Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Brown Bag Lunch—Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience—Documentary Film

Pride and Passion logo
James Earl Jones narrates this award-winning documentary highlighting some of the greatest players in the history of Negro League baseball. This film showcases the players’ technical expertise and shows great sensitivity to the subject matter. Included are interviews with Cool Papa Bell, Jimmie Crutchfield, and Ted Page. Wednesday, June 2, 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 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Splash into Summer

Hey kids are you looking for something fun to do this summer? Make a Splash … Read!

Dive into our 2010 summer reading program starting June 1.

By the way, Summer reading is not just for kids anymore it is for everyone even adults. Take a look.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Make Waves

Teens and Tweens are invited to come make waves at Birmingham Public Library this summer by participating in BPL's 2010 Teen Summer Reading Program.

Make It A Grand Slam Summer 2010!

Grand Slam Summer ImageWe are so excited to tell you about the Grand Slam Summer Adult Reading Program which begins June 1- August 21, 2010 ! The program coincides with our Pride and Passion Exhibit and the 100th Anniversary of Rickwood Field. We have so many fun and educational programs happening at local libraries this summer. We also have a number of performances that will take place at libraries during the summer. You just have to visit to find out everything we have to offer. Grab some popcorn, candy, an ice cold coke, and let's get ready to hit it out of the ball park!

In order to participate, adults will be asked to complete an entry form, including name, contact information (phone or e-mail) and the name of the book you read. If you would like, you may also keep a log of the books you read during the summer. Libraries will have weekly drawings for small prizes. In August, a drawing will be held at Central Library for at least three big prizes and other additional prizes.

The entire Birmingham Public Library System will be participating in the summer reading program. Please check with your local branch for program information. Check our Eventkeeper under the Adult Summer Reading Program heading for a complete listing of programs and activities.

Just make sure you visit your local library this summer to take advantage of all we have to offer. Get ready to have a Grand Slam Summer @ your library!

Ladies and gentleman, oh my goodness, it's out of the park! We have a Grand Slam!

John Grisham Publishes Tween Book

Theodore Boone: Kid LawyerLike Candace Bushnell, Carl Hiaasen, and James Patterson before him, John Grisham has loaned his talent to teen literature; well, preteen to be exact. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer is a tame legal thriller written for the 9-12 age range, but teens and even adults may enjoy this story about a 13-year-old boy who is fascinated with the legal system. His parents are divorce and real estate attorneys, and his dog is named Judge.

Boone is the go-to junior legal eagle for the neighborhood children, giving advice and comfort on legal issues ranging from custody arrangements, foreclosures, and how to get a dog back from the pound. But then a woman is strangled and the only suspect is her husband, who claims he's innocent. (Yeah, they all do, but some actually are.) When an illegal immigrant who is afraid to come forward provides Boone with some evidence that might clear the husband, Boone has an ethical dilemma on his hands. Will Boone solve the case? Just as sure as a witness raises his right hand and swears on the Bible!

For more reader’s advisory, visit our Bookletters page. Bookletters offers book reviews, author bios and interviews, book group discussion guides, audio clips, and much more. To receive monthly updates on new books, simply sign up for BookLetters' email newsletter service. Reviews of recommended books in your favorite genres will be delivered right to your inbox.

2010 Alabama Elections Are Just Around the Corner!

VoteHave you seen campaign signs throughout the city? Watched a few campaign ads? Found a campaign flier tucked under your windshield wiper? Attended a political rally? 2010 Alabama election season is here! You might have numerous questions. When is the election? Who are the candidates? Where do I register to vote? Birmingham Public Library has the answers to all these questions and more at the 2010 Alabama Elections subject guide. Be an informed citizen, and cast your vote in the primaries on June 1, 2010!

Still need more help? Contact the social sciences department at 205-226-3640, or fill out our Ask a Librarian form.

Monday, May 24, 2010

2009 Bestsellers for Summer Reading

The Lost Symbol Going Rogue
Open The Yankee Years
In the March 22, 2010 issue, Publishers Weekly provided a list of the bestselling hardcover books in 2009 and ranked them by total number of sales. The top selling fiction and nonfiction titles, respectively, were The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown and Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin.

