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


Jul 5 2016

Pick Your Own

by Camille B

Basket of strawberries 1

Summer vacation is well underway, and for some, it’s already  proving to be a test of endurance as you struggle to come up with fun and inventive ways to keep the kids happy and occupied. I imagine if you have to hear the words “I’m bored,” one more time, you’ll just pull your hair out.

So here’s one more thing that you can add to your list of summer fun that’s exciting, educational and reasonably priced- a trip to one of the local U-pick farms in Georgia.

I had the pleasure of taking my nieces and nephews to one of these farms a few weeks ago, and we had so much fun I was sorry we hadn’t done it sooner.

Not only was I able to dispel the myth that strawberries grew on trees, but I also enjoyed watching them race each other down the lanes trying to see who would fill their buckets first, all while enjoying the delicious fruit.

We didn’t have to make a reservation since it was a fairly small group. Gallon buckets were provided to us at the cost of $1 per bucket, which we were able to keep for our next visit. In addition to fruit picking, there were also farm animals like goats, cows and chickens which were an additional treat for the kids.

So take a day when the weather’s really nice and it’s not too hot out, to go visit one of these farms, giving the kids an experience they won’t soon forget. The strawberry picking season is almost at a close for the summer (the window’s a very small one, beginning in April to the end of June), but don’t be disheartened because blueberries, blackberries and peaches are still plentiful and open for picking at many of the local farms throughout Georgia.Peach Picking 1

And guess what? Your day isn’t over yet. When you return home, should you want to stretch your fruit picking fun a little further, engage the help of the older kids (the younger ones too if you have the heart) to make jams, jellies and maybe even peach cobbler or ice cream.

To locate a U-pick farm that’s nearest you, check out helpful websites like pickyourown.org, which tells you, not only what’s available for picking throughout the year, by country and state or province, but also  gives you weather forecasts, tells you where you can find markets and roadside stands and even provides helpful recipes and fruit canning instructions.

And should you decide to go, I hope you have as much fun as we did.

To help pickle, jam or preserve your pickings, check out these DCPL offerings:

Foolproof Preserving from the editor’s at America’s Test Kitchen

Jar of Jam

Farm Fresh Georgia

Farm Fresh Georgia byJodi Helmer

Jam it, pickle it, cure it by Karen Solomon


Jun 10 2016

Your Favorite Flavor

by Dea Anne M

icecream2There was almost always ice cream in the refrigerator while I was growing up and it was always a welcome treat. All of us liked it…on that we could agree. What my brother and I could not agree on was what flavor of ice cream was the best. My brother championed chocolate. For me, it was strawberry all the way. I realize that this difference of opinion is about as important as who gets which side of the back seat of the car (and that ongoing discussion was a whole story in itself) but be assured that the two of argued about it often enough that my poor mother sought a respite by buying something called Neapolitan ice cream. If you’re unfamiliar with this “flavor” of ice cream, it’s chocolate, vanilla and strawberry layered side by side. My father would sometimes volunteer the opinion that Neapolitan was ice cream “that can’t make up its mind.” He also ventured to suggest that the whole point of such a thing was that one could have a sampling of all three flavors in one bowl or even in one spoon. Of course my brother and I knew the truth. The genius of the side-by-side format of Neapolitan lay in its ability to provide each person with her or his favorite. The physical evidence of our mutual conviction was starkly revealed when, on more than one occasion, an adult attached to the household would open the carton only to find a ridge of vanilla rising up from the bottom like a desolate mountain peak abandoned by time and humanity.

