Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BPL Accepting Board Nominations for Its New Young Professionals Group

photo of young professionalsThe Birmingham Public Library is accepting nominations for young professionals ages 25-40 for its new BPL Young Professionals group. The BPL Young Professionals will support the literary culture of the Birmingham region and will be committed to making the Library the center of lifelong learning for the city. The group will host lectures, special collection tours, and other social events; volunteer time and skills; and increase public awareness and access to the Library’s resources.

Young Professionals groups are an increasingly popular way to broaden skills and experience in the business world while supporting a worthy organization. Young Professionals groups provide volunteer service opportunities, leadership training, and social networking opportunities and sustain an organization with modest annual financial contributions.

While the Library’s base operating expenses are provided by the City of Birmingham, nearly all of its programming for children and adults is supported by fundraising efforts and its fundraising arm, the Birmingham Public Library Foundation. Funds raised by BPL’s Young Professionals will provide direct aid to essential programs and materials—youth and adult summer reading, early literacy programming, and book purchasing for example—that serve two million people in the Birmingham area each year.

Between now and September 30, the Library will accept nominations and applications for members of the future Board of the BPL Young Professionals. The Library will choose 40 people. For information on how to nominate someone or apply, please visit the Library’s website at www.bplonline.org/yp or call Kelsey Bates at 205-226-3634. A social event will be held at the Library on September 20th for all nominees interested in the group.

Rotaract Club of Birmingham School Supplies Giveaway Scheduled August 18

school giveaway logo
Saturday, August 18, three of the Birmingham Public Libraries—Avondale, Wylam, Southside—will serve as host sites for the 2012 School Supply Giveaway. The Rotaract Club of Birmingham will distribute school supplies geared toward kindergarten through fifth grade to more than 500 students, starting at 9:00 a.m. while supplies last. “Rotaract is pleased to put on this project, which makes a tremendous impact on our community. With great economic challenges still facing our community, many students do not have the basic supplies they need to help them begin the new school year. This project equips these students with what they need to be ready to learn from day one!”

Before leaving the library, use one of your essential school tools—a Jefferson County Library Card—to check out these books and more.

The Berenstain Bears Go to School by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson
I am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child
Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping by Eileen Christelow
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Back to School Tortoise by Lucy George
This is the Teacher by Rhonda Gowler Greene
Lunch Bunnies by Kathryn Lasky
Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London
Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants by Elise Primavera

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Movie Review: Two-Lane Blacktop



In 1969, the film studios in Hollywood were scrambling to give young filmmakers money in the hopes that they could emulate the success of Easy Rider—a film that cost $375,000 to produce and grossed over $50,000,000 in ticket sales.

Universal Pictures produced a group of highly subversive films in response to Easy Rider – the films were so unusual that the studio had no clear idea of how to sell them and no audience was prepared for their arrival in theaters. The films included Peter Fonda’s The Hired Hand; Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie; Milos Forman’s Taking Off; Frank Perry’s Diary of a Mad Housewife; and Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop (1971). They all ended up as commercial failures.

The go ahead on the production of Two-Lane Blacktop was doubtlessly based on the fact that Hellman had directed four films starring Easy Rider’s breakout performer—Jack Nicholson.

Two-Lane Blacktop follows a pair of drag racing hustlers in a souped up ‘55
Chevy as they travel along the back roads of America. The drag racers (played by musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson and only identified in the credits as the Driver and the Mechanic) are devoid of any discernible identities aside from their utilitarian relationship with their car. As the Driver and the Mechanic travel east through California, Arizona, and New Mexico, they frequently cross paths with a middle-aged raconteur driving a 1970 Pontiac GTO (played by the great character actor Warren Oates and only identified in the credits as GTO). Something resembling a plot emerges once a young hitchhiker/stowaway (played by Laurie Bird) climbs into the back seat of the '55 Chevy at an Arizona diner.

Two-Lane Blacktop is an unusual and almost unknown film that has become widely recognized by filmmakers such as Allison Anders, Richard Linklater, and Quentin Tarantino as one of the best American films from its decade. With Two-Lane Blacktop, Hellman delivered an artistic film about cars that abandoned any conventions that any major Hollywood studio would expect to find in a picture concerning a cross-country car race: there are no exhilarating car chases nor any daring stunts; car stereos and restaurant jukeboxes provide all of the music heard throughout the film; and a narrative that rambles around any formulaic plot machinations – including the cross-country race that was the basis for the film’s advertising campaign.

Not only does Two-Lane Blacktop capture the loneliness of life on the road, it also has a cinematic style that has the feel of a documentary. The entire picture was filmed on location along the two-lane highways of rural America. Genuine mom-and-pop diners, service stations, and small towns encountered between Los Angeles and North Carolina provide all of the film’s set pieces. Hellman's innovative filmmaking techniques (for example, he utilized hidden cameras to capture the interactions of his actors with people on the streets of Santa Fe) and limited use of professional actors (the only recognizable faces in the film belong to Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton) also lend Two-Lane Blacktop a sense of realism that is rarely evident in Hollywood studio productions - and American cinema for that matter.

Two-Lane Blacktop is worth checking out if you love road movies, American films of the '70s, or America muscle cars.

Monte Hellman never made another film in the Hollywood studio system after the failure of Two-Lane Blacktop. He went on to direct a spaghetti western starring Warren Oates and Sam Peckinpah (one of the infamous western genre director's few onscreen performances), a Roger Corman film about cockfighting (also starring Warren Oates) and several direct-to-video films in the 1980's. His most famous contribution to American cinema has been his shepherding of a then unknown filmmaker by the name of Quentin Tarantino in 1992 as the executive producer of Reservoir Dogs.