Months have passed, so why report this information now? Summer is around the corner and this gives you an opportunity to check out some bestselling titles you may have missed. Instead of providing the entire list, I am listing the Top 10 nonfiction titles that fall into the subject areas for the Arts, Literature & Sports Department. I think it's interesting to note that 7 of the 10 titles are biography/memoir.
  1. The Yankee Years / Joe Torre
  2. Open / Andre Agassi
  3. Time of My Life / Patrick Swayze
  4. Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist / Michael J. Fox
  5. Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman / Jon Krakauer
  6. Born to Run / Christopher McDougall
  7. The Book of Basketball / Bill Simmons
  8. Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin / Kathy Griffin
  9. Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea / Chelsea Handler
  10. Last Words / George Carlin
Remember that you can reserve books online and they can be transferred to any public library in Jefferson County. We would love to see you in person, though.

A Day in the Life of Jefferson County Libraries

On Monday, April 12, 2010, the public libraries of Jefferson County, including Birmingham Public Library locations, recorded "a typical day" by taking snapshots. The video above displays some of the photographs.

As you can see, people visit our libraries for many purposes - to check out a book, video, or audio-book; to find information or do research; to use a library computer; or to attend a cultural event or program, to name a few.

Want to see more?

Click here to see the over 200 photos taken on our "Snapshot Day."


Click here to see all of Birmingham Public Library's Flickr photographs .(Check our Flickr page often as we add photographs almost daily)

BPL@Night Series Incorporates Art and Authors In Its June Line-up

BPL@Night Presents logo
The Birmingham Public Library will host three lectures and one musical review as part of the June 2010 BPL@Night Series. Conversations on Art, Authors, and Life talks will be held in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place. The performance is set to take place in the Atrium at the same location. These events are free and open to the public.

In its long range plan, BPL states that “Birmingham citizens of all ages will find programs at the library on a wide variety of topics to address their needs for ongoing educational opportunities and their desires for personal growth.” To satisfy Birmingham residents’ desire for free enriching cultural programming downtown and in city neighborhoods, and to provide more opportunities for citizens to visit their local library, BPL has developed BPL@Night, a series of evening performances offered free-of-charge at BPL’s Central and branch libraries. The Birmingham Public Libraries that offer the BPL@Night programs attract a diverse audience of community members by presenting a variety of programs highlighting local and regional performers in the various performance arts. Each library chooses performers that appeal to their neighborhood demographic and marketing to their individual neighborhood means each library draws an audience that reflects their community’s makeup.

Central Library
June 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Richard Arrington Auditorium
Authors, Authors, Authors
Local African American authors will discuss recently published works and share insight into how they handled both the writing and publishing processes. The authors and books are: Harry Chambers, Jr., More than Qualified—Responding to the Three T's of African American Business Ownership; Dr. Jarralynne Agee, Tears to Triumph: Women Learn to Live, Love, and Thrive; Dr. Geraldine Bell and Dr. Hattie G. Lamar, Women of Uncommon Valor; Life Stories of Women from Birmingham, Alabama; Linda Chambers, What on Earth does God want with Me?; Faustina Korley, Ordinary Mr. Yalley, Extraordinary Gift from God; and Dr. Lonnie Hannon, Navigator of the Midnight Sky.

Central Library
June 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Richard Arrington Auditorium
Rising Road: A True Tale of Love, Race, and Religion in America
On August 11, 1921, in Birmingham, Alabama, a Methodist minister named Edwin Stephenson shot and killed a Catholic priest, James Coyle, in broad daylight and in front of numerous witnesses. The killer's motive? The priest had married the minister's daughter to a Puerto Rican migrant and practicing Catholic. Dr. Sharon Davies lays bare the heinous crime and its aftermath in a brilliant, in-depth examination of the consequences of prejudice in the Jim Crow era.

Central Library
June 24 at 6:30 in the Library Atrium
Blast from the Past: A cappella Doo-Wop Musical Review
Blast from the Past is a quartet that has a total of over 50 years of stage and performance experience. They will perform doo-wop music of the ‘50s and bubblegum pop of the ‘60s, putting a unique a cappella spin on the songs as they take the listener back to a time when rock ‘n’ roll was in its infancy, and the music was carefree and fun.

