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Adult Summer Reading Programs Scheduled for June-August

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 9:45am

For a list of all Summer Reading programs, visit the Library Events Calendar.

Magic and Science with Larry Moore
What happens when you mix magic and science? You get a program that can only be explained by Larry Moore, the magic man. He shows you how your senses can be fooled by magic and how magic and illusion can be really confusing at times. According to Larry, “It doesn't make Sense!"

North Birmingham - June 23 - 11:00 a.m.
Inglenook - July 21 - 4:00 p.m.
Five Points West - July 23 - 10:30 a.m.
Smithfield - July 24 - 10:00 a.m.

Elementary! The Story of Shirley Holmes Featuring Hitman with a Heart
Shirley Holmes is an elderly—but spry—woman who is convinced that she is the only living descendant of the legendary crime solver Sherlock Holmes. She refuses to be convinced the Sherlock Holmes was a fictional character. Shirley goes around giving lectures on how ordinary people can hone their crime-solving skills. And she snoops around a lot as well. Some people humor her by attending the lectures. Some, like her, believe they are destined to be crime fighters. Some don't appreciate her snooping at all.

Hitman with a Heart Murder Mystery Programs lets you try your hand at being a detective. You and your friends will spend an hour gathering the clues, questioning the suspects and pursuing the bad guys. By the end, you will put the facts together and finger the guilty party. You'll Die Laughing!

Powderly Branch Library - June 20 - 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West Library- June 25 - 10:30 a.m.
North Birmingham Library - June 30 - 11:00 a.m.
Avondale Library– July 7 - 6:30 p.m.
Smithfield Library - July 10 - 10:00 a.m.
Inglenook Library - July 18 - 9:30 a.m.
Springville Road Library - July 22 - 6:30 p.m.
Southside Library - July 24 - 10:30 a.m.
Wylam Library - August 13 - 10:00 a.m.

Light Reactions: A Hands-on Introduction to the Cyanotype Blueprint Led by Artist Justin Banger
Participants will learn the historical photographic process that gave the architectural “blueprint” its name by creating unique works of art using sunlight, a chemical reaction, and water. Invented in 1842, it is one of the very first photographic processes. The chemicals used for cyanotypes react to sunlight and turn a distinctive hue of blue – this is where we get the term for architectural “blue prints,” which were originally made via this process. For this program, each participant will make their own cyanotype photogram by selecting objects such as leaves, flowers, cassettes, etc., placing them on the photosensitive paper to block the light, and exposing them to sunlight (or
in case of a cloudy/rainy day, a UV lamp). The image is then fixed to the paper with running water.

Justin Banger is a Birmingham, Alabama-based printmaker and artist. With a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the University of Montevallo and a Masters of Library Science from the University of Alabama, Justin's artwork explores early print technologies that allow images and information to be shared and consumed.

East Lake – June 18 - 11:30 a.m. - Teen
North Birmingham - June 24 - 1:00 p.m. - Teen
Inglenook - June 26 - 3:30 p.m. - Adult
Five Points West – July 2 - 1:00 p.m. - Teen
Springville Road - July 8 - 6:30 p.m. - Adult
Central – July 10 - 2:00 p.m. - Teen
Woodlawn - July 15 - 4:00 p.m. -  Adult

Spark a Reaction with your Taste Buds with Chef E
Chef E will instruct participants in a fun and excited way that will involve foods that are healthy and fun to make. Chef E has tailored a program designed specifically for the Summer Reading Program that will highlight a good that will excite your palate. Participants will learn how to spark a reaction with their taste buds by using their senses of touch, smell, and taste.

Chef E interactive cooking sessions will including the following:
  • direct interaction with participants such as games or trivia
  • cooking demonstration
  • tasting of prepared food
  • recipe give-away

Southside - June 24 - 11:00 a.m.
Springville Road - June 17 - 6:30 p.m.
Woodlawn - July 8 - 4:00 p.m.

Hoops for Fitness
Looking for a new, fun activity that does not feel like exercise? Discover the NEW hula hoop—a professional fitness hoop! Hoops for Fitness will get you started on your new summer workout with their handmade fitness hoops and a Beginning Hoop Dance Class. The exercise that puts a smile on your face!

