Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fiction Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Book Cover
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, a delightful novel of letters beginning with writer Juliet Ashton,who in January 1946,writes to her publisher to say that she is tired of covering the “light-hearted” side of the war. Later, she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a Guernsey Island farmer, who has discovered her name in the front cover of a Charles Lamb novel. He would like to order more of Charles Lamb's writings by post. Dawsey tells her of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a unique book club created by a few individuals during the German occupation as a way to protect its members from arrest.

Juliet Ashton becomes more absorbed in Guernsey and its inhabitants. She learns of their struggles, their hopes, their fears, and the lives of these individuals are soon intertwined. They share common interests and new friendships develop. Book club members write letters to Juliet describing how reading has made a difference in their lives.

Through stories, we are inexplicably magically altered in some manner. Reading allows us to see our lives in a new way, learn something exciting and new, or become completely lost in a world different from our own. We may strongly relate to a character, to an idea, or to the flow of words that are beautiful, poetic, and perfectly describe a feeling or emotion. Delicate placement of words creates euphony, words moving, dancing, spilling over the page, and finally plunging into perfect meaning for the reader.

Juliet writes: “I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

In a letter from Juliet to Dawsey:

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive-all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”

She decides to travel to Guernsey in order to meet and learn more about its inhabitants and their struggles. Read this book for an inspirational story about friendship, and the power of books to capture a reader, change their lives and never let go.

For more information visit the author's website:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Monday, December 29, 2008

Now Read the Book

Twilight by Stephenie MeyerBeen to the multiplex lately?

Despite the harsh economy, many of us are flocking to the cinema's latest offerings including those movies based on books like Twilight or short stories like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

It is hard not to compare the book and the film adaptation.

Reading the book is almost always better. When watching a movie, you typically miss out on details. Many details are cut due to time or excluded due to the "director’s vision”. It is not unusual for entire characters to be cut out of a film.

Also, reading the book allows your imagination to run. As you read, you get to delve into characters’ thoughts allowing you to feel as though you are on the journey with them.

Go ahead see the movie, but also consider reading the book.

Book Trailer: Contagious by Scott Sigler



Contagious, a new Scott Sigler horror novel, is the bloody sequel to Sigler's masterful thriller Infected.

Booklist calls Contagious, "A definite must-read, whether you’ve read Infected or not."

Contagious will be released on December 30.

Click here to reserve a copy today.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

WORD UP! Deadline Extended Until Jan. 9

Word UP Winner 2008 Erika Wade
You get another chance to join in on WORD UP!, the county-wide spoken word contest for high school students. The deadline has been extended until Friday, January 9. High school teachers or principals please call us at 226-3670 or email us at hm@bham.lib.al.us to let us know your school would like to participate.

Details about the contest may be found here.


Holiday Schedule

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed December 24-December 26 and January 1-January 2.

Happy Holidays!

P.S. You can always visit BPL's online library which is open 24/7 at www.bplonline.org.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Bragg Named 2009 Harper Lee Award Recipient

rick braggCalhoun County native Rick Bragg has been named the 2009 recipient of the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year, the Alabama Writers’ Forum announced recently. Bragg will receive the award at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville on May 1 at the annual luncheon. The conference will meet April 30-May 2.

“I was honored to hear I had been chosen to receive the Harper Lee Award, named for a writer whose book, and its message, have spanned decades,” said Bragg. “I am also honored to join a list of people I have admired and respected all my writing life, people who have helped establish this state as a place where good writers just seem to come out of the dirt.”

Bragg is the best selling and critically acclaimed author of Southern non-fiction, including a trio of books on his Calhoun County family that have become anthems of working-class Americans—All Over but the Shoutin’, Ava's Man, and The Prince of Frogtown. The books, award winners in both literary and audio circles, track one family's conflicts and triumphs across a century of whiskey making, deprivation, fist fights, knife fights and human kindness. The story of his mother's sacrifices in raising him and his brothers in 1960s Alabama, All Over But the Shoutin’ is one of the most often read books in community and college-wide reads.

He is also the author of I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, and a collection of newspaper stories, Somebody Told Me.

A 1993 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Bragg has covered stories from Central Asia to the Caribbean to economic and social upheaval in the U.S., usually focusing on people in trouble. He has written from the Bazaar of the Storytellers in Peshawar, Pakistan, and the slums of Port-au-Prince. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing, the Susan Smith trials, 9/11, and many other stories in newspapers from The Jacksonville News to The New York Times.

Bragg lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Dianne, and step-son, Jake, where he is Professor of Writing at the University of Alabama. He continues to write for magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Food and Wine, Best Life, Men's Journal, Southern Living, Garden and Gun, and others.

The Alabama Writers’ Forum coordinates the process to select the Harper Lee Award recipient annually from nominations from the field.

The Harper Lee Award includes a cash prize and a bronze sculpture by Frank Fleming of the Monroe County Courthouse clock tower. The courthouse is a setting for Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

The honor is presented annually by Alabama Southern Community College at the Alabama Writers Symposium in Monroeville. It is made possible through a generous grant from George F. Landegger.