Central Library
June 29 at 6:30 p.m. in the Richard Arrington Auditorium
Baseball in Birmingham: A Panel Discussion with Wayne Martin, Ben Cook, and Clarence Watkins
Wayne Martin, longtime beat writer for The Birmingham News, Ben Cook, author of Good Wood: A Fan's History of Rickwood Field, and Clarence Watkins, author of Baseball in Birmingham, share an unparalleled combined expertise on Birmingham baseball history. As Rickwood Field celebrates its 100th anniversary, and the City of Birmingham revisits baseball history, these authors offer unique insight into this beloved Birmingham past time.

The series is also made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Compass Bank generously supports BPL@Night.

Go to for additional information

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney

How many ways can a parent mess up a child’s life (or their own for that matter)? How long can you mourn the past? What does it take to break out of the pattern of self-destruction? Madeline, Desiree and Ariel each have a unique chance for their own life. Each approaches her life tentatively, disbelieving their individual self-worth and worthiness, each reaching for ANOTHER life, one better, less pain-filled, less complicated. Madeline’s search for a better life was largely in the 1970s, marking time until she graduated from High School. Desiree stumbles through the 1990s while Ariel is very near the making a major mistake in 2009. Somehow there is a cosmic connection - a big plate of leftovers transformed into a new and tasty Blue Plate Special. Then they, at last, find a way to communicate with each other and listen and perhaps make a step toward mending the broken parts of their lives.

Review written by Grace M. Slaughter

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Places Library Books Hide: A Top Ten List

Library books do seem to hide from us, but now is the time to find them as tomorrow is Fine Free Friday!

On Friday, May 21, 2010, the Birmingham Public Library and the public libraries of Adamsville, Bessemer, Botanical Gardens, Gardendale, Homewood, Hueytown, Irondale, Leeds, Pleasant Grove, Trussville, Vestavia Hills, & Warrior will forgive fines under the following conditions:

Items must be returned in hand to the circulation desk at a participating library.

Fines are only forgiven for the items in good condition presented on Free Fine Friday.

Not valid on past accumulated fines.

Free Fine Friday, May 21, 2010, is your opportunity to return overdue materials without a late charge and help the library recover overdue items making more items available for public circulation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make a Splash at Linn Park Fountain: Birmingham Public Library to Host Sign-Up for Summer Reading

Photo by Andre Natta

On Wednesday, May 26, 2010, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host an exciting sign-up event for all three summer reading programs (children, teens, and adults). This event will take place at the Linn Park fountain, located in between the Central Library and City Hall. From 11:00 am -2:00 p.m., the public may sign themselves or their children up for the host of summer reading programs and activities available beginning June 1.

The library has partnered with several organizations and companies, some of whom will be available for the event. A Chick-Fil-A cow will be on hand, encouraging folks to join us, as well as a balloon sculptor who will be making and giving away his creations. Qualified library staff will assist everyone with the online registration form and answer any questions concerning the library’s summer events.

Even during these distressing economic conditions, Birmingham library staff has pledged to serve the public in unique and creative ways, offering the same great services and resources, and following the BPL mission statement, which is “to provide the highest quality library service for lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment.” In 2009, BPL hosted 426 programs for a total of 20,285 attendees and the library expects to have an equally impressive summer in 2010. For more information on Summer Reading, including a schedule of events, make sure to check out

Helpful Online Resource for Unemployed

FINRALast year the American Library Association issued a joint press release with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announcing that FINRA were making available to public libraries a free resource containing important financial and unemployment-related information for individuals facing a job loss. FINRA's Investor Alert, "Job Dislocation: Making Smart Financial Choices After a Job Loss," offers guidance and tips for the general public on maintaining financial stability and avoiding financial fraud during a very difficult period. Read the release at

Since the April 2009 announcement, public libraries around the country have distributed over 25,000 copies of the FINRA Investor Alert, which is available in English and Spanish. The unemployment statistics indicate that workers today are experiencing high levels of dislocation. The stress of unemployment could result in financial decisions that may worsen an already difficult situation for people. Please visit to download a copy of this valuable information.

