Thursday, December 20, 2007

So Easy A Caveman Can Do It

Thagg knows reserving, by placing a hold, is the fastest way to get the library material he wants. Using his library card, he can place a hold on almost any book, DVD, music CD or audio book the library has. Even soon to be released titles can be reserved.

You too can place a hold on library materials. Try it. Click here.
No card? Check this out!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Resolve Your Technology Woes

Man and Camera
Do you have a digital camera, but have no idea how to use it?

Does sharing online videos sound interesting?

Curious about Blogs, Wikis, IM, and other Web 2.0 stuff?

Not sure how do you turn a computer on?

Let us help.

Plan now to kick start the New Year with a free technology class at your library. Our new slate of class offerings will answer these and many other common technology questions.

Classes begin on Saturday January 5, 2008

Basic PC @ Springville Road and Central Library - RLCC

Digital Cameras and Online Photo Sharing @ Five Points West

Click here for a full listing of Computer Classes

Space is limited. Please call the location hosting the class to register.

Photo Credit:Dhammza

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas, Kwanzza and New Year's Day Resources

black-eyed peas photograph by Ranjit Bhatnagar
Have you ever wondered how to best capture the beauty of Christmas lights through your camera lens? Are you curious about the seven principles of Kwanzaa? Or, are you interested in finding out about the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day? You can find all the answers to these questions and more through resources compiled by BPL librarians.
New Year's Day

photograph by Ranjit Bhatnagar

Holiday Hours

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed December 24-25 and January 1.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Movie Review: Hot Fuzz

hot fuzz dvd coverI can’t recommend this British comedy enough. I was comatose from the desperate muggings for laughs by Will Ferrell, Jim Carrey, et al. until Hot Fuzz's mixture of humor and shoot-em-up action jumpstarted my comedy-loving heart.

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is a by-the-books decorated officer in a London police department who is promoted to sergeant against his will and reassigned to the village of Sandford. The reason for the transfer? His arrest record is 400% higher than any other. He does his job so well that he makes the others look bad.

Sandford's force—which consists of a rotund simpleton, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost); his father, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent); two smarmy mustachios named the Andies; a tart; an elderly mumbler; a clueless man; and the head of the Neighborhood Watch Association (Edward Woodward)—is even more inept than Angel thought it would be. Nothing is taken seriously. Like how they all benefit from Danny's blunders because he has to buy them cake and ice cream every time he screws up.

Angel soon becomes bored chasing down Mr. P. I. Staker’s MIA swan and throwing pimply-faced teenagers out of the pub, but life takes an interesting turn when the villagers start meeting with suspicious accidents. There hasn’t been a murder in the village in 20 years, but the accidents are off the charts.

Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman is an ice-cream-slurping teddy bear, and his attempts to make his job as an officer live up to the Hollywood hype of his beloved collection of buddy cop movies is endearing.

As they cruise the beat, he irritates Angel with questions about his adventures patrolling the streets of London: “You ever fired two guns whilst jumping through the air?” “You ever fired one gun whilst jumping through the air?” “Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled 'aaaaah!'?" Angel’s answer is always an exasperated no, until he finds himself dodging fireballs, pulling out The Twins for a village showdown, and firing two guns whilst jumping through the air, bringing every buddy cop cliché to life.

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Celebrate the Chinese New Year at the Movies

year of the rat image
The Birmingham Public Library will show two acclaimed Chinese films in conjunction with the community-wide Chinese New Year Festival celebrations. Get ready to ring in the Year of the Rat with this cinematic immersion in Chinese culture!

chungking dvd cover
Chungking Express
Saturday, January 12
2:00 p.m.

From popular Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai comes this 1994 film about two policemen and their romantic woes.

"As playfully kinetic as it is utterly unclassifiable. Manic, cool and fantastically cosmopolitan..." The Village Voice

in the mood for love dvd coverIn the Mood for Love
Saturday, January 26
2:00 p.m.

This film directed by Wong Kar-Wai is a visually lush, languid tale of unfulfilled longing set in the 1960s Hong Kong. A man and a woman move in to neighboring apartments and form a bond when they both suspect their spouses of having extra-marital affairs.

"This may be one of the swooniest movies ever made about love and it luxuriates in its tailspin." The New York Times


Both movies will be shown in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Hinley Research Library, 2100 Park Place. There is no charge for these programs. The library provides refreshments. For additional information call 226-3604.

2007's Season's Readings Is Hot Off the Press!

Book jackets of books reviewed
The 2007 edition of Season's Readings is here. In this year's publication, Birmingham Public Library staff members have reviewed a variety of books covering many of the genres that BPL offers, from children's books to adult and teen books, including both fiction and nonfiction. Look for a copy at your local Birmingham Public Library

In addition to this beautiful print collection, a few of the Season's Readings reviewers recorded their reviews as podcasts which we're offering below. Click on the title of the book to listen to the review. The Birmingham Public Library wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

Larry, The King of Rock and Roll by Iris Rainer Dart and Joyce Brotman (reviewed by Lynn Carpenter)

Alabama in the Twentieth Century by Wayne Flynt (reviewed by Yvonne Crumpler)

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell (reviewed by Kelly Laney)

The United States of Arugula : how we became a gourmet nation by David Kamp(reviewed by Kelsey Bates)

The Return of Buddy Bush by Sheila P. Moses (reviewed by Barbara Sirmans)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (reviewed by Kelsey Bates)

Queen of the Scene by Queen Latifah (reviewed by Felita Yarbrough)

Boomsday by Christopher Buckley (reviewed by Kelly Laney)

Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts (reviewed by Felita Yarbrough)

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson (reviewed by Barbara Sirmans)

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (reviewed by Pam Lyons)

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (reviewed by Lynn Carpenter)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Red Mountain Theatre Company to Perform at Springville Road Library

simple gifts logo
Bringing you the best of Red Mountain Theatre's original holiday productions, Simple Gifts pays tribute to past classics, highlights new performances and combines their greatest musical moments into one delightful treat! Enjoy your favorite holiday hits in this cheerful celebration that is sure to spread the humor and heart of the season.

