Showing posts from February, 2014

Children's Book Review: Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me (Ages 3-6)

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me  Daniel Beaty Illustrated by Bryan Collier Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me was awarded the Coretta Scott King illustrator award. The story is taken from a child’s point of view. Every morning he plays a game with his father. The young boy looks forward to their daily ritual. Then one morning the knock doesn’t come. He waits for his father to help him get ready for school and cook his favorite dish of scrambled eggs. As the young boy grows into adolescence he thinks, “Maybe he comes when I’m not home.” So, he writes his father a letter, letting him know how much he misses him. He wants his father to come home because there were so many things he needed to learn. He always thought his father would be there to teach him how to shave, drive a car, and dribble a basketball. This book deals with the loss children feel due to the absence of a parent. Read Knock Knock to see how the young boy develops without his father. Here is Daniel

The Passion of Delacroix

Ever wondered who inspired the masters? Birmingham Museum of Art sheds a little light by welcoming Delacroix and the Matter of Finish , 25 paintings and 18 works on paper by French painter Eugene Delacroix, considered by many “the Father of Impressionism.” Perhaps not a household name today, Eugene Delacroix was a major figure to the likes of van Gogh, Monet, and Degas. He is weighed as one of the most influential of the French Romantics and called the “Master Colorist,” due to his use of color and broad, expressive brush strokes. Delacroix’s passionate nature is evident in his work; he chose heavy, politically-charged topics or emotional moments in other mediums of art to express the plight of the individual and was entranced with the fate of civilizations as a whole. He was a well-traveled man who took inspiration from the cultures he encountered, and relied heavily on literary, philosophical, and aural arts to inspire his works. On the cusp of the old world of classical

Birmingham Public Library’s March 2 Doll Festival Will Highlight Japanese Culture

Birmingham Public Library employee Haruyo Miyagawa with her hina dolls when she was a year old. Hina dolls are part of the Japanese culture and are displayed during the annual Doll Festival. Miyagawa will have some of these dolls on display at the library on Sunday. The Birmingham Public Library will host a Doll Festival on Sunday, March 2, 3:00-5:00 p.m.,  Central Library . Children may bring their favorite doll or action figure, watch a Japanese tea ceremony, enjoy refreshments, and more. The event is free and for all ages. During Sunday's library event, Japanese dolls will be on display, including the library's Miss Iwate. Miss Iwate is one of the Japanese "Friendship Dolls" Japan sent to American institutions in the mid-1920s as a thank you after American children sent blue-eyed dolls to the children of Japan. The Birmingham Public Library is the only place in Alabama that still has the doll that was given to Alabama. Miss Iwate is now in need of repair.

BPL Joins with Black Data Processing Associates

The Birmingham Public Library is proud to work with the BDPA of Greater Birmingham. BDPA ( Black Data Processing Associates ) is a non-profit organization of professionals who are interested in or work in the Computer Science fields, and information technology. They are dedicated to bringing racial diversity into this ever-growing field. The BDPA will be holding several workshops in the Youth Department Story Castle this spring and summer for interested teens. If you are interested, please contact the BDPA at or the Central Youth Department at 205-226-3650.

From Page to Stage: The Secret Garden – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: The Secret Garden — A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children . In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of The Secret Garden , BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how storybook characters come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT The Secret Garden production on Saturday, April 12, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. In an exciting musical production of this familiar tale, Mary Lennox, a willful, young orphan, is sent to live with her brooding uncle at gloomy Misselthwaite Manor. Discovering a hidden, neglected garden, Mary plants the seeds o