Brown Bag Lunch—Pride and Passion Featuring The Real Life and Times in the Negro Leagues

Pride and Passion logo
What was life really like on the road and at home for the Negro League player? Join us for a look at the real life and times of the players that lived the life and played for the love of the game! Wednesday, May 26, 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 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Birmingham Heritage Band Plays Five Points West Library

Please join us as the Five Points West Regional Library welcomes the Birmingham Heritage Band for an evening of jazz music on Tuesday, May 25, 2010.

All ages are invited to come and enjoy this BPL@night concert.

Event Details:

Where: Five Points West Regional Library
When: Tuesday, May 25
Time: 6:00 p.m.

BPL@Night program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. BPL would also like to thank the Alabama Power Company Foundation for their generous support of BPL@Night.

Monday, May 17, 2010

2009 Nebula Award Winners

The Nebula Awards logo
The 2009 Nebula Award winners were announced on May 15 at the Nebula Awards Banquet held in Cocoa Beach, FL. The Grand Master was Joe Haldeman and Author Emeritus was Neil Barrett Jr. The Nebula Awards are voted on and presented by active members of SWFA.

The winners are:

The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Short Story
"Spar" by Kij Johnson

Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster

The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

Ray Bradbury Award
District 9 by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell

Solstice Award (for contributions to the SF&F field)
Tom Doherty, Terri Windling, Donald A. Wollheim

Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the CastleMerricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!

The taunting sing-song rhyme that children chant whenever a Blackwood sister is near is reminiscent of the “forty whacks” rhyme used to taunt Lizzie Borden. The Blackwood sisters, like the Borden sisters, are infamous in their town. Holed up in a big house, guarding their secrets, their seclusion adding to their sinister reputation with the passing years.

Right away we see that something isn’t quite right with Merricat. She introduces herself on the first page: Dislikes? Washing herself; dogs; and noise. Likes? Her sister, Constance; Richard Plantagenet; and the death-cup mushroom. "Everyone else in my family is dead."

The Blackwood family used to be a family of seven, but now it’s just the three of them: 28-year-old Constance; 18-year-old Merricat; and invalid Uncle Julian. The girls’ father, mother, brother, and aunt died after sprinkling their blackberries with a sugar and arsenic mixture from the heirloom sugar bowl.

Constance—like Shirley Jackson did—suffers from agoraphobia. So every Tuesday and Friday Merricat heads to town to do some shopping and borrow books from the library. There she endures the stares and confrontations of the townsfolk, who are seething with resentment from the elitism of Blackwoods past, and the injustice of the girls getting away with murder six years earlier.

Merricat spends her day practicing her brand of witchcraft, tending to the talismans that keep them safe: the box of silver dollars buried by the creek; the doll buried in the field; the book nailed to a tree in the woods. Their small family lives a quiet and content life in the "castle," until a cousin arrives and disturbs the already fragile OCD, black-magic world of Merricat, and opens Constance's eyes to just how bizarre their lifestyle is.

A short while into cousin Charles' stay an opportunity presents itself for the Blackwoods' neighbors to release the rage that has simmered for years. And in the aftermath, Jackson has her say about family loyalty, greed, and the good and bad in everyone. There are some tender acts of retribution in the later chapters that warmed my heart, until it dawned on me that perhaps it's just the neighbors practicing their own brand of witchcraft to keep harm at bay.

If your knowledge and enjoyment of Shirley Jackson is limited to her short story "The Lottery" or her well-known novel The Haunting of Hill House, We Have Always Lived in the Castle will reinforce what a great writer she was.

BPL Explores the “Exigencies of the Soul”—An Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Deborah Perry

The Birmingham Public Library will host an art exhibit by Alabama artist Deborah Perry entitled “Exigencies of the Soul.” An opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, May 23, 2010, in the Central Library’s Board Room from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Deborah Perry is a "colorist," whose abstract oil paintings have been influenced by such "action painters" as Diebenkom, Motherwell, and Gorkey. Perry's paintings have been exhibited in Ariel Gallery at Soho in New York, The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Mississippi State University for Women, and Aaron Art Gallery in Washington, D.C. Deborah Perry is currently an instructor at Gadsden State Community College.

The exhibit will be on display from May 17 through June 21. Admission to the exhibition is free and open to the public. Birmingham Public Library (Central Library) is open Monday and Tuesday, 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.; and Sunday from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

MEDIA: Media coverage of this exhibition is welcomed. To schedule an interview with the artist, call 256-490-5490 or visit her Web site at If you are interested in scheduling an interview with a Library representative, call (205) 226-3746.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

May, it is said, buds flowers, thanks to the April showers. But this month is also filled with many celebrations other than beautiful botanical blooms.