For more information about the 12th annual Alabama Writers Symposium, visit www.writerssymposium.org. For more information about the Harper Lee Award, phone the Alabama Writers’ Forum at 866-901-1117 or visit www.writersforum.org.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Birmingham Public Library Presents the National Traveling Exhibit "Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World"

Benjamin Franklin exhibit logo“Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World,” a traveling exhibition opening at the Birmingham Public Library on January 5, 2009, tells the remarkable story of the man who began his life as a poor printer’s apprentice and ended it as a revered elder statesman known throughout the world for his wisdom, wit, and resourcefulness. Benjamin Franklin’s achievements in diplomacy, science, philanthropy and other fields profoundly influenced the path of a new nation and continue to inspire us more than three hundred years after his birth.

Benjamin Franklin’s accomplishments were the result of a lifelong dedication to improving the world around him. “I would rather have it said, ‘He lived usefully,’ than ‘He died rich,” he once wrote to his mother. Franklin also placed great value on self-improvement and believed that integrity and moral responsibility were the foundations for a successful life and a strong community.

“Franklin has a particular resonance in twenty-first century America,” biographer Walter Isaacson has written. “We would relate to the way he tried to balance, sometimes uneasily, a pursuit of reputation, wealth, earthly virtues, and spiritual values.” Although Franklin excelled at nearly everything he attempted, his first priority was to use his talents for the greater public good. He refused to seek a patent on his numerous inventions, believing that they should be universally available. As co-founder of a number of civic institutions, including America’s first public hospital and first lending library, and Philadelphia’s first firefighting brigade, Franklin continually encouraged his fellow citizens to collaborate in useful projects for the community.

“We are pleased to have been selected as a site for this exhibition,” said Sandi Lee, Public Services Coordinator at the Birmingham Public Library. “Benjamin Franklin’s life is the quintessential American success story. His dedication to the welfare of the community, and his belief that overcoming society’s challenges required mutual action, collaboration and generosity on the part of all citizens, offers us inspiration as we face many difficult issues in contemporary American society. Benjamin Franklin has much to say to 21st century Americans.”

Franklin was the only American political figure to have signed five of his country’s key founding documents: the Albany Plan of Union (1754), Declaration of Independence (1776), Treaties of Amity and Commerce with France (1778), Treaty of Paris (1783), and the U.S. Constitution (1787). His last years were spent in writing his autobiography, the most widely published memoir in history, and in promoting the abolition of slavery. In 1787, three years before his death, Franklin became the oldest member of the Constitutional Convention. Although he was in poor health, he played a significant role in the “Great Compromise,” which resulted in the legislature of two houses which is today the United States Congress.

Organized by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, Philadelphia, in cooperation with the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): great ideas brought to life. This exhibit is also supported by a grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of The National Endowment for the Humanities. The traveling exhibit is based upon a major exhibit developed by the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, which has traveled to major cities in the United States and abroad. The Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary is a nonprofit organization established through a major grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to educate the public about Franklin’s enduring legacy.

“Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” draws upon original documents in the collections of the American Philosophical Society, The Franklin Institute, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the University of Pennsylvania, other museums and libraries, and private collectors. Photographs of handwritten and printed documents, objects owned by Franklin, maps, paintings and drawings provide a colorful background for Franklin’s story. The traveling exhibition was curated by Rosalind Remer, Ph.D., executive director of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, and Page Talbott, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary and chief curator of the original “Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” exhibition.

The library is sponsoring free programs and other events for the public in connection with the exhibition. Contact Sandi Lee at 226-3742 or slee@bham.lib.al.us, or visit http://www.bplonline.org/ for more information.

“Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World” will be on display at the library until the end of February 2009.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Library Confessions: Pay Fines Online



Paying late charges online is convenient, fast and easy!

Access your account.
Click on any unpaid fines and bills.
Click pay online.

Click here for more information.

Brown Bag Program ~ A Touch of Piano

anthony pattin
Dr. Anthony Pattin, Professor of Music at the University of Montevallo and Director of Music at Chapel In The Pines Presbyterian Church, will present a diverse program of music performed on the piano. This program will feature the music of Bach, Liszt, Brahms, and Ravel, as well as hymn tunes, popular standards, and some holiday favorites. Come and enjoy the artistry of this talented and gifted pianist. Wednesday, December 17, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birmingham Native Odetta Dies at 77

OdettaOdetta, a singer whose voice resonated throughout the Civil Rights Movement, died on December 2nd in Manhattan at the age of 77. According to her manager, she had been hoping to perform at the inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama. With a career that spanned decades, Odetta has influenced a generation of musicians. In fact, her solo debut album, Sings Ballads and Blues (1956), is cited by Bob Dylan as one of the reasons he switched to acoustic guitar.

Odetta was born December 31, 1930 in Birmingham, AL. In 1937, her family moved to Los Angeles and she began taking music lessons at the age of 13. Although she performed in musical theater after high school, her introduction to the West Coast folk music scene changed the direction of her career. She made quite a name for herself performing in clubs on the West Coast and in 1953, traveled to New York to perform at the famous Blue Angel folk club. In 1954, she recorded her first album, The Tin Angel, with Larry Mohr. During her most active decade, the 1960s, she released 16 albums and became heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. She marched in Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and performed at the 1963 March on Washington. She continued to record for decades, releasing her final album, Gonna Let It Shine, in 2005. This album received a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Folk Album.

