Showing posts from February, 2010

Tea with Addy

A pretty girl dressed in 1860s garb sits with "Addy" during the American Girl Tea Party at Springville Road Library on Saturday afternoon.

Neil Gaiman Enjoyed His Trip to Tuscaloosa

After 22 years of book signings in 47 states, Neil Gaiman 's publisher finally scheduled a reading/book signing for Alabama—Tuscaloosa to be exact. When he'd ask why his tour never ventured south, his publisher would tell him that people didn't really buy books there or that there was no demand for this sort of thing. When tickets went on sale, the first batch sold out in 120 seconds. They thought the website had crashed. What other reason could there be for this kind of interest from a small, southern town? Tickets released later in the week sold at the same speed. In a matter of minutes a 1078-seat theater sold out. Some drove four hours or more to hear Gaiman speak. Read more about this Tuscaloosa visit at Neil Gaiman's blog . It's always nice to remind "outsiders" that southerners love to read...and write: Erskine Caldwell; Flannery O'Connor; Tennessee Williams; William Faulkner; James Dickey; Harper Lee; Margaret Mitchell; Alice Walker; Michael Mc

Sci-Fi Author Connie Willis Returns with Third Time Travel Novel

Blackout is Connie Willis' first book since 2001's Passage , which won the Locus SF Award and was nominated for Hugo, Clarke, and Nebula awards. Blackout opens in Oxford, England, in 2060. Three scholars prepare to time travel to the time of WWII. They are supposed to observe the nature of life during this time, but when they get caught up in the action of the Dunkirk evacuation and the London Blitz, they are forced from the sidelines into participating in these defining events in history. Time travel and the possibility of altering the future are subjects that interest Willis. Doomsday Book (1992) and To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998) were her first two books tackling these concepts. When Willis researches history to help write these books, she says, "You realize that history balances on a knife's edge, over and over again. If things had just gone slightly differently, the whole course of the world would be different, and that's a pretty terrifying thought.&quo

Storytime Dancing

Miss Judy and little friends dance to "The More We Get Together" during storytime at Springvill Road Library. Come join us each Wednesday at 10 a.m. for terrific tales and super stories!

WORD UP! 2010

WORD UP! is a poetry slam open to students enrolled in high school in Jefferson County. The participants in the WORD UP! contest will be the winners of the contests held at their schools. The 2010 contest takes place Sunday, February 28, 2010 at 3:00 pm. It will be held in the Arrington Auditorium at Birmingham Public Library, Central. It is free and open to the public, so please take the opportunity to enjoy some great spoken word poetry from a group of talented young people. For more information, check out the Word Up! website .

Ralph Ellison's Unfinished Second Novel Published

Excerpts from Ralph Ellison 's unfinished second novel was edited by his literary executor, John Callahan, and published in 1999 as Juneteenth . Three Days Before the Shooting...the Unfinished Second Novel is the entire manuscript edited by Callahan and co-editor Adam Brantley and published in January 2010. Ellison started his second novel in 1954 and still hadn't completed it by his death in 1994. He claimed at one point that part of the manuscript was lost in a 1967 fire, but he later told a friend in a letter that it was only revisions to the manuscript that had been lost. Whatever the reasons, the self-confessed "fast writer, but...slow worker"never could pull the novel together. What it's about: Set in the frame of a deathbed vigil, the story is a gripping multigenerational saga centered on the assassination of the controversial, race-baiting U.S. senator Adam Sunraider, who’s being tended to by “Daddy” Hickman, the elderly black jazz musician turned preache

A Smooth Sunday

Jazz musician Keith Williams provided a serene musical ambience for staff and patrons at the Springville Road Public library Sunday afternoon. Williams, who has played music since the age of five, said he saw it as a great opportunity to introduce people to his style of smooth jazz. He also plays the drums and bass guitar. His CDs and more information are available at .

Dick Francis Dies at 89

Dick Francis died on February 14 at a home he kept in the Cayman Islands. No cause of death was reported, but he had prostate cancer that was diagnosed in the mid-1990's. Before he began writing, Mr. Francis was a champion British jockey for the royal family, who was later involved in a horse racing accident. Francis was competing at the Grand National, which is considered to be the world's most prestigious horse racing event, while he was riding Devon Loch, the Queen Mother's horse. For an inexplicable reason, the horse collapsed and could not complete the race. Dick Francis, the British steeplechase jockey, retired from horse racing at age thirty-six. Mr. Francis became a highly successful crime fiction writer, as well as a popular mystery writer who specialized in an immensely popular genre of mysteries set in the horse racing world. His main characters were often jockeys who were involved in murder and kidnapping plots. He began his second career, in 1962, with the publ

