Friday, January 28, 2011

How big, really?

The things you can learn about at your local library!

How big was the radiation cloud over Chernobyl, really? Sometimes a visual helps put things into perspective. Imagine the 2010 flooding in Pakistan laid out across the Midwest, or the Great Library of Alexandria sprawled on top of your local library.

A prototype developed fo
r the BBC called Dimensions allows you to overlay noteworthy places, events, and objects onto the location of your choice. It has several options within nine categories: The War on Terror, Space, Depths, Ancient Worlds, Environmental Disasters, Festivals and Spectacles, The Industrial Age, WWII - Battle of Britain (it's the BBC, remember), and Cities in History. Simply pick the one you want and enter in a zip code or street address.

Check out http://www.howbigreally.com to compare the scale of the Roman Colosseum to your neighborhood. I can't wait to show a NASA fan I know what the International Space Station looks like when it's centered over his house!
Try it and let me know what you think.

PS - Hats off to Heather for introducing me to this cool new learning tool!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Try Poe's Poetry

Last week marked the 211th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, but the Poe Toaster failed to show once again. In a tradition that stretches back to the 1940's, a mysterious figure dressed in black with a white scarf and a wide-brimmed black hat would sneak into Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore; laying three roses and a half-full bottle of cognac at the foot of the marker of Poe's original grave. It has become a tradition among fans of Poe to watch out for this remarkable visitor, but when the traditional offering failed to take place this year for the second year in a row, the Poe pilgrims fear that the tradition is no more. But they are not certain.

It is fitting that this inscrutable enigma is associated with Edgar Allan Poe, a man who was found in the streets of 1849 Baltimore in delirious condition two days before he died, wearing clothes that were not his own. To this day, no one is even sure of the exact reason of his death. For a man whose very death is clouded in mystery, I believe that he himself would be pleased with the bizarre ritual visits to his grave marker.

This master of suspense and virtuoso of terror, creator of so many stories exploring the themes of regret, self-doubt, death, and fear (not to mention being the great-grandfather of the modern detective novel) also had a passion for words and a pen tuned to meter and rhyme. Poe produced soaring poetry that has always reverberated throughout the undercurrents of literature in the last century and a half. It was his poetry that made up the first two books he ever published and it was his poetry that inspired the French Symbolist movement of the late 19th century. Some of Poe's best work occurred when his tragic, horror-ridden side connected with his supreme control of words and meter, such as in the Raven, the first stanza of which follows:

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
''Tis some visitor,' I muttered, 'tapping at my chamber door-
Only this, and nothing more.'"

The rest of this magnum opus as well as all of his other stories and poetry can be found here at DPPL. In closing, I'd like to remind you of what they say in the old country: without Poe, poetry would just be ___try.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Life's Little Ironies

Seems like all entities involved in the book world are addressing E-reading. Libraries are staying current by providing electronic content and devices, publishers are designing new marketing strategies, and book stores are selling the flashy gadgets along side plain old printed material. As this universe is perfected and prices keep dropping E-reading is going to be inevitable. Here at the library, as you probably know, we have several Sony Readers to lend for our Ebook discussions and the Barnes and Noble Nook is our winter reading club prize. (thanks to the Friends of the Library)

Given all that, imagine that there is another new format being touted. This one in Europe by the Spanish publishing house Ediciones B. Described as "a sensational innovation in the world of books, Librinos, are innovative in concept, format and material. Easy to read everywhere: on the beach, in bed, on the go." And want to know what it is? A minuscule paperback that opens from the bottom up like a notebook with the binding at the top. How I would love to be privy to the research on this packaging. While we here are all about the gadget, someone has reinvented the low tech paperback. Who would have thought the two continents would be so different? But are we? Interestingly, the titles that have been printed in this new mini paperback form are mainly from English speaking authors. Five of the first six titles published are from authors you know and love... like life's little ironies.

The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville

Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Winter in Madrid by CJ Sansom

Friday, January 14, 2011

Remember the Classic TV Shows

We have a Classic TV display up right now and it's got me thinking about a lot of the shows I used to watch. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. As I was watching Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Welcome Back Kotter, my parents were watching M.A.S.H., Barney Miller and All in the Family. Later as I was watching Mork & Mindy, The Dukes of Hazard, and The A-Team they'd be watching Cheers, Golden Girls or The Bob Newhart Show.

Occasionally when I can't find something to watch, I turn to one of the classic TV stations and watch the oldies. It is not surprising to me that some shows hold up over the years better than others. Not too long ago I watched a few old episodes of Mork & Mindy and I could not see what I ever liked; same with the A-Team. But Happy Days still appeals to me. M.A.S.H, All in the Family and Cheers seem as good if not better than they were back in their day. I believe it is the quality of the writing more than anything that makes many of these shows stand the test of time.

And I must put in a plug for my favorite (though not quite classic) TV show of all time, Northern Exposure. Many of these TV series' are available on DVD here at the library. Check 'em out and take a walk down memory lane.