Her storied career brought her several awards. In 1972, she received the Duke Ellington Fellowship Award along with Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson, and Eubie Blake. During the 1980s, the National Music Council awarded her with the American Eagle Award. In 1999, she received the National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton, the highest award given to artists by the United States Government.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Birmingham African-American Genealogy Study Group Meeting

the bennett family of gees bend
The Bennett Family of Gee's Bend, 1971-1980
Photo courtesy of BPL Digital Collections

The staff of the Southern History Department will be on hand to assist African Americans in family research. Sunday, December 14, 3:00-5:00 p.m. on the first floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library. For more information call 226-3665.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

BPL @ Night presents An Evening with Foxxy Fatts

Foxxy Fatts: Photo by Larry O. Gay With his trademark toothpick hanging from his lips, Foxxy Fatts guides his band.

An Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame inductee, Fatts began drumming around 8 years of age. Among his many credits are playing with Percy Sledge on "When a Man Loves a Woman" and Larry Graham's platinum single "Your One in a Million."

The unique blend of rock, R & B, fussion jazz, swing and Motown played by this multi-dimensional performer is not to be missed.


Event Details
What: An Evening with Foxxy Fatts
When: Tuesday, December 16
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Cost: Free

BPL thanks Compass Bank for its generous support of BPL@Night. BPL@Night is also made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Birmingham Public Library Board Elects New Board Officers

At its annual meeting in November, the Birmingham Public Library Board elected two new officers: Mrs. Gwendolyn Bowen Welch as President and Mrs. Nell Allen as Vice-President. Both Mrs. Welch and Mrs. Allen have served on the BPL Board for seven and six years respectively.

In keeping with Birmingham Library Board procedure, President Welch appointed Shanta Craig Owens, Esq to Parliamentarian, the position in which Mrs. Owens has previously served. Also, Rev. Anthony A. Johnson was appointed to the Library Board to complete the term of the late Mrs. Emily Norton.

Former Library Board President, Mrs. Lillie M. H. Fincher, stepped down from her post as President this year. She served for three years in this position. She continues to serve as Past President and board member.

The Library Board is BPL's governing board, and it consists of eleven members who serve in non-salaried positions. The Library Board faithfully promotes BPL’s mission, which is “to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment and enjoyment.” The Birmingham Public Library appreciates the Library Board’s commitment to service and welcomes the new officers to carry out its mission.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Brown Bag Program ~ A Christmas Memory Starring Dolores Hydock

dolores hydock
Join us for our annual tradition with Birmingham storyteller and actress Dolores Hydock as she presents A Christmas Memory. Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama is brought to vivid life in this wonderful holiday performance. Wednesday, December 10, noon.

Learn more about Dolores Hydock's stellar career at Storypower.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Scott Sigler Alert

book coverI hope my fellow horror fans are as excited as I am about the sequel to Scott Sigler's book Infected (read my review of this book) . Infected is one of those great stories that I had to read and listen to on CD. The fact that Sigler himself narrated his story made it that much more affective.

Contagious continues the story of Perry Dawsey, the tough ex-linebacker who survived his infection by cutting the triangles out of his body; Margaret Montoyo, the epidemiologist who was called on to track the infection when it first broke; and Dew Phillips, the tough CIA agent who dealt with the trail of bodies left by the psychopathic attacks of the infected. They stopped an alien invasion the first time around, and now these three must work together to somehow save humanity the second time around.

More about Contagious from Scott Sigler's Web site:
Across America, a mysterious pathogen transforms ordinary people into raging killers, psychopaths driven by a terrifying, alien agenda. The human race fights back, yet after every battle the disease responds, adapts, using sophisticated strategies and brilliant ruses to fool its pursuers. The only possible explanation: the epidemic is driven not by evolution but by some malevolent intelligence.

Standing against this unimaginable threat is a small group, assembled under the strictest secrecy. Their best weapon is hulking former football star Perry Dawsey, left psychologically shattered by his own struggles with this terrible enemy, who possesses an unexplainable ability to locate the disease’s hosts. Violent and unpredictable, Perry is both the nation’s best hope and a terrifying liability. Hardened CIA veteran Dew Phillips must somehow forge a connection with him if they’re going to stand a chance against this maddeningly adaptable opponent. Alongside them is Margaret Montoya, a brilliant epidemiologist who fights for a cure even as she reels under the weight of endless horrors.

These three and their team have kept humanity in the game, but that’s not good enough anymore, not when the disease turns contagious, triggering a fast countdown to Armageddon. Meanwhile, other enemies join the battle, and a new threat — one that comes from a most unexpected source — may ultimately prove the most dangerous of all.
The street date for Contagious is December 30. Reserve your copy in advance.

