! Alfred A. Montapert



Here are some books you can find at DCPL that feature motivation, visualizing your dreams and the laws of attraction.

Dare to Win


Dare to Win- Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen


The Secret


The Secret– Rhonda Byrne           


The Power of Positive Thinking– Norman Vincent Peale                                  The power of Positive thinking

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Dec 18 2017

A Sweet Tradition

by Dea Anne M

If there are two things that I can be sure of…right this moment…with a reasonable degree of certainty it’s that:

  1. Change happens.
  2. The holiday season is here.

In terms of the second point, I have a pretty relaxed attitude toward the “must dos” of the season. I decorate but just a bit. I cook a fancy dinner too. Generally though, I don’t travel this time of year, and I’ll do just about anything between Black Friday and December 25th to stay out of any retail operation that isn’t a grocery store. As far as the first point goes…well…what is there to say? Change happens. It just does and usually I find more to be amused about than dismayed. I have to admit though that there are a few contemporary holiday phenomena that sometime give me pause: inflatable lawn decorations, dogs in holiday sweaters, reservations required in order for one’s child to meet Santa. At the risk of sounding like the type of person who would say “Things weren’t like that when I was a kid,” let me just say that well, things weren’t like that when I was a kid.

Not that I have anything against dogs in sweaters. I mean, it’s not like I’m a complete grouch about this stuff.

One tradition that a lot of people can get behind, and one of which I thoroughly approve, is the baking and sharing of special holiday treats. I used to do a fair amount of baking this time of year but sugar is a very rare pleasure at my house these days, so I have only my fond memories of choosing recipes, baking up batch after batch of special cookies, and giving them to (presumably) delighted recipients. Christmas will be here soon but you still have time start your own sweet tradition or to pick up some new ideas if you already do holiday baking. Either way, DCPL has resources to help.show stopping

Holiday Cookies: showstopping recipes to sweeten the season by Elisabet der Nederlanden is a gorgeous book and includes recipes for special candies and fudge along with cookies that are truly showstopping. Also included are original and fun ideas for packaging your lovingly crafted 50 recipescreations.

You won’t find many surprises in Lisa Zwirn’s Christmas Cookies: 50 recipes to treasure for the holiday season but you will find lots of wonderful ideas for classic cookies including sugar cookies, gingerbread people and chocolate crinkles. Zwirn also includes fun ideas for hosting a holiday cookie swap or a cookie baking party.perfect

The Perfect Cookie: your ultimate guide to foolproof cookies, brownies and bars by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen includes far more than merely holiday cookies but there is a full chapter full of tempting sounding treats like Black Cherry and Chocolate Linzer and Stained Glass Cookies. And many of the “everyday” cookies, such the luscious looking Cranberry, White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies would still make festive additions to your holiday array. America’s Test Kitchens are known for their rigorous testing of recipes so when they present you with a recipe for something called Foolproof Holiday Cookies, you can be sure that they mean what Doriethey say.

Finally, I highly, highly recommend Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan. Greenspan is a five times James Beard Award winner and is renowned as a world class guru of baking. The recipes in this book are definitely ones that you won’t see everyday (there are even recipes for savory “cocktail cookies”!) and I guarantee that they’ll all be sure to please. By the way, that gorgeous thing on the cover of the book is a World Peace Cookie. Greenspan says of this particular treat, “If everyone had it, peace would reign o’er the planet. I’m convinced of this.” And you know what? If Dorie believes it then I do too.

A happy, and peaceful, holiday to all of you!







Dec 7 2017

The Season Of Giving

by Camille B

Wrapped Gifts 4

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and with it comes that good old feeling of Christmas cheer. We’re all in great spirits as we walk through the malls shopping. Our favorite holiday music filtering through the airwaves as we decorate our houses and Christmas trees or spend time cooking and baking with family and friends.

This is also the time of year when people seem to be even more generous with their giving, wanting to spread that good cheer to those around them by giving to charities, churches or food banks across the country.

While folks may be eager to dig deeper into their pockets during the holiday season, they can also be a little weary of those fake charities that pop up quite frequently from year to year, leaving many good Samaritans completely hoodwinked. And believe me, no one wants to be swindled out of their hard earned cash, especially while trying to do a good deed for someone else. They want to know that their generous donations are going to the right places and into the hands of the right people. People want to know their donations are being used for the purposes they were intended.

