Showing posts from April, 2014

Free Comic Book Day at Central Library

Central Library's Youth Department will distribute free children's comic books on Saturday, May 3, 1:00-5:00 p.m. , as part of Free Comic Book Day . The American Library Association is providing the comic books, courtesy of Diamond Comic Distributors . One comic book per child. Supplies available while they last. For more information call 226-3655. "This event is another way to make reading fun, especially for children having trouble with words. Through comic books, children can get information from the pictures. The pictures can help them understand the words. This is just one more way we can encourage reading," says Barbara Hutto, a librarian in the Youth Department.

Book Review: The Graduate

The Graduate Charles Webb More favorite movies. More novels they were based on. An ongoing pastime. It dawned on me: I’ve never read The Graduate, the book the movie of the same name sprang from. Copyright 1963. If we knew then what we know now, we could’ve read it and seen the Fifties dying and the Sixties coming into view. But we couldn’t have, and that’s why it’s interesting. This is a novel, and novels don’t signal change the way, say, manifestos do. But The Graduate did get good critical notices and it sold extremely well, so people were paying attention to it, just not the way they would have in, maybe, 1966. Most readers probably liked it chiefly because it reads very easy. Ben Braddock comes home to L.A. after a stellar college tour back east. He’s achieved as much as anyone his age probably can, but it means nothing to him. His parents try to persuade him he’s at the top and that he should go to grad school, but Ben sees that as more of the same rut. Mrs. Robinson,

Film Noir

Night of the Hunter  Film noir is a subgenre of American cinema that emerged during the Second World War and peaked during the late forties and early fifties.  French critics bestowed this label upon this subgenre when hundreds of American films flooded European theaters after the war.   The French were unable to see American films during their occupation by Germany and were clearly taken aback by the transformation they saw in Hollywood. Hollywood’s happy-go-lucky westerns and musicals were seemingly replaced overnight by a steady supply of dark films in which down-on-their-luck men and women struggled for their lives, loves, and the pursuit of happiness.   Perhaps the most striking difference between pre- and post-war American cinema was that these struggles often ended in failure. Film noir can be translated as ‘dark cinema’ though it literally means ‘black cinema.’  These films are distinguished visually by a strong reliance upon chiaroscuro lighting as well as unbalanced f

Children's Book Review: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures   Kate DiCamillo Flora, a born cynic and comic book aficionado, takes part in some truly amazing events. The first of which is rescuing a squirrel from the maw her neighbor’s rogue Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner. She resuscitates the squirrel and names him Ulysses. From the moment she brings him back to life, she is certain that the bizarre circumstances of his accident will imbue Ulysses with superpowers and she is not disappointed. Ulysses proves to be super-powerful indeed as he writes poetry, wields heavy objects, and flies! She can’t believe her luck, to foster a budding superhero! But, as Flora well knows, every hero must have a villain in their story and Ulysses is no exception. But real trouble brews when they find that his arch-nemesis is Flora’s own mother. That’s a big problem. Flora teams up with an unlikely crew of friends to keep Ulysses safe until he can realize his full potential and learn to f

World Book Night 2014 at Railroad Park

On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, I had the privilege of participating for the second time as a Book Giver for World Book Night. After having done this last year and having had so much fun spreading the love of reading, I knew I would apply to do it again this year . . . and got my wish. As the Department Head of the Fiction Department of the Birmingham Public Library, I was delighted when a fellow staff member in the department cheerfully volunteered to assist. Bruce Seals and I set out mid-day (After all, on any given day it is nighttime somewhere in the world!) on Wednesday, April 23, to a relatively new park in downtown Birmingham— Railroad Park . We had the best time giving out 20 copies of Bobcat and Other Storie s by Rebecca Lee. The crowd there was diverse and seemed quite happy to be enjoying a beautiful day with the city center skyline on the nearby horizon. Their joy doubled when they found themselves to be part of an amazing world-wide event, and a free book only added to

Temporary Hours Set for Birmingham Public Library’s Central Location

Due to rising spring temperatures and a broken air conditioning unit at the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location, the library will have reduced hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library’s main air handler. Parts have been ordered. Repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive. Starting Monday, April 28 , the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It will be closed on Sundays. The new hours will not affect the system’s 18 other locations. “Our patrons and staff have been very understanding as we work through this difficult time,’’ said Angela Fisher Hall, the library system’s associate director. “Our goal is to remain open as long as we can, while keeping our patrons and staff as comfortable as possible. Other city departments are working very closely with us to get the needed repairs

Birmingham Botanical Gardens to Host Shakespeare-Inspired Bards & Brews Open Mic Event, May 2

