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Showing posts from January, 2013

Gifts of a Wordsmith Workshop Features Poet Yogi E.C.

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The next adult poetry workshop, Gifts of a Wordsmith, will be held Tuesday, February 5, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Storycastle on the second floor of the Central Library.

Featuring special guest Yogi E.C. (Yolanda Carter), poet, artist, and author of the book Eternal Communicator/Chameloen Assassin, a collection of poetry accompanied by photography by Marika N. Johnson. Yogi's resume includes commissioned work for ABC 33/40’s Freedom Riders, being a finalist for Turner South Television’s In My South competition, and vocals for Alabama Public Television’s soundtrack for the Emmy Award Nominated documentary, Mr. Dial Has Something to Say.

Gifts of a Wordsmith is held every first Tuesday at the Central Library.

Birmingham Public Library's Local Authors Expo Will Be Full of Inspiring Writers

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This Saturday’s Local Authors Expo at the Birmingham Public Library, which will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., will be full of authors who followed a dream of writing a book.

One of them is Jessie Crawford, a retired civil service worker from Birmingham, AL, who didn’t realize he had material for children’s books until his granddaughter pointed it out to him.

Crawford and his wife had been keeping their granddaughter, Noni Crawford, ever since she was a baby. When she learned to talk, Jessie Crawford recorded the child’s cute sayings about her "Pop Pop'' in a notebook. In Noni Crawford’s eyes, there was nothing that her “Pop Pop’’ couldn’t do,’’ Jessie Crawford said.

“She was always bragging on her grandfather,’’ he said, adding that he recorded her comments for five years.

When Noni Crawford was about seven or eight years old, she found the notebook in one of his folders, liked what she saw and said, “Pop Pop, this would make a great book. You’ve got to write a book.’’ Jess…

Home Improvement Resources

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Flow Tactics Teen Poetry Workshop, February 2

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Flow Tactics Teen Poetry Workshop for grades 6-12 is held the first Saturday of every month, 2:00-4:00 p.m., in the Youth Department Story Castle at Central Library. February's workshop is scheduled for Saturday, February 2.
John Paul Taylor of Real Life Poets, Inc. is the coordinator. For more information, call Taylor at 585-8271 or email him at johnpaul@reallifepoets.org.

Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom

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Moonrise Kingdom
—directed by Wes Anderson
—written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

The moon is full in Moonrise Kingdom as those who know Wes Anderson’s films would expect. The moon is always full in his films—always. While this story is told as a children’s fable, it is intended for and is best suited for adults.

Set in 1965 on the fictional island of New Penzance off of the coast of New England, we find two precocious pre-teens set to run away. They meet at a community theatrical production of Noah’s Ark and spend some time afterwards as dedicated pen pals. Their names are Suzy and Sam, played by newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. Soon they make the decision to escape. Sam is an outcast orphan who is at Camp Ivanhoe as a Khaki Scout. He deserts his camp much to the dismay of his regimented camp leader, Scout Master Ward played by Edward Norton. Suzy escapes her dysfunctional attorney parents, played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. They embark into the wild on their ow…

Book Review: Birmingham 1963: How a Photograph Rallied Civil Rights Support

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Birmingham 1963: How a Photograph Rallied Civil Rights Support
Shelley Tougas

Birmingham 1963 focuses on the controversial Children’s Crusade through which civil right leaders launched Project C (for Confrontation) to jumpstart desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. In May, 1965 the Children’s Crusade became a model for nonviolent protest when African American children marched for their rights. This account tells how Charles Moore’s photograph of teenagers being brutally assaulted with fire hoses against a building started up enough controversy to bring attention to the level of discrimination occurring, which effectively obliged the oppressive, white Birmingham establishment to move forward in civil rights. Moore effectively became a protester himself because his picture’s details imparted a power that changed history. All Americans became witnesses to the hate and prejudice that were on trial. The photo rallied the Civil Rights Movement and energized the public by highlighti…

A Cool Million, Or Archives by the Numbers

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Each year the Birmingham Public Library Archives serves thousands of researchers from throughout the Birmingham area and serves as a resource to the world. In 2012, the Archives assisted researchers from 32 states (from Maine to Florida, Maryland to California) as well researchers from Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Japan, and Spain.

