Sunday, April 21, 2019

BPL Closed for Good Friday/Easter April 19–21

All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, in observance of Good Friday and Easter.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Have a Plan

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Are you prepared for a disaster? Emergencies, whether natural or man-made, are occurrences that will affect millions of people each year. Therefore, it is imperative that you are aware of disasters that are most likely to affect your area. It is also even more important that you have a plan of action.

Tornadoes are common natural disasters in our state and have overwhelming effects such as power outages. Are you prepared to be without power for days? How will you keep in touch with others if phone services and internet services are disabled? There is also the possibility of injuries and damage to property. Our first instinct is to panic in these situations. However, just a bit of preparation will make a difficult situation a little easier to manage. Statistics show that disaster survivors will typically have to wait up to 72 hours for help to arrive. To this end, it is crucial to be prepared and have the ability to be self-sustaining for the first 72 hours after the disaster.

The American Red Cross has been in the emergency response business since 1881 and provides emergency assistance, disaster relief, and disaster preparedness education. According to their website, they respond to an emergency every eight minutes and 90% of the disasters that they respond to are home fires. Fires are fast and can engulf a home minutes. What is your fire escape plan? Do you have smoke detectors and are they working properly? The need to plan is real.

A representative from the American Red Cross will be presenting a disaster preparedness session at Wylam Branch Library on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. Forms will be available on that day for Wylam residents to complete in order to receive free smoke detectors. These smoke detectors will be installed in Wylam homes by the fire department. There will also be a drawing for a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather radio. Come out and get some productive information that you can use to assist you in having a well-prepared emergency plan.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Artist Erin Mitchell Talks about Her New Exhibit at the Central Library

Erin LeAnn Mitchell, Birmingham artist

What: Keep Looking Beautiful art exhibit
When: April 16 through June 7, 2019
Where: Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery
Details: Keep Looking Beautiful showcases artwork by Erin LeAnn Mitchell. The exhibit is open to the public during Central Library operating hours. Click here for more information

Birmingham artist Erin LeAnn Mitchell's art work has gained worldwide exposure from being featured on the hit Fox television series Empire along with being commissioned to do a portrait of Birmingham activist Dr. Angela Davis. 

Now, visitors to the Central Library can see Mitchell’s paintings up close, on display in Keep Looking Beautiful, a new art exhibit that opened Tuesday, April 16, in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery.

In an interview with BPL, Mitchell talked about what inspires her work and shares advice for other young artists.

BPL: Describe your artwork style 
Mitchell: I'm most inspired by Kerry James Marshall (Birmingham native), Mickalene Thomas, and Jacob Lawrence. I'd say my style is a mix of the three

BPL: What inspired your Keep Looking Beautiful art exhibit? 
Mitchell: Keep Looking Beautiful is a revival of a project I started in college during my transition to natural hair. The slogan became my motto for combating self-doubt and insecurity and has since evolved into various aspects of black womanhood.

BPL: How old were you when you decided on art as a career?
Mitchell: 29. Art is all I've ever been invested in but it wasn't until the eve of my 30s that I decided to make a plan, take a leap of faith and use all I'd learned to be a full time artist.

BPL: Describe the excitement of out of all artists out there you were commissioned to do portrait for Dr. Angela Davis that was unveiled Feb. 16 during her event in Birmingham. 
Mitchell: I was very honored to be chosen to present Dr. Davis with my work as her award for her humanitarian achievements. My goal upon returning home was to make impactful work specifically for the city of Birmingham and it was very serendipitous that this opportunity presented itself.

BPL: What it was like to meet her at the “A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis” event? 
Mitchell: Up until the Feb 16 event, I had only known of Dr. Davis through history books and photos so it was very surreal to be standing next to such a prominent figure and experiencing her wisdom. It was an empowering moment as a black female artist and native of Birmingham, to show my gratitude to Dr. Davis through my artistic vision and to see it be showcased.

BPL: Any advice for other young artists on how to fulfill their dreams? 
Mitchell: Persistence is key. Manifestation is real.

Study your craft, you can always learn more.

Use the Internet wisely: make connections.

Showcase your work even if things aren't perfect, the process is part of the journey and you never know who's watching.

BPL Board of Trustees May 14 Meeting to be Held at Five Points West Library

The Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees will hold its next board meeting at the Five Points West Regional Library at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

The board normally meets in the fourth floor Board Room of the Central Library on the second Tuesday every month. The May meeting at Five Points West Library will kick off its 2019 Community Library Tour of locations across the city of Birmingham, said BPL Executive Director Floyd Council.

"On behalf of the board members, we are taking the meetings to a few different locations to better engage the community,” said BPL Executive Director Floyd Council.

A schedule will be released later this year about other libraries that will host BPL Board of Trustees meetings as part of the 2019 Community Library Tour. The public is invited to attend each BPL board meeting.