Opening Reception for Artist Starr Weems on March 2 at Central Library

Starr Weems is a dreamer. And that’s OK because Weems creates watercolor works that blend reality with the fanciful world of dreams. “(My) vibrant colors mingle and overlap, creating a magical feeling that reflects my thoughts on spirituality and the enjoyment of life,’’ says Weems, who uses transparent watercolor, poured in layers over masking fluid to build high contrast images that are bathed in light. One look and you’d think you were floating right along with the images. Solstice by Starr Weems An opening reception for Illuminations in Poured Color: Paintings by Starr Weems will be held on Sunday, March 2, 3:00-5:00 p.m., in the Fourth Floor Boardroom. There are 34 pieces in the exhibit. Most are for sale. The Athens resident will showcase her pieces February 27-April 11, 2014, in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library. On Sunday, March 30, Weems will present a free class to show how she uses her unique “pouring’’ technique to achieve her dreamlike images. Th

Natural Hair

For the last few years, a growing trend among women of color has been the movement to go natural. Going natural refers to the process of going without using damaging chemicals in your hair to achieve a straight, or “relaxed” look to your hair. Many women are rejecting the long established norm of processing your hair and have embraced the “natural” texture of their hair, removing chemicals from their hair regime, and growing their hair into its natural state. The thing that holds back many women of color from making the transition to natural is information. There is a lack of reliable information for women when it comes to their naturally curly, kinky, coily hair. Birmingham Public Library has several books that can be checked out so that patrons that want a better understanding of what having natural hair requires or are interested in making the transition themselves can read. Included are several well-respected websites known for providing reliable hair care information. Any o

Get Up Close and Personal with Birmingham Artist Amy Pleasant, February 25

Ever wonder how an artist decides to paint this or that? Birmingham artist Amy Pleasant will discuss the creative process on Tuesday, February 25, 6:00-7:00 p.m., during a free lecture at the Central Library . During her “On the Table’’ conversation , attendees will be able to ask questions and hold works by Pleasant while sitting around a table in the library’s first floor conference room. The goal is that attendees become as immersed in the art work as they would a book. “There is a lot of mystery involved with the idea of the artist in the studio,’’ says Pleasant. “…this will open up that mystery and make it available to all who are present.’’ “The project will also be a way for me to share my process and how the source material for a lot of my work comes from the books in this very library.’’ Pleasant received a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She has held solo exhibitions at the Birmingham Museum

Remembering the Holocaust Series Scheduled for Wednesdays in March at Central Library

Click to enlarge The Birmingham Public Library is marking its ten-year partnership with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center in presenting Remembering the Holocaust , presentations by Birmingham residents  sharing their experiences and perspectives. The programs are held every Wednesday in March at noon in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library and are free and open to the public.

March 2014 RLCC Computer Classes Available

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the  March 2014 Regional Library Computer Center classes . All classes are held in the  Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library .  PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES . Among classes offered are: Creating Flyers with Word 2010 Introduction to Facebook MS PowerPoint 2010 To register for classes, you may: Visit the Computer Commons department at the Central Library and obtain a copy of the class schedule. Fill it out and return to a Computer Commons staff. Register online  through the RLCC website. Please allow 2 to 4 business days for registration confirmation. Space is limited for each class, and registration does not guarantee you a space. If you register for a class, please make all efforts to attend. Repeated “no shows” could affect your registration eligibility for future classes.   If you register for a class and cannot attend, call Public Computer Services at (205)

Book Review: Pamela

Pamela Samuel Richardson The Readers' Advisory Roundtable for February had to be cancelled this month due to inclement weather, but members still submitted book reviews. I chose to review Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded , by Samuel Richardson, published in 1740. This books is in two volumes, and is set in a rural county in England in the middle of the 18th century. The heroine is Pamela, a young girl from a poor but honest family, who has been brought in as maid-servant to a gentlewoman. She is renowned for her beauty and lovely disposition, and as Volume 1 opens, her mistress is expiring and with her dying words begs her son, Mr. B____ to “….take care of my Pamela”. Did I mention the girl was beautiful? Before too long, it becomes evident that Mr. B___ has some ideas about taking care of Pamela that would not be approved by his mum. Luckily, this young innocent has been brought up to value her virtue and she leads Mr. B____ through such a determined defense of it that he