Also, the screenplay was written by Rudolph Wurlitzer – an existentialist writer known for his books Nog, Flats, and The Drop Edge of Yonder who went on to write several films after Two-Lane Blacktop, including: Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garret and Billy the Kid (1973) and Alex Cox’s Walker (1987).

Suggested Related Viewing:

Easy Rider directed by Dennis Hopper and written by Dennis Hopper, Terry Southern, and Peter Fonda

Five Easy Pieces directed by Bob Rafelson and written by Adrien Joyce

La Strada directed by Federico Fellini and written by Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli

Persona written and directed by Ingmar Bergman

Spirit of the Beehive directed by Victor Erice

Drive directed by Nicolas Winding-Refn and written by Hossein Amini

Brandon Smith
Springville Road Library

Charlotte's Web Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Sixty years ago, on October 15, 1952, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web was published. It's gone on to become one of the most beloved children's books of all time. To celebrate this milestone, the renowned Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo has written a heartfelt and poignant tribute to the book that is itself a beautiful translation of White's own view of the world—of the joy he took in the change of seasons, in farm life, in the miracles of life and death, and, in short, the wonder of everything. Click here to hear: Kate DiCamillo's Tribute.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Public Notice Material in the Government Documents Department Related to Soil Contamination in the North Birmingham Community

Government Documents Dept. logoThe material transferred from the North Birmingham branch of the Birmingham Public Library to the library’s Government Documents Department consists of a series of documents related to Walter Coke, Inc.’s (formerly Sloss Industries) efforts to evaluate and remove potentially contaminated soils in selected properties located in the following neighborhoods: Collegeville, Fairmont, and Harriman Park. The sites of Calloway Head Start School, Riggins Alternative School, the former Carver High School, and the former Hudson School were among the properties evaluated. The company was authorized to undertake this action by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are currently 15 documents in this collection, ranging in dates from March 2008 to January 2012. The first document, dated March 2008, is the company’s “Residential Sampling Work Plan,” and the second, dated December 2009, is a “Residential Sampling Report.” Most of the subsequent documents relate to the process of implementing the “Residential Soil Remedial Action Work Plan,” including a final report issued in January 2012. Also included are the company’s clean up reports for both the Riggins school site and the Hudson school site.

All of these documents were transferred to the Central Library in June 2012 in anticipation of North Birmingham’s temporary closure for repairs. They have been added to the Government Documents Department’s collection of public notice materials and may be accessed by the public at any time the Central Library is open. For further information, please contact the Government Documents Department at 226-3620 or gov@bham.lib.al.us.

Bards & Brews Returns to the Avondale Regional Library in August

B&B flyerThe Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series is hitting the road in August. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the August edition of Bards & Brews will travel to the Avondale Regional Library at 509 40th Street South. The program, which will be a SLAM, begins at 6:30 p.m. with live music and poetry performances starting at 7:00. Emcee Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will deftly guide both novice and veteran poets through an evening of verse with topics that run the gamut from romantic relationships to the local political scene. The program is free of charge and open to the public.

Special guest Barry Marks will read from his new book of poetry, Sounding. Marks is the Alabama Poet of the Year for 1999. His first full book of poetry, Possible Crocodiles, was named Alabama’s Book of the Year for 2010 by the Alabama State Poetry Society.

Craft beer will be available for sampling courtesy of the Highland Brewing Company and light refreshments will be served. Attendees must be 18 years or older to be admitted, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked.

Bards & Brews is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around town. However, the September session will be held on September 14 as part of the Library’s annual Eat Drink Read Write Festival. Check out the Bards & Brews page on Facebook for more information. This program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Event: Bards & Brews SLAM
Emcee: Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins
Place: Avondale Regional Library
Date: Friday, August 3
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public

Today at Noon, Both Sides of the Lens Gallery Talk

Both Sides of the Lens gallery photo
Have you ever wondered how the story behind a historical photograph is uncovered? The photographs exhibited in the Library’s Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) are made even more captivating with the account of their discovery. A doctoral student working on his dissertation learned about the collection of 800 glass plate negatives held in the Birmingham Public Library Archives. Upon viewing the rare collection, he became engrossed in finding out who took the photographs a century ago in rural Alabama. That researcher, Andrew Nelson, drove to Fayette County and, through a series of events, met a descendent of the photographers, Annie Shackelford. Their mutual interest in the photographs led the two to become friends as they worked to identify the people, places, and objects that appear in the images. Andrew Nelson conducted this research for his dissertation—an in-depth study of these photographs that will explore how they interacted with African American music in the area to play a powerful role in everyday life. For Annie Shackelford, researching the photographs offered an opportunity to pursue her passionate interest in preserving the invaluable history of her family and community.

On July 26 at noon, Nelson and Shackelford will present an informal talk in the Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. Nelson will use photographs from the exhibition to discuss the significance of these remarkable artists, and Shackelford will provide her own unique insight into the family’s story. Together, they will speak to the profound and often overlooked role that photographs play in historical research, and they will describe their experiences uncovering details about the Shackelford family and their photographs over the course of the past year.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Olympic Gold Medalist Vonetta Flowers Champions BPL

Vonetta Flowers banner
The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and Olympic gold medalist Vonetta Flowers are partnering to increase awareness of the value of the library to the community. Flowers will star in a “Champions for Learning” awareness campaign set to launch July 27 as the 2012 Summer Olympics get underway.