Fortunately, there are still many legitimate organizations out there that you can depend on to have your contributions make a difference in someone else’s life this Christmas; whether it be a child or another family who find themselves in less fortunate circumstances this year.

Some of them you’re probably already familiar with since they’ve been doing charitable work for years, and you’ve more than likely used them in the past. But if perchance there’s an organization out there that you’re not quite familiar with and need a bit of assurance about their work, you can always check first with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance at give.org to see if it’s a reputable one, before making your donations. Below are a few examples: 

Walmart Fill The Truck Toy Drive- this year will be Walmart’s fourth annual Fill the Truck Toy Drive. In partnership with The imagesSalvation Army, they collect hundreds of thousands of toys for children in need. Shoppers visiting participating Walmart stores on select weekends from November 27 through December 13, will have the opportunity to drop off new, unwrapped toys and coats for children who take part in The Salvation Army programs year-round. Lists of suggested gifts for local children will be provided to shoppers at participating Walmart locations. Once the truck or bin is full of donations, the Salvation Army will distribute the gifts to families in need. Find a Walmart near you at by visiting  http://www.walmart.com/store/finder.

toys for tots 2Toys for Tots Foundation-  the aim of Tots for Tots is to help kids throughout the United States who are less fortunate experience the joy of Christmas, by partnering with businesses such as Hallmark, Toys R Us and The Walt Disney Company. Their mission is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December of each year and distribute them as Christmas gifts to the less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. So you can purchase a new toy now and take it (unwrapped) to a Toys-for Tots drop off location. For more information visit  www.toysfortots.org

Clark’s Christmas Kids- every Christmas, Clark Howard and News/Talk WSB join with the Georgia Department clarkschristmaskids2017of Family and Children’s Services to provide gifts for the foster kids all across Georgia. This is their 27th year collecting toys and gifts. You can participate by donating online or visiting locations hosting this year’s toy drive. Clark Howard will be onsite at these locations. Click here on the link for a list of them www.clark.com


ChildOperation Christmas Child-  is part of the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief organization. It provides opportunities for giving abroad and providing gifts for children in Tanzania. The National Collection Week has passed, but it’s not too late to pack a box for the Operation Shoe Box program. Shoe box gifts collected in the United States in 2017 will be delivered to 114,240 children in Tanzania.

Just find a regular size shoe box, decide if you want to donate your gift to a boy or girl and choose the age category. Then select a medium to large “wow” item like a soccer ball with a pump or a stuffed animal, and complete it by filling it with other toys, hygiene items and school supplies. Click here to get an idea of some of the items you can include. If you don’t have time to shop for and pack an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift, with a few clicks of your mouse or swipes on your touchscreen, you can build one online. Make it your own by choosing from a list of gifts, then add a personal letter and photo. Your shoe box will be sent for you for a suggested donation of just $25.  www.samaritanspurse.org

The Empty Stocking Fund- the Empty Stocking Fund purchases brand new items for kids of different ages up to the age of 12 years old. The parents and guardians of these kids are invited to visit Santa’s Village and select gifts for their children. The organization is in great need of, not just monetary gifts, but also support from volunteers and sponsors to keep it going. If you are interested in supporting this Fund you can make your contribution here  www.emptystockingfund.org          Baby

The Christmas Spirit Foundation’s mission is to advance the Christmas Spirit for kids, families and the environment through programs and activities is a charitable organization. They work to recognize and support the true meaning of Christmas for U.S. troops and military families through the Trees for Troops program. This year, support Trees for Troops by making a tax-deductible contribution to the Christmas Spirit Foundation (some employers would match your donations), or by purchasing a collectible Trees for Troops teddy bear from their online store.                                            For more information visit www.christmasspiritfoundation.org

Remember, there are many kids and families out there whose Christmases would not be as merry and bright without our generous contributions. Even if this year might be a financially binding one for you as well, you can always give of yourself and your time. Many of these organizations function mainly with the help of volunteers and sponsors, so find out how you can lend a helping hand.

