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Showing posts from March, 2013

Groundhog Day Was a Bust

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Before you even say it, I know that Groundhog Day was almost two months ago.  Why talk about it now?  On Tuesday morning, nearly a week since the official beginning of spring, the wind chill in Birmingham was in the 20s. I thought winter was over, especially since I live in the South.  So what about Groundhog Day?  On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil predicted that we would have an early spring.  Butler County (OH) prosecutor Mike Gmoser was so incensed by an impending snowstorm in his county last week that he filed an indictment against Phil for the offense of misrepresentation of early spring.  Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club's Inner Circle, came forward to take the blame for the inaccurate prediction, stating that he incorrectly interpreted Phil's prediction.  The prosecutor later dropped the charges.

You may ask yourself, with modern technology and so many well-educated meteorologists, why are we depending on rodents to predict our weather?  Good …

Help Give Birmingham Teens a Voice!

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Your help is urgently needed to ensure that poetry survives and thrives! Between now and May 5, the Birmingham Public Library hopes to raise $7,000 to nurture an ever-growing number of teens who are passionate about poetry. We'd like to fulfill a dream to send a team of Birmingham-area youth to the Brave New Voices (BNV) international poetry competition this August. BNV has never seen a team from the state of Alabama--we can't let this situation continue!

Your tax-deductible gift will also fund a twelve-month series of poetry writing/performance workshops and open mic events for teens in the Birmingham metropolitan area led by the non-profit creating writing group Real Life Poets. Whatever amount you can afford will be appreciated.

At WORD UP!, the annual poetry slam for Jefferson County high schoolers, these young people have proven they have what it takes. Now these teens are ready to take on a much bigger stage. So help them get to Brave New Voices in Chicago this August. …

Students Commemorate Civil Rights Movement in Annual Poetry Slam

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Young poets from high schools all over Jefferson County will add their voices to the 50th anniversary commemoration of the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. They will perform at the sixth annual WORD UP! student poetry slam on Sunday, April 7, at 3:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library. Their poems will be inspired by photographs that document events that took place in Alabama a half century ago—many years before these students were born.

Justin Wright who attends the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate program will be representing Shades Valley High School at WORD UP!. He was the third place winner at last year’s WORD UP! In a recent article in Weld, he states, “For me, it (the photograph) created a feeling of more than just the event but of loss and hurt and frustration…I believe it is a good way to celebrate the Civil Rights Movement. We as teenagers are so far distanced from these events that we sometimes forget them, and this competition helps …

Book Review: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

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Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
by Jon Meacham

Thomas Jefferson was given many gifts: wealth, in the form of plantations and slaves, vast natural talents, education, health, powerful family connections, a capacity for hard work, a nose for the main chance and the political savvy to take it. Of all our great men, we know most and least of Jefferson. Great volumes treat pieces or summarize. Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power is a portrait of Jefferson, the political theorist and working politician who, by intent, became a world historical figure.

Jefferson’s father, Peter, was a renowned frontiersman in the early 1700s. He was given great tracts of land for surveying the Virginia-North Carolina border, a feat when one imagines surveying a straight line several hundred miles long through the wild forest mountains and swamps. And that’s the delight of this Jefferson biography. The characters and the scenes come to life. One can imagine Jefferson sitting by the sunny window of his corn…

Book Review: How the Irish Saved Civilization

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How The Irish Saved Civilization
Thomas Cahill

As someone who is part Irish, I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not well-versed in Irish history. That’s why I wanted to read this book. That, and the fact that many people over the years, some of them Irish-American, have strongly recommended it to me (one even chided me).

Thomas Cahill is well-positioned to do the job of explaining to the masses the crucial part the Irish played in saving Western Civ. A former academic, he now makes his living by writing. So he has the chops and the incentive to write plainly for the average educated reader. The fact that his writing is often inspiring is a bonus.

You don’t have to be Irish to get a charge out of How The Irish Saved Civilization. Because, as Cahill so eloquently shows, the Irish actually did in the Middle Ages save the West, which means that all residents of the Western world (and by extension, the planet, in this Westernized present) owe them an enormous debt. After Rome fell to the barb…

Downloadable African American Titles

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We assist many of our BPL patrons with the how-tos in the use of their downloadable devices to read or listen to our free e-books/audiobooks. While doing so many often ask if we have African American authors in our collection. The quick answer is yes, we have many. We are then asked for a list of those authors. This is not as simple as it seems, especially given the authors’ varied subject matter and vastness of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative African American downloadable collection. We have some African American authors who have only a few titles in our e-books/audiobooks downloadable collection, and others whose titles are quite a bit more significant—some have as many as thirty titles in our downloadable collection. Narrowing the focus to a few is very difficult. So I have simply chosen to identify some of those African American fiction writers for which we have a significant number of titles and many patron requests:

Rochelle Alers ● Vanessa Davis Griggs ● …

Gifts of a Wordsmith Workshop in April

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Award-winning poet and community activist John Paul Taylor will lead free adult poetry workshops on the first Tuesday of every month from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Gifts of a Wordsmith will take place in the Story Castle on the second floor of Central Library. The next workshop is scheduled for April 2.

