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Showing posts from November, 2015

Dolores Hydock to Perform "A Christmas Memory," December 6

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The Christmas season doesn’t really begin until you have experienced Birmingham storyteller Dolores Hydock’s incredible one-woman performance of "A Christmas Memory," Truman Capote's poignant reminiscence of his boyhood in rural Alabama. Dolores will perform this holiday classic on Sunday, December 6, at 2:30 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium at the Central Library.

There is always a full house for this performance, so come early and enjoy refreshments.

Book Review: Captain Alatriste, the Adventures of Captain Alatriste

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Captain Alatriste, the Adventures of Captain Alatriste
Arturo Perez-Reverte

If you enjoy adventure in exotic times and places, and writing that makes you smile with appreciation, Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte has written a series of books about a Castilian soldier in the heart of Spain’s worldwide empire in the Golden Age. Captain Aristide “was not the most honest and pious of men, but he was courageous.” Indeed, on one of the first pages of the book Perez-Reverte tells us what the story is to be about in one of his rolling sentences that can carry the reader far as well as the drive of the narrative:
… the story I am going to tell you must have taken place around sixteen hundred and twenty something. It is the adventure of two masked men and two Englishmen, which caused not a little talk at court, and in which the captain not only came close to losing the patched up hide he had managed to save in Flanders, and in battling Turkish and Barbary corsairs, but also made himself a pa…

Southern History Book of the Month: "The Thanksgiving Visitor"

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"The Thanksgiving Visitor"
Truman Capote

Truman Capote’s most famous short story is probably “A Christmas Memory,” but Buddy and his “friend” and cousin Miss Sook also appear in the story “The Thanksgiving Visitor,” in which Buddy has to contend with that childhood nightmare many of us know too well: the school bully.
Talk about mean! Odd Henderson was the meanest human creature in my experience.

And I’m speaking of a twelve-year-old boy, not some grownup who has had time to ripen a naturally evil disposition . . . he took after the rest of the Hendersons. The whole family . . . was a shiftless, surly bunch, every one of them ready to do you a bad turn; Odd wasn’t the worst of the lot, and brother, that is saying something. My first contact with this story was when I was in elementary school and heard it read aloud. My sympathies were entirely with Buddy, and so I missed the way in which Capote expertly weaves into the text all the circumstances that keep Odd Henderson from b…

Birmingham City Council President Austin Observes STEM Technology Program at the Central Library

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Touring the STEM technology program at the Central Library on November 17 brought home fond memories for Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin.

In the early 2000s, Austin and his father, Rev. Gerald Austin, ran a summer technology program called Stars Tech Camp. After observing and talking to the students who were making tracks for their electronic trains, Austin came away impressed.

“Our Stars Tech Camp was very similar to this—skill building, tech training, achieving results, and self-sufficiency,” Austin said. “We did exactly what you are doing here at the library—exposing kids to opportunities like this they may not otherwise get to do.”

Thanks to a $10,000 grant received in October from the Best Buy Foundation, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is planning to add new services in its STEM-focused afterschool program at the Central Library. The money will be used to purchase microcomputers, robotics kits, and an array of other technological tools to facilitate tea…

Book Review: Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta

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Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta
Richard Grant

Richard Grant is an author with that instinct for travel and adventure that characterizes the English. One of his previous books, God’s Middle Finger, is about travelling the Sierra Madre in Mexico with all its attendant dangers due to corrupt police, bandits, narcotraficantes, and dangerous flora and fauna. This time, he and his girlfriend move from the cultured environs of New York City to the languid backwoods of the Mississippi Delta. Moving into a dilapidated farmhouse in tiny Pluto, Mississippi, they soon meet a cast of eccentric characters, among them a 90-year-old blues singer, a homicidal doctor, catfish farmers, a retired CIA agent/diplomat, and owners of tiny and obscure cafes, blues houses, and barbecue joints. Pluto, population unknown but very small, is in Holmes County, smack in the middle of nowhere, 90 miles or more from Greenwood, Vicksburg, and Jackson, Mississippi.

