Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Navigating the Holidays with Ease


The holiday season has come fast and has caught many of us off guard, but we need not fret because it’s still early enough to shop and plan without getting entangled with the chaos that seems synonymous with the holidays. Below, Real Simple provides seven tips to reduce holiday stress and save money. Following the tips are books provided by the Birmingham Public Library that will also help us navigate the holidays with class and ease so that we can celebrate and embrace them for what they mean to us without the distractions of stress.

Tips
1. Make a List
Write down everyone you plan to buy a gift for, no matter how small the gift may be. Include ideas of what to give each person, along with the maximum amount you’re willing to spend.

2. Start Early
Don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to start buying holiday gifts. Keep your eyes open all year round for items friends and family would like.

3. Do Online Research
If you’re unsure of which specific item to buy, search for reputable online reviews.

4. Hit Up Black Friday (If You Dare)
If you’re looking for great deals and aren’t afraid of battling large crowds, the day after Thanksgiving is a shopping must. Get a head start on fellow shoppers by checking a website like Blackfriday.org before the big day.

5. Take Advantage of Cyber Monday
A spin-off of Black Friday that debuted in 2005, Cyber Monday is reputedly the biggest online shopping day of the holiday season—and accordingly, many online retailers will offer special discounts on their products. It takes place the Monday after Black Friday, though you can find online bargains all year long at Cybermonday.com, the official Cyber Monday website. On the actual day, the site will feature extra discounts and hourly specials to further entice online shoppers. To stay even more in the know during the holidays, sign up to receive emails from your favorite stores to get advance notice about sales and insider-only deals.

6. No-Cost Holiday Shipping
More than 1,000 online merchants, like Best Buy and L.L.Bean, will offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. (Go to freeshippingday.com for details.)

7. Do It Yourself
If you’re creatively inclined, avoid mall madness altogether and bake a batch of cookies, sew personalized tote bags, or make beautiful earrings for friends and family.

Source: http://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/holidays/holiday-guide-00100000090734/index.html.

Books
Debt-proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays Without Breaking the Bank by Mary Hunt

Holiday Blues: Rediscovering the Art of Celebration by Herbert Rappaport

Saving Dinner for the Holidays: Menus, Recipes, Shopping Lists, and Timelines for Spectacular, Stress-free Holidays and Family Celebrations by Leanne Ely

Classic Crafts and Recipes for the Holidays by the Editors of  Martha Stewart Living

Submitted by Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Library

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

BPL Hits Tumblr!

"What is Tumblr?

http://www.tumblr.com/blog/bhampublib

"Before there was social networking, there were blogs. And in an effort to muddle things, at one point in time the concept of blogging without trying too hard became known as microblogging. Tumblr is part microblogging, part social networking."

"If you want to write a several-thousand-word opus about something, Tumblr isn’t the place to do it. If you want to share a moving picture of a little kid acting like a detective as quickly and easily as possible, Tumblr is a good place to do it. That’s the microblogging aspect to Tumblr. Then, other Tumblr users who like moving pictures of little kids acting like detectives can follow you on Tumblr so they’re sure to see every moving little-kid-acting-like-a-detective picture you post. That’s the social networking aspect to Tumblr."
From time.com

So, where can you find Tumblr?
http://www.tumblr.com/blog/bhampublib
Learn more about what's going on at BPL, find book reviews, funny memes, and most importantly, FOLLOW US at http://www.tumblr.com/blog/bhampublib! We can't wait to connect with you!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Limited Edition Photo Print By Local Artist Available For BPL Donors

Donors to BPL's Annual Campaign May Receive a Limited Edition Photo Print by Local Artist John DeMotte

The first 25 donors of $1,000 and up to BPL's annual campaign will receive a beautiful limited edition photo print by local artist John DeMotte (www.johndemotte.com). The photo is in an edition of 25, donated to BPL by the artist. It captures the Central Library's glass windows, which rise from the first floor atrium to above the fourth floor, looking across the intersection of Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard and Park Place toward the Tutwiler Hotel. The Central Library's "East Building" was constructed in 1984, is a modern counterpart to the 1927 Linn Henley Library. Its pyramid-like glass atrium has made it a recognizable downtown Birmingham landmark.

The BPL Foundation hopes to raise $50,000 before January 1, 2014 to supplement and expand the library's collection. One hundred percent campaign donations will be used to acquire library materials for BPL's 1.7 million annual visitors. Specifically, funding will allow BPL to:

• Purchase current and sought-after books and ebooks in all genres
• Purchase magazines, journals, and newspapers for both research and enjoyment
• Purchase databases like Ancestry.com, Reference USA, and Morningstar

For benefits of giving at all levels, and to donate online, please go to www.bplonline.org/foundation.