Fight Cognitive Decline at Your Library

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

As an adult librarian, I have the opportunity to interact daily with many patrons, some of whom are enjoying the autumns of their lives. One thing I have noticed in this population is an ever-growing interest in mental acuity. Whether they are worried about their own minds or are caretaking either a spouse, parents, or sibling, the requests for information on what they can do to stave off memory loss and delay Alzheimer’s or dementia are ongoing.

In developing our adult collection at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library, I have tried to stay current on research that deals with this problem, and one of the facts I recently learned was contrary to what I’d learned as a psychology undergrad at UAB in the '80s, human beings continue to develop neurons in our brains our entire lives! The old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” is wrong. We continue to learn, it just requires more of an effort as we age—but it’s got a great payoff.

Research indicates that exercise and a good diet (especially containing omega-3 oils) helps to form a protein that promotes neurogenesis. The catch is that if you don’t actively stimulate those neurons, they die. If you do, they integrate into your brain and help to fight cognitive decline!
So, we exercise. We eat right. Then we actively engage our brains in learning something that we’ve never done before, like reading up on a new topic, learning a new language, or learning to play a musical instrument. If we produce the protein (BDNF—brain-derived neurotropic factor) and challenge our brains, evidence suggests that we can stay mentally sharper longer in our lives. There are so many ways to engage and use your brain; and if you find some like-minded people to learn with, you’ll increase your socialization, too.

At the Springville Road Library, we offer Brain Jam (the next class is April 30 at 1:00 p.m.). We have fun, learn a little about music and different instruments, sing, dance, and make new friends. Don’t worry if you don’t have an instrument, know nothing about music, and can’t carry a tune in a bucket. We have simple instruments and you can help keep the beat on tambourine or rhythm sticks or hum through a kazoo. At the very least you can practice and share your dance moves! I don’t know about you, but a few years, months, or even weeks that I can hang onto my mind would be well worth a little exercise and energy.

But don’t take my word for it. Do a little research on your own and see if you find that being interested in something and spending a little time reading up on it gives you the incentive to take a walk, eat some fish, and attend a program at your local library.

Here are a few items you might want to “check out”:

The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity by Norman Doidge, M.D.
Calm Clarity: How to Use Science to Rewire Your Brain for Greater Wisdom, Fulfillment, and Joy by Due Quach
The Mind and the brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey M. Schwartz and Sharon Begley
The Power of Neuroplasticity [electronic resource] by Shad Helmstetter
My Plastic Brain: One Woman's Yearlong Journey to Discover If Science Can Improve Her Mind by Caroline Williams
Reclaim Your Brain: How to Calm Your Thoughts, Heal Your Mind, and Bring Your Life Back Under Control by Joseph A. Annibali
Real Happy Pill: Power Up Your Brain by Moving Your Body by Anders Hansen

You can also check out an immersive learning experience through the great courses that are available through the library in DVD, audiobook, and streaming through Hoopla. Here’s just a few of the selections (there are hundreds available):

Understanding Nonverbal Communication by Mark G. Frank
The Barbarian Empires of the Steppes by Kenneth W. Harl
Ancient Civilizations of North America by Edwin Barnhart
12 Essential Scientific Concepts by Indre Viskontas
Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience by Professor Indre Viskontas

You've got a lot to learn, and the good news is that with a little effort, you can learn longer. So, get on it, Fido and Fiddette! Get with the new tricks already!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

BPL to Appear at Summer Learning Expo April 27 at Birmingham Crossplex

What: 2019 Summer Fun and Learning Expo at the Birmingham Crossplex.
When: Saturday, April 27, 2019, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Where: Bill Harris Arena at the Birmingham Crossplex
Details: This free event , open to families and students in grades K-12, will feature representatives from the Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Division of Youth Services, Birmingham City Schools, and Birmingham Park and Recreation Department. Come pick up information about academic and recreational opportunities available to keep students excited about learning during the summer break.

Want to learn about hundreds of free programs available for families and students across the City of Birmingham during the 2019 summer break?

Then make plans now to join the Birmingham Public LibraryBirmingham Division of Youth Services, Birmingham City Schools, and the Birmingham Park and Recreation Department on Saturday, April 27, 2019 for the 2019 Summer Fun and Learning Expo at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Representatives from BPL, DYS, the city park and recreation department and city schools will have staff at booths available to answer questions and share information about resources and programs taking place this summer.

This free event is open to families and parents/guardians of students in grades K-12 in Birmingham. Attendees will receive information about exciting academic and recreational opportunities to keep students engaged and excited about learning during the summer.