Book Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Beth Hoffman 's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is a funny, warm and wonderful little southern novel. You'll love the quirky characters, southern charm and dramatic living. Color, as well as the surroundings, play a large role in CeeCee's story and affect her life. Twelve-year-old Cecelia Rose Honeycutt has been living with her mother, the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. Mrs. Honeycutt loves to wear prom dresses, a tiara, smeared lipstick and red high-heeled satin shoes. Tragedy strikes and CeeCee is suddenly left alone. Her great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell, comes to her rescue in a vintage Packard convertible. She takes her away to Savannah, a charming southern town with lush gardens, dramatic moss-covered trees and warm magnolia scented air. CeeCee Rose soon meets Oletta, Tootie's wise housekeeper, who later becomes one of CeeCee's friends. She makes the best beaten biscuits and scrumptious iced cinnamon rolls. You will meet the busybody Violene Hobbs, who has the news on everybody,

My Favorite Part...

Interviews from the Big Read Kickoff for Jefferson County. Join Alabama’s Big Read ! Pick up a copy and begin reading " The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain" today.

Brown Bag Lunch Program: The Spiritual: The Origin and Impact in the African American Community

Join us for a riveting experience with voice and piano featuring the story of how the spiritual came from Africa and served as a centerpiece of the slave community. Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell, Professor of Voice at Auburn University, creates an experience that you will remember forever! Wednesday, February 24, noon. Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch 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.

Joe Hill Alert

Joe Hill shares more than a startling resemblance to his famous father, Stephen King; he also shares a talent for turning out some haunting tales of his own. In 2005 Joe Hill published his first book, 20th Century Ghosts, a collection of short stories, some truly frightening ("Best New Horror"), others comical ("Pop Art") and touching ("20th Century Ghost"). The collection won the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Fiction Collection, and the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story for "Best New Horror." Heart-Shaped Box , Hill's first novel, was published in 2007. It's a modern ghost story about a washed-out rocker who bids on a dead man's haunted suit on eBay. It was awarded British Fantasy's Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award. Hill teamed up with illustrator Gabriel Rodriguez to create the graphic novel series Locke & Key . Welcome to Lovecraft (2008) and Head Games (2009) are the first two

New Study: Need for Library Services Rises

The American Library Association (ALA), in conjunction with the University of Maryland Center for library and Information Innovation , recently released preliminary findings on how libraries coped last year during the economic crisis. The study, printed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette yesterday, concluded that while libraries throughout the country were financially bruised by the downward economic impact, the demand for their services rose, especially among those unemployed. The Birmingham Public Library is one example of library institutions rising to the challenge of the recession, offering electronic tools for those directly hit by the flailing economy. From the online database to the access of types of services offered, BPL remains standing on the frontlines of the federal financial struggle. Patrons are encouraged to take advantage of free computer classes, financial workshops and print resources to find employment or better themselves for other job opportunities. Larra Clark, t

BPL@Night Presents "Writing What You Don't Know"

Irene Latham, author of the young adult novel Leaving Gee’s Bend , isn't African American and she wasn't alive in 1932, but that didn't stop her from writing a story set in Depression-era Gee's Bend, Alabama, home of the now-famous quilters. Ms. Latham is a poet and novelist who writes heart-touching tales of unexpected adventure. Her debut, middle-grade historical novel Leaving Gee’s Bend is set in Alabama during the Great Depression. A resident of Birmingham, Alabama, for the past 25 years, she has published over 120 poems of various books, journals and anthologies, including a full-length collection What Came Before , which was named Alabama State Poetry Society's book of the Year and earned a 2008 Independent Publisher's (IPPY) Award. Irene loves exploring new places and often uses "research" as an excuse to travel. Her favorite characters in books and real life are those who have the courage to go their own way. At this BPL@Night event, Latha

We the People

Birmingham Public Library has received the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) We the People Bookshelf award. The grant award provides collections promoting the theme of “Picturing America .” The collections are available for checkout at all 20 Birmingham Public libraries. The Bookshelf includes Spanish translations to accompany three of the selected titles, as well as bonus materials for readers of all ages. This special NEH grant also supports public programs in Birmingham’s communities. The Bookshelf is awarded through the NEH We the People program, which supports projects that strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. The Bookshelf offers libraries and local communities additional educational resources that may not otherwise be available. Each year the Bookshelf provides an opportunity for readers to examine themes important to America’s history such as freedom, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. “Picturing America” explores the

