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


Jul 27 2015

Fish with Benefits

by Rebekah B

go fish education center buildingAs the summer draws to a close, families may still be seeking out some educational opportunities to prepare kids for returning to school.

As many of you may know, DCPL offers a variety of attraction passes that include the Georgia State Parks Pass, the Zoo Atlanta DVD/Pass, and the Puppetry Arts Pass (not currently available, as the museum is in the process of expansion and renovation). The lesser known of these passes may be the Go Fish Pass. You may have visited Perry, GA, as I have, when taking your kids to an All-State Band audition. If not, the purpose of this post is to inform you about what there is to see and do in and around Perry and to make your visit to the Go Fish Center the focal point of a highly educational, fun, day trip, of interest to adults and to kids.

go fish center fishing simulatorThe pass for the Go Fish Education Center allows up to 4 people to enter free of charge. The Center is located in Perry, Georgia (click on the link to view the location on Google Maps), about a one-hour drive from Atlanta. At the Go Fish Education Center, regional species of freshwater fish as well as a variety of reptiles and aquatic wildlife are exhibited in aquariums, and a variety of wildlife conservation programs for all ages are included in the educational programming. Local Georgia habitats are also featured, and visitors can test their skills on hunting and fishing simulators as well as learn how fish are raised in a state-of-the-art hatchery. On the Go Fish web-site from 7 am to 8 pm daily, you can watch a live webcam broadcast of the fish swimming in the 15-foot-deep aquariums of the Piedmont Reservoir exhibit.

massee lane gardensBefore I first visited Perry, I asked some of my well-traveled book club friends what else we might do in and around Perry so we could make a day trip of the All-State Band auditions. My friend Betty, an avid gardener, advised us to visit the Massee Lane Gardens of the American Camellia Society, in Fort Valley, GA. The gardens are intimate, with a wide variety of camellias, of course, and brick paved shaded walkways dotted with mile markers and millstones, part of the collections of the originator of the gardens, Mr. David Strother. The plantings also include a rose garden and a small Japanese garden with water features as well as access to adjacent pecan groves.

andersonville cemeteryBetty also told us that the National Prisoner of War Museum is nearby, which is adjacent to the Andersonville Civil War historic site. The POW museum is also the acting visitor’s center for the park and is open from 9 am to 4:30 pm, closing only for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The Camp Sumpter Military Prison was the largest confederate military prison during the Civil War, and of the nearly 45,000 Union soldiers imprisoned here, about 13,000 died due to highly insalubrious conditions. The museum visit is free of charge and the indoor collections include many fascinating and highly personal artifacts that document the lives of soldiers from a variety of conflicts in American history. Visitors can walk through the park, exploring reconstructions of parts of the Andersonville blockade as well as the Andersonville National Cemetery. According to the museum website, the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site is just 22 miles from Andersonville.

yoders restaurantIn addition to these great places to visit, Betty told me that she and her husband also enjoy dining at a local Amish-style restaurant and bakery near Montezuma, GA, which serves southern comfort style food and a variety of deserts, including shoofly pie.  We didn’t go to the restaurant, but it seemed like a nice cultural attraction.

Take advantage of the Go Fish pass to visit rural central Georgia. You may see, as I did, clumps of cotton bunched along the edges of the roadway. Not being a native Georgian or southerner, I had never seen cotton growing before…and at first, I wondered why there was so much trash along the road’s edge! The pecan groves and peach orchards are lovely to see as well.





Apr 17 2013

Backyard Birds (part 2)

by Dea Anne M

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Feb 8 2012

Planting a promise

by Dea Anne M

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

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

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


May 3 2010

Read, Georgia, Read!

by Patricia D

We are beyond lucky in DeKalb County to be the host site for the Georgia Center for the Book.  The GCB’s mission is to provide support to libraries, literary programs and, whaddaya know, literature.  They do it in fine style and though the mission is to serve the entire state many of the programs are based in the metro area.  Over the years I have attended many GCB events at the Decatur Library and the Carter Center.  I missed Christopher Moore discussing Fool and Paula Deen sharing her story in Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin’ because I had to work, but I also had the great pleasure of meeting  Annette Gordon Reed when she was here discussing her amazing, Pulitzer prize winning  The Hemingses of Monticello.  Many of the GCB Author Talks are also available on the website as downloadable podcasts.  As a children’s librarian I have a tough time keeping up with adult literature and have to work hard to find things I might like.  Thanks to GCB programs I have read many books I would otherwise have skipped (Finn by Jon Clinch and Martha Washington: An America Life by Patricia Brady) which is why I’m so pleased to see the “25 Books All Georgian’s Should Read” list.  I probably won’t  get to read everything on it in 2010 but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into this list.  You should try it out too.  See the completed list here.


