Showing posts from June, 2009

Batter Up

Are we supposed to be watching baseball or reading about baseball? Apparently, publishers expect us to do both because they released a number of new books about the “boys of summer.” We actually received eight new books in the month of June alone. There are two unflattering biographies of Roger Clemens that discuss his ALLEGED steroid use and other problems. In similar fashion, the “definitive” biography of Alex Rodriguez talks about steroid use, the end of his marriage, and his financial dealings. In his autobiography, Darryl Strawberry discusses how he turned his life around after years of addiction, domestic abuse, and self-destructive behavior. I know what you’re thinking. Where is the baseball? There are two new books about the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a new biography of Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige, and an autobiography by baseball analyst and former New York Mets all-star pitcher Ron Darling.
American icon : the fall of Roger Clemens and the rise of steroids in Amer…

On the Horizon: New Books in August

As a new feature on the Library blog, we’d like to keep you (the readers) on the up-and-up about all the new bestsellers you can expect to find at the library in the months ahead.

Coming in August:

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs
Forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan finds herself accused of botching an autopsy and a criminal case in the new installment of the popular Bones series.

Alex Cross’s Trial by James Patterson
In this departure from the typical Alex Cross story, the detective takes a back seat to the tale of his family’s fight against racism in 1906 Mississippi.

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
The queen of chick-lit returns with a novel of estranged high school friends Addie and Valerie who meet again as adults in the wake of a tragedy.

The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners by Luanne Rice
Spinning off from the novel The Geometry of Sisters, Pell Davis journeys to the isle of Capri to reconnect with her long-lost mother.

Smash Cutby Sandra Brown
Dazzling defense attorney Derek Mitchell is …

Five Points South Fourth of July Block Party

Five Points South will be the official viewing site of Vulcan Park & Museum's annual Thunder on the Mountain fireworks display. A large block party featuring live entertainment, food and drinks will be held in Five Points in conjunction with the fireworks. Over 2,000 people from the Magic City are expected to celebrate the Fourth of July in Five Points this year.

For the ultimate block party experience, Highland Avenue between Richard Arrington Boulevard and 20th Street will be blocked off in addition to one half block north and south of Highland on 20th Street. Music starts from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. with a DJ from Jamm Entertainment spinning tunes. Mountain Brook's own Juice will play from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. and local favorite Peanut performs from 7:00 p.m. until the grand fireworks display begins at 9:00 p.m.

Partygoers will have the opportunity to indulge in Birmingham Beverage's All American Beer Tour featuring American-brewed beers from Rogue Ale, Blue Moon, Abita Beer,…

The Big Read is Coming to Alabama

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. To learn more about The Big Read, please visit the

Nine regions, or 213 public libraries, in Alabama received grants to implement the state’s first Big Read project. The title selected for The Big Read: Alabama Reads is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. This project coincides with the Alabama Year of the Small Town activities through the Alabama Tourism Department. Other partners include the Alabama Public Library Service and the Alabama Center for the Book.

The Alabama Statewide Committee selected The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain for the first sta…

Michael Jackson: The King of Pop

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died yesterday at the age of 50. He was about to make his return to the concert stage on July 8 with 50 sold-out concerts in London scheduled through 2010. He had also been in the studio working on a new album but no date had been set for its release.

Over the next few days, you will be reading everything you want to know about Michael Jackson’s career, life and family, so I am not going to write a biography here. What I will say is that Michael Jackson impacted the world of music in a way that few artists ever have. His fame was truly international and 27 years after its release, Thrilleris still the best-selling album in the world. The Eagles hold that honor in the United States, but there are few corners of the globe where people are not familiar with Michael Jackson. His talent was sometimes overshadowed by his personal life, but all of you who are pulling out your CDs, LPs, cassettes, and DVDs know that the music was always more important.

People w…

Birmingham Public Library to Host Math in Motion for BPL@Night

The Birmingham Public Library is proud to host the program Math in Motion, an exciting, participatory performance that investigates math concepts using music, movement, and a curious collection of everyday objects. Performed by four professional dancers, the show is designed for all ages. It is great entertainment for the whole family. The performance poses intriguing questions and links dance to everyday life. What is math, anyway? How many is a few? How many are in a bunch? What do you call a group of dragons?

