Friday, August 22, 2014

Rise and Shine!


Getting up early in the morning can be an intense challenge. By the time you get settled and snugged, it seems like it’s time to get up again. However, after assessing the worth of getting up early, the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices. Just picture the things that can be accomplished while the world is still. You can start working on the blog you’ve always wanted to start; finish reading the book you’ve wanted to finish since forever; start an exercise regimen; meditate; and the list goes on. While many of us have good intentions to maximize the time in our days, we must make a conscious commitment and turn those good intentions into a reality even if it causes a temporary discomfort. 

The beginning of change in anything can be a challenge, but can be well worth it in the long-term. It is often stated that breaking an old habit and developing a new one for this matter takes an average of 30 days. Are you willing to commit 30 days to make a lifetime change? To find out how to wake up early, read "The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early," by Leo Babauta, which can be accessed at http://zenhabits.net/early/. He addresses everything from how to get up early to solutions to common complaints we tend to have for not getting up early. Happy Rising!

Subjects of interest:
Meditation
Journaling
Sleeping
Exercising
Breakfast

Karnecia Williams

Inglenook Library

Kaiju Explosion

Books by Jeremy Robinson
Do you know what a kaiju is? I didn’t until recently but the literary market for them is exploding. kaiju are the next big science fiction/fantasy trend. We’ve had superheroes, space adventurers, and werewolves. Also, for the past few years, we’ve been up to our armpits in vampires. Now come the days of “kaiju.” Whether you know it or not, everyone knows, at least, one kaiju. If you’re familiar with Godzilla, then you know a kaiju. However, these are not your father’s kaiju.

Kaiju is defined as a Japanese word that literally translates to "strange beast." The word has been translated and defined in English as "monster" and is used to refer to a genre. Kaiju films usually showcase monsters of any form, usually attacking a major Japanese city or engaging another (or multiple) monsters in battle.

With the success of the movie Pacific Rim, we are being put on notice that they are here to stay. Pacific Rim already has a sequel, or rather a prequel in the works. There is some excellent kaiju fiction coming on the market. There are also more movies in the pipeline. So if you’re ready to move on from the Twilight crowd, check out some of these books and join us as we usher in the next big trend: kaiju.

Lorraine Walker
Five Points West Library

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Review: Planet of the Apes

Planet Of The Apes
By Pierre Boulle

When I was a kid in the Sixties, my dad had a copy of a book called Monkey Planet on his bookshelf. I was intrigued by the title. I was old enough to realize it was a made-up story but I knew almost nothing about it. Many years later it was made into the movie Planet of the Apes (1968), which referenced the more-common name of the novel. I liked the movie and have seen it several times over the years. Some (well, more than some) of it is silly, dated, and embarrassing, but it still tells a great action story, and the soundtrack is astonishing. Recently, I read that the novel is more serious than the movie. That caught my attention, so I started reading it and discovered that the serious bit is only one of many differences between the book and film. And its seriousness is tripped up by flaws anyway. Two aliens discover a message in a bottle. It’s the story of an Earthman, Ulysse Merou, who travels to Soror, the titular Planet of the Apes. The apes-not monkeys learn French (Boulle was French) from Merou, who in turn learns the simian language. Soror isn’t Earth, but it is Earthlike, sometimes clumsily so—did the ape annals really have to have Impressionists?

The apes are the dominant species, and they have our human level of intelligence and the native humans run wild as beasts when they’re not being experimented on by the apes. Boulle isn’t a great (or even a very good) stylist, but he tells a corker of a story and handles the social, religious, scientific, and philosophical aspects of Soror in a mostly entrancing way. He means to make the reader uncomfortable, too, and the way the apes treat humans will at least make you look at PETA in a new way. The apes tell Merou that their races (chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans) are equal but our narrator quickly cottons onto the face-saving nature of the claim. The apes’ textbooks state that the planet Soror is the center of the universe, though the educated have long since discarded this belief (I couldn’t help but think of the evolution-averse statement inserted into Alabama state textbooks and what an embarrassment that is to the equivalent here.) There are many funhouse parallels in Planet of the Apes and they are enjoyable when they aren’t disturbing, which is to say that they’re usually intriguing. At his best, Boulle is in the Swiftian line, and he can be merciless.