Get wrapped up in the holidays!


Where: Springville Road Library
When: Monday, December 17
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Alabama Shakespeare Festival's Peter Pan Contest

ASF peter pan image
From the creative team that brought the critically acclaimed blockbuster Disney’s Beauty and The Beast to ASF comes the musical spectacular Peter Pan! Join Peter, Wendy, and Tinker Bell on an enchanted flight to Neverland where they join the Lost Boys and take on the dreaded Captain Hook. This amazing production features classic songs including “I’m Flying,” “Pirate Song,” “I Won’t Grow Up,” “I’ve Got to Crow,” and many more.

Visit any Birmingham Public Library to enter ASF's Peter Pan contest. A drawing will be held for an overnight stay in Montgomery and tickets to a showing of Peter Pan. The contest will run through Friday, December 14.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Harry Potter Series- An Alternative Approach

Harry Potter Books photo by Alberto Alvarez-Perea creative commons photo courtesy of Alberto Alvarez-Perea
  • 2007 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

    Author - J. K. Rowling

    My wife and I planned a trip recently where we would spend between 25 and 30 hours driving in our car. We both enjoy listening to audio books but our tastes and interests are different. I enjoy books on politics, biographies, military history, true crime, and legal thrillers. She is more likely to enjoy suspense and mystery novels, books on metaphysics spirituality, and romance. What were we to do? We asked the advice of our son, Samuel, who works at the Springville Road Branch of the Birmingham Public Library and he suggested Harry Potter audio books. We were skeptical but he checked out the first three books for us and we took them on the trip. We both had seen all of the Harry Potter movies but did not comprehend the complex plots devised by J. K. Rowling. We saw the movies out of curiosity concerning all of the media hype. After listening to the books, we became Harry Potter fans.

    For me the books were fun because they contain all of my favorite types of reading. There was the politics of the Ministry of Magic and the meeting of the Minister of the wizarding community with the muggle (non-wizard) Prime Minister. The stories were biographical because we learned the pedigree of Harry Potter and other characters. Also, they were comparable to military history because of the war between the Dark Lord and the Order of the Phoenix. There was true crime due to the mischief and murders caused by the Death Eaters. And there were even elements of a legal thriller as Harry was put on trial for performing under-age sorcery outside of wizard school. My wife, Pat, enjoyed the suspense, the thrills, and the fantasy elements, the supernatural features, and the romantic interplay hinted at between certain characters.

    The audio books were all unabridged and they were very well read by the narrator. Although reading is not how I would describe this listening adventure. These books were performed by Jim Dale. He was masterful in creating the voice of each character, whether male or female, wizard or human, elf or giant, and so on. Each character came to life
    through Dale’s portrayal of a unique voice. He was perfect for the narrator’s role as he has won a Grammy Award, a Tony Award, three Audie Awards, and he has an Academy Award nomination.

    Another highlight for us was to go back and view each movie - five have been produced to date - immediately after listening to the audio book. The movies now made sense. The characters were clearer. We understood the background and the complicated plot created by the author.

    The Harry Potter septology was written in the decade of 1997 through 2007. It has proved to be a publishing phenomenon. But to the busy person or the person who feels they cannot commit the time to reading very long books, our alternative of listening to the books and then viewing DVD’s was terrific. And best of all, each media version is available at the libraries of Jefferson County.

    Samuel A. Rumore, Jr.
    Trustee, Birmingham Library Board

TELL ME MORE® Replaces Rosetta Stone

Tell Me More Language Learning Software Logo
With Rosetta Stone's business decision to no longer allow public libraries to subscribe to their online products, the Jefferson County Library Cooperative has found another product for online language learning.

TELL ME MORE® Online is the name of the new product and we're thrilled about it. TELL ME MORE is also called Auralog.

Currently, TELL ME MORE offers German, American English, Dutch, Spanish, French, Italian, Spanish (Latin America).

Here are a few of the many features that TELL ME MORE Online has:

• Up to 2,000 lesson hours per language

• Up to 10,000 exercises

• Grammar explanations classified by level and category

• An audio-glossary including up to 10,000 words classified by level and category

• Advanced speech recognition technology that recognizes and analyzes pronunciation.

• Placement test to determine your language level

• Progress Test

• Language Achievement Test at the end of the language learning program to rank the patron in comparison to the major standardized tests on the market: Council of Europe, TOEIC, TOEFL…

Select TELL ME MORE from the library's databases. For your first visit, you must register (which is free if you have a Jefferson County library card).

Auralog/TELL ME MORE Online language program is only compatible with Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call the library at 226-3600.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Learn Bargainomics

20000 Dollars This time of year we spend! According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans expect to spend an average of $866 on gifts this holiday season. Why not learn some tricks to save a few bucks?
The Gospel Truth About Money Management

Join us as local author Judy Bates, the "Bargainomics" lady, shows us how to make every dollar count.