Sigler's earlier novels, Earthcore and Ancestor, are available through Interlibrary Loan.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

BPL@Night Presents Alabama Actor Thom Gossom in Voices of Spirits

thom gossom
The diverse voices of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., politician Robert Kennedy, poet Maya Angelou, playwrights Athol Fugard and August Wilson, singers and songwriters Harry Chapin, Elton John and Marvin Gaye, and others are dramatized in an evening of American prose and literature interpretation. While many of the featured voices and spirits are well known, others are less known, but nevertheless brilliant. From these voices came the power to vote, to change laws, to love, to unite, and to enlighten the masses. The voices in these spirits altered the prism through which we view life.

Accompanied by a biting soundtrack, Voices of Spirits is inspirational, motivational, fun, and stirring. Through his unique oratorical style, dramatic flair and audience participation, Gossom presents Voices of Spirits as a dramatic, motivational lecture interspersed with speeches, sermons, poetry, hip-hop, and his own writings.

An accomplished actor, Gossom has appeared on television in the recurring roles of city councilman, Ted Marcus, in In The Heat Of The Night, Judge Blake Winters in Boston Legal, Judge Garamedian in Close to Home, and as J.R. Ride in Jack and Bobby. He starred as the title character, Israel, in the Emmy winning episode of NYPD Blue titled “Lost Israel.”

Other television credits include guest star roles in CSI, Cold Case, Without A Trace, The West Wing, and ER. Film credits include, Fight Club, Jeepers Creepers 2, Miss Ever’s Boys, The Chamber, and Miracle in The Woods.

Voices of Spirits: An Evening with Thom Gossom Jr. is a memorable experience that you will not forget.

Event Details
What: Voices of Spirts: An Evening with Thom Gossom Jr.
When: Thursday, December 4
Where: Atrium at the Central Library
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

BPL thanks Compass Bank for its generous support of BPL@Night. BPL@Night is also made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Brown Bag Program ~ Alabama School of Fine Arts Presents

music notes
Join us for a wonderful opportunity to hear the Alabama School of Fine Arts Music Department present a musical delight. The department is under the direction of Kim Scott. Wednesday, December 3, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Free Geneaology Classes at Central

family photograph
The staff of the Southern History Department will discuss how to begin genealogical research. The Southern History Department is located on the 1st floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library. For more information call 226-3665.

Schedule of Classes for November thru January
Sunday
2:30 - 3:30 p.m.
January 11

Tuesday
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.
November 25
January 27

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Life After the Bugger War

book coverIt's been 23 years since readers were introduced to Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a 12-year-old tapped to save the human race from an insect-like alien race called Formics, or "Buggers." Orson Scott Card's Ender in Exile is a direct sequel to Ender's Game, and it explores the lost years of Ender's life between the ages 0f 12 and 35.

After extensive training at Battle School—beginning when he was just 6-years-old—and winning the third war against the Formics, Ender must leave school and find his place in the world. But what does the Savior of Earth do for an encore?

With every nation vying to own a piece of Ender, it is decided that Ender will not return to earth but will travel to one of the worlds won in the war. He is joined by his sister, Violet, who begins writing a history of the Bugger War.

Later when Ender is searching for a new site for future colonists, he discovers a "note" from the Formics in the form of a game he played in Battle School. What he finds when he investigates further will lead him to write his first book as Speaker for the DeadThe Hive Queen.

The Ender saga:
Ender's Game
Speaker for the Dead
Xenocide
Children of the Mind
A War of Gifts
Ender in Exile

The Shadow series:
Ender's Shadow
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Story Behind Schindler's List

book cover Searching for Schindler, Thomas Keneally's latest nonfiction book, is about a chance encounter in 1980 with a Polish Jew named Poldek Pfefferberg while shopping for a briefcase, and where that encounter led.

Pfefferberg, number 173 on Oskar Schindler's famous list, convinced Keneally that the story of Schindler is one that begs to be told: "I was a Jew imprisoned with Jews. So a Nazi saves me and, more important, saves Misia, my young wife... Not that he was a saint. He was all-drinking, all-black-marketeering, all-screwing, okay? But he got Misia out of Auschwitz, so to me he is God."

Pfefferberg had tried selling the story to the screenwriters and filmmakers who came into his Beverly Hills luggage shop, but no one was interested. In 1963 Metro-Goldwym-Mayer bought the story rights from Oskar Schindler, who was living in Frankfurt at the time, but the movie was shelved.

An intrigued Keneally sifted through Pfefferberg's extensive Schindler files and saw the potential for a great story. Schindler's Ark was published in 1982 and won the Booker Prize. (The title on republication was changed to Schindler's List, the title of Steven Spielberg's 1993 movie.)

Reserve your copy of Searching for Schindler in advance.

See Also:
Search the JCLC catalog for more information on the Holocaust

BBC World Book Club podcast of Thomas Keneally discussing Schindler's Ark

The complete list of people saved from the Holocaust by Oskar Schindler

oskarschindler.com

Photo credit: Leopold Page Photographic Collection, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archive, November 1964, Location: Paris, Region: Seine, France. Oskar Schindler (seated) with Leopold Pfefferberg.

Book Trailer: Running Hot





Running Hot by Jayne Ann Krentz will be released on December 30.

Click here to reserve a copy today.

