Monday, November 30, 2015

Dolores Hydock to Perform "A Christmas Memory," December 6


The Christmas season doesn’t really begin until you have experienced Birmingham storyteller Dolores Hydock’s incredible one-woman performance of "A Christmas Memory," Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama. Dolores will perform this holiday classic on Sunday, December 6, at 2:30 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library.

There is always a full house for this performance, so come early and enjoy refreshments.

Book Review: Captain Alatriste, the Adventures of Captain Alatriste

Captain Alatriste, the Adventures of Captain Alatriste
Arturo Perez-Reverte

If you enjoy adventure in exotic times and places, and writing that makes you smile with appreciation, Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte has written a series of books about a Castilian soldier in the heart of Spain’s worldwide empire in the Golden Age. Captain Aristide “was not the most honest and pious of men, but he was courageous.” Indeed, on one of the first pages of the book Perez-Reverte tells us what the story is to be about in one of his rolling sentences that can carry the reader far as well as the drive of the narrative:
… the story I am going to tell you must have taken place around sixteen hundred and twenty something. It is the adventure of two masked men and two Englishmen, which caused not a little talk at court, and in which the captain not only came close to losing the patched up hide he had managed to save in Flanders, and in battling Turkish and Barbary corsairs, but also made himself a pair of enemies who would harass him for the rest of his life.
The swordplay is sharply written, but it occupies a surprisingly small fraction of the story. We are treated to detailed description of life and places that still exist today in built form, but as they appeared and were lived in when Madrid was the capital of one of the largest, and richest, empires the world has ever known. The novel is often drenched in stoic remorse, as befits an older narrator reminiscing about the wonder and optimism of youth: “She (Spain) may still have been powerful, and feared by other nations, but she was touched by death in her soul.”

For anyone unfamiliar with how the history of Spain’s policies and actions directed the course of western history, Captain Alatriste will provide a compelling pathway back to old Madrid.

Enjoy your international armchair travels for free at the Birmingham Public Library.

Check it out.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Friday, November 20, 2015

Southern History Book of the Month: "The Thanksgiving Visitor"

"The Thanksgiving Visitor"
Truman Capote

Truman Capote’s most famous short story is probably “A Christmas Memory,” but Buddy and his “friend” and cousin Miss Sook also appear in the story “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” in which Buddy has to contend with that childhood nightmare many of us know too well: the school bully.
Talk about mean! Odd Henderson was the meanest human creature in my experience.

And I’m speaking of a twelve-year-old boy, not some grownup who has had time to ripen a naturally evil disposition . . . he took after the rest of the Hendersons. The whole family . . . was a shiftless, surly bunch, every one of them ready to do you a bad turn; Odd wasn’t the worst of the lot, and brother, that is saying something.
My first contact with this story was when I was in elementary school and heard it read aloud. My sympathies were entirely with Buddy, and so I missed the way in which Capote expertly weaves into the text all the circumstances that keep Odd Henderson from being one-hundred-percent loathsome, such as his poverty, his father “who was a bootlegger and usually in jail,” his mother who is trying to keep the family provided for, and the way Odd can quiet his fussy younger brothers and sisters by singing to them. Yes, I missed all of this, and felt a cold shock when Miss Sook thinks the solution to the bullying is to invite Odd to Thanksgiving dinner. I seem to remember thinking at the time, “Is she crazy?” I heartily seconded Buddy’s resentment that one of his precious days away from school—and away from his tormentor—is going to be ruined by his friend’s well-intentioned meddling.

Part of me still feels that way. We’ve all heard the clichés about how many bullies are not entirely responsible for their behavior: that they’re in some way underprivileged, or haven’t been taught to behave properly, or they’re envious of their victim—the eye-rolling list goes on and on. But part of the genius of Capote is that this story is riveting in spite of the circumstances that seem to be clichés. There is the moment when Buddy sees a way to get the upper hand and humiliate Odd in front of the assembled Thanksgiving guests, but it doesn’t turn out the way he had expected, and Capote doesn’t make the mistake of granting Buddy some epiphany that would be unlikely in a child:
". . . Buddy, there is only one unpardonable sin: deliberate cruelty. All else can be forgiven. That, never. Do you understand me, Buddy?”

