Showing posts from August, 2015

Helping Children Establish Good School Habits

School is back in session and children are adjusting to the hustle and bustle of school. Waking up early, doing homework, participating in extracurricular activities in addition to maintaining household chores and other ritualistic tasks can leave children exhausted and unmotivated; however, if managed properly, children will not only be prepared to complete the ever growing list of tasks, but will also have the zeal to complete them. Time management and organizational skills are crucial in juggling multiple tasks and if taught, children can learn how to effectively apply them throughout their lives. Below is a list of books available throughout the library system that will teach parents, caregivers, teachers, and even children themselves how to manage time and multiple tasks both effectively and efficiently while maintaining happiness. Happy Reading!

The Learning Habit: A Groundbreaking Approach to Homework and Parenting That Helps Our Children Succeed in School and Life by Stephanie…

Matthew Mayes’ Layers of Meaning Series Going Home August 29

Hurry to the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery by September 4 to view—or purchase!—intricate acrylic paintings bold in color, texture, and depth.

It’s your last chance to experience The Layers of Meaning: Paintings by Matthew Mayes, a showcase of work by popular local artist Matthew Mayes. The art gallery has been a success for Mayes, with many clients bringing home his kaleidoscopic pieces for their living rooms and businesses.

Mayes considers his vibrant array of paintings to be a study of color perception, definition, and composition.

“The viewer’s reality is based on how my artwork makes them feel,” Mayes said about his work. “Art should awaken your senses and test your boundaries between perception and reality. Either way, you are never wrong with what YOU see in art and how art makes YOU feel.”

Awaken your senses to Mayes’ colorful world and see what his artwork says to you.


Matthew Mayes

Born in Florence, Alabama, Matthew Mayes is a…

Uku-Lending at Birmingham Public Library

Thanks to a generous donation of five ukuleles and their cases from Fretted Instruments of Homewood, the Avondale Library Youth Department is now circulating (lending) ukuleles! The ukulele has been described as a “hip” inexpensive instrument that is very easy to learn to play. While there are libraries in Alabama that host a ukulele club, Avondale is one of the first, if not the first, Alabama library that lends the instrument to their patrons; we are pioneers. In addition to being fun, recent research shows that playing a musical instrument improves concentration, memory, and focus—a benefit for all ages. If you would like more information on how you too can become part of the “Uku-Lending” craze, visit the Avondale Library today.

Carla Perkins
Avondale Regional Branch Library

Laughing through the Summer (or End of Summer) Blues

Laughter is the best medicine.
The oldest documented joke dates back to 1900 BCE. A Sumarian proverb a bit lost in translation, it still bares much resemblance to today's low-brow humor. Babylonians even had Yo Momma  jokes. Clearly, the need to giggle and tease is nothing new. Wordplay, irony, and sarcasm are found even in the Bible.

Comedic plays were common even in ancient Greece and comic books as we know them date back to the 19th century.

If you want to learn about the history of humor. We've got you covered.
A history of American graphic humor by William Murrell
Stop me if you've heard this : a history and philosophy of jokes by Jim Holt.
American humor : a study of the national character by Constance Rourke

If you're just in the mood for a laugh,  we've got that too. From records and writings of Jeff Foxworthy, Richard Pryor, Tina Fey, and George Carlin to National Lampoon, Peanuts, and Foxtrot, we have items to help you laugh away the summer (or end of summer…

Five Points West Library's Fall Family Programming to Focus on Parent-Child Interaction

September will be here soon and so will our programs for children and families. On Thursday mornings beginning September 3 at 10:00 a.m., we will have our children's storytime programs. This program is for parents, children, and preschoolers, as well as day cares.

Our 1-2-3 Play with Me program will run this fall every Tuesday, September 8-October 6. This program is for children from birth to three years old accompanied by parents. This program has toys, blocks, books, songs, and art activities for children, and special visitors will be on hand to answer questions you may have about raising your child.

