Showing posts from March, 2009

Storytellers Among Us

A recent Birmingham News article reminded us how important storytelling is as an art form. After all, until Unknown thought to write down the epic story of Beowulf in AD 1000, stories were passed down by oral tradition. Eve Parker—pictured above hamming it up with pre-fried-peanut-butter-sandwich Elvis —belongs to a group of eight storytellers who work for the Birmingham Public Library. Local storytellers are instrumental in luring folks out of their homes and into libraries and other venues, creating a stronger sense of community. Alabama native and master storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham has been promoting the oral tradition of storytelling for decades, spooking generations of children with her southern ghost tales. She sees storytelling as a demonstration of affection—"I love you enough to tell you something that means a great deal to me." A gala will be held in honor of Windham on March 29, at 3:00 p.m. at The Virginia Samford Theatre . The gala will benefit The Sea

Historian John Hope Franklin Dies

Dr. John Hope Franklin 1915-2009 Historian Dr. John Hope Franklin, pioneer of African-American studies, author of the seminal work on the black experience in the U.S., and civil rights activist who worked on the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education outlawing public school segregation, died yesterday. Professor Franklin's landmark book From Slavery to Freedom integrated black history into American history and is still in print 60 years later and is in its 7th edition. His numerous other publications include The Emancipation Proclamation , The Militant South , The Free Negro in North Carolina , Reconstruction After the Civil War , A Southern Odyssey: Travelers in the Ante-bellum North , Race and History: Selected Essays, 1938-1988 , The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-first Century, and his latest book My Life and an Era: The Autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin . Dr. Franklin was also a part of the team of scholars who assisted Thurgood Marshall to win Brown

Web 2.0 and Books

Before jumping into Web 2.0 and books, let’s have a quick primer about 2.0. The best way to understand Web 2.0 may be through examples. While you might not be able to spit out a quick dictionary definition (btw Websters does define it as “the second generation of the World Wide Web in which content is user-generated and dynamic, and software is offered that mimics desktop programs”) you could probably recognize Web 2.0 if you saw it. Web 2.0 incorporates social aspects into Web sites by allowing users to create, in part, the Web site itself. Examples? Visit delicious to see a social network of shared bookmarks from the web. Visit listography to see people’s lists of all sorts shown and shared. You can also use the web to store and share digital images that show off your marvelous photography skills on flickr or snapfish . There’s YouTube for video and Instructables for “how to." But what about books? Well you’ll be happy to know there are many wonderful ways to explore, cata

Brown Bag Program: See Rock City...and Tim Hollis, Too!

Birmingham author Tim Hollis will join us to discuss and sign his two latest books on travel and vacationing in the South: See Rock City: The History of Rock City Gardens and Selling the Sunshine State: A Celebration of Florida Tourism Advertising . Wednesday, April 1, noon. See Also: A 2008 BPL Blog review of Tim Hollis' book Vintage Birmingham Signs Feed 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.

Closed? No Problem.

We’re not going to lie: We love seeing you. But occasionally, we have to close the building and lock our doors. (We need our sleep, too.) And maybe sometimes you can’t make it here while our doors are open. Good news! It’s not necessary that you come see us in order to take advantage of our Internet-accessible databases . The databases of Birmingham Public Library contain information on every imaginable topic. Our databases can provide full text articles from newspapers and magazines , wiring diagrams for automobile repair , encyclopedia articles, preparation for the GRE exam , critical analysis of Victorian literature , even legal forms . With a handful of exceptions, each database is available to you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, wherever you, your computer, and your Internet connection happen to be. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely give our – actually, your – databases a try. We have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

Live Baby T. Rex Dinosaur To Visit Children at Central Library

Visit the Central Library for a special preview of the new smash hit arena show Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular , based on the award-winning BBC television series. The Arena Spectacular is now on tour in North America and will make its Birmingham premiere at BJCC Arena, Wednesday, April 1 through Sunday, April 4. The Baby T. Rex will be greeting local children to celebrate the show’s visit to Birmingham. This amazing show features a paleontologist/narrator who takes the audience on a 90-minute journey through the 200 million year reign of these giant prehistoric creatures. Event Details Who: A very realistic Baby T. Rex will make a single appearance along with a spokesperson from the show who will talk about the show and the creation of the dinosaurs. When: Tuesday, March 24 at 3:30 p.m Where: Central Library

BPL@Night Presents Get Rhythm!

Everyone is invited to join us as BPL@Night presents Get Rhythm! at the North Birmingham Regional Library. An exiting evening of West African drumming will be presented by the Get Rhythm Performing Ensemble of percussionists and drummers under the direction of John Scalici. Light refreshments will be served. BPL@Night has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts as well as by generous support by the Alabama Power Company Foundation and the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. Details What: Get Rhythm! When: Tuesday, March 24 Time: 6:30 p.m. Where: North Birmingham Regional Library 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 .