Vancouver 2010

I don't know about you, but I think Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The pictures during NBC's coverage have been amazing. Give me Summer Olympic Games in Vancouver and I'm headed for the airport. Perhaps not, but you understand what I mean. The Winter Olympics is another story. The thought of standing in freezing cold temps in the snow waiting for someone to finish the downhill is a little more than I can handle. However, put me in a recliner in the comfort of my home and I'm there. Some people say they don't like the Winter Olympics. I really enjoy the alpine skiing, luge, bobsled, skeleton, and speed skating (especially short-track). The hockey is fun to watch as well. If there's a good backstory (think Nancy Kerrigan /Tonya Harding) I can get into figure skating as well. Oh come on, you know that's why you watched the 1994 competition. Nancy Kerrigan won the silver medal and Tonya Harding came in last place. I'm sure Vancouver

Flying Jenny Kicks Off The Big Read

Charlie, Jim, Duncan, Joyce & Rachel The Birmingham Public Library is so excited about the statewide program, “The Big Read” featuring Mark Twain ’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , that it has scheduled two months worth of programs for the city of Birmingham to enjoy. To kick-off this magnificent program, BPL is hosting events all over the library system, including a party in the Atrium of the Central Library on February 16, 2010, as well as a performance by the old-time string band, Flying Jenny, that night at 6:30 p.m. The band has tailored its music to fit Tom Sawyer’s time period. Flying Jenny plays the music of the American settlers from the British Isles, which is a forerunner of bluegrass and country music. It consists of lively fiddle tunes meant for dancing as well as old songs sung on front porches and in front of fireplaces when families and friends got together after the day’s work was done. Flying Jenny (named after an old-fashioned mule-powered carnival ride) plays b

In the News: Slave Diary Connection That Inspired William Faulkner’s Literature Discovered

The son of William Faulkner ’s childhood friend remembers Faulkner visiting their family home in the thirties and taking notes from a family diary and slave ledger belonging to a wealthy plantation owner named Francis Terry Leak. In 1942 Faulkner’s novel Go Down, Moses was published. This novel is made up of seven connected stories that trace the life of a family and its slaves in the fictional town of Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Edgar Wiggin Francisco III wanted to keep the diary’s connection with Faulkner a secret because of the darker side of his family's history, but was urged by his wife to share it with the public. Many of the names Faulkner gave to characters in Go Down, Moses , The Sound and the Fury , and Absalom, Absalom! come directly from the slave ledger. Francisco said that Faulkner would rant about Leak’s pro-slavery views while studying the papers. Leak’s diary and papers are not a new discovery. They were donated to the University of North Carolina in 1946

Brown Bag Lunch Program: Pass the Proverbs Lifeline: The Black Book of Proverbs

Proverbs unite the timeless wisdom of Black communities in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas, while speaking to the triumphs and challenges of everyday life. Join us as Dr. Askhari Johnson Hodari discusses her book Lifelines: The Black Book of Proverbs and how these works inform our lives today. Wednesday, February 17, noon. Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch 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.

An Evening with Mark Twain

Mark Twain is one of the best loved American authors known for his wit and humor. Join us as Mark Twain Comes to life in "An Evening with Mark Twain" starring Darrell Revel. This lively enactment of Twain’s stories and humorous anecdotes from his life are guaranteed to result in laughter. Tuesday February 16, 2010 6:00 p.m. Five Points West Regional Library 4812 Avenue W Birmingham AL 35208 This performance is a part of the Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest. The Big Read is made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council for the Arts. For more information on the Big Read visit:

Grub Down!

"Time to Grub Down" "At Grub Down, the weekly feeding open to the public, patrons can learn about and even handle some of the exotic pets in each library's menagerie" Anne Ruisi -- The Birmingham News When do the animals Grub Down? North Birmingham Regional Library Each Wednesday @ 4:00 p.m. Springville Road Regional Library Each Tuesday @ 4 p.m. Thanks to the Birmingham News for the video and article on Dinner at the North Birmingham and Springville Road libraries: Mealworms, anyone?

Fourth Floor Gallery Exhibit: Alabama Illustrated: Engravings from 19th Century Newspapers

In the 19th century many Americans received news and learned about the world beyond their home towns by reading illustrated newspapers. Prior to the 1890s, the technology did not exist to economically publish photographs in newspapers, so some publishers employed artists to draw and engrave images. From the 1850s to the 1890s, more than 250 engraved images of Alabama were published in national and international papers. This exhibition contains 30 of those engravings showing Alabama at work, at play, and at war. Details Fourth Floor Gallery Central Library February 13 - March 31, 2010 Accompanying Lectures February 23, 6:30 pm, Birmingham Public Library, Arrington Auditorium “Depicting Dixie: Alabama in 19th-Century Visual Culture” Graham Boettcher, Birmingham Museum of Art March 3, noon, Birmingham Public Library, Arrington Auditorium “Birmingham Illustrated: Images of the Magic City in the 19th Century Press” Jim Baggett, Birmingham Public Library Archives Canceled : March 10, noon, B

