January 2011

Now that the IRS and California Franchise Tax Board have stopped mailing out tax forms to households, what are we suppose to do?  You need to look no further than the Dublin Library.  The Dublin Library carries the basic federal and California state instructions and forms.  If we do not carry a particular one, you can download them directly at:

*Please make a note that the Instructions 1040 all have not arrived as of yet.  These forms are scheduled to arrive in late January, or early February*

The Dublin Library is also offering free tax assistance every Saturday, beginning February 5, 2011 from 10:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. in the Group Study Room.

This program is jointly sponsored by the IRS and AARP. Trained volunteers assist with U.S. Federal and California State income tax and e-filing.

Appointments will be available for morning sessions. The Library will begin accepting appointments on January 24, 2011. You may call the Library at 925-803-7275 during normal open hours or sign up in person at the Reference Desk. Drop-ins with no appointment are welcome at any time, from 10:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and will be served on a first come, first served basis, subject to availability of volunteer staff.

*There will be no Tax Assistance offered on Saturday, March 12, 2011, due to the St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Civic Center.*

It’s hard to believe, but this Dublin Library blog has been in existence for over 2 years now! In looking at our stats, it appears between 100 to 200+ people click in on any given day. I’m no blogging expert and don’t know if that is good, as far as library blogs go, or not. We had one day with over 800 views, that really amazes me. And certainly when I look at the total stats, I’m astounded that the blog has been accessed over 67,000 times. Wow.

So I am in a ruminative mood and wondering if it’s time to shake things up a bit. Re-design the blog? Switch to Facebook? It is very challenging to figure out how we can connect with you, our users, and give you a forum to talk back at us. Not sure that this blog achieves it, but it was a start. But maybe it’s time for a change. So here is the question of the day — help me out here and tell me how many of you would prefer we switch to Facebook or keep this blog or maybe do both!

Nelson Johnson, a New Jersey politician and judge, first became interested in the history of Atlantic City while serving as an attorney for the resort’s Planning Board in the early 1980s.  The result is this fascinating and meticulously researched book, which covers the history of Atlantic City from its inception as a resort for working-class vacationers in the mid-1800s, to a city where Prohibition was never observed, and finally to the legalized gambling resort city of today.   Atlantic City is unique in the United States due to the fact that, for the first 70 years of the 20th century, it was controlled by just three political bosses who were also gangsters:  Louis “the Commodore” Kuehnle, Enoch “Nucky” Johnson (no relation to the author) and Frank “Hap” Farley.

Nowadays, we are no longer surprised to hear of gangsters (and lobbyists) corrupting elected officials with bribes and payoffs.  Atlantic City was different in that the gangsters and the Republican Party were one and the same organization. Atlantic City was a one-party city for decades. The vast majority of the city’s population did not seem to mind because the Republican ward system was effective not only in turning out votes, but also in meeting the needs of the people.   Eventually, the corrupt Republican leaders of the city would control the entire state of New Jersey.

Johnson takes us back to the earliest days of the resort, when it was filled with more flies and mosquitoes than people.  The brainchild of local doctor Jonathan Pitney , who realized he could make more money in real estate than in practicing medicine,  Atlantic City was first planned as a health resort on Abescon Island in the 1850s.  By 1870, a rail line linked Philadelphia to the island; Pitney’s dream came true, but not as he had foreseen it.

Atlantic City became the first resort that viewed working class people, mostly from Philadelphia, in need of diversion after a six-day work week in the factories, as vacationers.     Johnson quotes a local man who said it best:  “If the people who came to town had wanted Bible readings, we’d have given ’em that. But nobody ever asked for Bible readings.  They wanted booze, broads and gambling, so that’s what we gave ’em.”

With the passage of the 19th Amendment prohibiting the sale and distribution of alcohol,  Atlantic City benefitted handsomely, in  that alcohol was sold openly,  and the famous beach became a major route for East Coast contraband liquor.

The repeal of Prohibition and changes in how Americans traveled and where they vacationed after World War II sent Atlantic City into a long period of decline.  Nonetheless,  graft, corruption and one-party rule continued unabated until 1971, by which time the Atlantic City had nearly become a crumbling ruin.

Johnson takes his history through the battle to pass legalized gambling in Atlantic City during the late 1970s and the early decades of the casinos.  He believes that not only did gambling save the resort from certain death, but it has the potential to make Atlantic City great again. Many would disagree with this assessment, pointing out that the resort is still depending upon a vice to survive, and that many inhabitants still live in poverty.  

I’d recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the history of organized crime and gambling in the United States.  I found it fascinating and occasionally humorous reading.   It’s no wonder that HBO and director Martin Scorsese took this book as the inspiration for a television series. 

