Thursday, December 28, 2006

BookMakers: Handmade Books from the University of Alabama's Book Arts Program

Sarah Bryant's book The IndexSarah Bryant's The Index

Students, graduates and faculty from the University of Alabama Book Arts Masters Program will present their work at an exhibition in Central's Fourth Floor Gallery at the Birmingham Public Library January 3-February 12. The exhibition will highlight the three labor-intensive stages of the bookmaking process—papermaking, printing, and book binding—with work by artists from the region who are affiliated with the University of Alabama’s graduate program.

The painstakingly crafted paper, prints, and books on display at the Birmingham Public Library will demonstrate a remarkable craft that—in a world of mass-produced white paper, speedy laser printers, and efficient printing presses—most of us are unaccustomed to seeing. Book artists begin papermaking by using a variety of natural fabrics and fibers: a second-hand linen dress found at a thrift store, bark from a tree native to Alabama, or an old pair of denim blue jeans. Flecks of color, unexpected textures, and imperfections around the edges make each piece a unique medium for language and art.

The fineness of the paper is enhanced when the artist carefully chooses words that are imprinted onto each homemade sheet with a printing press; the force of metal or wood type depresses ink into porous fiber. Many of the pieces in this exhibition feature the artists’ own writing or that of a cooperating author. Artists choose a typeface—better known as a font—to complement the subject matter, mood, and color of the piece and often include etched images to serve as a background or central illustration.

Finally, each single work is bound together to make a new work—a book—that is both practical and aesthetically exquisite. Bindings range from simple to remarkably intricate and demonstrate a variety of ancient and modern stitching techniques from around the world. Covers are made from paper, cloth, and leather and complement the work to be found inside.

This University of Alabama program teaches papermaking, printing, and book binding using historical techniques, emphasizing the art and craft of making books by hand with traditional materials and equipment. The works in this exhibition illustrate that traditional book artists draw on many creative abilities—writing, etching, sewing—to transform something as practical as a book into an elegant work of art.

Remembering Gerald R. Ford

President Ford announces his decision to pardon former President Richard Nixon. Photo courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library   Gerald R. Ford
July 14, 1913 - December 26, 2006

“. . . The ultimate test of leadership is not the polls you take, but the risks you take. In the short run, some risks prove overwhelming. Political courage can be self-defeating. But the greatest defeat of all would be to live without courage, for that would hardly be living at all.” Ford's Remarks upon receiving the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage AwardMay 21, 2001

To read about Gerald R. Ford, his presidency and funeral services see the links below:

Many books about Gerald R. Ford are available for check out at your local library.

Online links:
Biography of Gerald R. Ford
Encyclopedia Britannica Online articles (a library card is required to access these articles)
Gerald R. Ford Presidental Library and Museum
Send condolences online at the Gerald R. Ford Memorial Web site
Funeral services schedule
Presidential Proclamation Announcing the Death of Gerald R. Ford
A President's Legacy National Public Radio's (NPR) collection of audio news and related material about Ford's presidency and funeral.
The White House remembers Gerald R. Ford

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Kwanzaa and New Year's Day resources

Happy New Year
Are you searching for the history of Kwanzaa, special recipes for New Year's Day, or holiday crafts? Let BPL's Kwanzaa and New Year's Day subject guides give you a helping hand.

Book review: Black Girl / White Girl

Book Cover
Joyce Carol Oates' novel Black Girl / White Girl "is a searing double portrait of 'black' and 'white', of race and civil rights in post-Vietnam America".

Book reviewer Arlene McKanic states "Joyce Carol Oates is masterful at depicting ugliness, and the list of what is ugly in her world seems endless: the smell of unwashed flesh with its grease and pimples, overflowing trash, ill-fitting clothes, dying canals gleaming with toxins, the indignity of the female body and its processes. Moreover, there's the ugliness of her characters' dark, unspeakable and sometimes murderous impulses. The Bryn Mawr-like campus in her latest novel, though pretty enough to an outsider, partakes of this general ugliness. As one might guess from the book's title, the perversity of American race relations is one of the themes of Black Girl / White Girl."

To read the rest of the review, click here.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Archives Will Digitize Birmingham's Founding Documents with New Overhead Scanner

Birmingham Public Library
Press Release
December 19, 2006

Celebrating 30 years of service to the Birmingham community, the Birmingham Public Library’s Archives will embark on an ambitious project to make its extensive collection more accessible to teachers, students, researchers, and the general public. With a state-of-the-art overhead scanner—purchased with grants from the community—the Archives will scan Birmingham’s founding documents including the original survey for the city. The 133-year-old volume contains the original maps and field notes of the survey team that laid out Birmingham's streets in 1872. The Archives will also now be able to digitize atlases such as the Beers and Ellis Atlas of Birmingham—a rare 1887 atlas containing full color maps of downtown Birmingham; Baist's Property Atlas of Birmingham—a rare 1902 atlas of full-color maps of downtown Birmingham; and other historic maps and illustrations of early Birmingham.