I did, dimly, and time has taught me that she was right. But at that moment I mainly comprehended that because my revenge had failed, my method must be wrong.
It’s been many years since I first heard “The Thanksgiving Visitor” and it still pleases me. Words like "sweet" and "heartwarming" may come to mind, but without the juvenile connotations; after all, some wines are sweet and heartwarming as well. Try this story as a mellow accompaniment for your turkey and dressing, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

“The Thanksgiving Visitor” full-text online:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/185860279/Truman-Capote-The-Thanksgiving-Visitor#scribd

“10 Things You Might Not Have Known About Truman Capote”
http://mentalfloss.com/article/59198/10-things-you-might-not-have-known-about-truman-capote

Stop Bullying
http://www.stopbullying.gov/index.html

Mary Anne Ellis
Southern History Department

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Birmingham City Council President Austin Observes STEM Technology Program at the Central Library

Standing l-r: Lance Simpson, Dr. Abidin Yildirim, and Johnathan 
Austin. Sitting are student participants Tamia Dunlap, left, and 
Tatyonna Cohill.

Touring the STEM technology program at the Central Library on November 17 brought home fond memories for Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin.

In the early 2000s, Austin and his father, Rev. Gerald Austin, ran a summer technology program called Stars Tech Camp. After observing and talking to the students who were making tracks for their electronic trains, Austin came away impressed.

“Our Stars Tech Camp was very similar to this—skill building, tech training, achieving results, and self-sufficiency,” Austin said. “We did exactly what you are doing here at the library—exposing kids to opportunities like this they may not otherwise get to do.”

Thanks to a $10,000 grant received in October from the Best Buy Foundation, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is planning to add new services in its STEM-focused afterschool program at the Central Library. The money will be used to purchase microcomputers, robotics kits, and an array of other technological tools to facilitate teaching engineering concepts in the weekly afterschool program.

Lance Simpson, teen librarian for the Birmingham Public Library, said the Best Buy grant will enable the Central Library to take its STEM technology program “to another level and enhance what we are doing. We will be able to show them how it is that they can take concepts of robotics and be prepared for future careers.”

Since the summer of 2015, the Central Library has been collaborating with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Engineering to provide a weekly STEM-focused technology-based afterschool program for teens. Simpson and grants writer Carrie Campbell joined with the School of Engineering's director of outreach, Dr. Abidin Yildirim, and community volunteer Keiah Shauku to write a grant seeking funds to expand the program’s offerings.

“Our partnership with UAB kicked off over the summer with a one-week STEM camp offered at the Central Library, and has continued on with a weekly afterschool program offered on Tuesdays,” Simpson said. “The funds from the grant will allow us to expand the program from our current curriculum to allow for more technology-driven classes, including teaching teens basic computer coding languages, and practical application of coding through robotics.”

During the school year, BPL's Central Library hosts 70 to 90 children and teens daily after school. Most of these students attend Phillips Academy, a Birmingham City Schools magnet K-8 school located near the library.

Austin said he hopes the public, businesses, and other politicians in Birmingham will support the STEM program in the Birmingham Public Library. “I continue to do everything I can to support our young people,” he said. “Everything we do now should be geared towards them. They are our future.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta
Richard Grant

Richard Grant is an author with that instinct for travel and adventure that characterizes the English. One of his previous books, God’s Middle Finger, is about travelling the Sierra Madre in Mexico with all its attendant dangers due to corrupt police, bandits, narcotraficantes, and dangerous flora and fauna. This time, he and his girlfriend move from the cultured environs of New York City to the languid backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. Moving into a dilapidated farmhouse in tiny Pluto, Mississippi, they soon meet a cast of eccentric characters, among them a 90-year-old blues singer, a homicidal doctor, catfish farmers, a retired CIA agent/diplomat, and owners of tiny and obscure cafes, blues houses, and barbecue joints. Pluto, population unknown but very small, is in Holmes County, smack in the middle of nowhere, 90 miles or more from Greenwood, Vicksburg, and Jackson, Mississippi.

Moving to the Delta has its ups and downs, including lots of snakes and armadillos, frightening neighbors, clouds of mosquitoes, and Southern Gothic characters still yearning for the “good ole days” of the pre-civil rights era. Grant learns to hunt and drink (sometimes simultaneously), plant a garden, sing the blues and gets an eyeful of backwater Mississippi at the dawn of the 21st century. Small-town politics and murder, declining schools, farms that are becoming ever more commercialized and corporate owned, and a people struggling to maintain a genteel way of life while at the same time creating a sustainable society are all portrayed.

