Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Batter Up

Book cover Book cover Book cover
Book cover Book cover Book cover

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.

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 Cut by Sandra Brown
Dazzling defense attorney Derek Mitchell is hired to defend the nephew of a powerful CEO for his uncle’s murder.

Reserve these and many more today!

Five Points South Fourth of July Block Party

thunder on the mtn. logo
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, Good People Brewing Company and Sweetwater Brewery. In addition, all Five Points restaurants and bars will be open for business with July 4th food and drink specials.

Thunder on the Mountain 2009 is organized by Vulcan Park and Museum. The fireworks will be executed by co-sponsor Pyro Productions, Inc. of Alabaster and synchronized to a specially prepared music track broadcast exclusively on Rock 99.5 FM. In addition FOX 6 will televise the entire display along with the synchronized music track. Rock 99.5, FOX 6 and Dale's Seasoning are also exclusive Thunder on the Mountain sponsors.

Event: Five Points South Block Party
When: Saturday, July 4, 2009 starting at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Five Points South, official Thunder on the Mountain viewing site
Why: To celebrate July 4th and view the fireworks launched from Vulcan

For more information about the Five Points South Block Party please contact Julie Ward at julie@styleadvertising.com. To learn more about Thunder on the Mountain visit www.visitvulcan.com.

Learn about how and why July 4th is celebrated by visiting BPL for books, audios, and DVDs about this holiday.

Sponsors of the Five Points Block Party include: Councilor Jonathan Austin [Dist 5], City of Birmingham, Rogue Ales, Operation New Birmingham, The Hotel Highland, ION Interactive, Style Advertising, Five Points South Neighborhood Association, Five Points South Merchants Group, The UPS Store [5 Points South], UAB Highlands, Abita Beer, The Birmingham Transit Authority, Samford Properties, Moody & Associates, Jamm Entertainment, Sweetwater Brewery, Good People Brewing Company, Blue Moon and Birmingham Beverage.

The Big Read is Coming to Alabama

book cover
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 www.NEABigRead.org.

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 statewide Big Read because it is a title that everyone has at least heard about, if not read. Also, it is on many school reading lists with appeal for all ages. And for those who have already read it we encourage them to “Read It Again!” It has a small town theme that will appeal too many of the people in Alabama which makes it a perfect match for the Alabama Tourism initiative for the 2010 Year of the Alabama Small Town and Downtown. Finally, it is a title that has not been selected by an Alabama library for The Big Read program before. Several libraries around the state have implemented Big Read programs since it’s inception in 2006.

The nine regions of Alabama will receive Big Read grants ranging from $2,500 to $20,000 to promote and carry out community-based programs. Participating communities also receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title. Reader’s Guides include features such as author biographies, historical context for the book, and discussion questions. Teacher’s Guides are developed with National Council of Teachers of English and State Language Arts standards in mind and include lesson plans, essay topics, and classroom handouts. The Big Read Audio Guides feature readings from the novel along with commentary from renowned artists, educators, and public figures.

Each community’s Big Read includes a kick-off event to launch the program; activities devoted specifically to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (e.g., panel discussions, lectures, public readings); events using the selection as a point of departure (e.g., film screenings, theatrical readings, exhibits); and book discussions in diverse locations aimed at a wide range of audiences. Local communities should contact their local library for programs planned during February–April 2010.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson: The King of Pop

Michael Jackson 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, Thriller is 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 were calling radio stations last night to talk about their favorite songs and albums. Folks in Birmingham are remembering 1984 when Michael and his brothers came to town to rehearse for their “Victory” tour. Michael’s life and music impacted each one of us in different ways, so as a lifelong fan, I will simply say, "thank you."

The address posted all over the Web to send condolences to the family is 4641 Hayvenhurst Avenue, Encino California 91436. You can also post a condolence on his website, www.michaeljackson.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

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

math in motion
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 M.F.A. in Modern Dance from the University of Utah, winning an Orchesis Award for Choreography and Performance. She came to Birmingham in 1980 to work with Southern Danceworks and was Artistic Director until 1994. Mary has been working with Children’s Dance Foundation (CDF) since 1994.

Children’s Dance Foundation is a not-for-profit organization based in Birmingham. CDF is a leader in dance education and teacher training, incorporating the arts into classroom curricula. For more information on the CDF, visit http://www.childrensdancefoundation.org/.

