Changes in the Public Computers at the Library!

The Davenport Public Library will be implementing a new computer reserve and print release system on

Sunday, March 1 – Tuesday, March 3.

Here is what you need to know:

1. All copies will be $0.10 per page once the system is complete. (See schedule below) The first 10 pages will no longer be free.

2. If you currently have money on your card, you will need to cash it out before March 1.

3. The computers will be down according to the schedule below.

On Sunday 3/1 – the adult public computers at Main will be unavailable

On Monday 3/2 – All Public Computers at Main (Adult, Children, Special Collections) will be unavailable.

On Tuesday 3/3 – All Public Computers at Fairmount (Adult, Children) will be unavailable.


*If you have any questions, please see a Customer Service

Representative. Thank you!*

Explore Darwin in Fiction

evolution-of-janeHave Darwin’s birthday celebrations piqued your interest in natural selection and evolution? One painless way to learn about a complex subject is to explore it through fiction.  A funny, easy-to-read example is The Evolution of Jane by Cathleen Schine. While on an ecological tour of the Galapagos Islands, Jane  begins to apply Darwin’s principles to her own relationships – in particular, the unexplained break with her childhood friend, who(coincidentally!) is leading the tour.

Barbara Kingsolver calls the book  a “beautifully descriptive travelogue of the Galapagos, loaded with mini-lectures on natural history, evolutinary theory and Darwiniana, wrapped around a rollicking family saga tinged with hints of sexual intrigue….My hat is off to any writer who can render such complex ideas comprehensibly in English…”

The New African-American Kitchen by Angela Shelf Medearis

new-african-american-kitchenFocusing on the various cultural traditions that have influenced modern African-American cuisine, Angela Shelf Medearis’ The New African-American Kitchen will have you heading for the kitchen in no time. Known as “The Kitchen Diva” on her PBS cooking show, Medearis sprinkles historical information and quotes throughout the book, making it as entertaining to read as it is to cook from.

Recipes begin in Africa, then travel to the Caribbean and then to slave kitchens where the ingenuity and skill forged by the hardships and conditions of each situation have help create the unique dishes of modern African-American dishes.

Medearis also includes a chapter on healthy eating, aimed at providing delicious recipes for diabetics (more than 3 million African-Americans have some type of diabetes) and one with recipes for African-American holidays such as Juneteenth and Kwanzaa. Emphasis throughout is on healthy, organic ingredients, simple preparation techniques and the joy of sharing good food with family and friends.

A Matter of Justice by Charles Todd

matter-of-justiceThis is the 11th in the Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery series, but the first one I’ve read.  As a historical mystery, it makes for an interesting genre, but what I found even more intriguing was that the author, Charles Todd, is a pseudonym for a mother-son team who don’t even live in the same state!  Even in this high-tech world, I still marvel at that kind of skill, but for now, let’s focus on the story.

A Matter of Justice takes place in 1920’s England, and the main character, Rutledge, is an inspector for Scotland Yard.  He is called to the rural village of Somerset to investigate the brutal murder of a successful London financier, Harold Quarles.  There are no shortages of suspects, as many of the villagers openly admit to totally despising the man.  Even Quarles’ wife and the town’s police officer are under suspicion.

In what turns out to be a very effective technique, the reader is clued in to the real killer early on, and as the pages kept turning, I began to fear that Rutledge would arrest the wrong person or never literally bring the “matter to justice.”  Another useful ploy was the voice of Hamish in Rutledge’s head.  Hamish,  a soldier who died under Rutledge’s command in the trenches of WWI,  serves as a sort of guilty conscience for the inspector. This contributes greatly to making him a fully human character and not just some singular sleuth.  Though some will find this similar to an Agatha Christie mystery, I found it refreshingly superior.

Darwin Diluted


How does one simplify the subject of evolution?  One solution — read some children’s books on the subject.  Well, at least that’s what I did.  After quickly purveying Darwin’s original On the Origin of the Species, it was pretty obvious that I wouldn’t be finishing it anytime soon, so I did the next best thing.  I checked out what we had in the juvenile section, and lo and behold, I could actually understand them!  I also garnered some fascinating tidbits about this legendary scientist.  For instance, did you know that Darwin . . .

  • was a poor-to-mediocre student who would rather be out hunting than studying the classics?  (Wouldn’t most kids?)
  • dropped out of medical school as he couldn’t stand to watch surgery being performed on children without anesthetic? (That would do me in, too.)
  • spent five years on a voyage around the world aboard the HMS Beagle?  (Though plagued with terrible seasickness, he collected countless new specimens and fossils.)
  • spent eight years just studying barnacles?
  • was an ardent abolitionist?
  • preferred the term “transmutation through natural selection” over “evolution”?
  • suffered from stage fright so severe he couldn’t publicly defend his ideas?

