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Showing posts from July, 2014

Artist Raises Linoleum to a Whole New Level

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Take a good look at this image. What technique do you suppose was used to create this work of art? If you guessed woodblock printing, you’re getting close. Except rather than wood, a piece of linoleum is carved to achieve a similar effect. Yes, lowly linoleum…the stuff that covered your grandmother’s kitchen floor. Though the linoleum artist Debra Riffe uses is especially made for printmaking and is a combination of cork, linseed oil and adhesive. Riffe has taken the technique to a whole new level to create striking images that speak eloquently of themes such as social identity and sense of place. 

An exhibit of Riffe’s linoleum block prints will be on display in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the downtown Birmingham Public Library during regular library hours  until August 26.

Titled "Every Line Tells a Story", the exhibit will also be featured at the August 7 Birmingham Art Crawl from 5 to 9 p.m., and Riffe will be on hand to greet visitors from 6 to 9 pm. The Art Crawl is a re…

Rotaract Club of Birmingham to Give Away Free School Supplies at Four Birmingham Public Libraries on Saturday, August 9

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The Rotaract Club of Birmingham will distribute free school supplies and clear backpacks to more than 800 children at four Birmingham Public Library branches on Saturday, August 9, starting at 9:00 a.m. Distribution will take place at Avondale, East Lake, Pratt City, and Wylam branches, while supplies last. The event is free and open to the public.

New this year, Rotaract will partner with Whole Foods Market, which will donate fresh fruit to be distributed during the event. The goal is to encourage students to make healthy school snack choices.

“Rotaract is excited to present this event, which has a tremendous positive impact on our community,” said Sarah Beth Combs, Rotaract service director. With great economic challenges still facing Birmingham neighborhoods, many students do not have the basic supplies they need to begin the new school year. This project equips students with what they need to learn from day one.

For more information, please contact Allison Westlake at 218-7187.

Bards & Brews Open Mic Night To Be Held at Avondale Library, August 1

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Enjoy the perfect blend of poetry and free beer samples during the Birmingham Public Library's monthly Bards and Brews, Friday, August 1, at Avondale Library. Open Mic Night poet registration starts at 6:30 p.m. and poetry performances start at 7 p.m. Avondale Brewing Company will be providing the beer. Music by Patrick Summey. Call 205-226-3670 for more info. Attendees must be at least 18 to enter and at least 21 to be served. Free.

Bards & Brews, which is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, is typically held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around Birmingham. Visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page for more information.

Three Promoted at Birmingham Public Library

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Three librarians at the Birmingham Public Library have been promoted to coordinator positions.

K’aryn Davis-West, former manager of computer services for the public, is now coordinator of Central Library Public Services. She coordinates all public service departments at the downtown library location.

Jared Millet, former manager of the Acquisitions Department, is now the Collections Management coordinator. He is responsible for the Cataloging, Acquisitions, and Web Services departments.

Felita Hawkins, former manager of the East Lake Library, is now coordinator of all of the branches in the library system’s Southern region. She oversees Avondale, North Avondale, Eastwood, Southside, and Titusville libraries.

Society of Alabama Archives and Birmingham Public Library Call for Nominations for Marvin Yeomans Whiting Award

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Dr. Marvin Whiting, BPL Archivist, 1975-1996
The Awards Committee of the Society of Alabama Archivists calls for nominations for the 2014 Marvin Yeomans Whiting Award. Named for Marvin Whiting, the Birmingham Public Library's first archivist and a pioneer in the professionalization of archives in Alabama, this award recognizes individuals, organizations, or institutions that have made a significant contribution to the preservation and dissemination of local history in Alabama. The award recognizes the preservation of historic documents and oral history but not buildings, historic sites or artifacts. The Birmingham Public Library co-sponsors the award.

The award was created in 2012 and the past recipients are Ed Bridges, retired Director of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, and Elizabeth Wells, former Head of Special Collections at Samford University.

