Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Scavenger Hunt Begins January 3

Library visitors of all ages are invited to visit any Birmingham Public Library January 3-14 to participate in the 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Scavenger Hunt. Preschoolers are encouraged to locate each of the ten hidden game pieces while older visitors are encouraged to locate the hidden game piece and complete the fill-in-the-blank activity. This year Eileen Spinelli's poem, "Martin Luther King Jr." is featured. When the hunt is completed, each seeker will have a copy of the poem to keep.

Participants who successfully complete the scavenger hunt may enter their names into a drawing for a free book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each Birmingham Public Library will draw three winners. The give-way books are Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier, Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson and Bryan Collier and
Martin Luther King, Jr. : A Dream of Hope by Alice Fleming.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Staff Pick: Out

Out by Natsuo Kirino is a brilliant Japanese murder mystery that’s not much of a mystery at all, at least not a mystery in the sense that we don’t know whodunit. Whodunit is a pretty, young wife and mother of two named Yayoi who is fed up with her husband Kenji’s philandering ways, and decides to strangle him one night in an uncharacteristic moment of rage. Assured that her children heard nothing of the struggle, she calls a friend who works the night shift with her at a boxed lunch factory. As she suspects, the pragmatic Masako Katori is not too surprised by the late call, and immediately sets the wheels in motion about how to make the body disappear and maybe make a little money off the insurance payout.

Masako enlists the help of the trusted fifty-something Yoshie, whom she knows is in desperate need of money from caring for her bedridden mother-in-law. But while the two are butchering their first ever dead body in Masako’s bathroom, the fourth friend in their factory clique gets a peek through the window, and Kuniko is enlisted to help with the disposal of the pieces with an offer of money to keep her from blabbing. The body bags have been divided into thirds, and are to be disposed of in different locations all over town. But the sloppy, lazy Kuniko’s bags are easily uncovered and identified, and soon the police show up asking questions. But the police are the least of their worries.

Satake, a calculating nightclub owner and pimp who has his own experience with dead bodies, is arrested for the murder. He is released because of lack of evidence, but he makes finding the killer of this man who stalked one of his girls priority one when he hits the streets. And he has a hunch about where to start looking first: at Kenji’s wife, Yayoi.

Out is one of those delicious domino-effect thrillers in the vein of Scott Smith’s A Simple Plan, where a character’s action leads to an undesirable result, which must be dealt with by an even less sensible and more desperate action, and so on and so on and so on. Out is also a statement about Japan's patriarchal society and the mistreatment of female office and factory workers, and the few options they have for escaping their dreary, tired lives.

Body pieces that won’t stay buried; a wedding band that won't stay thrown away; a hidden key that won't stay submerged; children who know more than should; a loan shark with a tempting but messy business offer; a tenacious detective; and a man and woman who discover after it’s too late that they are more alike than they could ever imagine are the things that make Out the perfect page turner—or button clicker if you own an eReader.

For more reader’s advisory, visit our Bookletters page. Bookletters offers book reviews, author bios and interviews, book group discussion guides, audio clips, and much more. To receive monthly updates on new books, simply sign up for BookLetters' email newsletter service. Reviews of recommended books in your favorite genres will be delivered right to your inbox.

Last Days To View Depression—Era Murals

Depression-era muralThe Birmingham Historical Society captures in a new book and exhibit seldom-seen murals that tell the story of an era, the history of our region, and the mood of a nation in hardship.

Depression-era murals survive and thrive in both book and exhibit form thanks to the Birmingham Historical Society’s newest endeavor: identifying, assembling, presenting, and chronicling artworks which were created and appeared in the Birmingham area. “We just kept looking,” explains Marjorie White, BHS. “We found the murals still intact in some structures, never having been moved in all these years. We found collections tucked in attics, archives, and online. It has been a fascinating scavenger hunt to find this incredible art, created by artists between 1929 and 1939.” The exhibition Murals, Murals on the Wall 1929-1939 is on view through December 30, 2010 (the library is closed December 31) at the Birmingham Public Library in the 4th Floor Gallery.

The book, Digging Out of the Great Depression: Federal Programs at Work In and Around Birmingham, is the ultimate picture book—144 pages with 250 seldom-seen images of our region’s programs in the arts, agriculture, beautification, archaeology, school and infrastructure improvement, health, reforestation, theater and more. Our ancestors can be seen at work improving our community and keeping morale and productivity alive during one of our nation’s most challenging times.

Murals, Murals on the Wall 1929-1939: Our Story Through Art in Public Places contains magnificent Depression-era artwork in person, covering the walls of the Birmingham Public Library’s 4th Floor Gallery. Visitors will see 10 murals, created for the 1939 Alabama State Fair to chart the history of Alabama agriculture. “They were lost and forgotten in an attic of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), but are now rediscovered and being seen for the first time in many years,” says White. The murals are restored and will be loaned to Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at the conclusion of the exhibit. Digital images of other original murals in Birmingham libraries, post offices and courthouses are on display.

To Buy Books: By mail, Birmingham Historical Society, One Sloss Quarters, Birmingham, Al 35223, $35 postpaid; and at the Downtown Library front desk. For additional information, please contact the Library at (205) 226-3746.

Catch Bards & Brews on January 7


Take a look at the video above for a sample of Birmingham Public Library’s November 2010 Bards & Brews poetry slam.

The Birmingham Public Library hosts it's next Bards & Brews poetry slam on January 7 at the Central Library.

Live music and sign-up begins at 6:30
Call time is at 7:00

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Last Days To View Depression Era Murals

Agricultural MuralThe Birmingham Historical Society captures in a new book and exhibit seldom-seen murals that tell the story of an era, the history of our region, and the mood of a nation in hardship.