On another front, the early-Sixties (1963) nature of the book is doubly odd. The apes have just put up satellites, and a man, into space. They see all non-ape creatures as incapable of thought, the way almost all Earth scientists saw animals back then. (One of the questions the book raises is, What is an animal, anyway?) Subplots with rich sexual potential end up chaste after all—and the author was French! There are none of the humanlike bonobos, which science knew little of at the time of the novel. In some ways, the book’s future is our past.

So check out this book already. The misfires don’t ultimately matter too much and the hits are deep and wide. It’s a compelling read with a considerable ironic underbelly. While reading, you never quite forget the precariousness of man on Soror or Earth, or man as narrator or beast.

As for my dad? I never read that, he told me the other day.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department
Central Library

Job Hunting Made Easier at Your Local Library

job searching graphic

Hardly an hour goes by without one of my patrons saying, “I’m looking for a job online but I’m not sure where to go,” or “How do I fill out this online job application?” or “How do I attach my resume to this online job application?” Having been hired recently as the new branch head at East Lake Library, I can certainly identify with those who are navigating the online job search tools and figuring out what is required to apply for a job online.

I tell my patrons that Birmingham Public Library is a good place to start when looking for a job. The BPL website has a guide specifically for Job Searching. From there you can access local and national job listings like Alabama Joblink, Best Local Jobs which is powered by al.com, or CareerBuilder.com, Simply Hired, or SnagAJob. If you want reliable, current career information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook. If you are about to apply for a job but need help with your resume, try Creating Resumes which provides information about the various types of resumes and tips on what to include and leave out.

If you need to access to tools to help you keep the new job or get that promotion, try Learning Express Library which offers test preparation assistance, and tools for helping to improve your reading, writing, and math skills. And don’t forget the Regional Library Computer Center which offers free computer classes.

Whichever library you visit as you begin your job search, you can count on friendly staff to help you access the print and online resources you need.

William Darby
East Lake Library

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Learning to Live with Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.9 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes every year. The disease affects more than 8% of the United States population, and that number is growing. It’s also the seventh leading cause of death—but it doesn't have to be a death sentence.

The doctor’s report indicates you have diabetes, your mind is inundated with questions: Why Me? What am I going to do? What life changes do I need to make?

Take the 90 Day Diabetes Challenge to jumpstart a healthier diet and exercise routine to combat diabetes. Here are some resources to help you get started.

Books
Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook
Simply Smoothies
Curing Diabetes in 7 Steps
No More Diabetes

Websites
http://www.diabetes.org/
http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/
http://americasdiabeteschallenge.com/

Diabetic Recipes/Blogs
http://www.pinterest.com/oaksilver/diabetic-recipes/
http://www.diabeticfoodie.com/
http://diabeticenjoyingfood.blogspot.com/

Fitness
http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/

Yolanda Hardy
Smithfield Library

E-Books Available for Required Reading Assignments


School is back in session and students are looking for copies of books for their required reading assignments.  We are called  to check our shelves for such classics as The Outsiders, Animal Farm, and The Giver. Fortunately, many of these titles are now available as free e-books. Just Google the title and "e-book" to see if the book you're looking for is online.

Birmingham Public Library has e-book and audio book versions as well. You can find them by checking the catalog for the online version or at downloadable e-books and audio books on the BPL website.

The website Goodreads has a list of 100 classics for teens. I checked the top ten and found ebooks for all but I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Ender's Game.  I've linked the library epub versions for those titles.

The Diary of a Young Girl   The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

To Kill a Mockingbird     



To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee

The Chronicles of Narnia (C...   The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Little Women (Little Women,...



Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Great Gatsby   The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Pride and Prejudice   Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

The Giver (The Giver #1)   The Giver by Lois Lowry

Jane Eyre   Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I Know Why the Caged Bird S...   I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Ender's Game (The Ender Qui...  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dreamland Bar-B-Que and Birmingham Public Library to Host K-8 Classroom Recipe Contest


Dreamland Bar-B-Que and the Birmingham Public Library invite K-8 classrooms to put on their chef hats and create a kid-friendly Dreamland recipe. One winning classroom will be treated to a Dreamland classroom party for submitting the most creative and delicious recipe.

The Jr. Pitmasters Cookbook Recipe Contest is open to all K-8 classes and homeschool programs within Jefferson County. The contest is part of the Birmingham Public Library’s Eat Drink Read Write Festival, set for October 3-10, 2014.

Each classroom may submit one or more recipes using Dreamland Bar-B-Que Sauce, Dipping Sauce, Seasoning Shake, and/or Rub. These items are available for purchase at Dreamland Bar-B-Que restaurants, local grocers, and online at www.dreamlandbbq.com. The recipes can be for appetizers, main courses, side dishes, or desserts. The recipes should be easy to make for kids.

