Monday, April 28, 2014

Temporary Hours Set for Birmingham Public Library’s Central Location

Due to rising spring temperatures and a broken air conditioning unit at the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location, the library will have reduced hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library’s main air handler. Parts have been ordered. Repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive.

Starting Monday, April 28, the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It will be closed on Sundays. The new hours will not affect the system’s 18 other locations.

“Our patrons and staff have been very understanding as we work through this difficult time,’’ said Angela Fisher Hall, the library system’s associate director. “Our goal is to remain open as long as we can, while keeping our patrons and staff as comfortable as possible. Other city departments are working very closely with us to get the needed repairs completed in a timely manner.’’

To help keep down heat within the building, the access hours to public computers will also be reduced. The public computers will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The free computer classes that are normally offered Monday through Wednesday at the Linn-Henley Research Library have been suspended until further notice. Patrons are encouraged to visit the Five Points West or Springville Road libraries to check out their computer classes. For more information, visit

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Birmingham Botanical Gardens to Host Shakespeare-Inspired Bards & Brews Open Mic Event, May 2

A performance gets judged at April's SLAM! at Vestavia Hills Library.

The Birmingham Public Library’s monthly Bards & Brews poetry performance and beer tasting will be held on Friday, May 2, 2014, at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. The open mic night will feature music by Michael “Loose” Cannon at 6:30 p.m., with poetry starting at 7:00 pm. Cahaba Brewing Company will provide the beer tasting.

The event will celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Guests are encouraged to share their favorite Shakespearean sonnet or lines from his plays, or their own verses inspired by Shakespeare.

Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will emcee the event, which is free and open to the public. Attendees must be 18 years or older to attend, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked.

Also, Birmingham-area student participants in the library's Teen Poetry Initiative will be performing at halftime to raise money and awareness to send a team to the Brave New Voices, International Youth Poetry Slam in Philadelphia in July.

Bards & Brews, which is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around Birmingham. For more information, call 205-226-3670, send emails to,  or visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page.

Heather Lebischak Teaches Couponing Basics at Last MakingCents Program for April

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public.

Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss various stores' coupon policies, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings.

The classes are part of a national grant program known as MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library®, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pratt City Remembers: Special Tornado Anniversary to Be Held Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Pratt City Library will join the Mayor's Office and the City of Birmingham on Saturday, April 26, to commemorate the third anniversary of a 2011 tornado that destroyed homes and buildings in Pratt City.

Rebirth and rebuilding continue in Pratt City as Birmingham prepares to mark the anniversary with music and more at Hibernian Street and Dugan Avenue on April 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Grammy-nominated singer Alvin Garrett will make a special appearance. The event is free.

The Pratt City Library, which was destroyed in the April 27, 2011 tornado but later rebuilt, will have a children's crafts table. The library will also provide free copies of the anthology Voices From the Storm, a collection of literary works inspired by the tornadoes of April 2011 and January 2012. It was written by people of all ages from across Alabama.

Free workshops will also be offered on Saturday.

A continental breakfast will be available at the library at 8:30 a.m.

At 9:00 a.m., Councilor Marcus Lundy, Jr. and HandsOn River Region of Montgomery will host an emergency preparedness workshop. Disaster kits will be given to the first 100. The workshop will address several topics, including what to do when a tornado is spotted in your area, what's the difference between a watch and a warning and how to protect yourself during inclement weather. "We think knowledge is power,'' says Lundy. "As people gain information on disaster preparedness, they should feel empowered.''

At 11:00 a.m., the City of Birmingham, in partnership with Legal Services of Alabama, will present "Preserving the Wealth of Our Communities: Educating the Public on Estate Planning." The importance of wills and trusts will be addressed.

From 12:00 to 1:15 p.m., Legal Services of Alabama will provide free, one-on-one appointments on estate planning. Participants must be a Birmingham resident to qualify for an appointment.

The library, which reopened in February 2014 with a newly added storm shelter, is located at 509 Dugan Ave. The library's phone number is 205-791-4997.

Note: The tornado happened on April 27, 2011. However, the commemoration will be held on April 26, 2014.

The Bard Turns 450!