Depression-era murals survive and thrive in both book and exhibit form thanks to the Birmingham Historical Society’s newest endeavor: identifying, assembling, presenting, and chronicling artworks which were created and appeared in the Birmingham area. “We just kept looking,” explains Marjorie White, BHS. “We found the murals still intact in some structures, never having been moved in all these years. We found collections tucked in attics, archives, and online. It has been a fascinating scavenger hunt to find this incredible art, created by artists between 1929 and 1939.” The exhibition Murals, Murals on the Wall 1929-1939 is on view through December 30, 2010 (the library is closed December 31) at the Birmingham Public Library in the 4th Floor Gallery.

The book, Digging Out of the Great Depression: Federal Programs at Work In and Around Birmingham, is the ultimate picture book—144 pages with 250 seldom-seen images of our region’s programs in the arts, agriculture, beautification, archaeology, school and infrastructure improvement, health, reforestation, theater and more. Our ancestors can be seen at work improving our community and keeping morale and productivity alive during one of our nation’s most challenging times.

Murals, Murals on the Wall 1929-1939: Our Story Through Art in Public Places contains magnificent Depression-era artwork in person, covering the walls of the Birmingham Public Library’s 4th Floor Gallery. Visitors will see 10 murals, created for the 1939 Alabama State Fair to chart the history of Alabama agriculture. “They were lost and forgotten in an attic of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES), but are now rediscovered and being seen for the first time in many years,” says White. The murals are restored and will be loaned to Auburn University’s Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at the conclusion of the exhibit. Digital images of other original murals in Birmingham libraries, post offices and courthouses are on display.

To Buy Books: By mail, Birmingham Historical Society, One Sloss Quarters, Birmingham, Al 35223, $35 postpaid; and at the Downtown Library front desk. For additional information, please contact the Library at (205) 226-3746.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Staff Pick—In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash

In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash"In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan."

I can't remember if I ran out and bought In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash after seeing A Christmas Story on cable back in '83, or if I bought it before the movie just because the title caught my eye at some used bookstore, but it’s been a prized possession for decades. If you're like me and thousands of others who love this movie, you'll enjoy this book. The book fleshes out the characters, and it’s fun to learn the reasoning behind some of the throwaway movie scenes like why Ralphie gave the old man a can of Simoniz for Christmas.

The nostalgic vignettes of In God We Trust are grittier than the lighthearted movie. One of the funniest running gags in the movie is the father’s epic (but G-rated) battle with the furnace; in the book, he’s not afraid to let the expletives rip at his wife: “FOR CHRISSAKE, STUPID, I SAID THE G&^%$#N DAMPER!”

In God We Trust was written in 1966 and is the story of Jean Shepherd’s life, served up essay style. The stories take place during the Great Depression in the fictional town of Hohman, Indiana (really Hammond, Indiana). The adult Ralphie returns to Indiana and visits Flick at the bar Flick inherited from his father, and they reminisce about the old days…

In one of my favorite stories—"The Endless Streetcar Ride into the Night, and the Tinfoil Noose"—the teenage Ralphie reluctantly agrees to go on a blind double date with Schwartz and his girlfriend, Helen. Ralphie expects to spend the evening with a skinny, pimply girl, but still he dresses to impress in his boxy, electric-blue sports coat and tie with the blood-red snail painted on it. He cannot believe his good luck when his blind date turns out to be a knockout who “makes Cleopatra look like a Girl Scout.” On the train ride to the movies, he talks to impress, rolling on and on like “Old Man River.” And then the light bulb blinks on above his head:

I’m suddenly getting fatter, more itchy. My new shoes are like bowling balls with laces; thick, rubber-crepe bowling balls. My great tie that Aunt Glenn gave me is two feet wide, hanging down to the floor like some crinkly tinfoil noose. My beautiful hand-painted snail is seven feet high, sitting up on my shoulder, burping. Great Scot! It is all clear to me in the searing white light of Truth. My friend Schwartz, I can see him saying to Junie Jo: “I got this crummy fat friend who never has a date. Let’s give him a break and…”

I AM THE BLIND DATE!

If you don’t get your fill of The Christmas Story gang this year as the movie plays in a loop on Christmas Eve, just pick up In God We Trust when you can. It's all there, and more: the Bumpus hounds; the leg lamp; the furnace; Little Orphan Annie and the Ovaltine secret decoder; schoolyard bullies; Flick and Schwartz. And don't miss the story "'Nevermore,' Quoth the Assessor, 'Nevermore.'" It is pure gold.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Is What Happened

True GritTrue Grit opens Wednesday, December 22. Read all about the true grits.

Every eight years or so, over the last forty years, I watch the movie True Grit, for which John Wayne won his only Oscar. It still holds up very well and doesn’t fail to entertain. Over the last thirty years or so I’ve harbored a growing guilty feeling that I should read the book it’s based on. Time after time I’ve read pieces about how its author, Charles Portis, is one of the least known great American writers and that True Grit is his best book. It’s regularly referred to as one of the great 20th century American novels that’s not yet accepted as one of the great 20th century American novels. When it came out in the late sixties, it was a best-seller, the movie was huge, and some critics since have felt that critical snobs at the time just couldn’t abide all that popularity. The novel was way out of step with the counterculture, too, and because of that it never attracted a wide younger audience. What’s interesting here is that, with its immersion in 19th century American desperation and obsolete American slang, it was closely in tune with the spirit of Bob Dylan and The Band’s Basement Tapes. But that album would not get an official release until 1975. It sounds timelessly fresh now, as does True Grit.

