Monday, March 31, 2008

Tech Tuesdays @ Your Library

Join us at Tech Tuesdays for a look at the technologies sweeping the Internet and increase your TechKnowledge.

This series of programs is available, live or via simulcast, at the Central , Five Points West and Springville Road Libraries.

Click here for the Tech Tuesday schedule and more information.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird Podcasts

Big Read logo with headphones The Big Read Celebration continues! Staff and board members from the Birmingham Public Library have come together to present podcasts of readings and reflections from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Matt Layne and Kelsey Bates are reading two of the most significant sections from To Kill a Mockingbird.

Next, Samuel Rumore, Lillie Fincher, and Renee Blalock offer their reflections and memories about the book, the movie, and the author.

We hope you will enjoy!

Here are the podcasts:

Matt Layne, a former storyteller at North Birmingham and a current Mountain Brook employee, reads from To Kill a Mockingbird: -- Atticus' famous speech on justice and equality.

Kelsey Bates, Grants Writer and Assistant Archivist, reads from To Kill a Mockingbird -- a sin to kill a mockingbird.

Mr. Samuel A. Rumore, Jr., BPL Board Member, reflects on his meeting with Harper Lee, her sister, and the possible origin of a name.

Mrs. Lillie M. H. Fincher, BPL Board President, remembers introducing the book to her grandmother in the early 1960s and then her grandaughter forty years later.

Renee Blalock, Associate Director of BPL, reflects on Harper Lee's famous depiction of childhood and discusses other memorable parts in the book.

For more information about The Big Read, visit The Project Mockingbird site.

Also, if you haven't done so, check out the special promotional video created by staff at BPL. Click here to access it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brown Bag Program ~ To Kill a Mockingbird 101: A Book Discussion

big read logo
Come join a discussion about one of the best-loved novels of the 20th century: Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. One of Samford University's top scholars will discuss the profound implications behind the novel and lead a lively audience discussion. Wednesday, April 2, 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, March 25, 2008

Everything Old Is New Again

Last Thursday Sports Illustrated unlocked The Vault; the magazine’s massive archives. And vault is exactly the right word, for treasure is the only way to describe the contents of this site.

SI has been in the business of printing the mot juste and capturing the perfect image for over 50 years. Here you’ll find the classic article in which George Plimpton described the 1974 Foreman, Ali fight in Zaire as a battle between a “big cartoon wolf, licking his chops, … tricked into some extravagantly ghastly trap laid by a sly mouse.” Here too, you’ll find the iconic image of the fiercely determined Roberto Clemente doubling off John Matlack to join the 3,000 hit club.

From the beginning, Sports Illustrated has covered not only professional sports, but college sports as well. In these archives you can discover the Holy Grail of Crimson Tide articles; “I’ll tell you about football” written by Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant. And equal treatment of college athletics inside the magazine also meant equal time on the cover with the classic SI cover photos.

I could go on and on. Trust me, this is a site destined for your favorites list.

Friday, March 21, 2008

On the Trail of Justice

On the Trail of Justice: Montgomery, Monroeville, Selma
A Bus Tour of the Old South
(April 24&25, May 1&2, May 8&9, May 15&16)

This specially planned overnight tour of historic Alabama sites has been designed to enhance programming for the county's The Big Read activities. The cost for this trip is $105 per person. Your payment and registration must be received no later than April 10, 2008.

Just to let you know the first 2 dates for the trip are going fast, but there is still plenty of space for the last 2 dates. There are 35 spots are available for each trip.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Come Twitter Away With BPL

BPL is now on Twitter. Twitter is a cross between Instant Messaging and Blogging. It is not quite Instant Messaging because the features of Twitter are a little more advanced but yet it is not blogging. Basically, Twitter is considered to be a micro-blogging website.

For the BPL system this new online service will be used to publicize any events which are going on at that time. This service will be updated on a daily basis. If you would like to keep abreast of what is going on in the BPL system, please create your own account @ As new events are publicized on Twitter you will receive notfication on your Twitter account that BPL has new events happening.

You don't necessarily have to have a Tweeter account to see the new BPL Tweeter account. You can go to any of our web services such as our MySpace page or even the BPL website.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Brown Bag Program ~ The Holocaust Writings of Primo Levi

primo levi
Matthew Levey of Birmingham Southern College will discuss the writings of Holocaust survivor Primo Levi. Mr. Levey will examine the increasing adoption of some of Primo Levi’s works—particularly Survival in Auschwitz—into the curricula of American high schools. Wednesday, March 26, 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.

