My earliest memory of the public library is not of a cozy StoryTime, but rather a tale of Fightclub. Everyone at Clinton Jr. High knew that afterschool fights were held behind the tiny little library next door to the school. While I was not immune to the dramatic impulses that led to these matches, violence made me queasy, so as the herd tramped down the alley, I veered off into the library. I found new worlds inside and was soon reading my way through the adult section. I have to say it was proximity and access that were my keys to the library world.

Almost everyone agrees that libraries are a good deal. Libraries offer books and other items for check out, free computer use and helpful classes. It’s the best place for literacy training for young or old. But not everyone has the access and proximity. Some neighborhoods are far away from the three Denton Public Library locations. Some neighborhoods are unfamiliar with the concept of “free” public libraries. Some folks are so busy working they can’t make it to the library, and some aren’t physically able to travel.

Dpl2go is a mobile library unit that brings a micro library to these folks. Launched nearly one year ago, dpl2go has visited locations to bring free books, library programs and kind and helpful people. Staffed by library employees and volunteers, dpl2go has been to senior housing, family apartments, traditional neighborhoods, and the Denton State School. We visited Careers on Wheels days at local elementary schools, participated in the Touch a Truck event, drove in the July 4th Parade, and went to free summer lunch sites in local parks.


Libraries ARE a good deal. Folks are happy to know and experience the advantages a library card can bring to their families. We are happy to show them. Let’s give everyone in Denton the proximity and access that can point them towards a new hobby, a new career, or perhaps, a lifetime of reading.


– Terri Gibbs, Director of Libraries


Study on, You Students, Study on!

So, the Summer Reading Club is over and the new school year has begun.  For most students, the school year includes homework and projects and studying.  It can all be a bit overwhelming.   Well, the Denton Public Library is here for them.  Reference librarians can answer questions and lead students to useful resources; Interlibrary Loan allows students to request almost any book, audio, or video they need; and the library is a great environment for studying.  But perhaps the best way the library can help is through its electronic resources, specifically the homework help resources.

I will focus on three resources that we classify under Homework, but first I’d like to point out that the library provides access to hundreds of online resources and databases that can assist in study and research.  Our Periodicals databases, such as Masterfile Premier and Academic Search Premier, make available thousands of full-text magazine and journal articles.  Our Literature resources, such as Literature Resource Center, include biographies of authors and poets, encyclopedia articles, and literary criticism.  I cannot adequately describe in this post what the Denton Public Library has available.  Peruse the list by going to www.dentonlibrary.com and clicking on the Research Tools button towards the middle of the screen.  This reveals a list of subject links, and clicking on a subject link shows the electronic resources available for that subject.

Now to get back on track; here are three very useful items under the Homework subject link.

brainfuse use

Brainfuse is a general studying tool, and can be found under the link Live Homework Help.  It includes skills practice, tests to help students determine which majors and careers they might be interested in, and flashcard-type reviews for academic subjects and standardized tests students might need to prepare for.  It also has an Adult Learners section with, among other things, computer help and links to tutorials, career and resume-writing help, a writing lab, and help for GED and citizenship tests.

But the most useful features of Brainfuse are live online help from tutors and other experts, and the virtual meeting rooms that students can use for collaborating on group projects and discussing schoolwork.

Find a topic. 2

Find a Topic is a resource linking students to newspapers and other publications from throughout the United States.  Students are first presented with links of general topics, such as “health” and “international issues.”  Clicking on a general subject link reveals more specific subjects related to the larger topic, such as “medical research” and “nutrition.”  Under these are specific links for detailed subjects like “genetically modified food” that lead to lists of full-text articles on that very specific subject.  The lists often include articles that are current to within a day or two.


Explora is a group of three databases.  One is designed for elementary students, one for middle school, and one for high school.  These databases are similar to Find a Topic in their directory format, making browsing through subjects easy.  Simply click on subject links that become more and more specific.  Both titles also allow students to search specific subject terms of their choosing, but Explora makes this much easier.  The results Explora finds are from a wider range of sources – popular magazines, academic journals, reference tools, books, and occasionally newspapers.  The results list includes icons next to each item listed, indicating which type of source the information is from.

All of these  study tools are available at all three Denton Public Library branches.  We realize, though,  that it isn’t always convenient to come into the library to study and use library resources, so we’ve made these databases available for people with library cards to use from home – 24 hour-a-day access to a world of information.

