Not Just for Pundits: Political Fiction

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It’s over.  After months of campaigning – and all the friendly political rhetoric involved therein – the 2012 election is over.  Good riddance.  And thank goodness for democracy.  No matter whether you’re celebrating or brooding today, you have to admit that the American political process is pretty invigorating.  Good writers have seized upon political passion in their novels since novels began, so we’ve decided to celebrate a few of those today.

Pundits and politicians, step aside.  Here are some of America’s (and Britain’s) best political ruminations in fiction from the last century and a half (synopses from our catalog):

  1. All the King's MenAll the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
    Set in the 1930s, it traces the rise and fall of demagogue Willie [Stark] Talos, a fictional Southern politician who resembles the real-life Huey “Kingfish” Long of Louisiana. Talos begins his career as an idealistic man of the people, but he soon becomes corrupted by success, caught between dreams of service and a lust for power.
  2. Echo HouseEcho House by Ward Just
    Three generations of the Behls, a politically ambitious family in Washington. The three men are Adolph, a senator during the 1930s and failed vice-president; his son, Axel, a World War II OSS agent and later a Cold War warrior; and Alec a successful lawyer and lobbyist during the reign of President Kennedy.
  3. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John LeCarreTinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    It is now beyond doubt that a mole, implanted decades ago by Moscow Centre, has burrowed his way into the highest echelons of British Intelligence. His treachery has already blown some of its most vital operations and its best networks. It is clear that the double agent is one of its own kind. But which one? George Smiley is assigned to identify him. And once identified, the traitor must be destroyed.
  4. Shelley’s Heart by Charles McCarryShelleys Heart
    The first presidential election of the twenty-first century, bitterly contested by two men who are implacable political rivals but lifelong personal friends, is stolen through computer fraud. On the eve of the Inauguration, the losing candidate presents proof of the crime to his opponent, the incumbent President, and demands that he stand aside. The winner refuses and takes the oath of office, thereby setting in motion what may destroy him and his party, and bring down the Constitution.
  5. Parrot and Olivier in AmericaParrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
    A 21st-century study of America at the time of Revolution. Olivier is the traumatized child of aristocratic survivors of the French Revolution. Parrot is the motherless son of an itinerant English printer. They are born on different sides of history, but their lives will be connected in the United States by an enigmatic one-armed marquis.
  6. Prime MinisterThe Prime Minister by Anthony Trollope
    Despite his mysterious antecedents, an unscrupulous financial speculator, Ferdinand Lopez, aspires to marry into respectability and wealth and join the ranks of British society. One of the nineteenth century’s most memorable outsiders, Lopez’s story is set against that of the ultimate insider, Plantagenet Palliser, Duke of Omnium, who reluctantly accepts the highest office of state, becoming “the greatest man in the greatest country in the world.”

FRQs: Fantastic Reference Questions (Part II)

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We received another fantastic question this week, so I couldn’t resist.  History buffs and the generally nostalgic: take note!  You might enjoy this one as much as we did.

FRQs: Fantastic Reference Questions

Part II

From our Text-A-Librarian service:

Patron: When did ‘Fibber Magee and Molly’ air on the radio?
Librarian
: It aired from April 16, 1935 to October 2, 1959.
Patron: 1935 on NBC!
Librarian: It premiered on NBC in 1935 and continued until its demise in 1959, from the Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio.

Patron: NBC was a radio station back then?
Librarian: Yes! NBC Radio started on November 15, 1926 and the TV station began July 1, 1938. There are still some NBC radio station affiliates on the air today.
Patron: Thank you!

Get Cooking With Our Culinary Arts Collection!

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Need a fun Halloween recipe for sophisticated palates?  Wonder what Ethiopian restaurant local food critics recommend?  Or do you just want to browse through the latest issue of the Journal of Food Biochemistry?

Check out our brand new online Culinary Arts Collection!

Enjoy the same academic-level search power as you have with General OneFile to explore over 4.8 million articles including recipes, restaurant reviews, and industry information.  Don’t forget our impressive on-site collection of cookbooks and let your appetite run wild!

FRQs: Fantastic Reference Questions (Part I)

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Just like your favorite teacher once told you, we at NPL believe that there are no stupid questions.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.

That’s right: none.

If you want to know how many whiskers an average prairie dog has, how many presidents have won the Nobel Peace Prize, or even how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop, we’ll do our darnedest to get you an answer.

Especially if you bring us an actual Tootsie Roll Pop.

What’s more, we enjoy it!  Some of your questions are downright fantastic.  So much so, in fact, that we’d love to share some with the rest of you.  Research nerds and the otherwise inquisitive: take note!  Fresh from our top secret librarian files comes…

FRQs: Fantastic reference questions

Part I
From our Text-A-Librarian service:
Patron: How much extra fuel per pound of luggage does it cost airlines [to transport my bags]?
Librarian: Budget Travel says it takes aprox 1 gallon of jet fuel to move 100 pounds, so 1 lb would take 1.28 oz.