Get your kids, grand kids or nieces and nephews involved too., They can experience the side of Christmas that’s not just about getting presents on Christmas morning but also about giving to someone else who is not as fortunate as they are.







Books at DCPL about Giving: 




Giving, the sacred art: creating a lifestyle of generosity– Lauren Tyler Wright

Book 2



Give a little: how your small donations can transform our world– Wendy Smith



Book 3

The Power of giving: how giving back enriches us all– Azim Jamal


Book 4

In a Heartbeat; sharing the power of cheerful giving– Leigh Anne Tuohy


Nov 17 2017

The Power Of Thanks

by Camille B

Thank you cardHave you ever gotten an unexpected thank you that came out of nowhere and from the unlikeliest of persons? It gives you a good feeling doesn’t it?

If you were “raised right” then you know the importance of a thank you. You grew up practicing good manners and used your thank yous at all the appropriate times: after receiving a gift or compliment, when someone lets you cut in front of them at the grocery store, even when you hear the words bless you after you sneeze.

But even though these are great instances to use them, they are also expected by the other person and can sometimes seem almost mechanical. A totally random thank you can be a truly genuine surprise for someone and make their day just a little more meaningful.

According to an article in Psych Central, saying thank you is more than just good manners, it can improve physical health, strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.

As we approach the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, I encourage you to purposely be on the look out for opportunities to drop a thank you into someone else’s life. I promise you won’t have to look very far. Even if it was a favor or kind gesture done a while back that you’ve been meaning to say thank you for but haven’t gotten around to yet, go ahead and do it already. These are just a few examples:

Call your parents. I know, you’re probably thinking well duh. But we’re not talking about for something obvious that they did like watching the kids so you could run to the store or helping to fix the brakes on your car, that’s a given. Call them up on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week, just to let them know how much you appreciate everything they do for you.

Scroll through the contact list of your phone and find those friends and family members you really appreciate, for whatever contribution they’ve made to your life, and send them a thank you text or email.

Say thank you to someone who went above and beyond their duty and didn’t think anybody had noticed. But you did.

Send a thank you to your child’s teacher who goes above and beyond, giving that extra for your child even when they don’t have to. Send him or her a handmade note of gratitude.

Service people. We often hear the saying, well it’s a thankless job, but somebody’s got to do it. A thanks goes a long way to remind people that what they do matters to someone else. The waitress, the mailman or UPS delivery guy, the barista at the Starbucks, the receptionist at the dentist’s office and yes, even the girl at the McDonald’s window who is frazzled by the line of cars around the building and forgot to put pickles on your McDouble.

The custodian at your workplace or church. Sometimes  we’re so used to having a clean, shiny workplace that we take it for granted and forget that somebody works diligently every day to keep it looking that way. Let them know how much you appreciate what they do to enable you to have a pleasant environment to work in.

Your best friend who always has your back. Call them up and thank them for putting up with you and all of your moods.

Your spouse who  also has your back and puts up with you and all of your moods. Let them know that the days aren’t always sunny ones but you’re glad that they’re in it and appreciate all that they do.

Your siblings, children,  grandparents, coworker, boss, pastor, priest, teacher, the list goes on and on. Yes, some  of them are paid to do the job they do, but it’s a service they provide for us that we cannot provide for ourselves. We can show we are grateful that they can.

Even if you’re not a person of many words or are awkward with conversation, you can still buy a card or make a nice thank you note (signed of course, you don’t want to freak people out). You can mail, hand deliver or leave it where the recipient can find it during the course of the day.

In the busyness of the Thanksgiving hustle and bustle, when people tend to be a little more stressed and harried with shopping, travel and meal preparations, let us remember now more than ever to say thank you to others so that they know just how much we value them and what they do for us.

Book Cover



Thank You Notes: 40 homemade ways to show you’re grateful– Jan Stephenson, Kelly & Amy Appleyard



Book 2



101 ways to say thank you: notes of gratitude for all occasions– Kelly Browne





Oct 27 2017

Marsy’s Law For Georgia

by Camille B


Tamiko Pugh had finally gathered enough strength and fortitude to walk out of the abusive relationship she was in; but when she tried to do so, her abuser informed her that he would rather kill them both than allow her to leave.