A performance gets judged at April's SLAM! at Vestavia Hills Library. The Birmingham Public Library’s monthly Bards & Brews poetry performance and beer tasting will be held on Friday, May 2, 2014 , at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. The open mic night will feature music by Michael “Loose” Cannon at 6:30 p.m., with poetry starting at 7:00 pm. Cahaba Brewing Company will provide the beer tasting. The event will celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Guests are encouraged to share their favorite Shakespearean sonnet or lines from his plays, or their own verses inspired by Shakespeare. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins will emcee the event, which is free and open to the public. Attendees must be 18 years or older to attend, and 21 years or older to be served. IDs will be checked. Also, Birmingham-area student participants in the library's Teen Poetry Initiative will be performing at halftime to raise money and awareness to send a team to t

Heather Lebischak Teaches Couponing Basics at Last MakingCents Program for April

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public. Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak Date: Monday, April 28, 2014 Time: 11:00 a.m. Place: North Birmingham Library If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss various stores' coupon policies, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings. The classes are part of a national grant program known as MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library® , a partnership be

Pratt City Remembers: Special Tornado Anniversary to Be Held Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Pratt City Library will join the Mayor's Office and the City of Birmingham on Saturday, April 26 , to commemorate the third anniversary of a 2011 tornado that destroyed homes and buildings in Pratt City. Rebirth and rebuilding continue in Pratt City as Birmingham prepares to mark the anniversary with music and more at Hibernian Street and Dugan Avenue on April 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Grammy-nominated singer Alvin Garrett will make a special appearance. The event is free. The Pratt City Library, which was destroyed in the April 27, 2011 tornado but later rebuilt, will have a children's crafts table. The library will also provide free copies of the anthology Voices From the Storm , a collection of literary works inspired by the tornadoes of April 2011 and January 2012. It was written by people of all ages from across Alabama. Free workshops will also be offered on Saturday. A continental breakfast will be available at the library at 8:30 a.m . At 9:00 a.

The Bard Turns 450!

The venerable bard, William Shakespeare, was baptized on April 25, 1564, traditionally assumed to have been two days after his birth, in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Many of us were introduced to Shakespeare with high school readings of Romeo and Juliet , Macbeth , or Hamlet .  We may have later wandered into A Midsummer Night's Dream , or Othello , or found ourselves enjoying modern retellings of Shakespeare's classic stories through  Ten Things I Hate About You or Kiss me Kate ( The Taming of the Shrew ), My Own Private Idaho ( The Henry cycles ), She's the Man ( Twelfth Night ),   Forbidden Planet ( The Tempest ), or West Side Story ( Romeo and Juliet ) . No matter how we were introduced to the Bard, his plays and poetry have become an integral part of literature, culture, and even vocabularies. While we don't know much about his personal life - that he was married to a woman named Anne Hathaway (no, not that Anne Hathaway ) worked as an actor and writer, and had

What’s the Scene, Jelly Bean?

April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day , a day to enjoy gobs and gobs of the sweet gummy treat. While historians can’t exactly say how, when or why Jelly Bean Day began, it is safe to say that individuals have been enjoying jelly beans for over 100 years. The Turkish Delight, a Middle Eastern sweet made of soft jelly, covered in confectioner’s powder, was an early precursor to today’s jelly bean and its gummy interior. It is believed that the jelly bean first surfaced in 1861 when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged people to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the American Civil War as a morale booster. One of the most famous jelly bean connoisseurs was United States President Ronald Reagan. A blueberry flavor jelly bean was specially created for his 1981 Presidential Inauguration. Believe it or not, more than 3 tons of jelly beans were eaten during this event! President Reagan was responsible for launching the very first jelly beans into space when he sent a jar

Audiobook Review: Long Man

Long Man   Amy Greene Read by Dale Dickey Long Man is Amy Greene’s second novel and like the first, Bloodroot , it leaves you wanting her to hurry up and write another. They are not a series, but her stories take place in Appalachia and her characters are finely and richly drawn. Long Man is also the old name for the river that runs near the town of Yuneetah in East Tennessee, and is the lifeblood of the people who live along and above its banks. The TVA has built a dam and the valley (and town) are set to be flooded to bring electricity to the area. Most of the people are complacent about being relocated to a new place with more fertile land and new job opportunities, but there are a few holdouts. One of the staunchest is the orphaned Annie Clyde Dodson, who is determined that her 3-year-old daughter, Gracie, will grow up on their family farm. She runs off the government men with a shotgun, thus making it difficult to even discuss relocation. Annie’s husband, James,

The Birmingham Public Library Will Help Spread the Love of Reading to Half a Million People on World Book Night, April 23, 2014