What were some of your favorite TV shows of yesteryear? And do you think they are still good today?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Winter Reading Club - Curl Up With a Good Nook

Remember to read a book...

...and you could win!

Snowy days like today are perfect for settling in with a good book. Now, when you do, you just might win a Barnes & Noble Nook eReader. For every book you read between now and February 26, fill out an entry slip for a chance to win. You can find the slips on the 3rd floor by the elevators.

Enter every time you read a book. The more you read, the better your chances!
The Nook was purchased through the generosity of the
Friends of the Library

Friday, January 7, 2011

Inspiration In About An Hour

Ringing in the New Year with resolutions for self improvement is a time-honored tradition. A lot of us face each January with an out with the old, in with the new attitude. Naysayers may scoff -- it has been said that "many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits." I say use whatever motivation works. If, in the time it took you to get used to writing out 2011 instead of 2010, you began to achieve a personal goal, kudos to you! Making life better takes work, so you have to start somewhere. But these days, trying to improve yourself can feel like just another entry on an endless to-do list. While there may not be a short cut to a better you, there are ways to work smarter to get what you want. Multi-task: use your commute time. At the library we've got short, single CD audiobooks designed to motivate you -- in about an hour. Here are some of the inspirational titles available:

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan J. Jeffers. Overcome anxiety with situational exercises and positive thinking models that unravel the complexities and reverse the effects of fear.

The Present: The Gift That Makes You Happy and Successful at Work and in Life by Spencer Johnson. This simple story provides inspiration and practical guidance for work and personal life, by a co-author of The One Minute Manager.

What Now? by Ann Patchett. Drawing on personal experiences, best-selling novelist Ann Patchett answers the question that most of us ask ourselves at a crossroads in life: "What now?"

Being Perfect And, A Short Guide to A Happy Life by Anna Quindlen. In Being Perfect, Pulitzer Prize-winner Anna Quindlen talks about how to shape a life that is uniquely yours. In A Short Guide to a Happy Life, she reflects on what it takes to live deeply every day.

Stress Reduction and Creative Meditations by Mark Allen. Using soothing words, music, meditation exercises and visualizations, this audiobook guides listeners toward a more fulfilling, less harried life at work.

Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul: Inspirational Stories of Overcoming Life's Challenges by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. A collection of stories about rising above life's obstacles and pain, this book emphasizes triumph in the face of overwhelming odds.

Just Who Will You Be? by Maria Shriver. From the First Lady of California comes inspiring advice on how to live a full life when faced with the challenge of figuring out just who you will become.

It's Not Easy Being Green and Other Things to Consider by Jim Henson. Enjoy a collection of quotes, stories, songs, and ideas from the creator of the Muppets, performed by John Lithgow, Whoopi Goldberg, and Muppet performer Jerry Nelson.

Click on the title you're interested in to place a hold, or check out more possibilities on the 3rd floor.

"Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man." ~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Making a Difference, OR, Before The Help Was The Long Walk Home

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, struck a chord with readers that continues to sound. Still on bestseller lists months after publication, The Help is the story of two African-American maids and a wealthy young white woman who bring change to Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, undertaking a risky project to illuminate the experiences of the community's African-American maids and the indignities of segregation.

An uplifting novel about "ordinary" people who make a difference in their community, The Help is similar in spirit and subject matter to the movie The Long Walk Home. Like The Help, The Long Walk Home features an African-American maid and a white woman working together to bring change to the segregated South. Set in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, during Dr. King's Montgomery bus boycotts, The Long Walk Home's heroine is Odessa, played by Whoopi Goldberg, a maid, wife and mother who walks miles to work rather than break the bus boycott. She inspires not only her family, but the movie's secondary heroine, Odessa's employer Norma, played by Sissy Spacek, who ultimately defies her racist husband, providing rides to the bus boycotters. In the words of the narrator, Norma's daughter, now an adult reflecting on Odessa's influence: "There's always something extraordinary about someone who changes and then changes those around her."

An inspiring film with a strong, understated performance by Whoopi Goldberg, The Long Walk Home garnered little attention when it was released in 1990. But we're reviving it as a Suburban Mosaic program, and you can attend a screening and discussion of The Long Walk Home here at the library on Sunday, January 16th at 1:30 p.m. Founded in 2004, the Suburban Mosaic organization fosters cultural understanding through literature and other programming in suburban Cook and Lake counties. Its 2010-2011 Book of the Year for adults is The Help, which the Tuesday morning book group discussed in September.

You can register for the film and discussion at the 1st floor information desk or online.

And if you have a child between preschool and 2nd grade, you can bring your little one to our Drop-in Family Storytime on Monday, February 7th from 7 to 7:30 p.m. (No registration required.) This storytime, on the subject of caring, will include the Suburban Mosaic title for preschoolers through kindergarteners, How to Heal a Broken Wing. This picture book about a boy who cares for an injured bird with his mother and then frees it exemplifies the Mosaic's 2010-2011 theme, Making a Difference.

You're never too young (or old) to make a difference. Click here for more information about the Suburban Mosaic including the 2010-2011 titles.