Flowers, a Birmingham native, volunteered her time to record public service announcements during a recent visit to Birmingham. In a thirty second television ad, Flowers speaks of the impact the Birmingham Public Library had on her life as a child and about her unexpected launch into a successful bobsledding career. Other elements of the campaign include posters and print ads, all encouraging area residents to visit their local library. The campaign runs through August.

“The Birmingham Public Library has been in the community for 125 years serving not only as a free resource, but also as a champion for lifelong learning,” said Library Director Irene Blalock. “Because she is also a champion, we could think of no better partner for this initiative than Vonetta Flowers. We are so grateful that she contributed her time to being part of this initiative.”

Birmingham’s public libraries have a strong presence in the community that will be enhanced by this effort. Last year alone the libraries served 2 million people. And 50,000 books were read by youth participating in the summer reading programs that take place at various branches.

This campaign launch comes on the heels of the new logo design slated to be unveiled officially on August 1. The new logo is a variation of the enduring flame of knowledge and speaks to exactly what the library represents as a community organization that provides educational and entertainment opportunities at its 19 branch libraries. Naturally, reading is the main association that most have with the library. So books remain a focus for the organization’s image.

Spirit of cooperation, gracious donations bring effort to life

“Champions for Learning,” which came to life through the spirit of cooperation, is the brainchild of Big Communications who were behind the idea to involve Flowers and secured her participation. The agency also developed the creative elements associated with the campaign.

“As an agency, we seek opportunities that allow us to give back to Birmingham using the creative abilities of our team,” said John Montgomery, Big Communications president. “We look to create synergy between clients and friends of Big, especially when we can improve our community by making those connections. Vonetta Flowers’ participation in this campaign is the perfect example of that.”

Six Branding & Design created the new logo pro bono for BPL. This young addition to Birmingham’s marketing communications landscape is comprised of recent graduates from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“We are proud to use our abilities to benefit an organization that enhances the minds in our community daily,” said Jacinta Elliot of Six Branding & Design. “Our spirited minds came together with the common goal of making a difference in the community through our passion for design. Our team has spent countless hours in Birmingham’s libraries. So we were indebted to them before this project even came to life. It is awesome to give back to an organization that already does so much.”

In addition to the contributions by Big and Six Branding & Design, Six Foot Five Productions provided the production services at no cost. Media outlets donated airtime to run the TV PSA and space for the print ads.

Blalock said, “Birmingham public libraries have immeasurable amounts of resources to support learning. In contrast, our resources for marketing are quite limited. Without the kind contributions from Birmingham’s creative community, this campaign truly would not have been possible.”

This effort, to which many have contributed both their time and financial support, will be the message around which all BPL followers rally in 2012 and beyond.

Sinfully Delicious Sorbets For Summer


Sorbet is the French word for sherbet, which Italians call sorbetto.  Sorbets are gaining in appeal because they contain less sugar, have no milk solids or egg yolks and are surprisingly simple and easy to make.  Best of all, they are sinfully delicious.  You will have fun mixing flavors and colors together for an interesting frozen treat.  If you have dietary restrictions, this is a beautiful and delicious alternative to ice cream.  For now, just dream about pineapple banana, strawberry mango, key lime, wild blueberry and spicy mango.  That is, until you design a flavor that is uniquely your own.

Just imagine you've gathered a bowl of beautiful fresh fruit on a warm summer afternoon.  Of course, you would love to turn this fruit into something delectable for your family.  Nothing is more refreshing during the summer than glorious homemade fruit-flavored sorbet.  This dessert is a delicious frozen low-fat treat to help you cool off this summer. 

 There are a variety of fruit ices and creamy sorbets to tempt your tastebuds.  These treats can be made with a simple sugar syrup, agave syrup, honey or even maple syrup.  For a fruity sorbet, bananas or peaches can provide the creamy texture.  You can experiment with other creamy fruits to provide this smooth texture.  Fruit possibilities for sorbets include orange, pineapple, mango, watermelon, strawberry, grapefruit, and key lime.  You can even use chocolate to create a decadent, creamy piece of heaven.  Add almond, coconut, herbs, ginger, spices.  There are some interesting recipes using pepper and cinnamon that add some heat to your sorbet.  If you are looking for something more unusual, try the Granny Smith Apple Lemon Grass Sorbet.  The possibilities are endless!



Check out these books at your local library for inspiration.  Stay cool, be creative and have fun this summer.
 
 Amazing Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow 
Frozen Desserts: The Definitive Guide To Making Ice Creams, Ices, Sorbets, Gelati, and other Frozen Delights by Caroline Liddell 
The Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt Cookbook by Mable Hoffman
The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Sorbets! by Jim Tarantino




Also, check out this list of web pages for more tempting frozen treats.

Summer Sorbets: Cool, Creamy, Easy!
All Natural Strawberry Sorbet
How To Make Sorbet
Refreshing Homemade Sorbets
Easy Homemade Fruit Sorbet
Lemon Sorbet
7 Stunning Summer Sorbets (Includes, Lemonade, Lemon Plum, Blueberry Peach, Mango-Orange)
Simple Summer Sorbets
French Sorbet Recipes (some simple, some more creative)


If you try any of these recipes or have your own unique recipe you love, let us know in the comments below.  Just remember to try new things and have fun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Opening Reception for Both Sides of the Lens Exhibition Tonight at Central Library


An opening reception for Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) will be held in the Arrington Auditorium followed by a tour of the exhibition on Tuesday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. The reception will feature a lecture by Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and will be followed by a heritage food tasting.

Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) features 40 photographs from this collection of early 20th century glass plate negatives. The exhibition opened in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery of the Central Library on Monday, July 23 and runs through Friday, September 14.

The photographs—rich for their visual record of everyday life in rural Alabama—are also remarkable because of the story behind them. Taken by a family of African-American photographers who lived in Covin, Alabama, the images reveal the lives of the photographers as well as those being photographed. Read more about the exhibition.

The Making of Both Sides of the Lens—an Archives Researcher Locates a Family of Photographers in Alabama’s Rural Fayette County

Both Sides of the Lens gallery photo
Have you ever wondered how the story behind a historical photograph is uncovered? The photographs exhibited in the Library’s Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) are made even more captivating with the account of their discovery. A doctoral student working on his dissertation learned about the collection of 800 glass plate negatives held in the Birmingham Public Library Archives. Upon viewing the rare collection, he became engrossed in finding out who took the photographs a century ago in rural Alabama. That researcher, Andrew Nelson, drove to Fayette County and, through a series of events, met a descendent of the photographers, Annie Shackelford. Their mutual interest in the photographs led the two to become friends as they worked to identify the people, places, and objects that appear in the images. Andrew Nelson conducted this research for his dissertation—an in-depth study of these photographs that will explore how they interacted with African American music in the area to play a powerful role in everyday life. For Annie Shackelford, researching the photographs offered an opportunity to pursue her passionate interest in preserving the invaluable history of her family and community.

On July 26 at noon, Nelson and Shackelford will present an informal talk in the Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. Nelson will use photographs from the exhibition to discuss the significance of these remarkable artists, and Shackelford will provide her own unique insight into the family’s story. Together, they will speak to the profound and often overlooked role that photographs play in historical research, and they will describe their experiences uncovering details about the Shackelford family and their photographs over the course of the past year.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Olympic Gold Medalist Vonetta Flowers Champions BPL

Both Sides of the Lens Exhibition Opens Today in Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery

Members of the Shacklford family on their front porchMembers of the Shackelford family on their front porch steps, Covin, Alabama.

Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will present Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1910-1935) featuring 40 photographs from this collection of early 20th century glass plate negatives. The exhibition opens in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery of the Central Library on Monday, July 23 and runs through Friday, September 14. An opening reception will be held in the Arrington Auditorium followed by a tour of the exhibition on Tuesday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. The reception will feature a lecture by Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The photographs—rich for their visual record of everyday life in rural Alabama—are also remarkable because of the story behind them. Taken by a family of African-American photographers who lived in Covin, Alabama, the images reveal the lives of the photographers as well as those being photographed.

Featuring African Americans and whites who lived in or were traveling through the county, the images illustrate the significance of the photographic experience in the early 20th century and expose the places, events, and possessions valued by people in the community. The photographs are mostly outdoor portraits of families, children, couples, and individuals often posing with an object they held dear—a book, a car, a pocket watch, a gun, or a musical instrument.

The photographs were produced by one or more members of the family of Mitchell and Geneva Shackelford of Fayette County. As large landholders who also owned a general store, the Shackelfords were well known in the county and were prominent members of Covin’s African American community. The couple was instrumental in forming a school and Baptist church in the first two decades of the twentieth century. After Mitchell’s death in 1919, Geneva and her four adult sons continued to farm and accumulate land. “The Shackelford brothers,” as they were called, also owned and operated a saw mill and syrup mill.

Members of the Shackelford family were closely involved in developing the exhibition and will be present at the reception on July 24.

The exhibition is curated by Andrew Nelson, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park, whose research on this Archives collection inspired the exhibition. Nelson will present a gallery talk on July 26th at noon. The exhibition’s co-curators are Jim Baggett and Kelsey Bates, Archivist and Assistant Archivist at the Birmingham Public Library. All three curators have been working closely with Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson of the University of Maryland, College Park, an expert on African American material culture who will be lecturing on the exhibition during the opening reception on July 24. BPL is also working with the premiere expert on Alabama photography, Frances Robb.

The exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

BPL Databases Provide Credible Sources

Britannica Online Academic Edition

Students, scholars, and surfers of the Web can access databases at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) to satisfy their research or quench their curiosity. These resources, which run the array from classic reference resources such as the Encyclopedia Britannica to Yearbooks form Jones Valley High School in the Powderly community, have been carefully selected by librarians at the BPL.

Unlike the search engines, blogs, and collaboratively written information on the Internet, the databases offered by BPL are authoritative and credible sources written and compiled by experts in their respective fields and topics. They are unbiased, objective, and thoroughly researched.

The Pew Research Center (PRC) released an 80-page report on June 22 of this year detailing findings of their research on current trends with libraries, patrons, and e-books. PRC, a nonpartisan “fact tank” providing data on current American issues and trends, noted patron use of various library resources, including databases. They found that “very little of the research was accessed or used on e-readers or tablet computers.”

Main findings included that “one in five those 16 and older (22%) accessed specialized databases, such as legal or public records in the year prior to the survey.” Furthermore, the report revealed that “African-Americans are generally more likely than other ethnic groups to make use of these services at libraries especially accessing newspapers or news articles and accessing specialized databases such as legal or public records.”

The report added that those with at least some college education are generally more likely to use these services than those with lower levels of education. Interestingly, the data also revealed that “those with the lowest household incomes are generally more likely to use these services than those with the highest household incomes.”

The BPL database can be accessed by clicking on the “Databases” link located on the upper right hand of the BPL home page or by going directly to http://www.bplonline.org/virtual/databases/.