The deadline for nominations is August 22, 2014 and the award will be presented at the Society of Alabama Archivists…

The Genealogists and the Feds: Using Government Documents in Genealogical Research

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In June, I attended the Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research sponsored by Samford University. I took a course titled “Advanced Library Research: Law Libraries and Government Documents.” It was an opportunity to learn a new use for government documents. How could genealogists use them? In surprising ways, I discovered.

Why would genealogists want to use law resources or government documents? Depending on what is used, genealogists can find out a variety of information to fill in blanks about their ancestors’ lives. For example, did Great-Great-Great Uncle William have a property dispute with Great-Great-Great Uncle Robert and take him to court? The case might be listed in the Alabama Digest: Table of Cases, and that could be the proof of why those relatives don’t speak to each other today.

Government documents can give a researcher similar information, primarily, what interaction did the ancestor have with the government? Government documents record the actions of fe…

Math & Science Day at Five Points West Library, July 26

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The Annual Math & Science Day conducted by Kwanzaa Year Round, Science for Kids Ministry, and hosted by the Five Points West Library, 4812 Avenue W, Birmingham, AL, will be held Saturday, July 26, 2014, 1:00-4:00 p.m., in the Main Auditorium. The emphasis this year will be on “Slave Science – African Contributions to Science Before Enslavement.”

The topic is based on studies compiled by historian Dr. Joseph E. Holloway in an article titled “African Contributions to American Culture.” His research documents Africans who helped establish rice growing, cattle raising, variolation (early vaccination), musical and architectural styles that were incorporated into American culture. Other specialties include metal working, midwifery, ship building, and navigation.

“Before the enslavement, Africans were closely observed for their various skills,” said Elinor Burks, one of the event’s planners. “Many skills Africans brought were not appreciated until several generations after their arr…

Avondale Library To Host Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event, August 1

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Enjoy the perfect blend of poetry and free beer samples during the Birmingham Public Library's monthly Bards and Brews, Friday, August 1, at Avondale Library. Open Mic Night poet registration starts at 6:30 p.m. and poetry performances start at 7 p.m. Avondale Brewing Company will be providing the beer. Music by Patrick Summey. Call 205-226-3670 for more info. Attendees must be at least 18 to enter and at least 21 to be served. Free.

Bards & Brews, which is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, is typically held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around Birmingham. Visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page for more information.

Book Review: The Silkworm

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The Silkworm
Robert Galbraith

An obnoxious old writer has gone missing from his shabby London home just as he finished his scandalous masterpiece, Bombyx Mori. If that name sounds like a spell taught at Hogwarts, it won’t surprise you to learn that Robert Galbraith is the nom de plume of J. K. Rowling and that “bombyx mori” is the scientific name for silkworms, creatures boiled alive in their cocoons to preserve the valuable threads they have woven.

The Silkworm is the sequel to The Cuckoo’s Calling(2013) which introduced Cormoran Strike, a down on his heel (he lost half a leg in Afghanistan) private investigator. Strike is built like a boxer with a nose that has been broken more than once. In pain, he limps through the winter mist and snow of a gritty contemporary London, negotiating slick pavements and steps down into the London Underground. He can’t afford taxis, but is nonetheless attractive to beautiful socialites he encounters on his search for the missing author, Owen Quine. Str…

The End of Summer Reading—Now What?

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As a fairly new librarian serving an underserved community where making ends meet supersedes the Library’s stance, the nearing of the end of Summer Reading has stimulated several questions such as: “How do I keep the momentum going and continue to motivate children and adults to read? How do I intertwine the Library’s resources with the needs of the community? How do I attempt to close the new digital divide where Internet access is no longer an issue, but how the Internet is being used poses the problem?”