As a librarian I felt extra guilt for seeing the movie at least five times and reading the book zero. So, when a fellow librarian recently enthused about it asked me if I’d read it, I said no and vowed to finally take the plunge. Shamed by another librarian! He buttonholed me. The book has long been described as a buttonhole book, one that you press on others, one you evangelize for. One last buttonhole and now I’m a buttonholer. I’m not a full-fledged member of the Portis cult yet, but I know I’ll soon read The Dog of the South, which a California member of the cult begged me to read when I lived in that state. I did buy it but didn’t read it. Now things will be different.

But about the novel. It was tremendously good and exceeded all my expectations, which had become pretty stratospheric. It was one of the most pleasurable reading experiences of my life. Yes, it’s right up there with the last century’s American greats. And of course it was way better than the movie. It’s a book that succeeds as an adventure story, a Western, a YA novel, a thoroughly 19th century tale written in the 1960s. It’s all of those but none of those because it transcends genre, much as, say, Huckleberry Finn did. That story, too, centered on a young person, was set on the frontier, had adventure, challenged racial preconceptions and literary convention. The opening of the book is plain, austere, gripping:

People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the winter-time to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot and killed my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150.00 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band… Here is what happened.

Here is what happened. So it begins. Mattie is clear and direct, flat, a true Arkansan. She repeats this phrase many times throughout the course of the book. She’s letting us know she’s a reliable narrator. She is not, or not always, a reliable narrator. Discovering when she’s not reliable is on of the many comic pleasures of the novel. Mattie is puritanical. She lectures her accomplice, Marshall Rooster Cogburn, about strong drink. And yet she spends weeks alone with two adult males, Cogburn and another bounty hunter, LaBoeuf (pronounced “LaBeef”) in pursuit of her father’s killer. She’s also enlists the aid of her “colored man” employee Yarnell Poindexter and Captain Boots Finch of the Indian Police. Mattie may be a traditionalist, but she embraces those unlike her because she is finally a pragmatist. She’s terribly class conscious (“There’s trash for you” is a typical Mattie put-down) and yet she ventures forth with the two trackers she doesn’t see as her social equals. But she can’t afford to snub them as she desperately needs them. She’s horribly naïve and yet mature beyond her years. She’s big about the virtues of womanhood but her vengeance forces her to escape the society that would protect her. She’s brimming with contradictions, and this makes her sympathetic, tragic, hilarious, fully rounded, human. Mattie sees herself as apart from the dangerous West (and Arkansas was the West in the 1870s when the book takes place) she must throw herself into in order to avenge her father’s death. This is part of the broader theme of the West becoming “civilized” (for “civilized” read “Europeanized”) that runs through the book. Mattie is forever talking the talk of law, teetotalism and moral retribution. She threatens almost everyone with her lawyer Daggett. It’s almost as if she believes her strong talk will kill any sort of immorality on the spot. She carries a bottle of civilization which she sprays in front of her, clearing the way. But it’s men like Cogburn and LaBoeuf who, in shooting and jailing thousands of outlaws, will do far more than the Mattie Rosses to transform the frontier. Mattie has many quirks. She frequently puts quotes around words as if to say, “This Word isn’t standard English and I Know that, but it’s there anyway and I Can’t think of a better one”. Why, for instance, does she use “drummers”, “crawfish”, and “damper” without quotes but uses “riffraff”, “stunt”, and “cockeyed” with them is beyond me, and probably beyond any historian of slang. It’s enough for us to know she’s protecting her place in the social pecking order. But it’s inadvertently funny, and gets funnier as the story unfolds. Mattie has sworn to kill Tom Chaney or see him hanged. She sees no contradiction between this and her professed Christian values. Many of her era wouldn’t have seen this package as contradictory. A Puritan who believes in an eye for an eye is a type of person that I’ve met on a couple of occasions. Mattie can challenge convention partly because she’s a tomboy. This does not necessarily mean that she’s a lesbian. But she is an independent woman, with a tinge of the protofeminist about her. But Mattie is not a pc heroine and this is not a p.c. book- there’s too much vengeance, anger, blood, hate and fear in it for that.

What of Rooster, her protector and foil? Here’s a sheriff describing him as he offers Mattie a quick rundown of available bounty hunters: “The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn. He is a pitiless man, double-tough, and fear don’t enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork”. Rooster is, like Mattie, one of the most indelible fictional characters of the last half-century. As the quote suggests, he’s overwhelming but comical. He’s also violent yet tender, vulgar yet noble, crude but a natural aristocrat. He’s no less fleshed-out a person than Mattie. Poignant, too, he knows the days of bounty hunters are numbered: “No matter if he has got sand in his craw, others will push him aside, little thin fellows that have won spelling bees back home”. That’s another way the West will become settled.

The last member of the trio is LaBoeuf. Here is Rooster, in front of the bounty hunter, telling Mattie what he thinks of the man: “This jaybird calls himself LaBoeuf. He claims he is a State Ranger in Texas. He come up here to tell us how the cow eat the cabbage”. LaBoeuf, like Cogburn, doesn’t want Mattie to come along, because she’s young, untested and female. He constantly berates her but is attracted to her in spite of himself. It’s up to Mattie to challenge LaBoeuf and Cogburn’s ultra-macho view of her. But Mattie is the picture of stubbornness.

The tale takes place in the 1870s, a world lost to us, as foreign in its own way as the Late Renaissance. It’s a place where ex-Union and ex-Confederate soldiers warily patch things up, of the Choctaw Light Horse constabulary, renegades, cattle thieves, Mexican bandits, grisly first aid, elderly men and women trancing out on codeine and laudanum (even Mattie accidentally partakes of some). Where people sign off letters with “Thine Truly”.

Going on about the book to my coworker prompted her to tell me that another movie will be made based on True Grit. This time it’s the Coen Brothers, who feel that the first movie wasn’t faithful to the book. Granted, it could have been much more faithful, and late-60s censorship norms did dull its edge. I did notice that the actor slated for Mattie is sorta cute. That’s not faithful. Several characters in the novel observe that she’s at best plain, at worst ugly. But, then, Kim Darby in movie one was cute, too. Oh, well: Hollywood. I’ll be open-minded and near first in line this December.