Our researchers include local people investigating the history of houses and buildings; college students researching class papers, theses, and dissertations; scholars researching articles, books, and museum exhibitions; and film makers working on documentaries and other motion picture productions. To conduct their research, visitors use historic documents such as letters, diaries, and scrapbooks; photographs; maps; architectural drawings; and sound recordings. Most items are stored in files, and a file might contain one photograph or 50 letters. Each file that a researcher requests is pulled by a staff person and delivered to the …

Statistical Abstract of the US - Now Online!

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Need to learn the birth and death rates for every state? Want to compare household income and education? Interested in tracking changes in unemployment in any given region? Looking for the effects of shifting demographics on the country as a whole?

Published annually since 1878, The Statistical Abstract of the United States is the best-known statistical reference publication in the country, and perhaps, the world. It is the authoritative source for information on the social, political, and economic conditions of the United States compiled from both government and non-government sources, and serves as a snapshot of America.

Once published by the Census Bureau, it is no longer printed in its traditional format. However, The online edition of this classic reference is now available at any location of the Birmingham Public Library or at home to BPL users with a valid library card.

Click Here to begin exploring this wealth of up-to-date information on the country we all call home.

Book Review: The Grifters

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The Grifters
Jim Thompson

Countless novels have celebrated the American Dream and countless more have indicted it. Few novels have explored the American Nightmare like The Grifters. Jim Thompson has been called the most nihilistic writer in American history. In his novels, no one is redeemed, everyone is damned. Even the straight world, which is only briefly mentioned in this novel of criminals, is implicated in corruption. As William Carlos Williams said, in his introduction to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, get ready for a tour through Hell.

So why read it? Because looking at the shadow side of life is fascinating, and paradoxically illuminating. Because bad characters, as so many have said, are usually more interesting than good ones. Because the plot is relentlessly compelling. Because Thompson is included in the prestigious Library of America. Because he’s Stephen King’s favorite crime writer.

Roy Dillon is a grifter. He rips people off for money without them knowing it. His relations wi…

Pride and Prejudice---Happy 200th!

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Today marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Listen in as the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England, stages a 200th anniversary Readathon of the novel. Happy 200th to one of the world's great reads!

Pride and Prejudice Readathon

Telegraph, UK--Pride and Prejudice 200th

Mary Anne
Southern History


Money Smart: Financial Skills and Banking Knowledge

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Enhance your financial skills and banking knowledge through a free series of programs for adults at the Southside Branch Library. Mrs. Gilda Coker of BBVA Compass Bank will talk about deposit and credit services, checking accounts, the importance of saving and other topics. All programs are on Tuesday mornings in February from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Phone Southside Branch Library at 205-918-0723 to register.

February   5 - Bank On It
February 12 - Borrowing Basics
February 19 - Money Matters
February 26 - Pay Yourself First

World Book Night-- You Can Help Spread the Love of Reading in Birmingham!!

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“World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person. Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into the communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light and non-readers.” – from the World Book Night website.

World Book Night (WBN) is your opportunity to give back to your community. By volunteering as a Giver, you will be given 20 books (for free!) that you can then give out to people in your neighborhood or community on April 23, 2013. The receivers of these books should be adults and young adults who are light or non-readers. World Book Night seeks to bring reading materials into the hands of people who most need them: people who are unable to buy/keep books at home for personal use or those who aren’t avid readers. (Click here for the Giver application.)

The Five Points West Regional Library has been accepted as a distribution center for 2013 World Book Night and will be one of the very…

Wanna See What Books the BPL Staff Recommends? Get Your Free Copy of our 2013 Books for All Seasons!