By the way, if you enjoy books by Jayne Ann Krentz you might consider joining our immensely popular Best Sellers Club, so that we can put advanced holds on all of her new releases for you.

The Bestsellers Club is provides quick access to new releases from many best-selling authors. Select from a list of authors and have the books delivered to your preferred Birmingham Public Library location. You will be notified when your copy is available.

Click here to join the club or visit any Birmingham Public Library for more information.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

3rd Annual Local Authors Expo

Birmingham Public Library is excited and happy to present the 3rd Annual Local Authors Expo.

We even created two videos for the event:

one excited, in the fashion of a monster truck announcer



and one happy



Join us
Friday, December 5 and Saturday, December 6, 2008.
11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
at the Central Library

Meet local authors who will sell and autograph their books including:

Mychal Smith - Author of "Choosy Lovers a Radical Romance"
Jeanenne Bell - Author of "How to be a Jewelry Detective"
Jessie Crawford - Author of " The Christmas Prayer"
(Click on the authors name to watch an interview)

The Expo is sponsored by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

BPL@Night Presents Flying Jenny, Old-time String Band

flying jenny
The Birmingham Public Library is excited to host the old-time string band, Flying Jenny, of Birmingham, Alabama. They play the music of the American settlers from the British Isles, which is a forerunner of bluegrass and country music. It consists of lively fiddle tunes meant for dancing as well as old songs sung on front porches and in front of fireplaces when families and friends got together after the day’s work was done. Flying Jenny (named after an old-fashioned mule-powered carnival ride) plays breakdowns on fiddle, guitar, banjo and bass, and sings old songs, often comical, in three-part harmony.

In addition to the music, a performance by Flying Jenny includes stories about the tunes and the fiddlers who first played them. They have done a number of thematic performances on such topics as Alabama history, folk art, early radio music, Christmas folk music, romance in old-time music, etc., and have collaborated with storyteller Dolores Hydock in Footprint on the Sky: Memories of a Chandler Mountain Spring, a piece in which tales, tunes and songs interact with each other to create a sense of life in an Alabama farming community. They have also provided background music for weddings, picnics, art openings, and other social events.

For more information on the band, visit http://www.bamalong.com/flyingjenny.htm#Flying%20Jenny.

Performance Details
What: Flying Jenny concert
When: Thursday, November 20, 2008
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Atrium at the Central Library
Cost: Free

Light refreshments will be served.

BPL thanks Compass Bank for its generous support of BPL@Night. BPL@Night is also made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Brown Bag Program ~ It's Perfectly True

seasoned perfomers group photo
It's Perfectly True evolved from a suggestion by Martha Harrbauer, director of The Seasoned Performers, to develop a play based on a fable. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fable, the hens become human and the tale takes a decidedly human turn.

Don't forget to make your appointment at the Curl Up & Dye where the Seasoned Performers catch up on all the latest gossip...the things that you hear at this beauty shop will make your hair curl! It's Perfectly True! Wednesday, November 19, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tech Tuesdays ~ We See Dead People...Online

genealogy comic
Comic by Jonathan Brown

Genealogical resources are a mouse click away with BPL’s databases. Join us as we explore census, church, cemetery, obituary, mine fatality, and inventor records. Tuesday, November 18, 6:30 p.m. Live @ Central Library's Arrington Auditorium and simulcast at Five Points West Library.

IM, del.icio.us, MySpace, Facebook, RSS, Mashups, Photobucket, Pixer, Second Life, Wiki, blogging. What are these things and will they hurt me? Join us at Tech Tuesdays for a look at the technologies sweeping the Internet and see if you need to join the crowd!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Brown Bag Program ~ Sharing Native American Culture

native american culture
A storyteller from The Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama, Vickie King—Spirit Eyes, will be telling informative stories of Indian culture, tradition, beliefs, and lifestyles. Her original oil paintings, gathered herbs, musical instruments, tanned skins, and baskets will be on display to accompany the stories. Join us for a fun and informative look into the work of the Native American Indian. Wednesday, November 12, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Children's Book Review: If You Give a Cat a Cupcake

book coverLaura Numeroff, author of the wonderful If You Give series, has a new book out titled If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. Parents, who know all to well that the moment they sit down their children will ask for something, which will lead to something else, and then to something else, will enjoy the tables being turned on some frazzled children trying to appease some needy animals.

In her latest book, a kind young girl offers a cat a cupcake. Not satisfied, the cat wants some sprinkles to go with it. When he spills them on the floor and has to sweep them up, he gets hot and is put into a bathing suit and taken to the beach. Before she knows it, the girl has taken him to the gym, a karate class, rock climbing, boat rowing, on a merry-go-round ride, the science museum, and finally back home. The sand emptied from his shoes reminds him of sprinkles, and, of course, he's going to need a cupcake to go with them!

The animals take center stage in this fun series as the girls and boys tire themselves out trying to keep up with their demands.