Math In Motion has been on tour since 1998. More than 30,000 elementary and middle school students and educators at more than 100 schools throughout the state have hosted this imaginative mix of math and dance. Karl Schaffer, a modern dancer with a PhD in Mathematics, created Math in Motion and has toured the state of Alabama since 1998.

Mary Foshee has created the framework and much of the choreography for Math in Motion. She will perform at the BPL@Night program. She earned an…

Freedom's Sisters Essay Contest

"Who is your favorite Freedom Sister and why?"
What are you doing to continue her legacy?
HONOREES: Ella Jo Baker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Shirley Chisholm, Septima Poinsette Clark, Kathleen Cleaver, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Frances Watkins Harper, Dorothy Irene Height, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Barbara Jordan, Coretta Scott King, Constance Baker Motley, Rosa Parks, Sonia Sanchez, Betty Shabazz, Mary Church Terrell, Harriet Tubman, C. Delores Tucker, Ida B. Wells
LENGTH: 250-500 words

4th-8th grade students

1st place: $5,000 U.S. Savings Bond
2nd place: $2,500 U.S. Savings Bond
3rd place: $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond
1st, 2nd & 3rd runners-up: One $500 U.S. Savings Bond each

CONTEST OPEN: July 25, 2009-September 8, 2009

Ford Motor Company
ATTN: Freedom's Sisters Essay Contest - Memphis
1 American Road - 211 WHQ
Dearborn, MI 48126

Please include name, school, grade level, and contact information.

Winners will be notified…

Downtown Library Crosswalk Closed Temporarily

The crosswalk that links the East and Linn-Henley buildings will be closed beginning Wednesday, June 24. The crosswalk is being modified to meet ADA guidelines. The entrance to the Linn-Henley Library is at the southeast corner of Linn Park. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Exciting News for iPhone and iPod Users

Most all Overdrive audiobooks are now iPhone® and iPod®-compatible.

iPhone and iPod Users can now access hundreds of audiobooks at our Overdrive page including many bestsellers.

Please go to to learn more and start downloading.

Photo Credit: Laughing Squid

Guillermo del Toro Alert

If you don't know who Guillermo del Toro is, he is the genius Mexican-born director and producer of Pan's Labyrinth, The Orphanage, Mimic, Blade II, and the Hellboy movies, and he has been tapped to direct the eagerly awaited adaptation of The Hobbit.

Works in production and development include Stephen King' s Bag of Bones, a remake of the cheesy 1973 movie Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Hater, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Dan Simmons' heavy tome about Charles Dickens' mysterious last years, Drood.

This alert is about a book trilogy co-written with Chuck Hogan about a vampire strain that threatens to take over New York and then the world. Even if you're weary from the over saturation of the vampire market, you might still want to check this one out. I'm listening to it on CD and it is one frightening tale. You have to know it's bound to go above and beyond the garden-variety vampire story if it has del Toro's fingerprints all over it.


BPL@Night @ Avondale Presents Dog Gone Fun

For the last decade, Gary Shockley and the Bama Air Dogs from Ashville, AL, have been performing their High Flying Disc Dog Shows for many fans including Atlanta Falcons Football and Birmingham Barons Baseball. Gary Shockley and his Bama Air Dogs are National Canine Disc Champions and the United States Disc Dog National Champions. Crowds will love these aerial acrobatic, disc-catching dare dogs! Bring your own blanket or lawn chair.

What: BPL@Night @ Avondale Presents Dog Gone Fun
Where: Avondale Public Library
When: Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Time: 6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.

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.

Library Mourns Loss of Board Member

It is with great sadness that we must report a loss to the Birmingham Public Library and the City of Birmingham, Alabama.

Lillie M. H. Fincher, Immediate Past President of the Birmingham Public Library Board, retired educator, historian, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and several other service organizations, devoted church member, loving mother and grandmother, loyal friend whose passion was the preservation of history and Intellectual Freedom transitioned from this life, at her home, on Sunday, June 14, 2009.

2008 Bram Stoker Award Winners

The Horror Writers Association presented the 2008 Bram Stoker Awards for Superior Achievement at a ceremony on June 12-14 in Burbank, California. The Horror Writers Association was started by Alabama's own Robert McCammon in 1987, and the award is named in honor of one of the first true kings of horror. As early as 1984 McCammon expressed a desire for a professional organization and support group for writers of horror. Stephen King's Misery and Robert McCammon's Swan Song tied for best novel in the award's first year.