The venerable bard, William Shakespeare, was baptized on April 25, 1564, traditionally assumed to have been two days after his birth, in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Many of us were introduced to Shakespeare with high school readings of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, or Hamlet. We may have later wandered into A Midsummer Night's Dream, or Othello, or found ourselves enjoying modern retellings of Shakespeare's classic stories through Ten Things I Hate About You or Kiss me Kate (The Taming of the Shrew), My Own Private Idaho (The Henry cycles), She's the Man (Twelfth Night), Forbidden Planet (The Tempest), or West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet). No matter how we were introduced to the Bard, his plays and poetry have become an integral part of literature, culture, and even vocabularies.

While we don't know much about his personal life - that he was married to a woman named Anne Hathaway (no, not that Anne Hathaway) worked as an actor and writer, and had three children - Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith, and died in April of 1616.

Much more of what we know can be gathered from his 40 plays and hundreds of poems most of which were written from 1589-1613.

Shakespeare's plays are typically divided into three categories: Tragedies (such as King Lear and Coriolanus), Histories (Richard II and King John) and Comedies (Twelfth Night and Comedy of Errors). Although his tragedies are very commonly read in schools, the comedies make up the bulk of his plays by number. Two of his longest poems, The Rape of Lucretia and Venus and Adonis, were written from 1592 through 1594 when theaters were closed due to the plague.

Modern English (as opposed to Old or Middle English) had just taken root during Shakespeare's time. This gave the remarkable opportunity for new words enter the language.
Among words coined by Shakespeare:
Addiction: Othello Act 1 Scene 2
Dwindle: Henry IV Part 1 Act 3 Scene 2
Manager: A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 5 Scene 1
Uncomfortable: Romeo and Juliet Act 4 Scene 1
Find more words we owe to William Shakespeare at

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare can also be found online!

Come to the next Bards and Brews at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and share your favorite sonnet or soliloquy!

Learn more about William Shakespeare, his world, and his works at BPL.

The England of William Shakespeare / Michael Justin Davis ; photographs by Simon McBride.
Shakespeare's Heroines on the Stage / by Charles E.L. Wingate.
Will in the World : How Shakespeare became Shakespeare / Stephen Greenblatt.
 How Shakespeare Changed Everything / Stephen Marche.
The Friendly Shakespeare : a Thoroughly Painless Guide / Norrie Epstein.
Shakespeare's Kings : the Great Plays and the History of England / John Julius Norwich.
Reinventing Shakespeare : a Cultural History/ Gary Taylor.
Soul of the Age : a biography of the mind of William Shakespeare / Jonathan Bate.
The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry / edited by Patrick Cheney
Contested Will : Who Wrote Shakespeare? / James Shapiro
Shakespeare after All / Marjorie Garber
Shakespeare : the Invention of the Human / Harold Bloom

Allie Graham
Arts, Literature, Sports
Central Library

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What’s the Scene, Jelly Bean?

April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day, a day to enjoy gobs and gobs of the sweet gummy treat.
While historians can’t exactly say how, when or why Jelly Bean Day began, it is safe to say that individuals have been enjoying jelly beans for over 100 years.

The Turkish Delight, a Middle Eastern sweet made of soft jelly, covered in confectioner’s powder, was an early precursor to today’s jelly bean and its gummy interior. It is believed that the jelly bean first surfaced in 1861 when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged people to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the American Civil War as a morale booster.

One of the most famous jelly bean connoisseurs was United States President Ronald Reagan. A blueberry flavor jelly bean was specially created for his 1981 Presidential Inauguration. Believe it or not, more than 3 tons of jelly beans were eaten during this event! President Reagan was responsible for launching the very first jelly beans into space when he sent a jar to the 1983 Challenger crew as a surprise for the astronauts. President Reagan always kept a jar of jelly beans on his desk in the Oval Office; “We can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around the jar of jelly beans.”

Today, jelly beans are more popular than ever. Each year in the United States there are 16 billion jelly beans manufactured just for Easter. This is enough to circle the Earth more than 3 times if they were laid end to end. According to Jelly Belly, the top manufacturer of jelly beans, Very Cherry remained the most popular flavor of Jelly Beans for two decades until 1998, when Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans world- wide, and that is where it remains.

