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We’re Listening. Update on our Digital Branch Redesign

DBRL Next - March 19, 2014

DBRL logoDid you fill out an online survey about the library’s digital branch (www.dbrl.org) or participate in a focus group? If so, we thank you for providing us with some really valuable feedback we will use as we continue into the next phase of our website redesign. Many of you voiced similar concerns or questions, so we wanted to take the time to share some of what we learned and respond to some of your comments. (Note that the redesign process is still in the early stages – look for a new and improved dbrl.org in 2015.)

Less is more.
Many of you shared a real fondness for the resources available at dbrl.org, but you let us know that its text-heavy nature and busyness make it look cluttered and difficult to navigate.

No love for multiple log-ins.
I wish that we could tell you that we are developing a magic box where you can enter a single user name and password and have access to all of the third-party services we make available to you through our website, from the online catalog and interlibrary loan service to Zinio (downloadable magazines) and OverDrive (downloadable eBooks and audiobooks). The issue is that these tools and resources all come from different vendors, and they all work in different ways. Some of them require our users to create separate accounts to download their flashy magazines, and others need us to make sure that your library card number is in our database of active cardholders. For the most part, our vendors’ services don’t play nicely or neatly with each other. We hear (and share) your frustration, and we’ll continue to advocate on your behalf for better solutions. For now, if we want to be able to offer you eBooks and digital magazines (and we really want you to have access to downloadable materials), we have to settle for less than perfect in terms of their set-up and function. We do know that we can do a better job of creating clear FAQ pages for these services, and we will be working on that. Thanks for your support and patience.

Lose the library-ese.
There are some words we library folk love – reference, database, subject guide – but that mean little to those outside of the profession. One of our goals for the redesign will be to use everyday language to help you find the information you want and tools you need.

It’s not too late to share your feedback. Feel free to send your thoughts to pr@dbrl.org or post a comment here. Thank you! We look forward to making the digital branch an even more fun, interesting and useful place to visit.

The post We’re Listening. Update on our Digital Branch Redesign appeared first on DBRL Next.

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New DVD: “Rewind This”

Center Aisle Cinema - March 19, 2014

rewindthis

We recently added “Rewind This” to the DBRL collection. The film currently has a rating of 100% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

In the 1980s, videotape changed the world and laid the foundation for modern media culture. It traces the rise and fall of VHS from its heyday as the mainstream home video format to its current status as a nostalgic relic and prize to collectors who still cherish it. Featuring interviews with both filmmakers and enthusiasts from the VHS era.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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2014 Teen Book Tournament: Final 4 Announced

DBRLTeen - March 18, 2014

VOTE NOW through March 24 for the final two contending titles!

March Madness 2014During the months of February and March, area young adults have eliminated 28 books to determine their top four favorite titles in the March Madness Teen Book Tournament. Below is a list of contenders chosen from these preliminary rounds of voting. If you are just joining us, here’s a recap of how you can participate for a chance to win a free Barnes and Noble gift card, or an autographed copy of “Legend” by Marie Lu.

How the March Madness Teen Book Tournament Works:

Through a series of votes, we are narrowing the library’s list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. Prize winners will be announced on April 2 when we announce our book tournament champion.

  • Round 1: Voting complete for the Sweet 16.
  • Round 2: Voting complete for the Elite 8.
  • Round 3: Voting complete for the Final 4.
  • Round 4: VOTE NOW through March 24 for the final two contending titles.
  • Round 5: Vote March 25-31 for the book tournament champion.
  • April 2: The champion is announced!

All votes must be in by Monday, March 24 at 5 p.m. You may vote online at teens.dbrl.org or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations. Limit one ballot per person, per round.  Winning titles from this round of competition will be announced next Tuesday, March 25.

March Madness Teen Book Tournament: Final 4
  1. The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Holes” by Louis Sachar
  3. The Maze Runner” by James Dashne
  4. Legend” by Marie Lu

Originally published at 2014 Teen Book Tournament: Final 4 Announced.