The 2008 Stoker Winners

Novel:Duma Key by Stephen King
First Novel:The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti
Long Fiction:Miranda by John R. Little
Short Fiction: "The Lost" by Sarah Langan
Fiction Collection:Just After Sunset by Stephen King
Anthology:Unspeakable Horror edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Chad Helder
Nonfiction: A Halloween Anthology by Lisa Morton
Poetry Collection:The Nightmare Collection by Bruce Boston
Lifetime Achievement:F. Paul Wilson and Che…

Summer Gardening Talk

Jefferson County Agent * Home Horticulture/Environment
Avondale Library
Monday, June 22, 2009 – 6:30 p.m.
· Tips on keeping your plants healthy and alive!!
· Show and tell
· Q and A Session
Come Join Us!!

Graphic Novel Review - Thor: Ages of Thunder

For those not familiar with the Son of Odin, Thor is Marvel Comics’ answer to DC’s Superman – except that where Superman is an alien immigrant who stands for truth, justice, and the American way, Thor is a full-on Viking thunder god with all the arrogance, wrath, bombast, and lust for adventure that implies. Thor has never achieved the same pop-culture status as Superman or Spider-Man, but with a big-budget film currently in production (to be directed by Shakespearean legend Kenneth Branagh, no less) that may shortly change.

In the original Marvel series, Thor had been exiled to Earth and forced to live as a human in order to learn humility. Ages of Thunder tells a story set before that time, when Thor was defender of the mythical realm of Asgard and hadn’t yet learned such mortal traits as patience and compassion. The story begins with a battle between the Lords of Asgard and their eternal enemies, the Frost Giants. The giants are defeated, but Asgard is never without threat from …

In the Spirit of City Stages

As "Express Yourself" is the theme for the teen and adult reading programs, we thought we would take a cue from Mr. Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band, who more than 30 years ago wrote a phenomenal song by the same title.

We hope you'll have a happy and safe City Stages weekend. Although Central will be closed, the other 19 branches of BPL will be open and our website is always open for business, 24 hours a day at

There is plenty of summer left, with opportunities to express yourself. The Library will be hosting exciting programs every day throughout the system. Sign up, come in, or call us.

We want to encourage you to be a part of all the cool things happening at BPL.

Alright, Charles, your turn:

Downtown Library Closed closed June 20-21 during City Stages

The Central location of the Birmingham Public Library will close at 5 p.m. this Friday (June 19) and reopen at 9 a.m. Monday morning. Please visit one of our other library locations or use our online services.
Have a fun weekend at City Stages. Hope to see you there!

Springville Road Library Closed June 20-21

Due to the lack of air-conditioning, the Springville Road Branch of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed June 20-21, 2009.
Please visit one of BPL's other locations or check the library out online at photo by Brenda Anderson

Epic Norse Poem by Tolkien Published After 70 Years

Before J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, he wrote an epic poem when he was a professor at Oxford University retelling the legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. Tolkien's son, Christopher, is the editor of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún and wrote an introduction for his father's last published work. No part of this work has ever been reproduced or quoted from since it was written over 70 years ago. Tolkien died in 1973.

Tolkien's poem tells the story of Sigurd, a Norse hero and dragon-slayer, the revenge of his wife, Gudrun, and the fall of the Nibelungs.

Reserve a copy of the book or audio today.

The Tolkien's Estate Offical Website

My MP3 Player: The Return

I have a TON of music on my MP3 player, but as you can imagine, I don’t listen to everything. One of the albums I keep playing over and over is The Return (2006) by Ruben Studdard. Mr. 205, The Velvet Teddy Bear, Big Rube, whatever you want to call him, the man can sing. I love the whole album because of the fresh beats, the tight vocals, and the great variety of songs. If I had to choose a favorite, I’d say my favorite track is “Our Story.” Not only are the lyrics powerful, Ruben injects them with so much soulfulness and emotion that you can’t help but feel a connection to the song. No matter how many albums Ruben releases in the future, I will always consider this to be one of his signature songs. Ruben’s new album, Love Is, peaked at No. 5 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums Chart, and No. 8 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. The library will be getting it soon, so stay tuned. Here are a couple of my other favorites from The Return.