Five Points West Library
Monday December 10, 2007
5:00-6:00 PM

"$20,000" Image courtesy of Johnny Vulkan

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Relive Radio's Golden Age Dec. 5 at Central

Turning On Alabama exhibitWednesday, December 5, Dave Cisco, Dee Haynes and members of the Alabama Historic Radio Society share tales of how radio came to be as well as the historic equipment and programs Society members have collected and restored. The program is a part of Central's Brown Bag Lunch Series and will be held in the Arrington Auditorium at 12 p.m. It is offered in association with Turning On Alabama, an exhibition of photographs and artifacts from the collections of the Society and Alabama Power Company on display at Central's Library Gallery, November 4 to December 30.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

North Birmingham Library Closes For Renovation

North Birmingham Library will be closed for approximately three weeks beginning at the close of business on Wed., Nov. 21, 2007, for a renovation project.

We apologize for any inconvenience but we trust that you will be pleased with the improvement.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

East Ensley Closes for Repairs

The East Ensley Branch of the Birmingham Public Library will close November 16 for repairs to the roof.

Please visit one of our other locations for your information and entertainment needs.

BPL@Night Presents the Get Rhythm Experience

john scalici photo
For the December edition of BPL@Night, the Birmingham Public Library presents the Get Rhythm Experience, presented by seasoned performer John Scalici. Mr. Scalici was born to drum. He helped found two nationally touring bands, Gravy and junkyardmen. Blues Revue and Blues Access Magazine called junkyardmen one of the best live blues bands in the country.

For the Get Rhythm Experience at BPL@Night, John Scalici will be accompanied by Daniel Long, Christopher Johnson, Jay Burnham, Justin Wallace, and Sans Pointe Dance Company.

The Get Rhythm Experience is a collaboration of drummers, percussionists and dancers. The group was created by Scalici, who is a drum circle facilitator, musician, clinician, and teaching artist. The group will perform original compositions which blend urban voices and sounds with world-beat influenced rhythms from West Africa, the Middle East, and Brazil.

In 1999, Scalici started the Get Rhythm programs as a way to share his passion for drumming and rhythm in communities everywhere. According to him, his program was designed “to empower its participants to discover the universal language of rhythm.”

John Scalici has taken his programs across the country as well as oversees to Asia. He has written many articles on the subject of drumming. The scope of his work is wide-reaching and he conducts a variety of Get Rhythm programs. Mr. Scalici is a vibrant and enthusiastic performer and this special library performance will be sure to please.


Where: Birmingham Public Library’s Atrium at Central
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Date: Thursday, December 6, 2007
Cost: Free

Two Great American Novelists Die

norman mailer photoNorman Mailer died of acute renal failure on November 10 at the age of 84. Mailer was the author of more than 30 books and the co-founder of the alternative New York newspaper The Village Voice. Mailer was a regular column writer for the paper.

His first novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948), was based on his experiences as a rifleman with a reconnaissance platoon during the invasion of Luzon in the Philippines. After the success of this novel, he ditched his previous plans of becoming an aeronautical engineer to attend the Sorbonne in Paris.

At several points in his career, Mailer turned his style of writing to non-fiction narrative—a novel based on real events. An example of this style is his Executioner’s Song (1979), which tells the story of real-life killer Gary Gilmore, the first person to be executed in the United States after the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

In addition to fiction and non-fiction books, Mailer also wrote, directed, and acted in his own films.

ira levin photoIra Levin died of natural causes on November 12 at the age of 78. Although he wasn’t as prolific a writer as Mailer, he left no less of an impact on the literary world. His first novel, the mystery A Kiss Before Dying (1953), received rave reviews. It's a murder mystery told in three parts: from the viewpoints of the killer and the dead girl's two sisters as they try to solve her murder. It was awarded the Edgar Allan Poe Award as best first novel in 1953.

Fourteen years later Levin wrote his most famous novel, Rosemary’s Baby (1967). It's a chilling tale of modern-day Satanism and its power over a young couple in a gloomy New York apartment building. The setting of the novel is based on a similar building that Levin lived in, down to the creepy basement laundry room that he wouldn’t let his wife visit alone.

Levin wrote two more classic chillers, The Stepford Wives (1972) and The Boys from Brazil (1976). His sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, Son of Rosemary, was written in 1997. Levin was also a playwright, penning the popular No Time for Sergeants (1956) and Deathtrap (1979). Ten of Levin’s books were adapted to film.


For more information on these two authors, visit our Biography Resource Center (library card required)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Book Signing at Avondale Library

Catherine Greene Browne, author of The History of Forest Park, will be at the Avondale Library to sell and sign copies of her new book, A History of Avondale.


Where: Avondale Library
When: Saturday, November 17
Time: 2:00-4:00 p.m.

For more information call 226-4000.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Turning On Alabama Exhibit

The Birmingham Public Library is currently showcasing the “Turning On Alabama” exhibit on the main floor and in the fourth floor gallery of the Central Library.

Sponsored by the Birmingham Historical Society and Birmingham Public Library, this unique exhibition features 1920-1945 photographs and artifacts from the collections of the Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Historical Radio Society.

Historic artifacts and more than 60 notable photographs from Alabama Power’s archives highlight the company's growth and how electricity has radically transformed the lives of all Alabamians. More than a dozen vintage radios from the Radio Society will be on display.

This exhibition will last until until December 30, 2007.


Webwire News

Alabama Power Press Release

Thursday, November 08, 2007

BPL@Night Welcomes Birmingham Bluegrass Group, Shades Mountain Air

shades mountain air pic
The Birmingham Public Library’s popular BPL@Night presents Homewood-based bluegrass group, Shades Mountain Air, on Thursday, November 15. This dynamic bluegrass group has been playing that high, lonesome sound for nearly a decade collectively.

Composed of five members, the group was formed in 1998 and played their first banquet a year later. According to their members, Shades Mountain Air is a self-proclaimed “family band” and they take their name from the Birmingham mountain that surrounds their homes.