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Each year, BPL staff review their favorite books from the previous year (or years) in a free guide called Books for All Seasons, which will be available free to you year-round. Well, as luck would have it, 2013's Books for All Seasons is hot off the press and ready for you now at any BPL location! Books for All Seasons includes recommendations for adults, teens, and children in both fiction and nonfiction. Each book is chosen by a staff or board member as one that they enjoyed reading in the previous year—not necessarily one that was published in the previous year.

This year’s edition includes so many good fiction titles, including the following:
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Kings Go Forth by (Birmingham author) Joe David Brown
The Reverend's Wife by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Summer gothic : a collection of Southern hauntings
The Sacred Place by Daniel Black
The Reverend's Wife by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Sanctuary Cove by Rochelle Alers

Nonfiction titles featured include the followi…

Vestavia Hills Library to Host February's Bards & Brews Open Mic Event

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On Friday, February 1, Bards & Brews travels to the beautiful Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest for the very first time. The Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular poetry performance/beer tasting series begins at 6:30 p.m. with live music featuring Taylor Flannagan, and poetry performances start at 7:00. The February session will be OPEN MIC. Emcee Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will deftly guide both novice and veteran poets through an evening of verse with topics that run the gamut from romantic relationships to the local political scene. The program is free of charge and open to the public.

Craft beer will be available for sampling courtesy of Back Forty Beer Co., and light refreshments will be served. Attendees must be 18 years or older to be admitted, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked.

Bards & Brews is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around town. The March 1 session will be held at the Five Points West Reg…

Birmingham Public Library Honors Donors

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The Birmingham Public Library hosted a reception in the Southern History department last Thursday honoring upper level donors whose contributions have sustained library operations and special projects for the last two years. Thanks to these supporters, BPL has been able to maintain our services to the public and, even despite the budget cuts of the last few years, has had the opportunity to develop new programs for library patrons—from expanding archival collections to purchasing books and supplies for our branches. We welcome the continued support of the generous people of Birmingham, and we look forward to recognizing and honoring the philanthropists who give so generously to BPL each year!





Springtime Tips and Heirloom Seeds

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One of the best antidotes that I have found for a cold and gloomy winter's day is planning for a summer garden. Very few things can lift my mood on an overcast day as well as reading the descriptions of fruit and vegetable seeds that are found in seed company catalogs.

I begin receiving seed catalogs in early December from Johnny’s, R.H. Shumway, Park Seed, Seeds of Change, Burpee, and Gurney’s; yet, none are more worn-out and dog-eared by late January than Baker Creek Seed Company’s full-color catalog of heirloom seeds.

Within the pages of Baker Creek’s Pure Seeds catalog, I first read about tomatoes varieties such as Cherokee Purple, Paul Robeson, Pink Vernissage, Yellow Mortgage Lifter, and Green Zebra. Most seed companies now carry these heirloom varieties, but Baker Creek's catalog always features such lavish photographs and well-written descriptions (often with intricate histories for many of the heirloom varieties) that I return to it again and again when plannin…

Begin the Day: The 10th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture Featuring Isabel Rubio from Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama

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Isabel Rubio, executive director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, will give a talk on the topic "Every New Generation: Immigrants, Society and the Law in the American South." The first program of this year's Begin the Day: Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture series is scheduled for Wednesday, January 23, 12:00 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library. For more information call 205-226-3631.

Teen Book Review: Drowning Instinct

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Drowning Instinct
Ilsa Bick

Drowning Instinct was the book that made me realize that I needed to step away from these kind of contemporaries for a while. It's so real and honest and gritty that it hurts me to read. To see a child hurting kills me. Ilsa killed me with Jenna. She was so wounded and so alone and when she finally found the support she needed it was wrenched away from her again. And the story leaves you hanging. Kind of. You know what happens but you really DON'T. You can kinda tell how Jenna's going to do but you don't REALLY know and it's a killer. Is she okay, Ilsa? Please tell me.