Brown Bag Program: Summertime Stories with Dolores Hydock

Award winning performer, recording artist, and writer Dolores Hydock brings stories to life in her solo presentation. Combining her love of theatre and language she fills the stage with well- honed characters, drama, and humor. Definitely a must see. Wednesday, June 24, noon.

Visit Dolores' website for more information on her career as a storyteller.

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.

Linn Park Farmer's Market Now Open for Business

Nancy Spinks, who runs Spinks Farm with her husband, Troy, displays a bountiful harvest of cabbage, sweet potatoes, peppers, green beans, homemade chow-chow, and more.

Louira Hambright, owner of Lou's Bakery, fills several tables with her whole or by-the-slice homemade cakes and pies.

The Linn Park Farmer's Market offers the convenience of a true farmer's market for Birmingham's urbanites and workers. Tented tables line the sidewalk near the entrance to Linn Park beginning the first Wednesday in June through the last Wednesday in August. Local musicians will be on hand to entertain you as you squeeze the peaches and smell the flowers for sale.

Since you'll be so close to the library, come in to cool off and browse the Business, Science & Technology Department for books on how to cook, pickle, or preserve your produce.

What: Linn Park Farmer's Market
Where: 710 20th Street North
When: Wednesdays, June through August
Time: 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Celebowl with Jerricho Cotchery and the Birmingham Public Library

It is with extraordinary enthusiasm and pleasure that the Birmingham Public Library and the Cotchery Foundation invites qualified participants and the public to attend a celebrity bowling event at Lightning Strikes Bowling Center in Trussville, Alabama.

This is the Second Annual Cotchery Foundation Charity Bowling Event. “Celebowl” will be held from 6:00-9:00 p.m., Friday, June 19, 2009. Various distinguished guests will be in attendance, including these famous New York Jets football players: Jerricho Cotchery (WR), Kerry Rhodes (DB), Justin Miller (DB) and Chansi Stuckey (WR). All of the guests will come together with the common purpose of helping to raise funds for The Cotchery Foundation, which benefits underprivileged youth. The mission of The Cotchery Foundation is to inspire children to establish and achieve goals through programs and services designed to enhance their futures.

The Cotchery Foundation was founded by Jerricho Cotchery, of the New York Jets, in January 2007. Cotcher…

Lakers Win!

Kobe finally admitted it. “Question: How is this different from your previous three rings? KOBE BRYANT: Well, I just don’t have to hear that criticism, that idiotic criticism anymore. That’s the biggest thing. I don’t have to hear that stuff anymore.” Kobe won a championship without Shaq and Orlando has their first franchise Finals win. The NBA can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Let’s talk about the Orlando Magic for a minute. Even if the Magic had won Games 2 and 4, I still think the Lakers would have won the championship in 7 games. You cannot miss free throws (Dwight Howard), fail to close-out on defense (Turkoglu, Nelson) and expect to win the NBA Finals. Good teams always find a way to win, especially when you keep giving them opportunities to do so. The Lakers played good team defense, their bench stepped up, and the veterans (Derek Fisher) made clutch shots when the game was on the line.

It’s tough to make it back to the NBA Finals, but the Los Angeles Lakers proved that they dese…

Irene Blalock New BPL Director

The Birmingham Public Library Board has appointed Irene S. "Renee" Blalock Director of the Birmingham Public Library. Blalock’s career at the Library has spanned 30 years. She has served as branch head at Parke Memorial (now Southside), Eastwood, and the Avondale Branches; as the Library’s Business Manager; as coordinator of the Southern Branch Region; and as Coordinator for Library Operations. In 1994 she was named Associate Director of the Central Library and moved to the Associate Director of Community Services (over the branch libraries) in 1998, the position she occupied until the Board’s appointment on May 28.

In her long career at the BPL, Blalock has made important improvements to the system. She supervised the reorganization of the Library’s management team and the creation of an administrative services division. She was part of the team that established and wrote the system-wide collection management policy. She oversaw numerous enhancements to the branch libraries,…

Summertime and the Living is Joyous @ Your Library

This summer, as every summer at the Birmingham Public Library, some amazing things are happening. As you have hopefully heard by now, the Adult Summer Reading Program has gotten under way and is gathering steam, like a Johnny Cash song.

It is indeed a good time to be a library card-carrying Birmingham resident. Part of the adult program includes a Summer Saturday Matinee Series. On Saturday, June 13th, the Library will feature the famous Marx brothers film from 1935 where Groucho, Chico and Harpo tackle high society and the world of opera.

