Friday, September 28, 2007

Think for Yourself, Defy Convention, Read a Banned Book

Banned Books
What do all of these books have in common? Attempts have been made to ban them all.

Throughout history, individuals and groups have attempted to suppress reading material that conflict with their personal beliefs. Banned Books Week, September 29-October 6, 2007, calls attention to our freedom to choose books that others may have desired to censor and reminds us not to take this freedom for granted.

The list of books that people have attempted to ban is amazing. The Most Frequently Challenged Books list is filled with all types of books from the classics to popular children's fiction. Some of your favorite books may be on the list:
Why ban Waldo? Martin Hanford's Waldo books consist of page after page of intricately drawn scenes in which the reader seeks to discover Waldo amidst the cluttered illustrations. It seems silly, but believe it or not Where's Waldo? was one of the top 100 most banned books between 1990 and 2000.

What next Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman? Yes, Captain Underpants is on the list too.

Join us in celebrating banned book week. Think for yourself, defy convention, and read a banned book.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Marlon Spears Trio in concert @ Five Points West

Marlon Spears Trio
BPL @ Night presents the cool jazz sounds of the Marlon Spears Trio on Friday, September 28, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. at the Five Points West Library. We hope you will join us and enjoy this talented jazz band.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Marketing Your Business

The first segment of the three-part series, "Building Blocks for Your Small Business @ Your Library" was a success. There was a great crowd, the speakers were excellent, but we really missed you. However, we were thinking about you.

We decided to record two of the sessions. Brenda Cox from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) led the first section, entitled "Selling to the Government." She discussed how to get the government to recognize your small business and then how to go about obtaining a contract from the government for your business.

Selling to the Government
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In the second session, "Marketing and Advertising," Hutch Cole of S.C.O.R.E. and Joe Primm of the SBDC discuss marketing and advertising your company's services and products.

Marketing and Advertising
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The wisdom and experience of these speakers is sure to help entrepreneurs and that's why the Birmingham Public Library is proud to offer these recordings.

We hope that you'll join us for the next segment entitled, "Protecting Your Business,"which will be held October 3rd, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., in the Downtown Library's Auditorium.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thumbs Up to Your Recommendations

Thumbs Up

Based upon word-of-mouth recommendations, I have checked out numerous excellent books over the years. These suggestions come from both friends and acquaintances. Isn’t that where good recommendations often come? Not professional critics, but other readers.

Professional critics can be engaging and are well-informed. However, what Simon says or Ebert writes, does not always translate into the best advice. I have much more success paying attention to what another readers, listeners or viewers think.

So for purely selfish reasons, I encourage you to share your thoughts about items on our catalog. You can now submit ratings and reviews on books, audio books, DVDs and more. How?

Let me give an example: Let's say that Mr. Greenspan, A.G. to his pals, has just read Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse and thinks everyone else should too.
He visits our catalog at Greenspan locates the title that he would like to review using the search feature. In the display of the full record, he clicks the “Add Review” button on the right side of the page. A.G. enters his name and library card number when prompted.

Greenspan enters a short attention grabbing review headline and then proceeds to the review itself expounding the virtues of the book in a short pithy straightforward bit of prose. With the review completed, he clicks the submit button.

"Brilliant!” he exclaims as the clicks the OK button to confirm his review. Greenspan knows his rationally exuberant submission is on it's way to the Library staff for approval.

In the meantime, A.G. decides to add a reader rating as well. Since he is already logged in he finds the “Additional Info” box of the title record. Moving his mouse pointer over the rating stars, Greenspan clicks on the last one giving Crash Proof a five star rating.

Become a review maestro yourself and submit recommendations on the library items you enjoy. For more information on reviews click here. For more about ratings follow this link.