Other books in the If You Give series:
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985)
If You Give a Mouse a Muffin (1991)
If You Give a Pig a Pancake (1998)
The Best Mouse Cookie (1999)
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies (2000)
If You Take a Mouse to School (2002)
If You Give a Pig a Party (2005)

See Also:
Laura Numeroff's Web site
An interview with Laura Numeroff

BPL@Night Presents Alabama Actor Thom Gossom in Voices of Spirits

thom gossom
The diverse voices of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., politician Robert Kennedy, poet Maya Angelou, playwrights Athol Fugard and August Wilson, singers and songwriters Harry Chapin, Elton John and Marvin Gaye, and others are dramatized in an evening of American prose and literature interpretation. While many of the featured voices and spirits are well known, others are less known, but nevertheless brilliant. From these voices came the power to vote, to change laws, to love, to unite, and to enlighten the masses. The voices in these spirits altered the prism through which we view life.

Accompanied by a biting soundtrack, Voices of Spirits is inspirational, motivational, fun, and stirring. Through his unique oratorical style, dramatic flair and audience participation, Gossom presents Voices of Spirits as a dramatic, motivational lecture interspersed with speeches, sermons, poetry, hip-hop, and his own writings.

An accomplished actor, Gossom has appeared on television in the recurring roles of city councilman, Ted Marcus, in In The Heat Of The Night, Judge Blake Winters in Boston Legal, Judge Garamedian in Close to Home, and as J.R. Ride in Jack and Bobby. He starred as the title character, Israel, in the Emmy winning episode of NYPD Blue titled “Lost Israel.”

Other television credits include guest star roles in CSI, Cold Case, Without A Trace, The West Wing, and ER. Film credits include, Fight Club, Jeepers Creepers 2, Miss Ever’s Boys, The Chamber, and Miracle in The Woods.

Voices of Spirits: An Evening with Thom Gossom Jr. is a memorable experience that you will not forget.

Event Details
What: Voices of Spirts: An Evening with Thom Gossom Jr.
When: Thursday, December 4
Where: Atrium at the Central Library
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Cost: Free

BPL thanks Compass Bank for its generous support of BPL@Night. BPL@Night is also made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Michael Crichton Dies at Age 66

Crichton photoU.S. bestselling author and filmmaker, Michael Crichton, died Tuesday, November 4th after a battle with cancer. He was 66. Crichton was the author of scientific thrillers including Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. Next, his most recent novel, was published in December 2006. The scientific thriller focused on genetic engineering. He was also the creator of the television medical drama, ER. Crichton won an Emmy, Peabody and a Writer's Guild of America Award for the show.

Through his writing, Crichton made many of the scientific mysteries of the world exciting and easy to understand. Andromeda Strain is a classic biological thriller portraying the threat of a worldwide epidemic from microscopic organisms. Jurassic Park involves the cloning of 15 species of dinosaurs and the construction of a park so that tourists may view these creatures. Prey explores the dangers of nanotechnology and the hazards of robots created at the molecular level. Next, published in December 2006, is an interesting, thought provoking novel about genetic engineering.

Michael Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois on October 23rd, 1942. He graduated from Harvard College and later received an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. His background in medicine and science is reflected in his writings. Crichton's first bestseller, Andromeda Strain, was published while he was still a medical student. His books have been translated into thirty-six languages and thirteen have been made into films. Worldwide, his books have sold over 150 million copies.

Michael Crichton, his gift for storytelling , and his ability to excite us about scientific wonders, will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Battle of the Bands Gaming Tournament @ Springville Road Library

guitar hero
Music Gaming Tournament Details
(featuring Guitar Hero 2, 3: Legends of Rock and Rock Band 2 for Xbox 360)
What: Players will form bands comprised of four members. These bands will work together to obtain the highest score obtainable with the boundaries of the rules.
Who: Produced and hosted by Greg "Mastermind" Kennedy
Where: Springville Road Library
When: Saturday, November 15
Time: Registration begins at 11:00 a.m.

3 Rounds Of Gameplay:
Round One: Solo
Round Two: Doubles
Round Three: Full Band

Round One Rules:
Each band will elect one member to represent their team in Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. They will get to choose and play one song from that game and their scores will be recorded. The band with the highest score will get to choose the order of which players play in the second round.

Round Two Rules:
Each band will elect a team of two players to play together a set of two songs in Guitar Hero 2. These songs and their scores will be added together and this will decide who qualifies for the final round. (In case of a tie, the first round score is the tiebreaker to decide who advances.)

Final Round Rules:
Every band that qualifies for the final round will play a full three song set in Rock Band 2. These songs and their scores will be recorded and added together to help us crown a "new" champion.

Rick Bragg Featured at Annual Friends Meeting

rick braggThe annual meeting for the Friends of the Library will host special guest Rick Bragg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author from Alabama. Mr. Bragg’s new book, The Prince of Frogtown, is the third in his family trilogy. The first two books, All Over But the Shoutin’ and Ava’s Man, established Bragg as a first-rate storyteller and a national voice.

The Prince of Frogtown chronicles the life of his father, a man whose difficult behavior, bad choices and alcoholism separated him from his family. The impetus for this book came from two sources. Rick Bragg decided to find something good about his father, a man who had left his mother with three young children. Secondly, Bragg “inherited” a stepson when he married “a tall red headed woman ... who was a little bit slinky.” This stepson had every advantage that Bragg didn’t have and brought Mr. Bragg full circle, to confront the issue of fatherhood.

