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


Nov 23 2009

Health Care in America

by Jesse M

With the recently proposed $894 billion heath care legislation working its way through Congress (to date it has been passed by the House and is working its way through the Senate; for more information, go here to read a recent article detailing the progress of the legislation) and the national debate over universal health care, rising insurance costs, and the possibility of a public insurance option heating up, what is needed is high-quality, incisive, and in-depth reporting on the facts of the situation. Luckily for those interested in teasing out the true nature of the health care related problems facing the nation, journalists from both National Public Radio and the public radio program This American Life have worked jointly to produce several articles and programs examining many aspects of the health care debate, all of which are available for free online.

This American Life (which, as mentioned earlier, is a radio program and therefore is in audio format) has produced the following episodes on the topic of health care:

  • More is Less is an examination of why it is that medical costs keep rising. One story looks at the doctors, one at the patients and one at the insurance industry.
  • Someone else’s money is a deeper look inside the health insurance industry, including stories examining industry jargon, the origins of the employer health care system, and the inside scoop on drug coupons and how they affect drug prices.
  • The third act of the episode Fine Print reports on a House subcommittee hearing addressing the insurance industry’s practice of rescission.
  • Additionally the TAL website also features a page of links to other health care articles and information, which can be found here.

If you’d prefer to read your news rather than listen to it (though you can listen to these stories as well), take a look at the health care related content produced by NPR:

And finally, for those still eager for more coverage on this subject, check out a couple of titles available from the DCPL catalog:


I was listening to NPR in my car the other day when I heard this story about how public libraries are stepping up for people who are going through tough economic times. But other than saving you money that would otherwise be spent on buying new books, the library can also help you with your personal day-to-day finances. For example, check out some of these great databases, books, and websites for some sound financial advice.


“So…what’s your favorite book?” A simple question, but one that could possibly make or break a relationship? Could be, according to Rachel Donadio, whose essay, “It’s Not You, It’s Your Books,” was published in the New York Times Book Review in March.

Naming a favorite book or author can be fraught with peril. Go too low, and you risk looking dumb. Go too high, and you risk looking like a bore — or a phony.

While it’s not always a question of being too literary (or not enough), sometimes it just comes down to personal taste. I’m not sure that my husband’s love of Hemingway would have driven me away in the first week of dating, but I do think if he didn’t enjoy reading at all we might have a more serious conflict.

To hear more of Donadio’s thoughts on the topic, listen to the NPR interview “Books: A Canary in the Relationship Coal Mine?.”

And let us know–what are your deal-breaker books?


Jun 19 2008

NPR’s Summer Book Recommendations

by Jimmy L

National Public Radio‘s website now has a section called Summer Books 2008 that is filled with goodies like book recommendations, critic’s lists, and even a whole section on cookbooks. So if you’re still not sure what to read this summer, go on over there and get some suggestions before coming to the library!



Jan 9 2008

Book Review: China Road

by Heather O

Post_2 With “China Road: a journey into the future of a rising power”, NPR correspondent Rob Gifford journeys through the literal and cultural heart of modern China. An easily accessible work for those interested in post-Mao China and its increasingly important place in the world but don’t want to wade through a gigantic history book spanning China’s centuries old civilization. Following Route 312 from Shanghai to the ends of China at Korgaz in the N.W. Xinjiang province, Gifford travels through what seems like both past and future China as route 312 changes from the busy 10-lane superhighways in Shanghai to single-lane desert roads following the Old Silk Route further West. The road itself paints a vivid picture of the divergences in Chinese landscape and culture that few Westerners seem to know about: from corrupt local officials, Han Chinese tourists taking in ‘traditional’ Tibetan culture, polluted farms and rivers, to ancient historical wonders, rapidly growing urban oases, and Shanghai Hooters. Talking to everyone along the way from hermits with cellphones to Amway sales reps, Gifford taps into iconic imagery we are all too familiar with: route 312 is eerily similar to route 66 with all the wonder and contradictions of the opening of China’s West. The U.S. media is dominated by stories of superpower China’s economic boom and rapid modernization, Gifford attempts to find out what exactly that means to China itself by taking his 3000 mile trip moving east to west – from urban China to rural and minority China, the exact opposite of the route many Chinese often have to take to find work and a future.

Listen to the seven part NPR series “On the Road in China” based on Gifford’s book.

Recommended Reading:

The snow lion and the dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama– Melvyn Goldstein

River town: two years on the Yangtze – Peter Hessler

China shakes the world: a titan’s rise and troubled future and the challenge for America– James Kynge

Chinese lessons: five classmates and the story of the new China–  John Pomfret


A recent story on NPR’s show “Talk of the Nation” focused on a new National Endowment of the Arts study that finds Americans are not only reading less for fun, but reading less in general. 

This study contains some disturbing statistics:

  • On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading
  • Reading scores for American adults of almost all education levels have deteriorated, notably among the best-educated groups.
  • Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers, a 14 percent decline from 20 years earlier.

NEA’s website states: “To Read or Not To Read expands the investigation of the NEA’s landmark 2004 report, Reading at Risk. While that report focused mainly on literary reading trends, To Read or Not To Read looks at all varieties of reading, including fiction and nonfiction genres in various formats such as books, magazines, newspapers, and online reading. Whereas the earlier report assessed reading among adults age 18 and older, To Read or Not To Read analyzes reading trends for youth and adults, and readers of various education levels.”

Click HERE to read more or download the complete study from NEA.

Click HERE for NPR’s audio report on the study, online discussions, and related links.

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I make a habit at the end of each year to go through the “best of” lists for music albums and for movies.  I don’t always find a new favorite artist or film, but I almost always discover something new or interesting.  I had heard of the The Decemberists from a Fresh Air interview on NPR, but had not heard their music, and when I saw The Crane Wife on a “best of 2006” list, I decided to place a hold request on it through the library.  After a few weeks of waiting, I finally brought home the album and listened to it with my wife.  We were both big music fans in the early 1990s of bands like the Smiths, 10,000 Maniacs, and Georgia’s own R.E.M. and we were immediately reminded of all three.  The Crane Wife‘s songs are deceptively catchy and melodic, though the lyrics are all of fable, history, and tragedy.  The title track is a trilogy of songs based on a Japanese folk tale, “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)” is a dialogue between lovers separated by the Civil War, and “O Valencia!” tells of a Romeo and Juliet-type tragedy.

Between the unique use of narrative lyrics, lead singer Colin Meloy’s affected brogue-like intonations, and guitar hooks that recall early R.E.M. and Fleetwood Mac, The Crane Wife is a worthwhile album to listen to again and again.

The Decemberists’ official website:  www.decemberists.com.

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