"Thumbs Up!" Image courtesy of Phototropism

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jefferson County Library Cooperative Launches New Reader Ratings & Reviews

We value the opinions of our patrons and are delighted to now offer Reader Ratings and Reviews. With Reader Ratings and Reviews, JCLC Patrons now have the opportunity to post their own reviews of any item in our collection – at any time! It's a great way to provide a personal testimonial for an item that you loved, liked, or loathed.

You can find our Reader Ratings and Reviews on any item's detail page in the Catalog. The link is in the Additional Info box. There you can:
  1. Rate an item out of five stars
  2. Write a detailed review
Visit any any item's detail page to write your first review!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ken Burns Pays Homage to the War Heroes of the Greatest Generation

photo ken burns
Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns’ new documentary on World War II will air Sunday night on PBS. Just as Steven Spielberg was alarmed at the passing of so many Holocaust survivors, so was Burns alarmed at the passing of WW II veterans: 1,000 per day.
Unlike most war documentaries, The War will not be told from the mouths of generals and politicians but from the men fighting on the ground, or, as Burns calls it, from the “bottom up.” “And that means if you weren’t in this war, or you weren’t waiting anxiously for somebody to come back from this war, you’re not in our film,” says Burns.
Burns drew from four small and middle-sized American towns, and one of them was Mobile, Alabama. He tells the story of Glenn Frazier, a Fort Deposit native who enlisted at age 16 to escape some minor trouble at home. With distancing himself from his hometown troubles the main thing on his mind, Frazier had no idea the horrible places the war would take him: on the Bataan Death March and fighting for survival for 3 1/2 years in a Japanese POW camp.
APT viewing details
Episodes 1-4: Sunday, September 23 - Wednesday, September 26, 7:00 p.m.
Episodes 5-7: Sunday, September 30 - Tuesday, October 2, 7:00 p.m.
A sneak peek at The War

Alabamian Glenn Frazier talks about his near execution in a POW camp

Read about Glenn Frazier and other Mobile residents interviewed in The War.
Reserve a copy of the companion book The War: An Intimate History, 1941 - 1945.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rosetta Stone Makes Changes

Last year Birmingham Public Library and the Jefferson County Library Cooperative first offered Rosetta Stone to the entire county. With over 20 different languages to choose from, this has been a very popular product.

Unfortunately, Rosetta Stone has made a business decision to no longer allow libraries to subscribe to their complete offering of languages.

With the expiration of our contract on December 1, 2007, the libraries of Jefferson County will be given two options. Both options offer a limited number of languages. When we know what languages will be offered, we will let you know.

Rosetta Stone is a great resource and an excellent way to learn a language. Please contact your local library if you have any questions.

Click here to go to Rosetta Stone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No Commercial Interruptions

I can remember how I would listen to the radio as I went to sleep at night. Now I listen to Internet Radio as I work. I like but there are many stations on the web.

At the last Tech Tuesday @ Your Library, David Blake showed some of these Internet Radio sites. I didn't know how many there are.

The next Tech Tuesdays @ Your Library will be September 25 at 6:30 pm in the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium and available via simulcast at the Five Points West and Springville Road Libaries. The topic will be Instant Messaging (IM). Come and learn about the IM Craze.
Photo courtesy of Roadsidepictures

Fantasy Writer Robert Jordan Dead at 58

robert jordan1948 - 2007

Sunday was a sad day for Wheel of Time fans. The popular Robert Jordan succumbed to primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, a blood disease that caused the walls of his heart to thicken. He is survived by his wife and son.

A native of South Carolina, Jordan felt that his southern background flavored his books: "What I write is certainly not set in South Carolina, but I have had a number of reviewers comment on the fact that I write with a distinct southern voice. It goes beyond more than simply where the story is set. I believe it is something we take in in the air and the water. It’s a matter of word choices — of the rhythms of sentences and the rhythm of speech in particular."