Next Tuesday, June 16th, the Library will host a fun night for both adults and their kids at 6:30 p.m. in Central's Storycastle. Parents and children will be able to both express themselves and get creative, making crafts and having fun.

And we have a great line-up of BPL@Nights, including a hilarious performance by the Extemporaneous Theatre Company on Thursday, June 18th in Central's Atrium. Reading their cast biographies alone will cause a …

Listen Up!

June is National Audiobook Month! This got me thinking about my own audiobook habit. Some might even call it an addiction.

For me, listening to audiobooks began as entertainment on long car trips. Later, it developed into a convenient way to enjoy the latest best seller while dodging traffic on my commute. I was soon hooked.

Today, I find downloadable audiobooks on an MP3 player perfect for otherwise squandered moments like time waiting in a doctor’s office or for doing mindless tasks like yardwork. It allows me to cram in more "reading" than my schedule would otherwise allow.

On average, I seem to fit in one or two audiobooks a week. Okay. It is more like three to five.

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

There are a multitude of audiobooks from which to choose. You can check out audio versions of best selling novels, popular non-fiction books, or even bone up on the classics. Don't forget, children's t…

Brown Bag Program: A Jams Experience

Learn to express yourself through urban hip hop dance style moves with Jam. She is the creator of Jam's Crunk Fitness DVDs and has taught and choreographed dance style moves for all ages and levels since 1999. No experience necessary. Bring your own style and lets express ourselves as we get crunk and bust some moves with Jams. Wednesday, June 17, 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.

City Stages 2009

It's June in the City of Birmingham and that can only mean one thing. It's time for City Stages! The festival takes place in Downtown Birmingham, June 19-21. As always, the lineup includes a variety of musical styles such as jazz, classical, pop, rock, zydeco, country, hip-hop, blues, and R&B. Featured acts include Charlie Wilson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Young Jeezy, Indigo Girls, En Vogue, The Doobie Brothers, Dierks Bentley, The Neville Brothers, Plain White T's, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Jonny Lang, and .38 Special. Take a look at the City Stages website to get schedule and ticket information. Also, drop by your local library to find music by your favorite artists.

Prepping Your Kindergartener

There are reading lists for established students to keep them in the learning groove through the summer break, but what about kindergarteners? Are there certain books they should be reading this summer to prepare them for that next big step in life?

Yes there are and The Birmingham Public Library is the place to go for fun and educational resources that will stimulate young minds and give them a head start on the subjects that will be taught in kindergarten. It is suggested that children entering kindergarten be familiar with the alphabet, numbers, colors, and telling time.

These subjects and more can be found online through the JCLC Kids Catalog , a colorful user-friendly catalog that displays fiction and nonfiction juvenile books in easy-to-navigate topic blocks. There is also an Award Winning Books link for parents to peruse to ensure that their children are being exposed to the best juvenile books available.

Read the Books, a database located on the Cyberkid page, is an excellent onl…

Birmingham Public Library to Host The Extemporaneous Theatre Company for June’s BPL@Night

The Birmingham Public Library is thrilled to host The Extemporaneous Theatre Company on June 18th at 6:30 p.m. in BPL’s Atrium. The Extemporaneous Theatre Company, founded in 2008, is a repertory-style company comprised of professional artists in theatre, comedy, and a variety of sub-specialties.

Dubbed Birmingham’s premiere improvisation troupe, this group has agreed to put together a special program on June 18. The theme will be intertwined with the summer reading themes for 2009. The troupe will be incorporating the theme of their performance into the Express Yourself and Be Creative @ Your Library programs. The troupe has designed a family-friendly program that will be fun for all ages.

The cast has a varied and diverse background, but there are several common elements: humor, creativity, and quick-witted, fast-paced fun. The group states their goal as follows:

to provide the Birmingham Metropolitan community with quality improvised theatre to work with the theatre community to b…

Reading Lists for Birmingham City Schools Are Now Online


Brown Bag Program: Jazz Kazoo

Have fun and play a little jazz. Chuck King (who plays a cool jazz trumpet) and Phil McEntee (who’s been known to tell a story or two) invite you to a jam session! The program will introduce basic jazz principles and rhythms; techniques such as imitation, call, and response; and pitch and modulation. Learn a few riffs and the blues scale and you’re ready to swing! Wednesday, June 10, 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.