The best of Grant’s writing is an innate liking for people no matter who they are, and a viewpoint splashed with humor and compassion. Grant and his fiancée have personal issues, but their relationship grows. Writing and literature, travel, making new friends, a zest for the good things in life including Delta cooking, and a strong sense of joie de vivre all make for entertaining reading. It makes me want to visit Pluto and the region to sample some of the culture and the environment.

Jonathan Newman
Avondale Regional Branch Library

Friday, November 13, 2015

Painting @ UAB: The Students of Gary Chapman Exhibit to Kick Off Sunday, November 15


Gary Chapman has mentored and taught hundreds of students over 26 years as an art professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Some of his art students’ best work will be featured for the first time in an exhibit at the Birmingham Public Library. The special exhibit, Painting @ UAB: The Students of Gary Chapman, debuts in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library on November 15 and runs through December 31.

The public is invited to meet the artists at an opening reception on Sunday, November 15, from 2:30 until 5:00 p.m., in the Central Library’s Boardroom adjacent to the gallery. The reception is free of charge.

This exhibit will highlight the diverse work being created at UAB in the Painting Studio, under the guidance of Chapman. Chapman said the exhibit includes the work of 11 students, some current juniors and seniors, as well as past graduates who have moved on to professional careers.

While Chapman teaches a highly structured, somewhat traditional beginning painting class, he also works with each student individually through the intermediate and advanced levels, guiding each student’s individual research, exploration, and experimentation. The result is a dynamic group of young painters who have each found and developed their unique vision through paint.

“As a teacher, I allow students to find their own style and not try to emulate others,” Chapman said. “I believe each young artist must discover their own inner artist voice and allow it to reflect in their work.”

Young Leadership at Inglenook Library

(l-r) Quinton Moore, Jamaya Smith, Jakayla Pratt, Tarayonna Chambers

During Inglenook Library’s Young Leadership program—a reading program intended to cultivate leadership skills in children and give them a sense of empowerment and community by having a participant in the group read a book aloud, ask questions based on the book, and facilitate a craft—something amazing happened. A young lady read Taye Digg’s Chocolate Me and a discussion about being happy with one’s self and being emerged. The children gave testimonies in how they’ve struggled with self-acceptance and how they’ve come to be happy with their skin complexions and even imperfections albeit name calling and teasing. The discussion lasted for some time as children fed off of each other’s responses. One young lady was so excited that she said that she is going to convince her mother to bring her to the library every Monday, which is the day the program is held.

This program gives children a voice and a platform to discuss and target issues prevalent in their lives through books expressing the same issues, similar to what the library world calls bibliotherapy. Get ready for the next generation of healthy, confident, and strong leaders!

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Coloring for Adults Holiday Program


Join us for a Holiday Session of our popular Coloring For Adults Program.

Coloring is a relaxing and beneficial activity for adults. We supply coloring sheets, coloring supplies and light refreshments. Come by and have a fun evening!

Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Place: Birmingham Public Library, Storycastle in the Central Youth Department

Call 205-226-3680 for more information.

15 Reasons We’re Thankful for Books


As a librarian, to say I am thankful for books goes without saying. Be it hardback or paperback, audio CD or downloadable, there is nothing like a good book to sweep you off your feet. Recently, while conducting an online search of the word “Thanksgiving,” I came across an article that was simply too apropos not to share with my fellow book/library lovers.

"15 Reasons We're Thankful for Books"
by Ginni Chen
"The Reading Life"
Barnes &Noble

We’re all a little quirky on Turkey Day. Some of us are Tofurky enthusiasts, while others are devotees of deep-fried turducken. Some of us are Turkey Trot running champs and others live for football on the flat screen. Thanksgiving is one of the few traditional holidays that celebrates our diversity as a cultural melting pot, which basically means you can take the holiday and run with it however you like. Industrial Revolution–themed Friendsgiving? Go for it. Around the World in 80 Turkey Dishes potluck? Sure, why not!