But it’s the book that’s the reason for this piece. Immensely good things need to happen to make life bearable and pleasurable. This is one of them.

Check out these two articles comparing the novel and the movie:
True to 'True Grit' by Carlo Rotella
True Lit by Malcolm Jones



Written by:
Richard Grooms
Central Library
Social Sciences Department

Friday, December 17, 2010

Research "Secret" Revealed

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

Did you know that thousands of historians, journalists, novelists and other writers from around the world use the collections of the Birmingham Public Library Archives every year? Using the department’s collection of more than 30 million historical documents, these writers have produced hundreds of books, including five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

Listed below are just some of the books researched at Birmingham Public Library and published this year.

Alabama's Civil Rights Trail : an Illustrated Guide to the Cradle of Freedom by Frye Gaillard

At the Dark End of the Street by Danielle L. McGuire

Baseball in Birmingham by Clarence Watkins

Birmingham Sunday by Larry Dane Brimner

Condoleezza Rice : a Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me by Condoleezza Rice

Encyclopedia of African American History by Leslie Alexander and Walter Rucker

Extraordinary, Ordinary People : a Memoir of Family by Condoleezza Rice

Fly Away by Peter Rutkoff and William Scott

From Power to Service : the Story of Lawyers in Alabama by Pat Boyd Rumore

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris

Historic Photos of Birmingham in the 50s, 60s, and 70s by Jessica L. Barton

A History of Arlington in Birmingham, Alabama by Carolyn Satterfield

In Hock : Pawning in America from Independence through the Great Depression by Wendy A. Woloson

Inventions by Women by Gordon Coutts

Iron and Steel by James R. Bennett and Karen R. Utz

Landscape of Transformations by Michael W. Fazio

Pizitz by Tim Hollis

Remembering Birmingham by James L. Baggett

Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark by Allen Barra

Rising Road : a True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America by Sharon Davies

Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices by Noah Feldman

Speak Truth to Power : the Story of Charles Patrick, a Civil Rights Pioneer by Mignette Y. Patrick Dorsey

Monday, December 13, 2010

Search our Catalog & Reserve Items on your Mobile Phone

Cell Phone

You can now conveniently access your account, search our catalog, and reserve items using your mobile phone.

Give it a try! On your Internet capable mobile phone, go to our catalog http://vulcan.lib.al.us or http://m.vulcan.bham.lib.al.us/.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

Santa Claus
Great news! Santa has found some time to visit a few libraries before he leaves for his big trip on December 24. Bring the kids in for a visit and some treats.

North Birmingham Branch Regional Library
Saturday, December 11, 2010
2:00-5:00 p.m.

Avondale Branch Library
Sunday, December 12, 2010
2:00-5:00 p.m.

Five Points West Regional Library
Sunday, December 19, 2010
2:00-5:00 p.m.

Bards & Brews: Birmingham Public Library January Poetry Slam

Bards & Brews logo
The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) hosts its third poetry slam on January 7 at the Central Library. BPL’s November slam showcased both veteran slammers and first-timers. More than 70 people enjoyed the show. Held on the first Friday of each month, slams are emceed by poetry slam events director Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins. Each contestant contributes $5 to the pot, and winner takes all. Southern Fried Slam rules will be observed. Beer will be available for sampling. Slam participants must be 18 years or older. IDs will be checked. Live music at 6:30 p.m. Call time is 7:00 p.m. Check out the Bards & Brews page on Facebook for more information. Word up, y’all!

Bards & Brews: Birmingham Public Library Poetry Slam Series
Central Library, 2100 Park Place
1st Friday of every month
6:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Live music and sign-up is at 6:30
Call time is at 7:00

Additional information:
Brian Hawkins (AKA Brian Porter) will serve as emcee for the Bards & Brews Poetry Slam. He is a full-time performance artist and poetry slam events director. Mr. Hawkins has hosted "On Stage at the Carver" at the Carver Theater, the longest running poetry open mic in Birmingham (almost 7 years running). He has hosted numerous additional events of this nature and has also performed his own works many times and across the country.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Oprah Goes Old School for Latest Book Club Picks

A Tale of Two CitiesGreat Expectations

"I'm going old school," said Oprah Winfrey Monday when announcing that Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations were chosen for her 65th book club selection. Oprah's Book Club was launched in 1996, and has included popular and classical literature, and even some autobiographies.

A Tale of Two Cities was published in 1859 and is set in London and Paris prior to and during the French Revolution. The story chronicles the struggle of French peasants under aristocratic rule and parallels their situation with the struggles taking place in London. Great Expectations was published in 1861 and follows an orphan boy named Pip as he pursues unrequited childhood love and friendship, and learns about the nature of fortune.

Oprah's Book Club has had its share of drama over the years. In 2001 Oprah selected Jonathan Franzen's third novel, The Corrections, for her book club. When Franzen expressed concern that his book would be associated with her other "schmaltzy" picks, and that men might be dissuaded from reading his book because of the Oprah logo on the cover, she disinvited him from her show and chose another book to discuss. (The hatchet was finally buried when Oprah chose Franzen's Freedom as an Oprah Book Club selection last September.) In 2005 Oprah picked James Frey's autobiography A Million Little Pieces, the story about his drug and alcohol addictions and the steps to rehabilitation. A year later it was discovered that parts of the book were fabricated, and Oprah invited Frey on a second time to give him a public chastising for duping her and her readers. Also, many readers have complained that the books Oprah chooses are too bleak and depressing.