The Birmingham Public Library will be one of 2,300 libraries and bookstores across the nation to distribute free books on Wednesday, April 23 , as part of World Book Night 2014. The effort is designed to spread the joy of reading by giving paperback books to light readers or nonreaders. Organizers are predicting that more than half a million books in nearly 6,000 cities across America will be distributed on World Book Night, which just happens to fall on William Shakespeare’s birthday this year. This is the third year for the campaign in the United States. It started in the United Kingdom in 2011. The Birmingham Public Library is one of three World Book Night distributors in Birmingham. Forty-seven Birmingham Public Library employees and volunteers have signed up to be book givers at Birmingham-area parks hospitals, nursing homes, and more on April 23. Each volunteer will give out 20 books. Even though it’s called World Book Night, book distributions will happen throughout the d

ACHOO! Preparing for Pollen Season

Everybody gear up and pull out those nasal sprays and antihistamines because it’s that time of year again; it’s pollen season! After a dreadful winter, many of us have welcomed spring with open arms, but have to prepare ourselves for yet another one of nature’s contenders, pollen. Though pollen makes a significant contribution to the growth of many plants that many of us appreciate and benefit from in the spring, it poses a challenge to many pollen allergy sufferers. In fact, this particular spring will pose an even bigger challenge since winter exited late leaving everything pollinating at once. According to Alice Park, author of the article " Polar Vortex May Mean Miserable Allergy Season ", once the temperatures warm up, pollinating trees will be busy catching up, spewing higher than average amounts of sneeze- and sniffle-inducing allergens into the spring air. So, now the question remains: What do we do to combat pollen allergies? To find out, make a trip to the Birmingha

Birmingham Public Library Art Exhibit Celebrates Some of the Summer Joys of Childhood

Solstice by Starr Weems Catching fireflies on a summer night and other childhood pastimes are depicted in paintings by Athens resident Starr Weems at the Birmingham Public Library, now through May 2 . The Illuminations in Poured Color exhibit is free and open to the public. Weems, who teaches art and Spanish to students at Ardmore High School in Limestone County, says some of the best ideas for her paintings come from her two children. “Sometimes, when I see them play, it reminds me of things that I did as a kid, and I incorporate them into my paintings,’’ says Weems. “I have paintings of fireflies in jars, I have one of my little girl blowing bubbles and one of dandelions blowing away.’’ There are 34 pieces in the exhibit, which is located in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery. Most of the pieces are for sale. “(My) vibrant colors mingle and overlap, creating a magical feeling that reflects my thoughts on spirituality and the enjoyment of life,’’ says Weems. Sh

Identity Theft and Financial Concerns for Senior Women Focus of April 21 & 23 MakingCents Programs

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public. Identity Theft with Ruth Brock Date: Monday, April 21, 2014 Time: 11:00 a.m. Place: North Birmingham Library Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify its warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves. Financial Concerns of Senior Women Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Time: 10:30 a.m. Place: Five Points West Library Because, statistically, women are living longer than men, economic

Using Templates in Excel 2010

Like most Microsoft Office 2010 programs , Microsoft Excel 2010 provides templates, ready assist users in creating and customizing their documents. Users can modify these predesigned samples to suit their needs and purposes. To use one of the installed templates:  Click the File tab, then click New .  You will see available samples in the “Backstage View.”  Choose your desired template, and download or click Create .  Modify the worksheet as desired.  CLASS REGISTRATION  Registration is now open for staff and the public for the May 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.  Other classes offered are:  Basic PC (Beginner)  Keyboarding (Beginner)  Basic Internet (Beginner)  Internet Searching (Beginner)  To register for classes, you may:  Visit the Computer Commons department at the Central Library and obtain

Children's Book Review: See What a Seal Can Do (Ages 5-9)

See What a Seal Can Do Chris Butterworth What can seals do? There are eighteen types of these sea mammals. Each type of seal has differences in their flippers and ears. They spend most of their time in the water, yet choose to live partly on land where they sleep, digest their food and have their pups. They have sensitive ears and can hear on land or underwater. These are funny, little critters that flop and jump to get around on dry land, even snoring while they are asleep. Seals look lazy and slow when they snooze on sunny rocks, but in water their powerful flippers allow them to move a hundred feet in just a few seconds. When they reach three hundred feet down, their hearts only beat four times per a minute. Some seal species have almost become extinct in the past so it is important that we take care of all the special types of sea mammals. Watch this video to see what this seal can do! Barbara Hutto Youth Department Central Library

Happy National Library Week!

National Library Week is April 13-19, 2014 . To celebrate, we are providing a coupon good for $5 to pay your overdue charges at any Jefferson County Public Library . If you have ever researched a paper, checked out a bestseller, or attended a special program, you know what a great resource your library is. If you visit the library during National Library Week, please take a moment and sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries , or sign it online at .