Gary Furr helped found the group and he contributes vocals, guitar, and lyrics. He and husband and wife team, Nancy and Greg Womble, started the group when they discovered they enjoyed playing bluegrass together. Nancy plays the stand-up bass and sings lead, while Greg plays the five-string banjo, guitar, and sings. Don Wendorf plays the mandolin, hammered dulcimer, and banjo, and his son Paul rounds out the band with some fiery fiddle playing, while both father and son help sing. Paul was the final member to join the band, as he was busy playing backup for such stars as Smoky Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles.

The group has recorded two CDs, the self-titled Shades Mountain Air as well as Sky’s A Clearing. The albums feature the band’s unique blend of blue-grass, “newgrass,” and gospel.

The hammered dulcimer that Don Wendorf plays gives this band a unique flavor that most bluegrass bands do not have.

This is a must-see, free concert in one of the warmest and most pleasant night spots in downtown Birmingham, the library’s Atrium. It begins at 6:30 and will last approximately an hour. The library encourages everyone to come early to get a good seat. CDs will be available for purchase.


Where: Central Birmingham Public Library Atrium
When: Thursday, November 15th, 2007
Time: 6:30 p.m.

For more information about Shades Mountain Air, visit their Website at

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Harper Lee Receives Medal of Freedom

On November 5, 2007, Alabama author Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. She received this honor for her contribution to American literature. Celebrate her award by participating in The Big Read, Jefferson County, Alabama's One County - One Book program. You are invited to read her Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, join in a book group discussion, and attend The Big Read programs. The Big Read will take place April 2008.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Book Review: Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

look me in the eye book cover“Look me in the eyes, young man!”
“Nobody trusts a man who won’t look them in the eye.”
“You look like a criminal.”
“I’ve read about people like you. They have no expression because they have no feeling. Some of the worst murderers in history were sociopaths.”

These are just some of the things John Elder Robison heard as a young boy, decades before a friend handed him a book about Asperger’s Syndrome and told him, "This book describes you exactly." Hearing these predictions made Robison withdraw even further as a child as he waited for these awful things to come true. It wasn’t until he was a teenager that he realized he wasn’t going to become a serial killer. By that time he had met enough shifty people who had no trouble looking him in the eye to realize that these people had no idea what they were talking about. Learning that he was not defective and that he was not alone brought great peace to the adult John Elder Robison.

Although Robison was raised by a violent, alcoholic father and an increasingly mentally unstable mother, he was luckier than most Aspergian children at that time in that he was raised in a collegiate environment, where his quirky nature and adult personality were admired by professors and students. He honed his coping skills on college campuses across America. His brother, Augusten Burroughs, chronicled the dysfunction of the Robison family in his popular memoir, Running with Scissors (made into a movie in 2006). Burroughs believes that his brother was able to survive their turbulent childhood by his ability to shut down in traumatic situations.

Robison learned early on how not to answer a question. If a kid said, “Look at my Tonka truck,” instead of blurting out “I want some cookies,” he would force himself to supply the correct response: “That’s a neat truck! Can I hold it?” These skills helped him in his teenage and adult years, and he went on to design speakers for Pink Floyd and flaming guitars for KISS before settling down in the corporate world of designing electronic games for Milton Bradley. Eventually, his expertise in automotives steered him towards his own business of repairing and restoring European automobiles.

Some who are familiar with Aspies might be surprised at the emotion that Robison brings to his story. The chapters “I Get a Bear Cub” and “Winning at Basketball,” and the epilogue about his father’s death are surprisingly touching, breaking through the common robotic barrier of an Aspie. I was especially moved by his perfectly rational reason why Aspies don’t show emotion over tragic events that don’t directly affect them: "People die every minute, all over the world. If we tried to feel sorry for every death, our little hearts would explode." And he’s absolutely right.

Look Me in the Eye is one of the few books on Asperger's Syndrome that is not a dry training manual on the condition. I will always be grateful to Robison for telling his story because someone I'm close to has Asperger's, and I can now see that this person's eccentric way of doing things makes perfectly good sense to him, even if it sometimes doesn't to me.

Augusten Burroughs interviews his big brother

Just what is Asperger's Syndrome? Asperger's is a high-functioning form of autism. A high IQ, lack of empathy, avoiding eye contact, obsession with one interest, delayed motor skills, and heightened sensitivity to loud sounds and bright lights are just some of the characteristics of the condition. It is more common in boys than girls. There is no cure for Asperger's, but there are treatments to help cope with the symptoms. The impressive list of famous Aspies have allowed some to feel pride in their diagnosis: Albert Einstein, Andy Kaufman, Bill Gates, Bob Dylan, Henry Ford, Isaac Asimov, Isaac Newton, Michael Palin, Thomas Jefferson, Vincent van Gogh, and Woody Allen.


The Official James Elder Robison Website

The Official Augusten Burroughs Website

Our JCLC medical databases offer a wealth of information on Asperger's Syndrome. Try searching in Alt HealthWatch, Health and Wellness Resource Center and Alternative Health Module, and Medline Plus (library card is required).

The National Autistic Society Homepage

O.A.S.I.S. and Wrong Planet are two resource and support sites for the Asperger's community.

Annual Friends of the Library Meeting

friends of the library logo The annual Friends of the Library meeting will be held on Thursday, November 8 at 6:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium. There will be a reception beginning at 5:30. On the agenda is a 2006 year in review and the announcement of the Beyond the Budget winner. If you are not a member, please consider joining and helping promote our libraries. Visit our Friends page for information on dues and the services our Friends provide.