The class will cover how to get your thoughts down on paper, overcoming writer's block, copyright issues, self-publishing, how to perform, and more. The Friends of the Birmingham Public Library funds the workshops.

Taylor is one of the founders of Real Life Poets, a nonprofit creative writing program based in Birmingham. This summer he presented two workshops as part of BPL's adult summer reading program. Participants enjoyed the adult classes so much that they wanted to see them continue.

"We offered it this summer and the people wanted it back. That's why I wanted to do it,'' Taylor said. "We know it works. But it's cool when your community says, 'This is…

It’s A Downloadable World

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The increased use of electronic books and audiobooks and the devices used to play them has a number of library visitors anxious to get on board, but not exactly certain how to make that leap onto the platform! Potential users are often faced with a myriad of concerns ranging from how to get started, to getting the e-book onto the e-reader. For many potential users, this is still uncharted territory that many do not want to face alone.

In April, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host a 90-minute class designed to move folks in the right direction. The library offers thousands of free e-books and audiobooks for members to download and checkout. This training will teach attendees how to checkout and download material from the library’s downloadable site to a computer and/or reading and listening device. The Central Library’s computer lab will be used for training, and staff will be on hand to demonstrate popular devices. Led by BPL librarian Karyn Davis, the training is sch…

Library’s Popular Bards & Brews Travels to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Friday, April 5!

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Birmingham Public Library’s (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series will travel to the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Friday, April 5, 2013. The Gardens are located at 2612 Lane Park Road. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the April Bards & Brews will be a SLAM—first place winner gets $200, and second place winner $100. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. in the lovely outdoor setting of the Hill Garden with live music, and poetry performances start at 7:00. In case of inclement weather, the event moves inside to Strange Auditorium. 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.

Craft beer will be available for sampling courtesy of Birmingham’s own Cahaba Brewing Company, and light refreshments will be served. Attendees must be 18 years or older to be admitted, and 21 years or older to…

Margaret Wrinkle, Author of Acclaimed Novel WASH, to Make Special Appearace at the Powderly Branch This Tuesday, March 26, 10:00am.

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Library Board Election and New Trustees

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Amamoo Elected To Lead Library Board
City Council Appoints Two New Members


At its February 2013 meeting, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Trustee Board elected Gwendolyn Amamoo as its President and Georgia Morgan Blair as its Vice President. A member of the Board since 2008, Amamoo follows Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch in the position. Amamoo appointed Judge Scott Vowell to serve as the Board’s Parliamentarian and Welch now serves as the Immediate Past President. Additionally, the Birmingham City Council appointed Patty Pilkerton and Kimberly Richardson to serve on the Board during its meeting on March 12, 2013.

About the Board President
Gwendolyn R. Amamoo is a Birmingham native, a product of the Birmingham Public School System, (Wilkerson and A. H. Parker High), a graduate of Miles College and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She has worked in the Birmingham School system for many years and currently leads the teacher mentoring program through the Professional Development Depa…

Keeping Up With Science: ScienceNews.org

I find it difficult to keep up with advances in science. I usually try to stop and visit CNN.com or other news sites several times a week, but I find that if the site’s raison d’etre is political or financial news, the science stories will consist mostly of the latest computer app and how it will affect a corporation’s bottom line, or the most sensational science stories. As a reference librarian I definitely need to be aware of these news stories, but I also occasionally like looking beyond the headlines to the ‘merely’ interesting stories that make up the bulk of science advances.