The Birmingham Public Library to Host "Foundation Center Resources for Nonprofits"

The Birmingham Public Library continues to seek innovative ways to assist the public. There are few resources that affect the local community more than the resources for nonprofit organizations available at the library. With this knowledge, BPL will host an hour and a half seminar titled “Foundation Center Resources for Nonprofits.” The Foundation Center is the leading authority on connecting grant-seeking nonprofit organizations with philanthropic institutions. It provides organizations with tools they can use and information they can trust. Established in 1956, the Foundation Center supports a nationwide network of Cooperating Collections, such as the one at the Birmingham Public Library. These collections provide under-resourced populations with the tools and training needed to connect with those willing to provide funding for their endeavors. The Cooperating Collection, located in the Government Documents Department at the Central Library, provides free public access to grantmaker

Brown Bag Lunch Program: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Writing an African-American Book

Join us for the nuts and bolts of writing and publishing a book. The discussion will expose the audience to various local African-American authors and their experiences writing and marketing a book. Joining us will be Linda and Harry Chambers. Wednesday, February 10, noon. Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch 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.

Book Review: The Pilo Family Circus

I don't know if I've ever read such an original story chock-full of so much weirdness, violence, and humor. Yes, humor. The Pilo Family Circus was written by a 19-year-old law school dropout from Australia who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Will Elliott wrote the rough draft in three months, sometimes in sporadic bursts and sometimes in a single sitting resulting in ten thousand words. Pilo was written in times of sleep deprivation, using cabin fever as inspiration, and while he was coming down off anti-psychotic medication. This book is amazing. One late night an Ordinary Joe named Jamie spies three menacing clowns on the street. One throws a bag of something behind a bush, and when Jamie gets it home he discovers some weird beads in the velvet bag. His ingestion of some of the beads gets him visited by three ruthless clowns who vandalize his apartment and leave him a message informing him he has 30 hours to pass his audition or he forfeits his life. Jamie passes his audi

Birmingham's 1902 Tragedy

The National Baptist Convention, an African American organization, met at Birmingham's Shiloh Baptist Church in 1902. The guest speaker was Booker T. Washington and the church was filled beyond capacity with people eager to hear him. What happened after Washington finished speaking left the city of Birmingham and the nation in shock and disbelief. To find out what happened the night of September 19, 1902, view our new online exhibit .

Super Bowl XLIV

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the Super Bowl is this Sunday. The bad news is that the NFL season is over. This year’s Super Bowl features the number one seeds from both the NFC and AFC, so it should be an outstanding game. During the regular season, both the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were on track to go undefeated. The Colts got off to a 14-0 start and may have gone undefeated if the coach hadn’t rested his players for the playoffs. New Orleans started 13-0 and even though they dropped the last three games, they played like champions during the playoffs. Two of the league’s premiere quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, face off for what will probably be a very high-scoring game. Each defense will have its hands full trying to slow down the other team’s offensive attack. The Saints have never played in the Super Bowl before, so they have a lot riding on this game. The Colts are hoping that lightning strikes twice in Miami. On

BPL@Night to Feature Performance by Carl Winters,"The Kalimba King"

As Mr. Winters charmed the library audience in March of last year, the Birmingham Public Library is excited to host Carl Winters again for February 2010’s edition of BPL@Night . 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” enrich

Know Where Tom Is

Join us for the Big Read. For more information visit

Update: Brown Bag Lunch Program: That's Sew Gee's Bend Quilters

Tinnie Pettway and BPL staff member Audrey Brantley at last year's program. Tinnie Pettway, Gee's Bend's first published author and founding member of The Gee's Bend Quilt Collective , will be on hand to promote her book The Gee's Bend Experience, Vol. 1. It is a collection of poems, short stories, and tidbits on life . Tinnie will be joined by her sister Minnie Pettway. Wednesday, February 3, noon. Update: The Pettways will visit two additional libraries on February 3: North Birmingham Regional Library 10:00 a.m. Five Points West Regional Library 2:00 p.m. Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch 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.

Resouce Spotlight: African-American History Online

African-American History Month begins today. This is the perfect time to visit our online databases for rock-solid information exploring African American history and culture. In the tutorial above, viewers are guided in accessing and using African-American History Online . African-American History Online can connect you to over 500 years of the African American experience using primary source documents, images, video, maps, and much more! A host of other African-American History Month resources can be found on the BPL Subject Resources page for African-American History Month. The guide provides a list of reference books, databases, magazines, newspapers, and websites you can use to find the information you need. If you have a casual interest, need to help a child with a school report, or want to do scholarly research about African American history and culture, African-American History Online and the BPL Subject Resources page are the places to start.