Birmingham Cherry Blossom Festival

The Japanese tradition of hanami (literally "flower viewing") dates back to the 8th century and celebrates the transient nature of flowers, specifically cherry blossoms (sakura) , which bloom in early spring. While originally the tradition was limited to elite classes who would drink sake and read poetic tributes to the flowers, today the tradition has a wider reach. In Japan, people gather in parks and have feasts under blossoming trees until late into the night. Since the beginning of the last century, hanami  has spread throughout Asia and across the world. Birmingham has had its own Sakura Festival for a number of years, sponsored by the Japan America Society of Alabama - a one day event held at the Japanese Garden in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens . This year there will be a month-long festival of events and activities, culminating with the large festival at the Botanical Gardens. February 23 to March 15: Haiku Contest For more information and to register:

MakingCents Financial Programs Scheduled at Selected Branches in February and March

The Birmingham Public Library is offering four money management classes in February and March. All classes are free and open to the public. Program: Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit, and the Era of Predatory Lenders Date: Monday, February 24, 2014 Time: 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Place: Avondale Library The Avondale Public Library will host a screening of Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders . This feature length documentary from 2006 takes a journey deep inside the American style of consumer debt, where things seem fine as long as the minimum monthly payment arrives on time. Shocking and incisive, it paints a picture of a national nightmare, which is all too real for most. Program: Estate Planning with Joe Strickland Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 Time: 6:30 p.m. Place: Springville Road Library If you do not adequately prepare your estate, your family may suffer undue pressure and expense because of court proceedings. You can avoid a

Illuminations in Poured Color: Paintings by Starr Weems

February 27 – May 2, 2014, Fourth Floor Gallery, Birmingham Public Library , 2100 Park Place Opening reception Sunday March 2, 3;00 to 5:00 p.m., Boardroom, Fourth Floor Free workshop Sunday, March 30, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Storycastle, Second Floor. Registration required; call 226-3670. The work of Alabama artist Starr Weems will be on display from February 27 to May 2, 2014 in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library . The opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Sunday, March 2 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in the Boardroom on the Fourth Floor.  Starry Night “I enjoy making art that represents the collision of reality and the fanciful world of dreams. My preferred medium is transparent watercolor, poured in layers over drawing gum. I create high-contrast images that are bathed in light. Vibrant colors mingle and overlap, creating a magical feeling that reflects my thoughts on spirituality and the enjoyment of life. ” Weems enjoys designing colorful, dr

9-1-1 Emergency, How May I Help You?

Due to a family funeral, I recently made a trip to my parents’ hometown Haleyville, Alabama. Haleyville is a small town in the northwest quadrant of Alabama. Although it may not be a major metropolis, its proud history includes something many of us take for granted: being the home of 9-1-1. In 1968 B.W. Gallagher, President of Alabama Telephone Company, was inspired by an article he read in The   Wall Street Journal . The article stated that the president of AT&T, which was the major telephone carrier at the time, and the Federal Communications Commission were announcing 9-1-1 to be the nationwide emergency number. Gallagher wanted to make the Alabama Telephone Company the first to implement the new 9-1-1 system—it was his competitive spirit. Gallagher consulted with Robert Fitzgerald, inside plant manager for the Alabama Telephone Company, who examined schematics of the company’s 27 exchanges. Fitzgerald suggested Haleyville because its existing equipment was best suited to b

Reception for Local Artist Joyce E. Brooks at Central Library, February 18

Joyce Brooks In 2008, everything was rush, rush, rush for Joyce E. Brooks until a breast cancer diagnosis forced her to step back and reevaluate how she managed her time. No longer would she let days full of demanding work deadlines, carrying take out food home to her family and long work hours run her. She had to take control. In 2009, she was declared cancer-free and wrote a book about how to overcome stress. In the 2010, she discovered her ability to paint. With paintbrush in hand, she found her peace. Now, she’s sharing that “peace’’ with others through an exhibit on the first floor of the Birmingham Public Library, 2100 Park Place. Release of the Inner Artist will be up through March 29 . It features landscapes, folk art, and abstracts. On Tuesday, February 18 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. , Brooks will have a reception and sign copies of her book, Self-Inflicted Overload: Five Steps to Achieving Work-Life Balance and Becoming Your Very Best . Her books and paintings will be for