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New DVD: “More than Honey”

Center Aisle Cinema - March 17, 2014

morethanhoney

We recently added “More than Honey” to the DBRL collection. The film currently has a rating of 100% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

An unprecedented global examination of endangered honeybees spanning from California to Switzerland, China and Australia. With all the hallmarks of a great nature documentary, the film employs the latest in cinematic technology to observe phenomena undetectable by normal eyesight, beautifully portraying the dramatic story of the disappearance of millions of bees in the last decade.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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The Gentleman Recommends: Donald Antrim

Next Book Buzz - March 17, 2014

Book cover for Mr. Robinson for a Better WorldDonald Antrim has been called a genius, and in 2013 (along with one of my most favorite writers), he was given the 625,000-dollar grant the MacArthur Foundation bequeaths to all geniuses. As far as I know (Antrim has yet to respond to my passionate, nearly polite pleas that he take one of those twenty question online IQ tests and forward me the results WITHOUT DOCTORING THEM), he deserves the unfathomable wealth, prestige and groupies such an award bestows. But I hear his fanciful imagination is one of his genius-y strengths, and I wonder, for certainly that isn’t the strength on display in “Elect Mr. Robinson For a Better World.” Said slice of propaganda is little more than an exquisitely written, chilling and accurate glimpse into the muggy, gator-blood pumping heart of present day Florida.

The titular narrator’s community is populated by residents that have taken to digging moats around their houses and filling them with broken glass, sharpened bamboo or water moccasins. Their park is packed with landmines, and taxpayers have voted to close the local school and occupy the building with a factory that turns coral into jewelry. Despite these everyday challenges, Mr. Robinson doesn’t craft the typical political tract. He never beats you over the head with policies or empty rhetoric, instead counting on the reader’s wisdom to deem him fit for office by the time they’ve completed his grim and propulsive tale.

Mr. Robinson is a former teacher who lost his job when the school was closed. He shares the dream of most displaced teachers: to start a school in his basement next to his scale-model medieval torture chamber and have students assist him in crafting political advertisements for his eventual mayoral run. This is a man overflowing with political talents. When the previous mayor made the perhaps hasty decision to launch Stinger missiles into the botanical garden, Mr. Robinson, drawing from his considerable knowledge of the history of torture, suggests he be drawn and quartered, and he has the know-how and follow-through to lead his fellow citizens in dismembering the man with fishing line and automobiles. While this knowledge is obviously a necessary component for holding political office, perhaps some might worry as to the lack of a softer side. Robinson nails that too: he feels the pieces of the former mayor deserve a distinguished burial and so keeps them in his freezer until he can devise the perfect send-off. (Which, of course, involves Egyptian rituals.) But maybe the voter is sympathetic to the arts. When the citizenry decides to use library books to detonate the hidden bombs in their park, Robinson takes the initiative to go in after the intact tomes. Plus, a new-age guru reveals that his inner animal is a buffalo, and although that means he nearly drowns during a spirit commune with his wife’s inner animal, a coelacanth (ancient weird fish), one cannot argue against the buffalo being well-suited to the rigors of modern politics.

As they say in Florida, two gators with one python, Antrim has convinced me Mr. Robinson would be, for a Florida town, an appropriate mayor; and also Florida is a scary place crammed with shuttered schools, swamps, suburban moats and psychotically over-zealous security guards.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Donald Antrim appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Donald Antrim

DBRL Next - March 17, 2014

Book cover for Mr. Robinson for a Better WorldDonald Antrim has been called a genius, and in 2013 (along with one of my most favorite writers), he was given the 625,000-dollar grant the MacArthur Foundation bequeaths to all geniuses. As far as I know (Antrim has yet to respond to my passionate, nearly polite pleas that he take one of those twenty question online IQ tests and forward me the results WITHOUT DOCTORING THEM), he deserves the unfathomable wealth, prestige and groupies such an award bestows. But I hear his fanciful imagination is one of his genius-y strengths, and I wonder, for certainly that isn’t the strength on display in “Elect Mr. Robinson For a Better World.” Said slice of propaganda is little more than an exquisitely written, chilling and accurate glimpse into the muggy, gator-blood pumping heart of present day Florida.

The titular narrator’s community is populated by residents that have taken to digging moats around their houses and filling them with broken glass, sharpened bamboo or water moccasins. Their park is packed with landmines, and taxpayers have voted to close the local school and occupy the building with a factory that turns coral into jewelry. Despite these everyday challenges, Mr. Robinson doesn’t craft the typical political tract. He never beats you over the head with policies or empty rhetoric, instead counting on the reader’s wisdom to deem him fit for office by the time they’ve completed his grim and propulsive tale.