Jim Baggett, BPL’s archivist, will be the guest speaker. The topic will be “When the Blast Occurred: Remembering the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing.”

Friday, October 26, 2007

Financial Planning Podcast Now Available

The library hosted its third and final session of the popular program "Building Blocks For Your Small Business @ Your Library," entitled "Financing Your Business." Bill Ringler of S.C.O.R.E. and Joe Primm of the Small Business Development Center discussed the various aspects of small business accounting, financial reporting, and applying for and obtaining loans. Here is the program's podcast, split into two parts:

Click to listen to part one- Bill Ringler of S.C.O.R.E.

Click to listen to part two- Joe Primm of the SBDC

The Flu Season Has Arrived

It’s that time of the year. You woke up with a scratchy throat, and over the course of the morning you find yourself coughing more and more. By the afternoon your head is thumping and you feel feverish. Do you have a common cold, or are you experiencing this year’s flu? According to the National Library of Medicine “colds rarely cause a fever or headaches.” Well there’s the bad news, is there any good news?

For most people the flu is simply a serious inconvenience lasting one to two weeks. However, the CDC reports that “every year in the United States, on average: 36,000 people die from the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications.” So, the flu is not something to be taken lightly. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for a bout of the flu to lead to sinus infection or even pneumonia.

What’s the best way to avoid becoming another statistic? According to the CDC, “The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get a flu vaccination each year.” The Alabama Department of Public Health provides a list of flu clinics in Jefferson County and a nifty little zip code box to help you find a flu shot near to you.

For those who have an aversion to needles, or must postpone a trip to a clinic for a shot, try following some simple preventative habits. 1) Avoid close contact with those already exhibiting symptoms. 2) Clean your hands frequently. 3) Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Is it too late? Do you already feel the sniffles coming on? If you feel up to it, you might want to look through one of our databases: Health & Wellness Resource Center. A database certainly never replaces a doctor or other medical professional, but this database will provide you with a wealth of information on over the counter remedies, natural remedies and magazine articles on cutting down your recovery time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Movie Review: Miss Potter

The movie, Miss Potter, reveals the story of Beatrix Potter, author of the beloved children’s classic, The Tales of Peter Rabbit. The enchanting story of Beatrix Potter was filmed in the beautiful Lake District in the North of England. The lush, dramatic scenery inspired the illustrations and writings of the most successful classic children’s author of all times. Spectacular views of lake scenery, countryside and woodland trails inspired the characters and settings for many of Potter’s books. Watch this movie and be swept away into the world of Beatrix Potter, one of beautiful English countryside, gardens and of course, tiny clever creatures envisioned by this imaginative author.

Renee Zellweger portrays the shy yet spirited children’s author. We follow Potter’s struggles to get her first book published and then see her fall in love with her publisher, Norman Warne. As a young female author, Beatrix suffered many of the prejudices that female writers struggled with during this time period. The breathtaking beauty of Britain’s Lake District provides the perfect, romantic landscape for Potter and Warren’s relationship. Throughout the movie, we are taken back to Potter’s childhood. We learn that, even as a young child, Beatrix displayed a vivid imagination, as well as a drawing talent that allowed her to create beautiful illustrations of nature. The fanciful dreams of young Beatrix resulted in her seeing the creatures come to life in her mind. In Potter’s imagination, these clever creatures including ducks, rabbits and other animals, engage in all types of antics. In the movie, we view the author’s sketchbook of illustrations, including drawings of plants and animals. She seemed to draw each one with accuracy and love, displaying creativity as well as a love for all creatures and the English landscape. Beatrix Potter became a strong environmental advocate and succeeded in protecting the land she loved so much.

Watch Miss Potter and you will be richly rewarded by a tale as lovely as the delightful stories that filled the imagination of this much loved children’s author. You will also get to know the wonderful author who created some of your favorite children’s stories.

Official Movie Trailer:

Take a look at these links for more information:

Miss Potter: The Movie Official Website

Peter Rabbit and Friends Website: Learn more information about the author's life and works

Beatrix Potter's Lake District: Visit England's beautiful Lake District area.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Now Playing: Dennis Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone

dennis lehane photoI love to discover an older series of books. This means that I can check them all out, set them on my nightstand, and enjoy them all in one reading frenzy. No waiting years for the next one to be published. Six years ago I picked up Dennis Lehane’s incredible Mystic River, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that he had an entire crime fiction series for me to devour. And that’s just what I did.

For those who have yet to read his Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro detective series set in Boston, please add these books to your reading list. Kenzie and Gennaro are on-again, off-again lovers who work together as private eyes. They have friends on both sides of the law, and they don’t discriminate when it comes to needing help solving a case. And morally, they’re not above using childhood pal Bubba Rogowski’s persuasive service of breaking kneecaps, if that’s what it takes.

Gone, Baby, Gone is the most powerful book in the series. Dealing with missing children, guardianship, and pedophilia, it’s a disturbing book but the whizbang of an ending is worth the price of the painful subject matter.

Dennis Lehane's books:

Kenzie/Gennaro series
A Drink Before the War (1994)
Darkness, Take My Hand (1996)
Sacred (1997)
Gone, Baby, Gone (1998)
Prayers for Rain (1999)

Mystic River (2001) - 2003 movie that won Sean Penn and Tim Robbins Academy Awards
Shutter Island (2003) - Possible future Scorcese/DiCaprio collaboration
Coronado: Stories (2006)

Find out more about Dennis Lehane through our Biography Resource Center (library card is required)

Gone, Baby, Gone, directed by Ben Affleck and starring his brother, Casey, Morgan Freeman, and Ed Harris.