BPL@Night to Feature a Performance by Carl Winters—“The Kalimba King”—at Central Library

The ethereal, mysterious kalimba, a.k.a. the African thumb piano, is often misunderstood, misinterpreted, and mistaken for being a museum piece or trinket. Consequently, Carl Winters has been inspired to develop an extensive songbook with the kalimba. His repertoire includes gospel, jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, pop, and original songs while delivering a complete solo performance. He also performs in duo, trio, quartet, and quintet configurations. Mr. Winters attended an Earth, Wind, and Fire concert in the 1970s and became inspired to master the kalimba. He has played all over the United States. The fusion of styles that inform and create Winters’ music will remind the listener of a dream. His songs create a mood and his performances leave a lasting impression on audience members. “The Kalimba King’s” educational and enriching programs include spoken word as well as music. Audience members will explore the kalimba’s beauty and its power in this special library performance. For more

Brown Bag Program ~ Darkness Into Life: Photography

Photo by Becky Seitel Becky Seitel, photographer and journalist, will explain how the Holocaust, previously unknown to her, became a focus of her creative work. Her photographs depict current images of the survivors in photojournalistic style. Wednesday, March 25, noon. Feed 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.

One More Month

As a service to the community, the Birmingham Public Library provides copies of current Federal and Alabama tax forms, instructions, and publications. Basic forms are available at most library locations ; a more extensive collection of forms is available in the Government Documents Department in the Linn-Henley Building. Related Links: FREE Tax Preparation at Avondale and East Lake Libraries Tax forms and instructions may also be downloaded from the Internet.

It's Here! The Kids Catalog

Kids Catalog : the JCLC catalog especially for children

Brown Bag Program: Margot Tanner Speaks About Experience as Hitler Youth

Members of the Hitler Youth's female branch Courtesy of AP The Brown Bag Program Children of the Holocaust previously scheduled for March 18 has been cancelled. Margot Tanner of Cullman, Alabama, was born in Germany and was a member of the Hitler Youth Corps. This is a unique opportunity to hear from one who lived through WWII and experienced the Nazi way of life, and who later married an American soldier, moved to the United States, and settled in Alabama. Wednesday, March 18, noon. Feed 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.

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with One Click

Curious about what we look like but don't want to drive all over town? Come take a tour of some of our libraries. These tours are virtual, so no need to hop in your car and fight the traffic. Central Library Five Points West Library In addition to these two libraries there are virtual tours available for Avondale , Inglenook , North Birmingham , and Springville Road . Eventually tours will be available for our other libraries, so check back with us at a later date. Virtual tour links may be found by clicking on BPL's Location and Hours page.

An Evening with Thom Gossom Jr. Cancelled

The March 12 Thom Gossom event sponsored by Birmingham-Southern's Writing Today Writer's Conference has been cancelled due to economic considerations. There is more information about the conference cancellation at Birmingham-Southern's News from the Hilltop newsletter or contact Sandy Barr at (205) 226-4921.

Libraries: Free Relief in Harsh Economic Times

Harsh economic times are driving more people to use public libraries. As recent reports in local newspapers and on local television attest, people are visiting our library and using library services in increasing numbers. It makes sense that public libraries have become hot spots for people who want to use the Internet , conduct job searches , update computer skills, create a resume , or check out books, DVDs, and other materials free of charge. Visit us today and see what we can do for you. Links Job Search Resources Resume Books Computer Class Schedule Articles Soft economy translates to crowded Birmingham libraries ( Birmingham area libraries see big upturn in activity in face of economic downturn (

Movie Review: Man on Wire (2008 DVD)

"On August 7th 1974, a young Frenchman named Philippe Petit stepped out on a wire illegally rigged between New York’s twin towers, then the world’s tallest buildings. After nearly an hour dancing on the wire, he was arrested, taken for psychological evaluation, and brought to jail before he was finally released." I’m surprised at how interesting some documentaries are. I mean, who would imagine that a documentary about a French high wire walker would become the critics' darling and garner so many awards? Man on Wire is filmed as a docudrama in the same vein as my favorite documentary— Touching the Void . And like Touching the Void , we know the men live to tell their stories, but that doesn’t subtract from the suspense in the least. I don’t even know where to begin describing Man on Wire . It’s like four films rolled into one. Man on Wire is 1) a short history on the design and construction of the World Trade Center 2) a crime caper shot in black & white 3)

BPL@Night to Host Vincenza Scarpaci, Author of The Journey of the Italians in America