However we choose to spend it, our Thanksgiving celebrations are all about the same thing—showing gratitude for what we have. Well, that and pie. So this Thursday, we’re letting our book nerd flag fly as we give thanks for all the literary gold in the world. Here are 15 reasons we’re thankful for books:
  1. Books keep you sane during your awful rush-hour commute.
  2. Books have saved you from going on countless bad dates. You’ve had many perfect evenings at home with a book.
  3. Books make soaking in the bathtub much more fun.
  4. Books don’t care if you can’t pronounce the big words in them or if you don’t finish them. Books don’t judge you for anything.
  5. Books have the remarkable power to put the rowdiest of children to sleep.
  6. Books have the remarkable power to put you to sleep, too, especially when you’re up late worrying if the turkey brine you used has gluten in it.
  7. Books teach you to empathize with people you’ve never met and help you tolerate the people you have, like your cousin’s boyfriend who is a DJ.
  8. Books remind us that sentences can have more than 140 characters, they don’t have to start with “OMG,” and they don’t always need to be accompanied by photos.
  9. Books make you smarter. I have no idea why. I think it’s something to do with pheromones in the paper?
  10. When you need to put the world on a time out, books are there for you.
  11. Books allow us to vicariously experience a range of gif-worthy emotions, from heartbreak to terror to despair to jealousy. All while maintaining our effortlessly cool, intellectual composure in public.
  12. Reading is one of the few things you can do in sweatpants on the couch that qualifies as “constructive.”
  13. Books show you that you are not alone in the world, even if all your relatives think you are and keep asking if you’ll ever get married.
  14. Books teach you that your parents, your teachers, and your friends aren’t right about everything, but then neither are you.
  15. Books teach you to think for yourself, so you can ponder things like, “pumpkin or pecan pie?”
Why are you thankful for books?



I’m thankful for the following books celebrating one of my favorite holidays: Thanksgiving. This season if you find yourself in need a book to share with a little one, relax. Rest assured that you do not need 15 reasons to try one of these 15 books.

Over the River: A Turkey’s Tale by Derek Anderson
Turkey Bowl by Phil Bildner
The Firefighters Thanksgiving by Maribeth Boelts
Corny Thanksgiving Jokes to Tickle Your Funny Bone by Linda Bozzo
Arthur’s Thanksgiving by Marc Brown
The Very First Thanksgiving Day by Rhonda Gowler Greene
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson
I Spy Thanksgiving by Jean Marzollo
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas
Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet by Jane O’Connor
Junie B Jones, First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved by Barbara Park
‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving by Charles Schulz
Pardon That Turkey: How Thanksgiving Became a Holiday by Susan Sloate
Thanksgiving at the Tappletons by Eileen Spinelli

Carla Perkins
Avondale Regional Branch Library

BPL Databases—Finding Treasure in Plain Sight

Have you ever been walking along and suddenly looked down to find money on the ground in front of you? Remember that feeling of elation and happy surprise? Isn’t it wonderful to find something valuable that costs you nothing?

Want that feeling right now? Here’s just how to do that:

Go to www.bplonline.org.


Look at the black bar across the top, find Databases, and left-click on the word one time.

The second line under Databases reads Database Quick Links. It has a drop-down menu. Left-click once on the down arrow.


This will open an entire world of free, accurate, and current information to you. You’ll see an alphabetical listing of almost 200 destinations. Some of these are digital collections of photos. Some are subscription databases that the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) pays for so you get them free. Some are websites that librarians have vetted for authentic, accurate, and current information. Most of them can be accessed from any Internet with your library card. A few can only be accessed in a public library, but ALL are free to library members. Why would you pay for something you can get free through your library?

Do you need to prepare for the ASVAB, ACT, SAT, or an occupational test? Drop down to LearningExpressLibrary. Need to learn about your computer operating system, or Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Publisher? Go to the computer skills module under LearningExpressLibrary.

Did your child inform you late on Sunday evening that they have a research paper due on Monday morning? Drop down to History in Context, Literature Resource Center, Science in Context, or Opposing Viewpoints—or any of a dozen periodical indices like Academic Search Premier, InfoTrac, or General OneFile.


Did you receive a diagnosis from your doctor, but need more information on what it is, how it is treated, and how to live with it? Drop down to MedlinePlus.Gov, Health and Wellness Resource Center, or Health Source: Consumer Edition.