I know that understanding the needs of the community where the Library resides is paramount and there are several resources available both in print and online that will provide insight on how to put community knowledge to use. One resource in particular that I recently found and plan on putting to use is the American Library Association’s Outreach to Underserved Populations Resource. This site targets many underserved groups and provides several resources that specifically address …

Ongoing Programming at BPL Helps Students, Parents, and Teachers Stay Sharp Throughout the Year

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With the start of school just around the corner, the Birmingham Public Library has free programs that will help keep young and young-at-heart minds sharp before and well after the school bell rings. Some library programs set for July, August, and September include:

Learn the different styles and techniques of wire and bead jewelry making on Tuesday, July 22 at 4 p.m. at Woodlawn Library, 5709 First Ave. North.

Enter the Lego Building Challenge on Tuesday, July 22 at 10 a.m. at Smithfield Library, #1 Eighth Ave. West, and on Thursday, July 24 at 1:30 p.m. at the Powderly Library, 3301 Jefferson Ave. SW.

Exercise the brain on Saturday, July 26 during the annual Math and Science Day at Five Points West Library, 4812 Ave. W, 1 to 4 p.m. For all ages. Adolescent attendees must have parent or caregiver present. Free.

Learn the marvels of magnets at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23 at Ensley Library, 1201 25th St.,Ensley. McWane Science Center to present.

Connect with your inner artist and visit &qu…

Birmingham Public Library Director Renee Blalock to Retire August 1, 2014

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Renee Blalock, director of the Birmingham Public Library System, will retire on Friday, August 1, after 33 years of service with the library system.

A retirement program will be held on August 1 at 8 a.m. in the Central Library's fourth floor Arrington Auditorium. Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr. and Alabama Public Library Service Interim Director Kelyn Ralya will be among those slated to speak. A reception will follow in the library’s board room.

During her career, Blalock managed branches, worked as a library business manager, and served as a regional branch coordinator. She became an associate director in 1994 and was appointed director in 2009.

“I am a very lucky woman to have been able to earn my living doing something I love and that I believe is vital to our community,’’ said Blalock, who was also a member of the Leadership Birmingham Class of 2000 and was named as one of the NAACP Metro Birmingham’s 2008 Outstanding Women for Community Service, Multiculturalism and Po…

From Growing Orchids to Beer Tasting, Fun Adult Programs Are On Tap

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Adults looking for something fun and different to do on a weeknight, should check out what's brewing at the Birmingham Public Library.

Support the Birmingham Public Library's Young Professionals' fundraiser, "I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie," on Thursday, July 24 at Rogue Tavern, 2312 Second Ave. North. Tickets are $10. Proceeds will help support library programs. There will be a silent auction and food and drink specials. www.bigbooks.eventbrite.com.Enjoy the perfect blend of poetry and free beer samples during the Birmingham Public Library's monthly Bards and Brews, Friday, Aug. 1 at Avondale Library, 509 40th St. South. It's from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Open Mic Night poet registration starts at 6:30 p.m. Avondale Brewery will be providing the beer. Call 226-3670 for more info. Attendees must be at least 18 to enter and at least 21 to be served. Free.Check out artist Debra Riffe's "Every Line Tells a Story'' exhibit during the Birmingham Art…

Library Assistance Available for Online High School Registration

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Beginning July 1 the Birmingham Board of Education initiated an online registration process for parents of high school students. They offered a training session which was attended by employees of the Birmingham Public Library. Since many people do not have computers or Internet access at home, the library is the perfect place for them to come to begin registering their high school students, though they will still need to contact the school to complete the process. An email address is required to register and library assistants are trained to help people set up a free account.

At Springville Road, patrons who need more than a few minutes of help can make a brief appointment with a library assistant who will help them log in, set up a password, and create an email account if they don’t already have one. This service is for people who do not know how to use a computer or who may be uncomfortable with the online registration process. Library assistants can direct, but they cannot ent…

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie: Join BPL's YPs at Rogue Tavern July 24

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In an effort to provide additional funding for educational programs at the Birmingham Public Library, the library's Young Professionals will host a fundraiser on Thursday, July 24 at Rogue Tavern, 2312 Second Ave. North. It will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Proceeds will help support library initiatives such as Summer Reading, teen poetry and early childhood computer stations.