Recipe submission forms can be found at Dreamland and the Birmingham Public Library’s website. The deadline for submission is September 17, 2014. Classroom recipes should be sent to contactus@dreamlandlandbbq.com. To find applications, visit www.bplonline.org/eatdrinkfest and click on “contests.’’

Along with the recipe contest, all children in grades K-8 are invited to submit their own original works of art to be considered for the cookbook cover and interior illustrations. One piece of art will be selected as the cover for the Jr. Pitmasters Cookbook. Works may feature Dreamland Bar-B-Que or The City of Birmingham. The grand prize for the art contest is a $100 Dreamland gift card. Parents and children may submit art for consideration at the Central Library's Youth Department, second floor. The deadline is also September 17.

Participants will be honored during a family-friendly reception at the Central Library on October 6, 2014, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

For more information about the contest or the Eat Drink Read Write Festival, visit Dreamland Bar-B-Que on Facebook or www.bplonline.org/eatdrinkfest.

Central Library Will Host a Free Haiku Workshop, August 23

Release your inner poet and attend a free haiku workshop on Saturday, August 23, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the Central Library.

Terri L. French, the Southeast region coordinator for the Haiku Society of America, will lead the session. French's 2010 book of haiku, A Ladybug on My Words, was illustrated by her son. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama.

The event is ideal for teens and adults. For more information call 226-3670.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fond Library Memories Inspire Sanspointe Dance Company's September 24 Tour Set for the Birmingham Public Library


Sanspointe Dance Company will present "Creative Catalog," dances inspired by library experiences, on Wednesday, September 24, at 5:00 p.m. in the atrium of the Central Library. Admission is free.

From dances that embrace everything from research and the Dewey Decimal system to the energy, imagination and fun found in children's books, the show will celebrate what libraries do for the community and for the imagination. The company’s 30-minute performance will be comprised of four dances with seven dancers and narration. Sanspointe has performed at the Birmingham Public Library and other libraries in the past.

New this year will be a free Master Class for teenagers from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on September 24. It will be held in the library's second-floor Story Castle. The introductory, contemporary dance class will blend children's favorite library books with works of dance art. It is ideal for ages 12 to 17. Class space is limited to 15 participants. Advance registration may be made at the Central Library's Youth Department. The class is free. Call the Youth Department at 226-3655 for more information.

For more information on Sanspointe, a Birmingham-based, nonprofit modern dance company, visit www.sanspointe.org. For more information on library programs, visit www.bplonline.org.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Registration Open for September RLCC Classes

When working with Excel 2010, there are options to assist the user in creating a spreadsheet. Templates not only save time but provide a basis to customize a spreadsheet according to the user’s needs and wants. Many times, these templates are already designed with formats and formulas that are included into the spreadsheet.
To use a template, follow these steps:
  1. Click the File tab. This will take you to the “Backstage” view.
  2. Once there, select New. You will see templates. A preview of the selected template appears on the right.
  3. Select the template of your choice and click Download or Create, and customize according to your needs.
Excel 2010 will be the featured program in September, offering a class on home budgets using templates.
CLASS REGISTRATION
Registration is now open for staff and the public for the September 2014 Regional Library Computer Center classes. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.
To register for a class: (Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. Please call to confirm.)
  1. Complete name, address and phone information. PLEASE PRINT.
  2. Place a check mark in the check box next to the class(es) you would like to attend.
  3. Return the entire form to a staff person in the Public Computer Services department.
  4. You may also send an email to cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us or use the online form to register.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Crime Novelist Charles Willeford


Crime novels are an exceptionally popular genre in the publishing world. James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Alexander McCall-Smith are authors that often work in this genre that nearly everyone has heard of and all of whom have an enormous following among readers around the world.   


One of my favorite crime novelists is Elmore Leonard and when I discover an author whose work I really enjoy, I like to seek out the authors and books they found to be influential. 

On occasion, this search may lead down the rabbit hole and open up a literary world that I never knew existed.  This was certainly the case when searching for Elmore Leonard’s literary forefathers. 

I was led to an author by the name of Charles Willeford with the quote below.

No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford. - Elmore Leonard

Charles Ray Willeford was a teenaged hobo during the Great Depression, a tank commander in World War II, a professional boxer, a painter, a horse trainer, a poet, an English professor, a book critic for the Miami Herald and one of the most twisted and acerbic crime writers to ever put pen to paper.