Are you thinking about starting a business, ending a marriage, or making a will? Drop down to Alabama Legal Forms to find a necessary form, access legal definitions, or find legal FAQs. If it’s starting a business, don’t forget to drop down to Business Plans Handbook for a sample business plan for you business, or to Mergent Online for industry and competition information.



Want to try your hand at investing? Drop down to the Financial Ratings Series Online database, Mergent Online, and Morningstar for all the information you need to research stocks, financial institutions, insurers, and mutual funds.

But wait a minute! Aren’t some of these websites expensive, or don’t you have to subscribe to them? Yes, they are, and yes, you do—but BPL has subscribed and paid for them for library members, so if you have a card in good standing, they’re free to you!

For more information about…well, just about anything…contact your local Birmingham Public Library, and definitely check out the website to see everything we have to offer.

Birmingham Public Library. Preserving the Past, Exploring the Future.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Edward LaMonte to Visit BPL to Discuss Book on Former Birmingham Mayors Vann and Arrington, November 15


Join us at the Central Library on Sunday, November 15, at 3:00 p.m. for an author talk and book signing by Birmingham historian Edward LaMonte. LaMonte will speak and sign copies of his new book, Change and Continuity: The Administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington, Jr.

In Change and Continuity LaMonte explores this critical time in Birmingham’s history and shares his personal insight as a friend and colleague of both Vann and Arrington. The mayoral administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington Jr. spanned six terms, from 1975 to 1999. During those years Birmingham, Alabama, transitioned from a city dependent on heavy manufacturing, especially iron and to steel, to a city with a more varied economic base focused on finance and healthcare. The city grew physically and changed demographically as many whites left the city and Birmingham became a majority black community.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase for $15. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information contact Jim Baggett, 205-226-3631 or jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veteran's Day: Born in Birmingham

As we approach Veterans Day this year (November 11, 2015), I’d like to offer a little bit of history about the very important role Birmingham and one man, in particular, played in the holiday’s establishment.

First observed in 1919 to honor the soldiers and sailors of World War I, the “War to end all wars,” the day was originally called Armistice Day. It was named after the cessation of hostilities with Germany which went into effect on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 am. Armistice Day soon became a very important day for the City of Birmingham. The annual parade was a source of great pride for Birmingham and came to be known as the largest Armistice Day parade in the nation. The following decades saw Birmingham putting on parades that were seen by as many as 250,000 spectators (1949), included 20,000 participants (1926), and lasted up to two hours and covered 40 city blocks (1950).

In the years after World War II, the director of Birmingham’s Armistice Day celebrations was a man named Raymond W. Weeks. Weeks was a veteran of the Second World War and felt strongly that the day should be changed to honor veterans of all military conflicts, not just World War I. As he was building up Birmingham’s Armistice Day celebrations, he was also lobbying in Washington, D.C. to get the holiday officially changed to Veterans Day (a term he had been using since 1947). His cause was taken up by Representative Edward Rees of Kansas. Rees introduced legislation making the change which was signed into law by President Eisenhower on June 1, 1954.
President Reagan presents Citizens Medal to Raymond Weeks
The Birmingham News, November 10, 1982

Weeks continued to be in charge of Veterans Day activities in Birmingham until his death in 1985. In 1982, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Ronald Reagan in recognition of his hard work and dedication to our country’s veterans. In 2012, a resolution was introduced to the Senate recognizing Weeks and Birmingham for their roles in this historic day. Information about Birmingham’s 2015 Veterans Day events can be found on the site of the group, the National Veterans Day in Birmingham.

For additional information about the history of Veterans Day in Birmingham, the Southern History Department has newspaper clippings and other interesting items available on microfiche for patrons to view.

M.B. Newbill 
Southern History 
Central Library

Monday, November 09, 2015

Postcards from Miss Iwate #4

 前略
Here I am undergoing treatment at the Iwamura Doll Hospital under the care of Shokensai III. His father, Shokensai I, created me in 1927.


This makeover is the main reason for my trip!
He even reshaped my eyebrows and fixed my knee!

草々
Suzuko Iwate

Friday, November 06, 2015

Registration Open For December 2015 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the December 2015 Classes.  During this month, we include our popular computer classes, as well as job search and employment assistance classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes.  You may also call to confirm your registration.