Monday, October 22, 2007

National Friends of Libraries Week

BPL book store picThe week of October 21-27 is National Friends of Libraries Week. Just who are these Friends of the Library and why are they being celebrated? This is an association of volunteers and benefactors who recognize how important libraries are to communities and who donate their time and money to help promote the library.

Volunteering at our book store, helping out at functions, contacting officials about library funding, and awarding “beyond the budget” prizes to our libraries to fund special projects are just a few of the things the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library do for us.

The BPL would like to send a shout-out to all our Friends for their dedication over the years. And just like individuals, libraries always need more friends. If you would like to become a Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, please visit our Friends page for more information.

Friday, October 19, 2007

BPL and the Literacy Council to Participate in Fiesta 2007

fiesta photoThe 5th annual Fiesta that celebrates Hispanic culture is happening on Saturday, October 20 from noon to 8:00 p.m. in Linn Park. Festivities will include live music, children’s art activities, dance performances, food, and more. It is free and open to the public.

Representatives from the Birmingham Public Library and the Literacy Council of Alabama will be on hand to participate:

  • Nationally known storyteller Antonio Sacre will perform twice
  • More than 500 bilingual books donated by the Literacy Council will be available to win via book walks
  • UAB students will have blankets set out where the winners may sit with a student and listen to and/or read with them
  • The library will have bilingual staff on hand to answer questions about library services

Other happenings during Fiesta 2007 is a visit from C-SPAN2’s Book TV Bus. The bus will be parked outside of the Birmingham Public Library from noon to 3:00 p.m. The nationwide tour is promoting C-SPAN’s unique non-fiction book programming. In partnership with Bright House Networks, the bus will offer tours of its studio set, participation in an interactive demonstration about Book TV programming, the opportunity to learn how a television show is produced, and a chance to sign up for programming alerts.

Photo courtesy of

John Green's Nerdtastic Home Library

“It occurs to me that on the long list of nerdy things I’ve said in my life, ‘I like almanacs’ is near the top.”

Author John Green celebrates Teen Read Week by taking his brother Hank on a video tour of his meticulously shelved home library. Not only is Green a passionate advocate of reading, but he is also a conscientious young man who makes sure to always separate his books on Islam and Christianity with a wicker basket to keep them from fighting. Nerds…gotta love ‘em.


The Official Website of John Green

Read It Forward Author James M. Deem Here Nov. 5-6

Flyer for James M. Deem's libraries visitJames M. Deem, author of the Read It Forward book, Bodies From the Ash, will be discussing his book about Pompeii at several branch locations and Woodlawn High School November 5-6, 2007.

November 5
Smithfield 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham 1:30 p.m.
West End 3:30 p.m.
Avondale 6:30 p.m.

November 6
Central 10:30 a.m.
Woodlawn High School 1:30 p.m.
Springville Road 4:00 p.m.
Five Points West 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Birmingham Noir Nighttime Walking Tour

county jail
Birmingham Noir
Murders. Mysteries. Fallen Women
Just as the afternoon sun slips out of the downtown sky, like a platinum blonde sliding into a black party dress, the night owls will gather at the library.

Join Jim Baggett, BPL Archivist, for a nighttime walking tour of notorious downtown historic sites. Tour dates are October 26 and November 2 and begin at 5:45 p.m. in the atrium of the Central Library. The tour lasts approximately one hour and there will be a break for refreshments at Safari Cup.

Admission is FREE but reservations are required. Contact Jim Baggett at (205) 226-3631 or

Photo of the old county jail courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives Department

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Children's Book Reviews: Llama Llama Mad at Mama and Library Mouse

book coverAnna Dewdney’s new book Llama Llama Mad at Mama is about compromise between a mother and child (or cria in this case). It’s playtime for Llama Llama, who is having fun with his blocks and puzzles. But Mama Llama needs to run some errands and plops Llama Llama into his car seat to head for the Shop-O-Rama. But Llama Llama’s just not in the mood for standing in lines and trying on clothes, so he starts to whine and knock items off the shelves.

Flying pasta, spraying juice.
Paper towels rolling loose.
Coffee, bread, and chips galore.
Shoes and sweaters hit the floor.

Mama Llama yells “enough!” and reasons with Llama Llama.

Please stop fussing, little llama.
No more of this llama drama.
I think shopping’s boring, too—
But at least I’m here with you.

It’s a sweet book that teaches empathy, patience, and working as a team. The rhymes are fun to read aloud and the bright illustrations fill up the pages.

book coverLibrary Mouse by Daniel Kirk is a wonderful early introduction to the library. Sam lives behind the wall in the children’s reference books. He sleeps during the day when the library is busy with folks studying, using the computers, and checking out books, but at night the library belongs to Sam. Sam makes the most of his nights, reading book after book on every subject.

One night he decides to write his own book. He takes the advice of “write what you know” that he found in a how-to book on writing, and writes his life story on little pieces of scrap paper he takes from the librarian’s desk. When he shelves it in the biography section (correctly, I might add), a child finds it and shows it to the librarian. Sam soon becomes a celebrity when his books are snatched off the shelves by eager children. But no one knows who Sam is.

Librarians are always full of bright ideas, so they decide to have a Meet the Author Day. But Sam is a shy mouse and wants to remain anonymous. Mice are full of bright ideas, too, and Sam comes up with an ingenious way to stay hidden and still make sure the program is successful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Staff Pick: The Mother (2004 DVD)

the mother dvd coverHummmm…”’M’ is for the million things she gave me, ‘O’ means only that she’s growing old…,” oh, forget it. That song’s all wrong for this little jewel of a movie. The movie is The Mother, a title that evokes strong feelings of security and love, but there’s not much of either to go around here for this bunch who are a family in name only.