The Prince of Frogtown intersperses the stories of Bragg’s father and the stories of his stepson. As ever, Bragg’s voice is real and honest and Southern and wonderful. As a natural-born raconteur and hilarious storyteller, Rick Bragg will delight the Friends of the Library at this special program. You will not want to miss it. He will also be on hand to sign copies of his new book and interact with everyone.

The only requirement to attend the Annual Meeting will be a current membership. Basic membership costs $20 for individuals and $10 for senior citizens, students, and library employees. It's time to renew your yearly membership with the Friends, and you may do so at the meeting or by mail using the enclosed form. For more information, please visit http://friends.bplonline.org.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting!

Event Details
What: Rick Bragg book signing
Where: Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library
When: Thursday, November 13
Time: 5:00 p.m.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's Fall—Time to Watch Hannah and Her Sisters Again

hannah and her sisters"And Nietzsche, with his theory of eternal recurrence. He said that the life we lived we're gonna live over again the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again." ~ Mickey Sachs

Every fall when there's a chill and a whiff of wood smoke in the air, I watch Woody Allen's 1986 movie Hannah and Her Sisters. I don't know why it beckons me at summer's end. There's just something about the dark wood interiors of the New York apartments, and the fact that the meat of the story is sandwiched between three Thanksgivings. The first Thanksgiving introduces the characters; the second shows their crumbling lives; and the third shows them at peace with the choices they made over the span of two years.

Now stay with me—this gets complicated. Hannah at one time was married to Mickey Sachs (Woody Allen), but the marriage crumbled when Hannah wanted children and it was discovered that Mickey was reproductively challenged. Did he sexually damage himself in some way? she wants to know. “You gonna start knocking my hobbies?" he retorts. She eventually gives birth to twins via a donation from his show business partner.

Hannah is happily married to Elliot (Michael Caine), but he is not happily caine and hersheymarried to her. He is infatuated with her sister Lee (Barbara Hershey), who lives in a loft with the much older agoraphobic artist, Frederick (Max von Sydow). She serves as his connection to the outside world, and he depends on her for daily validation. But who validates her? Hannah is a successful actress, and the third sister, Holly (Dianne Wiest), is a confident aspiring actress/writer/singer/caterer. Lee is adrift in her own insecurities, and so she embarks on an affair with Hannah’s husband.

Mickey is a wealthy Jewish TV producer and a hypochondriac who finally gets what he thought he always wanted—a possible devastating diagnosis. He panics at the thought of dying sooner than expected, and while waiting for the results of the test, starts a desperate search for meaning in his life. He turns to religion for comfort. He hangs out with the Hare Krishnas in the park, and prepares for a conversion to Catholicism by purchasing a crucifix, a picture of Christ, a loaf of Wonder Bread, and a jar of Hellman’s mayonnaise. His parents are devastated at his conversion plans, and in a moment of weakness he turns to suicide.

But redemption arrives in the form of Holly, a former cokehead whom he once tried to date. It was a disaster then, but they cautiously give it another go. The movie was supposed to end on a down note, with Elliot still pining for Lee, but Allen decided to end his story with an intimate scene between Holly and Mickey, and it's a magical blindsiding movie moment.

My love for Woody Allen has waned over the years, but I'll never give up my visitation rights to Hannah, Holly, and Lee.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Subject Resources Available on BPL's Virtual Library

Book with skull
To Read or Not to Read.
That is the Question.

Check out the Subject Resource Guides on BPL's Virtual Library. They contain a wealth of information and resources on a wide variety of topics. For example, the Literature Subject Guide points to lots of information on Shakespeare, including some really neat websites.

Have a Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Birmingham Historical Society's Architecture as Art Exhibit at Central Library

architecture as art
Before computers there was art—true art—in architecture. Architects painstakingly drew designs by hand, mapping out minute details of buildings that brought glory to cities—and to style itself.

One such Birmingham treasure was D. O. Whilldin, whose career extended from 1904 to 1962. Still-standing structures include Legion Field, the Florentine Building, Phillips High School, Tuscaloosa High School, the Dr. Pepper Building, and a large number of civic structures, theaters, and fine residences.

The Birmingham Historical Society (BHS) displays 70 of the foremost drawings—from the small details for brass, copper or terra cotta embellishments to entire plans for Beaux-Arts buildings—in the exhibit "Architecture as Art."

"The drawings had been privately held for a number of years, seldom seen," explains Marjorie White, BHS director. "People will be utterly amazed. This is a fraction of the architect's prolific work. They were never intended for exhibition—most are construction drawings intended for the stone or wood carver or the terra cotta manufacturer." The Whilldin Collection, featuring some 90 projects, currently resides in the archives at the Birmingham Public Library.

Exhibit Details
What: Architecture As Art Exhibit
Where: 4th Floor Gallery at Central Library
When: November 2-December 28

Links
Birmingham Architectural History Defined in Drawings by D.O. Whilldin posted by James R. Nelson - Birmingham News

Brown Bag Program ~ Cherokee Removal and The Trail of Tears

trail of tears paintingPainting by Robert Lindneux, Woolaroc Museum, Bartlesville, Oklahoma

The forced removal of the Cherokee Indians began on May 23, 1838, when General Winfield Scott issued the order to the military to begin forcing the Cherokee into encampments in Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Up until that date, the Cherokees were enticed to remove themselves voluntarily.