Book Review: In the Blood

In the Blood by Lisa Unger is an addictive read that will keep one reading into the night. Even while finishing it, one still wonders what secrets might be revealed before the ending. In this book, we meet Lana Granger who's about to graduate from the University in a little place called the Hollows in upstate New York. As she realizes that she is about to become an adult, she takes a job to prepare herself. Her job is takes care of an eleven-year-old boy named Luke. Luke is an extremely troubled and manipulative child. Soon a mental contest begins between the two in the form of a scavenger hunt. At the same time Lana's best friend disappears. Lana continues lying at all cost to prevent her biggest secret from being revealed. Only Lana is not the only one who knows her secret, and the other person can’t wait for the truth to come out. Barbara Hutto Youth  Department Central Library

Get Up Close and Personal with Artist Amy Pleasant

Where do artists get their inspiration? For Birmingham artist Amy Pleasant , she often gets inspired by materials at this library. On Tuesday, February 25 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., Pleasant will be in the First Floor Conference Room at the Central Library and talk about her drawings to interested visitors thus giving them an opportunity to engage with the artist one on one and interact with works of art in an intimate way. It will provide an “open studio” environment in the library, which allows for open discussion and hands-on experience. The visitors will be able to hold the drawings as they would a book. There are not many opportunities for people to interact with artists and artworks in this way, and a deeper understanding can occur because of the ability to talk to an artist while standing in front of the works and also by looking at original works of art, not reproductions.  “The project will be a way for me to share my process and how the source material for a lot of my wo

Lois Wilson Exhibit Ends Its Run at BPL on February 21

The exhibit Ladies, Gentlemen and Bazards: The Art of Lois Wilson will be on display in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery through Friday, February 21, 2014 . Featuring a little known Alabama artist who died in 1980, the exhibit focuses on Wilson’s “found art” where she used wood that she scavenged from demolition sites, parts of furniture that she disassembled, old brushes, ironing boards, toilet seats, and left over food for coloring to take the trash that other people discarded and create art. The art illustrates the issues that were important to Wilson: environmentalism and conservation, racism, spiritualism, the needs of the aged and homeless, and the emptiness of modern American materialism. The event is free and open to the public. For more information contact Jim Baggett at or 205-226-3631.

Hey Jack, Help Me Transition to Reading Chapter Books!

Do you have or know a child who is transitioning to reading chapter books? Well, if you do the Birmingham Public Library has just the series for you. Sally Rippin, the author of the Hey Jack series, has creatively and successfully combined context and comprehension in the series making the transition to chapter books smoother for young readers. Each book in the Hey Jack series, which is a spin off to the Billy B. Brown series, is narrated by young Jack himself and presents young readers with identifiable plots, humor, and a variety of emotions. His encounters are similar to those that children his age experience, and though he is a boy, his encounters are relatable to girls as well. Jack even demonstrates alternative ways to handle situations that result in positive outcomes and that may help a young reader facing a similar issue. Each book contains only three chapters with no more than 50 pages providing young readers with a great sense of accomplishment after finishing book. The

The DSM-5 Arrivest at BPL

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , Fifth Edition, better known as DSM-5, is the 2013 update to the American Psychiatric Association's (APA) classification and diagnostic tool. In the US, it is the universal standard for all psychiatric disorder diagnoses. Treatments, as well as payment by insurance providers are determined by their DSM classification. It replaces the DSM–IV, which was published in 2000. Some of the notable changes to the DSM-5 are the removal of Asperger syndrome and autism as distinctive disorders and their combination with several other disorders under the new title, Autism Spectrum Disorders. The DSM-5 chapter on anxiety disorder no longer includes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (which is included with the obsessive-compulsive and related disorders), or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder (which is included with the trauma- and stressor-related disorders). If you would like to use this extremely