Mr. Robinson is a former teacher who lost his job when the school was closed. He shares the dream of most displaced teachers: to start a school in his basement next to his scale-model medieval torture chamber and have students assist him in crafting political advertisements for his eventual mayoral run. This is a man overflowing with political talents. When the previous mayor made the perhaps hasty decision to launch Stinger missiles into the botanical garden, Mr. Robinson, drawing from his considerable knowledge of the history of torture, suggests he be drawn and quartered, and he has the know-how and follow-through to lead his fellow citizens in dismembering the man with fishing line and automobiles. While this knowledge is obviously a necessary component for holding political office, perhaps some might worry as to the lack of a softer side. Robinson nails that too: he feels the pieces of the former mayor deserve a distinguished burial and so keeps them in his freezer until he can devise the perfect send-off. (Which, of course, involves Egyptian rituals.) But maybe the voter is sympathetic to the arts. When the citizenry decides to use library books to detonate the hidden bombs in their park, Robinson takes the initiative to go in after the intact tomes. Plus, a new-age guru reveals that his inner animal is a buffalo, and although that means he nearly drowns during a spirit commune with his wife’s inner animal, a coelacanth (ancient weird fish), one cannot argue against the buffalo being well-suited to the rigors of modern politics.

As they say in Florida, two gators with one python, Antrim has convinced me Mr. Robinson would be, for a Florida town, an appropriate mayor; and also Florida is a scary place crammed with shuttered schools, swamps, suburban moats and psychotically over-zealous security guards.

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Donald Antrim appeared first on DBRL Next.

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2014 Gateway and Truman Award Predictions

Teen Book Buzz - March 16, 2014

The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult book as selected by high school students, while the Truman Readers Award is chosen by junior high students. Even though these awards are administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner.  Based on circulation figures throughout our library system, DBRLTeen predicts that the following books will be recognized as this year’s top titles:

Predicted Gateway Readers Award winners2014 Truman Award Predictions

  • First Place: “Divergent” by Veronica Roth
  • Second Place: “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
  • Third Place: “Bitter End” by Jennifer Brown

Predicted Truman Readers Award winners:

The actual award winners will be announced at the MASL Spring Conference in mid-April.  Subscribe to our email updates to have the results delivered directly to your inbox!

Originally published at 2014 Gateway and Truman Award Predictions.

Categories: Book Buzz

2014 Gateway and Truman Award Predictions

DBRLTeen - March 16, 2014

The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult book as selected by high school students, while the Truman Readers Award is chosen by junior high students. Even though these awards are administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner.  Based on circulation figures throughout our library system, DBRLTeen predicts that the following books will be recognized as this year’s top titles:

Predicted Gateway Readers Award winners2014 Truman Award Predictions

  • First Place: “Divergent” by Veronica Roth
  • Second Place: “Delirium” by Lauren Oliver
  • Third Place: “Bitter End” by Jennifer Brown

Predicted Truman Readers Award winners:

The actual award winners will be announced at the MASL Spring Conference in mid-April.  Subscribe to our email updates to have the results delivered directly to your inbox!

Originally published at 2014 Gateway and Truman Award Predictions.

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Visit the Digital Public Library of America

DBRL Next - March 14, 2014

DPLA logoI love big ideas, particularly the ones that seem kind of impossible and insane, but noble and worthwhile. When I first heard about the group of folks trying to create The Digital Public Library of America, I was completely intrigued. Here is the concept statement that caught my attention:

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all.

Achieving such a radically awesome goal requires cooperation from archives, educational institutions, museums and libraries and the work of hundreds and hundreds of passionate volunteers, as well as generous funding from donors. The DPLA launched in April 2013, bringing together digital assets from many separate entities and providing a portal for searching across what had been isolated islands of information. The DPLA’s collections are growing all of the time, moving the organization closer to making their big idea a reality.

To put it simply, the DPLA is incredibly cool. The portal provides access to more than 5,500,000 photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds and moving images, as well as some interesting ways to search them. You can look for items by place, viewing collections related to Missouri, for example. Or you can look at items related to a certain point in history, like the Great Depression or the year you were born.

The openness of the project is also pretty amazing. The DPLA challenges developers to “make something awesome.” DPLA can be used by software developers, researchers and others to create learning environments, discovery tools and engaging apps. Not all of these apps are purely educational (See the Twitter bot built to post randomly selected historical images of cats from DPLA’s collection), but they help show the range of what can be done when collections and data are made open.

Whether you are a student, a history buff, a tech geek or just a person with a strong sense of curiosity, you must check out the DPLA. One warning: be prepared to fall down the rabbit hole. It is easy to lose yourself among the images and illuminated manuscripts. Or historical cat photos, if that’s your thing.