Okay. I’ll admit that I’ve already written about ice cream – as have other DCPL bloggers such as in this worthy entry and this one. I can’t help it though. When the weather gets hot, my culinary yearning turns (as in really sharp uey) toward the smooth, the sweet, the cold and I know that I’m not alone. One of my favorite websites, The Kitchn (and yes, I’m spelling that correctly) has been running a feature called “My Favorite Pint”  wherein they ask a variety of people about his or her favored ice cream. The results are, as you might imagine, all over the place. Blogger Joy Wilson, otherwise known as Joy the Baker, likes Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Author Rainbow Rowell is partial to Talenti’s Mediterranean Mint Gelato. (Talenti gelato pints come, by the way, in brown-lidded, clear plastic canisters that make, once empty and clean, surprisingly elegant containers for spools of thread and other small crafting supplies).  J. J. Johnson, chef at acclaimed Harlem restaurant The Cecil, likes plain vanilla Hagen-Dazs but he likes to add potato chips for, as he puts it, “some extra salty crunch.” And lest we veer too  close toward the readily available, pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of that delicious hybrid the Cronut, loves the olive oil gelato from Otto in New York City. The pint costs $13 and you can only buy it from the restaurant but hey, when it comes to ice cream, one’s true love can never be denied.

I’m fortunate enough to own a small electric ice-cream maker and to sometimes have the time to make my own custom treats. However, I buy plenty of ice cream too and I most often find myself purchasing…vanilla! Like your never-fail wardrobe basic, vanilla just seems goes with everything from fresh strawberries to chocolate cake. When I make my own, I’ll either use seasonal fruit or search the internet or books for new ideas. Speaking of ice cream resources, here’s a few from DCPL.

Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream is a lovely volume from Laura O’Neill, Ben Van Leeuwen and Pete Van Leeuwen. The trio are the founders of the popular Brooklyn ice creamery whose empire includes a fleet of yellow ice cream trucks  in New York and Los Angeles. There are recipes here for vegan ice cream and granitas as well as dairy treats such Ceylon Cinnamon and Blueberry. Or try Lindsay Clendaniel’s Scoop Adventures: the best ice cream of the 50 states for intriguing sounding recipes such as Balsamic Fig and Popcorn as well as a peek inside ice cream parlors across the nation. Finally, check out Recipe of the Week: Ice Cream by Sally Sampson for delicious recipes which really will keep you supplied with a different frozen treat for each week of the year.

If you could invent your own ice cream flavor, what would it be? What’s your current favorite? Just for fun, here’s a quiz, again from The Kitchn, that reveals what your favorite flavor says about you. It is, as the writers admit, “strictly scientific.”





Mar 24 2016

Mommy and Me

by Hope L

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

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

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

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

From the Mommy and Me website,

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

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

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

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

Mommy and Me Family Literacy | about us




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.





May 13 2015

National Barbecue Month

by Glenda

BBQDid you know that May is National Barbecue Month? Barbecuing is a very popular pastime in our country. No matter if you prefer charcoal or gas, barbecuing is American as apple pie. Most people use barbecues to get together with family and friends. Barbecuing is also a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather. It can also be very healthy. Usually when people barbecue they use fresh food, which is better for our bodies. Barbecuing can be economical because making food at home is usually cheaper than eating out.

When I think of barbecue, I think of ribs smothered in sauce, shish kebabs and grilled corn. I think of being with my family and having a good time. I think of fireworks and being at various Atlanta area parks. Barbecues are about so much more than the food. If you have barbecued food on the brain, stop by your local library and pick up some of the wonderful books on barbecuing.

The Gardener and the Grill: The Bounty of the Garden Meets the Sizzle of the Grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Good Housekeeping Grilling: More Than 275 Perfect Year Round Recipes, Rosemary Ellis, Editor-in-Chief

Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire: 125 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors by Michael Chiarello

100 Grilling Recipes You Can’t Live Without by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

So enjoy all of May–and if you can, barbecue every day for the rest of the month.


