Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why we love to read banned books

This year’s Banned Books Week is September 27th – October 3rd and we are excited to celebrate it!    The focus of this year’s celebration is Young Adult books.

"Young Adult books are challenged more frequently than any other type of book," said Judith Platt, chair of the Banned Books Week National Committee. "These are the books that speak most immediately to young people, dealing with many of the difficult issues that arise in their own lives, or in the lives of their friends. These are the books that give young readers the ability to safely explore the sometimes scary real world. This Banned Books Week is a call to action, to remind everyone that young people need to be allowed the freedom to read widely, to read books that are relevant for them, and to be able to make their own reading choices.”

Young Adult (YA) titles often end up on the American Library Association’s Top Ten most Challenged Books list (six out of ten were YA titles in 2014).   Most challenged books are objected to on the basis of mature content and age inappropriateness.  We most definitely agree that not all books are appropriate for all readers, but censorship is not the solution.  Decatur Public Library policy states:

The library’s philosophy is that censorship is a purely individual matter, and while anyone is free to reject for oneself any book or other material which he or she may find inappropriate, he or she cannot exercise the right of censorship to restrict the freedom of others. The library does remove material found to provide inaccurate information or is of poor scholarship.

We leave it to our patrons to decide what they do and do not want to read.  We also hold that simply reading a book does not indicate that one accepts or agrees with that content; reading a book about Hitler does not mean condoning anti-Semitism.  Intellectual freedom matters and Decatur Public Library encourages that freedom. is a hub for information about how individuals and institutions can get involved. Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of College Stores, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, People For the American Way Foundation, PEN American Center, and Project Censored.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October's Adult Reading Challenge "Clues"

It’s hard to believe but the end is in sight for this challenge. This blog will give you two of the last four clues for this year. You may start turning in your “Letter of Marque” (reading log) to StephRhonda after the last two clues are released on the second day of November. For those who need longer you will have until 5:00pm on December 1, 2015 to complete the challenge. In order to be eligible for the prize drawings you will need to see Stephanie or Rhonda to have your log validated. If we are not in the small study room on a day you come into the library, please ask the circulation desk to buzz us at our desk in the back. One of us is usually here 9-5:30 most days and 2 weekends of the month we cover the reference desk. We will post in another blog the hours we will be in the library next month so you can make sure to catch us. Thanks so much for playing along this year.

The clues for this month are:

Ghosts: Read any book that contains a ghost. This should get you in the mood for Halloween.

Book from Friends’ Market: Book must be purchased from the Friends of the Library Used Book Room (in the hallway across from the public restrooms). Just in time for this clue the books are ½ price this month. You can’t beat that.

Witches/Magic: Book must contain witches or the use of magic.

October Author: Read any book by an author who was born in the month of October.  A few suggestions are Anne Rice, Elmore Leonard, Jackie Collins, and Pat Conroy.
The two released clues are both areas located on the map you received when you signed up for the challenge.

Young Adult: Read any book found in Young Adult Cove. This ties in with the first of the month because Banned Book Week is being celebrated September 27th-October 3rd.  This year the emphasis is on young adult books because they are the ones most likely to be targeted for censorship.

Science Fiction/Fantasy: Read any book found in Sci-Fi Sound and it will count. This could be a fantasy or science fiction book.  Refer to the map to find these book locations in our library.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Fancy new features in our Catalog!

Recently, the database containing our “card” catalog was updated and there are a couple of really neat features we’d like to point out.  Our catalog now offers the ability to search by Reading Level AND allows you to browse a virtual shelf. 

The Reading Level search is perfect for parents and teachers who are looking for books targeted to a particular audience.  It is also something that many parents have requested and now we are happy to offer it!

Browsing the Virtual Shelf essentially shows you similar titles.  It is true that you can simply go to the shelf and see what’s near the book, but the virtual shelf allows you to browse our Library collection at 2am (or whenever) from your home computer!  From there you can put items on hold, save them to a list, or just plan to stop by later.  

Reading Levels
You will see a Reading Levels link in addition to the Advanced Search link next to the Search box.  The Reading Levels tab provides a specialized search form for Lexile® and/or Accelerated Reader.  Click the Reading Levels link next to the search button to get started.   You can type in a Lexile Measure and/or AR Reading Level!   You can also search for any book in our catalog and if the AR/Lexile Measure information is available it will show in any search result.  You can also use AR/Lexile Measure to narrow your findings when you search (the column on the left in our catalog).

