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


Aug 15 2012

Still the Highest Calling

by Veronica W

Her name was Miss Blanchard and she was so pretty. She also smelled good and she was very, very kind. She seemed old to me then, although she was probably only about 23 or 24. She had infinite patience with a 6 year old who had never been to any school before and who could only cry and ask to go home.  She hugged me and gave me treats and let me stand next to her when the terror of being away from everything familiar overwhelmed me. In my young mind the teacher standard was forever set.

Years and years and more years ago, teaching was a high calling, especially in the African-American community.  Except for being a doctor—or a mortician—there was no more respectable  profession, and you did your family and neighbors proud when you became a teacher. Not so much now. Tired, underpaid and so often unappreciated, today’s teachers must often look out over the sea of twenty five or thirty childish faces at the beginning of a new school year and wonder if it’s worth it.  The library shelves are filled with people who say it is.

The book Christy, by Catherine Marshall, was the first one I read that brought home to me the special role teachers have in children’s lives. Granted, it is a love story and reading it as a teen, that aspect certainly appealed to me.  However the story of a young woman who goes into the Appalachian village of Cutter Gap, Tennessee in 1912, to teach against incredible odds, drew me in. Later I read The Water is Wide, Pat Conroy’s extraordinary memoir about teaching in a two room schoolhouse on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina…and there are so many more stories like his.

Just to name a few of them:

These stories—true or fictional—remind us that teaching is still a privilege. The ability to impart knowledge and understanding to someone else is nothing short of wonderful. With very few exceptions, every other profession, no matter how lauded or revered, has started out with a teacher. Yes, there are scandals and horror stories about what goes on in some classrooms. However I am able to write this post and you are able to read it because someone, at some time, taught us how. If you were lucky, they were like Miss Blanchard.


Jun 25 2012

I want to do that!

by Amanda L

I have a confession to make, I watch reality television. I love Ax Men, Wild Justice, Swamp People, American Pickers etc.  Recently, I realized that all of these shows are about the interaction between the people within a variety of careers. Watching Ax Men and Wild Justice it gives me a glimpse at what my life would have been like if I hadn’t changed my major in college at the end of my freshman year.

Swamp People and American Pickers fascinate me with how people can earn a learning. I never knew that people could earn a living hunting alligators or buying and selling old things.  There are so many careers out there that I never would have thought were available to people looking for a way to earn a living. What career did you aspire to be a part of when you were younger or what career would you like to pursue now? The library has many books that can give you a glimpse or information about a variety of careers.

Best green careers: explore opportunities in this rapid growing field by Jeffrey Dinsmore

The career chronicles: an insider’s guide to what jobs are really like: the good, the bad, and the ugly from over 750 professionals by Michael Gregory

 Odd jobs: 101 ways to make an extra buck by Abigail Gehring

The complete idiot’s guide to dream jobs by Brian O’Connell


Nov 2 2009

It’s Hot in the Kitchen

by Patricia D

I spent my twenties wandering in the food service wilderness, toying with the idea of going to cooking school, dreaming of opening my own rib shack or bakery as I washed dishes in a country club kitchen, made toast and scrambled eggs for 300 at a church camp, worked the line in a hotel kitchen in a popular tourist trap and cleaned and shelled 60 pounds of frozen shrimp every single day at a nightclub. Cooking for a living is what I wanted and, for the young and energetic, food service is fun—it’s grueling and will leave you broke and broken, but there’s nothing like the adrenaline jolt of a hot, busy kitchen on a Saturday night when Chef is bellowing, “Let’s move it people, we’re in the weeds!”

Library work can be as physically demanding as kitchen work—you’re on your feet all day, lifting heavy stuff and working odd hours.  However, I’ve never gotten a second degree burn from accidentally bumping into a hot bookshelf and I’ve never nearly severed a finger doing storytime.  I now have a job that doesn’t leave me reeking of grease and gets me into my own bed well before 2:00 a.m. but I often look back on the pressure cooker days and nights of those various kitchens with a great deal of nostalgia. When the longing hits, I turn to our collection for solace. If you have a similarly checkered work history or just get swept up in the drama of TV cooking shows (YES, I’m talking about you Gordon Ramsay!) these titles are all in the collection:

Heat: An Amateurs’ Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker and Apprentice to a Dante Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford

Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip—Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by Steve Dublanica

Service Included: Four Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter by Phoebe Damrosch

Cooking Dirty: a Story of Life, Sex, Love and Death by Jason Sheehan

The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin


Has “the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression” gotten you down? Okay, I just bummed myself out by writing that. Are you anxiously awaiting the fast-approaching holiday season? Could you maybe just use some extra pocket change? Well, let’s all put down the worries and pick up a fun, insightful book instead.