Dec 18 2009

Celebrating the Birth of two Georgians

by Amanda L

Today is the anniversary of the birth for two famous Georgians.  These two men made an impact in their respective fields. I knew the first one, Ty Cobb, was from Georgia but I was surprised that Ossie Davis was from Georgia.

Ty Cobb made his impact on the baseball world.  He was born in 1886 in Narrows, Georgia. He was known as the “Georgia Peach” and was considered an outstanding offensive player of all time.  He played for Augusta in the minor South Atlantic League. He set many Major League records. Several are still intact today.  Ty Cobb  was the first man elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame which was established in Cooperstown, Ohio in 1936.

Want to learn more about Ty Cobb? Check out these books.

Ty Cobb by Charles C Alexander

Cobb_A biography Cobb: a biography by Al Stump

Ossie Davis made an impact in films. He was born in Cogdell Georgia in 1917.  He was known as one of the busiest African-American Entertainers in the 1970’s.  In his career he wrote plays and books. He was a director, playwright and producer. He co-starred in a radio program with his wife in the mid-1970’s.

Want to learn more or see some of Ossie Davis’s work? Check out the following.

Black Directors in Hollywood by Melvin Donaldson

Finding Buck McHenry

Miss Ever’s boys

Ossie With Ossie Davis and Ruby: in this life together

Ossie pic book Just Like Martin by Ossie Davis

Want more information about these gentleman but can’t get into a library? You can use the Library’s electronic resource, Biography Resource Center. This resource along with other electronic resources can be found on our Reference Database page.


Jul 6 2009

We Hold These Truths

by Lesley B

declarationIn honor of Independence Day, head over to the American Memory site at the Library of Congress and take a look at actual documents from our country’s founding. Here’s a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s own hand.   Freedom wasn’t cheap, as you can see by a look at George Washington’s Revolutionary War Expense Account.

For local history, you can browse the Digital Library of Georgia. Libraries, archives and museums hold unique and precious items but those maps, manuscripts, photographs, etc. are too fragile to be regularly read or viewed by the public that owns them.  As these original materials are scanned and added to online archives, Americans get full access to their past. Nothing more democratic than that.

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May 4 2009

Staycation Ideas

by Amanda L

Charlie Eliott Wildlife Center 2009_parkpass Gaithers Plantation

Now that Spring break is over, Summer is not far away. Many of us will be looking for ways to have fun close to home. Last year was the first time I had heard of a staycation. The Library has many ways to enjoy your staycation. We have books, movies, music and free programs.

Libraries throughout Georgia have again partnered with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to be able to check out Georgia parks and historic passes for free. Here at DCPL, you may reserve a Georgia Park pass just like you would any other material. You may check it out for seven days. The Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s website lists all of the participating parks and historic sites. Georgia Parks that are located on National Forest land are not included in this park pass.

The Library has a few travel (staycation) books on Atlanta. These can be helpful to find some places that you would not have thought to visit. Some examples areFrommer’s Atlanta, Atlanta: A Complete guide and Around Atlanta with Kids.

The Library also has a few travel books on Georgia. For those day trips, try Hidden Georgia and Georgia Backroads Traveler. These books not only give suggestions on historic and interesting places, they also list a variety of restaurants and inns. One of my favorites that both books mention, is the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle. The owners have recently added the Blue Willow Village with a museum and shops.

For those outdoor people, check out The Hiking Trails of North Georgia. The book gives estimated times and the difficulty of each trail. Finally, for those interested in fishing. Check out my blog post from last year. Have a wonderful staycation!

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Mar 9 2009

The Wrath of Mother Nature

by Amanda L

Hasn’t the weather been wacky here in Georgia the last few weeks? As I write this with six inches of snow on the ground, I thought about the month of March. In Georgia, the month of March has given us a blizzard (1993), snow and tornadoes. Tornado season in Georgia is from March through May. According to the National Weather Service, we see more tornadoes during the month of April than any other month.