While they were driving on the interstate, he grabbed the steering wheel of the car they were in and caused them to have a wreck. Tamiko woke up disoriented and in a panic, lying in the middle of I-85 as cars whizzed past her.

She filed charges against him and he was jailed that day. She decided to use that time to file a restraining order against him, but as she walked into the courthouse that morning to do so she heard a familiar, chilling voice behind her saying, “Hello Beautiful.”

Unbeknownst to her, her abuser had been allowed to exercise his legal rights and was released on bond; no one called to give her any warning that he was out. In the months that followed, he violated his restraining order several times, harassing her and even physically attacking her at her workplace. (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog, Victims’ Stories)


Just days before her death, Bridgette Flowers estranged husband assaulted her at a Walmart store. Surveillance video caught him punching her twice in the face, leaving her unconscious and laying on the floor. He was booked that night into the Bibb County Jail and the next day released on a special conditions bond- the special condition being that he could not contact his victim. Bridgette had no idea she could have had him re-arrested when he called and harassed her over and over again. The advocate’s office later told a reporter that it takes at least 30 days to give notification of rights to a crime victim. Bridgette Flowers died on Day 8. While with her children in a minivan on that fateful day in 2014, her husband Jasento Flowers, walked up, stuck a gun in the window and shot her. (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog, Victims’ Stories)

I wish I could tell you that Tamiko and Bridgette’s cases are isolated ones, that stories like these are few and far between but the truth is that there are hundreds of victims throughout  the state of Georgia who are left every day feeling defenseless and at the mercy of their attackers and abusers as they attempt to navigate the legal process with no real backing.

The stories I read were shared by victims who felt like they had no voice while they waited for resolutions to cases that sometimes never came, and if they did, it would sometimes be after the fact and they never get a chance to be a part of the proceedings, to have an input, as was the case for Tammy Berryhil whose 19 year old daughter was killed by a distracted driver.

I called monthly to the Columbus DAs office asking for updates as to when the case would come to  trial…I was told that I would be given a call so I could be present and be a voice for my daughter. To my shock and dismay, one month when I called I was told that the case had already been to trial and was over. The accused was sentenced to 250 hours of community service and allowed to leave the state…my daughter’s voice was silenced. And by not being notified or being able to be present in court, I feel like her voice was silenced all over again.”

I find this totally unacceptable. Crime victims and their families are often times still grieving for their loved ones, or living in fear of their offenders even as they try get their lives back to some semblance of normalcy; to find relief, justice or closure; treating them like a number or statistic, would simply be adding insult to injury.

I believe they deserve to have rights that are recognized at the highest levels. Accused and convicted criminals have more than 20 individual rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. Crime victims have none, at least none that can be enforced, and as one person rightly said “Rights that are not enforceable are not really rights at all.” This is where Marsy’s Law comes in.


Marsy’s Law was named in memory of Marsalee Nicholas, a 21 year old University student from California, who in 1983 was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend. A week after her murder, Marsy’s mother and brother were confronted by the accused murderer in the grocery store. They had no idea that he had been released on bail. They were not informed because the courts and law enforcement, though they meant well, were not obligated by law to keep them informed. Marsalee’s brother Dr. Henry Nicholas later founded Marsy’s Law for All. Since the beginning  of their fight for the legal rights of crime victims and their families, 35 states have adopted versions of Marsy’s Law as constitutional protections.


Georgia is one of only 15 states that does not give equal constitutional rights and protections to crime victims.

It has had a crime victim’s bill of rights since 2010, which is a good thing in those jurisdictions that adhere to the state’s statutory laws protecting crime victims, but there is no recourse for crime victims in those that don’t. This is why many committed Georgians are pushing for the state to adopt its own version of Marsy’s Law to be written into the state constitution. (Ledger-Enquirer)

The Law is now under consideration in the Georgia State Senate, it was introduced by State Senator John F. Kennedy (R-Macon), during the 2017 General Assembly, passing the Senate 50-4 and crossing over to the House which will consider the constitutional amendment next year. You can contact your representative to learn more. 