To register for any class, please email us at cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us or call 205-226-3681.   You may also download and print a pdf copy of the December 2015 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the December 2015 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

December 2015 Classes Final jpg

BPL Named 2015 Star Library by Library Journal


Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has been named a 2015 Star Library by Library Journal. Each year, the national publication compiles statistical information, based on population and spending, and rates libraries in a variety of categories.

Out of the 7,663 public libraries in the United States scored by the Library Journal (LJ) Index of Public Library Service, only 261 received the designation of being named a Star Library. For 2015, the Birmingham Public Library is one of just seven Alabama libraries to make the list. BPL received a three-Star rating. Homewood Public Library, a sister library in Jefferson County, walked away with a four-Star rating.

BPL was also named a three-Star Library in 2010 and 2012 as well. Here is a link to the Library Journal Star Library list: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/11/managing-libraries/lj-index/class-of-2015/the-star-libraries-2015/.

Birmingham Public Library Director Angela Fisher Hall said the Star Library designation from Library Journal is a tribute to the BPL staff, and the support it receives from the citizens of Birmingham.

“We are so honored that the Birmingham Public Library is being recognized for providing excellent services and programs for our patrons,” Hall said. “This Star status shows that our 19 BPL locations remain relevant and provide a valuable service for our citizens. As director, I want to publicly thank our employees for their dedication and hard work. Additionally, the entire BPL family owes a great deal of thanks to the Birmingham citizens who use our libraries daily and depend on us for their information and technology needs—because of them, we have received this honor.”

According to Library Journal, the eighth annual LJ Index compares U.S. public libraries with their spending peers based on four per capita output measures: circulation, library visits, program attendance, and public Internet computer use. Scores on the LJ Index are produced by measuring the relationships between each library’s statistics and the averages for its expenditure category.

Birmingham Public Library is among 54 new or returning Star Libraries—ones that were not Stars in last year’s ratings. Among libraries spending $10 million–$29.9 million, there are three new three-Star winners: Birmingham Public Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Stark County District Library, Canton, Ohio. The 2015 Star Libraries are found in 41 states scattered across the country geographically.

Library Journal said the competition for Star Library status is tougher than ever, with the number of libraries scored on the LJ Index at an all-time high. Factors that hurt libraries’ chances for achieving star status include lower tax base in states such as Mississippi and Oklahoma, and relatively lower levels of adult educational attainment that lead to higher literacy rates, especially in the South. So for a state like Alabama, with a lower tax base, to have seven Star Libraries is a great achievement.

Here is a closer look at the seven Star Libraries in the State of Alabama (listed by size):

Annual expenditures 
$10 million-$29.9 million - *** Birmingham Public Library - Birmingham, AL

$100,000-$199,900 - ***** Flomaton Public Library - Flomaton, AL

$400,000-$999,900 - **** Foley Public Library - Foley, AL

$1 million-$4.9 million - **** Homewood Public Library - Homewood, AL

$50,000-$99,900 - **** Killen Public Library - Killen, AL

$100,000-$199,900 - **** Rogersville Public Library - Rogersville, AL

$10,000-$49,900 - *** Vincent-Lallouise F. Mcgraw Library - Vincent, AL

November is American Diabetes Awareness Month


November has been designated as American Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Association:

  • Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.
  • Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
  • The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

Type 1 diabetes is overwhelmingly attributed to children and young adults. For this reason, this type of diabetes is often referred to as juvenile diabetes. With this type of diabetes, the body produces no insulin and sufferers have to inject insulin into their bodies to regulate their blood sugar.

Almost everyone that develops Type 2 diabetes develops signs of pre-diabetes beforehand. Pre-diabetes often occurs in the body with no outward showing symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of diabetes. Under this type, the body does not use the insulin in your body correctly. This problem is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when insulin cannot properly allow glucose into your cells in order to make energy for you. As a result, glucose builds up in a person’s blood. Some people can manage their diabetes with lifestyle changes such as weight loss and regular physical activity. Others may need to take and insulin pill or inject insulin in order to control their Type 2 diabetes.