The post Visit the Digital Public Library of America appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Docs Around Town: Mar. 14 – 20

Center Aisle Cinema - March 13, 2014

punksinger

March 15: “Fly Fishing Film Tour” 1:30 p.m. at Ragtag. (via)
March 20:
 “The Punk Singer” 5:30 p.m. at Ragtag. (via)

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Upcoming Teen Contests

DBRLTeen - March 13, 2014
Painting StudentDesign a Bookmark Contest

Help us get ready for Summer Reading by designing an original bookmark based on the teen theme, “Spark a Reaction.” Winners’ artwork from each library will appear on bookmarks to be distributed late spring through summer. Please design two-dimensional artwork using crayons, markers or any other medium or create it on the computer. Photography is also acceptable, as long as it is your own! You can download an entry form, or pick one up at one of our three branch locations or bookmobile stops. Entry deadline is Monday, March 31. 

Callaway County Youth Poetry Contest

As part of National Poetry Month in April, we invite Callaway County youth to submit original poems with a chance to win an award and have your work displayed at the Callaway County Public Library, Central Bank and at teens.dbrl.org. Awards will be given in three age categories: 5-8, 9-12 and 13-18. You can download an entry form, or pick one up at the library or bookmobile. Entries are due April 14. An awards ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on May 1 at the Callaway County Public Library. Co-sponsored by the Auxvasse Creative Arts Program.

Doodle 4 Google Competition

Irish Google Doodle WinnerBefore there was an airplane, there were doodles of cool flying machines. And before there was a submarine, there were doodles of magical underwater sea explorers. Since the beginning of time, ideas big and small, practical and playful, have started out as doodles. And we’re ready for more. One talented young artist (grades K-12) will see his or her artwork on the Google homepage and receive a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school. Closing date for entries is next Thursday, March 20th. Visit google.com/doodle4google to learn more.

Photo credits:
Painting Student by Southwest School of Art via Flickr. Used under creative commons license.
Ireland’s 2012 Doodle 4 Google winner, Patrick Horan. Courtesy of The Sociable.

Originally published at Upcoming Teen Contests.

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Our History in Food

DBRL Next - March 12, 2014

Book cover for The Complete Jello Recipe BookI am slightly obsessed with vintage cookbooks. I frequent the Friends of the Library book sales to see what old cookbooks they’ve acquired, so I was pretty excited when I stumbled across St. Louis Public Library’s online exhibit featuring culinary history in the area. To celebrate this theme, they’ve created a beautiful website showcasing several vintage cookbook covers and even scanned a few recipes from these books. You can also find vintage menus from historic St. Louis restaurants like Bevo Mill and the River Queen floating restaurant. If you’re inspired to learn more about the history of food, check out some of these books in DBRL’s collection.

Book cover for A History of Food in 100 Recipes by William SitwellA History of Food in 100 Recipes” by Willam Sitwell.
This historical book is formatted like a cookbook with each chapter beginning with a recipe, most of which you can attempt to cook at home. Each recipe moves the reader forward in time to tell the history of cooking (from a Western perspective). Starting with an Ancient Egyptian bread recipe from around 1950 BC, this book takes us through royalty, colonialism, the world wars, Rice Krispie Treats and up to more recent food history, including Julia Child, Jamie Oliver and contemporary modernist cuisine. “A History of Food in 100 Recipes” will give you a primer on historical recipes, as well as the history of important chefs in the US and England.

 A HistoryBreakfast: A History” by Heather Arndt Anderson.
Eggs, bacon and coffee may be the first things that come to mind when you hear breakfast, but the first meal of the day actually has a much more complex history. This book focuses on how breakfast in America (and England) has evolved and briefly mentions how breakfast is viewed in other cultures. Learn how Kellogg’s changed the way we think about this meal, why an “astronaut breakfast” consists of steak and eggs and how Poptarts came into existence.