Beginning Tuesday, September 27, we will begin our Prime Time Family Reading Time program for families at 6:00 p.m. This is a special six-week program for families with children ranging from age three to 10. A light dinner is served and then the fun begins with storytellers, discussions, and crafts. Families must preregister for this program at the Five Points West Library or …

Time Travel and Genealogy: A Match Made in Time

The ability to travel through time has always fascinated people. Countless books, movies, and TV shows delight us with the stories of time travelers and their adventures, and I have to admit that if a plot involves time travel that I am more than likely to give a book, movie, or TV show a try. Here is one favorite from each of those categories:
Books: The Time Machine by H.G. Wells is a perennial classic time travel book that first introduced to the concept of a time machine, which is a vehicle that allows us to travel through time. TV: Doctor Who is a British sci-fi series that has been running since 1963 and features the Doctor and his companions as they travel through time. Movies: Back to the Future is a trilogy of movies that involves time travel to the Old West, 1950s, 1980s, and the year 2015 (the future). The year 2015 has arrived, and some of the future depicted in this movie is reality. However, I still do not own a hover board.  However, these fictitious characters are …

Book Review: Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes
Stephen King

It’s 2009. The economy’s tanked. In a nameless Midwestern city, job-seeking hopefuls are lined up outside the annual City Center job fair when a madman plows into the crowd with a stolen Mercedes Benz. Eight are killed, and dozens maimed by the time the death-car’s taillights vanish in the early morning fog. When the police find the vehicle hours later, it’s abandoned in a parking lot, and wiped clean of prints. As a final, creepy touch, the killer also left the clown mask he was wearing during the massacre on the driver’s seat. No one is ever caught.

Exactly one year after the massacre, newly retired detective Bill Hodges receives a letter from Mr. Mercedes, taunting him for being unable to crack the case. Given a new sense of purpose, Hodges sets to work trying to catch him. Covering points of view for both the killer and the detective, Mr. Mercedes chronicles the cat and mouse game they play that could result in yet another attack of unthinkable…

Springville Road Library Computer Lab to Close for Renovations, August 24-September 7

Springville Road Regional Branch Library will remain open, but our computer lab will be closed on Monday, August 24, and will reopen on Tuesday, September 8. The good news is that we’re getting a new floor for the computer lab; the bad news is that in order to do so we must close the lab to install it. There will still be three computers in the Youth Department and two in the Adult Department. We also have a 15-minute Express computer to insure quick access if all you need to do is check your e-mail.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Southern History Book of the Month: Forth to the Mighty Conflict: Alabama and World War II

Forth to the Mighty Conflict: Alabama and World War II
Allen Cronenberg

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Forth to the Mighty Conflict is an in-depth look at the role of Alabamians in the war which, according to Cronenberg, began as an essay that grew into a book:
Initially, it was conceived as an extended essay to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alabama’s role in World War II . . . As the project matured, however, it became clear that the subject of Alabama’s role in World War II deserved more than a brief essay. More, indeed. As I read through the table of contents, I was amazed at how many topics the author was able to cover about Alabamians in the war and how the war affected this state. Sample chapters include a look at Alabama’s military training facilities, prisoner of war camps such as the one in Aliceville, how the war affected the state’s industrial output, and Alabamians in the European and the Pacific campaigns. Any one of these chapters…

Big Range of CDs at the Library

I’ve selected a spectrum of music CDs from Central Library’s Arts, Literature and Sports Department. These are ones I’ve checked out and/or own myself. Some I own because I was so impressed by the checkout experience. The library has a wide selection and that’s helped to broaden my horizons. If you want to explore America’s music or be a xenophile, the library’s a very good place to start.

Bali/ recorded in Bali by David Lewiston, 1989Nonesuch was the first U.S. label that made world music records for the average listener, not just the specialist. This one, recorded in the '80s by David Lewiston, who did more than anyone to make Indonesian music accessible, is a very good modern recording with excellent performances from a good range of the island’s traditional music. There’s no faster music in the world than Balinese music (if you want a contrast, there’s nothing slower than dream-paced Javanese music). Like much traditional Indonesian music, Balinese music features tuned gong ens…

In It for the Long Haul: Running with a Cause

Four million dollars, and then some.