The database page on the BPL site also allows patrons to access e-journals and subject guides, a resource compiled and created by BPL librarians and staff to further supplement one’s research. All databases are accessible at the Central location or at local BPL branches. Some can also be accessed offsite. Just look for “Remote Access Available” at the end of the database description.

For more information on BPL’s databases, you can go to the Databases FAQ sheet. You must have a current and active library account to access these resources.

Farah A. Ferguson
Business, Science, and Technology Department
Central Branch

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Member Day 2012 a Fun Event

Member Day 2012 Birmingham Public Library
Library patrons from all over the Birmingham area were given a taste of an eclectic buffet of the arts and culture scene on Saturday, July 21, for Member Day 2012.

The Birmingham Museum of Art hosted an activity at the Birmingham Public Library Central Branch location. The full-day event aims to thank participating organizations' members for their support and patronage, while hopefully generating interest from those who don't normally experience their venue.

Shontay Wilson said her twin four-year-old girls claimed, "This place is fun!"

Sandi Lee, who acted as BPL's representative with the Membership Alliance, explained that the event is a sort of outreach for the different organizations to share other groups with their members.

"It gives people that are members the opportunity to visit and see what other places have to offer and see if they want to be a member there as well," said Lee.

Mallory Gibson, Membership Director for the Birmingham Museum of Art, praised the long-standing relationship between BPL and her organization.

"What's great about this experience is that you get to show people what they normally won't see or wouldn't experience. It's a snapshot of what's great in Birmingham all in one day," said Gibson.

The Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham and 18 local groups participated in the annual event.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Today's Brown Bag Lunch Program: Step Up to Nutrition and Health

image of fruit
A registered dietitian provides updated information on healthy numbers for life relating to heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Learn about healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction to help decrease your risk for these chronic diseases. St. Vincent Hospital’s Leigh Ann Pritchett, R.D., will present this informative program. Wednesday, July 18, noon.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Central Library, Linn Henley Research Building, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor.

Monday, July 16, 2012

“Books That Shaped America” Exhibition is Now on View at the Library of Congress

Celebration of the Book logo
In conjunction with its “Celebration of the Book” program, the Library of Congress (LOC) recently opened an exhibition that highlights some of the most influential books ever published in the United States. The exhibition is titled “Books That Shaped America” and it will be on view in the LOC’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, DC, through September 29, 2012. What, you’re not planning to take a trip to DC this summer? That’s OK, because the exhibition can also be viewed online at the Library of Congress website. Even better, when viewing it online, you can participate in a survey that not only allows you to weigh in on the LOC’s selections, but also gives you the opportunity to recommend a title that you think should have been included in the exhibition.

The 88 titles that make up the exhibition span the history of America from the Colonial era up through the first years of the 21st century. The earliest title is Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity, which, ironically, was not published in America but rather in London in 1751 under the auspices of the Royal Society. This publication marked the first time that an American had been recognized for his contribution to the world’s intellectual and scientific community and for that reason was deemed worthy of inclusion. The most recent title is The Words of Caesar Chavez, which was published in 2002. Consisting of letters and speeches from the famous Mexican-American labor leader, this book serves as an important contribution to the nation’s ever evolving discussion on matters relating to cultural heritage and economic justice.

In between the books of Ben Franklin and Caesar Chavez are a variety of other works, both fiction and nonfiction, representing an array of creative voices that have appeared on the American scene. Many of the titles are well known and would probably be included on any list of influential American books: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), The Scarlet Letter (1850), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), The Red Badge of Courage (1895), The Souls of Black Folk (1903), The Great Gatsby (1925), How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936), To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), The Feminine Mystique (1963), The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970), And The Band Played On (1987).

Others are not so familiar, but still touch on themes that have engaged the America psyche for over two hundred years. A Survey of Roads of the United States of America (1789) was written by civil engineer, Christopher Colles, and is considered to be the first travel guide of the U.S. Amelia Simmon’s American Cookery (1796) is significant not only for being one of the first cookbooks published in America, but also for popularizing the idea of substituting native American ingredients in the making of traditional European dishes. Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage (1912) is thought to be the book that served as an inspiration for all subsequent literary treatments of the American West. Margaret Sanger created a controversy that reverberates to the present day by publishing a pamphlet, Family Limitations (1914) that encouraged women to practice birth control. Physician and poet William Carlos Williams helped to revolutionize poetry with Spring and All (1923) by eschewing formal structure for vivid, seemingly unrelated, images expressed in free verse. The Snowy Day (1962), by Ezra Jack Keats, was the first full-color children’s picture book that had an African-American as the main character. The Double Helix (1968) was James D. Watson’s first-hand account of the discovery of DNA, and the forthright candor in which the story is told changed forever the way society viewed scientific research and innovation.

So, take a look at the exhibition, fill out the accompanying survey, and then check some of the titles out at the Birmingham Public Library. If you don’t find a title on the library’s catalog, then ask a library staff member if it is possible to get the book through Interlibrary Loan.

Jim Murray
Government Documents Department
Central Library

BPL To Participate in Member Day 2012

Member Day 2012 logoThe Birmingham Public Library is excited to be participating in Member Day 2012, happening Saturday, July 21, 2012. Presented by eighteen local cultural organizations and Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, it is our way of saying thanks to current members and supporters of arts and culture in the Birmingham region. Area organizations have planned a special members-only day of free admission and family-friendly activities. One valid membership card and/or postcard invitation admits two adults and up to four children into absolutely any and every participating venue all day long. Plus enjoy special Member Day activities and performances throughout the day.