Grandma May (Anne Reid) and grandpa Toots (Peter Vaughan) have come to London to visit their grandchildren and children, Bobby (Steven Mackintosh) and Paula (Cathryn Bradshaw), but it’s obvious that they’re strangers even though they’re only a tube ride away. Her adolescent grandson has to ask who they are when they walk through the door. When grandpa dies during the visit, the distance between the mother and her children is painfully evident when they pass her back and forth, too wrapped up in their own lives to help her through her grieving.

Then we notice Darren (Daniel Craig), who is renovating Bobby’s home and having an affair with Paula. And May notices, too, befriending him in the quiet hours of the day when her family is gone. They talk, eat lunch together, and it’s not long before she asks him to come with her to the spare room.

The Mother isn’t a pat movie. Bobby and Paula might not be all that likeable, but May might not be the martyred mother she appears to be. True, her son is self-absorbed and her daughter is a package of jagged nerves and low self-esteem, but they might have their reasons for distancing themselves from the mother who was distant to them in childhood. So who here gets blaming rights? And when money gets introduced into the little love affair, dear old mum proves to be just as controlling and selfish as her younger counterparts.

The Mother trailer

Disney on Ice Finding Nemo Read-To-Win Activity

disney on ice finding nemo advertisementThe Birmingham Public Library invites kids under the age of twelve to participate in the Disney on Ice Finding Nemo Read-To-Win Activity.

Visit any Birmingham Public Library location today and register to join in the fun. Every child who completes their individual reading goal will receive a $10 discount coupon for the Disney on Ice production Finding Nemo (playing at the BJCC Arena Oct. 31 – Nov. 4, 2007).

A grand prize winner from each Birmingham Public Library location will be selected by random drawing on October 30. The winners will receive the opportunity to attend a special program which includes a Meet and Greet with the stars from the show on Thursday, November 1 at 4:00 p.m. in the Birmingham Public Library Central Story Castle.

I Never Knew...

Shocked Man “I never knew the library had that!” boomed the gruff voice from behind me. I turned to see a look of shock followed by delight spread across the man’s face. In an apologetic tone, he stammered that his words probably came out too loudly, but he was just surprised. Discovering that some Birmingham Public Library locations have free wireless Internet access was a revelation to him and there were more surprises to come during this visit.

As we spoke, he reminisced about all those seemingly endless shelves of colorful books he remembered from childhood. He recalled the cool chair he sat in to read on hot summer days, the enchanting voice of a favorite storyteller, and how the kindly librarian’s perfume permeated the whole place. Most of all he remembered the joy of being able to take books home to read later. He loved the library of his youth and today the library had amazed him.

For instance, he was under the impression that the public library only had music CD’s from classical orchestras and Irish folk bands. But he was happily been proved wrong. He found It Won't Be Soon Before Long by Maroon 5, I am by Chrisette Michele, and Daughtry’s self titled album on CD just to name a few. He smiled and said, “Why flop down $15 for a CD when you can check it out for free?”

Click here for Daughtry Click here for I AmClick here for It won't be soon before long

He found similar up-to-date items in the DVD section. Next, the action packed flick with Nicolas Cage, and Evan Almighty were on the shelf. I explained that we usually get new DVDs the same day as the video store and he could even reserve them just like books. “How?” he asked.

While checking out his music and movie selections, I described how our reservation system works. Reserving, by placing a hold, is the fastest way to get the library material he wants. He was surprised that holds can be placed on almost any book, DVD, music CD or audio book the library has. Even soon to be released titles in our catalog like Ratatouille, Live Free or Die Hard, Bourne Ultimatum, or Pirates of the Caribbean- At World's End can be reserved before the actual item arrives. Once the item becomes available, the library will let him know it is on the hold shelf ready to be picked up.

Click here for NextClick here for RatatouilleClick here for POC: At Worlds EndClick here for Live Free or Die Hard

As he headed for the door, he recounted, “Instead of visiting a video store, I can go online at, request the DVD, and the library will call or e-mail when they're ready to be picked up? It is a beautiful thing.”

The Difference Between Baseball and Football

For a sports fan, October is a great month. On the one hand you’ve got the baseball playoffs. Even if your team is out of it, you can still take pleasure in watching a rival team lose, or watch a friend’s favorite team advance to the World Series. Heck, you can just watch the playoffs for the sheer joy of watching the best compete against the best.

On the other hand, the action is heating up on both the college and pro gridirons. October is great time to meet with your college buddies and argue the relative merits or disadvantages of the BCS system. And the NFL always offers breath taking plays and some sort of controversy to discuss during halftimes. (Did the Cardinals really think they could go with two starting quarterbacks? Isn’t that an oxymoron?)

Regardless of how fun a two sport month can be, it can also be confusing to separate the two disciplines. (Not really, but play with me here.) Working in a library I’m surrounded by works from the greatest minds the world has ever known. When confronted with such confusion, I always consult a master for enlightenment. So, without further ado, here's George Carlin to explain the difference between baseball and football.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Staff Pick: Touching the Void (2004 DVD)

touching the void dvd coverWe climbed 'cause it's fun. And mainly it was fun. That's all we ever did. And we were fairly anarchic and fairly irresponsible, and we didn't give a damn about anyone else or anything else, and we just wanted to climb the world. And it was fun. It was just brilliant fun. And every now and then it went wildly wrong. And then it wasn't. ~ Joe Simpson

I must confess: I’m a couch potato. I’m not proud but I’m honest. Regardless, this doesn’t keep me from enjoying watching others push their bodies to the limit. Climbing Mt. Everest? I’m there. Football game in the 100-degree heat? I’m there. Clog dancing? I’m there…right there in front of the TV.