Regardless of any controversies, Oprah's Book Club did get more people reading. There are over 2 million members in her reading club, and she brought recognition to authors and books that never could have reached such a wide audience. The Oprah Winfrey Show is ending its successful run on September 9, 2011.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Need money to pay for college? Tune in Sunday!



Birmingham Public Library's Jim Murray will be appearing on Alabama's 13 (NBC) this Sunday at 8 a.m. to talk about the Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) database. Made possible by funding from the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, the Tuition Funding Sources database hosts scholarship searches worth an estimated $41 billion dollars with approximately 5,000 scholarships being added each month. Besides offering scholarship searches, TFS offers college admission information, career personality tests, and detailed career guidance.

Want more information on college financial aid and scholarships? Check out the Student Financial Aid subject guide, stop by the Social Sciences department at the Central branch of the Birmingham Public Library for a College and Financial Aid brochure, or call us at 226-3640.

Tune in Sunday to Alabama's 13 (NBC) at 8 a.m.!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

BPL@Night Presents A Christmas Memory with Dolores Hydock

Dolores Hydock
Join us for our annual Christmas reading by Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock as she presents A Christmas Memory, Truman Capote’s poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama. Dolores Hydock’s work has been featured at concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the country. She is a touring artist for the Alabama State Council on the Arts, a speaker with the Alabama Humanities Foundation, and a member of the Southern Order of Storytellers. Her six CDs of original stories have all received awards from Storytelling World Magazine.

Details
A Christmas Memory with Dolores Hydock
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Thursday, December 9
6:30 p.m.

BPL@Night is a series of high quality evening performances offered free-of-charge by Birmingham Public Library in an effort to bring enriching cultural programs to downtown Birmingham and the city’s neighborhoods. BPL@Night highlights local and regional performers that reflect the diversity of our community and draw from a wide range of personal experience. Through programs such as these, the library seeks to provide Birmingham citizens of all ages opportunities for entertainment, ongoing education, and personal growth.

BPL@Night @ Springville Road Presents An Evening of Jazz with Keith Williams


Jazz guitarist Keith “Cashmere” Williams has become one of the most prominent musicians in the Southeast. In addition to touring and recording with Ruben Studdard, Williams has opened for Kirk Whalum, Ramsey Lewis, Boney James, and many more. Williams started playing at the age of five, leading to his acceptance at Berklee College of Music, where he produced and recorded his first album. In 2000, his second album, Set the Mood, received rave reviews and national airplay. Since then, he has founded his own label, Lenoah Records, and released his third album, New Birth.

Details
An Evening of Jazz with Keith Williams
Springville Road Library Regional Library
Thursday, December 9
6:30 p.m.

BPL@Night is a series of high quality evening performances offered free-of-charge by Birmingham Public Library in an effort to bring enriching cultural programs to downtown Birmingham and the city’s neighborhoods. BPL@Night highlights local and regional performers that reflect the diversity of our community and draw from a wide range of personal experience. Through programs such as these, the library seeks to provide Birmingham citizens of all ages opportunities for entertainment, ongoing education, and personal growth.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Springville Road Branch Retirement Party


(From left) Rochelle Sides-Renda, Marilyn Sessions, Russell Bransby, and Ellen Lawrence bid Springville Road Branch Library and the Birmingham Public Library staff a fond farewell as they are honored during a brunch on Wednesday morning at Springville Road.

(Pictured below) Gwendolyn Welch, BPL Board President, and Irene Blalock, BPL Director, join in wishing them the best.

The Art of Journaling with Phyllis Theroux

Phyllis Theroux
Essayist Phyllis Theroux has long captivated readers with her pitch-perfect rendering of the inner lives of American women. Her latest work, The Journal Keeper: A Memoir, covers six years of her anything but uneventful life and demonstrates how journaling can serve as a cathartic and rewarding avocation. Theroux calls it her daily "light box."

Theroux is hosting a seminar, social hour, and talk and book signing at the Central Library on Sunday, January 23, 2011, in the Arrington Auditorium . Schedule as follows:

2:00-3:00 p.m.—Journaling seminar
3:00-4:00 p.m.—Social hour
4:00-5:00 p.m.—Talk and book signing

The talk and book signing is free and open to all; the seminar is free but registration is required as space is limited. Call 226-3670 or e-mail hm@bham.lib.al.us. No previous journaling experience required.

Visit The Journal Keeper website (http://journal-keeper.com/) for more information about the author and her book.

Brown Bag Lunch—A Christmas Memory with Dolores Hydock


Join us for our annual tradition with Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock as she presents A Christmas Memory. Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama is bought to vivid life in this wonderful holiday performance. Wednesday, December 8, noon.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Birmingham Bound Presents Tim Hollis

Pizitz in Five Points West Mall
Pizitz in Five Points West Mall, 1970s
courtesy of Birmingham Rewound

In his latest book, Pizitz: The History of a Birmingham Institution (History Press, 2010), Tim Hollis recalls the days before strip malls and big-box stores when everyone shopped downtown. For more than 80 years, Pizitz offered a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. From the Enchanted Forest that sprung up every Christmas to in-store fashion shows, visiting Pizitz wasn’t just a trip to the store, it was an event.

Birmingham native Tim Hollis is the author of more than 15 books, including Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun.

Books will be available for purchase. Tim Hollis will also sign his new book, Christmas Wishes: A Catalog of Vintage Holiday Treats and Treasurers.

Details
Central Library
Richard Arrington Jr. Auditorium
Wednesday, December 1 at noon
Tim Hollis, Pizitz: The History of a Birmingham Institution

The Birmingham Bound author series recognizes authors who researched their books in the Birmingham Public Library Archives. Historians, journalists, and other writers from throughout the United States and around the world have produced hundreds of books using the Archives’ collection of more than 30 million historic documents. These books include five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

All programs are free and open to the public. For more information contact Jim Baggett (205-226-3631, jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us) or visit www.bplonline.org.