With eighteen wonderfully varied groups of performers, museums, and historical landmarks participating in Member Day, it’s one of the best ways to experience the incredible talents and unforgettable experiences offered by our region’s arts and cultural organizations—all in one day! The Birmingham Museum of Art will be offering an art activity in the Atrium of the Central Library downtown from 10:30 a.m. until 11:15 a.m. Come out and join the fun on July 21!

For additional details and a complete event listing, visit the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham at www.birmingham365.org.

Opening Reception for Both Sides of the Lens Exhibition, July 24


Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will present Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) featuring 40 photographs from this collection of early 20th century glass plate negatives. The exhibition opens in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery of the Central Library on Monday, July 23 and runs through Friday, September 14.

An opening reception will be held in the Arrington Auditorium followed by a tour of the exhibition on Tuesday, July 24 at 6:30 p.m. The reception will feature a lecture by Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and will be followed by a heritage food tasting. .

The photographs—rich for their visual record of everyday life in rural Alabama—are also remarkable because of the story behind them. Taken by a family of African-American photographers who lived in Covin, Alabama, the images reveal the lives of the photographers as well as those being photographed. Read more about the exhibition.

Event: Opening Reception and Heritage Food Tasting
Speaker: Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson
Place: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Event: Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) Exhibition
Place: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Date: July 23-September 14, 2012
Time: During Central Library's scheduled hours
Cost: Free

Sunday, July 15, 2012

North Birmingham Library's Adult Summer Programs will be held at the Ensley Library

The North Birmingham Library's Adult Summer programs will be held at the Ensley Library, due to the North Birmingham Library being closed for renovation.  The next two weeks will be packed with some great programs for adults!  Adults are encouraged to stop by the Ensley Library to join us for these interesting, educational, and entertaining programs.  Please note that some of the programs require registration, as class size is limited.  Please call the Ensley Library at (205)785-2625 to register.

Location: Ensley Library
1201 25th Street
Ensley
(205)785-2625
Cost: Free


Larry Moore: Believe it or Not! Monday, July 16, 11 a.m.  Come hear stories and see the magic!

Hoop for Fitness Tuesday, July 17, 11 a.m. Call for registration.  The exercise that puts a smile on your face!

IPads, E-books, and Fun! Thursday, July 19, 11 a.m.  Call for registration.  IPads will be available for demonstration and practice.

Seasoned Readers presents: The Canton Culture Club Monday, July 23, 11 a.m.  A play by Randy Marsh.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

London 2012 Olympics

London 2012 Logo

The Beijing Olympics was one of the most exciting I have ever witnessed.  Michael Phelps made history by winning eight gold medals, the most at a single Olympics.  His fourteen career gold medals make him the most decorated Olympic gold medalist in history.  Usain Bolt simply dominated track and field in Beijing breaking world records in the 100 and 200m races and the 400m relay.  As the London Olympics approaches, expectations are high for both athletes to add to their collection of gold medals.

This year, Phelps and Bolt are expected to face serious challenges from their own teammates.  At Jamaica’s Olympic trials, Yohan Blake defeated Usain Bolt in the 100 and 200m finals.   At the U.S. Olympic swim trials, Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps in the 400m Individual Medley and came in a close second in the 200m IM.  In addition to teammates performing at such a high level, Bolt and Phelps must contend with what the rest of the world has to offer.

Team USA has the opportunity to three-peat in several different sports.  With his performances in Athens and Beijing, Michael Phelps could win three straight gold medals in several events.  The women of Team USA are particularly strong with chances to win a third goal medal in soccer, beach volleyball, and the women’s all-around in gymnastics.  Team USA also has a chance to bring home a third goal medal in equestrian team show jumping.

London's Tower Bridge

No matter what sports you enjoy, there is sure to be a lot of excitement at the London 2012 Olympics.  The Games of the XXX Olympiad are scheduled for July 27 - August 12, 2012.  Be sure to check out the Olympic Games subject guide to find books, DVDs, websites, and news articles about the Olympics.  Go USA!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Last Week to Visit the Eudora Welty—Exposures and Reflections Exhibit at the Central Branch

exhibition image
Eudora Welty–Exposures and Reflections will be on display in the Fourth Floor Gallery at the Central Branch through Friday, July 20.

About the exhibit:
Eudora Welty has long been recognized as one of the great Southern literary voices of the twentieth century. However, many Americans do not know of her amazing work as a photographer. During her time as a junior publicist for the Works Progress Administration, Welty photographed the effects of the Great Depression on her native South. The exhibit opens in the Fourth Floor Exhibition Gallery at the Central Branch on Tuesday, June 5, and runs through Friday, July 20.

Welty insisted that her writing and her photography were separate art forms, and that neither influenced the other. But Eudora Welty—Exposures and Reflections explores a unique relationship between her written words and photographic images, a relationship that exists despite Welty's assertion to the contrary. Using 40 photographs and excerpts from various Welty short stories and novels, the exhibit is a first effort to create a stronger tie between the two art forms so as to more fully explore these photographic images in reference to her complex written works. It is Welty, in her own words, describing the images put before the visitor to this exhibit.

Developed in partnership with The Southern Literary Trail and funded by Alabama Humanities Foundation, the exhibit is the first traveling exhibit designed by the Museum of Mobile.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

It’s a Great Time to Eat Healthy

book coverbook cover

I think summer is a good time to make changes in your eating practices because of the excellent quality and availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. A few weeks ago, I decided I needed to lose a few pounds and I picked a plan that uses "points.” I’m sure most people can guess what plan this is but I don’t want to give them free advertising. They already pay enough people to do that for them. Anyway, I thought that links to books and websites about cooking and healthy eating would help you fight the battle of the bulge and eat healthier this season.