Willeford’s first book of poetry Proletarian Laughter was published in 1948 and he went on to write several lurid (yet literary) pulp novels in the crime genre in the fifties with titles such as Wild Wives, The Woman Chaser, and High Priest of California.  By the sixties, Willeford was churning out dark masterpieces such as The Burnt Orange Heresy and Cockfighter -- a book about man with an unhealthy obsession with the underground sport of fighting roosters that was later made into a film produced by Roger Corman and starring Warren Oates.

Charles Willeford and Warren Oates in a scene from Cockfighter

By the eighties, Willeford had settled in Miami and the outrageous violence of the booming cocaine black market and the massive immigration of Haitians and Cubans provided ample fodder for Willeford’s creative writing process and the author created his most successful books --  a series of novels about a Miami police detective named Hoke Moseley. 

Miami Police Detective Hoke Moseley is not your usual crime novel protagonist-- by a long shot.  Mosely was born for hard luck.  He is a single father, middle-aged, and wears dentures (which are promptly stolen in Miami Blues - the first book in the series).  Mosley is constantly broke due to his low pay, teenage daughters, and crippling alimony payments to his ex-wife.  He is not well liked on the police force and criminal psychopaths seem to be drawn within his orbit on a regular basis.  He is a competent police detective though he generally makes a break in a case only after bending the rules -- usually quite far.

On second thought, the above description does sound like the hard boiled protagonists of most crime novels. 

The main difference between Hoke Moseley and any other crime novel detective is that Charles Willeford is running the darkly comic show here.  Willeford’s villains are not arch criminals nor are they evil geniuses. They are desperate characters that are broke and busted and seeking the path of least resistance.  Hoke Moseley is not much different from the villains in this regard; however, Moseley does adhere to his own moral code, twisted though it may be.

Several of Charles Willeford's books are available through the library.  I would recommend starting with his semi-mainstream Moseley series (Miami Blues, New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe, and The Way We Die Now) before tackling some of his darker tomes such as The Black Mass of Brother Springer or The Machine in Ward Eleven

If you do check out any of these books, let me know what you think.

Genealogy for Kids

Now that “back to school” is in full swing, this might be a good time to introduce your children to a new subject: their own family. Genealogy is a great way for families to spend time together and can be a particularly special way for children to bond with their older relatives. It also provides opportunities to teach important research skills and to impart a love of history in children at an early age.

Starting a genealogy project with your children can be as simple as writing down the names of their parents and grandparents, along with their places of birth and other important dates. Fill out a genealogy chart together to see how much you already know and to get an idea of where you need to look next. If your child has older relatives nearby, have him or her conduct an “interview” in which he asks about their life. Hearing how their grandparents studied, worked, and had fun will make history personal for them.

By taking information about their family and piecing it together, children of all ages are gaining valuable research skills. Not all families are easy to track down and doing so requires using many different sources (both print and online). Learning to use and evaluate the information they find will serve them well as they progress in their education.

Many people find that genealogy makes them feel more connected to the places their ancestors lived and to history. Putting our ancestors into their historical context helps us to understand them and turns them into real people rather than just names and dates. Wanting to know more about their family naturally leads children (and adults) to the study of the towns, states, and countries their ancestors came from.

For more information about starting a family genealogy project, visit our new Genealogy for Kids subject guide. It includes links to books, websites, craft projects, and charts. You can also visit the Library’s Southern History Department for free classes and help anytime you need it.

M.B. Newbill
Southern History Department
Central Library

Diana Gabaldon's Popular Outlander Book Series Now a TV Series

In 1991 as a young librarian, I ordered a new book by a new author, Diana Gabaldon. The blurb said it was historical fiction and it looked intriguing. I thought my patrons would like it; I thought I would like it. It seemed like a good fit for my little library.

Twenty-three years and eight major books later, the Outlander series has come to television. This series has something for everyone: a great love story, time travel, history, Scottish rebellion against the English, war, colonization of the new world, Native Americans, and the hardships of living in the 17th century. The research, especially in the medical history, is extremely well done. Gabaldon is still working on the series and has also written numerous novellas about minor character in the Outlander series. The first year of the television series will cover the first book in the series. I hope it has a long run.

Books in the series:
Outlander (1991)
Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
Voyager (1994)
Drums of Autumn (1997)
The Fiery Cross (2001)
A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005)
An Echo in the Bone (2009)



Lynn Carpenter
Five Points West Library