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Showing posts from April, 2007

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Read all about the stars in the sky with some of our children's books.

Hold It!

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Can't find that copy of Déjà Vu or other new DVD on the shelf? Want to read that fiction bestseller or new nonfiction book?

Hold It!
Do not leave finding a copy up to chance.
Reserving, by placing a hold, is the fastest way to get the library material you want. The hold puts you on a waiting list for the item. Once the item becomes available, you will be notified so that you can pick it up. You will get an e-mail if you have given us your e-mail address. Otherwise, you will get an automated phone notification. Holds can be placed on almost any book, DVD, or audio book the library has, even on soon to be released titles in our catalog like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

There are many options for placing holds on the library material you want. You can join the Best Sellers Club, our program to provide quick access to new releases from best selling authors. Click here to sign up. You can ask the library staff to place the hold for you during your next visit to the Library.You ca…

Book Review : The Deep, the extraordinary creatures of the abyss

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“It was a squid of colossal dimensions, fully eight meters long. It was traveling backward with tremendous speed in the same direction as the Nautilus. It gazed with enormous, staring eyes that were tinted sea green. Its eight arms (or more accurately, feet) were rooted in its head, which has earned these animals the name cephalopod; its arms stretched a distance twice the length of its body and were writhing like the serpentine hair of the Furies.”
From 20,000 leagues under the sea by Jules Verne

I have to confess that I’ve always had mixed feelings about coffee table books. On the one hand, these oversized books usually have lush, never before seen photographs that leave me dreaming about whatever topic the book covers. But on the other hand, these tomes frequently have an exorbitant price tag. After spending an hour with my new, expensive book, I walk away wondering why I spent $45.00 on the book equivalent of Whitman chocolates when I could have consumed two or three steak dinners f…

Book Review: Read my book, y'aaall

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Paula Deen, the Sweet Potato Queen of Savannah, Georgia, and a star of the Food Network, has written an autobiography titled Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin’. I’m going to warn readers in advance that Deen is even bawdier in her book than on TV, and that means lots of cussing and candor. Even I found myself blushing and shaking my head in amazement several times. But all this makes for one of the funniest memoirs I’ve ever read.

Deen writes like she speaks, which means the pages are dotted with double negatives, “ain’ts” and lazily dropped “g’s” from the end of almost every gerund. It almost feels like one isn’t so much reading a book as enjoying a Monday morning kaffeeklatsch around Deen’s kitchen table.

I’m fond of steel magnolias, and Deen earns this respected southern title. It’s all here: her parents' early deaths; her verbally abusive first marriage; her struggles as she's forced to raise her sons in poverty; the launch of her successful The Bag Lady catering bus…

History of Birmingham's Motels

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In today's Birmingham's News there is an interview with Birmingham Public Library's Archivist Jim Baggett discussing the early history of motels in Birmingham. To read the article, view photographs, and read contemporary newspaper articles, click on the links below. "Motel Memories" The Birmingham News, 24 April 2007
"Birmingham's Tourist Courts" by James L. Baggett
Photographs from the Birmingham Public Library Archives
Contemporary newspaper articles

BPL sponsors PhotoCamp Birmingham

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photocamp2
Originally uploaded by RichardThomas.
Birmingham Public Library is proud to sponsor PhotoCamp Birmingham. Join us this Saturday at Homewood Public Library for this "unconference". "PhotoCamp is an all day discussion about all things photography. This is an open invitation to anyone and everyone to attend. Professional photographers, amateurs, photojournalists, photo clubs, photo classes- don’t be left out!We’ll discuss what YOU want to hear because most attendees not only choose the topics, they present then as well! What are you good at? Portraits? Landscapes? From the hip? Share it. Got some Photoshop tips/tricks? Let’s hear them. Interested in learning how to get more exposure? Come on in. This conference is designed for you, you make it happen." (PhotoCamp Birmingham) Details
Saturday, April 21 2007, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Homewood Public Library
1721 Oxmoor Road
Homewood, Alabama 35209
Open To Everyone

No Time to Wait

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You're in a hurry, you're in a line and the person right in front of you is checking out what seems like the library’s entire collection of Stephen King, T.D. Jakes, and Dr. Seuss. You feel your pressure rise as that little voice inside your head whispers, “You are going to be late!”

At the far end of the queue, you see the library staff busily scanning out books, but the line seems ominously long. The unconscious tapping of your foot is interrupted by an exasperated mumble up ahead, “Where is my card? It was just here.” Repeated anxious glances at your watch does not help, but what can you do? Practice the yoga breathing technique you read in that “stress” book last year or take the matter into your own hands?With no time to wait, you decide to take matters in your own hands. You walk over to the library's Self Check-Out machine. In mere moments, you scan your card, scan your books, and print a date due receipt. You can’t help but break into a little smile as you take your…

NoveList: A Fiction Reader's Best Friend

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When most people think about library databases, they think non-fiction. NoveList is a fiction database that provides subject heading access, reviews, annotations and much more for over 135,000 fiction titles. It also includes other content of interest to fiction readers, such as Author Read-alikes, What We're Reading, Book Discussion Guides, BookTalks and Annotated Book Lists. For school media specialists and teachers there are Picture Book Extenders and articles on Teaching with Fiction.

What stumps most readers is the confusing search for a book in a series, finding similar books of interest or trying to recall a forgotten book they enjoyed with only a few clues to guide them. NoveList to the rescue! Search by a series name to pull up a list of the author’s books; enter a favorite title to find similar books; and enter search words to describe a plot to help you locate that ever elusive book.