Although Jordan was a prolific writer using several pseudonyms (his real name was James Oliver Rigney, Jr.), he is most famous for his Wheel of Time series. WoT is an intricately detailed series set in a land where two magics exist: male and female. The hero Rand al’thor is on a quest to unite the diverse people of his planet against the Dark One. (Simplistic summary for such a complex series, I know, but I called my husband who is a fan of the series and asked him to sum up the series in two sentences and he laughed. I was on my own.)

Jordan was working on book 12 of the series when he died. The working title of the last book is Memory of Light. Word from Jordan’s blog is that the last book was finished before his death, and that his family plans on publishing it per his wishes.


To read more about Robert Jordan's life and achievements, visit our Biography Resource Center

Ahoy Me Readers!

Avast ye readers and prepare to drop anchor for it's Talk Like a Pirate Day today!

Here are some key words to help expand your pirate vocabulary.

Pirate photo by Melinda SheltonAarrr! Pirate exclamation. Done with a growl and used to emphasize the pirate's current feelings.
Ahoy Hello
Avast Stop and pay attention
Beauty a lovely woman
Cutlass Popular sword among pirates
Lubber Land lover. Someone who doesn't want to go to sea.
Matey Friend or comrade
Ne’er-do-well A scoundrel or rascal

After ye learn how to talk like a pirate, find a tale or two to tell to your matey. Or, become an expert pirate historian. See what other plunder Central's Youth Department has before ye weigh anchor. Aarrr!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Live Homework Help Now Available to Mac Users

live homework help logo
Live Homework Help, the leading after-school service that connects a student with a professional tutor for live, online homework help, is now available to Mac users. Students using Safari or Firefox (2.0 or higher) browsers on Mac OS X can now connect to an expert tutor seven days a week for the help they need.

Live Homework Help is free to Alabama students in grades four through the first year of college. Students can get homework help from expert tutors Sunday through Thursday from 3:00-10:00 p.m. in the subjects of math, science, social studies, and English. Students can connect to a tutor through any computer with Internet access, including computers at their local public library or at school.

Voter Registration Available At All Jefferson County Libraries

Did you know you can pick up a voter registration form at any public library in Jefferson County? Not only can you pick up a form but you can also save postage by returning the filled out form to any library. We hand-deliver registration forms to the Jefferson County Courthouse every week.

The library's deadline for the City of Birmingham's mayoral race is September 26.

Contact Audrey Brantley (226-3600) if you have any questions.

Tech Tuesdays @ Your Library

Join us for a look at technologies sweeping the Internet and how to make use of these in your daily life.

Tech Tuesdays @ Your Library is a series of programs presented live in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library and available via simulcast at the Five Points West and Springville Road Libaries.

September 18, 12:00 p.m. (available at Central and Five Points West)
Internet Radio

September 25, 6:30 p.m.
Instant Messaging

October 2, 12:00 p.m.

October 16, 6:30 p.m.

November 6, 12:00 p.m.
Social Bookmarking

November 13, 6:30 p.m.
Photographs (digital editing, organization, storage and sharing)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Book Review: Fly Me To The Moon: Bipolar Journey Through Mania and Depression

Fly Me To The Moon is a realistic, informative, yet disturbing novel written by a Birmingham, Alabama psychiatrist, H.E. Logue, M.D., who has had 37 years experience dealing with conditions of the human mind. Fly Me To The Moon is a novel dealing with very real subject matter, that is written in a highly readable, interesting format instead of textbook definitions. The story deals with Eileen Robbins, an intelligent, creative and energetic young woman. Initially, Ms. Robbins moves up quickly in her career. She impresses her supervisor with clever thinking and creative ideas. Soon, however, she begins to experience violent mood swings, rapidly changing thoughts, sleepless nights and delusions of grandeur. Quickly, her thoughts and feelings spiral out of control, and her moods grow more disturbing. Thankfully, she meets a kind doctor who explains to her that her behavior is being caused by a chemical imbalance, a condition termed bipolar disorder. She is at first disturbed that she would be labeled as a “mental patient”, highly successful in her career, and chosen as one of the “top 40 under 40” for the year. Eileen displays her own prejudice toward labeling highly successful individuals as “mentally ill”.

