New Memory Care Kits: Toys and Games

Posted on Monday, February 19, 2024 by Ida

I’m going to make a confession. I, an adult person with gray streaks in my hair, bought myself a Spirograph set a couple of years ago. I thought it would be fun, and it is. I find myself becoming totally absorbed in the activity of experimenting with different configurations of gear wheels and colors to create whimsical designs. Who says you can’t recapture the joys of childhood?

The library’s two new Memory Care Kits featuring classic toys and games can provide this same opportunity to regain the spirit of play for our patrons with dementia. Though neither kit contains a Spirograph, they do have a variety of items to spark in-the-moment enjoyment combined with an opportunity to reminisce about the past. When life is confusing and stressful, a little retro frivolity can be the ticket to a better day. Continue reading “New Memory Care Kits: Toys and Games”

Random Acts of Kindness

Posted on Friday, February 16, 2024 by Sew Happy

Photo of woman holding a sign that says "free hugs"February 17 is the national day to recognize Random Acts of Kindness. Of course, you can act in kindness at any time of the year. You can grab a trash bag and clean up a park or street that you are walking through. Or maybe you like buying a coworker a coffee or surprising someone by giving them a quick compliment. Historical examples include creating and sharing May Baskets. Here are 50 other suggestions!

Put simply, a random act of kindness is a non-premeditated, inconsistent impulse that results in an action making a bit of the world happier. The phrase “random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982. It was based on the phrases “random acts of violence” and “senseless acts of cruelty” and is meant to be a call to action… or at least a strong encouragement. It is now a worldwide phenomenon. Let’s celebrate! Continue reading “Random Acts of Kindness”

Where No Woman Has Gone Before: Women in Science Fiction and Space Exploration

Posted on Wednesday, January 31, 2024 by David Litherland

Close-Up Photo of a Person Wearing Space Helmet “That’s one, small step for [a] man… One, giant leap for mankind.”
~Neil Armstrong, July 20th, 1969

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before!
~Captain James Kirk, “Star Trek,” Stardate 1533.6 (actually 1966)

These two quotes are ironed into the brain of many a starry-eyed science fiction and space exploration lover. I know they’ve been in mine since I first watched William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy with my dad as a kid, while he told me stories of watching the Apollo launches when he was growing up on the Space Coast of Florida. The idea of going out and exploring that final frontier turned me into the sci-fi aficionado I am today. Continue reading “Where No Woman Has Gone Before: Women in Science Fiction and Space Exploration”

Follow First Thursday (and More) with RSS

Posted on Friday, December 22, 2023 by Nathan F

The next First Thursday book discussion is coming up in the new year, on January 4. This post by staff member Maggie M has the details on the book, Rebecca Serle’s “The Dinner List” and the online author talk with Serle, on January 10. I just caught up with last week’s online talk with Stephanie Land, author of December’s First Thursday book, “Maid.” (If you missed that discussion or Land’s talk, Maggie’s post on her book is a great primer.)

To keep up with this and future First Thursday discussions, you can of course check the website or the Program Guide in your mail (or online, under “Events Quick Links”), and follow DBRL on social media and by email. But did you know you can also get updates about First Thursday, specifically, using… a feed reader?

Feed readers may be familiar to you if you were online during the blog era. For everybody else, the simplest way I have seen to describe feed readers, a.k.a. RSS readers, comes from longtime RSS app developer Brent Simmons, “It’s like podcasts — but for reading.”

Continue reading “Follow First Thursday (and More) with RSS”

The Gift of Information: Newspapers!

Posted on Monday, December 18, 2023 by Sew Happy

This holiday season, do you want to play the best party game ever with friends and family? Or perhaps, as if giving them a gift, show them a wonderful aspect of our online library that they may not know about? Teach them how to read major publications such as the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal for free. Just sit down with their library cards and laptops or tablets and show them all the awesome things this post will teach you how to do.

Yes, first you need to learn how to do this yourself. So grab your own library library card, a cup of tea and let’s get to exploring DBRL’s online resources.

New York Times Recent & US Major Dailies

I want you to go to, our website. Notice the green menu bar that runs across the page. Tap on Research & Learn, find the Topics column and finally tap onto Articles & Newspapers.