Book cover for In Meat we Trust by Maureen OgleIn Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America” by Maureen Ogle.
Chances are that fast food hamburger on your table didn’t come from a nice loving family farm on the outskirts of town – the story of how it got to your table is much longer. “In Meat We Trust” is a straightforward look at cultural dynamics of meat in the US from the time of European settlement. In Europe in the 1700s, meat was a luxury which people ate about once a week on average. At the same time, the poorest US citizens were eating about 200 pounds a year! From ranches to feedlots to the current standoff between organic farming and factory farms, this book will get you up to speed on how meat has shaped American culture and how we’ve shaped the meat industry.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” by Michael Pollan.
This book is not directly about the history of food, but rather breaks our culinary habits down to the basic elements we use to transform food: fire, water, air and earth. That being said, it does take us back to earlier ways (various groups of) humans prepared food. Instead of buying cheese or beer or bread, Pollan makes these items from scratch in an attempt to discover what these acts mean to society. “Cooked” is an interesting search through food history to reclaim our eating habits from corporations and to rediscover the sociological implications of preparing food.

Bon appétit!

The post Our History in Food appeared first on DBRL Next.

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New DVD: “The Crash Reel”

Center Aisle Cinema - March 12, 2014

crashreel

We recently added “The Crash Reel” to the DBRL collection. This film played at the True/False Film Festival in 2013, and currently has a rating of 96% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

The epic rivalry between half-pipe legends Kevin Pearce and Shaun White is documented in this exhilarating ride into the world of extreme snowboarding. With both practicing more and more breathtaking and dangerous tricks leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, everything suddenly changes for Kevin when a horrific crash leaves him fighting for his life. When he recovers, all he wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear it could kill him.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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2014 Teen Book Tournament: Elite 8 Announced

DBRLTeen - March 11, 2014

We’ve officially moved into the third round of our single elimination teen book tournament. So far, 24 books have been struck from the list to determine the Elite 8. Did April Henry make the cut with her book, “Girl, Stolen,” or did James Dashner book, “The Maze Runner,” win? Who survived the last round: “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak or “The Eleventh Plague” by Jeff Hirsch?

March Madness Teen Book Tournament: Elite 8
  1. Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
  2. The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. Holes” by Louis Sachar
  4. The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak
  5. The Giver” by Lois Lowry
  6. The Maze Runner” by James Dashne
  7. The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
  8. Legend” by Marie Lu
How the March Madness Teen Book Tournament Works:

Through a series of votes, we are narrowing the library’s list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. By supporting your favorite book, you’ll also be entered to win prizes like a gift card to Barnes & Noble! Prize winners will be announced on April 2 when we announce our book tournament champion.

  • Round 1: Voting complete for the Sweet 16.
  • Round 2: Voting complete for the Elite 8.
  • Round 3: VOTE NOW through 17 for the Final 4.
  • Round 4: Vote March 18-24 for the final two contending titles.
  • Round 5: Vote March 25-31 for the book tournament champion.
  • April 2: The champion is announced!

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite four titles by Monday, March 17 at 5 p.m. You may vote online at teens.dbrl.org or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations. Limit one ballot per person, per round.  The Final Four will be announced next Tuesday, March 18.

Originally published at 2014 Teen Book Tournament: Elite 8 Announced.

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New DVD: “Good Ol’ Freda”

Center Aisle Cinema - March 10, 2014

goodolfreda

We recently added “Good Ol’ Freda” to the DBRL collection. The film currently has a rating of 83% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:

Freda Kelly was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big – the Beatles. Freda had faith in the Beatles from the beginning, and the Beatles had faith in her. As many people came in and out of the band’s circle, Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles’ devoted secretary and friend, Freda was there as history unfolded, witness to the evolution of the greatest band in history.

Check out the film trailer or the official film site for more info.

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What’s New and Local at Your Library: Biographies

Next Book Buzz - March 10, 2014

 Dale Carnegie and success in modern America a nineteenth-century lifeIn the past year, two University of Missouri professors have published biographies of influential men. Steven Watts explores how a Missouri farm boy came to launch the modern self-help movement in “Self-Help Messiah, Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America.” And Jonathan Sperber takes a fresh look at a man who has inspired revolutions around the globe, in his book “Karl Marx, a Nineteenth Century Life.”

By Watts’ account, nothing in Dale Carnegie’s childhood indicated the path he’d take as an adult. Born to an impoverished farm couple in Maryville, Missouri in 1888, his childhood was filled with religious instruction and manual labor. Not until he went to college and became involved in theater did his charisma manifest. The speaking skills he developed  helped him in a series of sales jobs, which in turn provided him with insights into human motivation. Eventually he would lead a self-help empire. The franchise of leadership courses he began is still in business today, while his 1936 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” remains a popular-selling title. Opinion over Carnegie’s methods has been divided. Where some see self-improvement and empowerment, others see manipulation and a promotion of personality over character. But nobody can deny he had a large hand in shaping the culture Americans know today.