And remember to celebrate #GivingTuesday with us. If you donate any time from now through December 3rd, we will enter you into a drawing for books and dinner.


John DeMotte, "Atrium - Birmingham Public Library"
Archival Pigment Print, 2013
Image is 11 x 16 1/2 printed on 17 x 22 Epson Fine Art
Paper
Edition of 25

BPL Closed November 28 to December 1 for Thanksgiving Holiday

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed November 28 to December 1 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Books for Native American Children Educate about Diabetes


Native Americans celebrate their heritage in November.  BPL has a range of media concerning Native American life and history, from books, such as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Black Elk Speaks, to DVDs, such as Ken BurnsThe West.

November is also national Diabetes Awareness Month, and this disease is a special concern for Native Americans.  According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012, diabetes is the fourth-leading cause of death among Native Americans, higher than that of other races. 

To educate Native American children about type 2 diabetes, Georgia Perez has written a series of beautifully illustrated books called the “Eagle Books.”  This four-book series was developed by the CDC’s Native Diabetes Wellness Program. It follows a young Native American boy, Rain That Dances, and his friends as they learn from the great bald eagle about type 2 diabetes. The take-home message is that healthy eating and an active lifestyle are key factors in staving off this disease. Each book includes a glossary of terms and a list of websites where you can find out more about this disease. It is also appropriate for story-time in classrooms or one-on-one reading. The series includes: Through the Eyes of the Eagle, Knees Lifted High, Plate Full of Color, and Tricky Treats. These books are new arrivals; please ask about their availability. Recommended for ages 4-8.

Another offering in this series is Coyote and The Turtle’s Dream, written by Terry Lofton and created by The Native Diabetes Wellness Program. It is based on the “Eagle Books” characters and is recommended for middle school readers. It also includes a glossary and a cast of characters list.

For more information:
Native American Heritage Month:  http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/
American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes and Native American health:

Submitted by Michelle Andrews and Liz Winn
Government Documents/Microforms Department
Central Library

Friday, November 22, 2013

Book Review: Top Down

Top Down: a Novel of the Kennedy Assassination
Jim Lehrer

“Where were you . . .?”

“Where were you when President John F. Kennedy was shot?”

For people of a certain age, this question and its attendant discussions have been popping up for 50 years. November 22, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Younger generations have their own “Where were you . . .?” questions and answers for the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion that occurred on January 28, 1986, and for the terrorist attacks from al-Qaeda upon New York City and the Washington D. C. metropolitan area on September 11, 2001. These three powerful events force us to reflect on our own mortality and stir our concerns for a sense of safety in our current and sometimes crazy world.

With this anniversary of JFK’s assassination, one can expect many books, articles, commemorations and television specials to come out and take place this year. Much is already out there including straightforward histories, commentary, conspiracy theories and conspiracy thrillers. There is no shortage of material in multiple formats for all ages and types of readers on the subject of our 35th president. Ask your nearby librarian to show you the materials that are available. The Social Sciences Department at the Birmingham Public Library (Central) holds a particularly large JFK collection.

Just last month Jim Lehrer (PBS NewsHour) released his 21st novel titled Top Down: a Novel of the Kennedy Assassination. Here Lehrer moves beyond the standard “Where were you . . .?" question to ask the question “What if . . .?”

The novel, itself, begins five years after 1963 with a journalist (loosely based on Lehrer who was actually a Dallas correspondent on the scene on that fateful day) preparing his statements for a small panel making commemorative comments on their roles on that day. Jack Gilmore (Lehrer) speaks about his involvement in finding out for a fellow correspondent whether the bubble top would be on or off the limousine for JFK’s ride through Dallas. He documents that he asked a Secret Service agent at Love Field this very question. The agent spoke to a colleague by phone and then responded to Gilmore that the top would be down given that the rainy weather had finally subsided.

Gilmore was excited to be included in this prestigious program, but was unaware that “another shoe was about to drop.” Days later a young college student approached him seeking his help. Apparently, her father was the Secret Service agent whom had been consulted about the bubble top at Love Field five years earlier.

“What if . . .?”

Would the President have survived if the top been on? Was that the Secret Services agent’s fault? Was it the fault of his colleague he spoke to that day? Was it the clearing weather’s fault? Was it Kennedy’s fault for preferring the top down in order to be closer to the people he served as the leader of a nation so highly regarded? Who knows, but we all know how erosive and corrosive guilt can be regardless of whether it is genuine or imagined. The book explores these conjoined themes well. All true (non-fictional) characters in the novel are portrayed with due respect and integrity. The fictional characters do not detract nor do they distract. This reader is reminded that the best historical fiction can bring history so vividly to life in a way in which nonfiction accounts occasionally fail.