The road to recovery was a long, difficult process. As with many individuals with mental illness, Eileen stopped taking her medication for a period of time because she felt better. Her exuberance returned along with her energy for new, creative ideas. Doctors often must emphasize the importance of taking all of the medication everyday, even if the patient feels better and thinks medication is no longer needed. With initial difficulty; Eileen learns to accept her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and leads a successful life. Success comes with doctors making necessary changes in types of drugs, strength and dosage. After diagnosis, improvement comes from medication, diet, exercise and overall health of the individual.

We must learn that everyone has a highly variable genetic makeup, which determines who we are as individuals. The type and intensity of illness is determined by genetics as well. We are each individuals first, distinguished from any disorder or illness we may have. Change must be made in how we view and treat the mentally ill. Just remember; you are not your illness, you are a unique individual and you are not alone. Through reading this book, you will gain more compassion and understanding of this very difficult disorder.

For more information, read these books:

An Unquiet Mind by Kay R. Jamison

Websites for more information:

Book Review: Caught in the Web: Inside the Police Hunt to Rescue Children from Online Predators

caught in the web book cover
A young, naked girl cowers in a cage just big enough for a small dog. A man does unspeakable things to her and the images of her sexual torture and abuse are traded on the Internet like baseball cards. Due to the thousands of pictures and videos circulated online, Jessica is famous all over the world. She is 6-years-old.

In Toronto, Canada, Det. Sgt. Paul Gillespie of the Child Exploitation Section of the Toronto Police’s Sex Crime Unit was desperate to rescue Jennifer before she suffered more abuse, or worse, was killed as a potential witness. The clues were few: an orange wristband on Jessica’s arm; a Pokemon bedspread; a wallpaper pattern; the troop number on a Brownie uniform. All pointed to a North American location. But where?

In thirty-three hours the police tracked down her location by zeroing in on the minutest of clues in the images. Her tormentor? Her own father, a software engineer at a telecommunications firm. When his house was searched, investigators were stunned to find diagrams of his home and aerial photos of the neighborhood. They realized that they were looking at a murder-for-hire. He wanted his wife and sons out of the picture so he could be more freewheeling with Jennifer’s abuse. He didn’t care if his sons were murdered or sold into slavery, but he wanted his wife tortured and shown pictures of Jennifer's abuse before she died so that they would be the last thing she saw on earth.

Need more proof that pedophiles aren’t just skulking around playgrounds in their London Fogs? Jessica’s story is just one of too many in Caught in the Web: Inside the Police Hunt to Rescue Children from Online Predators by Julian Sher. These abusers are just as likely to be lawyers, doctors, teachers, preachers, many of the otherwise upstanding men and women we come in contact with in the daily business of our lives.

Police all over the world have come a long way since Jennifer's rescue. In the early days of these online investigations, Sgt. Gillespie got fed up one day and fired off an e-mail to the man at the top: Bill Gates. His message? “Your technology helped me create this mess; help us clean it up.” Gates’ response? “Frank, this one looks interesting. Can you see if there’s anything we can do?” From this e-mail Microsoft worked alongside police to build an internal search engine for police departments that would compile and connect data to links based on social networking. They called it CETS, or Child Exploitation Tracking System.

Caught in the Web is an important book that should be read by parents, guardians, teachers, police, and anyone else committed to children's safety. Share along in the cops' frustration as they discover the disparities of sentencing in different countries, the callous attitude of the credit card companies, and the dangerous anonymity of Freenet.

You will be haunted by stories like Shy Keenan's, whose pictures were widely circulated before she became a child advocate as an adult. "When I was a kid," she says, "I used to try to send 'Help me' messages with my eyes. It didn't take too long to figure out that no one good was looking at these pictures. And no one was looking at my eyes." Before reading this book, be aware that things read can’t be unread, but know also that forewarned is forearmed.