Continue your search by clicking on New York Times Recent & US Major Dailies. Log in with your library card and PIN (your birthdate in MMDDYYYY format). A search page comes up. Just above the search field are publication types; if you are searching for a topic and don’t care which newspaper it is in, find Newspapers under all source types, then fill in the search field and hit enter. All articles from all newspapers will come up in the result list. You click on an article title to get a summary and then on the Full Text – PDF button to read the article.

If you only want to read one newspaper, look at the top of the search page for a link to publications. Type the newspaper you want to read on the publications search page and hit enter. From the result list look for the one that has full text coverage through to the present.

Clicking on this will bring up the published articles from the current issue; you can also select to view an earlier issue. To the right of any article are options for emailing or saving or citing it as well as related articles and additional search terms you may want to explore.

This particular resource gives you access to 10 different databases and only one of those contains newspapers, which are the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. These are text-based articles only unless you are looking at the historical records of digitized newspapers. If you find yourself looking at scholarly journals and dissertations, check your filters to be sure only newspapers is selected.

Other Resources in the Topic Guide

The Kansas City Star Collection and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Collection have current newspaper articles in text form or you can view the entire paper just as if you held it in front of you. It’s a bit difficult, in my opinion, to read on your phone, although the image interface does allow you to zoom in and out. I use my computer screen so I’m reading the paper as if it was a paper copy with the ads, the images and the adjoining articles, and I feel the experience is more interesting.

Newsbank brings us local papers such as the Columbia Daily Tribune, Boone County Journal and Fulton Sun, as well as The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch collections. Again, you miss the pictures and the ads and it is not the same experience as holding the paper in your hands. No comics or crosswords! The community aspect of reading a newspaper online isn’t there, either, but accessing the local papers via these resources will keep you up with local news.

By the way, the Columbia Missourian is not mentioned in the previous resource because it has made its archives open and you can search there at any time. I learned that from a journalism student.

That is a quick introduction to just a few of our resource databases. Others provide you with articles from newspapers: Academic Search Elite brings you results from full-text journal articles for most academic areas for the teen and adult researcher; Explora provides our younger patrons with articles and facts for research papers, class projects, or homework from the world’s leading magazines and reference books.

More About Topic Guides and Resources

It is fairly easy to move between our list of topic guides and the list of resources. Just use the green boxes that are visible on any of the pages in this section of the website. But what is the difference between the two categories?

Our resources are databases for which we have paid licensing fees so you have to have an active library card and live in our service area. It is a long list! Learn history, languages, arts, how to repair a car, what stocks are worth, read newspapers and books (both adult and children!), have a book read out loud to you, prepare for your driver’s exam, prepare to get a job, a GED, a will… the opportunities go on and on. Some of them, like Ancestry, have to be used in the library because of licensing requirements. Some of them, like Chilton Automotive Repair, is more convenient to use in the library as we have larger paper for printing out schematics, although you can use them at home or on the road. Each item on this page is a separate resource.

Our topic guides are a mix of free resources and resources that require a library card. And while I’ve covered the first one, Articles & Newspapers, I highly encourage you to look at others. These have been curated to ensure the information is appropriate. The links are checked regularly to ensure they are still active. Explore such topics as Arts, Hobbies and Recreation, Cars and Driving, Government and Genealogy and much more.

We would love for you to stop by any of our branches if you would like some help using these resources. Additionally, the Columbia Public Library offers Device Advice twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, from 2-3:30 p.m.

Remember when I mentioned at the start of this post that this could be the best party game ever? It’s fun to explore; I personally have shown people how to use these resources many times and I love the pleasure and empowerment people experience as they realize what is available to them with the click of a few buttons — and their library cards, of course. I’ve opened my phone at the dining table, the grocery store and even at an estate sale to show people how to use their online resources. I hope that with this article I’ve encouraged you, too, to use your public library to your best and full advantage.