As a long-time viewer of the PBS NewsHour, I felt as if the author, Jim Lehrer, were reading this novel aloud to me. His familiar voice and the steady, matter-of-fact tone of his writing were somehow comforting without ever being trite, saccharine or maudlin. This swift read felt cozy, but not in the Miss Marple mystery genre sense. It just felt right and, moreover, it is a refreshing departure from the sensational conspiracy theories that have inundated the literature for 50 years.

Read this novel to reflect on the legacy of JFK and to remember, or for younger readers, to imagine that unforgettable day 50 years ago.

Check it out.

Click here to visit a piece posted several days ago on this blog that focuses on recent JFK titles.

The display window at Central Library showcasing books on the Kennedy assassination.

Submitted by David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Birmingham’s First Black Police Officer to Explore the Past During November 25 Book Signing at Central Library

On Monday, November 25, at the Birmingham Public Library, Leroy Stover will share stories about what it was like to become the first black police officer for a Birmingham police force that was known in the 1960s for harassing and intimidating peaceful black marchers during the civil rights movement. Stover’s stories are in the new book Leroy Stover, Birmingham Alabama’s First Black Policeman: An Inspirational Story. He will sign copies of the book from 4:00-6:00 p.m. in the library’s Arrington Auditorium, 2100 Park Place. The books are $14.28. The Metro Birmingham Branch NAACP will host the event.

A Korean War paratrooper, Stover integrated the police department in 1966. He retired as a deputy chief in 1998. As Birmingham commemorates the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, the 80-year-old Stover said that 2013 is an ideal time to release the book.

“They didn’t spit on me or push me (on the first day.) But they did call me racist names and suggested I wouldn’t last the first day,’’ Stover said. When Stover entered the police roll call room, all of the white officers went to one side of the room, leaving Stover on the other side. Several of the officers pulled guns out of their holsters, blowing away imaginary smoke and using a racial slur while asking who was going to work with him. That incident only happened the first day, he said.

“All of the guys weren’t obnoxious and hateful. Some were very helpful,’’ Stover said. “But when they got around their peers, I was ignored. And I could understand that because there was peer pressure. But there were some who didn't care one way or the other.’'

“The only bright part of all of that was Chief Jamie Moore,… he wanted to see me make it.’’

Stover didn’t let the hate defeat him. He said he stayed on the force because he wanted to make it better for other minorities coming behind him. “I wasn’t going to give up,’’ he said.

When Stover retired, there were more than 860 police officers on staff, said Stover’s niece, Dr. Bessie Stover Powell of South Carolina State University, who wrote the book. Powell’s husband, Dr. Don L. Powell, and Stover, contributed to the book. “We are honored to write his story because it is not only American history, black history but it’s also the first account of Deputy Chief Stover’s bravery and achievement,’’ Powell said.

To arrange interviews, call Stover at 205-925-7798 or Debra Powell 205-541-4486. For more information about the book signing, call Hezekiah Jackson IV, President Metro Birmingham Branch NAACP, at 205-516-9806.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Squirrels Just Want to Have Fun!

Today while shelving books at Avondale Library, I happened to look out the window and see two squirrels playing in the park. They were tumbling and chasing their tails and seemed to be having a great time. This joyous scene brought to mind a book I recently read written by Kate DiCamillo, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Goodreads gave a wonderful review of the book: "Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.”

After reading Flora and Ulysses if you need more squirrel stories, check these out.


I See a Squirrel by Alex Appleby

The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin

Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Stein

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts



Submitted by Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

“I couldn’t imagine my life without the library…”

BPL Young Professional Rikesha Foster talks about how important the library has been in her life.


Rikesha said it best: "The library means so much to so many people." We appreciate everyone who supports and utilizes the services and resources offered at the Birmingham Public Library.

Our BPL Foundation would like to expand the library's collection. The Foundation seeks to raise $50,000 before January 1, 2014. Your donations will be used solely for the purpose of acquiring library materials. Specifically, your gift will allow BPL to do the following:
  • Purchase current and sought-after books and ebooks in all genres 

  • Purchase magazines, journals, and newspapers for both research and enjoyment

  • Purchase databases like Ancestry.com, Reference USA and Morningstar 

Your generosity will touch 1.7 million visitors per  year who visit 19 library locations spanning the city. BPL serves more  people than any other cultural institution in Birmingham.

Your gift  puts books and other reading materials into the hands of the citizens  of Birmingham—whether they walk in our doors, download a book, or visit a  database online.

Your support allows people to start businesses, trace their family’s history, and learn a new language (or two!)

Click here to help us spark imagination, empower individuals, & build a better Birmingham.

Any amount you donate from not until the end of #GivingTuesday (December 3, 2013) will automatically enter you for a chance to win a books and dinner prize! Here are the various levels and benefits of giving.