No matter what type of diabetes you need information on, the library offers a variety of titles that you can browse, including the following:

Diabetes A to Z: What You Need to Know about Diabetes—Simply Put
Diabetes and You: A Comprehensive Holistic Approach  
Mayo Clinic: The Essential Diabetes Book 
The Little Diabetes Book You Need to Read  
Juvenile Diabetes  

Pamela Jessie
Woodlawn Branch Library

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Popular Website Started By Nine-Year-Old in 1996 Still Helping Students (and Their Frustrated Parents) with Homework

10-year-old Pinchbeck in the 1997 FamilyPC article "Web Wizards"
Has your child come home with a math problem you don’t remember how to solve? If so, you need to find B.J. Pinchbeck’s Homework Helper page. Homework Helper was started in 1996 by 9-year-old B.J. and his father, back during the early days of the Internet before Google and Wikipedia came along and made finding information much easier. Since then, B.J. has appeared on Good Morning America and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and has been featured on numerous other shows including Martha Stewart's talk show, Martha. Additionally, the Pinchbecks have been featured in USA Today, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and in the magazines Newsweek, People, Family PC, and Pittsburgh Magazine.

I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time working some of my high school algebra. I can go to Pinchbeck's site and find all of the help I could ever need. Pinchbeck started this site when he was in elementary school and it is currently maintained, so this one site can help you and your children until they graduate from college. (College-bound students may find Pinchbeck's College Companion website a valuable resource for choosing the right college and applying for financial aid, and for advice on adjusting to college life.) So, if your children’s homework is getting you down, drop by Homework Helper to stop those homework headaches before they start.

More homework assistance may be found at the Birmingham Public Library's homework help resources page. Included among the list of resources is Homework Alabama (Tutor.com), a service that offers live homework help for grades 4-12 from subject specialists in math, science, social studies, and English, Sunday through Thursday, 3:00-10:00 p.m. Homework Alabama is free for all Alabama residents and is provided by the Alabama Public Library Service.

Lynn Carpenter
Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Edward LaMonte to Sign New Book at Birmingham Public Library


Join us at the Central Library on Sunday, November 15, at 3:00 p.m., for an author talk and book signing by Birmingham historian Edward LaMonte. LaMonte will speak and sign copies of his new book, Change and Continuity: The Administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington, Jr.

In Change and Continuity LaMonte explores this critical time in Birmingham’s history and shares his personal insight as a friend and colleague of both Vann and Arrington. The mayoral administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington Jr. spanned six terms, from 1975 to 1999. During those years Birmingham, Alabama, transitioned from a city dependent on heavy manufacturing, especially iron and to steel, to a city with a more varied economic base focused on finance and healthcare. The city grew physically and changed demographically as many whites left the city and Birmingham became a majority black community.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase for $15. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information contact Jim Baggett, 205-226-3631 or jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Popular Bards & Brews Takes Place November 6 at the Central Library

Voice Porter and the merry crowd at the Eat Drink Read Write Bards & Brews in October

Birmingham Public Library's popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series takes place this Friday, November 6, at the Central Library. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the November event features beer provided by Good People Brewing Co. and Back Forty Beer Co.—The J. Clyde will handle the pouring. This event will feature a special tribute to Alabama's poet laureate, Andrew Glaze.

The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with live music, beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host. The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.

There will be no Bards & Brews in December. The next Bards & Brews will be a poetry slam on January 8. For more information, call 205-226-3670 or email hm@bham.lib.al.us, and visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page or http://www.bplonline.org/programs/BardsBrews.aspx.

Two New Computer Classes: Ancestry.com Library Edition and FamilySearch Wiki

Ancestry.com Logo

November means new computer classes, and these two offerings are for anyone interested in family history or genealogy. Many of you are familiar with Ancestry.com, and patrons have been asking us for years to offer training on this popular website. We heard you, and created a class just for you. Did you know that Birmingham Public Library subscribes to Ancestry.com Library Edition database, and it available to you for FREE at all locations of The Birmingham Public Library? In this class, participants will be introduced to Ancestry.com Library Edition database in which you can research your family history as well as learn how to search this database to locate your ancestors.

FamilySearch Logo

In September, we began teaching Using FamilySearch.org, a free genealogy website that allows you to research your genealogy, and each class has been full of eager patrons. This month, we are exploring FamilySearch even more and teaching a special class on the FamilySearch Wiki. In this class, participants will get a tour of the FamilySearch Wiki, discover a new place to get genealogical research advice, and learn where to find records collections.