{ 1 comment }

Jun 4 2014

Summer Salads

by Glenda

StrawberryAvocadoSpinachSalad500Now that summer is on the way this is a great opportunity to start eating more salads. There are a variety of salads that most of us eat on a regular basis, but this month take a chance and try some new salads. Most people love the classic Caesar salad or Cobb salad and I don’t know anyone who will turn down a fruit salad, but there are salads most people never try. So let us look at some of those salads. How about trying a Cantaloupe Carpaccio salad? To make this, slice cantaloupe extra thin, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and top with pepper and ricotta cheese. This is an easy recipe and it’s very refreshing. Do you love fish in a salad? Well, try the Smoked Trout salad. To make this salad, whisk one part cider vinegar with three parts olive oil, minced shallots, horseradish, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Toss with flaked smoked trout, julienne apple and beets, and arugula. If you don’t want to try either of these salads, then come by your local library and pick up a few salad books–such as Salads: 150 Classic and Innovative Recipes for Every Course and Every Meal by Leonard Schwartz with Sheila Linderman, Salad Suppers: Fresh Inspirations for Satisfying One-Dish Meals by Andrea Chesman, or Cooking Light: Big Book of Salads. When we think of salads we may think of only eating healthy, but salads can be fun as well, so make a fun salad.


May 23 2014

Ready for Summer Break?

by Rebekah B


Hello readers,

When I was growing up, the school year began in September, after Labor Day, and came to a close some time in June.  I grew up in Baltimore, and I remember those summer days at school very well, as we did not have air conditioning, and the image and feeling of those greyish-pink textured plastic seats stuck to my legs as I tried to focus on final exams is forever burned into my memory! Summers seemed so much hotter and more humid, probably because we did not have air conditioning, and so that season was more vividly demarcated in my mind.  I also remember playing in my parents’ back yard with my siblings and cousin Alex, with a garden hose and faded red dolphin-shaped sprinkler attachment, the blazing hot pavement scorching the soles of our bare feet.  A few summers we were sent to day camps, but we much preferred to stay home and relish in the long days and freedom from scheduling.


Here in the Atlanta area, the school calendar is a bit different, with school starting and ending so much earlier.  It feels strange to start a new school year in the heat of summer, but each region has its own culture, rituals, and traditions.  Like many parents, I am challenged by how to keep my child’s mind and body occupied during the long summer break since I don’t have much time off.  Now that my son is 14, he can safely stay home alone, but he is still too young to work.  We don’t have funds for vacations, music or other specialty camps, so we have to be creative to make that time work for us–with improvised language lessons (Russian and Finnish), dog training classes, gardening, hikes, bike riding, day trips, taking photographs, and other art projects.  Try borrowing the Georgia State Parks Pass, Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts Museum Pass, or the Go Fish Pass from DCPL for family outings, or attend summer events during the Library’s Vacation Reading Program.   Many organizations offer volunteer opportunities and internships for older teens, and some offer family volunteering with parental supervision. Communication with friends mostly happens through Snapchat or Facebook.  Without family nearby or close friends with whom to spend time, despite these activities, the summer can sometimes seem like a long, barren stretch.


Many families plan elaborate summer vacations or fill their children’s breaks with robotics classes, intensive science, math, or reading classes, swim meets, music or art training, organized sports, internships, or other camps and activities.

While it is a frequent habit to bathe the past in a golden nostalgic light, a quick google search will soon reveal that childhood was for most far from an idyllic realm for any child around the world through history.   For so many today,  being a child in the twentieth century is indeed a great place and time to live, grow, and to be loved and cherished. I am sure that so many children throughout the world today would be thrilled to be allowed to attend school year-round and to be relatively free from fear and violence.