Marsy’s Law would give victims:

-The right to be treated with courtesy, fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy throughout the criminal justice proceedings,

-The right to receive information about their rights and the services available to crime victims.

-The right to receive timely notification of proceedings and other major developments in their case.

-The right to receive timely notification of changes to the offender’s custodial status

-The right to be present in court proceedings. The right to provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized.

-The right to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings or any process that may result in the offender’s release.

-The right to restitution.

You can also visit the website where you hear others share their stories.

” The goal of Marsy’s law is to (1) give crime victims equal constitutional standing in court with the accused or convicted criminal and (2) enforceable rights and remedy. Neither one of these rights is afforded to Georgia crime victims in our current law. Once we pass through the Georgia House and Senate, we will be on the 2018 ballot for the people of Georgia to vote.

No abuser should have more rights than the person they abused.”

Ann Casas (Marsy’s Law Campaign Blog)SM-M2Juj


Giving Victims A Voice






{ 1 comment }

Oct 17 2017

Fun Facts About Authors We Love

by Camille B

authors we love 1If you’re an avid reader you most likely have a favorite author; probably more than one depending on the particular genre you’re reading at the time. You enjoy their books and get on the waiting list for their latest release, visit their websites regularly and even sign up to receive newsletters.

And though you may not go overboard like some do with their beloved celebrities, waiting outside their homes and going through their trash to see what brand of toothpaste they buy or try to sell their retainers on E-bay, you’re none-the-less intrigued by them and have a keen and ‘normal‘ fascination with their everyday lives: how they spend their time writing, what inspires them etc.

You’re sometimes tickled by what you find, or even a little surprised. I have to admit I was a little of both as I began doing the research about some of these authors. I found myself laughing quite a bit as I tried to envision some of the things I was reading.

If the authors listed here are any of your personal favorites, you’re probably already versed in everything ‘them.’ For the others I hope you enjoy seeing the human, everyday side of them the way I did.

William Faulkner

  • He never graduated from high school or had a college degree, yet he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, two Pulitzers and the National Book Award
  • H declined a dinner invitation from First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and was quoted by LIFE magazine as saying  “Why that’s a hundred miles away, that’s a long way to go just to eat.”
  • He served as a postmaster at the University of Mississippi for two years but found the job boring. It was reported that he would get there late, leave early, play cards and work on his writing. He eventually quit in 1924 saying, “…I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp.” Ironically the United States Postal Service issued a 22 cent stamp in his honor in 1987

Mayo Angelou

  • She moved to Cairo, Egypt in 1961 where she was an editor for The Arab Observer
  • She mastered French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Fanti
  • She rejected modesty, saying that true arrogance lay in denying one’s own specialness and denying the specialness of others
  • She became the second poet in history to read a poem during a presidential inauguration.  She wrote and read “On the Pulse of Morning” for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.
  • She won a Grammy in 1993 in the Best Spoken Word category for an audio recording of that same poem

Beverly Cleary

  • She celebrated her 101st birthday this year (yep, amazing)
  • She had no access to a public library growing up. Her mother contacted the state library and ordered books to be sent to their town and with those books made a makeshift library above a bank where she became the acting librarian
  • She received an initial rejection for her book, originally called “Henry Huggins and Spareribs,” but later it was accepted after she changed “Spareribs” to “Ribsy” and added the characters Beezus and Ramona
  • She baked at the same time she wrote.“I used to bake bread while I wrote.” she says.“I’d mix the dough up and sit down and start to write. After a while, the dough would rise and I’d punch it down and write some more. When the dough rose the second time, I’d put it in the oven and have the yeasty smell of bread as I typed.”
  • She was honored with an elementary school in Portland with her name, as well as a sculpture garden that features bronze statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Ribsy the dog


  • He was inspired to write thrillers from Sidney Sheldon’s novel The Doomsday Conspiracy
  • He’s always been interested in secrets and puzzles; as a child growing up there were always ciphers, anagrams and other puzzles laying around the house for him and his siblings to solve
  • He gets up every day at 4 am to write, and prepares a smoothie before he begins, comprised of blueberries, spinach, banana, coconut water, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds
  • His computer is programmed to freeze for 60 seconds each hour, during which time Mr. Brown performs push-ups, situps and anything else he needs to take care of
  • In 2004 all four of his novels were featured in the New York Times Best Seller List in the same week