What: I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Fundraiser for the Birmingham Public Library

Why: To raise money to support ongoing programming at the Birmingham Public Library

When: Thursday, July 24 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Rogue Tavern, 2312 Second Ave. North

Price: $10

To buy tickets:www.bigbooks.eventbrite.com

Silent auction: There will be a silent auction with items such as a Bose Bluetooth stereo, a mountain bike, a two-week boot camp training session, art, wine gift baskets, …

Book Review: Lily Dale

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Lily Dale
By Christine Wicker

“Serving spirit” in Lily Dale doesn’t mean tending bar. It means forwarding messages from departed loved ones to the living. Lily Dale, New York is different. Only Spiritualists can buy houses here. This creates solidarity but depresses property values. Residents regularly report seeing ghosts strolling “the streets dressed in Victorian era clothes.” Just about anything goes in Lily Dale, at least in the broad confines of New Age thought. Well, almost. Once the leader of the Spiritualist Assembly was shut out of the annual meeting because he’d failed to pay his dues.

Lily Dale is grounded in many good ways. “Neighbors help one another. Old people are looked after…When someone falls sick, everybody knows it and helps. Children can play outside at night. There’s no crime to speak of.” And yet, Spiritualism dissuades its members from getting involved in politics. As a result, it’s much too other-worldly for most. Maybe that’s why the sewer never works well i…

How to Get Audiobooks for Your Summer Vacation

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By Wade Kwon

I am a book junkie, and I am never going to rehab!

You can feed your habit easily, as I do, with audiobooks. I listen to them in the car and while walking. You can pick up a few for your summer roadtrips or flights.

The Birmingham Public Library, as well as the entire Public Libraries in Jefferson County
system
, make it very easy to get your hands and ears on the latest audiobooks.

Let me show you how you can get them, even when your local branch is closed.

The old-fashioned way

I love this method because I can get my favorite audiobooks at my nearest branch while out running errands. You can pick from any collection in the entire Jefferson County system.

1. Search the online catalog. This example shows a search for author Stephen King in three formats: compact discs, downloadable audiobooks and self-playing audiobooks.

2. If you prefer physical media such as CDs and self-playing audiobooks, click Request It. This allows you have the audiobook sent from the lending library…

Children's Book Review: The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda (Ages 8-12)

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The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Tom Angleberger

Dwight is the weirdest kid at in McQuarrie Middle School, but he doesn’t seem to care. Despite his low spot on the middle school food chain he shakes things up when he folds an origami Yoda finger puppet who starts giving out advice. The kids at school are confounded when the paper Yoda says some really insightful stuff while he is perched on Dwight’s finger. The real Dwight would have never thought of such clever solutions to his classmates’ problems. How could a finger puppet say such astute things? Is Dwight actually wise beyond his years or has the puppet somehow gained magical properties? In this title, a group of students work to put together case files to help them get to the truth of the matter as they investigate the mystery of Dwight and his paper Jedi.

This is a great story for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The book is split up between several different characters’ case files, so the book is chopped into short segments with…

13th Annual Math & Science Day

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The Annual Math & Science Day conducted by Kwanzaa Year Round, Science for Kids Ministry, and hosted by the Five Points West Library, 4812 Avenue W, Birmingham, AL, will be held Saturday, July 26, 2014, 1:00-4:00 p.m., in the Main Auditorium. The emphasis this year will be on “Slave Science – African Contributions to Science Before Enslavement.”

The topic is based on studies compiled by historian Dr. Joseph E. Holloway in an article titled “African Contributions to American Culture.” His research documents Africans who helped establish rice growing, cattle raising, variolation (early vaccination), musical and architectural styles that were incorporated into American culture. Other specialties include metal working, midwifery, ship building, and navigation.