ScienceNews.org, the magazine of the Society for Science & the Public, does a great job of presenting ordinary science news for the layman, and presenting these stories in an extraordinary way. But don’t misunderstand me; ScienceNews.org doesn’t just cover the quotidian. They also report on major science events such as the recent meteor that caused over 1,000 injuries in the Russian town of Chelyabinsk

Holocaust Survivor Aisic Hirsch Speaks at the March 20 Brown Bag Lunch Program

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Aisic Hirsch, a Holocaust survivor, speaks to us about his life in Poland that changed completely when at the age of nine he witnessed German troops invade his small town, and he and his family were forced into a ghetto. Later in the Warsaw Ghetto, he watched helplessly as his brother and grandmother died of typhus, and his mother slid into madness. At age 12 he was alone. He was able to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto by bribing Polish and German guards. He is alive today because of “his guardian angel," a Catholic priest who befriended and protected him. Wednesday, March 20, noon, Arrington Auditorium, Central Library.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Central Library, Linn Henley Research Building, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor. For more information call 226-3604 or visit www.bplonline.org.

Smart Shopping Tips Concludes BPL's Money Smart Series

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In collaboration with the Urban Development Group, Inc. and Alabama financial institutions and agencies, the Birmingham Public Library is offering free programs to enhance your financial skills and banking knowledge. Four financial classes were offered at variousbranches during February, and "Smart Shopping Tips" scheduled at the Southside and Eastwood Libraries will complete the Money Smart program.

Smart Shopping Tips
Tuesday, March 26
10:30-11:30 a.m.
Southside Library

Tuesday, March 26
1:00-2:00 p.m.
Eastwood Library

Spring Break Family Fun at Avondale

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It’s that time of year again: birds are singing, bees are buzzing, flowers are budding, and spring is in the air. March 24-31 marks the week of spring break fun for the students of Birmingham City Schools. If you and your family are staying home this week, add the library as part of your staycationing fun.

Tuesday, March 26th at 6:30 p.m. the Avondale Library will host The Giant, The Beanstalk & Jack presented by Lee Bryan“That Puppet Guy.” The show is based on the timeless tale of a lazy boy named Jack who outwits the Giant, gets the gold, and saves the farm. Call 205-226-4003 today to register your family for an evening of Fee-fi-fo-Fun!

Submitted by Carla Perkins
Youth Services
Avondale Regional Library

April Computer Classes Schedule Now Available

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The Regional Library Computer Center April computer class schedule is now available, and registration is open to the public for the free courses. Please note that class times have been changed to 10:30 am – 12:30 pm.
In addition to the basic core course (which consists of Keyboarding, Basic PC, and Basic Internet), we are offering classes teaching email, introduction to social media software, and Microsoft Office 2010 programs. Here are descriptions of the classes offered in April: Keyboarding: This beginner class is designed for people who have not had formal training in keyboarding. It is intended to introduce you to the basics of working with the computer keyboard and the mouse. Participants need not have any previous computer experience to take this course.  Basic PC: This beginner class introduces people to the computer: basic PC terms, components, hardware, peripherals, desktop features, etc. Participants need not have any previous computer experience to take this course.  Basic In…

Rescued by Righteous: How Gertruda's Oath Saved a Child from the Holocaust

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On April 8 the Birmingham Public Library, in collaboration with The Birmingham Jewish Federation, will be hosting a program in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Michael Stolowitzky, a Polish survivor who now lives in New York, will be sharing his amazing account of his experience during the Holocaust. Michael was just three years old when war broke out and his family lost everything. His father, desperate to settle his business affairs, traveled to France, leaving Michael in the care of his mother and Gertruda Bablinska, a Catholic nanny devoted to the family. When Michael's mother had a stroke, Gertruda promised the dying woman that she would make her way to Palestine and raise him as her own.

In 2007 Israeli author Ram Oren recreated Michael's amazing journey in the book Gertruda's Oath. It is a story that transcends history and religion to reveal the compassion and hope that miraculously thrives in a world immersed in war.

Copies of Gertruda’s Oath will be for…

Brown Bag Lunch Program - A Holocaust Survivor Speaks

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Aisic Hirsch, a Holocaust survivor, speaks to us about his life in Poland that changed completely when at the age of nine he witnessed German troops invade his small town, and he and his family were forced into a ghetto. Later in the Warsaw Ghetto, he watched helplessly as his brother and grandmother died of typhus, and his mother slid into madness. At age 12 he was alone. He was able to escape from the Warsaw Ghetto by bribing Polish and German guards. He is alive today because of “his guardian angel," a Catholic priest who befriended and protected him. Wednesday, March 20, noon, Arrington Auditorium, Central Library.

Feed your body and mind at BPL's Brown Bag Lunch programs. You bring the lunch and we'll bring the drinks. Central Library, Linn Henley Research Building, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor. For more information call 226-3604 or visit www.bplonline.org.

BPL to Raise Dough with Slice on April 9th, 2013! @SliceBirmingham

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