Book Review—Room

RoomIn 2008 the story broke of a 42-year-old Austrian woman named Elisabeth who had been held captive in a cellar for 24 years. Her father, Josef Fritzl, imprisoned her in a 380 x 600 sq. ft. room and over the years fathered seven children with her. Three of the children were taken upstairs as babies to be raised as foster children by Fritzl and his wife, the others were left in the cellar to be raised by their mother. When the children heard noises overhead, their mother told them that "Heaven is up there."

What must life had been like in that bunker home for Elisabeth and her children? Emma Donoghue explores this question in Room.

Room begins the day that Jack turns five. He went to sleep in Wardrobe the night before when he was four, and now he's five, and his Ma knows that Room can't contain them any longer. So she begins to think of ways to trick Old Nick—their captor—into opening the door and letting them Outside. But while the 11 x 11 shed that is Room has been Ma's prison for seven years, it's been the only home that Jack has ever known, and he's content to stay there with Ma, TV, his crayons, and Dylan the Digger.

Donoghue creates two great characters in Ma and Jack, and it is obvious early on that although Ma is sick at the thought of raising her child in Room, she would not have survived without him all these years. Educating, feeding, and conversing and laughing with Jack are the things that has made life bearable in her tiny world.

I appreciate how Donoghue doesn't turn Ma and Jack's rescue into a plot straight out of a thriller, because what's important in Room is what comes before and after. The second half of Room deals with life Outside, where Ma is reunited with her mother, father, brother, and friends, and introduced to the new people who joined the family in her absence. The struggle to reclaim her life is difficult, but the transition is even tougher for Jack, who thinks the world is too large, too loud, too scary, and longs to be back in Room with Ma and the scant things that brought him comfort.



For more reader’s advisory, visit our Bookletters page. Bookletters offers book reviews, author bios and interviews, book group discussion guides, audio clips, and much more. To receive monthly updates on new books, simply sign up for BookLetters' email newsletter service. Reviews of recommended books in your favorite genres will be delivered right to your inbox.

BPL@Night @ Avondale Presents The North Pole Fa-La-La-La Follies

Character from Fa-La-La-La Follies
Get ready for hilarious holiday high-jinx as some talented residents of the North Pole perform in their annual talent show. The zany, colorful cast includes a wisecracking fruitcake, a musical goose, the “not-so-abominable” snowman, and much, much more! Atlanta-based puppeteer Lee Bryan often incorporates multiple styles of puppets which he demonstrates “behind the scenes” following each performance. Bryan is a two-time grant recipient from the Jim Henson Foundation and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work on the Spanish language series Salsa!

Details
The North Pole Fa-La-La-La Follies
Avondale Regional Library

Tuesday, December 7
6:30 p.m.


BPL@Night is a series of high quality evening performances offered free-of-charge by Birmingham Public Library in an effort to bring enriching cultural programs to downtown Birmingham and the city’s neighborhoods. BPL@Night highlights local and regional performers that reflect the diversity of our community and draw from a wide range of personal experience. Through programs such as these, the library seeks to provide Birmingham citizens of all ages opportunities for entertainment, ongoing education, and personal growth.

Monday, November 29, 2010

2010 Local Author Expo

Friday & Saturday, December 3 & 4
Birmingham's many talented writers will shine this weekend at the Central Library!


Special Guests: Dale Brakhage & Edie Hand
The ABC’s of Selling with Etiquette
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
December 3, 4:00 p.m.

Join our featured guests Dale Brakhage and Edie Hand as they kick off BPL’s annual Local Author Expo with a special presentation on their new book, The ABC’s of Selling with Etiquette. Dale Brakhage designed the original marketing plan for Lortab, served as president of the American Advertising Federation Birmingham, and has recently retired from his position as sales manager for The Birmingham News. Edie Hand is the CEO of Hand ‘N Hand Advertising, is actively involved with The Alliance for Women in Media Communications, and works to benefit several children’s research hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital of Alabama.


2010 LOCAL AUTHOR EXPO
Central Library, East Building
December 4, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Come and meet some of our city’s most creative minds. Over one hundred authors from the Birmingham area will sell and autograph copies of their books on the Birmingham Public Library on Saturday, December 4. The city of Birmingham has a rich writing community, with authors delving into personal memoirs, tales of childhood struggles, uplifting poetry, books for children, stories of romance and mystery, and more. Set to coincide with a special visit from Santa Claus, the Local Author Expo is a once-a-year opportunity to meet the rich tapestry of authors from our very own neighborhoods.

The BPL Local Author Expo is sponsored by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library. Its goal is to encourage literary involvement in the community by providing a forum for local writers to connect and build an audience with the Birmingham reading public.

Poetry Slam Workshops for Teens and Teachers at the Birmingham Public Library

I Slam. Therefore I Am! logo
Poets, aspiring poets, and poetry clubs in grades 9-12, and teachers are invited to participate in a free spoken word poetry workshop at the Birmingham Public Central Library (BPL) on January 8, 2:00-4:00 p.m. The session will be held in the Arrington Auditorium. If this is your first foray into spoken word poetry, or you’d like to take your skills to the next level, sign up. Planning to participate in the next BPL Word Up! contest? Now is the time to hone your skills. Space is limited. Call 226-3670 or email hm@bham.lib.al.us to reserve your spot. Free of charge!

The Desert Island Supply Company (DISCO), a nonprofit writing program based in Birmingham, and Real Life Poets, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to mentor young adults, encourage good communication, and oratorical skills using spoken word poetry will conduct these free workshops.