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

2001's starchild
"For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something." ~ 2001: A Space Odyssey

Arthur C. Clarke, visionary and writer of more than eighty books and hundreds of essays, died Wednesday at age 90 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Dubbed the poet laureate of the space age by author David Brin, Clarke was both a scientific technical writer and a writer of fiction, penning classics such as Childhood’s End and Rendezvous with Rama, and collaborating with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has been called the most important science fiction movie ever made.

Clarke was introduced to science fiction when he was twelve and discovered the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. This early addiction to fantastic fiction steered him at a later age towards imaginative writers such as H. G. Wells. Clarke began his writing career submitting short stories to a school magazine, but later had to quit school due to a lack of funds. His civil service job as an auditor supplied him with ample time to pursue his writing, and his membership to the British Interplanetary Society—a group of science fiction and space enthusiasts—led to the publication of some of his short stories.

In 1941 Clarke volunteered for the Royal Air Force, a move he called “the single most decisive move of my career.” There Clarke taught himself mathematical and electronics theory, and after the war he attended college and graduated with a degree in physics. In 1953 after two years as an assistant editor of a technical journal, Clarke’s Childhood’s End was published and he began earning enough money to write full time.

It took Clarke four years to write the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, simultaneously working with Stanley Kubrick on the film project. The premise of the film is taken from Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel,” which tells the story of man's discovery of an artifact on the moon left by an ancient race.

Clarke was proud that his sense of wonder did not wane during his decades as a writer, and that he stayed true to the original form of his writing: “I regard it as something of an achievement not to have become cynical…I do remain an optimist, especially in my fiction, because I hope it may operate as a self-fulfilling prophecy."

To learn more about Arthur C. Clarke's life and works, visit the Biography Resource Center (library card is required)

Closed March 21 & 23

Easter Eggs photo by Hanadi Traifeh

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed Friday, March 21 and Sunday, March 23. Regular library hours will be observed Saturday, March 22.

Photo by Hanadi Traifeh

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tech Tuesdays ~ Getting Started with Blogs

blog icon

Are you looking for a fun, creative way to communicate with others online? If so, a blog may be just the thing for you. Blogs can be used for a variety of purposes including corresponding with family and friends; promoting activities of your business, organization, or church; or sharing your personal interests and ideas with fellow blogggers around the world. In this program you will learn how to locate and use blogs that relate to topics that are of interest to you.

Program Details
When: Tuesday, March 25
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library

This program will be available via simulcast at the Five Points West and Springville Road libraries.

IM,, 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!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Win a Family Fun Pack from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival

photo of the carolyn blount theatre in montgomery
The Birmingham Public Library is partnering with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival to give away a Family Fun Pack consisting of three tickets to the production of Over the Tavern and dinner for three at Carrabba's in Montgomery. Just pick up an entry form at any Birmingham Public Library and write a short paragraph about why your family is special. Entries must be received by Friday, March 21. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is the second largest Shakespeare Festival in the nation.

over the tavern logoOver the Tavern
by Tom Dudzick
Friday, March 7 to Sunday, April 6

This heartwarming coming-of-age comedy set in the 1950s features 12-year-old Rudy Pazinski, who deals with the growing pains of family life and a wooden-ruler-wielding nun who is not to be trifled with. He believes we were put on earth to have fun and thinks his family doesn't know the meaning of the word! By sharing this family's laughter and tears we find that everyone has something to learn, even from the very young. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Brown Bag Program ~ Max Steinmetz: A Holocaust Survivor Speaks

photo of dachau survivors lining up to welcome American soldiersDachau survivors line up to greet American liberators.
Photo courtesy of the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Seventeen-year-old Max Steinmetz survived five brutal years of Nazi oppression. His ordeal included the death camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Dachau until liberation by allied forces in 1945.