More books on child safety and the Internet:
Computer crimes
Internet and children
Internet safety

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rosetta Stone Hits the Big Screen

The Jefferson County Library Cooperative is now offering the Rosetta Stone Language Resource Center to all library cardholders.

The staff at the Birmingham Public Library has created a fun video about Rosetta Stone where several members of the staff are speaking the languages offered at the present time.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Writer Madeleine L’Engle Dies

madeleine l'engleMadeleine L’Engle died Thursday of natural causes; she was 88-years-old. L’Engle was a prolific writer, publishing poems, plays, essays, and autobiographies. She wrote for children as well as adults. She is beloved for her Time Quartet, which includes A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. The concept of the series was taken from Einstein's theory of relativity.

An only child, L’Engle relished her solitude and filled her hours reading and writing stories. She wrote her first story at the age of five. As a shy teen in boarding school, solitude was hard to come by so she learned to shut out the sound of a bustling school, focusing on her writing instead of her schoolwork. This groomed her for being able to write anywhere.

Already a published writer by the late 1940s, L’Engle stopped writing for a while to focus on marriage and family. But the pull of writing was too strong, and this conflict between family and writing was something she struggled with for a good part of her life. As she explains it, “The problem was that I put two things first. My husband and children came first. So did my writing.” Even after years of rejection letters, L’Engle still continued to write, not caring if she never published another novel.

And then came A Wrinkle in Time. Rejected by twenty-six publishers in two years, publishers were stymied as to how to promote the book. Was it science fiction or fantasy? Was it for adults or children? Publishers were afraid it was too difficult for children and would not find an audience. Boy, were they wrong. It should be said that we need more writers who don’t sell our children short.

L’Engle finally handed a publisher a copy of A Wrinkle in Time warning him “here’s a book nobody likes.” She was warned in turn not to be disappointed if nobody liked it because they did, which is why they were taking a chance on it. Audiences loved it, too, and the book won the Newbery Medal in 1963.

The awards L’Engle has amassed over her lifetime are too numerous to list here, as are her books and other writings. Please check our JCLC catalog for a list of her works, and our Biography Resource Center for more information on her life and achievements.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Author Mary Monroe To Visit the North Birmingham Library

mary monroe
Bestselling author Mary Monroe will visit the North Birmingham Library to sign copies of her new book, Deliver Me from Evil. Monroe has built a solid fan base with her popular books about strong, memorable characters residing in the familiar small-town setting of her childhood.

Born in Toxey, Alabama, Monroe began writing at an early age and had a passion for literature that was not always understood by her family. She became the only one of four siblings to graduate from high school. Her family wanted her to marry young and settle for a stable post office career, but, luckily for readers, Monroe had a mind of her own and a persistence for not giving up on her dreams.

As a teenager, Monroe honed her skills writing short stories for True Confessions-style magazines. With titles such as “My Husband and His Mistress Tried to Kill Me with Voodoo,” she soon had enthusiastic readers clamoring for more. When an editor suggested she try a career as a novelist, Monroe eventually did just that, penning her first novel, The Upper Room. However, it was many rejection slips later before this story about a giant woman named Ruby who steals her friend’s stillborn baby and flees to a Florida swamp was published in 1985. It would be another fifteen years before Monroe published her most popular novel, God Don’t Like Ugly.

The rise of successful African American writers such as Terry McMillan in the 1990s meant that Monroe’s books were promoted more aggressively. This success allowed Monroe to ditch her other jobs and write full time. The woman who has been compared to Zora Neale Hurston is now living her dreams of becoming a writer and traveling the world.

Where: North Birmingham Library
When: Thursday, September 20
Time: 12 noon

book coverbook coverbook coverbook cover
book coverbook coverbook coverbook cover


To learn more about Mary Monroe, visit the Biography Resource Center (library card is required)

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