Browse Virtual Shelf
The Browse Virtual Shelf button provides a way to see items before and after your displayed title selection.  Located under Title Details the Virtual Shelf will also include eResources if available.
The Virtual Shelf displays the book jacket of the item currently opened in Details in the middle of the display, and also displays book jackets of items 'on the shelf' before and after the selected title.  The format of the item (Book, Large Print, Book on CD, etc.) is displayed under the five book jackets.  Additional titles on either side are represented with book spines displaying the associated title. 

Detailed instructions for these functions – and many more – are available through our catalog when you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page and click on “Help.”   You can also check with the Reference Department and they will be happy to walk you through it.  Our catalog has lots of options cardholders can make use of…even from home!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back-to-school resources at DPL

Most kids have been back in school for some time now and are starting to get into the swing of a new year.  Returning to school, of course, brings plenty of homework, papers and projects.  Fortunately, you have resources to help you…and they are all FREE through your Decatur Public Library!  These services are available through our website and most are available 24/7.   Pardon the wordiness and length of this post, but we have some really fantastic resources and we want to tell you about them!
Alabama Virtual Library (AVL)
The Alabama Virtual Library provides all students, teachers, and citizens of the State of Alabama with online access to essential library and information resources.  Through AVL, Alabama students of all ages can access Magazines, Newspapers, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Almanacs, Academic Journals, Literature, Health, Law, Science, Medical Information, Biographies, and eBooks that are acceptable as electronic sources for academic papers…no Wikipedia here!   AVL offers a world of information available anytime day or night, and AVL’s mobile technology allows users to access premium resources on demand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from any mobile device. Whether traveling for business, researching on the go or simply accessing information from the comfort of home, Alabama residents can take AVL with them wherever they are.  Whether you need to do extensive research or just look up something quickly in an encyclopedia, AVL provides an entire digital library. 

Homework Alabama
Whether you need help with Math Homework, an English Paper, Finding a Job or Preparing for a Test, Homework Alabama can help!  It offers FREE online tutoring and academic resources from for Alabama residents from kindergarten students through college, plus adult learners. Get help in math, science, English, social studies or writing from a live tutor. Tutors are available 3 p.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. The SkillsCenter Resource Library is available 24/7. The services can be accessed from an Alabama public library, from your home computer or from your mobile device.

Receive one-to-one, real-time assistance with your job search. Online tutors are available to help navigate job sites, complete applications, write/review resumes and cover letters and even practice for an interview. You can take a career assessment, search job openings and download resume samples and templates on the 24/7 SkillsCenter Resource Library.

Learning Express
LearningExpress Library provides free basic skills improvement in reading, writing, math, and basic sciences and test preparation for academic and career testing.  Centers—a collection of related materials organized around a theme or classification of user including School (grades 412), College, GED® Test Prep, College Preparation, Career, Adult Learning, and Recursos para Hispanhoblantes (Spanish) – help students and adults prepare for success in school and in life.

LearningExpress tutorials allow you to improve basic skills with answer feedback and recommended learning paths, including unit and lesson reviews, pre- and post-tutorial assessment tests and quizzes, and study plans with links to content for additional learning.  Start at DPL’s website, scroll to the bottom and click on Learning Express, and you can have online access to these extremely beneficial learning resources for work and schoolanytime, anywhere.

Books on CD and Kits
For those who struggle with reading or want to improve their reading, we offer different formats.  For the audio learner we offer over 2600 books on CD for the Children’s Department, YA and in the adult collections combined.  We also have over 260 kits, which contain both the printed book and the audio book to allow you to read along. 

eBooks & eAudioBooks
We have best-selling and classic eBooks and eAudioBooks available 24/7 from the library’s digital collection via CamelliaNet.  You can browse the collection, borrow with your library card, and enjoy on your computer, tablet, smartphone or eReader device. Most borrowed eBooks can be enjoyed immediately in your web browser with OverDrive Read. Or, you can download eBooks into free software, Adobe® Digital Editions, or send to your Kindle® device or OverDrive app.  Downloaded eBooks can be transferred to eReader devices such as NOOK®, Sony® Reader™ and many more.  This service, powered by OverDrive, is free with your library card. 

You can also access eBooks of a more scholarly, textbook-like variety through EBSCOhost.  EBSCO offers thousands of high-quality eBook titles from leading academic publishers, trade publishers, and university presses all with a user-friendly search and browse experience and a simple download process, ensuring you have access to the relevant materials you need for your research or pleasure reading.

All of these resources are absolutely free through Decatur Public Library and we want to make sure as many people as possible take advantage.  If you have any questions feel free to contact our Reference Department via email ( or via phone (256-353-2993 ext. 117).  DPL wants you to have an outstanding academic year!