Like Draw the Dark, the story is a bit drawn out and slow at points but that's really the only nominally negative thing I can say about Drowning Instinct and Ilsa's writing in general. She gets so thoroughly into her characters' heads its scary, like she could be automatic writing with a ghost or something. Or she trances out and channels the characters living i…

Reminder That the Computer System Will Be Down Today at All Jefferson County Public Libraries

On Wednesday, January 16, 2013, the Innovative/Millennium computer system for all Public Libraries in Jefferson County will be down for the day to install two new servers.

This technology upgrade also will limit access to public PCs at libraries, as well as access to reserve items, eBooks and audio downloadable items, and databases—services that can typically be accessed from home or business.

However, most Public Libraries in Jefferson County will be open and able to facilitate physical item checkouts by using an alternate offline system during the technology upgrade. Some libraries will be closed today because of the upgrade. Computer services will resume in all 40 Jefferson County libraries the following day. 


Flow Tactics Teen Open Mic at the YMCA Youth Center

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Teens, get your poetry on at the Flow Tactics Teen Open Mic every 3rd Saturday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.at the YMCA Youth Center, 2400 7th Avenue North (near Phillips Academy). Admission is free. The sessions are for high school students only. To sign up to perform or for more information, e-mail johnpaul@reallifepoets.org. January's program is scheduled for Saturday, January 19.

Flow Tactics is sponsored by The Real Life Poets, the Mayor's Office Division of Youth Services, YMCA Youth Center, and the WORD UP! Student Poetry Slam Committee of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. WORD UP! is an annual poetry slam for Jefferson County high school students hosted by the Birmingham Public Library.

Selected Resources for Alabama Counties: A Subject Guide

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The staff of the Southern History Department is proud to unveil a project that’s been one year in the making. Our new subject guide, Selected Resources for Alabama Counties, is now almost complete. Each of Alabama’s 67 counties is represented with its own page and listing of library resources. The goal of this project was to create a user-friendly way for patrons and staff to see at a glance what books and records are available in the library for each individual county. Each county is divided into the following categories: Cemeteries and Church Histories; Census Records; City, County, and Family Histories; Court Records; Death Records and Obituaries; Land Records; Maps; Marriage Records; Military History and Records; Newspaper Abstracts; and Periodicals. For each category a list of titles is given with links to the library’s online catalog.

Having all of the counties and their resources listed in one place is helpful to anyone who is planning a research trip. Since most gene…

Sweating in the Spirit Free Exercise Class Tonight at Birmingham Crossplex

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National fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner will be in Birmingham on Monday, January 14, to help folks work up a sweat during a free workout session at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Richardson is known for "Sweating in the Spirit'' exercise videos and involvement in numerous health initiatives. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event starts at 6:00 p.m. There will also be informational booths about healthy living. The city of Birmingham and More Than Conquerors Faith Church are partners in this presentation.

Monday's program is part of the city's Let's Move Birmingham campaign. The Birmingham Public Library supports the campaign and has several offerings in the fitness arena, including healthy living cookbooks, exercise DVDs, and more.

Sweating In the Spirit

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National fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner will be in Birmingham on Monday, January 14, to help folks work up a sweat during a free workout session at the Birmingham Crossplex.

Richardson is known for "Sweating in the Spirit'' exercise videos and involvement in numerous health initiatives. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event starts at 6:00 p.m. There will also be informational booths about healthy living. The city of Birmingham and More Than Conquerors Faith Church are partners in this presentation.

Monday's program is part of the city's Let's Move Birmingham campaign. The Birmingham Public Library supports the campaign and has several offerings in the fitness arena, including healthy living cookbooks, exercise DVDs, and more.