Movie Review: Picnic at Hanging Rock

In the year 1900, a girls’ high school in an underpopulated area in Australia goes for a rare outing, a picnic, to be held at Hanging Rock, halfway into the bush. While there, four girls start to climb the Rock to the top. They disappear. The school panics. A search, with police and bloodhounds, is conducted. It’s unsuccessful. After a couple more days, two teenage boys do their own search. They discover and rescue one of the girls, now near death. The found girl remembers nothing of the trek up the Rock. The other girls haze her, accusing her of mischief, murder. Is she holding back information? The school, and community near it, emotionally implodes. The rigid principal (who in profile is a dead ringer for Tenniel’s Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland ) loses it and starts to drink. One young woman, who had been in love with Miranda, one of the missing girls, becomes inconsolable, and disconnects. Flashbacks of Miranda climbing the Rock suggest an angel ascending into the beyon

Pratt City Branch Library Reopens - A Look Inside

The Pratt City Library, which was destroyed in an April 27, 2011 tornado, has been rebuilt and will reopen on Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., Birmingham Public Library Director Renee Blalock and several others are slated to speak during the grand reopening ceremony. 

The Dirt on the Cleaners

Can’t get enough of Downton Abbey ? Wonder what it was really like to be “in service” in England? BPL has the answers! Check out any of these titles to get the inside scoop on the real lives of servants from the aristocratic butlers to the lowly tweenys: If you like your dirt in scholarly form (but still an entertaining read), look into Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times . And if you like a little Austen with your curiosity, check out Longbourn by Jo Baker. It’s Pride and Prejudice viewed from the servants’ hall, and a real eye-opener. Where gentlemen reside there are also “gentleman's gentlemen” and romance and misalliances are not limited to the posh set. Kelley Laney Springville Road Library

From the Linn-Henley Basement to the World

On Sunday, February 9 , C-SPAN television will feature the Birmingham Public Library’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts on its American Artifacts series. C-SPAN draws 47 million viewers each week on all major U.S. cable networks and in 90 countries around the world. American Artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites to see items from history and explore the stories behind those items. The program will air at 7:00 a.m., 6:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. on C-SPAN3 and will be available on the C-SPAN website . For more information on the American Artifacts series and to view previous episodes visit . Jim Baggett Archives Department Central Library

BPL Closing at 3:00 P.M. on February 6

Due to the threat of inclement weather all locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closing at 3:00 p.m. today.

Black Heritage Genealogy Fair, February 8

Students at St. Mark's Academic and Industrial School, 1931 BPL Digital Collections Discover your past and forge toward the future during the Black Heritage Genealogy Fair on February 8 at Central Library, Arrington Auditorium. Presented by the Birmingham African-American Genealogy Study Group , the event will feature an exhibit from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., and program with guest speakers from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Sochi 2014

There has   been a lot of press coverage about the Sochi Winter Olympics and the Games haven’t even started yet.   Unfortunately, politics has overshadowed one of the best representations of international cooperation and sportsmanship the world gets to witness.   Hopefully, this will all change once the XXII Olympic Winter Games get under way.   The Games will take place February 7-23. My favorite memory from the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was the Men’s Halfpipe competition.   Shaun White was the last snowboarder to take his run during the final round.    The broadcasters kept talking about a new trick Shaun had mastered and were wondering if he would pull it out since he already had the lead going into this run.   Shaun dropped into the halfpipe and rather than doing a trick on the first wall like his competitors, he went for big air.   When he crested the other side, I swear he went so high, I thought he’d be at the end of the course when he came back down.    On the last w