If you’re interested in finding out more about Darwin, check out these titles:

Darwin and Evolution for Kids: His Life and Ideas by Kristan Lawson

Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution (a graphic novel!) by Heather Adamson

The Tree of Life: a Book Depicting the Life of Charles Darwin, Naturalist, Geologist and Thinker by Peter Sis

And the Oscar Goes to….

oscarThe big night is almost here! And while some of the excess will be reigned in due to the struggling economy, there will still be plenty of glitz and glamor on view Sunday night when the Oscars are presented. Will Slumdog Millionaire, the feel-good movie set in India, continue its current winning streak and grab the Best Picture prize, or will The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or The Reader win in an upset? And, most important, who will wear the best dress and who will make an unfortunate choice? The fun starts early on Sunday so grab a copy of the complete list of nominees and follow along to see if your favorites finish on top. You can watch trailers and brush up on Oscar history and trivia at the official website.

Haven’t seen all of the nominated films yet? Don’t worry – most of them are either out on DVD now or will be in the next few weeks. And the library will have copies of each of these titles – new releases are listed in eConnections, our electronic newsletter (sign up to receive this on our homepage) or watch our regularly updated list of forthcoming titles (also on our homepage)

Now, get the popcorn ready – the show’s about to begin!

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Finally! I’ve been waiting 10 years for Wally Lamb to write anther book. He has been busy with his Women of York Prison writer’s workshop compiling collections of their work in two published books (Couldn’t Keep it to Myself and I’ll Fly Away). Similar in terms of pace to his previous novels, The Hour I First Believed is a journey to say the least. This would indeed be a very long blog if I tried to summarize the whole story so I will focus briefly on only one of his heavy themes.

Caelum Quirk is an English teacher and his wife Maureen a school nurse, both working at Columbine High School. Although this is fiction, Lamb does incorporate the real people and events from the massacre in April of 1999 into his story. Maureen is hidden in a cabinet in the school library and listens as students are systematically shot and killed by two fellow classmates. Lamb then sheds huge light into the world of PTSD. The damage that Maureen is left with is severe, complicated and the catalyst to much more trauma.

Once again Wally Lamb writes an amazing story. If you’ve read either of his other two books (She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True) I would love to know what you think of them in comparison to this, his new one.

Lincoln’s Legacy

lincoln-railsplitting2Lincoln and Darwin had vastly different childhoods.  We know that Lincoln was born dirt-poor and was largely self-educated, whereas Darwin was born to wealth and privilege, privy to the best education money could buy. Still, even 200 years later, both have left their mark upon our world.  Unfortunately for both, that mark, or legacy, has become somewhat limited over time.

In the words of Adam Gopnik in his “Twin Peaks” article for the February, 2009 issue of the Smithsonian, ” With the usual compression of popular history, their reputations have been reduced to single words . . . “Evolution!”  for one and “Emancipation!” for the other.”  How true this is.  Both were complex individuals who contributed in many other ways to our relative societies.

One of Lincoln’s legacies, of sorts,  is the vast amount of literature that has been written about him.  At least in the Western world, it is estimated that there have been more books written about Lincoln than any other individual (save possibly Jesus and Napoleon).  And still, writers and researchers are uncovering new information and reformatting the old into numerous intriguing titles about Lincoln.  Check out some of these new tomes about our legendary 16th President:

In Lincoln’s Hand: his Original Manuscripts

1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History by Charles Flood

“They Have Killed Papa Dead”: the Road to Ford’s Theater, Abraham Lincoln’s Murder and the Rage for Vengeance by Anthony Pitch

Giants: the Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer

Looking for Lincoln: the Making of an American Icon by Philip Kunhardt

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James McPherson

Frugal Librarian #5: Magic Beans

frugallibrarianThey might as well have mystical powers as much as some folks charge for them. With a little skill, it is possible to get up to five times as much coffee for what you’d pay a certain mega-chain for a vacuum-packed pound. Problem is, you’ve got to get online, buy them green and roast them yourself. This can be, for a knucklehead that shall remain nameless, an extremely smoky and odorous endeavor.

There are lots of people who have modded-up their own roasting rigs, but one of the easiest, most accurate and cost-effective methods is around 6 minutes in the old hot-air popcorn popper you’re currently doubling as a dust-collector.

Reasons to attempt:

-According to some sources, coffee is best within five days of roasting. Shelf brands have been there far longer.
-You can experiment to find your ideal mouthfeel. Go online and pick an African, Asian, or Central American nation of your choice (there are dozens)….each has their own varieties that thrive in their unique in climate, soil, moisture, etc.
-You get the satisfaction of knowing when it turned out halfway well that it occurred of your own caring hand. Might make for an impressive treat or homemade gift?
-You can “enhance” what you’ve done by adding flavoring elements. I’ve found a teaspoon of cinnamon in the drip basket masks mistakes.

Word to the wise…never do it inside, especially not with half a wok full.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to step away to enjoy a cupful of fresh-brewed cinders.

Happy Presidents’ Day!

presidentsdayOriginally set aside to honor George Washington (whose birthday is actually February 22), Presidents’ Day has unofficially expanded to include Abraham Lincoln (born on February 12) and sometimes even some other former Presidents, depending on what state you live in.

While many government offices and schools are closed today, both locations of the Davenport Public Library will be open as usual – the Main Library will be open noon to 8pm and the Fairmount Library will be open 9:30am-5:30pm.

Have a great day!