If you would prefer, you may contribute by visiting a Birmingham Public Library location or by making checks payable to:

Birmingham Public Library Foundation Annual Campaign
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, AL 35203

For more information, please visit www.bplonline.org/foundation.

Thank you for your support!!!

Children's Author Jan Brett Is Coming to BPL November 19


New York Times best-selling author Jan Brett will sign copies of her new book Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella at the Central Library on Tuesday, November 19, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Books-A-Million will have books for sale.

Brett’s children’s books include highly-detailed art work of loveable hedgehogs, chickens, and other animals. Special chickens and hedgehogs will be on display during this event. Brett will also discuss her art work. The event is free.

Brett is touring the nation on a decorated bus, which will be parked outside of the library for fan pictures. Autographed posters will go to the first 100 in line.

With more than 38 million books in print, Brett is one of America’s most popular children’s book artists/authors. Her latest book takes the classic fairy tale of Cinderella and casts chickens as the characters. It tells the story of Cinders, the most-picked-on hen in the flock, becoming the belle of a prince chicken’s ball. Inspiration for the book came from Brett’s own flock of award-winning chickens. It’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for the holidays.

The New Yorker, Parents, Redbook and other publications have named Brett’s books as “Best Children’s Books of the Year.’’ Brett lives in Norwell, Mass.

For more information, call Vincent Solfronk at 205-226-3651.

Monday, November 18, 2013

BPL Again Featured on C-SPAN

For the third time in 2013, the Birmingham Public Library is featured on C-SPAN. The most recent program, which began airing this week, is titled In Birmingham They Love the Gov’nor: George Wallace, Birmingham and Beyond. The program was held in the Richard Arrington Auditorium of the downtown library on September 9, 2013. The panelists, Dr. Dan T. Carter of the University of South Carolina, Dr. Glenn T. Eskew of Georgia State University, and Dr. Angela K. Lewis of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discussed George Wallace’s role in Birmingham’s civil rights struggle and Wallace’s continuing influence on American politics and race relations today.

Generous financial support for this program was provided by the Rita C. Kimerling Family Fund.

The program can be viewed on the C-SPAN website at http://c-spanvideo.org/program/Segrega.

Submitted by Jim Baggett
Archives Department
Central Library

November 22, 1963

Fifty years after President Kennedy decided to make his fateful trip to Dallas; questions surrounding his assassination continue to multiply. Like cracks growing from a single rock thrown into a stain glass window, questions surrounding his assassination still branch out and multiply. Historians, conspiracy theorists and political pundits have queried every aspect of the President’s murder. Was there a single shooter, or several? If there was a single shooter was it really Oswald? If Oswald was the actual shooter, did he act alone or was he merely a patsy for an individual or a shadowy cabal? If there was a conspiracy, was it the CIA, the Mob, or a foreign power? Why did the President even visit a city that was so demonstratively hostile to him and his presidency? Each question produces another possibility which in turn creates more questions. The cracks emanate outward from the hole and each crack branches out to dozens of splits and fissures until the stain glass is covered in sharp, blinding lines that obscure the figure beneath.

At this point I’m not certain we’ll ever have a single, definitive answer to any of the multitudinous questions hovering around the assassination. I am certain that even if such an answer was discovered, it would not be universally accepted. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to tease the occasional discovery from the event, and publish new books on the topic.

One of my favorite titles from the recent crop of assassination books is The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ. Straight and to the point. Authors Roger Stone and Mike Colapietro present evidence from LBJ’s mistress that the Vice President was involved in the assassination.

One of the more visually stunning books is Life magazine’s The Day Kennedy Died. As one would expect, this Life volume consist of numerous photographs, but this title also reproduces, in special folded sections, each frame of the infamous Zapruder film.

There are two relatively new eyewitness accounts. November 22, 1963 Witness to History is by photographer Hugh Aynesworth who witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy, the arrest of Oswald and Oswald’s murder. The Kennedy Detail is by Gerald Blaine who served on the Presidential detail on the historic day in Dallas. Blaine’s book covers not only the events of the assassination, but the emotions of the men who were charged with protecting the President.

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters is written by local historian James Douglass. Douglass argues that Kennedy was assassinated because he preferred a peaceful end to the Cold War, and opposed a confrontational stance similar to that which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

There are numerous books and DVDs on Lee Harvey Oswald. One unique view is presented in the 2008 DVD Oswald's Ghost. This PBS production explores, through archival footage and contemporary interviews, how people view the theory of a lone gunman.

The Kennedy assassination is the plot of far too many novels for me to mention here except to share my personal favorite, The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry, and remind you that Stephen King has also delved into this subject.