Moving to the Delta …

Painting @ UAB: The Students of Gary Chapman Exhibit to Kick Off Sunday, November 15

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Gary Chapman has mentored and taught hundreds of students over 26 years as an art professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Some of his art students’ best work will be featured for the first time in an exhibit at the Birmingham Public Library. The special exhibit, Painting @ UAB: The Students of Gary Chapman, debuts in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library on November 15 and runs through December 31.

The public is invited to meet the artists at an opening reception on Sunday, November 15, from 2:30 until 5:00 p.m., in the Central Library’s Boardroom adjacent to the gallery. The reception is free of charge.

This exhibit will highlight the diverse work being created at UAB in the Painting Studio, under the guidance of Chapman. Chapman said the exhibit includes the work of 11 students, some current juniors and seniors, as well as past graduates who have moved on to professional careers.

While Chapman teaches a highly structured, somewhat traditional beginn…

Young Leadership at Inglenook Library

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During Inglenook Library’s Young Leadership program—a reading program intended to cultivate leadership skills in children and give them a sense of empowerment and community by having a participant in the group read a book aloud, ask questions based on the book, and facilitate a craft—something amazing happened. A young lady read Taye Digg’s Chocolate Me and a discussion about being happy with one’s self and being emerged. The children gave testimonies in how they’ve struggled with self-acceptance and how they’ve come to be happy with their skin complexions and even imperfections albeit name calling and teasing. The discussion lasted for some time as children fed off of each other’s responses. One young lady was so excited that she said that she is going to convince her mother to bring her to the library every Monday, which is the day the program is held.

This program gives children a voice and a platform to discuss and target issues prevalent in their lives through books expressing t…

Coloring for Adults Holiday Program

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Join us for a Holiday Session of our popular Coloring For Adults Program.

Coloring is a relaxing and beneficial activity for adults. We supply coloring sheets, coloring supplies and light refreshments. Come by and have a fun evening!

Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Time: 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Place: Birmingham Public Library, Storycastle in the Central Youth Department

Call 205-226-3680 for more information.

15 Reasons We’re Thankful for Books

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As a librarian, to say I am thankful for books goes without saying. Be it hardback or paperback, audio CD or downloadable, there is nothing like a good book to sweep you off your feet. Recently, while conducting an online search of the word “Thanksgiving,” I came across an article that was simply too apropos not to share with my fellow book/library lovers.

"15 Reasons We're Thankful for Books"
by Ginni Chen
"The Reading Life"
Barnes &Noble

We’re all a little quirky on Turkey Day. Some of us are Tofurky enthusiasts, while others are devotees of deep-fried turducken. Some of us are Turkey Trot running champs and others live for football on the flat screen. Thanksgiving is one of the few traditional holidays that celebrates our diversity as a cultural melting pot, which basically means you can take the holiday and run with it however you like. Industrial Revolution–themed Friendsgiving? Go for it. Around the World in 80 Turkey Dishes potluck? Sure, why not!
H…

BPL Databases—Finding Treasure in Plain Sight

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Have you ever been walking along and suddenly looked down to find money on the ground in front of you? Remember that feeling of elation and happy surprise? Isn’t it wonderful to find something valuable that costs you nothing?

Want that feeling right now? Here’s just how to do that:

Go to www.bplonline.org.


Look at the black bar across the top, find Databases, and left-click on the word one time.

The second line under Databases reads Database Quick Links. It has a drop-down menu. Left-click once on the down arrow.