So, students of all ages, study on!  And remember that you can always rely on the Denton Public Library for help to keep you learning.

Fred – South Branch

Britcoms at DPL (REDUX)

It’s been two years since we last talked about Britcoms (American slang for “British Sitcom”) at the Denton Public Library. It’s been on my mind since Absolutely Fabulous is finally wrapping up their 24-year run with a feature film that opened last month. Ab Fab then reminds me of the wonderful collaboration in sketch comedy, French and Saunders. Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders and her long-time comedy partner, Dawn French, team up to create some of the funniest bits of comedy ever produced.

Both Dawn and Jennifer continue their connections into the comedy world as Dawn’s ex-husband, Lenny Henry, stars in Chef!, which is a terrific series about a genius, but very crusty chef. If you’re an avid watcher of the Food Channel, this one’s for you. Jennifer’s husband is Adrian Edmonson who starred in the 80’s MTV Britcom The Young Ones. If you’re a child of the 80’s and aren’t easily offended, you might enjoy that one!

Also for the not-easily offended, Peep Show may be one of the best sitcoms to ever come from the other side of the pond. Riffing off of Seinfeld, two best frenemies attempt to navigate the world through their 20’s and 30’s. The interesting point-of-view of this series comes from the camera angle showing the perspective of one of the characters at all times, also while hearing their (often opposing) thoughts while speaking. Thinking one thing, but usually saying another thing….

Did you know that KERA was the first American TV station to show Monty Python’s Flying Circus? That’s something to be proud of here in the DFW area! John Cleese also starred as Basil Fawlty in the amazing Fawlty Towers – the adventures of a curmudgeonly hotel owner who provides often less-than-stellar customer service to his guests.

Hijinks ensue with Good Neighbors; this 1975 Britcom pits snooty neighbor Margo against her laid-back and friendly neighbor Barbara. Felicity Kendall and Penelope Keith are stalwarts of British comedy, so you don’t want to miss out on this one.

Enjoy the comedy of our British friends, and share your favorites in the comments!

Kerry Montz – North Branch

In The Weeds, 8.10.16: A Square By Any Other Name…

….is still called a “square”. There are 254 counties in Texas and, much like the state itself, their squares represent the varied cultural and architectural influences of over 300 years of Spanish/Mexican, European and early American settlement. We have a volume in our Texas Collection that offers a very detailed and “in the weeds” analysis of them entitled “The Courthouse Square in Texas” by Robert E Veselka.

Denton’s Square falls under the “Shelbyville-related” plan. That is to say, it has a square lot in the center of a grid with nomenclature based on a system developed in 1968 by E.T. Price in his study of courthouse squares from Pennsylvania to Texas and named after a prototype in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Here you can see that plan juxtaposed with others:


Denton shares similarities with Archer City, Brownwood, Cleburne, and Jacksboro in that they all feature a symmetrical arrangement of smaller partial blocks on the periphery. Here is a Sanborn Map of Denton from 1926:



Shelbyville squares and their variants are the most prevalent in Texas and can be found in 157 counties, or 61% of the total. This style was first adopted in the northeast corner of the state in Clarksville and San Augustine and were familiar to settlers from the eastern United States with their simple grids and focus on the courthouse.

There are three other major influences on the square design in Texas: Spanish/Mexican, German and Railroad. Briefly, in the Hispanic tradition, town squares allowed for a plaza that was not to include any building with nearby locations for the Catholic Church, a military plaza and a courthouse. A quarter of Texas’ squares are based on this influence and naturally include such towns as San Antonio de Bexar, Gonzalez, Goliad, Refugio, etc. Here is a map of San Antonio de Bexar from 1896 showing the Military and Main Plazas:




The many thousands of German immigrants in the mid-to-late 19th Century to the Hill Country left their mark as well. Both New Braunfels and Fredericksburg have central squares for public use without buildings and in some ways resemble Anglo design otherwise.


Finally, the importance of the railroad in settling and development of vast areas of Texas meant that their planners had no little influence in how towns were laid out. In some instances, the railroad “split” the town with the court house very near the tracks:rr005

If you’ve made it this far in our little trip around Texas court house squares, thanks for joining us. We won’t think you are “square” for peeking around these court house areas on your next trip through Texas.

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Special Collections Dept. Questions or comments can be directed to chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com.