That’s how much the Mercedes Marathon has raised in support for local Birmingham charities.

A daddy’s promise to his ill little boy generated the creation of this race. You get through this surgery, and I’ll run a marathon for you, Paul Sotherland had said. The proposal: a heart-pounding 26.2 mile run if his son with Down syndrome pushed through a critical open-heart surgery. His son proved his endurance, and so did Paul. Inspired, the Mercedes Marathon took root and bloomed into the marathon for Birmingham.

Registration is now open for the 15th Anniversary Mercedes Marathon race weekend on February 12-14, 2016. Events include a superhero 5K, kids’ run, kids’ marathon, Mercedes marathon, Mercedes half-marathon, Mercedes marathon 5-person relay, and a health and fitness expo. Even better, events benefit the children at The Bell Center for Early Intervention Program , as well as other local charities.


Registration Open For September 2015 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the September 2015 Classes.  During this month, we include our popular computer classes, as well as a variety of personal development classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes.  You may also call to confirm your registration.

To register for any class, please email us at or call 205-226-3681.   You may also download and print a pdf copy of the September 2015 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit.  Please note that the September 2015 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Book Review: Positive

David Wellington

The latest novel by David Wellington is an improvement over his earlier efforts in the horror genre—13 Bullets or the earlier zombie apocalypse Monster trilogy (Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet). Always a quick, fun, and scary read, Wellington’s latest is both longer and the main characters somewhat better developed.

Positive begins in New York City following a zombie virus that infected approximately 99% of the population. New York is relatively safe after 20 years of zombie extermination by the army and civilians, but the population is less than 5,000 in Manhattan. Finn and his best friend Ike are involved in searching for food, and through a series of events, it is revealed that one is possibly infected. The virus has a 20-year incubation period, and people who have it are branded with a huge plus sign on their right hand and sent to a government internment camp in Ohio. Finn is unlucky enough to have his government ride destroyed and…

The Dog Days of Summer

I can't believe school has already started.  It is soooo hot and the idea of recess or walking home from school makes me start sweating.  My elementary and high school didn't have air conditioning (they do now), so we would get out early on days with very high temperatures.  Of course, we didn't start school until late August, which we still thought was too early.  A friend of mine recently moved here and he asked me if this heat and humidity are normal for Birmingham.  I told him that we always have hot summers, but this is the hottest I can remember in a long time.  We are truly in the dog days of summer.  

What does the expression "dog days of summer" mean and where did it come from?  According to the book Common Phrases and Where They Come From, "the Romans called them canicula res dies, which translates into 'the dog days,' or the hottest days of the summer.  According to Roman beliefs, Sirius, the dog star of Roman astrology and the biggest s…

Happy Birthday, Hitchcock!

“I'm a writer and, therefore, automatically a suspicious character.” – Sir Alfred Hitchcock
August 13 marks the birthday of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. The acclaimed “Master of Suspense” directed more than 50 feature films and pioneered the suspense and psychological thriller genres. Hitchcock’s first American film, Rebecca, won an Academy Award for Best Picture, and classics such as Rear Window, Psycho, North by Northwest, and Vertigo earned him the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award. His unique style and macabre sense of fun, typified by cameo appearances in his own films and his television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents, made him a cultural icon.

Avondale Regional Branch Library will be celebrating the big day in style with a mini-marathon of Hitchcock classics from noon to 5:00 p.m. on August 13. Join us for thrills, chills, and birthday cake! We also have a great selection of Hitchcock DVDs available for checkout.

Read more about Hitchcock’s life and legacy:

Book Review: Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal

Sympathy for the Devil: Four Decades of Friendship with Gore Vidal
Michael Mewshaw

Once, a British aristocrat asked Gore Vidal to which social class he belonged. He grinned toothily, and immediately replied, “The very highest. I’m a third generation celebrity. My grandfather, my father and I have each appeared on the cover of Time magazine!” Vidal’s celebrity, and wealth, was well-earned. His literary output was vast and remains widely admired: novels, plays, screenplays for film and TV, and essays. If one knew nothing but what one learned from reading Vidal, one would know quite a lot indeed. And his readers came to know him well, not only from his writing, but from his hundreds of television appearances. He once quipped, “Never pass up an opportunity to have sex or appear on television.”