This will open an entire world of free, accurate, and current information to you. You’ll see an alphabetical listing of almost 200 destinations. Some of these are digital collections of photos. Some are subscription databases that the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) pays for so you get them free. Some are websites that librarians have vetted for authentic, accurate, and current information. Most of them can be accessed from any Internet with your library card. A f…

Edward LaMonte to Visit BPL to Discuss Book on Former Birmingham Mayors Vann and Arrington, November 15

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Join us at the Central Library on Sunday, November 15, at 3:00 p.m. for an author talk and book signing by Birmingham historian Edward LaMonte. LaMonte will speak and sign copies of his new book, Change and Continuity: The Administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington, Jr.

In Change and Continuity LaMonte explores this critical time in Birmingham’s history and shares his personal insight as a friend and colleague of both Vann and Arrington. The mayoral administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington Jr. spanned six terms, from 1975 to 1999. During those years Birmingham, Alabama, transitioned from a city dependent on heavy manufacturing, especially iron and to steel, to a city with a more varied economic base focused on finance and healthcare. The city grew physically and changed demographically as many whites left the city and Birmingham became a majority black community.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase for $15. Refreshments will be provided.

For more in…

Veteran's Day: Born in Birmingham

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As we approach Veterans Day this year (November 11, 2015), I’d like to offer a little bit of history about the very important role Birmingham and one man, in particular, played in the holiday’s establishment.

First observed in 1919 to honor the soldiers and sailors of World War I, the “War to end all wars,” the day was originally called Armistice Day. It was named after the cessation of hostilities with Germany which went into effect on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 am. Armistice Day soon became a very important day for the City of Birmingham. The annual parade was a source of great pride for Birmingham and came to be known as the largest Armistice Day parade in the nation. The following decades saw Birmingham putting on parades that were seen by as many as 250,000 spectators (1949), included 20,000 participants (1926), and lasted up to two hours and covered 40 city blocks (1950).

In the years after World War II, the director of Birmingham’s Armistice Day celebrations was a man named R…

Postcards from Miss Iwate #4

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前略
Here I am undergoing treatment at the Iwamura Doll Hospital under the care of Shokensai III. His father, Shokensai I, created me in 1927.


This makeover is the main reason for my trip!
He even reshaped my eyebrows and fixed my knee!

草々
Suzuko Iwate

Registration Open For December 2015 Classes

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Registration is now open for staff and the public for the December 2015 Classes.  During this month, we include our popular computer classes, as well as job search and employment assistance classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-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 cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us or call 205-226-3681.   You may also download and print a pdf copy of the December 2015 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the December 2015 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

BPL Named 2015 Star Library by Library Journal

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Birmingham Public Library (BPL) has been named a 2015 Star Library by Library Journal. Each year, the national publication compiles statistical information, based on population and spending, and rates libraries in a variety of categories.

Out of the 7,663 public libraries in the United States scored by the Library Journal (LJ) Index of Public Library Service, only 261 received the designation of being named a Star Library. For 2015, the Birmingham Public Library is one of just seven Alabama libraries to make the list. BPL received a three-Star rating. Homewood Public Library, a sister library in Jefferson County, walked away with a four-Star rating.

BPL was also named a three-Star Library in 2010 and 2012 as well. Here is a link to the Library Journal Star Library list: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2015/11/managing-libraries/lj-index/class-of-2015/the-star-libraries-2015/.

Birmingham Public Library Director Angela Fisher Hall said the Star Library designation from Library Journal is …

November is American Diabetes Awareness Month

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November has been designated as American Diabetes Awareness Month. According to the American Diabetes Association:

Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.Another 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.
Type 1 diabetes is overwhelmingly attributed to children and young adults. For this reason, this type of diabetes is often referred to as juvenile diabetes. With this type of diabetes, the body produces no insulin and sufferers have to inject insulin into their bodies to regulate their blood sugar.

Almost everyone that develops Type 2 diabetes develops signs of pre-diabetes beforehand. Pre-diabetes often occurs in the body with no outward showing symptoms.

Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of diabetes. Under this type, the body does not use the insulin in you…

Popular Website Started By Nine-Year-Old in 1996 Still Helping Students (and Their Frustrated Parents) with Homework

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Has your child come home with a math problem you don’t remember how to solve? If so, you need to find B.J. Pinchbeck’s Homework Helper page. Homework Helper was started in 1996 by 9-year-old B.J. and his father, back during the early days of the Internet before Google and Wikipedia came along and made finding information much easier. Since then, B.J. has appeared on Good Morning America and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and has been featured on numerous other shows including Martha Stewart's talk show, Martha. Additionally, the Pinchbecks have been featured in USA Today, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and in the magazines Newsweek, People, Family PC, and Pittsburgh Magazine.

I don’t know about you, but I have a difficult time working some of my high school algebra. I can go to Pinchbeck's site and find all of the help I could ever need. Pinchbeck started this site when he was in elementary school and it is currently maintained, so this one site can help you and your child…

Edward LaMonte to Sign New Book at Birmingham Public Library

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Join us at the Central Library on Sunday, November 15, at 3:00 p.m., for an author talk and book signing by Birmingham historian Edward LaMonte. LaMonte will speak and sign copies of his new book, Change and Continuity: The Administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington, Jr.

In Change and Continuity LaMonte explores this critical time in Birmingham’s history and shares his personal insight as a friend and colleague of both Vann and Arrington. The mayoral administrations of David Vann and Richard Arrington Jr. spanned six terms, from 1975 to 1999. During those years Birmingham, Alabama, transitioned from a city dependent on heavy manufacturing, especially iron and to steel, to a city with a more varied economic base focused on finance and healthcare. The city grew physically and changed demographically as many whites left the city and Birmingham became a majority black community.

Copies of the book will be available for purchase for $15. Refreshments will be provided.

For more i…

Popular Bards & Brews Takes Place November 6 at the Central Library

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Birmingham Public Library's popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series takes place this Friday, November 6, at the Central Library. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the November event features beer provided by Good People Brewing Co. and Back Forty Beer Co.—The J. Clyde will handle the pouring. This event will feature a special tribute to Alabama's poet laureate, Andrew Glaze.

The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with live music, beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host. The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.

There will be no Bards & Brews in December. The next Bards & Brews will be a poetry slam on January 8. For more information, call…

Two New Computer Classes: Ancestry.com Library Edition and FamilySearch Wiki

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November means new computer classes, and these two offerings are for anyone interested in family history or genealogy. Many of you are familiar with Ancestry.com, and patrons have been asking us for years to offer training on this popular website. We heard you, and created a class just for you. Did you know that Birmingham Public Library subscribes to Ancestry.com Library Edition database, and it available to you for FREE at all locations of The Birmingham Public Library? In this class, participants will be introduced to Ancestry.com Library Edition database in which you can research your family history as well as learn how to search this database to locate your ancestors.


In September, we began teaching Using FamilySearch.org, a free genealogy website that allows you to research your genealogy, and each class has been full of eager patrons. This month, we are exploring FamilySearch even more and teaching a special class on the FamilySearch Wiki. In this class, participants wi…

Centuries of Music in Small Packages

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Here’s more in a series of music CD standouts from Central Library’s Arts, Literature and Sports department.

Orchestral Works / Maurice Ravel
Decca [1988]

Though, like most people Bolero was the first Ravel music I remember hearing, the piece that overwhelmed me the most when I was young was Ma Mere l’Oye, or Mother Goose. In this enchanting work, Ravel lets the adult into the world of the child again. It’s not children’s music (although many children would probably like it). It’s an evocation of the child’s fantasy world, something that only a very sophisticated and refined adult like Ravel could have written. It never fails to let me into that small door and into that magical world, if only a little, even if I’m driving and listening to it on the radio. The relentless Bolero is also on this set, as is the left hand Piano Concerto and Pavane, a composition that, no many how many times you hear it, summons a regret and sense of loss that is inexhaustible-but that doesn’t make it any th…