“Before the enslavement, Africans were closely observed for their various skills,” said Elinor Burks, one of the event’s planners. “Many skills Africans brought were not appreciated until several generations after their arr…

Children's Author and Storyteller Bil Lepp to Visit Selected Branches in August

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Famed storyteller and author Bil Lepp will appear at theCentral Library on Wednesday, August 6, 6 p.m., and at the Springville Road Library on Thursday, August 7, 6:30 p.m. The events are free and open to the public. Lepp is the author of several books, both fiction and nonfiction. His latest release and first children's book is The King of Little Things, which won a 2013 Parents' Choice Gold Award.

"Bil Lepp became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. A nationally renowned storyteller and five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, Bil’s outrageous, humorous tall-tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages and from all walks of life. Though a champion liar, his stories often contain morsels of truth which shed light on universal themes. Audiences all across the country have been delighted by Bil’s mirthful tales and delightful insights into everyday life. Be it a hunting trip, a funeral, …

The progression of the written (and well-read) word

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In the beginning information passed from one person to others through speech. Oral tradition was the only means of distributing information until the advent of visual communication, and continued for some time to be the primary means of sharing and preserving information. Cave paintings are usually recognized as the earliest form of visual communication, with the earliest known dating to 30,000 BC. More permanent visuals — carvings rather than paintings — developed shortly thereafter, with pictograms (the predecessor to hieroglyphics and cuneiform) developing by around 9000 BC. While logographic writing systems developed by around 5000 BC (Sumerian cuneiform is thought to have developed in the late 3000s), it wasn't until the late 2000s BC that we began seeing alphabetical written language as we know it today.

The spoken word, though notoriously unreliable, was still a primary option. Town criers served from antiquity through the early 20th century* as did broadsheet-style bulle…

Olivia E. Alison is the Birmingham Public Library’s New Director of Development

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Olivia E. Alison, a former museum educator and curator, has been hired to lead fundraising efforts at the Birmingham Public Library. As the library’s new director of development, she will plan and oversee all development and fundraising activities for the library, the Birmingham Public Library Foundation, and the Friends of the Birmingham Public Library. For the past seven years, she served as director of development at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

“I am delighted to be working with the Birmingham Public Library, which provides such invaluable services to our community and is a resource for education and enjoyment for all,’’ says Alison.

Alison is a native of Selma, Alabama. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. She’s also attended the Getty Institute of Museum Management in Berkeley, California; the Williamsburg Development Institute in Williamsburg, Virgin…

Fiction for the Fourth

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Most people have big plans for the Fourth of July.  Some will cook out or go eat barbecue at a restaurant.  Baseball fans may head to Regions Field to watch the Birmingham Barons take on the Tennessee Smokies.  Many will attend Thunder on the Mountain or safely shoot off fireworks in approved locations under adult supervision.  Another option is to reflect on the history of Independence Day.  Consider taking a journey into the past through these historical novels about the American Revolution.  Descriptions are from the publisher.
The Fort by Bernard Cornwell

While the major fighting of the war moves to the south in the summer of 1779, a British force of fewer than a thousand Scottish infantry sails to the desolate and fog-bound coast of New England.  In response, Massachusetts sends a fleet of more than forty vessels and some one thousand infantrymen to "captivate, kill or destroy" the foreign invaders.  But ineptitude and irresolution lead to a mortifying defeat--and…

Bards & Brews Travels to North Birmingham Library for a Poetry SLAM, July 11

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The Birmingham Public Library presents the Bards and Brews Summer Poetry Slam on Friday, July 11, at the North Birmingham Regional Library.. The July edition of the monthly poetry performance and beer tasting event will feature beer sampling courtesy of Good People Brewing Company with live music beginning at 6:30 p.m., and poetry performances starting at 7 p.m. Prizes awarded are $200 for first place and $100 for second place; $5 gets you in the competition.

Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins, the emcee for the evening, is a full-time performance artist and poetry slam events director; he has hosted On Stage at the Carver at the Carver Theater, the longest running poetry open mic in Birmingham (almost 10 years running).

The event 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.

The August 1 Bards and Brews Open Mic will take place at the Avondale Regional Library.

For more information, call 205-226-3670…