Author of Sympathy for the Devil, Michael Mewshaw, is a working writer who became friends with Vidal in 1979 when he interviewed him in Rome, where Vidal and his longtime companion Howard Austin liv…

Summer TV Shows with a Book Tie-In

I really enjoy movies that have a book or graphic novel tie-in, but then so do a lot of people. That’s why I decided to focus on television shows that have a book or graphic novel tie-in. TV shows are very accessible since many people have either local television channels, cable television, Netflix, or Hulu. This summer, while you are watching your favorite TV shows, visit Birmingham Public Library's website to access the catalog and reserve the book, e-book, or audiobook copy of the tie-in. I hope the rest of your summer will be filled with comedy, drama, fantasy, mystery, romance, non-fiction, and science fiction. Perhaps the following shows and their tie-ins will get you started.

Aquarius (NBC, 13-part series, and renewed for a second season) This series is loosely based on historical events in 1967 Los Angeles. David Duchovny stars as LAPD detective Sam Hodiak who is investigating the disappearance of a young woman named Emma. Emma, as it turns out, is staying with infam…

Bards & Brews 8/7 Open Mic at Central

Bards & Brews Open Mic • August 7th  •  6:30-9pm Central Library 2100 Park Place Birmingham, AL 35223
Beer donated by Blue Pants Brewing • MC Voice Porter • Music by DanI 6:30-7 18+ to attend  • 21+ to drink •  ID required  Light Refreshments
Sign-up to perform begins at 6:30 More info? 205-226-3670 or

Children's Book Review: Mockingbird (Ages 10 and Up)

Kathryn Erskine

The world can be a confusing place for a kid who's about to start middle school, especially when they have Asperger syndrome. Caitlin has trouble understanding people in social situations. Many of us take it for granted when we effortlessly glean meaning from sarcasm, body language, and facial expressions. Despite her high intelligence and artistic talent, Caitlin has to rely on her big brother, Devon, to translate the people around her. He’s patient, kind, and gives great advice. When he’s killed in a school shooting, Caitlin doesn’t know where to turn to make sense of why this would happen. Why would a kid shoot her brother for no reason at all? How can she navigate the world around her when her only friend and confidante is absent?

From Caitlin’s first-person perspective, readers are present for the aftermath of a tragedy and the search for closure from Caitlin’s unique point of view. With all the hubbub surrounding the release of Go Set a Watchman

Inglenook Branch Library Ends Summer Reading with a BANG!

Inglenook Branch Library’s superhero-themed summer reading program Every Hero Has a Story started with a POW! and ended with a BANG! Over 500 children, teens, and adults attended the 33 programs that the library hosted and the attendance is sure to rise for ensuing summer reading programs. Diverse programs, from Wii games to paint splattering, were provided for every age and interest. Reading interest for children skyrocketed when the Inglenook Neighborhood Association donated a Nextbook 7" Tablet for 3rd through 8th graders to be entered into a drawing to win each time they read 10 books.

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

National Watermelon Day

Every year on August 3, National Watermelon Day is celebrated in the United States. Watermelon is a vine-like flowering plant with a special kind of fruit referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has many seeds, a thick rind and fleshy center. For many people (myself included), the watermelon is a favorite summertime snack that just happens to be 92% water and filled with yummy history and fun facts.

Although the Kalahari Desert of South Africa is believed to be the origin of the watermelon, it is the Egyptians who are credited with the first harvest. According to hieroglyphics found on walls in many ancient Egyptian buildings, the first watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago. Hieroglyphics also show watermelons being placed in the burial tombs of royalty as means of nourishment in the afterlife—talk about food fit for a king. Thanks to the merchant ships along the Mediterranean Sea, watermelons quickly spread throughout other countries. By the 10th century, th…