In May, we also celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the observance of the Mexican militia’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.  It is also the month when we honor mothers and spend one Sunday letting them know how truly loved and appreciated they are. And on the last Monday in May, we pay tribute to the men and women who have given their lives serving in the military on Memorial Day.

This month is also the time we celebrate the many contributions of those of Asian and Pacific Islander decent in the United States of American. May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

In 1978, Congress passed a joint resolution to recognize Asian Americans during the first week of May. The dates were chosen in conjunction with the anniversaries of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants in America (May 7, 1843) and the completion of the transcontinental railroad, on which many Chinese laborers worked (May 10, 1869). Twelve years after the resolution, Congress, with the support of President George W. Bush, expanded Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week to the whole month of May. In May 1992, the month was officially and permanently designated as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

Here are some good readings that can help folks recognize and celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. After all, Confucius does say, “You cannot open a book without learning something.”

Children’s Books
 Teen Books
 Adult Books
For more information about Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, please click here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Birmingham Black Barons Database

Local Databases
Which two of the following players spent part of their career with the Birmingham Black Barons?

Hank Aaron
Willie Mays
Josh Gibson
Satchel Paige
Jackie Robinson

The correct answer is Willie Mays and Satchel Paige.

I found this information in the Encyclopedia of Negro League Baseball, but what about all the facts about the Black Barons that weren’t included in the book, such as game information and results, player interviews, and other weekly coverage? Articles in local newspapers provide some of the best facts about local history, but how can I access newspaper information about the Birmingham Black Barons?

The Government Documents Department has developed a database on the Birmingham Black Barons that provides a keyword index to articles in local newspapers including The Birmingham News and The Birmingham World, an African-American newspaper. The database searches for keywords in article titles and bylines and is updated regularly by the Government Documents Department. A considerable amount of staff time went into creating this database and it will make searching for these newspaper articles a lot easier.

The Birmingham Public Library is featuring the traveling exhibition, Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, at the Central location May 1 thru June 11. There will be a number of events associated with the exhibition at the library. Please take the opportunity to come see the exhibition and enjoy some of the associated programs. Check out the Pride and Passion website for more information.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

FYI About System Backups

FYI!If you've ever visited the JCLC catalog late at night and couldn't renew, place holds, etc., it's because the system is in the middle of a backup. Backups are scheduled beginning at 10:00 p.m., Monday-Saturday. It's a small price to pay for visiting the library in your PJs, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brown Bag Lunch—Pride and Passion Featuring Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

Pride and Passion logo
In Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend, award-winning author and journalist Larry Tye untangles myth from truth about this flawed yet majestic man. Tye shows us Satchel Paige as a self-promoter who selflessly fought to guarantee his teammates richer paydays. This new book also rewrites the history of the integration of baseball, with Satchel Paige in a starring role.

While many dismissed him as a Stepin Fetchit, Satchel was something else entirely: a quiet subversive. He pitched so spectacularly that he drew the spotlight first to himself, then to his all-black Kansas City Monarchs, and inevitably to the Monarchs’ rookie second baseman Jackie Robinson. In the process, Satchel, even more than Jackie, opened the door for African Americans to the national pastime and forever changed his sport and this nation. Wednesday, May 19, 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 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Getting Ready to Make a Splash!

Leo Jackson wants to know: "Aaargh you ready for summer?"

The Springville Road Children's Department is getting ready for the Summer Reading Program: "Make a Splash." Join us on June 1, when we kick off our Summer Reading Program. You can also sign up at your local BPL branch.

The Summer Reading Program is a literacy campaign established by the Collaborative Summer Library Program, in conjuction with public libraries throughout the United States.

Support The Friends Of The Birmingham Public Library

The Regions Charity Classic begins today and ends Sunday, May 16, but it’s not too late to pledge or donate to the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library through Birdies for Charity. Simply make a pledge to the Friends of two cents or more per birdie or a flat donation of $10 or more. The Friends will receive every single penny of your tax-deductible contribution, and by helping the Friends, you have a chance to win great prizes!