Suggested reads for our youngest bean-loving patrons:

Arthur's Jelly Beans by Marc Tolon Brown
How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti
Jelly Beans for Sale by Bruce McMillan
Jelly Beans from Start to Finish by Claire Kreger
The Giant Jelly Bean Jar by Marcie Aboff
The Jelly Bean Fun Book by Karen Capucilli

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Friday, April 18, 2014

Audiobook Review: Long Man

Long Man 
Amy Greene
Read by Dale Dickey

Long Man is Amy Greene’s second novel and like the first, Bloodroot, it leaves you wanting her to hurry up and write another. They are not a series, but her stories take place in Appalachia and her characters are finely and richly drawn.

Long Man is also the old name for the river that runs near the town of Yuneetah in East Tennessee, and is the lifeblood of the people who live along and above its banks. The TVA has built a dam and the valley (and town) are set to be flooded to bring electricity to the area. Most of the people are complacent about being relocated to a new place with more fertile land and new job opportunities, but there are a few holdouts. One of the staunchest is the orphaned Annie Clyde Dodson, who is determined that her 3-year-old daughter, Gracie, will grow up on their family farm. She runs off the government men with a shotgun, thus making it difficult to even discuss relocation. Annie’s husband, James, has left to establish a job and home for them up north, but she won’t budge. Even the sympathetic local law officer can’t soften her, though he grew up with her mother and Aunt Silver and has known her for years. Aunt Silver lives alone further up the mountain and she isn’t eager for her only remaining kin to leave either, but she’s not close to Annie. She is close to Amos, a one-eyed drifter who washed up in a flood as a four year old child and was rescued raised by the local granny woman. Now Amos has come back, and no one knows exactly why he’s back in the valley; Annie sees him talking to Gracie by the corn field and is frightened. The day before the town is to be flooded, James comes back to collect his family, but after supper they discover that Gracie is nowhere to be found. The few remaining townspeople search frantically for her while the government man tries to delay the flooding and Silver tries to find and clear Amos.

The writing is clear and beautiful and evokes the spirit of Appalachia during the 1930s, but what made this book perfect for me was Dale Dickey’s narration. Ms. Dickey played Merab, Thump Milton’s woman, in the movie, Winter’s Bone, but she’s probably better known as Patty the Daytime Hooker from the My Name is Earl television show. Her voice and accent are perfect for telling the story of Annie Clyde, Silver, and Amos, just the right amount of Southern with resignation and resilience coming through on every word. Southerners know a fake Southern accent and it can ruin an otherwise fine performance for us, but Ms. Dickey nails it because she knows it. She sings life and truth into Greene’s characters in a way no written word could do and the result is strong and unapologetic. Even if you’re not a fan of audiobooks, give yourself a treat and try this one.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Birmingham Public Library Will Help Spread the Love of Reading to Half a Million People on World Book Night, April 23, 2014

The Birmingham Public Library will be one of 2,300 libraries and bookstores across the nation to distribute free books on Wednesday, April 23, as part of World Book Night 2014. The effort is designed to spread the joy of reading by giving paperback books to light readers or nonreaders.

Organizers are predicting that more than half a million books in nearly 6,000 cities across America will be distributed on World Book Night, which just happens to fall on William Shakespeare’s birthday this year. This is the third year for the campaign in the United States. It started in the United Kingdom in 2011. The Birmingham Public Library is one of three World Book Night distributors in Birmingham.

Forty-seven Birmingham Public Library employees and volunteers have signed up to be book givers at Birmingham-area parks hospitals, nursing homes, and more on April 23. Each volunteer will give out 20 books. Even though it’s called World Book Night, book distributions will happen throughout the day.

“We look forward to meeting new people throughout the community, giving them a book, and inviting them to the Birmingham Public Library,’’ says Janine Langston, a library employee and a World Book Night coordinator in Birmingham. “We are a part of a big party that’s celebrating books.’’

Volunteers could select from more than 30 titles, which include award-winning and bestselling adult and young adult books, as well as the classics. Some of this year’s titles include New York Times Bestselling Author Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale; Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral; and Cheryl Strayed’s New York Times Bestseller Wild, which will soon be made into a major motion picture with actress Reese Witherspoon.

For more information, visit The Twitter hashtag is #WBN2014.

