Monday, May 04, 2015

Healthy Eating for Kids

Getting children to eat healthy can seem impossible. Once you’ve accomplished this mission at home, what happens when they’re away from home, especially at school? If daily lunch menus consisted of pizza, fries, and hamburgers, most children would be pleased. Parents should be encouraged because lunch menus have changed drastically. While children may be served the occasional hamburger and cookie as a treat for the week, the goal of school lunches is to encourage kids to make better food choices. Currently, over 90 percent of schools are successfully meeting the new meal nutrition standards. Schools are serving meals with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fat dairy, and are using less sodium and fat. Listed are healthy eating resources to assist parents and children with making better eating choices:

Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun, and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids
Get Your Family Eating Right!: A 30-Day Plan for Teaching Your Kids Healthy Habits for Life
Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family
Trim Kids: The Proven 12-Week Plan That Has Helped Thousands of Children Achieve a Healthier Weight

Sound Recordings
Give Peas a Chance

United States of Agriculture/Healthy Meals Resource System
The Problem with Your Child's School Lunch 
School Lunches-Kids Health
So What Can Parents Do To Encourage Healthy Eating In
Encouraging Children to Eat Healthy-Healthy Child

Eat Healthy/Let’s Move!
Four Tips For Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits Among Kids...

Yolanda Hardy
Smithfield Library

Friday, May 01, 2015

Encores in Store

Once again, I’m going to billboard some of the tried-and-true movies that hold up, decade in, decade out. As usual, an estimate of how many times I've seen each title is at the end of each entry.

Prizzi’s Honor (1985). Director John Huston’s last great film, up there in the pantheon with The African Queen and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The story of two Mafia killers, a man and a woman, who end up in a romantic relationship and who sacrifice all for their careers. Contemporary critics saw this as a yuppie satire, and that’s valid, but the film has long since transcended the Eighties milieu. The killers, played by Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner, handle the black humor admirably and keep you guessing about their real intent, partly because even they don’t know what choices they’re going to make. Angelica Huston, in one of her many brilliant turns, plays the third party in this love triangle, if love triangle it is. And William Hickey, as the old Don Prizzi, is viciously hilarious as a vampiric debt-settler who knows blood has to be paid. Around 5 times.

The Time Machine (1960). H. G. Wells’ staple has been done to death on film, but one version stands way out from a dismal pack. One of my favorite sf films, this one won’t make many critics’ lists of great ones because it lacks the gravitas of 2001 and Blade Runner, but it’s tops as a popcorn movie. “Something for the whole family” doesn’t mean suds here, just a topnotch story, plenty of thrills and trippy visuals. Though not as substantial as the two sf films just mentioned, it does have some deep scenes. One is where the main character, H.G. Wells, watches the decades fly by in his time machine, only to see war after war as if on some demented film loop. The picture of a pacifist in the wilderness is profound in its understatement. So is Wells’ discovery of the lollygagging Eloi’s abandonment of learning. That Wells later teaches the Eloi to fight shows that the film is incoherent in some unavoidable ways, but it’s still a fun ride that makes some lasting points despite itself. Have fun, be prepared to be philosophically disturbed, but don’t pay too much attention. Speaking of fun, the creakily endearing special effects somehow avoid the dated curse that most fx eventially fall prey to. About 10 times, which shows I don’t get hung up about contradictions too much.

 Paper Moon (1973). I’ve already written on our blogsite about the novel by the same name this movie’s based on. The author is Joe David Brown from Birmingham and it’s a corker. The movie is also a pleasure. Starring real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O’Neal as an adult/child (and presumably father/daughter) grifter team during the Depression, it was a deserved hit, and won Tatum O’Neal the Oscar for Supporting Actress even though she had more lines than her dad, who is no slouch and much fun to watch. Madeline Kahn is plain terrific as the treacly, slutty Miss Trixie Delight (last two adjectives perhaps redundant). And the third part of a …not a love triangle, but third part of a MacGuffin that keeps the plot humming along and the humor buoyant. Ripping people off has never been more of a hoot. Roughly 8 times.