Submitted by David Ryan
Business, Science and Technology Department
Central Library

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Reviews: Endless Night and Murder at Hazelmoor

Endless Night
Murder at Hazelmoor

Agatha Christie

Having immersed myself in the works of Agatha Christie for the last few months, I was very happy to discover two gems of hers that could easily be overlooked. Endless Night and Murder at Hazelmoor are not your typical Agatha Christie works. Neither book features her most well-known characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. Each book is very character driven and, while murders certainly do occur, the unraveling of the mystery isn’t really the most interesting part of the story. It’s easy to forget that, in addition to crafting clever puzzles and surprise endings, Christie was just a really good writer who drew the reader into her world with ease and deft.

Endless Night is one of the later Christies having been published in the U.S. in 1968. Its modern tone is a little jarring at first (Should the phrase “sex personified” really appear in an Agatha Christie book?). It is, I think, one of her darker works. Christie seems to have a soft spot for romance and usually throws a happy couple into her stories. No such happy couple here. Most of the book concerns the courtship and marriage of Mike and Ellie. After their marriage, they settle in a custom-built house on some supposedly cursed land called Gypsy’s Acre. The murder doesn’t happened until almost three quarters of the way in, but once it does other bodies begin piling up at an alarming rate. No spoilers, but Christie aficionados may spot some previously used devices.

Murder at Hazelmoor is, in contrast, a very early work (published in 1931). It has a lighter, more madcap feel to it. An elderly gentleman in an isolated village has been murdered. Was his murder predicted at a séance? His best friend doesn’t think so, but is worried enough to travel six miles in a snowstorm to find out. Many red herrings follow with all the village inhabitants and the dead man’s family coming under suspicion. Emily, the plucky fiancée of the deceased’s nephew (aided by aspiring journalist, Charles Enderby), tracks down the truth. Unlike Endless Night, which really has no detective, Murder at Hazelmoor has Inspector Narracott on the case. He’s a rather dull character, but perfectly functional. It’s really Emily and her friend who steal the show. I was completely surprised by the ending. Of course, with a master like Christie, I always am.

M. B. Newbill
Southern History Department
Central Library

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Winter Crafting

Learning a new craft is wonderful any time of year, but especially in fall and winter when many find themselves sequestered inside from the elements. The amazing thing is, It seems the lost arts of quilting, sewing, woodworking, and the like aren’t so “lost” anymore. Things once associated with grandparents are now relevant as a way of spending free time or even making money by selling on websites like Etsy or at a local farmer’s market. People everywhere are more willing to buy something made by someone from their neighborhood rather than ordering it online or buying it at an anonymous big box store. And it’s original!

There are many layers to the question of why crafting has seen such resurgence in the past decade. Part may stem from genuine economic need. Dealing with the past economic downturn, people were looking for a way to make their own household products or clothes, or perhaps they were hoping to sell these handmade objects for a little extra cash. This has definitely been aided by the accessibility of the internet. The monstrosity that is the world wide web has created a community of people who want to do for themselves, and use others’ posts and ideas for launching points of their own. Websites like Pinterest have become increasingly popular and sites like Craftsy and Instructables actually give online classes or tutorials for those interested in learning a new craft or completing a DIY project. BPL has a page dedicated to local classes and supply stores around town to also help the burgeoning crafter.

Since the stigma of homemade clothes not being “cool” has given way to homemade clothes actually being “hip” and an expression of individuality, crafting has a whole new face for the younger generation. Television shows like Project Runway have exposed the behind-the-scenes of fashion design and prompted watchers to create clothing items of their own. Sewing machine sales are on the rise and wonderful websites like Knitty and Crochetme are online havens for the textile-inclined.

Perhaps there’s also the urge to know simply how to hem a pair of pants or embroider a handkerchief like the generations who came before when items weren’t as readily store-bought. Learning that craft gives the creator a feeling of being self-sufficient, even if that means making a bookshelf, or a hat for a nephew, or just learning how to knit and purl. Of course, there is a subtle beauty to the patience that crafting demands. Taking up a pair of knitting needles or learning how to bead can be a respite from the busy times we live in and gives many a sense of peace.  


You know what’s better than making jewelry or t-shirt quilt? Visiting your local library. Not only do they have the resources one can check out and take home to learn whatever craft your heart desires, but the librarians themselves are sometimes a valuable resource for the subject. Come visit the Birmingham Public Library’s Central branch and see the latest crafting display. Here are some amazing titles currently available:

Get a Hobby! – Tina Barseghian

Craft-a-Day – Sarah Goldschadt


 – Kathreen Ricketson

Art of Seamless Knitting – Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein


Submitted by Rachel Joiner
Arts, Literature, Sports
Central Library

"Winner, Winner, Books and Dinner": #GivingTuesday and the Gifts that Keep on Giving

https://www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday
#GivingTuesday™ (#GT) is a movement to create a national day of giving to kick off the giving season added to the calendar on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The second annual GivingTuesday is on December 3, 2013.(BPL participated last year with thrilling results.)