Steinmetz applied for a U.S. visa in 1946, and it was approved in 1948. He came to America in 1948, working in the boat's kitchen to pay his way. When he arrived in New York he worked for $.24/hour. After brief stays in Denver and Albuquerque, he moved to Birmingham in 1955. He is a member of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Committee. Wednesday, March 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-Hinley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

BPL@Night Presents Muse of Fire: Shakespeare at Sloss

photo from muse of fire production
Sylvester Little Jr. as King Henry in Muse of Fire's
spring 2007 production of King Henry V

The Birmingham Public Library is excited to bring back the popular acting troupe Muse of Fire for its March BPL@Night. They will be performing scenes from Macbeth, the play currently in production and featured in its entirety at Sloss Furnaces on May 3-4. The Muse of Fire is a self-described deconstructed Shakespeare project held at Sloss Furnaces. They use the surroundings of this historic facility and perform within its unconventional setting. It is a “guerilla style of theater” and audience participation is encouraged and even expected.

Elizabeth Hunter is the founder and serves as the director of this unique experience. She has an extensive background in New York and Michigan, having both studied and directed in these locations. She recently won the 2007 Pauline Ireland Grant to Individual Artists.

On Thursday, March 20th 2008, Muse of Fire will entertain the library audience with a preview of its upcoming Macbeth production in a most unique location, the Atrium of the Downtown Library. This is the second year that Muse has performed in the Atrium, last year being a huge success. This year’s library performance is sure to please, as the Muse of Fire is bringing belly dancers, bagpipers, and all of its enthusiasm. The library encourages everyone to attend this exciting event.

Event Details
Where: Birmingham Public Library's Central Atrium
When: Thursday, March 20
Time: 6:30 p.m.

Light refreshments will be served.

BPL@Night is made possible, in part, by the Jefferson County Commission through the Jefferson County Community Arts Fund administered by the Cultural Alliance of Greater Birmingham, and by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

BPL thanks Compass Bank for its generous support of BPL@Night.

Ready to Read Expands

literacy icon
Last year the Birmingham Public Library in partnership with the Literacy Council began a new program to help citizens in Birmingham improve their reading skills. Adults (age 18 and over) wishing to work on their reading skills are invited to a library tutoring session to meet with trained tutors. The program began at Five Points West Library, meeting two days a week. This year, thanks to a federal grant awarded to Lawson State’s Adult Education Program, the program expands to the North Avondale, Pratt City, and North Birmingham libraries.

These sessions are free and no registration is required. For more information contact Mary Warden at the Literacy Council at (205)326-1925.

Tutoring Sessions
Monday, March 17
North Avondale Library
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Pratt City Library
1:00-2:30 p.m.

North Birmingham Library
6:00-7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 18
Central Library
Social Sciences Deptartment, 3rd floor
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Five Points West Library
6:00-7:30 p.m.

Thursday, March 19
Five Points West Library
10:00-11:30 a.m.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Playhouse Disney Live on Tour! at Pratt City Library

playhouse disney live logo
The Pratt City Library will host a special preschool storytime featuring costumed characters from Playhouse Disney Live on Tour! Playhouse Disney Live! is a brand new show that features Mickey Mouse as he plans a party for all his friends. Many loveable characters such as The Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Pooh, and Tigger join in the planning, but everyone is invited. The show will be playing at the BJCC March 14-16.

Program Details
Where: Pratt City Library
When: Wednesday, March 12
Time: 10:30 a.m.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Book Review: Up High In The Trees

book coverKiara Brinkman 's Up High In The Trees is the deeply moving and sensitive story of an eight-year-old boy, Sebby Lane. The story is fictional but it is clear that Brinkman understands her subject. Sebby narrates his own experience of the confusing world around him. He senses that he is different and that he sees and feels things much more vividly than others. Young Sebby Lane observes the world in great detail, describing the leaves on trees as "reddish orange, colors like fire" and library book pages as having a smell of pepper, "like how the wood floor smells at home." Sebby is autistic.

He suffers a crisis with the death of his mother. He doesn't understand her death, or why she is gone ,but only that she was his best friend and that he is lost without her. She understood him better than anyone and now she is gone. He asked her once where he was before he was here and she tells him, "Up high in the trees".

Sebby's father, his brother and sister clearly love him, but are struggling with the loss of a wife and mother and are having problems as well. Sebby is left to retreat further and further into himself. He is absent from school due to the death of his mother but finds some comfort in writing to his teacher, who is understanding and compassionate. His teacher answers his letters and tries to give him comfort and support as best she can.