Don't miss this month's Brown Bag Lunch program on July 18, Step Up to Nutrition and Health.


Books


American Heart Association Low-salt Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Reducing Sodium and Fat in Your Diet


Betty Crocker the 300 Calorie Cookbook: 300 Tasty Meals for Eating Healthy Every Day

The New Atkins for a New You Cookbook: 200 Simple and Delicious Low-carb Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less

Quick & Easy Cookbook: More than 200 Healthy Recipes You Can Make in Minutes

EatingWell on a Budget: 140 Delicious Healthy Affordable Recipes : Amazing Meals for Less than $3 a Serving

Diabetes Cookbook for Dummies

Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook


Websites


Kids Eat Right is a website created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. This website gives nutritional information, recipes, tips and menus for children in various stages of development: baby, toddler, preschool, gradeschooler, and teen.

Free Food Journal from Fitday is interesting. I signed up for an account and liked it.

Skinnytaste.com is a website devoted to low calorie and low fat recipes. Each recipe gives you the complete nutritional value and it will give you the “points” value, too.

Healthy Eating Helpguide is a wonderful resource guide. It gives tips on how to eat healthy and what to include in your diet.

EatingWell.com gives recipes, healthy eating tips and strategies. It really is a very useful website.

Maya Jones
West End Library

Brown Bag Lunch Program: Step Up to Nutrition and Health

image of fruit
A registered dietitian provides updated information on healthy numbers for life relating to heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Learn about healthy eating, exercise, and stress reduction to help decrease your risk for these chronic diseases. St. Vincent Hospital’s Leigh Ann Pritchett, R.D., will present this informative program. Wednesday, July 18, noon.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Central Library, Linn Henley Research Building, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor.

BPL to Host University of Maryland’s Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson for the Opening of Both Sides of the Lens

Psyche Williams-Froson
The Birmingham Public Library will host an opening reception for Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935) on July 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium. Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson, Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, who has worked closely with the library to develop the exhibition, will speak about how photographs and other illustrations are used to reveal black history and culture. Her lecture, When Visual Imagery Provides Food for Thought: African Americans Before and Behind the Camera, will be a lively, interactive discussion drawing inspiration from the exhibition. Afterwards, participants will have a chance to view the exhibition and enjoy a “Heritage Food Tasting” with family recipes made by BPL staff members. Members of the Shackelford family were closely involved in developing the exhibition and will be present at the reception on July 24.

Dr. Williams-Forson is a nationally recognized expert on African American foodways and the portrayal of African Americans in photographs and other illustrations. Dr. Williams-Forson’s lecture will explore how images of African Americans eating or cooking traditional foods often reinforced stereotypes, and she will discuss how the photographs in this exhibition reveal positive aspects of African American lives often hidden in plain view. Her critically acclaimed book Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, and Power will be available for purchase at the event.

The exhibition opens in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library on Monday, July 23, and runs through Friday, September 14. This collection of photographs is, to say the least, uncommon. Rich for their visual record of everyday life in rural Alabama, they are remarkable because of the story behind them. Taken by a family of African American photographers who lived in Covin, Alabama, the images reveal the lives of the photographers as well as those being photographed. Featuring African Americans and whites who lived in or were traveling through the county, the images illustrate the significance of the photographic experience in the early 20th century and expose the places, events, and possessions valued by people in the community. The photographs are mostly outdoor portraits of families, children, couples, and individuals often posing with an object they held dear—a book, a car, a pocket watch, a gun, or a musical instrument.

The exhibition is curated by Andrew Nelson, a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park, whose research on this Archives collection inspired the exhibition. Nelson will present a gallery talk on July 26 at noon. The exhibition’s co-curators are Jim Baggett and Kelsey Bates, Archivist and Assistant Archivist at the Birmingham Public Library.

The exhibition is made possible by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Opening Reception and Heritage Food Tasting
Speaker: Dr. Psyche Williams-Forson
Place: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Date: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Exhibition: Both Sides of the Lens: Photographs by the Shackelford Family, Fayette County, Alabama (1900-1935)
Place: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Date: July 23, 2012-September 14, 2012
Time: During Central Library's scheduled hours
Cost: Free

Monday, July 09, 2012

Book Review: The Monster of Florence

The Monster of FlorenceThe Monster of Florence
Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

True crime writing craves a great setting for a great crime. The Zodiac Killer and San Francisco, Boston and its Strangler, and London’s Jack the Ripper are all intertwined in popular imagination. And, while many know the fictional character Hannibal Lector (and some will recall his murderous career in Florence, Italy), few outside of Italy know of the terrible inspiration for Hannibal, Il Mostro, the Monster of Florence.

Douglas Preston is best known for writing over a dozen popular crime novels with Lincoln Child—novels such as Relic and Cemetery Dance. In 2000 he moved to Florence, Italy, to write another crime novel set in Tuscany. He and his family settled into an idyllic villa on a Florentine hillside surrounded by olive groves. Almost immediately he learned that a couple had been brutally murdered merely yards from his doorstep. True to his instincts as a crime writer, he set out to learn more.

When Preston met Mario Spezi he could not have hoped to have found a more knowledgeable source, a prominent journalist with a background of covering high-profile Mafia and terrorism cases. Spezi was already tethered to this case which turned out to be much larger than Preston could have expected. Between 1968 and 1985 eight couples were murdered as they made love in their cars in various cul-de-sacs on the hillsides surrounding Florence. Each victim was shot in the head and afterwards the female victims’ sexual organs were mutilated.