NoveList even lets you personalize by creating folders to save your lists for the next ti…

Michael McDowell: A Most Underrated Alabama Author

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The recent 9th annual Alabama Bound at the Central library brought to mind my all-time favorite Alabama author, Michael McDowell. Never heard of him? It could be the fact that not every great writer makes the New York Times bestseller’s list. Well, to be honest, most of our great writers don’t. McDowell is one of those writers. Unfortunately, he died too soon and too underrated.

McDowell was born in 1950 in Enterprise, Alabama. He died in 1999 of AIDS-related illness in Boston, Massachusetts. In between he left his mark on different fiction genres and even rubbed elbows with Hollywood’s Tim Burton through their collaborations on Beetlejuice (1987) and Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).

My first introduction to McDowell happened 25 years ago in my favorite used bookstore on Rocky Ridge Road. Browsing the horror section I came across a series set in Alabama. Blackwater (1983) is a serial of six books that tells the story of the Caskey family’s rise to power in the small mill town of Perdi…

2007 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Congratulations to Brett J. Blackledge of The Birmingham News who was awarded The Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting today for his series of articles investigating Alabama's two-year college system. You can read many of his articles here.

To read more about the history of the Pulitzer Prize and Joseph Pulitzer for whom the Prize is named, check out some of our books.

2007 List of Pulitzer Prize Journalism Winners

PUBLIC SERVICE
The Wall Street Journal
BREAKING NEWS REPORTING
The Staff of The Oregonian, Portland
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Brett Blackledge of The Birmingham (Ala.) News
EXPLANATORY REPORTING
Kenneth R. Weiss, Usha Lee McFarling and Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times
LOCAL REPORTING
Debbie Cenziper of The Miami Herald
NATIONAL REPORTING
Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe
INTERNATIONAL REPORTING
The Wall Street Journal Staff
FEATURE WRITING
Andrea Elliott of The New York Times
COMMENTARY
Cynthia Tucker [Alabama native] of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
CRITICISM
Jonathan Gold of LA…

Answers Found Here

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Ever wanted to: Learn a language like Spanish, Arabic, or Chinese?Repair your car?Learn about prescription medications?Work on your family tree ?

Study for a test, such as the GED, ASVAB, GRE, EMS, cosmetology, civil service, or real estate licensing exam?Price something for sale on eBay? Evaluate stocks or funds before investing?
Did you know that the library provides access to online databases that can help you do all this and more?
Accessing these databases on your own would otherwise cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Yet our databases can be accessed for free at any of the library’s public access computers.

Most of our databases are available via the Internet too. This means that you can use a “virtual library” of databases anytime you want from home, work, or any place with an Internet connection. All you need is your library card number to access this virtual library. Discover what databases the library offers here.

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)

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As a teenager, I was not particularly interested in novels. I lived on the second and third floors of the downtown library. The first floor was for checking out or returning books as far as I was concerned. At the time fiction seemed like a waste of time. Why read about a world that doesn’t exist when I could explore all the incredible parts of the actual world? (This naïve view would of course go by the wayside as I got older). And then there was Kurt Vonnegut. For me, Kurt was a different kind of writer. Vonnegut did not believe in clichés. There were no happy endings, no “guy gets the girl” plots which often seemed too disconnected from reality to be interesting to me. No, in Vonnegut’s writing he pulled no punches. He was undeniably dark and unflinchingly honest about the ebb and flow of life’s ups and downs. And he really loved talking about the down parts.

Kurt Vonnegut was a master at creating a world that was so over the top, so transparent about tragedy, that it ended up someh…

Book Review: It's a Bing Thing

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This review is in honor of my 3-year-old son Lucas, who showed me the glory of the Bing Bunny books. For all of those out of the loop, Bing and his stuffed sidekick Flop are creations of Ted Dewan, an American-born writer and illustrator of children’s books who lives in London.

Unlike Barney, Pooh, Thomas or the usual suspects over at Sesame Street, Bing and Flop do not grace the fronts of Underoos; parents cannot flip through a book and order a Bing Bunny birthday cake. Check out the Bing Blog to see the imaginative ways parents are supplying their tykes with Bing paraphernalia. You might say we go above and beyond to please our little fan-atics.

The illustrations in the Bing Bunny series have a cool, hip daddy-o vibe, which makes the colors and objects of Bing’s world pleasing to the eye. The eight books humorously teach shapes (How about a picnic in the square? No. Too much dog poo); sounds (Bingo! Bongo! Bang! Don’t go bongo, Bing); getting dressed (You forgot your dungarees!); and …

Alabama Bound 2007 Preview

The 9th annual Alabama Bound: A Book and Author Fair will be held this Saturday, April 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Central Library with Mark Childress and Angela Johnson as the featured speakers. Seventeen additional authors will also speak and sign their books and there will be local publishers and writers groups available for questions.

For a preview of some of the Alabama Bound authors, books, and poetry, check out our 7 videos available via YouTube.

Hooked on Audio Books?

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I could hardly wait to get in my car this morning. Yesterday on the way home from work, I was listening to Michael Palmer’s newest audio book, The Fifth Vial, and pulled into the garage ready to exit my car … but felt strangely compelled to continue listening. Hooked, I know.

Fortunately, the library offers audio books as CDs, cassette tapes, downloadable mp3s, and recently in Playaway format for free.

The Playaway, a palm sized audio book device, gives me a new way to feed my audio addiction. The simple all-in-one Playaway delivers high quality digital sound without the juggling of multiple CDs, rewinding multiple cassettes, or downloading mp3s. All you have to do to listen is plug in your headphones, put in one AAA battery, and press play.

Playaway self-playing audio books are currently available at Avondale, Eastlake, Eastwood, Five Points West, North Avondale, North Birmingham, Southside, Titusville, West End, and the Central library.