“With this type of overhead scanner, the Archives can safely scan materials that are too fragile or too cumbersome for a standard scanner,” said Head Archivist Jim Baggett. He anticipates that a high-quality scanner will allow the Archives to digitize many one of a kind historic documents and make them available on the Internet.

The Archives will share the scanner with Oak Hill Cemetery, which holds an estimated 10,000 burials and associated interment records from the city’s founding to the present. The Cemetery, which is the burial place for many of the city’s founding families, will use the scanner to digitize interment records, providing the public with important information about Birmingham’s founders.

According to Library Director Barbara Sirmans, “this equipment will enable the Library to push forward with several of our key goals. It will provide adequate and appropriate technology for users to access the information they need. It will also greatly accelerate our effort to offer outstanding online content drawn from the Library’s own special collections.” Using current technology for the benefit of patrons is crucial to the Archives. The number of files Archives staff retrieve for researchers has gone up more than 60 percent in the last six years, and placing fragile items online is imperative for original documents to remain in-tact for generations to come.

The Birmingham Public Library Archives holds over 30,000,000 documents and over 400,000 photographs on subjects ranging from local to international significance. Subject areas of particular strength include local government, urban and economic development, industry and the labor movement, women's history, religious history, art, music, literature, sports, and the largest collection in existence relating to the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham.

The collection is open to the public and draws researchers from the U.S. and around the world. In 2005 the Archives served nearly 2,000 local, national, and international researchers with a record 95,000 files. In 2004, the work of one researcher won an Academy Award, adding to works researched in the Archives that have earned an Emmy, a Peabody, and three Pulitzer Prizes.

The scanner purchase was made possible with very generous support from the Birmingham Public Library Foundation, Vulcan Materials Company, Glenn Ireland, William Ireland, Energen, David Herring and the Oak Hill Memorial Association, the Birmingham Historical Society and the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rosetta Stone language software available online

Rosetta Stone logoBirmingham Public Library and Jefferson County Library Cooperative are excited to announce our newest online resource, Rosetta Stone. Now any time of the day or night you can learn to speak, write and understand new languages using your natural language-learning abilities and fully-interactive technologies.

Take a tour or start learning a new language.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

WANTED: Yearbooks

Wanted yearbooks flyerBirmingham Public Library Seeks High School Yearbooks

The Birmingham Public Library is seeking donations of high school yearbooks from the Birmingham area. If you would like to donate annuals for the library's permanent collection, please call (205) 226-3728 or fill out our online form.

View the yearbooks already in the library's permanent collection

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Win tickets to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival

James and the Giant Peach PosterKids win 5 free tickets to Alabama Shakespeare Festival's production of James and the Giant Peach plus a family dinner and one night hotel stay. Children ages 4-13 have an opportunity to win a chance to see this wonderful show with 4 of their family members.

To Enter: Submit an essay of 200 words or less discussing your favorite James and the Giant Peach character or draw a picture of them. The deadline to submit is January 8. Turn all submissions in to one of our branch libraries. Parental or guardian signature is required to enter the contest. (Entry Form)

Good luck!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

BPL will be closed the following days:

Thursday, December 14 (inventory)
Saturday, December 23
Sunday, December 24
Monday, December 25
Tuesday, December 26
Sunday, December 31
Monday, January 1

Happy Holidays!

BPL in the News: Downloadables and Teachers' Pet

Teachers' Pet logo Downloadable audiobooks logoThe Birmingham News recently published two articles about BPL's downloadable audiobooks and the Web site Teachers' Pet. Teachers' Pet provides links to original history documents and photographs for classroom use.

"Libraries offer books for download"
"Library site helps teach history"

List of new downloadable audiobooks

The Enchanted Forest and More: Christmas in Downtown Birmingham

Loveman's Mr. Bingle

Birmingham author Tim Hollis reminiscences about visiting Santa, the Enchanted Forest and the holidays of his childhood in Downtown Birmingham during this Wednesday's Brown Bag Lunch program. The program takes place in Central's Arrington Auditorium at noon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Christmas Memory

Christmas Memory
Visit Central library Dec. 13 at noon to hear Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock present “A Christmas Memory”. The event will be held in the Arrington Auditorium. Come early to get a seat at this popular event.