This presentation will be an overview of how things were handled by the military in each state and how Alabama differed from the other states in implementing the removal orders.
Wednesday, November 5, noon.

Search our catalog for information on The Trail of Tears:
DVDs
Nonfiction, adult and juvenile fiction.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Hinley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tech Tuesdays ~ Parlez-vous Français?

clip art
Michelangelo’s David and Fats Waller. What do these people have in common? You can find them in a database. Join us as we explore the great resources for viewing your favorite art work, checking out your favorite music, or learning a new foreign language. Tuesday, November 4, noon. Live @ Central Library and simulcast at Five Points West and Springville Road libraries.

IM, del.icio.us, MySpace, Facebook, RSS, Mashups, Photobucket, Pixer, Second Life, Wiki, blogging. What are these things and will they hurt me? Join us at Tech Tuesdays for a look at the technologies sweeping the Internet and see if you need to join the crowd!

Toni Morrison Alert

book coverToni Morrison's new novel, A Mercy, is set to be released on November 11. A Mercy is Toni Morrison's first novel since 2003's Love. It is already being heaped with praise from reviewers, who are calling it "brilliant," "riveting," and "poetic." Publisher's Weekly writes that "it takes hold of the reader and doesn’t let go until the wrenching final-page crescendo.”

A Mercy is set in the 1680s when the slave trade in America was in its infancy. A mother makes a decision to give up her daughter, Florens, to a kinder slave owner in what she believes to be an act of mercy.

Florens grows up believing that she was abandoned by her mother in favor of her baby brother, but the truth lies much deeper.

Check Toni Morrison's official Web site for more information on her new book.

Reserve your copy in advance.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tony Hillerman Dies at Age 83

Author photo Tony Hillerman was known to readers for having written detective stories with the unusual plot setting of North American lands in the southwestern United States. The setting only enhances the twists and turns of the plotline. Hillerman used two detectives, Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, to offer more insight into the issue of Native Americans who lived in a modern Anglo-American world, while valuing Native American culture and values. In the stories, Navajo Indians are tribal policemen who guide readers through police procedure.

Tony Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma in 1925. He spent his childhood surrounded by Native Americans and their culture, which later impacted the focus of his work. While in New Mexico, he worked as a journalist until age 40. Hillerman though, had a desire to write fiction.

Hillerman’s first novel, The Blessing Way, was published in 1970. Tony Hillerman’s later titles all reflect Native American cultural traditions. Dance Hall of the Dead was published in 1973 and received the Edgar Allen Poe from the Mystery Writers of America. Hillerman also wrote The Fly on the Wall, a novel about political intrigue and murder. The book did not involve Native Americans.

By the 21st century, Hillerman was regarded as a bestselling writer. His memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won the 2001 Agatha Award for the Best Nonfiction Book of the Year. He has also been president of the Mystery Writers of America.

Please visit The Literary Reference Center for more information. You will need a library card to access this database.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Food for Fines Was a Success!

food for fines photo The 39 Public Libraries of Jefferson County collected approximately 11 tons of food during the month of September.

The September Library Food for Fines drive was held the month of September in conjunction with the annual National Library Card Sign-up Month. Fines were waived for each item of food donated up to $10.00 per patron. Canned goods and other non-perishable food items were collected and donated to local food banks such as United Way, Magic City Harvest, and Greater Birmingham Ministries. Many libraries donated to a local church or food bank in their neighborhood.

Spokesperson Pat Ryan, executive director of Jefferson County Library Cooperative said, “We had not held an amnesty campaign since 1997. Therefore, we felt this was a good time to give back to the community and the Food for Fines program helped us do that.” The public libraries hope to make this an annual September event.

Brown Bag Program ~ Tales of Terror

woman screamingJim Reed, owner of Reed Books, will join us for a wonderful hour of stories to prepare us for the ghostly Halloween season. Wednesday, October 29, noon.

brown bag imageFeed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Wednesdays at noon in the Arrington Auditorium located on the 3rd floor of the Linn-Hinley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Digital Bookmobile Comes To Birmingham on October 30

Digital bookmobile
Millions of people are already downloading audiobooks, eBooks, and more for free from their public libraries, and you can too. Find out more when Birmingham Public Library hosts the Digital Bookmobile, October 30! With instructional videos and interactive computer stations, readers of all ages will experience new ways to enjoy digital books and more from the public library.

If you don't have time to visit the digital bookmobile, you can read more about it at http://www.digitalbookmobile.com/ or visit the library's Web site to view currently held titles at http://downloadable.jclc.org/

Details
Event: Digital Bookmobile Visit
Who: Jefferson County Library Cooperative
Where: Birmingham Public Library
2100 Park Place (21st St. N. & Park Pl.)
Date: Friday, October 30
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Hope to see you there!

Digital Bookmobile
A sneek peek inside the Digital Bookmobile.

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