At BPL, we will celebrate #GivingTuesday by directing all gifts to the BPL Foundation Annual Campaign, a campaign where 100% of the gifts will allow the Birmingham Public Library to do the following:
  • Purchase current and sought-after books and ebooks in all genres 
  • Purchase magazines, journals, and newspapers for both research and enjoyment 
  • Purchase databases like Ancestry.com, Reference USA and Morningstar 
  "Winner, Winner, Books and Dinner"

https://www.facebook.com/elbarriobirmingham

If you make a donation any time between now and the end of December 3, we will enter you into a drawing for "Winner, Winner, Books and Dinner." This prize includes dinner for two at Birmingham's delicious El Barrio as well as a shopping spree at the BPL Friends Bookstore (for a total value of $75.00).

https://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheBhamPublicLibrary

Several wonderful people have told us what the Birmingham Public Library means to them. Our goal is to provide the highest quality of library service by providing the most current and relevant resources. When you give, you help us change the lives of Birmingham residents and visitors.

To enter this drawing, you may contribute in these three ways: 

-Donating online to the 2013 Annual Campaign
-Visiting a Birmingham Public Library location 
-Mailing a check payable to:

Birmingham Public Library Foundation Annual Campaign
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, AL 35203

For more information, please visit www.bplonline.org/foundation.
 
Here's to hoping you win the grand, delicious prize! Thank you for celebrating #GivingTuesday with us. We will announce the "Winner, Winner" by Monday, December 9th.

We appreciate your support!  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Book Review: The Stones of Florence

The Stones of Florence
Mary McCarthy

Original Sin

Mary McCarthy’s gossipy The Stones of Florence, first published in 1959, should be read before one’s first visit to this famous city. She strips away the veil of prettiness that prevents us from seeing it truly. Venice is pretty, but no one would say that of the stone canyons of New York City, so similar to wealthy Florence with its densely packed stone fortresses built over the grid of an ancient Roman military camp.

“The discontented shade of Cataline, dressed in consular toga, haunts Florentine history. It is not hard to imagine some of his cohorts surviving…. Fathering children from whose seed would spring the fierce factions of medieval Tuscany.”

Seen from the hills across the Arno River, the skyline of Florence is nearly flat, but 800 years ago giant defensive towers rose above these very buildings.

“The first towers were built in the eleventh century. By the twelfth there were over a hundred. ‘Gent’ e avara, invidiosa, e superba.’ That, Dante said was the reputation of the Florentines…. ‘Stingy, envious and proud,’ the Florentines were possessed by a ferocious independence and rivalry, determined to be outdone by no one. Every man wished to be first and no man could tolerate that another should be ahead of him. The towers grew steadily taller as the burghers copied the nobles and the city became a sort of multiple Babel, with many towers two hundred feet high and some even higher. Each family or group of families had a tower adjoining the house of its chief… the more powerful families had a whole series of towers clustered together, or dispersed throughout the city. After some deed of vengeance had been committed the clan would take refuge in its tower or towers, hurling stones and burning pitch down into the street at its opponents.”

The spirit of intense envy burned in the city’s communal works. They competed, not just with other cities but even with the past.

When the Duomo was ordered, in 1296, from Arnolfo di Cambrio, to replace the old church of Santa Raparata, a proclamation declared the citizen’s requirements. “The Florentine Republic, soaring ever above the judgement of even the most competent judge, desires that an edifice shall be constructed so magnificent in its height and beauty that it shall surpass anything of its kind produced in the times of their greatest power by the Greeks and Romans.”

The pride of the city of Florence and of its leaders certainly extended to its great artists. “Pope Clement VII (Giuiio de Medici) confessed that whenever Michelangelo came to see him, he, the Pope, made haste to sit down and to invite him to do likewise, because, if he were not quick about it, Michelangelo would take a seat anyway, without asking permission.” It’s a wonder that the Pope could bear his presence for long. Michelangelo never bathed and rarely changed his clothes. The Stones of Florence is filled with difficult details and is well worth the reader’s efforts for that reason, but the author is also wrestling with large and difficult concepts.

“The Florentines invented the Renaissance, which is, in fact, to say they invented the modern world – not, of course, an unmixed good. Florence was a turning-point, and this is what troubles the reflective sort of visitor today – the feeling that a terrible mistake was committed here, at least at some point between Giotto and Michelangelo, a mistake that had to do with power and megalomania, or gigantism of the human ego. You can see, if you wish, the handwriting on the walls of Palazzo Pitti or Palazzo Strozzi, those formidable creations in prepotent stone, or in Michelangelo’s ‘David’, in love with his own strength and beauty. This feeling that Florence was the scene of the original crime or error was hard to avoid just after the last World War, when power and technology had reduced so much to rubble. ‘You were responsible for this,’ chided a Florentine sadly, looking around the Michelangelo room of the Bargello, after it was finally reopened. In contrast, Giotto’s bell tower appeared an innocent party.”