Helping Kids Understand Dementia

Posted on Friday, December 8, 2023 by Ida

I first heard of Alzheimer’s disease at age thirteen, when my father’s uncle moved in with my grandmother, next door to us. We quickly realized why he could no longer live alone. His diminishing memory meant he needed someone to remind him how to dress for the weather and when it was time to brush his teeth. If my grandmother needed to run errands, someone from my household would stay with her brother to keep him safe.

Many kids have relationships with grandparents or other adults who are experiencing some form of dementia. It can be a confusing situation for a child, wondering why the grownup they love can’t do the same things anymore or why they ask the same questions over and over. As with so many of life’s struggles, books can help. Continue reading “Helping Kids Understand Dementia”

Winter Is Coming!

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2023 by MaggieM

A man hiking along a board walk through a forest with fall colors.
The overlook trail at Eagle Bluffs conservation area has beautiful fall foliage and the bare trees in the winter offer views you can’t get in the summer.

The daily temperatures have finally dropped and the leaves are turning and falling. Whether  you love it (that’s me) or hate it, fall is here and winter is on it’s way.

Here are some ideas to help you make the best of winter (and fall). Continue reading “Winter Is Coming!”

Veteran’s Day Stories

Posted on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 by Sew Happy

Veterans Day is November 11, the recognized date that we as a nation pay tribute to the men and women who have served in the armed forces. It is a time to honor and express our gratitude to those who have defended our freedoms, protected our way of life, and often sacrificed much for the greater good. It is a day to remember their valor, their dedication and their unwavering commitment. Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day and was established on November 11, 1919, to commemorate the end of World War I. This conflict, often referred to as the “war to end all wars,” was a devastating global conflict that changed the course of history. Armistice Day was a day to remember those who had served and the profound importance of peace. In 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day, reflecting a broader recognition of all veterans, not just those of World War I. It now serves as a day to honor and thank all American veterans for their service.

I am not a veteran. Despite living with a veteran for 40 years, I am sometimes jarringly reminded that I do not fully understand how his service affected him, how his lived experiences differ from my own. Would we have a more consistent and visible compassion for our veterans if we were more aware of those experiences? Maybe. Helping people grow and learn are some of the things public libraries do best, so let’s take a look at some books written by veterans and people working with veterans. Let’s become more aware of their stories. Continue reading “Veteran’s Day Stories”

The History of the Jack-o’-Lantern

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2023 by Sew Happy

As leaves burst into their glorious autumn colors and as pumpkins begin adorning doorsteps, it is a sure sign that Halloween is just around the corner. The last week of October, many people will perform the ritual carving of pumpkins giving them eerie, flickering faces, an iconic symbol of the holiday. But where did this tradition originate? Let’s dive into the fascinating history of the jack-o’-lantern and its evolution from folklore to a beloved Halloween tradition.

The name “jack-o’-lantern” is derived from “Jack of the Lantern” which refers to a mysterious figure known for carrying a flickering lantern to guide lost souls. Over time, the name was associated with the practice of carving faces into vegetables and placing candles inside to create a similar, eerie glow.

The Legend of Stingy Jack

The Halloween Jack-o-latern book cover One of the most prevalent origin stories of the jack-o’-lantern is tied to the legend of Stingy Jack. This tale tells of a man named Jack who was not only a trickster but also miserly. As one version of the story goes, Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him but cleverly avoided paying by convincing the Devil to transform into a coin. Instead of paying, Jack pocketed the coin next to a silver cross, preventing the Devil from returning to his original form. Continue reading “The History of the Jack-o’-Lantern”

Let Freedom Read!

Posted on Monday, September 25, 2023 by Reading Addict

Banned Books Week“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ― Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe book coverAll Boys Aren't Blue by George Johnson book coverBanned Books Week is upon us once again: October 1-7. The theme chosen this year by the American Library Association (ALA) is “Let Freedom Read” with the slogan “Free People Read Freely.” I love this theme. I love freedom. And really, who doesn’t? Some of our greatest leaders have supported the idea of the freedom to read. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a commencement address at Dartmouth University on June 14, 1953 in which he said “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in [sic] your library and read every book…” And from across the aisle, upon signing the amendment to the Library Services Act February 11, 1964, Lyndon B Johnson said “The central fact of our times is this: Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance.” Continue reading “Let Freedom Read!”