Birmingham Public Library Attends Teen Career Fair

Staff from the Birmingham Public Library were present at the Teen Transition Career Fair held at Boutwell Auditorium on Thursday, April 10. The VRS Transition Service, hosts of the free event, presented the event to assist area teens transition into the adult world and find careers. Students spoke with a number of professionals, including BPL’s own Central Branch Public Service Coordinator Kay Davis and Computer Services Trainers Farah Ferguson and Maurice Harley.  Approximately 200 teens visited the BPL table, obtaining information about services and career opportunities. VRS is a division of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

MakingCents Programs for April 15 & 16 Include a Performance by Dolores Hydock, How to Protect Against Identity Theft, and a Reality Check on Finances for Teens

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public. Money Talks ... on Tax Day! Stories of Cold, Hard Cash with Dolores Hydock Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 Time: 6:30 p.m. Place: Springville Road Library If Tax Day has got you down, then come to the Springville Road Library for a story telling pick-me- up with Dolores Hydock! Money talks in a language anyone can understand in these tales of money lost, money found, and figuring out just how much happiness money really can buy. Identity Theft with Ruth Brock Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 Time: 11:00 a.m. Place: First Baptist Church of Roosevelt City 6012 Malcolm Avenue, Birmingham, 35228 (205) 426-1691 Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its

Celebrate National Library Week with the Birmingham Public Library, April 13–19

Vulcan Park and Museum mascot "V" signs the Declaration for the Right to Libraries.  To celebrate National Library Week , which is April 13–19, 2014 , the Birmingham Public Library is asking the public to sign a declaration of support for libraries. The effort is part of a national campaign known as Declaration for the Right to Libraries, launched by the American Library Association. The campaign is simply a good-faith effort to show how important libraries are in empowering and building communities, strengthening families, and changing lives. Libraries around the country are collecting signatures this month. Organizers will send the signatures to Congress in early May to demonstrate how committed citizens are to libraries. Already, the Birmingham Public Library system has collected hundreds of signatures, including those of Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., several city leaders, and more. Patrons have expressed strong support of the campaign, saying they love their libr

WORD UP! 2014 Showcases Teen Poets

The excitement was palpable in the packed Arrington Auditorium as emcee Jim Reed genially welcomed the crowd. This was the seventh year for the competition which allows Jefferson County teenagers to showcase their poetry writing and performance skills. Students in grades 9 through 12 write and perform an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee.  This year’s theme was “community.” Earlier this year, participating high schools held preliminary contests at their schools, and the first and second place winners competed at WORD UP!. The performances were over, and the winners were proclaimed: first place and $300 went to Eboni Wallace of Tarrant; this was the third year in a row that Eboni had received this honor. Second place  and $200 went to Miaya Webster of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Miaya had won third place at last year’s competition. And there was a tie for third place; Jeralyn Lankford of Clay-Chalkville and Brianna Whit

Book Review: Lookaway, Lookaway

Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel Wilton Barnhardt Before he was an acclaimed fiction writer ( Lookaway, Lookaway made several prestigious year’s best lists) Wilton Barnhardt was a sports writer. It shows in his appreciation of the details that help make yarns real and entertaining. And, no, Lookaway, Lookaway , is not another book about southern football. It’s about a far more desperate, violent, and intricate spectacle, the modern day dissolution of a Great Old Southern Family. Set in Charlotte, North Carolina, the “prefab” metropolis, with a “monster truck show” religious scene, Lookaway, Lookaway is a satire. While funnier in tone than Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and more outrageous than Pat Conroy , it rings at least as true as either. This is the epic saga of the Jarvis-Johnston clan. Duke, the patriarch is under the spell of his storied Civil War ancestor, General Joseph E. Johnston. Jerene, his wife, is the steel magnolia matriarch and the de facto patriarch (“Who cares what

"I Want to Learn..."

I’ve been thinking about learning lately. I don’t really want to take a formal course or go back to school but I want to study something. This caused me to think about the free resources that Birmingham Public Library and other entities provide for lifelong learning. Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Classes, Programs & Workshops Check out the BPL Calendar of Events for upcoming classes, programs and workshops. At the top of the page, choose your library. The April 2014 computer class schedule for the BPL Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) is already posted. Follow the instructions on the class schedule to register for classes. The RLCC is located at the Central Library. If you are interested in computer classes at other branches, use the BPL Calendar of Events and do a keyword search for computer. If you are looking for classes, programs, and workshops in any of the Jefferson County public libraries, check out their Calendar of Events and Reader . Books I