2010 BPL Campaign’s Second Phase: “Give the Gift of Reading”

Give the Gift of ReadingWith the budget drastically cut, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) launched the 2010 Campaign in order to raise money for library materials. In its first three months, the generous citizens of Birmingham have donated over $20,000 to the library.

For the next phase of the campaign, the library is encouraging everyone to “Give the Gift of Reading.” The library is providing a unique way for residents to satisfy their holiday gift-giving. By making a minimum $20 donation in honor of each gift recipient, the Birmingham Public Library will purchase new materials for the community.

For each donation, the library will send the gift recipient a card explaining that library materials were purchased in that person’s honor. In addition, BPL will send each gift recipient a 2010 edition of Season’s Readings, the library’s award-winning publication of book reviews written by staff members.

Those interested in this opportunity to “Give the Gift of Reading” may visit one of the 19 BPL locations for the form or donate online at www.bplonline.org.

All donations are tax-deductible and will go directly toward buying books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, and eBooks.

Alabama Author William Cobb Discusses The Last Queen of the Gypsies

The Last Queen of the Gypsies
Lester Ray, a fourteen-year-old boy who was deserted by his mother when he was a baby and finally escapes his abusive alcoholic father, and Minnie, a woman who was abandoned by her Gypsy family of migrant fruit pickers when she was eleven, are the primary characters in William Cobb’s new book The Last Queen of the Gypsies. The book peers into the fascinating world of North American Romany Gypsies and simultaneously reveals small town southern life ranging from the Great Depression to the 1960s. Mr. Cobb’s discussion of his latest book is presented as part of Birmingham Public Library’s Alabama Bound Presents series. William Cobb, a native of Demopolis Alabama, attended Livingston State College and Vanderbilt University. He has had a long and distinguished career as teacher and writer-in-residence at the University of Montevallo.

Details
Alabama Bound Presents: William Cobb
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Wednesday, January 12
12:00 p.m.

Alabama Bound Presents is a series of Alabama author talks and book signings offered free-of-charge by the Birmingham Public. Alabama Bound Presents highlights local and regional authors who reflect the diversity of our community and draw from a wide range of personal experience. Through programs such as these, the library seeks to provide Birmingham citizens of all ages with opportunities for entertainment, ongoing education, and personal growth and an opportunity for local authors to publicize their latest work. This series replaces the one day event, Alabama Bound, previously held in the spring of each year.

Additional programs are scheduled as part of Alabama Bound Presents. For more information, please visit the BPL Web site at www.bplonline.org or call (205) 226-3742.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In Memoriam: Marvin Yeomans Whiting


BPL lost a great one last Friday. It is common knowledge that Dr. Marvin Yeomans Whiting built the Archives Department from the ground up (or down, rather, seeing as how it's in the basement.) Like many of us, Dr. Whiting loved the library. He also loved Alabama and Southern authors, as well as classical music, and a good, tobacco pipe. He was a master entertainer and one of the finest raconteurs that our city has ever claimed.

He was forever an archivist and historian and his list of books is quite remarkable (and listed below in his bibliography).

I came across a biography of him that current Archivist Jim Baggett wrote on the occasion of BPL's 2001 Alabama Bound Author Conference, where Dr. Whiting was a featured author. This short piece does a fine job of summarizing the accomplishments of this great man. Here it is:

"No individual has done more to collect and preserve the documentary history of Birmingham, Alabama than Marvin Yeomans Whiting.

"Born in Fort Valley, Georgia in 1934, Whiting became the third generation of his family to attend Emory University, and completed a B.A. degree there in 1956, majoring in literature. He attended the Divinity School at Yale University for one year, and then returned to Emory to earn a B.D. from the Candler School of Theology. Whiting married in 1960, served as minister at two small Methodist churches in rural southwest Georgia until 1962, and as an instructor and Assistant to the Headmaster at the Lovett School in Atlanta until 1964. Returning once again to Emory, Whiting completed the M.A. degree with a specialization in American colonial history. He then moved to New York to pursue a Ph.D. in the joint doctoral program at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, completing his dissertation in 1970. Whiting taught at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Florida before returning to Emory one final time in 1974. He completed the M.A. degree in librarianship with a specialization in archival management, and joined the staff of the Birmingham Public Library the next year.

"During his 20 years as archivist in Birmingham, Whiting also held positions as adjunct professor of history at Birmingham-Southern College and at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and as adjunct professor of library and information studies at the University of Alabama. He is the author of a number of books and articles."

Bibliography:
The Bearing Day Is Not Gone : The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary History Of Independent Presbyterian Church

Fairfield : Past, Present, Future, 1910-1985

Mission By The River : The Beginnings Of Kirkwood

One Great City : The Campaign For Consolidated Government, Birmingham, Alabama, 1970-1971

The Problem Of Authority In Early American Methodism : 1773-1787

Religious Literature In Virginia, 1685-1786 : A Preface To A Study In The History Of Ideas

The Shepherd And The Sheep : Reflections On An Image And Its Place In The History Of Early American Methodism

Vestavia Hills, Alabama : A Place Apart

An Enduring Ministry : a Biography of Henry Morris Edmonds, 1878-1960



Next time you're in the Archives and you get a chance to marvel at a few of its many treasures, remember Dr. Whiting and know for a certainty that one human being can change a community.

Rest in peace, old friend.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Children show off their turkey crafts during a special "Thanksgiving" Story Time at Springville Road Branch Library. Story times are held every Wednesday at 10 am.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tutor.com Webinar: Learn How to Interview Like a Pro

Penguins on a job interview
Tutor.com presents a career webinar series this fall at the Birmingham Public Library. From finding writing resumes and finding jobs online to interviewing skills, these webinars cover topics essential to finding the job you want. Free of charge.

A great interview is vital to securing the job you want. Learn how to feel comfortable during an interview, the latest interviewing styles and techniques, and how to answer the top two interview questions that all job applicants are asked.