To a more extreme degree, Karl Marx has also been both revered and reviled throughout the years, a fact that speaks to the level of his influence in the world. With Friedrich Engels, Marx co-authored “The Communist Manifesto.” Sperber places Marx in a historical context, examining what effect the French Revolution, for example, had on his work. But Sperber expands beyond the political lens and provides a view of many other aspects of Marx’s life, which began in 1818 in Trier, Germany. So we see not only a political firebrand, but also a son, husband and father, as well as a man with chronic money troubles.

Each biography shows a man who was a product of his time. As much as both men shaped the culture, the ability to do so came by virtue of having been born in the right epochs. Dale Carnegie, the man, could have lived any time, any place. Dale Carnegie, the phenomenon, could not have existed without the advent of mass communication. And had Karl Marx been born into a society of widespread peace and prosperity, the world would not have had Marxism, the political movement.

The post What’s New and Local at Your Library: Biographies appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

What’s New and Local at Your Library: Biographies

DBRL Next - March 10, 2014

 Dale Carnegie and success in modern America a nineteenth-century lifeIn the past year, two University of Missouri professors have published biographies of influential men. Steven Watts explores how a Missouri farm boy came to launch the modern self-help movement in “Self-Help Messiah, Dale Carnegie and Success in Modern America.” And Jonathan Sperber takes a fresh look at a man who has inspired revolutions around the globe, in his book “Karl Marx, a Nineteenth Century Life.”

By Watts’ account, nothing in Dale Carnegie’s childhood indicated the path he’d take as an adult. Born to an impoverished farm couple in Maryville, Missouri in 1888, his childhood was filled with religious instruction and manual labor. Not until he went to college and became involved in theater did his charisma manifest. The speaking skills he developed  helped him in a series of sales jobs, which in turn provided him with insights into human motivation. Eventually he would lead a self-help empire. The franchise of leadership courses he began is still in business today, while his 1936 book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” remains a popular-selling title. Opinion over Carnegie’s methods has been divided. Where some see self-improvement and empowerment, others see manipulation and a promotion of personality over character. But nobody can deny he had a large hand in shaping the culture Americans know today.

To a more extreme degree, Karl Marx has also been both revered and reviled throughout the years, a fact that speaks to the level of his influence in the world. With Friedrich Engels, Marx co-authored “The Communist Manifesto.” Sperber places Marx in a historical context, examining what effect the French Revolution, for example, had on his work. But Sperber expands beyond the political lens and provides a view of many other aspects of Marx’s life, which began in 1818 in Trier, Germany. So we see not only a political firebrand, but also a son, husband and father, as well as a man with chronic money troubles.

Each biography shows a man who was a product of his time. As much as both men shaped the culture, the ability to do so came by virtue of having been born in the right epochs. Dale Carnegie, the man, could have lived any time, any place. Dale Carnegie, the phenomenon, could not have existed without the advent of mass communication. And had Karl Marx been born into a society of widespread peace and prosperity, the world would not have had Marxism, the political movement.

The post What’s New and Local at Your Library: Biographies appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Books To Celebrate Women’s History Month

DBRL Next - March 7, 2014

Book cover for Women in Missouri HistoryHave you ever heard of the Owens sisters? How about Lucile Bluford, a civil rights activist and well-respected editor and publisher of an important African-American newspaper? What about Phoebe Couzins, the first female US marshal, and one of the first female lawyers? It’s not surprising that you may not have heard of these women in history class, but they’re fascinating! In addition to being important female figures, these women all have something else in common: they’re all from Missouri!

As you (hopefully) know, March is Women’s History Month. This year’s theme celebrates women of character, courage and commitment, and list of 2014 honorees can be found here. Women across the world have had a powerful, but often over-looked, impact on human history, and that influence extends to women’s contributions in our own state.

Back to the Owens sisters, three trailblazers from St. Joseph, Missouri. These sisters all had highly successful careers, which was very uncommon for women in the US in the late 1800s. The work of Mary Alicia Owen, the oldest sister who had the most prominent career, is documented in the book “The Life of Folklorist, Mary Alicia Owens” by local author Greg Olson. Mary was the most famous female folklorist of her time, and her ethnographic writings documented Ozark Gypsies, Voodoo Priests and other local legends.