Patron: How far?
Librarian: That was “for a domestic flight,” so they didn’t list mileage. If you need an exact answer, we will do more research and text you later.

Patron: Thanks!
Librarian: Assuming 1.2 mpg at cruise, and Jet-A fuel at $5.81/gal, and the avg. weight of the airliner at 40,000 lb., it looks like for an extra lb. of luggage and a 1,000 mile flight, it costs 12.1 cents to the airline.

Autumn Leaves, In Art and Life

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
-Albert Camus

Pleasant thought, right?  And if you know anything about Albert Camus, you know that he wasn’t often one to shout for joy (he didn’t, in fact, much like to crack a smile).  So if he could find the beauty in this season of decay, so can you!  On this chilly October morning, let us take a moment to consider what got a cranky Frenchman to marvel at nature’s mortality: autumn leaves.  We’ve even got a couple gorgeous databases to help us.

Artists from all over the world have offered their interpretation of the season in Oxford Art Online.  See Munter‘s perspective from 20th century Germany, or Zeshin‘s 19th century Japanese point of view.  Then stick around to check out Grove Art’s timelines and thematic guides.

In case that wasn’t enough of a feast for the eyes, you can spend some time with our brand NEW resource, the National Geographic Archive!  Wander through a photographic portfolio from 1976, or even 1935.  Sometimes a camera lens is the best perspective on life – and you’ve got photos from as long ago as 1888!

So, you see, you don’t have to be an Impressionist painter, a photojournalist, or a French writer consumed with ennui to appreciate autumn; you just have to come to your beloved Library!  See you soon.

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Special Services at Naperville Public Library

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What do Jimmy John’s, the United States Postal Service, and Naperville Public Library have in common?  You guessed it: we deliver!

If you’re an NPL cardholder with a health condition that prevents you from visiting the Library as often as you’d like, we can bring your favorite books, music, and movies directly to your home.

After a one-time application process, you are free to request specific titles or receive regular deliveries of your favorite authors, topics, and general interests – all brought to you by a friendly volunteer.

Deliverable materials include:

  • Magazines
  • Regular or large type books
  • Magnifying hardware
  • Music CDs
  • Books on CD
  • DVDs and captioned DVDs

If you’re tech savvy, we even have 3 Nook e-readers or a catalog of e-books you can download to your own device from your home computer.

Finally, Talking Books are available if you find it difficult to read or hold standard print material.  Find the application online and discuss with a Special Services coordinator how to submit it.

It all starts with a phone call!  Call Special Services at (630) 961-4100 ext. 6343 with any further questions or to request your application in the mail.  Next time you pick up the phone for a sandwich, don’t forget your latest David Baldacci, too!

September is Banned Books Month

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The American Library Association (ALA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week this year, and we at NPL have been celebrating this milestone all month!  The history of book banning in schools and libraries spans much longer than 30 years, needless to say, and it deserves this kind of special attention.  Before we cry victory, however, we should acknowledge that censorship still exists.

Though books may not be banned from school and library collections quite as frequently as in decades past, the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) continues to track and receive hundreds of book challenges every year.  Within the school and library context, these challenges come from parents and patrons as well as teachers and librarians.  Reasons run the gamut from sex, violence, and language to a generic “unsuitable for age group” to “poor literary merit.”

Think about it: have you ever refrained from recommending a book because you thought it would be “unsuitable” for someone?  Have you ever doubted a book’s place on library shelves?  Consider these titles - both classics and more modern works – that continue to end up on the OIF’s list of challenged books.  What are they worth to you?

Classics:

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man’s struggle for justice in this Pulitzer Prize-winning classic that has been translated into more than 40 languages.  Reason: “Racism” and “language.”
  2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald : Jay Gatsby had once loved beautiful, spoiled Daisy Buchanan, then lost her to a rich boy. Now, mysteriously wealthy, he is ready to risk everything to woo her back.  Reason: “Language” and “sexual references.”
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: In an effort to escape the hypocrisies of life at his boarding school, sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield seeks refuge in New York City.  Reason: “Obscene” and “undermines morality.”
  4. The Grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck : The migration of the Joad family to California from their dust-bowl farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression.  Reason: “Profane” and “contains the phrase ‘god damn.’”
  5. 1984 by George Orwell: Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a “Negative Utopia,” watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.  Reason: “Pro-communist” and contains “sexually explicit matter.

21st Century

  1. Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling : Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches.  Reason: “Occult/satanic” and “promotes Wicca religion.”
  2. Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins: In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place.  Reason: “Anti-family” and “occult/satanic.”
  3. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things by Carolyn Mackler : Feeling like she does not fit in with the other members of her family, who are all thin, brilliant, and good-looking, fifteen-year-old Virginia tries to deal with her self-image, her first physical relationship, and her disillusionment with some of the people closest to her.  Reason: “Offensive language” and “unsuited to age group.”
  4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: The spirit of fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon describes her murder, her surprise at her new home in heaven, and her witness to her family’s grief, efforts to find the killer, and attempts to come to terms with what has happened.  Reason: “Violence” and “unsuited to age group.”
  5. A wrinkle in time / Madeleine L'Engle.A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle : Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government.  Reason: “Undermines religious belief” and “too difficult for children.”