Event: Math in Motion performance for BPL@Night
Date: Thursday, July 16, 2009
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Central Library’s Atrium
Cost: Free

Light refreshments will be served.

Visit the JCLC Kids Catalog for books and media on mathematics.

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.

Freedom's Sisters Essay Contest

king evers-williams
delores tuckerbarbara jordan

"Who is your favorite Freedom Sister and why?"

What are you doing to continue her legacy?

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

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

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 on September 21, 2009 and featured in the Freedom's Sisters exhibition.

The Freedom's Sisters traveling exhibit will be on display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on July 25, 2009-October 4, 2009.

Need help researching your essay? The Birmingham Public Library has created an online Freedom's Sisters reference page listing books, DVDs, databases, and websites that students may use to find more information about the honorees.

More information about the Smithsonian Institution's Freedom's Sisters exhibit.

Freedom's Sisters, an exhibition created by Cincinnati Museum Center, organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, and made possible through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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 http://downloadable.jclc.org/ to learn more and start downloading.

Photo Credit: Laughing Squid

Guillermo del Toro Alert

book coverIf 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.

About The Strain
They have always been here. Vampires. In secret and in darkness. Waiting. Now their time has come.

In one week, Manhattan will be gone. In one month, the country.

In two months—the world.

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Eph Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing . . .

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city—a city that includes his wife and son—before it is too late. (from The Strain's book flap)

Guillermo del Toro talks about his interest in vampire lore

BPL@Night @ Avondale Presents Dog Gone Fun

gary shockley
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

Mrs. Lillie M. H. Fincher at West End's Grand OpeningIt 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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

2008 Bram Stoker Award Winners

bram stoker
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 Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Complete list of nominees
List of winners since 1987
Robert McCammon's Official Website
Interlibrary Loan Department (to borrow books not owned by the public libraries of Jefferson County)

Friday, June 19, 2009

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

ThorFor 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 those who live outside its walls, and sometimes from those within. Again and again Thor is called upon to defend his home until the strain of continually cleaning up Asgard’s messes becomes too much for him to bear and he turns his wrath against his own people.

Thor is a character who, in his near-50 years at Marvel Comics, has been written very, very well or very, very badly (but rarely in-between). In Ages of Thunder, rising star Matt Fraction gives us a Thor who isn’t a super-hero but a valiant and flawed creature of myth. Likewise, artist Patrick Zircher evokes the epic sweep of a Norse saga in a style that calls to mind The Lord of the Rings. Included as a bonus in this volume is a story that serves as a jam-session for four noted comic book artists to present their own interpretations of the Thunder God.

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 www.bplonline.org.

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:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Downtown Library Closed closed June 20-21 during City Stages

City Stages 2009
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

melted ice cream cone. photo by brenda anderson
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 http://www.bplonline.org/.

Epic Norse Poem by Tolkien Published After 70 Years

book coverBefore 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 GudrĂșn 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

The Return by Ruben StuddardI 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

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.

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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

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.

baked goods
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.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Celebowl with Jerricho Cotchery and the Birmingham Public Library

bowling pins
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. Cotchery was moved to start the foundation as a result of his own personal memories and experiences growing up. Jerricho Cotchery and his foundation have set out to “show that anyone can do extraordinary things if they have the desire and passion.” Simply stated, Cotchery has made it his mission to show that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

This event comes as part of Birmingham Public Library’s “Express Yourself” Summer Reading Program. Qualified participants will attend for free. For further details, contact the Literacy and Outreach Center at 322-6371. For more information on the Birmingham Public Library’s summer reading programs, visit http://www.bplonline.org/. For more information on The Cotchery Foundation, visit http://www.cotcheryfoundation.com/.

Event: Celebowl with Jerricho Cotchery and the Birmingham Public Library
Date: Friday, June 19, 2009
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Place: Lightning Strikes Bowling Center in Trussville, AL

Lakers Win!

Kobe BryantKobe 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 deserved to be there. The experience will make Orlando a better team and hopefully they will get a chance to play for another championship. I wasn’t picking on the Magic in the last paragraph, they are a tremendously good team. But like I've said before, the only thing that matters is the score at the buzzer.