Course instructor Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, has over fifteen years of experience in career management, recruiting, and executive coaching. She is a triple-certified resume writer, a six-time award winner in the international Toast of the Resume Industry competition, and her work has been featured in over two dozen resume writing and career management publications.

Details
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Wednesday, December 1
2:00 p.m.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Meet 100+ Authors @ Our Local Authors Expo



The 2010 Local Authors Expo will be held at the Central Library, Saturday, December 4 from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

Over 100 Local authors will be there to discuss, sell, and autograph their books. The Expo is sponsored by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.

Make plans today to attend this exciting event!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

2010 Friends' Beyond the Budget Award Goes to the Acquisitions Department












Dora Sims, Past-President of the Friends of BPL, presents BPL Librarian Caleb West with the 2010 Beyond the Budget Award for the purchase of eBooks. Congratulations to Caleb and the Acquisitions Department for such an outstanding proposal and idea!

Each year, the Friends encourage BPL departments and branch libraries to submit proposals for the funding of new programs, equipment, or materials not included in the Library's operating budget. The Friends Board of Directors choose one project and award a grant up to $1,500 to the chosen department or branch library. The goal of this award is to identify needs and help the staff and patrons of BPL.

BPL will really benefit from the purchase of this new material. For more information on eBooks, click here.

BPL would like to extend a big thank you to the Friends of BPL!

Take a Tour of the East Lake Library

East Lake Library

The East Lake Branch Library Grand Re-opening is today at noon.

Want to take a look, but can't be there in person?

Take a virtual tour by clicking the image above.

The updated East Lake Library building features a fully restored second floor auditorium with a stage and a completely redesigned public service area on the first floor.

Holiday Hours at BPL's Neighborhood Branches

Scene from A Christmas Story
Selected neighborhood branch libraries in the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) system will begin a holiday schedule Monday, November 22 that runs through Friday, January 7, 2011. The hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. for Ensley, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam. Both East Ensley and Inglenook will be open from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. All other BPL locations will maintain their regular schedules.

For additional information on BPL locations and hours of operation, please visit our Web site at www.bplonline.org.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Celebrate National Adoption Day 2010!



November 20th is National Adoption Day! Did you know that there are 114,000 children waiting to be adopted in the United States? This Saturday, approximately 3,500 children will be adopted, and there are events all across the country celebrating adoption and raising awareness. The Jefferson Country Department of Human Resources is hosting a party at the Birmingham Dream Center featuring food, pony rides, bowling, miniature golf, and much more for families who have adopted.

Adoption is an amazing way to change a child's life. Stop by the Social Sciences Department of the Birmingham Public Library and check out our resources on adoption.

It's Not Just Your Family



Home for the Holidays (1995) is an enjoyable little Thanksgiving movie jampacked with some big talent. Directed by Jodie Foster, it's about an art restorer named Claudia (Holly Hunter) who loses her job Thanksgiving eve and reluctantly heads home to spend the holidays at her parents' (Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning) house. Crazy Aunt Glady (Geraldine Chaplin) will be there, along with her uptight sister Joanne (Cynthia Stevenson), and Joanne's husband (Steve Guttenberg) and kids. And for moral support, Claudia's favorite sibling Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.) arrives with a handsome friend in tow (Dylan McDermott).

The tension comes from the siblings, all three of whom are so different from one another that small slights—real or perceived—that have been smoldering for decades are about to erupt in a powder keg explosion at the dinner table. What they really think of one another is about to be revealed, and what comes out of prim Joanne's mouth is shocking. Oh, and Aunt Glady and Papa Henry reveal a secret when the dust settles that surprises everyone.

Maybe it's the heat from the kitchen or the too-close proximity of family, but holidays are apt to be an equal measure of high spirits and hostility. Grievances aren't only aired during Festivus, you know.

East Lake Branch Library Grand Re-opening

East Lake Branch Library
The Birmingham Public Library is excited to announce the re-opening of the East Lake Branch Library located at 5 Oporto Madrid Boulevard. The library opens to the public at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 18, with a program and reception. To attend the celebration, the public may park at the Agape Missionary Baptist Church located at 7631-1st Avenue North.

The renovated facility now boasts an elevator, a fully restored second floor atrium, and a completely redesigned public service area on the first floor. Please celebrate this beautifully renovated library with us.

Details
East Lake Branch Library Re-opening
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Noon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Decorating Blessings




Olivia Johnson, 8, and Lyles Little, 11, design their "hands" to put on our window as Annette Johnson looks on.

Location:Springville Road Branch

Friday, November 12, 2010

Helping Hands




Give us a hand! Come to the Springville Road Branch Library and decorate a "hand," telling us what you're thankful for this Thanksgiving season. We'll put it up as one of our Turkey "Tales."

Location:Springville Road Branch

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Brown Bag Lunch—Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

Photo of Choctaw girls
Choctaw girls in 1868, Smithsonian Institution

Join us as Jackie Matte discusses the Indigenous People of Alabama. Matte grew up in Washington County, Alabama, near Old St. Stephens. She is an independent scholar, with master's degrees in history and in secondary education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and in the Mountain Brook School System, and in 1991 she received a Teacher-Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities for one year of independent study. The research she did that year on Southeastern Indians was published in Social Education, the professional journal of the National Council for Social Studies. She has also written They Say the Wind is Red: the Alabama Choctaw Lost in their Own Land. Wednesday, November 17, noon.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Time Change! Set your clocks!

Don't forget to set your clocks back 1 hour tonight for the time change! With your extra hour of time, check out these books on the history of time change!

Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Savings Time by Michael Downing

Stop the Social Sciences Department and pick up these books today! Enjoy your extra hour of reading!

Popular Posts