Chinatown (1974). This and the last entry are proof that the Seventies really were the Second Golden Age of American film. There has never been a better screenplay in U.S. or world cinema than Robert Towne’s Chinatown. With the current California drought in the news, this story of L.A. water wars is, if anything, more relevant now than it was in 1974. A sort of anti-Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Chinatown was a product of the cynical Seventies of Watergate. But themes of loss and frustration in the face of corruption reveal a film with heart despite itself. Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes tries to set things right and screws up almost everything, which somehow makes his efforts all the more believable. Roman Polanski’s best film to date also stars Faye Dunaway in one of her most indelible roles. Jerry Goldsmith’s score deftly marries lush Hollywood romanticism and avant experimentalism. John Huston as the diabolical Noah Cross exemplifies lived-in evil. James Hong does more with five or six lines than many actors can do with fifty. Every time I see this movie I discover new facets, new details, new undercurrents. Now I’ll stop the hosannas and let you watch. About 10 times.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department / Southern History Department

May is Lupus Awareness Month

When you do a search of chronic illnesses on the Internet, one illness that is commonly left out is Lupus. Lupus is, as defined by “A chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.”

In simple terms, Lupus is a chronic illness where your immune system, which is typically in place to fight off bad things that invade the body, such as viruses and germs, goes haywire and begins to attack your own body. Your immune system can no longer distinguish between good and healthy tissue and antibodies and bad foreign invaders. As a result, it can cause the sick individual to have multiple symptoms and health complications as their body wages war on itself.

Some of the most common symptoms of lupus of Lupus are:

  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Headaches
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
  • Swelling (edema) in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
  • Pain in chest on deep breathing (pleurisy)
  • Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
  • Sun- or light-sensitivity (photosensitivity)
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold (Raynaud’s phenomenon)
  • Mouth or nose ulcers

Lupus is often called a “cruel mystery” because no two people with the illness present with the same symptoms or experience the same issues. No two Lupus patients are alike. While one patient may have internal organ problems, another may only experience the extreme fatigue and swollen joints.

Here’s some quick facts about Lupus and how it affects the population (via

  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.
  • Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.

Lupus is a chronic illness that affects not only the person with the illness, but also those around him/her, such as family and caregivers. During the month of May, the people dedicated to the Lupus fight are encouraged to wear purple. More research needs to be done about this illness so that the quality of life for those involved can be improved.

The Birmingham Public Library has several books that can assist someone wanting to read more about Lupus:
The Lupus Encyclopedia: A Comprehensive Guide fro Patients and Families
Lupus Q&A: Everything You Need to Know
The Lupus Book: A Guide for Patients and Their Families
Coping with Lupus: A Practical Guide to Alleviating the Challenges of Systematic Lupus Erythematosus

For more information about Lupus:
Lupus Foundation of America, Mid-South Chapter (Serves Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama)
4004 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 216-B
Nashville, TN 37215
(615) 298-2273, or toll free at 877-865-8787

Pamela Jessie
Woodlawn Library

Thursday, April 30, 2015

She Walks The Walk for March of Dimes Babies

BPL's March of Dimes team captain, Diana Prince

For the past three years, Diana Prince has made certain Birmingham Public Library (BPL) staff know a thing or two about the March of Dimes. With more than 60,000 new births in Alabama each year, at least 1,800 babies are born with a birth defect and premature births are high. Diana knows this and she puts every bit of effort into raising awareness and raising funds to help. Her willingness to coordinate staff giving is no easy task, yet she puts her heart into it and helps to cultivate funds for a worthy cause.

As a City of Birmingham department, the library continues to rank among the top three departments when it comes to giving. In February, Diana and her library “valentine elves” put together 19 gift baskets for the annual March of Dimes auction. The library’s baskets brought in a total of $1,650, the third highest total among all City of Birmingham departments. The library raised a grand total of $3, 707 this year, $2,437 in 2014, and $2,914 in 2013.

On Saturday, April 25, Diana made certain BPL was represented in the annual walk in Birmingham. With a theme focused on “We Walk Because We Care,” Diana cared enough to finish the two mile walk in record time. She truly walks the walk and talks the talk for the March of Dimes.

Diana Prince works at the Central Library where she serves as receptionist for the Administrative Office. She has been employed by BPL since 2010.

Throw a Party…But Plan a Wedding

A few weeks ago one of my cousins got married. So, I started thinking about the popularity of spring and summer weddings and how much work goes into the planning and execution of a successful wedding ceremony. This in turn, made me think about wedding planners and the job they do. Did you know that there is a certification for wedding planners? Here is a list of resources to help you become a wedding planner or to help you plan your own wedding.

Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette
The Everything Mother of the Bride Book: A survival Guide for Mom
How to Start a Home-Based Wedding Planning Business
The Knot Little Books of Big Wedding Ideas
Plan the Perfect Wedding on a Small Budget
A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration
The Wedding A to Z: Everything You Need to Know—*and Stuff You Never Thought to Ask
Wedding Planning for Dummies
Wedding Planning: The Complete Guide to Wedding Planning
Weddings: From Snapshots to Great Shots

Inside Weddings: Plan Your Wedding from the Dress to the Cake
Martha's Complete Weddings
Martha's Wedding Ideas
Say Yes to the Dress. Season 3: Viewer Favorites

Better Homes and Gardens Weddings – This site has great tips that should enable you to stick to your budget. I really enjoyed the article “15 Secrets from a Wedding Planner.”

little wedding guide - This is a very comprehensive site. Good advice is given about how to choose a dress, should you or shouldn’t you hire a wedding planner, the reception etc… Even though they don’t have a good list of vendors in Alabama, I would definitely use this as a resource for planning a wedding.

mywedding – I found this website to be very interesting. It is free and it has various tools for creating a free wedding website where you can post your wedding pictures, create your registry, and keep a guestbook and contacts. You can also use their wedding check list and budget planner. You can look at their ideas, contact a vendor, and look at honeymoon destinations. I liked the layout of the website. In order to log onto mywedding, you must have Facebook account.

For those of you who are tying the knot or helping someone else do so, I hope these resources enable you plan a wedding to remember.

Maya Jones
West End Library

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event Takes Place May 1 at Central Library

A performer at the April Bards & Brews at Central Library

Birmingham Public Library’s popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series takes place Friday, May 1, 6:30 p.m., at the Central Library. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the open mic May event features beer provided by Straight to Ale of Huntsville—The J. Clyde will handle the pouring. 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.

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 our host.

The June Bards & Brews will be an Open Mic on June 5 at the Avondale Regional Library. For more information call 205-226-3670, email, or visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Southern History Department's Book of the Month: Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun

Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun
By Tim Hollis

Now that spring has come and summer is approaching, some of us who are “of a certain age” generally indulge in a few moments of nostalgia about family vacations. Remember getting up at 3:00 a.m. for the long drive in the cool of the night? The only air conditioning in the car was the good old 4-60 system: four windows rolled down at sixty miles an hour. Come to think of it, a lot of the cars didn’t have seat belts, either. Heaven knows how we lived to grow up. We kids stood on the seats and climbed around in the car, craning our necks to see roadside attractions like the giant dinosaur at a Sinclair Oil service station, the teepees of a Wigwam Village Motel—“Travel the Wigwam Way”—or yet another barn roof encouraging us to See Rock City. On some of the older state highways you might even spot the remains of a Burma-Shave sign.

Tim Hollis has captured all the nostalgia of the pre-Interstate Highway era in Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun. Hollis begins with a chapter exploring the origins of the Deep South as a vacation spot, before the automobile even existed as the travel vehicle of choice:
 . . . it was actually the railroad, not the automobile, that first established the South as a popular vacation destination. The 1880s saw many of the era’s Northern millionaires discovering that the South was a comparatively warm and balmy alternative to shivering away the winter months in their frozen native habitat . . . When the automobile came down the road in the early years of the twentieth century, all of a sudden highway travel became something of a fad.
It is this fad with all its manifestations, from the ludicrous to the lovely, that Hollis examines with deep affection and a refreshing lack of condescension. As he notes, the driving force behind many of the roadside attractions was money, but the alligator farms, amusement parks, museums of oddities—remember Ripley’s Believe It or Not?—themed restaurants and giant neon signs left those of us who grew up traveling in that era with memories that money just can’t buy. If there’s any downside to this book, it’s that it may cause you to sigh and shake your head, sorry that those days are gone and troubled by a craving for some Stuckey’s candy. Fortunately, Stuckey’s is still with us. As for all the tourist spots that no longer exist save as fond memories, we can still revisit them in Dixie Before Disney. Thanks, Tim.

For more nostalgia:
Birmingham Rewound

U.S. Highways

Gulf Shores (pre-condo era)

Fifties Web (Take a look at Vintage Cars for some serious tailfins and chrome)

Florida Past

Mary Anne Ellis
Southern History Department

Downloadable eBook and Audiobook Workshop at Wylam Library

Wylam Library is hosting the "Downloadable eBook and Audiobook Workshop" on May 13 at 10:00 a.m. Kathy Burts from the Central Library will be helping us demonstrate how easy it is to download eBooks and audiobooks using OverDrive. If you have a tablet or other device, bring it.  If you have been thinking about purchasing a device, we will be happy to answer your questions and help you select what will best suit your needs.  Call 785-0349 for more information.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yay for Art!