Don’t go through basketball withdrawal, check out the subject guide on Basketball and visit the library to check out books on your favorite teams and players. Also, the WNBA season just started and those ladies have game.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Irene Blalock New BPL Director

Irene S. BlalockThe 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, collections, and furnishings including major renovations at the Avondale and Springville Road Branches. She was project manager overseeing construction of two new buildings for the Five Points West and West End Branches.

Blalock is a member of the American Library Association (ALA) and presently serves on the board of the Public Library Association, a division of ALA. She has also been an active member of the Alabama Library Association, the Jefferson County Public Library Association, the Jefferson County Library Cooperative Board, and the Library School Association Board, which supports the University of Alabama School of Library and Information Services.

BPL staff is eager to work under her leadership and anticipates helping her improve and expand the library services desired by Birmingham residents. Blalock believes “public libraries have the power to make a positive difference in the lives of those they serve,” and “access to the resources and services of the public library are essential for a well-functioning and equitable community.”

The Library would like to extend its gratitude for the outstanding service of former director Barbara Sirmans and interim director Pamela Lyons. In the coming years, BPL looks forward to continuing its mission “to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and education.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summertime and the Living is Joyous @ Your Library

Jump for Joy. Photo by Dale Gillard http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalegillard/3408525071/ 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 great many belly laughs. It will also, no doubt, be enough to bring you to the Atrium at 6:30 next Thursday with bells on.

We look forward to seeing you throughout the summer. For a list of the adult summer reading programs available check here or contact your local branch.

photo by Dale Gillard

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

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 titles are great to keep the kids entertained and are educational too.

Come to think of it, a good audiobook kind of reminds me of having my mom or dad read to me when I was a child. Maybe that's where it started.

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.

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, June 05, 2009

City Stages 2009

Dierks Bentley En Vogue
Charlie Wilson Jonny Lang

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.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Prepping Your Kindergartener

kindergarten cartoon
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 online source that makes searching for materials for grades P-12 so simple. This database not only includes Topic, Grade, Series, Author, and Early Reader searches, but also includes an interesting TimeGate that displays books from the prehistoric era to the future, and USA Books that features a map of America listing books that take place in each state. All of these books link directly to the catalog.

Kids learn better when the material is entertaining, and BookFLIX is certainly that. BookFLIX is an online literary resource that pairs classic video storybooks with related nonfiction eBooks that together build a love of reading and learning. The stories are read by celebrities as diverse as Randy Travis, Cyndi Lauper, Jake Gyllenhall, and others.

Don’t forget to give your kid a break from learning to play a few games, located on the Cyberkid page. These games are fun but teach at the same time. Sneaky, sneaky.

Parents, you’re never too old to learn either. There is an abundance of resources available at the library on subjects such as kindergarten curricula, healthy lunchbox meals, establishing good study habits, time management, and much more. And don’t forget the great little prep book, What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know.

Up to this point you’ve done your job and now it’s time to get a little help from the school. So enjoy the summer, visit the library, and remember: They’ll be fine!

Cartoon courtesy of Brian Fairrington, Cagle Cartoons

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 bolster live theatre, in general, in our community
  • to offer quality improvisational training workshops to aspiring young actors in our local schools, and
  • to have a mighty good time doing it!

The cast includes some of the best talent in the state of Alabama. Douglas O'Neil Jr., founder of the troupe, serves as the Company Chairman. Several of the Premier Level performers also write their own material, including J'Mel Davidson, Christopher Davis, Tom Wofford, and Debbie Smith. Other Premiere Level improvisers include Arik Sokol, Callie Mauldin, Mike Cunliffe, Nick Crawford, and Chris Burch.

Cameo Level Improvisors include Julie Meadows, Laura Kilgore, and Jamie Cottle. Many of these talented actors perform multiple duties within the troupe and they even include a real law man in their company for everyone’s sanity. Officer J. R. Humphries serves and protects the group, and he’s also working on his first novel.

For good fun, please come enjoy this free event. The Library will serve light refreshments. For any questions, feel free to call Sandi Lee at 226-3742. For more information on The Extemporaneous Theatre Company, visit http://extemporaneoustheatre.com/.

Event: Extemporaneous Theatre at BPL@Night
Date: Thursday, June 18, 2009
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Central Library’s Atrium
Cost: Free

Reading Lists for Birmingham City Schools Are Now Online

kid reading

Grades K-5

Grades 6-12

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

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.

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.

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