ACHOO! Preparing for Pollen Season

Everybody gear up and pull out those nasal sprays and antihistamines because it’s that time of year again; it’s pollen season! After a dreadful winter, many of us have welcomed spring with open arms, but have to prepare ourselves for yet another one of nature’s contenders, pollen. Though pollen makes a significant contribution to the growth of many plants that many of us appreciate and benefit from in the spring, it poses a challenge to many pollen allergy sufferers. In fact, this particular spring will pose an even bigger challenge since winter exited late leaving everything pollinating at once. According to Alice Park, author of the article "Polar Vortex May Mean Miserable Allergy Season", once the temperatures warm up, pollinating trees will be busy catching up, spewing higher than average amounts of sneeze- and sniffle-inducing allergens into the spring air. So, now the question remains: What do we do to combat pollen allergies? To find out, make a trip to the Birmingham Public Library to check out the books below.

An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases / Moises Velasquez-Manoff

Plants That Make You Sniffle and Sneeze / Carol Lerner

Allergies: Fight Them with the Blood Type Diet: [The Individualized Plan for Treating Environmental and Food Allergies, Chronic Sinus Infections, Asthma, and Related Conditions / by Peter J. D'Adamo with Catherine Whitney

Action Plan for Allergies / William Briner

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Library

Birmingham Public Library Art Exhibit Celebrates Some of the Summer Joys of Childhood

Solstice by Starr Weems

Catching fireflies on a summer night and other childhood pastimes are depicted in paintings by Athens resident Starr Weems at the Birmingham Public Library, now through May 2. The Illuminations in Poured Color exhibit is free and open to the public.

Weems, who teaches art and Spanish to students at Ardmore High School in Limestone County, says some of the best ideas for her paintings come from her two children. “Sometimes, when I see them play, it reminds me of things that I did as a kid, and I incorporate them into my paintings,’’ says Weems. “I have paintings of fireflies in jars, I have one of my little girl blowing bubbles and one of dandelions blowing away.’’

There are 34 pieces in the exhibit, which is located in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery. Most of the pieces are for sale.

“(My) vibrant colors mingle and overlap, creating a magical feeling that reflects my thoughts on spirituality and the enjoyment of life,’’ says Weems. She uses transparent watercolor, poured in layers over masking fluid, to build high contrast images that are bathed in light. One look and you’d think you were floating right along with the dreamlike images.

Note: The exhibit opened in February. Its closing date has been extended to May 2. The library's address is 2100 Park Place. Visit for library hours. For more information, call 205-226-3670.

For more information about Weems, visit her website at

Identity Theft and Financial Concerns for Senior Women Focus of April 21 & 23 MakingCents Programs

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public.

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Monday, April 21, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify its warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Financial Concerns of Senior Women
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Place: Five Points West Library
Because, statistically, women are living longer than men, economic challenges which face older Americans have a greater effect on women. This seminar is designed specifically for senior women who are recently widowed or divorced and handling family finances for the first time. Emphasis will be placed on identifying and describing the variety of savings and retirement vehicles that are available for older women.

Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss various stores coupon policies, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings.

The classes are part of a national grant program known as MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library®, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Using Templates in Excel 2010

Like most Microsoft Office 2010 programs, Microsoft Excel 2010 provides templates, ready assist users in creating and customizing their documents. Users can modify these predesigned samples to suit their needs and purposes. To use one of the installed templates: 
  1. Click the File tab, then click New
  2. You will see available samples in the “Backstage View.” 
  3. Choose your desired template, and download or click Create
  4. Modify the worksheet as desired. 


Registration is now open for staff and the public for the May 2014 Regional Library Computer Center classes. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES. 

Other classes offered are: 
  • Basic PC (Beginner) 
  • Keyboarding (Beginner) 
  • Basic Internet (Beginner) 
  • Internet Searching (Beginner) 
To register for classes, you may: 
  • Visit the Computer Commons department at the Central Library and obtain a copy of the class schedule. 
  • Fill it out and return to a Computer Commons staff. Register online through the RLCC website. Please allow 2 to 4 business days for registration confirmation. 
Space is limited for each class, and registration does not guarantee you a space. If you register for a class, please make all efforts to attend. Repeated “no shows” could affect your registration eligibility for future classes. 

If you register for a class and cannot attend, call Public Computer Services at (205) 226-3680 or 226-3681 as soon as possible. Please pay close attention to the class times. No one will be admitted after 5 minutes past the time class is scheduled to start. Classes are provided by the Birmingham Public Library.