Tossing his new novel project aside, Preston teamed with Spezi (the “Monsterologist”) to chronicle this investigation. If the serial killings were not bizarre enough, the investigation was bizarre as well with many unexpected twists and turns. With massive media coverage the general public was whipped into a frenzy of genuine fear and in some instances self-aggrandizing melodrama. Many insisted on having figured out the identity of the Monster leaving the authorities with the frustration of sifting through seemingly endless dead-ends. Prosecutors and the judicial system in general faltered as well. Four local men were charged and held only to be finally released. A series of ego-driven prosecutors seemed more attuned to their own careers and fame than to the pure investigation of the case itself. Ultimately Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi were implicated themselves. Giuliano Mignini, a powerful state prosecutor, ordered Preston to leave the country or otherwise be arrested. The following day Spezi was arrested and detained in solitaire for 23 grueling days while his wife endured the shame and helplessness of their home being ransacked twice by police with no helpful information available. One cannot help but wonder if the serial killer was the only Monster in this case.

Like Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, The Monster of Florence reads much like a novel, but the structure is unusual. The first half of the book is from Mario Spezi’s point of view. The second half offers Preston’s. The reader is deeply immersed in the story and vicariously goes through all the thrills, chills and suspense. It also achieves a literary status as a nonfiction piece somewhat in the tradition of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City. It does for Florence what John Berendt’s book The City of Falling Angels does for Venice; one learns about the everyday life and values of a world-historic city. These books offer invaluable background material for planning a visit to these locations. The Monster of Florence even offers up fine and proven restaurant recommendations.

However you ponder learning more about Florence, do so. Read about the sweet life in Under the Tuscan Sun, but beware that under a full moon, a monster roamed the Tuscan hills, a monster still at large.

You will never forget the Monster of Florence.


Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Suggested Readings

Cemetery Dance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Hannibal by Thomas Harris
(also available on DVD as Hannibal)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
(also available on DVD as In Cold Blood, Capote, Infamous)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
(also available on DVD as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)

Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
(also available on DVD as The Silence of the Lambs)

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
(also available on DVD as Under the Tuscan Sun)

Cimitero Inglese, Florence, Italy

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Photos courtesy of David Blake

Here’s the Scoop: July is National Ice Cream Month

Happy Ice Cream Month graphicIts beginning came from an official proclamation issued by President Ronald Reagan, Proclamation 5219, National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day, July 9, 1984. He lauded the contribution of ice cream to the American dairy industry, and called it “the perfect dessert and snack food.”

“I call upon the people of the United States to observe these events with appropriate ceremonies and activities,” he said. So it has remained traditionally, the month of July and the third Sunday of the month, in celebration of ice cream.

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, 9% of the milk produced by American dairy farmers is used to make ice cream. Americans consumed an average of 20 quarts per capita in 2010.

Flavored ice treats have been around for hundreds of years. Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson brought ice cream to America, but the early colonists ate it. He may have introduced vanilla (the most popular flavor) after serving as ambassador to France, where frozen ice recipes were published as early as 1674. A recipe for ice cream appeared in an English cookbook in 1718.

If you are interested in ice cream’s history, recipes, specialties (such as The Perfect Scoop, recently reviewed by Mary Beth Newbill), or ice cream in general, take a look at BPL’s resources, and grab a spoon!

Michelle Andrews
Government Documents
Central Library

Friday, July 06, 2012

Central Departments Focus on Homeschooling and Summer Treats This Month

homeschool books imageHomeschool During the Summer Months

Studies have shown that children experience learning losses during the summer when they do not participate in educational activities. The Social Sciences Department has put together a display of homeschooling books for the month of July. Stop by today on the third floor of the Central branch of the Birmingham Public Library or call us at 205-226-3640.

Social Sciences Department
Central Library


books on summer treats
Stay Cool this Summer with the Help of BPL

As summer continues to heat up, more people are cooling down with refreshing summer treats and drinks. In the month of July, the Business, Science, & Technology department is featuring a display of books on how to prepare frozen desserts and thirst-quenching drinks. We also have fliers with quick and healthy summer recipes. Please visit the third floor of the Central branch to pick up your copy.

Business, Science, & Technology
Central Library

Historic House Research Workshop Tomorrow at Central Library

A house from the BOE files
A photo from the Board of Equalization files in the BPL Digital Collections.

Did a famous Birmingham leader once live in your “new” house? Is your home the oldest structure on your block? If you have ever wondered about researching this information, a workshop at the Central Library will help you get started. In conjunction with the Jefferson County Historical Commission and the Birmingham Historical Society, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting a workshop on historic house research on Saturday, July 7, from 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. in the Richard Arrington Auditorium. The workshop is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

Attendees will learn how to conduct research on historic dwellings in Birmingham and Jefferson County including the resources available at BPL and requirements for historical designations and markers. Linda Nelson, Jefferson County Historical Commission Executive Secretary, will discuss requirements of the Historical Marker Program and other historical designations. Jason Kirby, BPL Bookmender and Birmingham Botanical Garden Archivist, will discuss his experiences with the application process for a historical marker.

For more information about the workshop, please contact the Library’s Southern History Department by phone at (205) 226-3665 or by e-mail at askgenlocal@bham.lib.al.us.

Event: Historic House Research Workshop
Presenter: Linda Nelson and Jason Kirby
Place: Central Library
Date: Saturday, July 7, 2012
Time: 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public
Registration: Not required