“Good-Any-One-Day” Tickets to the Regions Charity Classic:
The next four people who pledge or donate to the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library will receive two “Good-Any-One-Day” tickets to the golf tournament.

"Guess the Birdies" Contest:
When making a contribution, all donors have the opportunity to guess the exact number of birdies that will be made during the tournament. Those who guess correctly will be entered into a drawing to win the "Stay and Play Package" from the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, FL. The last day to make a guess is Thursday, May 13.

Weekly Giveaways:
Everyone who pledges or donates by Thursday, May 13 will be entered into a drawing for a $1,000 gift certificate to Diamonds Direct.

Click here to pledge or donate to the Friends.

Click here to read more about the Regions Charity Classic.

Elena Kagan: Recommended Resources

The Law Library of Congress has created a virtual resource guide for Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. This resource guide shows articles and books by Kagan, as well as congressional documents, Supreme Court oral argument transcripts, web resources, and videos, including those from CSPAN as well as YouTube. The guide is easy to navigate and offers an exhaustive list of her accomplishments, beliefs, and arguments. To access this recommended resources guide, visit

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review—Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration From East Africa

Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from AfricaMany coffee table books are diverting. A few are even remarkable. A very small group can ignite your mind. One that easily fits into that last category is Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration From Africa by Hans Silvester. A sober, even bland title, but a book of wonders is inside its covers, a collection of photos of exuberantly beautiful people, the Surma and Mursi tribes which inhabit the remote area where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan meet. They adorn themselves almost exclusively with natural materials common to the area-plants, flowers, seedpods, gourds, grass, butterfly wings, boar’s teeth and so on. That in itself isn’t unusual-using local nature to give yourself beauty and meaning is universal among indigenous peoples. What’s extraordinary here is the sheer aesthetic power of these people. You may never before have seen such inventive, such gloriously imaginative transformations of nature into clothing, face paintings and general human presentation. The poet Robinson Jeffers wrote “…the divine beauty of the universe/Love that, not man apart from that…” and those lines spring to mind as you look at these pictures. Notions of the Garden of Eden and the Golden Age also come to mind. This part of East Africa is, in fact, the birthplace of the human race. Olduvai Gorge isn’t too very far away. In these pages humans do in fact seem to be at one with nature, celebrating it, reveling in it.

After many pages of face paint the color and design of which would make any Fauvist proud (and yet these tribes have almost certainly never heard of the Fauvists),crowns made of fruits, cloaks of bright green leaves and seedpod headdresses, you may think there are perhaps too many miracles here. The costuming makes just about anything you’d see at a theatre play or a fashion runway look bland by comparison. Then your reverie collapses: a photo of a boy holding a wooden toy rifle. The snake grows larger a dozen or so pages later when you see an adult man holding a real rifle. So much for paradise. You go back to the introduction again and notice a couple of lines about tribal warfare, forest destruction, encroaching tourism, the usual rot. All of this of course makes the genius of these tribes all the more valuable because it’s so precarious. You can still, however, be stunned and thrilled by the overwhelming beauty here. But you won’t feel like singing in the rain.

Reviewed by Richard Grooms/Central Library/Social Sciences Department

Last Day to Register to Vote at BPL for June Elections is May 19

VoteIf you wish to register to vote at a Birmingham Public Library for the June elections, you have until Wednesday, May 19. After May 19 you must register at a Jefferson County Board of Registrars office located inside a Jefferson County courthouse, or at one of the satellite offices listed below.

Jefferson County Courthouse - North Annex
Suite A410
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL 35203

Center Point Satellite
2651 Center Point Road
Birmingham, AL 35215

Bessemer Courthouse
1801 3rd Avenue
Bessemer, AL 35020

Southern Satellite
809 Greensprings Highway, Suite 102
Homewood, AL 35209

Monday, May 10, 2010

Heads Up Alabama! BPL to Showcase Art Exhibit Sponsored by the Alabama Psychological Association

Heads Up Alabama
The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host an exciting opening event for Heads Up Alabama! Psychology Promotes Healthy Living, a public health education campaign by The Alabama Psychological Association (aPA) and The Alabama Psychological Association Foundation (aPAF). In a collaborative effort to bring attention to the importance of mental health, twenty local artists—from an applicant pool of 65—will be selected next week to participate. Each artist chosen will decorate a three foot tall fiberglass head modeled on a mental health issue. The artists’ interpretations of the connection between a healthy life and a healthy mind will be displayed throughout the library for three weeks. The opening event at BPL is scheduled for Thursday, July 22, 2010 in the Central Library located at 2100 Park Place. Refreshments and musical entertainment will be provided.