Root: A Board Game of Cute Woodland Creatures...and Murder!

by Vincent Solfronk, Eastwood Branch Library

The board game Root, designed by Cole Wehrle and produced by Leder Games, is an asymmetrical game where players control certain animal factions who try to dominate a woodland area. Reminiscent of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series of fantasy books, players can play the Marquis de Cats, a cat faction that currently rule the woods, or the Eyrie Dynasties, birds who used to be the rulers but who now plot to re-establish their kingdom. Then there is the Woodland Alliance, a group of bunnies, foxes and mice who want to infiltrate and take over. Last there is the Vagabond, a wandering adventurer who creates alliances with the other factions and adventures around the game board, with a bit of assassination.

Being asymmetrical, each faction has their own agendas, abilities, and unique style. Do not let their cute demeanor fool you, this is a game of conquest and combat! Recently awarded game of the year by BoardGameGeek, along with other awards, Root is a complex, beautiful, and intriguing game that has won many fans worldwide. Come by the Eastwood and Hoover Libraries to check it out along with other board games!

2019 Pulitzer Prize Book Winners

On April 15 the Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists for 2019 were announced via livestream at Columbia University. The winners receive $15,000 along with the lifelong honor of being a "Pulitzer Prize winner." The Pulitzers are divided into two categories: Journalism and Letters, Drama & Music. Here are the winners in the Letters, Drama & Music category:

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: The Overstory by Richard Powers
The Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction: Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America by Eliza Griswold
The Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury
The Pulitzer Prize for History: Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight
The Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography or Biography: The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke by Jeffrey C. Stewart
The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Be With by Forrest Gander

Aretha Franklin received a Special Award for her "indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades."

For a full list of the winners and finalists, visit The Pulitzer Prizes official website.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Happy 103rd Birthday, Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary and...could it be...the muse for her
beloved book Socks

Today is author Beverly Cleary's 103rd birthday! As a lifelong fan of Beverly Cleary's books for children and teens, I think Cleary should be celebrated all the other 364 days of the year too. She's just that good!

I first came across Beverly Cleary's name on the Scholastic book order form in elementary school in the seventies. For this shy book lover, marking the books I wanted was the anticipated highlight of my school year, only topped by them actually arriving on my desk in a stack to take home and devour. The first book I ever ordered was Cleary's Ramona the Pest, my favorite childhood book to this day.

Oh, it's true that authors of children's and teen books have tackled some increasingly tough subject matter over the decades since Cleary stopped writing—rape, murder, drug addiction, racism, LGBTQ themes—but some may have forgotten that it wasn't always rainbows and lollipops for Cleary's characters either, and the author beautifully balanced childhood wonder and innocence with some stark subjects of the day for children's lit—bullying, divorce, unemployment, the stress of two-working-parent households, anger issues, sibling rivalry. I mean, Ramona's cat Picky-Picky dies in Ramona Forever, for Pete's sake! While she and Beezus were home after school...alone.

Discover the world of Beverly Cleary for the first time (or books about her), or, if you're getting on up there like I am, take a stroll through memory lane by re-reading some of her books. See what's available on the JCLC catalog.

Bob Doonan Retiring After 49 Years at BPL

                                                           Robert "Bob" Doonan

Robert "Bob" Doonan has spent five decades at the Birmingham Public Library since he began working on Jan. 1, 1970, as a part-time page.

 He has been a full-time employee at BPL over 42 years since Feb. 28, 1977, when he was promoted to be an assistant resource center specialist.

Effective this Friday, April 12, Doonan, currently a Network System Administrator I in the Information Technology Department, is retiring after 49 years at BPL.

 Doonan said he has enjoyed the many friendships built with employees who he has helped better serve patrons thanks to his computer expertise.

On Tuesday, April 9, as part of the City of Birmingham's Library Appreciation Day program at the Boutwell Auditorium, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin publicly thanked Doonan for his many years of service to the citizens of Birmingham.

BPL employees will hold a retirement celebration event for Doonan on Friday, April 12, his last day.

Keep Looking Beautiful Exhibit Opens April 16 at the Central Library

The Central Library Fourth Floor Gallery is opening a new art exhibit featuring works by a Birmingham artist who recently presented activist Dr. Angela Davis with a commissioned portrait during the activist's appearance in Birmingham at "A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis" on February 16.

 Artist Erin LeAnn Mitchell
The new exhibit, Keep Looking Beautiful, will showcase paintings by Erin LeAnn Mitchell. It opens on April 16, 2019, on the Central Library's fourth floor, and will be accessible to the public during library operating hours.

A self-described interdisciplinary artist, Mitchell's work draws from Western art history, pop art and visual culture to examine ideas around femininity, beauty, and race.

Mitchell received a Bachelor's in Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011 and a Master's in Art Education from Columbia College in Chicago in 2016.

Mitchell has had her work featured on the television series "Empire" and was selected to do a commissioned portrait of Dr. Angela Davis highlighting her humanitarian achievements. Mitchell presented the portrait to Dr. Davis during an event held in her honor at the Boutwell Auditorium on Feb. 16. 

Mitchell is currently preparing for her solo show in New York at Kravets & Wehby gallery this fall.

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