Readers who believe in the fundamental darkness of human nature will find their opinions confirmed by McCarthy’s book and those who believe in mankind’s basic goodness could be dismayed or even baffled by The Stones of Florence. Her assertion about the shade of Cataline haunts her description of the grand piazza in the heart of the city:

Photo courtesy of David Blake
“More than any other piazza in Italy, the Piazzo della Signoria evokes the antique world….. this square, dominated by the Palazzo Vecchio, which was the seat of government, has an austere virile beauty, from which the grossness of some of the large marble groups does not detract. The cruel tower of the Palazzo Vecchio pierces the sky like a stone hypodermic needle; in the statuary below, the passions are represented in their extremity, as if strife and discord could be brought to no further pitch. In any other piazza, in any other city, the line-up of murderous scenes in the Loggia dei Lanza….. would create an effect of terribila, or of voluptuous horror, but the Florentine classical spirit has ranged them under a porch of pure and refined arches, which appear to set a ceiling or limit on woe.”

The book is well illustrated, but is easier to follow because of the Internet. This reader made frequent use of search functions to find additional images for the many works of art and architecture referenced by the author. The Stones of Florence is dense and discursive. Ideas are not expressed like bumper stickers but with full paragraphs and they are developed over many pages. Although not perfect, the scholarship is excellent nonetheless. Any reader wishing to have a fuller understanding of the centuries that produced unsurpassed art and human progress in a particular, difficult, wondrous place, Renaissance Florence, will be enlightened and entirely entertained by Mary McCarthy’s The Stones of Florence.

Submitted by David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“The library… was filled with all kinds of books that took me on trips and adventures all around the world and I’ll never forget that experience.”

BPL Associate Director Angela Fisher Hall talks about how important the library was to her as a child and how important it is to her as an adult.


Like Angela, many of us at BPL have had wonderful library experiences. Because of these memories, the BPL Foundation would like to stengthen the library's collection. The Foundation seeks to raise $50,000 before January 1, 2014. Your donations will be used solely for the purpose of acquiring library materials. Specifically, your gift will allow BPL to do the following:
  • Purchase current and sought-after books and ebooks in all genres 

  • Purchase magazines, journals, and newspapers for both research and enjoyment

  • Purchase databases like Ancestry.com, Reference USA and Morningstar 

Your generosity will touch 1.7 million visitors per  year who visit 19 library locations spanning the city. BPL serves more  people than any other cultural institution in Birmingham.

Your gift  puts books and other reading materials into the hands of the citizens  of Birmingham—whether they walk in our doors, download a book, or visit a  database online.

Your support allows people to start businesses, trace their family’s history, and learn a new language (or two!)

Click here to help us spark imagination, empower individuals, & build a better Birmingham.

Benefits of Giving
 

Bookworms    ($50-$99)
Name on donor page, website, and in annual report; invitations to library events.

Scholars    ($100-$249)
The above plus first option to buy a discounted book at BPL's author book signings.

Bibliophiles      ($250-$499)
The above plus free signed copy of A Woman of the Town: Louise   Wooster, Birmingham's Magdalen by James L. Baggett.
 

Authors    ($500-$999)
The above plus an invitation for two to our annual donor reception in the beautiful Linn Henley Research Library.
 

Professors    ($1,000-$2,499)
The above plus four tickets to Birmingham Noir, a walking tour of historic downtown Birmingham, and a limited edition print by a local artist John DeMotte. 


You may also contribute by visiting a Birmingham Public Library location or by making checks payable to:

Birmingham Public Library Annual Campaign
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, AL 35203

For more information, please visit www.bplonline.org/foundation.

We  would LOVE to have your video testimonials on why you love the library.  Please send us your videos to the following address:  kbates@bham.lib.al.us.

Thank you for your support!!!

No Computer Classes Until January 2014

Computer Classes

Please note that the Regional Library Computer Center will not offer computer classes to the public from Thanksgiving Week until the end of December, 2013. Classes will resume the beginning of the following year. Registration and the class schedule for January, 2014, will be available Monday, December 16, 2013. For more information, contact (205) 226-3680 or email cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us.

Friday, November 08, 2013

You can get ANY book about animals or flying things

BPL is fortunate to have some of the cutest kids on the planet who love and use the library. Hear what one of our youngest patrons, Grey, says about the library (and notice him proudly holding that library card).