Both classes will take place on Tuesday, November 10th in the Regional Learning Computer Center (RLCC) on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley building at Central branch. FamilySearch Wiki will begin at 9:15-10:15 am and will be followed by Ancestry.com Library Edition from 10:45-11:45 am. You can sign up for one or both of these classes. Our November classes include a wide variety of topics including patent basics, downloadable free E-Books/Audio, the hiring process for Jefferson County, and so much more, and you can check the schedule to find a class and time that works for you. Because we offer these classes in the RLCC, space is limited, so please call 205-226-3680 to register. See you soon!

Centuries of Music in Small Packages

Here’s more in a series of music CD standouts from Central Library’s Arts, Literature and Sports department.

Orchestral Works / Maurice Ravel
Decca [1988]

Though, like most people Bolero was the first Ravel music I remember hearing, the piece that overwhelmed me the most when I was young was Ma Mere l’Oye, or Mother Goose. In this enchanting work, Ravel lets the adult into the world of the child again. It’s not children’s music (although many children would probably like it). It’s an evocation of the child’s fantasy world, something that only a very sophisticated and refined adult like Ravel could have written. It never fails to let me into that small door and into that magical world, if only a little, even if I’m driving and listening to it on the radio. The relentless Bolero is also on this set, as is the left hand Piano Concerto and Pavane, a composition that, no many how many times you hear it, summons a regret and sense of loss that is inexhaustible-but that doesn’t make it any the less beautiful. The sound world of Ravel—often characterized by the evanescent and the ungraspable—is masterfully captured here by Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Orchestra.

Orchestral Works Vol. 1 / Claude Debussy
CM EMI Classics, 2006

When you talk about musical Impressionists, you typically mention Ravel and Debussy first. There are other important composers of the era, but the two dominate it. Jean Martinon and the Orchestra National de l’ORTF released two volumes of Debussy’s pieces for orchestra of which this is the first. If you like this set, I won’t have to prod you to listen to the second. The performances here are rich and accomplished throughout. Debussy’s score for La Mer famously makes you feel the seawater’s spray. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun doesn’t just let you observe the mythological setting, it makes you feel it, makes it physical, just as La Mer flings the seawater on you. And yet so much of this is done by means of suggestion, indirect gestures, and oblique strategies. Like Ravel’s compositions, you can never exhaust them, you never tire of them. There’s a mistiness to Debussy’s work, but there’s also deliberate backbone. The music shifts a lot, but it has a resolute structure. It threatens to let harmony and regularity go, but it never quite does.

The Voice of the Sparrow: The Very Best of Edith Piaf
Capitol, 1991

The “little sparrow” might have referred to Edith Piaf’s small size, but it didn’t have anything do with her voice. She had a confident instrument, to say the least, and she could let it rip or, alternately, signal great vulnerability. But then it takes great strength to show such vulnerability. This collection contains what’s probably her most famous song, “La Vie En Rose” and other signature tracks such as “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.” French song is known for emotional restraint, but Piaf usually didn’t go that way. Think the French are standoffish? Listen to Edith. She had a lot of tragedy in her life, she had a big heart and she put that heart out there with no apologies.

I didn’t mean for all this blog to be Gallic-oriented. The next one couldn’t be less French, but it does have something in common with the Impressionists’ indirect approach.

The Art of the Japanese Bamboo Flute
Legacy International, 198-

The Japanese bamboo flute, or shakuhachi, goes back to the 8th century AD. Information on this cd was hard to track down, but it’s a top notch one in terms of music. The record apparently contains performances by two master players and was recorded in the fifties. The recording quality is good but not great, about what you’d expect from a world music record from that time. The performances, however, are astonishing. Much of the music here is from the Zen Buddhist tradition and therefore it is concerned with expressing meditative states of mind, immediate insights and a mode where silence is as important as sound. The shakuhachi is capable of making a very wide range of sounds, from the calm to the fierce. Much of the music here is a great antidote to the stresses of the everyday world, but it isn’t only therapeutic, it’s spiritually profound. And so it does what, for example, New Age music aspires to do but almost never achieves. But then, the shakuhachi players have a centuries-long head start.

Richard Grooms
Government Documents Department

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