This unique pairing of public art with public education and the promotion of psychology will be on display at BPL through August 11. The exhibit will then move to Aldridge Gardens in Hoover for three weeks before relocating to Huntsville. Sponsors and partners include: KBR, Jefferson County Department of Health, All Kids Insurance Program (Alabama Department of Health), BCBS of Alabama, the Daniel Foundation, Forstall Art Supply, Two Men and a Truck, and psychologists across the state. Follow progress and get a sample of the uniqueness, popularity, and attraction of the decorated heads on the Heads Up Alabama! website ( or on Facebook.

Dallas Braden Makes History

Dallas BradenLess than a year after Mark Buehrle pitched a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox, Dallas Braden became the 19th pitcher in major league history to do so by pitching a perfect game on Mother's Day. Braden, who pitches for the Oakland A's, faced 27 Tampa Bay Rays and with help from his defense sent all 27 back to the dugout. This accomplishment is amazing in itself, but especially when you consider this is Braden's 4th season in the Majors. He had 17 career wins before this game. By comparison, Buehrle was in his 10th season and had over 120 wins.

The Birmingham Public Library is featuring the traveling exhibition, Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience, at the Central location May 1 thru June 11. There will be a number of events associated with the exhibition at the library. Please take the opportunity to come see the exhibition and enjoy some of the associated programs. Check out the Pride and Passion website for more information.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Life and Legacy of Dr. Arthur Harold Parker

Industrial High School staffA Dream That Came True!
Local Organizations Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Dr. Arthur Harold Parker

Born to former slaves in Ohio, Arthur Harold Parker always knew that an education was the key to success. After his college plans failed, Parker traveled south to Birmingham where an uncle encouraged him to take the teacher’s exam. In 1887, he became the thirteenth African American teacher in the Birmingham City School System. When Birmingham’s black community petitioned the Board of Education for its own school in 1899, Parker would be tapped as the principal. The request led to the opening of Industrial High School in September 1900. This undertaking was indeed “A Dream Come True!”

During the week of May 3 -7, several local organizations will come together to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Arthur Harold Parker. The groups include the Metro Birmingham Branch NAACP, the Smithfield Preservation Committee and the Birmingham Public Library. Events slated for the week include an essay and oratorical competition for students of Wilkerson Middle and A. H. Parker High Schools; a birthday celebration complete with cake at two local libraries; an online exhibition created by the Birmingham Public Library; and a community program organized by the NAACP.

Arthur Harold Parker made significant contributions to education and the Birmingham community. In 1933, Miles College conferred upon Parker an honorary degree—the Doctor of Humane Letters. Upon Parker’s retirement from teaching in 1939, Industrial High School was renamed A. H. Parker High. Over the years, enrollment continued to increase—from 18 students in 1900 to 3,761 in 1946. With this steady increase, the school soon became known as the largest high school for blacks in the world. Today, the “Thundering Herd” is known for its outstanding academics and boasts well known alumni from across the country.

Dr. A. H. Parker Birthday Celebration Activities

May 3-May 7, 2010
Essay and Oratorical Competition
Competition for students at Malachi Wilkerson Middle and A. H. Parker High Schools.
Based on Dr. Parker’s Book, A Dream Come True
Contact the Metro Birmingham Branch NAACP for information at (205) 714-5860.

May 7, 2010
Birthday Cake and Celebration at the Birmingham Public Library (Central Location)
Join us for birthday cake, good folks and good fun!
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
2100 Park Place (Atrium)

May 7, 2010
Birthday Cake and Celebration at the Smithfield Branch of the Birmingham Public Library
Join us for birthday cake, good folks and good fun!
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
#1 Eighth Avenue West

May 7, 2010
Birmingham Community Salute to Dr. A. H. Parker
Birmingham Public Library
Central Library—Arrington Auditorium
6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
2100 Park Place
Contact the Metro Birmingham Branch NAACP for information at (205) 714-5860.