Odd Jobs: 101 Ways To Make An Extra Buck (Skyhorse Publishing) is a quirky, compact handbook full of information about…well, odd jobs. In this book author Abigail R. Gehring highlights some unique ways to bring in some additional income. The 101 featured jobs cover a broad spectrum of fields. There are hospitality and service positions such as barista, hospice/elderly care and house cleaner. Other occupations are for the truly adventurous like shell picking in Kauai, commercial skydiving in New Zealand or even FEMA Disaster Assistant. Still other gigs listed in this book can best be described as “off-the-beaten path” including lipstick reading (think Mary Kay lady meets Psychic Friends Hotline) or vacuum dust sorter.

Gehring offers some helpful hints on how to break into each of these professions–yes, they are all doable, believe it or not–and what to expect once you’ve become, say, a human scarecrow (yep!). I’ve borrowed this book from the library three times now because, for starters, I always feel like I can use some extra dough . But the main reason I enjoy Odd Jobs is because it’s a very well-written and entertaining read. The author, who has held 24 of the jobs featured here, fills the book with many of her own personal insights and experiences. The key to most of these jobs is an open mind, creativity, a fair bit of elbow-grease and a touch of luck. It’s a great way to think about one’s own job and life in general.

Hop over to DCPL and give Odd Jobs a try. You could be well on your way to becoming a top notch Betta Fish Breeder!

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If the above statement describes you, the library has a few things that can help prepare you for that job search. I know years ago, I was taught that you had to create a resume using a basic format and put it on white or manila stock paper. Over the last five years or so, how you present your resume or job history has changed quite a bit. Now most companies require that you fill out an application online whether it is for a the engineering firm or the fast food restaurant down the road. If they don’t have an online form, most companies will request that you e-mail your resume. You might also use a one stop web site that allows you to post your resume and apply to several jobs at one time.

Don’t know where to start? The library has many books on writing resumes and cover letters (again usually electronic). Some examples are Resumes for Dummies and Cover Letters that Knock Them Dead. You may also want to try a subject keyword search in the catalog using the phrases resumes, cover letters or job hunting. For more information, you can also check out the resources listed on the Jobs/Careers Subject Guide.

Need help using Word to create that electronic resume? The library has classes on how to use Microsoft Word and specific classes on using Microsoft Word templates to create a basic resume. Check our events calendar for the classes, times and locations. Most of these classes require sign up prior to the class.


Aug 25 2008

Don’t Stress Over It!

by Nolan R

What stresses you out at work?  Deadlines?  Angry people?  Public speaking?  Being stuck in a cubicle?  Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your current job situation and see what other options might be available.

A new book, 150 Best Low-Stress Jobs, might just be your ticket to stress-free living.  Using information gathered from the U. S. Census and the Department of Labor, the book analyzes common stress-inducing factors involved with many jobs.

The book lists jobs with the least likelihood of encountering certain stressful situations, including conflict situations, angry or physically aggressive people, consequence of error, public speaking, exposure to high places, and pressure to compromise moral values.   If you decide right now isn’t the best time to change careers, the book also offers tips on dealing with stress in your current workplace.  If you need more information on careers and job hunting, check with your librarian for more recommended titles.

Oh, and where does librarian rank on the list?  Number twenty-nine overall, right between Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installers and Computer Programmers.


Mar 26 2008

Not your run-of-the-mill jobs…

by David T

IndexShort on funds after paying your taxes? Want to sock away a little money for your summer vacation?  Check out Odd Jobs: 101 Ways to Make an Extra Buck, by Abigail R. Gehring.

According to the book’s publicity, the author herself has held 24 of the 101 jobs listed in its pages, some of which truly merit the adjective “odd.” In her introduction, Gehring says her book is for “anyone who could use a little extra cash, who wants to add some spice to his normal work routine, or who’s ready to murder his boss and jump the next plane to New Zealand.”

The book lists a multitude of part-time, temporary, and seasonal employment opportunities, from Crossing Guard to Mystery Shopper to Virtual Assistant. Among the many choices are ones that can be done from home or online, as well as some that require travel. For each, she provides the typical duties of the job, how to apply, what pay you can expect, expenses you’d have in getting started, and websites where more detailed information can be found. She also notes, with a nice sense of irony, “perks” and “downsides” of each job. Though you might not see yourself posing nude for a college art class, Gehring points out that the job is open to men and women of all body types, normally pays at least $15 an hour, and says encouragingly, “You’ll probably never make money doing less physically or mentally. Most of the time you just sit there.”

Even if you’re not in the market for part-time work, Odd Jobs is fun to browse, and some of the occupations we’ll bet you’ve never heard of. Somewhere in the world today, there’s a worker earning money as a Motivational Dancer, Vacuum Dust Sorter, or Gustatory Athlete. Just think — it could be you.

So, DCPLivers, what’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had?