  • She and her husband were the first legally married interracial couple to live in the state of Mississippi
  • She created and taught the first class in the country dedicated to African-American Women Writers at Wellesley College
  • Her favorite word is “irregardless” and is also on her license plate
  • Some of her favorite music influences are Bob Marley and Sweet Honey in the Rock


  • Where The Wild Things Are was President’s Obama’s choice of children’s book to read over the Easter weekend for the 2016 Easter Egg Roll at the White House
  • The “Things” in the book were based on Maurice’s Jewish relatives and the way he viewed them as a child, they came every week for Sunday lunch and would always tell him he looked so good they could eat him up


  • Is not very fond of email and says that she doesn’t trust it “Half the time I send them to the wrong people and the other half I delete.”
  • In 1981 her name made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times best-seller list for 381 consecutive weeks
  • She writes her books on a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter,”I paid $20 for that typewriter at the beginning of my career,” she said “And I’m getting my money out of it.”


  • A Raisin in the Sun was originally called The Crystal Stairs
  • Nina Simone wrote a song based on her unfinished play titled To Be Young, Gifted and Black
  • She met Robert Kennedy to test his position on Civil Rights
  • After her death, her ex-husband finished her play Les Blancs
  • A Raisin in the Sun was performed 530 times


  • Was a fighter pilot in World War II and a spy who passed intelligence to MI6 from Washington
  • He never learned how to type
  • He wrote screenplays for the James Bond hits You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory was inspired by Cadbury and Rowntree’s, and the secrecy in their development process
  • In 1971, just before the movie was released, a real man named Willy Wonka wrote to him, a postman from Nebraska; the letter and his response to it are part of the display at the Road Dahl Museum and Story Center
  • When he died in 1990 he was buried with some of his favorite things including a power drill, chocolate and HB pencils


  • Did not start out as a suspense writer, her first book, a romance called Aspire to the Heavens, was published in 1968 and tells the love story between George and Martha Washington. The book was published again in 2000 as Mount Vernon Love Story
  • In 1981 when President  Reagan was shot, she managed to make her way to the press area where she ended up being one of the few people allowed to ask questions during the event
  • She worked as a secretary for Remington-Rand and sometimes modeled for their catalogs, one time even doing a photo shoot with Grace Kelly
  • Before marrying her first husband she worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am

Rachel Renee Russell

  • Worked as a bankruptcy lawyer before the Dork Diaries took off
  • Her daughters Erin and Nikki helps with the writing and illustrating of her books, Nikki with the illustrations and Erin with the writing
  • She wrote her first book in the sixth grade as a birthday gift for her younger twin brothers

George R.R. Martin

  • Still does his writing with a DOS word processor, Word Star 4.0 (yep, I almost fell out of my chair too)
  • He was a writer and producer on the  TV series Beauty and the Beast in the 1980s
  • He owns his own cinema in New Mexico called the Jean Cocteau Cinema

Nicholas Sparks

  • While writing and trying to sell his first novel he worked at various jobs; a real estate appraisal, home restoration, and various food services
  • The Notebook became a bestseller in its first week of being released
  • The inspiration for the main character in A Walk to Remember was his younger sister Danielle who died from a brain tumor.
  • He has a two-lane bowling alley in his home.

Octavia Butler

  • Was the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1995 which allowed her to buy a house for her mother
  • She was a world traveler and traveled across the globe often while doing research for her writing
  • She moved to Seattle in 1999 and brought 300 boxes of books with her, many of the books she’d had from childhood
  • She grappled with severe writer’s block in the early 2000s
  • She was a fan of Fantastic Four comics and collected them, and also Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels

E.B. White

  • He loved sailing
  • He struggled with writing and procrastination and in an interview admitted to walking around the house straightening and fixing before sitting down to write
  • He fought to keep the animated version of Charlotte’s Web true to the book; the studio wanted to change the ending by not having Charlotte die but he pushed back against it
  • He struggled with anxiety and had trouble meeting new people and speaking in public
  • He had Alzheimer’s disease but according to his family, fought it with grace and humor