2010 James Beard Award Winners Announced

Real CajunLove Soup
Ad Hoc at HomeBaking

The James Beard Award has been called the "Oscars of the food world." There is no monetary prize, but it's validation for those who make food and drink their livelihood.

I took home a copy of Love Soup last year and ended up buying a copy for my collection. I had no idea there were so many ways to make soup! It's a vegetarian cookbook but meat lovers could always throw in a handful of diced chicken, pork, or whatever dead animal you've got in the freezer.

2010 James Beard Award Winners

American Cooking: Real Cajun by Donald Link with Paula Disbrowe
Baking and Dessert: Baking by James Peterson
Beverage: Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology by Randall Grahm
Cooking from a Professional Point of View: The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute with Judith Choate
General Cooking: Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Healthy Focus: Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Thomas
International: The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews
Photography: Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky
Reference and Scholarship: Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita
Single Subject: Pasta Sfoglia by Ron and Colleen Suhanosky with Susan Simon
Writing and Literature: Save the Deli by David Sax

Unfortunately, not all of these books are owned by a JCLC library. But they might be available through Interlibrary Loan if you'd like to check one out.

Opening Reception for the Pride and Passion Exhibit

You are cordially invited to attend the
opening reception for the exhibit

Pride and Passion
The African American Baseball Experience

Thursday, May 6, 2010
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

with special guest Larry Lester,
co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
Kansas City, Missouri
speaking at 7:00 p.m.

Central Library
1st Floor Gallery
2100 Park Place
Birmingham, Alabama

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Brown Bag Lunch—Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience Featuring Only the Ball Was White

Pride and Passion logo
Throughout the 1900s black baseball talent blossomed in the Negro Leagues. The documentary, Only the Ball Was White, pays tribute to the many top flight players from the Negro Leagues in a bygone bittersweet era in baseball where many were denied stardom by the color line. Wednesday, May 12, 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 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library, 2100 Park Place.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Welcome to Hannibal, Missouri

The Springville Road Public Library concluded its celebration of The Big Read: Alabama Reads The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on April 24 with a “Welcome to Hannibal, Missouri Fair.” Patrons were invited to participate in a trip back in time to America’s Hometown with crafts, games, food, and animals.

Springville Road Circulation Department Manager Kelly Laney (pictured above) donned an era-appropriate attire and presented some of her organic produce, free-range eggs, and animal friends.

Artist Catherine Clements featured her art work and candle creations. Other items for sale included muffins, brownies, pickled pigs feet, hot dogs, and candies. The Children's Department had crafts and games available, plus a show by the Magic Man Larry Moore.

The boyhood home of Samuel Langhorne Clemens, or famously known as Mark Twain, served as the inspiration for the event. It was also the setting of his classic work The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This year marks the 175th anniversary of his birth, the 125th anniversary of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and the 100th anniversary of his death.

The Big Read: Alabama Reads The Adventure of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain was a statewide campaign to help increase literacy and library usage in Alabama. Folks were encouraged to read Mark Twain’s classic work. The event occurs yearly from February to April.

Inexpensive Summer Activities

It's already May, temperatures are climbing and Summer is just around the corner. The kids will be out of school soon and they want something to do. I know a lot of them will keep busy with cell phones, computers, video games, etc. However, for parents who want their children to "unplug" but still have fun, these books may give you some ideas on ways to do that.

365 TV-free activities you can do with your child

As the title suggests, this guide offers a variety of games, arts & crafts, and other activities for the whole family. Many of the crafts can be created using inexpensive materials around the house.

Creative family projects, games and activities

This guide provides a series of activities that are both fun and educational. It includes genealogy activities, brain games, holiday projects, "serious stuff" like charitable giving and emergency preparedness, and outdoor family activities.

The everything games book

Remember the time before video games? What did people do to occupy their time and have fun? This book provides the rules for a variety of board games, card games, dice games, outdoor games, party games, and a lot more. Want to learn how to play marbles, jacks, pickup sticks, dominoes, Old Maid, Crazy Eights? Check it out.

Kids outdoors

Love the great outdoors? You probably don't need any information on how to have fun, but just in case you're curious, check out the following titles.

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