For some reason this woman who can’t complete one chin up has always been fascinated with mountaineers and their hubristic attempts to scale impossible heights. My favorite story by far is Simon Yates' and Joe Simpson’s 1985 ascension to the 20,814 foot summit of Siula Grande in Peru. Their story became part of mountaineering legend, and was turned into the documentary Touching the Void in 2003. Yes, they climbed ‘cause it was fun. They also climbed because they were young and cocky and knew they could succeed where others had failed.

Yates and Simpson did succeed and were the first to reach the summit by scaling the West face, but they made the mistake of descending on the North ridge. The weather slowed their progress and they ran out of food and gas; without gas they weren’t able to melt snow to drink and soon became weak with hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. Then things went wildly wrong when Simpson fell and shattered his leg, forcing the lower bone through his knee joint. He expected Yates to leave him, but Yates stayed and lowered his mate down the mountain, 300 painstaking feet at a time.

Yates would anchor himself in a snow seat, lower Simpson down, and when Simpson tugged on the rope, he would climb down and start the procedure over again. But there came a point in their descent when Yates waited for a tug that never came; he had unknowingly lowered Simpson over an overhanging cliff. For an hour and a half Simpson hung in mid-air, and Yates held his place on the sugary slope for as long as he could before he started to slide down the mountain. Then he remembered that he had a pen knife in his rucksack and quickly made the decision to cut the rope and save himself. With this action he dropped Simpson 100 feet into a crevasse. What happened after this is a testament to how nearly indestructible the human body is and just how stubborn two athletes at the top of their games can be.

At one time Tom Cruise was in line to play Joe Simpson in a movie version of Touching the Void. Thank goodness that plan was never put into action. The decision to intersperse Yates' and Simpson’s first-hand accounts with two actors re-enacting the scenes was the right one. I've watched Touching the Void many times since it arrived on DVD. Watch it and judge for yourself if it’s more enjoyable and suspenseful than the movies they're passing off as entertainment in Hollywood these days.

Touching the Void trailer

Joe Simpson has led an interesting life and has detailed his adventures in several books: Touching the Void (1988); This Game of Ghosts (1995); Storms of Silence (1997); Dark Shadows Falling (1999) ; The Beckoning Silence (2003); and The Water People (2006, fiction). Books not listed on our catalog may be available through Interlibrary Loans.

Visit his Website Joe Simpson-No Ordinary Joe for more information on his life, books, and films.

Think you have what it takes to pull your own body weight up a mountain? Then try these books on mountaineering. If you run into trouble, you won't be the first. And for my fellow couch potatoes, here are some fiction books on the sport.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And the Winner Is...

doris lessing book coverThis morning when she read the announcement of who won, BPL's Associate Director, Renee, said, "My favorite author!! Let's blog this. I am so excited." So here it is.

Doris Lessing received The Nobel Prize in Literature 2007.

To see Doris Lessing's items in the JCLC Catalog, click here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Library Elf

worried imageAre you stressed from trying to keep track of when your books are due? Are you fretful waiting for an email telling you that the new book you reserved is available? If so, the Library Elf can help!

JCLC cardholders may now register with Library Elf, a service designed for you. It allows you to:
  1. Avoid overdues with email or text message alerts.

  2. Track items you have checked out.

  3. Join for free!

Library Elf is a private service not affiliated with the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. For more information, go to

Monday, October 08, 2007

Love in the Time of Cholera Chosen for Oprah's Book Club

love in the time of cholera book imageGabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera is the most recent Oprah’s Book Club pick. "It is so beautifully written that it really takes you to another place in time and will make you ask yourself how long could you or would you wait for love," Oprah Winfrey wrote on her Website.

In his 1985 novel El amor en los tiempos del colera (translated as Love in the Time of Cholera, 1988), Garcia Marquez explores various manifestations of love and examines themes relating to aging, death, and decay in a blend of fact and fable based in part on recollections of his parents' marriage.

Set in a South American community plagued by recurring civil wars and cholera epidemics from the late nineteenth century to the 1930s, the novel begins with the death of Dr. Juvenal Urbino, who leaves behind his wife of fifty years, Fermina Daza. Soon after Urbino's death, however, a man from Fermina's distant past appears on her doorstep. It is Florentino Ariza, a telegraph operator who had once secretly wooed her through letters and serenades until her father learned of the romance and put an end to it. The rest of the novel recounts Florentino's determination to resume the passionate courtship of a woman who had given him up for a wealthier, more distinguished suitor so many years before.

Garcia Marquez's best-known novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, was an Oprah's Book Club pick in 2004.

Take a peek inside Love in the Time of Cholera, courtesy of AmazonOnlineReader.

The movie version starring Benjamin Bratt and Javier Bardem is slated for a November 16 release.


Visit our Biography Resource Center to learn more about Gabrial Garcia Marquez (library card is required)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Protecting Your Business Podcasts

"Protecting Your Business," the second segment in the "Building Blocks for Your Small Business @ Your Library" series was another great program.

The podcast of this program has two parts. In the first part, Terry Price of S.C.O.R.E. discusses legal issues related to small business employment, including what to consider when dealing with issues such as hiring, training, and terminating, among others. Click here to listen to the part one.

In part 2, Coffee Colvin of S.C.O.R.E. discusses what to consider when choosing a financial team to help protect your company's products. Mr. Colvin discusses the importance of having legal advisors, certified public accountants, and insurance brokers as the basis for your financial team. Click here to listen to part two.

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