Book cover for Daring to Be DifferentLuella, the middle sister, was a geologist who wrote a book about Missouri caves, which was the only resource on the subject to exist for 50 years. The youngest, Juliette, was an artist who documented Missouri wildlife through painting and drawing. She also was a conservationist and animal rights activist in the early phases of this movement. Learn more about these sisters in the book “Daring to Be Different: Missouri’s Remarkable Owen Sisters.”

DBRL has more resources on the subject of  women’s history in Missouri, including online databases and books like “In Her Place: A Guide to St. Louis Women’s History” and “Women in Missouri History,” among others. The DBRL website will also direct you to more resources on  women’s history, including book lists of influential women, a list of upcoming local events that celebrate women’s history and other databases and resources on this subject. Happy Women’s History Month!

The post Books To Celebrate Women’s History Month appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Books for Dudes – “Spirit Animals”

DBRLTeen - March 7, 2014

“Spirit Animals” is book series in which one author guides the overall story, but each novel features a different popular children’s and/or YA author (much like “39 Clues”). Brandon Mull, author of “Fablehaven” and other popular fantasy books, oversees the whole series and wrote the first book, “Wild Born.”

spirit animals 1In “Wild Born,” we follow four kids who go through a bonding with spirit animals. While many people have spirit animals, these four particular characters are bonded specific reincarnated spirit animals of legend. However, as typical with many fantasy series, dark forces of old are gathering, threatening the entire world of Erdas.

spirit animals 2The second book, “Hunted,” was recently released and is written by popular YA author, Maggie Stiefvater. The story picks off almost right where the first novel lets off, and we get some excellent character study by Stiefvater as the world of Erdas is more deeply explored.

I found the diverse cast of characters appealing in these novels. A Chinese noble girl, a street rat, a shepherd, and a girl from an African tribe make up the four kids bonded to the great beasts of legend. I also enjoyed that every spirit animal bond is different. The authors get really inventive on how each bond is different. I won’t list any spoilers, but you don’t find out how every bond works in book 1.

If you like instant gratification (or as much as you can get in the world of publishing), you’ll enjoy that book 3 (“Blood Ties”) is coming out in March and book 4 (“Fire and Ice”) will be published in June. With each book being written by a separate author, the momentum of “Spirit Animals” won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Scholastic is also promoting this series with bonus material and a fun game online where you can create your own spirit animal and play in the world of Erdas yourself.

Originally published at Books for Dudes – “Spirit Animals”.

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Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates

DBRL Next - March 5, 2014

Photo of Eagle Bluffs by Svetlana GrobmanIt was a typical Missouri winter day – gray, cool and windy, with no recreational potential of any kind. It was also Sunday, but nothing special was going on in town, either.

“Let’s drive to Eagle Bluffs,” I said to my husband while we were eating our breakfast – I my usual cereal and he the leftovers from a dinner party we held the night before.

“Sure,” he said and immediately reached for his binoculars.

The thing is that my husband is a wildlife lover, and since Eagle Bluffs is a state conservation area about 10 miles away from us, it is one of the places he’s always ready to go. Over the years, I have come to like that area, too, although the first time my husband took me there, I was disappointed.

Photo of eagle's next at Eagle Bluffs Conservation AreaNot that I expected to see parrots or flamingos flittering around the Missouri wetlands, but with a name like “Eagle Bluffs” I surely counted on seeing eagles there! In reality, though, Eagle Bluffs is a series of ponds dug into a large open field, confined between impressive sandstone bluffs and the Missouri River, and it is visited mostly by Canada geese and a variety of ducks. Also, early in the spring, white pelicans make their festive appearance. As for eagles, after numerous visits to the area, we finally (!) stumbled on an eagle’s nest, hidden high in the tree that grows on a strip of land that is surrounded by ponds on all sides. Since then, we periodically check up on it, although it’s rare that we see its occupants.

I must admit, I love  seeing eagles. To me, a person who lived without any citizenship for five years (the Russians stripped me of theirs when I applied for an exit visa, and the Americans took their time to make sure that I’d be a solid citizen (just kidding!)), the bald eagle represents a new beginning. And, since I rarely see them, every time I do, it seems special. (In fact, my husband and I saw one calmly gliding over our neighborhood on the day of Obama’s first victory!)

Halfway to Eagle Bluffs, I began regretting my idea. First of all, we had recently had a snow storm, and the wetlands might still be frozen, in which case we wouldn’t see anything there. And even if we did get lucky, so what? While it’s true that my husband has nice binoculars (my present to him for his birthday) and I have a Canon SLR camera with me, I don’t have the right lenses for wildlife photography, so I cannot take good pictures of birds anyway.