Library Offers Free Spreadsheets Classes

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An electronic spreadsheet is a computer program that is equivalent to a paper ledger sheet. It is used for storing, organizing, and manipulating data (numbers, text, times, currency, percentages, formulas, etc.). It consists of a grid, made from columns, rows, and cells (the intersection of a column and a row). A cell can contain value or data. You can create and manipulate spreadsheets (which are called worksheets). It can also produce graphs (known as charts) from your data and can link one worksheet to another. These applications have commonly replaced many paper-based methods and systems for business and personal purposes.

At the Regional Library Computer Center, we teach two versions of spreadsheets: OpenOffice Calc and Microsoft Office Excel 2010. Registration for our January OpenOffice Calc classes, which are held in two parts, is full. However, you may call our department at (205) 226-3799 or (205) 226-3680 or fill out our online registration to inquire about future classes.

Silver Linings Playbook

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I am often disappointed when seeing a film that has been made from a book I particularly enjoyed reading. In the case ofThe Silver Linings Playbookby Matthew Quick, though, I saw the movie first and then read the book. I found both the book and the film to be quite good in their own rights.  The story is about Pat Peoples who has recently been released from the hospital where he has been treated for bipolar illness.  He has made up his mind to live his life differently finding good where he used to see only the negative.  He is certain that his new perspective will win back his wife, Nikki, who he has not seen since he entered the hospital.  There are many entertaining characters in his life.  There is his mother who supports him in every way, his distant father, his therapist who shares Eagles fandom with him, his brother Jake, his good friend Ronnie and Tiffany, Ronnie's sister-in-law.  Tiffany decides to set her sights on Pat much to his bewilderment.  The topic of mental illn…

Instagram

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Instagram appeared in the news quite often in 2012. The social media/photography smartphone app was purchased by Facebook last spring for one billion dollars and there has been a lot of hullabaloo in the past few months including an ongoing feud with Twitter as well as a new Terms of Service agreement that had many users in an uproar.

Despite all of the recent negative press and some very public account deletions by professional photographers, Instagram appears to be a social media phenomenon that has staying power. The service has become extremely popular among teenagers and twentysomethings and has also made several positive steps toward the continual growth of its user base: it is no longer exclusive to iPhone users (the app has been available for Android smart phone users since last April) and it is slowly rolling out the ability to view the photographs of Instagram users on the web.

At this point those unfamiliar with Instagram may be asking themselves, “Ok. Good to know, but…

From Page to Stage: Young Abe Lincoln - A Readers’ Theatre Workshop for Children

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Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), and the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: Young Abe Lincoln, a Readers’ Theatre Workshop for children, coming to a library near you!

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Young Abe Lincoln, BPL will be hosting free workshops at some of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will have the opportunity to learn how storybook characters come alive though the magic of a theatrical play. JLB will be on hand to coach the children through the play and introduce them to related literature within the walls of their local library. Each child will also receive TWO FREE TICKETS (one child ticket and one adult ticket) to the Birmingham Children’s Theatre’s Young Abe Lincoln production on Saturday, February 9 at 2:00 p.m.

Space is limited, so please visit http://tinyurl.com/Page2StageAbe to sign u…

Resolve to Fatten Up in 2013

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For many of us it’s something of a tradition to make a New Year resolution. A casual glance at Yahoo.com, or The Birmingham News would lead you to believe that for most Americans the number one resolution revolves around losing weight before the ball drops next January 1. And here at the Birmingham Public Library the diet and exercise shelves do tend to get a bit thin (sorry about that) the first week of January. But we also see a fair number of patrons coming in to learn how to add weight. Specifically, these folks want to fatten their wallets; they’ve resolved to get rich in the coming year.

For those of us who have little or no experience with the stock market, the best beginning is an introductory work on investment. Getting Started In Stock Investing and Trading by Michael C. Thomsett is one example, or the ubiquitous Dummies series has a volume on investing. Beginning books on investing usually cover current ratio, price/earnings ratio and other aspects of fundamental analysis…

WORD UP! Poets Showcase Tomorrow at Central Library

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The WORD UP! 2013 Poets Showcase will be held on Saturday, January 12, at 2:00 pm in Arrington Auditorium of the Linn-Henley Research Library. Tessica "Lady Tess" Williams will be the headliner. She is the the first place winner of the 2012 Southern Fried Poetry Slam, which was held in June. She will be joined by other spoken word poets from around the region.