Boardwalk empire : the birth, high times, and corruption of Atlantic City / Nelson Johnson ; foreword by Terence Winter                                                                                     974.985 JOHNSON

Local author Karen Burrell has a fulltime job as a clown, but has always loved cooking.  In her book,  “The Spirit Within :  Cooking with Fermented and Distilled Beverages,” she offers a variety of exciting recipes using various wines and liqueurs for nearly all types of foods – breads, soups, vegetables, and desserts.   One could easily construct entire meals using this cookbook.    She helpfully provides a table of non-alcoholic substitutions for the wines and liqueurs used in this book. 

I will definitely try the recipes for biscotti (made with dark rum) and Greek kourabiedes cookies with cinnamon (made with brandy).  If you like cooking with wines or spirits, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

The spirit within : cooking with fermented and distilled beverages / Karen Burrell   

641.62 BURRELL

Left to right: Wesley, Ashwin, Karen and Muzit.

The Library’s Homework Help service is once again open!  Each day, Monday through Thursday, we have a stellar team of teen volunteers here from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. who help children in grades 3 to 8 finish their school assignments.  We have had an average of 12 students each afternoon so far this year, spending an average of 1.2 hours in the homework Center.

The person who oversees this program is Anne Reilly who has this to say:

“My name is Anne Reilly and this is my second year at Dublin Library as the Homework Help Program Coordinator. Rather than tell you how talented our volunteers are this year, I will leave you to read for yourselves, about their experiences in their own words.

New to the Homework Center this year is Ashwin who wants the students who come to the center, to feel comfortable about asking for help. He says “I do not simply just hand them the answer, but give them clues so that they can do the problem or find the answer on their own.”

Danny, also a newcomer this year says “I enjoy helping the kids and seeing their faces when they finally get something. Also, it helps me review the things I’ve learned before.”

Left to right: Noirita, Wilbur, Bhumika, Hailey

Bhumika shares “As a returning volunteer, I have learned that many students fail to understand new material in class, and are often too afraid to voice questions in class. When students come in with this problem, I find it works best to use the class text to teach the material.” Bhumika noticed that many of the students coming to Homework Center this year are bringing the new trend with them – Silly Bands!

Left to right: Jonathan, Danny, Sarah, Yvonne

Jonathan another returning volunteer this year, notes from his previous experience what he has learned about helping students in the Homework Center – “I’ve learned that there are different ways to help kids and that one needs to be patient. Sometimes kids are shy and you need to constantly check to make sure they learn how to do their work because they may never ask you.”

Sarah is also with us for her second year in the Homework Center and shares this. “The kids just need my time and patience, but if they have that they can basically solve anything.” About the students in the Homework Center she adds “I enjoy talking to the kids and hearing how their day has been.  They’re all really sweet and fun to work with.”

Karen, who also has previous experience in the Homework Center, says “I know for sure that if I were a grade or middle schooler, I would come here to ask for help. I remember that I would often get frustrated by my homework at that age.” Adding “Going to the Homework Center probably would have lowered my third grade stress!”

We are also lucky to have five high school seniors volunteering with us this year. Here’s Yvonne’s thoughts about the year ahead. “I hope that I can help students with their homework and give them advice on studying and completing their homework.” She adds that one of the things she enjoys most about working with the students is “seeing the looks on their faces when they are able to understand their homework.”

Muzit, also a 12th grade volunteer, shares what she enjoys best – “The thing I most like about working with the students is that I am able to communicate with the students and they are not afraid to ask me for help.” She adds “I am having such a great time here in the Homework Center.”

Wilbur, another senior joining us this year says “I enjoy the interactions with the students and them actually learning the subjects that they didn’t get.”

Left to right: Andrew, Katie, Sandra, Vito

As both a returning volunteer and a high school senior this year, Sandra has this to say about the Homework Center – “I absolutely love to work with students because I enjoy helping others. They teach me how to interact with students when they don’t understand something. I plan to give all of my help to students who need help on their homework. I hope that I can gain better teaching skills because I want to be a teacher.” And she adds that in the Homework Center “every day is fun!”

The Homework Help Program is a drop-in program for students in grades 3-8 to get homework help from high school volunteers. We are in the library on Mondays through Thursdays from 3:30-5:30pm. We have four volunteers available each day to help students with their daily assignments. The most requested subject students ask for help with is math, with science and language arts close behind. Over the weeks, volunteers have helped students with many subjects including history, social sciences and Spanish.  Not to mention that between them, from levels that vary from proficient to fluent, our volunteers speak a total of six languages other than English.

If you are, or know of, a student in need of help with homework come into the Homework Center here at the Dublin Library – let our volunteers help YOU!”

Page One is a new book group for 5th and 6th graders here at the Dublin Library. Each month we’ll read a different book and then get together at the library to share our opinions and talk about our reading experiences. Meetings will be held in the library program room and snacks will be served.

Space is limited, so you will need to stop by the library to sign up in advance and get a copy of the book to check out.

The first meeting will be held Wednesday February 2, 2011 from 4 – 5 p.m. Sign up now to give yourself plenty of time to read the book before the meeting.

The book is The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.