Sebby tells us: "Sometime dad knocks on my head like my head is a door." "Sebby, he says, Earth to Sebby." "I come back then, but the things I know stay stuck where they are and I keep knowing them."

Sebby is a very special eight-year old child who allows us to enter his world. I believe that anyone who reads this book will come away with a better insight into the struggle with autism. What a brave and wonderful child!

Please learn more about autism by visiting these resources:

MedLinePlus: Autism

Books & Media on Autism in JCLC System

Health & Wellness Resource Center

Autism Society of America

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Free Classes on Retirement Planning

photo of all my eggs in one basket
The Birmingham Public Library will be presenting a series of programs aimed at people approaching retirement. All sessions will be from 10:00 a.m. until noon in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library and are free and open to the public.

March 27, 2008
Bob Bynum will present "What Do I Do With the Rest of My Life?" about the challenge of retirement, use of time, second careers, volunteerism, etc.

April 24, 2008
Anne Mitchell with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C. will present "Legal Readiness: Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning"

May 22, 2008
Dr. Danny Mays, P.A. with Senior Care Geriatric Healthcare Services will present "Your Good Health: Now and in Retirement"

June 26, 2008
Allie St. John with the NRCA will present "Financial Planning: Building and Maintaining a Secure Financial Future"

July 24, 2008
Jody Harris with Social Security will present "Social Security and its Place in Retirement Planning"

The Langum Charitable Trust Ceremony

photo of Bruce DeirenfieldCanisius College History Professor Bruce J. Dierenfield, Ph.D. is the recipient of the 2007 Langum Prize in American Legal History. Dierenfield was honored for his new book The Battle Over School Prayer: How Engel v. Vitale Changed America. The book chronicles the 1962 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that determined it was unconstitutional for the New York State Board of Regents to compose a non-denominational prayer and mandate that it be recited each day in public schools.

The Langum Project was founded by David J. Langum Sr. out of a conviction that far too many historians today write only for each other’s reading and not for the educated general public. This was not always true, and in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries many historians successfully wrote for the consumption of the general public.

The annual prizes are awarded in March of each year in a meeting at the Birmingham Public Library, sponsored jointly by the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library, the Birmingham Public Library, and the Langum Project.

Ceremony Details
Where: The Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library
When: Saturday, March 8
Time: 4:00 p.m.

There will be a reception following the ceremony.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Brown Bag Program ~ Max Herzel: A Holocaust Survivor Speaks

photo of jewish men being rounded up in france
French police escort foreign Jewish men to deportation trains.
Photo courtesy of the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ten-year-old Max Herzel escaped with his family and sought refuge in France when the Germans invaded their home in the city of Antwerp. But Herzel's harrowing experiences were just beginning. Soon after, the Herzels, along with other Jews, were rounded up by the Germans.

Herzel is a retired executive from the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Birminhgam and is a member of the Alabama Holocaust Commission and Birmingham Holocaust Education Committee. Wednesday, March 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-Hinley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Project: Mockingbird

Discover the secret of Project: Mockingbird yourself ...


Join The Big Read!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tech Tuesdays ~ Your Google on iGoogle

With Google, you can design your own custom search page complete with local weather, e-mail, bookmarks, and more. Join us as we explore some of the innovative ways Google is making search more personal.

Program Details
When: Tuesday, March 11
Time: noon-1:00 p.m.
Where: Arrington Auditorium at Central Library

This program will be available via simulcast at the Five Points West and Springville Road Libraries.

IM,, 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, March 03, 2008

Reading To Kill a Mockingbird Forward

Read It Forward is a community-wide program encouraging everyone to read. Right now we are reading To Kill a Mockingbird, our book for The Big Read. Participating is easy. Simply:

  • Visit any Birmingham Public Library location and pick up a free copy of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
  • Read the Book!
  • Register on the Project Mockingbird Forum at Choose "Read it Forward" from the menu, enter the book's tracking number and leave a comment.
  • Pass the book forward to someone you know, or leave it in a public place that you think it will get picked up at, with a note to "Please Read it Forward" and the URL of the Project Mockingbird web site at
  • Log onto the Project Mockingbird Forum to track your book number as it travels from reader to reader and see what others have to say about this book.

It's easy to meet new people and learn new things when you Read it Forward!

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