The damage and strength of tornadoes fascinate many people. Who hasn’t watched Twister and been in awe of the strength of the tornado? For those who are fascinated or others who just want to know more about tornadoes, the Library has many books and a few movies.

For the person just wanting to know the facts, there is Tornadoes by Michael Allaby . This book gives all the basics about tornadoes from how they form, how they measure the intensity and measure the damage. Until this year, I had never remembered hearing about the EF (Enhanced Fujita) scale. This book and the National Weather Service explain how this enhanced scale measures not only the intensity of a tornado but also the damage it produced.

For the person who just loves the chase, the Library has Big Weather: Chasing Tornadoes in the Heart of America by Mark Stenvold. This book takes a look at chasing tornadoes through the eye of a storm chaser. Although the book is non-fiction it reads like a novel and keeps you glued to the pages.

For the person who likes to understand the human side of nature, there is F5:Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the Twentieth Century by Mark Levine. This book also reads like a novel. It looks at the day in 1974 that saw the most tornadoes spawn across several states. There were 148 tornadoes on April 2, 1974. The author interviewed many people who experienced the tornado outbreak. The author tells each story from what they were doing that day to the experience of living through a tornado.

For the person who likes to experience things visually, the Library has Hunt for the  Supertwister. This documentary looks at storm chasers trying to find that F5 tornado.

Here are some pictures taken a few weeks ago when a EF2 that touched down and stayed on the ground for close to 10 miles. Although not as impressive as damage to houses, you can see the 1/4 mile wide swath it made through forested land in Jasper County, Georgia.


Logo_go The new theme for Georgia State Parks is Get Out, Get Dirty, Get Fit, For FREE!  To help residents do just that, a new program allows library patrons to check out park passes.

A joint initiative of Georgia Public Library Service and the Parks, Recreation and Historic Sites Division (PRHSD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the public library ParkPass Program began June 2.

Folders include an annual ParkPass that exempts visitors from paying the daily parking fee at state parks, an annual Historic Site pass good for free admission for one visitor to any of Georgia’s 18 state historic sites and a copy of the Guide to Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites featuring descriptions, photos, directions and a map of all locations.

The folders can be located in the DCPL Catalog by a keyword search for the words “Georgia State Parks.”  They can be checked out for one week, and can be renewed twice if there are no holds waiting.  The overdue fine will be $0.50 per folder per day.  Most branches have at least two folders available for checkout; please check with your local branch for more information.  Be sure to keep up with the whole kit, though–a lost piece of the folder will result in a $30 replacement charge!

Among the park system’s most popular attractions are Amicalola Falls State Park in Dawsonville, the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site, Etowah Indian Mounds Historic Site in Cartersville, the Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site in Fitzgerald, Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site in Warm Springs, Tallulah Gorge State Park in Tallulah Falls and Unicoi State Park in Helen.  Visit the Georgia State Parks website for more information.  For more information on the GO Georgia Campaign, including tips and events, check the Get Outdoors Georgia website.


May 23 2008

Got the Gas Pump Blues?

by Nolan R

Lots of folks are staying close to home this summer, due to rising gas costs.  Although usually the Library is the place to go for free summer fun, please remember that all DeKalb County Public Library branches will be closed on Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26 in observance of Memorial Day. 

Even though the Library is closed, there’s still a lot going on around town this weekend.  There’s some great fun to be had nearby at the 20th Annual Decatur Arts Festival, including the Artists Market and Literary Arts Festival.  Another Memorial Day tradition in Atlanta, the Atlanta Jazz Festival, is moving to Woodruff Park this year.  For other local events this holiday weekend, check out the AJC’s Access Atlanta or Creative Loafing.

If you happen to be amongst the one million Georgians who have decided to hit the road this weekend, you might want to check out these links to find the best gas prices nationwide.  And if you’re not heading out of town, you can at least feel some satisfaction that Georgia’s prices aren’t as high as some–gas in Spring Valley, NY is up to $4.98/gallon!

Automotive.com – Search by zip.

GasBuddy – Search by state or zip.  Allows search by type of gas (regular unleaded, premium, deisel).

MapQuest Gas Prices – Shows prices in a map format.  Zoom in or out for area desired.

MotorTrend Gas Prices – Search by zip code or click on

MSN Autos – Find prices by zip code.  Prices displayed on map and in list format.

And if you’re looking for gas mileage tips, gas prices, or gas mileage comparisons for new cars, check out www.fueleconomy.gov.