Because the Library is important to so many kids like Grey, the BPL Foundation has a goal of raising $50,000 before January 1, 2014. Your donations will be used solely for the purpose of acquiring library materials. Specifically, your gift will allow BPL to do the following:

  • Purchase current and sought-after books and ebooks in all genres 
  • Purchase magazines, journals, and newspapers for both research and enjoyment
  • Purchase databases like Ancestry.com, Reference USA and Morningstar 

Your generosity will touch 1.7 million visitors per year who visit 19 library locations spanning the city. BPL serves more people than any other cultural institution in Birmingham.

Your gift puts books and other reading materials into the hands of the citizens of Birmingham—whether they walk in our doors, download a book, or visit a database online.

Your support allows people to start businesses, trace their family’s history, and learn a new language (or two!)

Click here to help us spark imagination, empower individuals, & build a better Birmingham.

Benefits of Giving

Bookworms
($50-$99)
Name on donor page, website, and in annual report; invitations to library events.

Scholars ($100-$249)
The above plus first option to buy a discounted book at BPL's author book signings.

Bibliophiles ($250-$499)
The above plus free signed copy of A Woman of the Town: Louise Wooster, Birmingham's Magdalen by James L. Baggett.

Authors ($500-$999)
The above plus an invitation for two to our annual donor reception in the beautiful Linn Henley Research Library.

Professors ($1,000-$2,499)
The above plus four tickets to Birmingham Noir, a walking tour of historic downtown Birmingham, and a limited edition print by a local artist John DeMotte. 



You may also contribute by visiting a Birmingham Public Library location or by making checks payable to:

Birmingham Public Library Annual Campaign
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, AL 35203

For more information, please visit www.bplonline.org/foundation.

We would LOVE to have your video testimonials on why you love the library. Please send us your videos to the following address: kbates@bham.lib.al.us.

Thank you for your support!!!

From Page to Stage: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – A Readers' Theater Workshop for Children


The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theater (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever — A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, BPL will be hosting free workshops at some of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how storybook characters come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT The Best Christmas Pageant Ever production on December 7 at 2:00 p.m.

A new, better-than-ever production! This is a hilarious holiday story that will delight all ages. No one wants to be in the annual Christmas play at the local church except six irascible siblings who have never hear the story of Christmas. Ultimately, their energy and sincerity triumphs as they make this year’s pageant the best one ever. The play is based on a book by Barbara Robinson.

Workshop space is limited, so contact your participating library location to register a child for the remaining workshops. Libraries and dates are as follows:

Avondale: November 24 – 2:30 p.m.
East Ensley: November 23 – 2:30 p.m.
East Lake: November 23 – 2:30 p.m.
Springville Road: November 24 – 2:30 p.m.
West End: November 23 – 11:00 a.m.

Opening Reception for the Birmingham 2013 Exhibit, November 9

Prelude to a (Civil Rights Leader's) Funeral, Ansel Butler

A special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement in Birmingham will be shown in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library, Wednesday, November 6 to Friday, December 27, 2013. A reception will be held on Saturday, November 9, 3:00-5:00 p.m. The gallery and reception are free and open to the public.

Other artists in the exhibit can be found at www.bplonline.org/exhibits/colvinexhibitbrochure.pdf

Thursday, November 07, 2013

O.V. Hunt Exhibit at Five Points West Library Through January 15

East Lake bather
East Lake Bathers

A collection of photographer O.V. Hunt's works documenting the early history of Birmingham are on display at the Five Points West Library through January 15, 2014. These images, archived at BPL, document the life and work of the Magic City during the early 1900s.

To view Hunt's photographs in the Birmingham Public Library's Digital Collections, visit
http://bplonline.cdmhost.com/cdm/search/collection/p4017coll6/searchterm/hunt%2C%20oscar!o.v.%20hunt!o.v.%20hunt/field/creato!all!all/mode/all!all!all/conn/and!and!and/order/nosort/ad/asc.

November MakingCents Program Explains the Importance of Saving and Investing

Dr. Andreas Rauterkus

If you are interested in getting your financial life in order this fall, then the Central Library is the place to be! Dr. Andreas Rauterkus, Associate Professor of Accounting and Finance at UAB, will be leading a series of programs that will focus on a variety of issues related to personal finance and investing. The programs take place at noon in the Arrington Auditorium and will continue at the same time and place on the second Tuesday of the month thru December.

The individual programs are:

Saving and Investing
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
12:00 p.m.
Arrington Auditorium
This session will help you understand the various financial markets, evaluate different saving and investment options, find and utilize investment information, and develop ways to make better investment decisions.

Paying for College
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
12:00 p.m.
Arrington Auditorium
A college education is a good investment, but is also a very expensive one. In this program, Dr. Rauterkus will discuss ways to make this process more manageable. Among the topics to be covered are evaluating college affordability, utilizing personal savings, and assessing the different forms of financial aid.

These programs are part of the MakingCents: Resources to make your money grow and Smart investing@your library® series, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

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