Harper Lee

  • Was a Mets fan
  • She kept in touch with her favorite English teacher from high school, Ms. Gladys Watson, and sent her the final draft of To Kill a Mockingbird for proofreading before sending it off to her publishers; after the book was finally published she flew Ms. Watson out to New York City to visit and took her on a month-long trip to England as a gesture of thanks.
  • She initially wanted Spencer Tracy to play Atticus Finch in the Mockingbird movie

James Patterson

  • Worked in advertising before he started writing. He was the chairman of J. Walter Thompson for seven years
  • He wrote his first book, The Thomas Berryman Number, when he was just 26. It received 31 rejections before finally being accepted by a publisher and going on to win an Edgar Award
  • He started the Readkiddoread online movement to help parents find books that their children would actually want to read
  • His favorite book as a child was Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

S.E. Hinton

  • Wrote The Outsiders while she was still in High School; according to her, she had written the novel for herself and hadn’t planned on publishing it, until the mother of one of her friends read a draft and thought it deserved a wider audience
  • Her first Royalty check was for $10
  •  She was involved in the making of the movie The Outsiders, and even made a cameo as a nurse


  • She was born Chloe Anthony Wofford but changed her name because people found Chloe hard to pronounce
  • When she entered the first grade she was the only black child and the only one who could read
  • One of her favorite authors is Jane Austen
  • She was one of the few black editors at Random House
  •  In 1993 she was the first African-American woman to be selected for the Nobel Prize in Literature


  • He was working as an insurance broker when he began writing The Hunt For Red October
  • His wife begged him to give up his writing because she felt he was wasting his time- until she read his book
  • A woman who read the book loved it so much she gave a copy to all of her friends, one of those friends? President Reagan, who publicly complimented the book which went on to be a best seller
  • Of all the actors who played Jack Ryan, Ben Affleck was his favorite

I sincerely wished that I could include all of the authors that you’ve read and loved down through the years in this post, but it’s just not possible, instead I admonish you to check out the vast Biography collection at any of our DCPL branches where you can find many more of your favorite authors to choose from.



Why We Write– edited by Meredith Maran

The Writing Life- commentary by  Marie Arana



Wrongful Conviction Day – October 2

An estimated 3-5% of the nation’s incarcerated population is wrongfully convicted — that translates to roughly 1,500-3,000 innocent people in Georgia who are currently serving time in prison for crimes they did not commit. October 2, 2017, is the fourth annual Wrongful Conviction Day, an international day to increase awareness about the plight of those who are wrongfully convicted and the systemic factors that lead to wrongful convictions. The day is meant to encourage dialogue about this important issue and promote policy remedies at a grassroots level. See the list below for a sampling of books and DVDs to help you get that dialogue going.

Also right here in DeKalb County, the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) is a small nonprofit organization that fights to free innocent men and women from Georgia and Alabama prisons. GIP works to find DNA evidence that will prove who the true perpetrator was and to ultimately petition the court for the person’s release based on the new evidence. Part of GIP’s mission is to educate the public that wrongful convictions are neither rare nor isolated incidents. You can see news and updates from GIP on their Facebook page and Twitter.


On a recent day, four exonerees enjoyed the afternoon in Decatur. Their names and the number of years they spent wrongfully convicted in Georgia prisons are (L-R), John White (27 years), Clarence Harrison (17 years), Calvin Johnson (16 years) and Pete Williams (22 years). photo by Grace Akan

Check these out at DCPL

After Innocence (DVD) produced by the American Film Foundation and Showtime

Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted edited by Laura Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger

The Central Park Five (DVD) from Ken Burns, David McMahon and Sarah Burns

The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding by Sarah Burns

Convicting the Innocent: Death Row and America’s Broken System of Justice by Stanley Cohen

Devil in the Grove :Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (also available as an eBook)

Exit to Freedom by Calvin Johnson (The author is from Georgia and is in the picture. He spent 16 years in prison before being exonerated.)

Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter by James S. Hirsch.

Journey Toward Justice by Dennis Fritz

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (also available as an audiobook and eBook)

Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, with Erin Torneo

Thank you to guest contributor Raylynn Hughes for this DCPLive post.

{ 1 comment }