The library is proud to host author Vincenza Scarpaci for a special lecture and book signing on Monday, March 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium. Scarpaci used a significant amount of research materials from the Birmingham Public Library’s Archives Department for her book The Journey of the Italians in America . Italians have influenced American life since the beginning of the new Republic. Thomas Jefferson adapted the classic Italian architecture of Andrea Palladio in designing his home and the University of Virginia; discussed agronomy and political philosophy with his neighbor, the Italian-trained physician and merchant Philip Mazzei ; signed the Declaration of Independence along with William Paca of Maryland; and invited Italian musicians to form the first marine band in Washington D.C. Subsequently, millions of Italians have immigrated to the United States, bringing with them a distinct set of beliefs, traditions, and customs, which have been preserv

Horton Heard a Muse

After last year's popular screening of the movie To Kill A Mockingbird at the Alabama Theater, it's fitting that the Birmingham Public Library should honor Horton Foote, who just last week, left this world at the ripe old age of 92. Mr. Foote wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird . He also created dozens of other plays and screenplays, garnering countless awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize for The Young Man from Texa s. As a man from Texas, born deep in the heart of the Gulf Coast region in 1916, Foote wrote almost exclusively about the town of his birth, Wharton, which he fictionalized as Harrison. Just days before his death, he was still working on his art. His nine-play cycle titled, Orphans’ Home Cycle , will be produced off-Broadway next season. Some theater critics claim his most recent work to be his best yet. The Birmingham Public Library is celebrating the life of this great man of letters by offering books by Horton Foote and those about hi

Luncheon with African-American Author Sheryll Cashin

The Alabama Bench and Bar Historical Society and the Birmingham Public Library invite you to attend the first annual meeting and luncheon of the historical society to hear guest speaker Sheryll Cashin. Sheryll Cashin was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, by parents who were political activists. She is a Professor of Law at Georgetown University, teaches such subjects as Constitutional Law and Race and American Law, and writes about race relations and inequality in America. Her new book, The Agitator’s Daughter: A Memoir of four Generations of One Extraordinary African-American Family traces the arc of American race relations through generations of her family. Professor Cashin worked in the Clinton White House as an advisor on urban and economic policy, particularly concerning community development in inner-city neighborhoods. She was law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

Video: Why I Love the Birmingham Public Library

Recorded during Birmingham Public Library's Mardi Gras celebration.

Ernest Freeberg Discusses History of Dissent and Free Speech

The Langum Charitable Trust is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2008 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History is Ernest Freeberg for Democracy’s Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent , published by the Harvard University Press. This prize is awarded annually to the best work of American legal history or American legal biography published by a university press, that is accessible to the educated general public, rooted in sound scholarship, and has themes that touch upon matters of general concern to the American public, past or present. Freeberg will receive his award, which carries a stipend of $1,000, in a presentation held in the auditorium of the central branch of the Birmingham Public Library at 4:00PM, March 14, 2009. Professor Freeberg will make a few remarks concerning the writing of the book and will respond to questions. A reception will follow. The event is free of charge and the public is warmly invited. During American part

My Lists

Wouldn’t it be nice to store your own lists of library materials? Now you can keep lists of things that you would like to read, view, or listen to someday. Perhaps one list for books by a favorite author and another for CDs you’d like to check out. Try it out.

Free Tickets: Walking With Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs once again roam the earth in a spectacular theatrical arena show, Walking with Dinosaurs – the Arena Spectacular based on the award-winning BBC Television Series. In Walking with Dinosaurs, fifteen roaring, snarling “live” dinosaurs mesmerize the audience – and are as awe-inspiring as when they first walked the earth. The Birmingham Public Library has partnered with Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular to offer patrons the opportunity to win free tickets to the April 1 show. Just drop by any Birmingham Public Library location to pick up a Design Your Own Dinosaur entry form. Participants are encouraged to draw or paint a picture of a dinosaur, complete the entry form and enter their name into a drawing for a free family four pack of tickets to the show on April 1. The deadline for entry is March 25. In addition to the Design a Dinosaur contest the Birmingham Public Library has discount coupons for $10 off all seats (excluding $19.50 for Thursday, April 2). Pick yo

BPL@Night to Feature Muse of Fire Performing Scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Scene from a 2007 Muse of Fire production at Central Library The Birmingham Public Library is excited to bring back the popular acting troupe Muse of Fire for its March 2009 BPL@Night performance. The group will be performing scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream , the play currently in production which Muse of Fire will feature in its entirety at Sloss Furnaces in May. Muse of Fire is a self-described deconstructed Shakespeare project held at Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces. The unique theatre troupe uses the surroundings of the historic facility and performs within its unconventional setting. It is a “guerrilla style of theater” and audience participation is encouraged, 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 won the 2007 Pauline Ireland Grant to Individual Artists. The 2008 Spring Festival performance of Macbe