A poetry workshop for teens led by Real Life Poets follows the showcase.

For more information on WORD UP 2013!, visit Birmingham365.org



Computer System Down for All Public Libraries in Jefferson County on January 16

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On Wednesday, January 16, 2013, the Innovative/Millennium computer system for all Public Libraries in Jefferson County will be down for the day to install two new servers.

This technology upgrade also will limit access to public PCs at libraries, as well as access to reserve items, eBooks and audio downloadable items, and databases—services that can typically be accessed from home or business.

However, most Public Libraries in Jefferson County will be open and able to facilitate physical item checkouts by using an alternate offline system during the technology upgrade. Computer services will resume in all 40 Jefferson County libraries the following day.

WORD UP! Poets Showcase

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The WORD UP! 2013 Poets Showcase will be held on Saturday, January 12, at 2:00 pm in Arrington Auditorium of the Linn-Henley Research Library. Tessica "Lady Tess" Williams will be the headliner. She is the the first place winner of the 2012 Southern Fried Poetry Slam, which was held in June. She will be joined by other spoken word poets from around the region.

A poetry workshop for teens led by Real Life Poets follows the showcase.

For more information on WORD UP! 2013, visit Birmingham365.org



A Little Yarn

While I was working this past Saturday, I received a strange telephone call. The caller wanted to know about the Crochet Class at West End Branch Library. The class is taught by one of our terrific volunteers, Joan Black, every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. I gave the caller the information and she then asked for directions. I asked if she knew where Princeton Medical Center was and she said, “No. What train do I take to get there?” I knew immediately that something was wrong; the only commuter train I know about in Birmingham is Amtrak. I quickly found out that the caller lived in Brooklyn, NY and thought she was calling the New York Public Library. Apparently, she found our classes online and just assumed that we were in New York City, too. I recommended that she contact the nearest branch of the New York Public Library about Crochet Classes. We had a good laugh and wished each other a Happy New Year. Because of this incident, I started thinking about crochet and knitting resourc…

Hydroponic Gardening Demonstration at Springville Road Library

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On Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 6:00 p.m., at the Springville Road Library, Don Driggers of Vincent Gardens in Vincent, Alabama, will demonstrate the techniques of gardening without soil using solid medium and liquid nutrients. Hydroponics gardening is perfect for producing food year round, in small spaces, and with minimum physical labor. No digging, no weeding—just harvesting lots of healthy fresh food for your family.

Urban and indoor gardeners will learn how to set up and maintain an inexpensive system and how to choose the best plants. Driggers will also show us the results of his own hydroponics program in which he had over 150 garden ripe tomatoes ready to harvest during the Christmas season.


Submitted by Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

Book Review: Beautiful Ruins

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Beautiful Ruins
Jess Walter

In his next novel, after The Financial Lives of Poets, Jess Walter offers us an engaging story, titled Beautiful Ruins, spanning fifty years in glamorous and exotic locales including Rome, Porto Vergogna, and Hollywood. The reader, at first, wonders why a young Hollywood starlet would flee the larger-than-life Roman movie set of Cleopatra (1962) and sail to a remote fishing village on the steep western coast of Italy. What do the working class locals, including a love-struck innkeeper, think of such a bizarre arrival? How does this connect with Hollywood operatives decades later?

This literary novel, while not a thriller, captures the reader’s attention and imagination and holds both to the end. Themes of ruined beauty are gorgeously developed throughout—especially the coastal villages of Cinque Terre where colorfully painted small buildings are stacked and packed so steeply and precariously onto rocky cliffs that one can imagine them slipping into the Med…

Alabama Reigns Supreme

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