Check one out today and immerse yourself in salvaged literature!  If you want to know more or participate in Banned Books Week, explore the ALA’s Web site
and the 50 State Salute!

Forge on, brave readers!

The Best Things in Life: Free Online Resources (Part II)

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Yes!  It’s back!  There are more!  In case I didn’t charm and amaze you last time, here’s another round of spectacular and FREE resources online!  This time around, our recommendations are for those of you with pesky questions while you’re on-the-go.  What does “circumnavigate” mean again?  What’s the second book in the “Millennium” series?  Should my 9-year-old be listening to Carly Rae Jepsen?

Grab your iPad or smart phone and check out these goodies:

  • Wordnik – This attractive and informative “wiki” dictionary will define any word or phrase you can think of.  (I dare you).  After you’ve got your definition, check out etymologies, examples, and related words – including a reverse dictionary.  Circumnavigate: v. To proceed completely around: circumnavigating the earth.
  • KDL What’s Next – This quick and easy series discovery tool from the Kent District Library in Michigan will answer your series question in seconds flat.  Search by author, title, or series name and get a simple, enumerated list.  Exactly what you wanted!  Larsson, Stieg; Millennium Series; 1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2. The Girl Who Played with Fire, 3. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
  • Common Sense Media – This professional and not-for-profit resource helps mediate between parents, teachers, and young people on the biggest questions in today’s media world.  Get reviews written by parents and kids – and then summed up by professionals.  “Call Me Maybe” (CD Single):

    What parents need to know

    Parents need to know that Carly Rae Jepsen is a Canadian who has gotten publicity through Justin Bieber‘s public support, not to mention a spoof video featuring Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Ashley Tisdale. The song is clean and pretty harmless, but the overall message of “waiting (and waiting) on a guy to call” might not be the best for young girls.

Election 2012: Everything You (Still) Want to Know

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The countdown begins!  Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are over, Election 2012 is in full swing.  Are you ready?  Excited?  Or are you still uncertain?

If so, you’re not alone.  While the news networks and political pundits are courting the emotions of voters with their lively rhetoric, others are still craving more.  As Election Day approaches in just two months, it seems the hardest news to come by may be the plain truth.

Not so at the Naperville Public Library!  Whether you’re red, blue, purple, or orange with polka dots, we’ll strive to present you with the facts so you can make an informed decision this November 6.  Check out some of our online resources for the full political picture:

 And remember: register to vote at your local county clerk’s office!

Jocks, Nerds and Mean Girls: Best High School Movies

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Whether you’re still in high school, just graduated, observing your 10-year anniversary (ack!) or supporting your kids through the ordeal, you have to admit it: high school life was pretty epic.  Who could forget Saturday morning detention?  Student council elections?  Spontaneous love serenades from the football field?  Or that time you played hookie and your principal broke into your house (until your crazy sister chased him away with her mad kung fu skills)?

Ahem. 

It also makes for great movies.  As the most exciting and most ridiculous time of our lives, good film directors have enjoyed celebrating (or mocking) it for decades.  So, in honor of back-to-school time – and all you jocks, nerds and mean girls – we’ve compiled a list of our favorite high school movies since the 1950s.  (Synopses from our catalog).

1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Five teenagers with nothing in common spend a Saturday detention in the school library, and by 4 P.M. they’ve bared their souls to each other and become good friends.

2. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

A hilarious portrayal of a group of Southern California high school students and their most important subjects: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

3. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Jim Stark, the teenage son of a well-to-do family, is overcome by loneliness, frustration and anger, which leads to violence when he seeks approval of a gang of high-school hoodlums.

4. Clueless (1995)

Still as smart and charming as ever, Clueless gets a fresh, sassy makeover for this new ‘Whatever!’ Collector’s Edition. Alicia Silverstone sparkles as Cher, the matchmaking 15-year-old Beverly Hills High schooler who has shopping and boys on her mind.

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

A high school student is determined to get a day off with his friends by outwitting his principal.

6. Mean Girls (2004)

When a young girl who has lived in Africa and been homeschooled moves to New York, she must enter a public high school. Survival of the fittest takes on a whole new meaning when she falls for the ex-boyfriend of the most popular girl in school.

7. Dead Poet’s Society (1989)

A prep school English teacher inspires his students with poetry and encourages them to seize the day and embrace life

8. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Cameron is the new kid in school who becomes smitten with the beautiful Bianca. But Bianca’s overprotective and domineering father forbids Bianca to date unless her older sister Kat, a surly and hostile senior, does.

9. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

When two new friends enter Napolean’s life – shy Deb and mustachioed Pedro – the trio launches a campaing to elect Pedro for class president and make the student body’s wildest dreams come true. But if Pedro is to beat stuck-up Summer, Napoleon will have to unleash his own secret weapon.

10. Rushmore (1998)

A gifted, rebellious teenager finds himself in competition with a wealthy older man for a favorite teacher’s affections.

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