Birmingham Museum of Art's artist-in-residence,
Toby Richardson

I always get excited when kids are offered an opportunity to express themselves artistically. Kids benefit from art in so many ways.

On Tuesday, May 5, at 4:00 p.m., Toby Richards from the Birmingham Museum of Art will visit North Avondale Library to talk about different types of art. Kids will spend time learning and will get the chance to create an art project directed by Richardson.

Hey kids, join us and let’s have some fun at the library!

Saundra Ross
North Avondale Library

Monday, April 27, 2015

Beach Reads

With all these April showers, it's probably hard to think about going to the beach.  Before you know it, though, you'll wake up, and it will be Memorial Day.  Publishers know this, so they are releasing new titles for you to enjoy as you lounge on the beach.  Many authors who are known for their summer-themed novels have new books coming out in May.  Get the sunscreen, the cooler, and the bathing suits ready so you can relax with these beach reads.  Title descriptions are from the publisher.

Beach Town by Mary Kay AndrewsBeach Town  by Mary Kay Andrews  (5/19)
Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. Now Greer has been given one more chance. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who's seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company ... and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.

The Summer's End by Mary Alice Monroe
The Summer's End  by Mary Alice Monroe  (5/19)
It is summer’s end and Sea Breeze, the family’s beloved estate on Sullivan’s Island, must be sold. It is an emotional time of transition as Mamaw and the three sisters each must face loss and find a new place in the world.  Harper, the youngest sister, arrived at Sea Breeze intending to stay only a weekend, but a rift with her wealthy, influential mother left her without direction or a home. During this remarkable summer, free from her mother’s tyranny and with the help of her half sisters, Harper discovered her talents and independent spirit.  But summer is ending, and the fate of Sea Breeze hinges on Harper’s courage to decide the course of her own life. To do so she must release her insecurities and recognize her newfound strengths.

The Rocks by Peter Nichols
The Rocks  by Peter Nichols  (5/26)
Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.

The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer
The Guest Cottage  by Nancy Thayer  (5/12)
Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. When her husband announces that he’s leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what’s next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket, Sophie rounds up her kids and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one.  Also minus one is Trevor Black, who has recently lost his wife.  Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with his son, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island.  When Sophie and Trevor realize they’ve mistakenly rented the same house, the two agree to share the house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.

What Should I Read Next?

I am a Youth Librarian for the Birmingham Public Library and I love my job! While my work holds lots of exciting challenges, one of the special perks is reading the new books that are added to the collection. We are five months into 2015 and it is already promising to be a notable year in the world of children’s book publishing. Here are just a few of my personal favorites, so far:

This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne – When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right.

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman – When her parents find a baby wolf on their doorstep and decide to raise him as their own, Dot is certain he will eat them all up until a surprising encounter with a bear brings them closer together.

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton – Four friends creep through the woods, and what do they spot? An exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie,” waves one. “Shh! We have a plan,” hush the others. They stealthily make their advance, nets in the air. Ready one, ready two, ready three, and go! But as one comically foiled plan follows another, it soon becomes clear that their quiet, observant companion, hand outstretched, has a far better idea.

I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty – A frog who yearns to be any animal that’s cute and warm discovers that being wet, slimy, and full of bugs has its advantages.

Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale – The houses of all Three (not so) Little Pigs were broken into and ransacked, and the Pigs are squealing for justice. So Prince Tyrone, ruler of Fairylandia, drags in the obvious suspect: Wolfgang. The lone wolf has big teeth, sharp claws, no alibi – and a single day to find the real culprit and clear his big bad name. When Wolf (reluctantly) teams up with the fourth Little Pig to crack the case, the Big Bad Detective Agency – and an adventure way funnier than your average fairy tale- is born!

Still looking for more good reads? Drop by the Avondale Library Youth Department for additional installments of “What Should I Read Next.”

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Helping a Patron With an Auto Repair Question

This question concerned an Oldsmobile 307 engine which was in a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne. My patron needed to know which way the horseshoe-shaped piston was supposed to be inserted—with the bottom of the horseshoe pointing up or pointing down. Of course, I immediately went to the ChiltonLibrary in the databases, but the diagram that came up showed a round piston. We went to Google Images and found a picture that showed him exactly what he needed to know.

I've found that when a schematic or diagram for any kind of engine (especially small engines that aren't covered in Chilton) is wanted, Google Images can be a great tool for finding it. Had this failed, I would have tried to do a search through one or more of the Oldsmobile online forums to see if this question had been addressed by someone previously.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library