Old Photos of Girls and Their Dolls (6)

Out of curiosity, I began to wonder what exactly is the history of summer breaks for children as well as the evolution of how children are treated as members of society throughout history.  I have read about child abuse and neglect being the common lot of children up until the twentieth century.  If you click on this link, (readers, beware: this article is not for the faint of heart!) you can read an article about the cross-cultural evolution of childrearing through the ages and around the world. We are very fortunate that our societies are constantly evolving as is our desire to be more self-aware, responsible, empathic and compassionate parents and human beings.  Not so long ago, even in the United States, many children were obligated to work to contribute to their families’ income, and to take care of their parents and siblings, whether in urban or rural settings.  According to historians at Old Sturbridge Village, a living history museum recreating an 1830’s New England farming village, most farm children went to school between the months of December and March, taking a break until May and then attending school again between May and August.  In the spring and fall seasons, children and adults worked together to help with planting the fields and harvesting.

children working

In the 1800s, urban schools in the United States also operated by a very different calendar than the one with which we are familiar today.  In fact, some of the problems families encountered then are not so different from ours.  For example, immigrant parents of the early 19th century needed safe and affordable places for their children to stay while their parents worked long hours in often insalubrious factories, shops or mills. At that time, children studied 11 months out of the year.

Around the world, each country has a different system and calendar, as well as varying amounts of paid vacation time for working parents.  If you click on the link, you can see the exact breakdown for all countries in Europe.  For example, when I lived in France, every working person had at least five weeks of paid vacation time.  Paid vacations were first instituted in France in 1936 after massive strikes and the election of the Front Populaire.  These social changes brought about a better quality of life for ordinary working people and transformed the summer season.

As is common throughout Europe, when I lived in France, school breaks for ski vacations were scheduled every February, with other breaks during the spring and summer.  Children were out of school every Wednesday, based on an old tradition in which in the past, children attended catechism or bible study on Wednesdays and older children would attend classes on Saturdays.  The school days were much longer than in the U.S.  For example, my son attended pre-school from 8:00 a.m .to 4:00 p.m., with a long nap break during the day.  Various regions of France would alternate departure dates for vacations, altering children’s schedules to help manage vacation traffic on highways, trains, and airways.  After school and during holiday breaks, centres de loisirs, something like our public recreation centers run by county governments, would take over, providing after-care and camps.  Overall, the system made attempts to create some harmony between adult and children’s schedules, allowing for an abundance of shared family time. When the government instituted a shortened work week, my employer allowed us to take off time on Wednesdays, allowing employees with children to spend the time together.

centre de loisirs Chateau-Bonheur

Browsing the web, it would seem that most countries around the world follow similar holiday breaks, depending on religious or secular holidays observed locally.  In South Africa, for example, the school year is broken up into four terms, the first three each 11 weeks long, and the fourth 9 weeks long, with a three week summer break from June 27 to July 21st.  Many parents and teachers believe that long summer breaks are not beneficial to the learning process, and various school calendars have been proposed to break up the school year more equitably.  On the plus side, I feel longer breaks in fall or winter allow families to spend less on off-season vacations and are less of a burden in general on the family budget.  Various studies on the theme of work-life balance seem to agree that a concordance of adult work timetables and children’s school schedules would be beneficial for all, allowing for more quality family time.

Today, most children in the western hemisphere are not expected to work or to contribute to the family’s income.  In fact, from extreme abuse and neglect which was a common lot for nearly all children around the world for millennia, the more modern model of child rearing sets apart childhood as a time of privilege to be enjoyed, and for the first time in human history, at least in highly developed countries, fathers are encouraged to actively participate in their children’s upbringing.  I personally find it encouraging that childhood has evolved into a special, magical time, and that children have begun to be considered highly desired members of society.  I am hopeful that we are collectively working towards a more balanced and aware society, in which each individual, whether child or adult, is valued.  I am also hopeful that this model will be extended to other cultures and countries where poverty, war, and other ills cause children to be the first victims.