“I really need better lenses,” I said to my husband, driving carefully along the curvy road. “My lenses are not sharp enough. You yourself say that my photos don’t look professional.”

“There could be other reasons for that beside lenses,” my husband mumbled, not taking his eyes off the road.

“Like what?” I said. “I’m doing as well as my lenses allow! And the camera, too. If I am to improve, I need a full-frame camera and L-series lenses!”

Of course, the truth is that I don’t have to “improve.” I’m not a professional photographer who must spend thousands of dollars on expensive equipment. Still, as obsessive as I am, I may one day do just that, so it’s important to prepare my husband for that possibility.

“I need telephoto lenses, too,” I started again when we turned off the local highway, but my husband interrupted me.

“The water is still frozen,” he said. “We won’t see much today.”

“Let’s see the eagle’s nest, then.” I said.

We parked the car and hung our equipment around our necks – he his binoculars and I my camera with its woefully insufficient lens – and walked toward the nest. It was still cool, and the sun seemed to be making up its mind about whether it should break through the clouds and light up the world underneath, or pull the clouds up, like a blanket, and take another nap.

The nest was in its usual place, hidden safely up in the big old tree. Yet it was empty.

“It must be too early in the season,” my husband said.

“It cannot be too early,” I said firmly. “This is their time for nesting.”

“I don’t see any signs of that,” he sighed. “Should we go back?”

“No, let’s walk around,” I said. For exercise. And we put up our jacket hoods, and pulled on our gloves.

We walked for about a mile, between the bluffs and a creek on one side and the ponds on the other. Yet we saw no birds. Not even obnoxiously honking Canada geese or scurrying around coots. Disappointed, we turned back. When we were passing the area with the nest, my husband said, “Too bad. No eagles this time.”

But, I seemed to notice some movement there.

“Are you sure the nest is empty?” I said. “Look through your binoculars.”

“It is,” he said, and at that moment, a white-headed bird landed on a branch by the nest – a bald eagle.

“Look!” I shouted, grabbing my camera and feverishly adjusting its settings. “An eagle!”

Eagle in flightWhether it was my excitement that spooked the bird or something else, the eagle took off. He made several circles high above our heads and vanished behind a strip of tall trees on the other side. Had we been there a minute later, we’d never have known that he was there at all.

“Oh, no!” I cried, pulling my husband by the sleeve – he was still pointing his binoculars in the direction of the bird. He put the binoculars down and said, “Should we drive home now?”

“Don’t you think he’ll come back?”

We walked around for another 30 minutes, but the eagle never returned. Feeling tired, we headed back to our car. Before I opened the passenger’s door, I glanced toward the bluffs on the other side, which, suddenly, erupted with a fuzzy, slowly moving cloud.

“What’s that?” I said, puzzled. And then it struck me. It wasn’t a cloud. It was … a huge flock of white-and-black birds!

“Pelicans!” I screamed. “Look, pelicans!”

Snow geese in flightThe birds flew higher and higher and soon they, too, disappeared behind the trees on the other side of the wetlands. We followed them – first driving as far as we could and then walking quietly to the pond where they landed. I was walking first, my camera at ready, and my husband followed me with his binoculars. We were still far away when the birds noticed us. First, they began stirring, then several of them took off, and later yet, others began following their example. Soon, the whole pond exploded with white and black colors, while the sky filled with flapping wings and the cry of birds.

Excited, I kept pressing the shutter.

“They are not pelicans,” I heard my husband say behind me.

“No? What are they?” I turned to him, immediately disappointed.

“They are snow geese.”

“Just geese?”

“Well, that’s not so bad,” my husband said. “We’ve never seen snow geese before.”

He was correct. It was the first time I saw snow geese, and although they were nothing like pelicans, they were beautiful in their own “geesey” way.

“You’re right,” I said, and we started walking.

The sun hid behind the cloud, seemingly for good, and the wind picked up, but, I no longer felt disappointed. True, we saw the eagle only briefly, and we didn’t see any pelicans. But, we saw something new, and, as Forest Gump put it, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Eagle's nestP.S. While I was looking at my pictures at home, I suddenly noticed a white head peeking from the eagle’s nest. It wasn’t empty after all! I looked again. The head appeared small and fuzzy, but it was definitely an eagle. Can you spot it? It’s not very clear, is it? You see, I really need a better lens. :)

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