A few articles about the realities of childhood around the world today:




Some books about childhood in the DCPL collections:

Children at Play: An American History by Howard P. Chudacoff

Growing Up in Medieval London: The Experience of Childhood in History by Barbara A. Hanawalt

Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Remarkable Children: Twenty Who Made History by Dennis Brindell Fradin

Ancient Greek Children by Richard Tames

American Children’s Literature and the Construction of Childhood by Gail Schmunk Murray

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls


May 31 2013

ShareReads: Groundbreaking Reads

by ShareReads

Adult Summer Reading-Groundbreaking ReadsThe DeKalb County Public Library kicks off its 6th Annual Summer Reading for Adults program beginning May 25 and ending July 31, 2013. This year’s theme is Groundbreaking Reads. Hold up before you panic and think this is going to be a labor intensive task of critiquing books and a writing mini-dissertation. To the contrary, it’s as easy as 1, 2, and 3. Truly, just record three book titles or attend a branch book discussion or read/comment on our weekly ShareReads blog post (posted every Friday right here on DCPLive) or any combination of the three and be registered to win gift certificates from area DeKalb restaurants and a gift bag full of good books and goodies. Allof these activities make you eligible to enter into the reading program. I realize that summer is a time of travel, fun with family, gardening and for some just plain ol’ leisure. Therefore, if reading isn’t your thing ?feel free to listen to an audiobook or attend and listen to an interesting book discussion being held at one of our library branches. Don’t delay. Register online or at your closest branch and participate in our 6th Annual Summer Reading for Adults reading program.


Apr 26 2013

No Thumbs Fun

by Veronica W

I’m going shopping today for hula hoops for an upcoming library program. I confess I’m excited because it takes me back to the days of my childhood, when I could actually play games that required running and jumping and large muscles movement. As I remember it, the only game that required my thumbs was “I Declare War.”

Looking at me today, you would not believe once upon a time I jumped double dutch,  played hopscotch and was a terror on the handball court (Try playing it with a  hard, pink Spalding ball, if you dare) . When sitting down, my friends, sisters and I played hand clapping games.  (Anyone out there know “Old Mary Mack Mack Mack” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” as hand games?)  As much as  hot, cloudless days, road trips and dripping ice cream cones, the games of my childhood summon forth memories of summer.

If you have young folk in your life or just want to reminisce, look through a sampling of  game books such as Step It Down,  The Way to PlayLike It Was or Sidewalk Games, then head for the streets to try them out. Teens may drag their feet at first but I guarantee you they will end up enjoying themselves, if for no other reason than the fun of laughing at you.  The delightful, happy ladies below don’t care and neither will you. Go for it!



Jul 27 2012

ShareReads: My Very Zombie Summer

by ShareReads

ShareReads intro

This was my very ambitious summer. Between summer school, work and other obligations, I was determined to read a few books for pleasure. I requested several books and even started a few but nothing would hold my attention. My only source of pleasure reading was article reviews and textbooks for class. Though my head was filling with knowledge, I still needed some form of escapism in the few precious moments of down time I had.

So when a friend suggested that I read Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, I hopped on the Library’s catalog and requested the book. I mean, a book with zombies, conspiracy theories and secret agencies that protected the world, who could ask for anything more? I started reading it, but alas, life happened and there the book sat for weeks, waiting for me to continue my journey through its pages whenever I had a break in my schoolwork.

Then one day, I read a DCPLive blog post about a 5K obstacle course with zombies that included a list of a few good books to read. Imagine my excitement as I perused the list of the post-apocalyptic fiction. I mean, who doesn’t love a good zombie story right? So, I requested a copy of Rot and Ruin, Jonathan Maberry’s YA zombie fiction and could not put it down.

Set in a post-apocalyptic future, Rot and Ruin is about Benny Imura, a young teen who is about to turn sixteen, and is faced with finding a job or losing half of his food rations. He tries out for everything, wanting any job but a zombie hunter like his older brother Tom. His career choice will set off a chain of events that will forever change his life.

I was truly engaged with the story and amazed by the care that Maberry took with such a subject. It went beyond the simple see-zombie-run-from-zombie formula and grabbed the reader. Before I knew it, 464 pages passed me by and I do not want the story to end. Thankfully, there is a sequel, Dust and Decay, that just as enjoyable as the first book.

After reading both books, I think I will give Mr. Maberry’s Joe Ledger series another try now that I have a break from school and a taste for a zombie thriller.