Springville Road - June 24 - 6:30 p.m.
Inglenook - July 15 - 3:30 p.m.

Teen Summer Reading Programs Scheduled for June and July

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 9:43am



For a list of all Summer Reading programs, visit the Library Events Calendar.

The Magic of Larry Moore – First you see it, now you don’t. Join Larry Moore for a program of senseless magic where the impossible becomes possible and the unbelievable—it will blow your mind!

Five Points West – June 25 – 1 p.m.
Powderly – June 26 – 1:30 p.m.
Smithfield – July 1 – 10 a.m.
Springville Road – July 2 – 1 p.m.
Avondale – July 3 – 2 p.m.
Central – July 21 – 10:30 a.m.

Cooking with Chef “E” – Chef “E” is in the house cooking up some tasty treats that are guaranteed to spark a positive reaction with your taste buds. Join us for a program filled with healthy creative culinary fun. Limited space; registration required.

Springville Road – June 18 – 10 a.m.
Five Points West – June 18 – 1 p.m.
Titusville – June 19 – 11 a.m.
Central – June 19 – 2 p.m.
Southside – June 24 – 11 a.m.
East Lake – June 25 – 11:30 a.m.
Wylam – June 26 – 2 p.m.
Pratt City – July 9 – 2 p.m.
Avondale – July 10 – 2 p.m.

May the Force Be With You – Did you know that centrifugal force is a part of hula hooping? Be a member of the Centrifugal Force Club (CFC) as you listen to some tunes and learn how to move and groove with your hoop. The library is a circle of fun when the hoops start turning.

Central – June 26 – 2 p.m.
North Birmingham – July 8 – 1 p.m.
Springville Road – July 9 – 10 a.m.

Tug-O-War – The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute will take teens through the very important events of the Civil Rights Movement, more specifically the Birmingham Movement, utilizing the game of tug-o-war to demonstrate people’s ideas and reactions to events.

West End – June 18 – 1 p.m.
Springville Road – June 25 – 12 p.m.
Powderly – July 9 – 1 p.m.
Five Points West – July 16 – 1 p.m.

The Birmingham Public Library’s Air Conditioner Could Be Working Soon after Four New Coils Were Delivered June 6

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 3:20pm

Crews on June 6 used a crane to lift four specially-made copper coils up to the fourth floor of the Birmingham Public Library, which has been without air conditioning for several weeks. The coils will soon be installed and adjustments made to get the AC in working condition.

“This has been a long time coming,’’ said Angela Fisher Hall, the library’s associate director. “We are looking forward to getting back to full operation. We do appreciate the patience of the public as well as our staff, as we work through these issues.''

In May, the downtown library’s East Building adjusted its hours to cope with the warm temperatures. It opens one hour early at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 12:00 p.m. The Linn-Henley Research Library, which is across the street, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The temporary hours will remain until further notice.

There are eight coils in the East Building’s air handler. When a cold snap hit Birmingham in February, four coils ruptured on the building’s North side. Four other coils, which are on the other side of the building, were not affected. Loss of the four coils left the building without air this spring and new coils had to be specially made.

Southeastern Temperature Controls Inc. of Pelham has been at the library breaking apart the old coils, building new drain pans and doing prep work. The new parts arrived at the end of May. A crane was used to lift each coil, weighing 600 pounds, to an opening on the library's fourth floor. A crew pulled each coil through the opening. Once the coils were pulled through the opening, a team of five men carried each coil about 25 feet to the air handler. The coils will then be stacked on top of each other.

Several businesses from the mid-West to the East coast experienced the same thing that the library experienced when the cold snap hit. Businesses lost coils and ordered new ones. Coil manufacturers were inundated with requests and businesses and organizations were left waiting for their orders to be filled because of the demand.

The Birmingham Public Library’s Air Conditioner Could Be Working in Five to Ten Days after Four New Coils Were Delivered Today

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 12:43pm

Crews on June 6 used a crane to lift four specially-made copper coils up to the fourth floor of the Birmingham Public Library, which has been without air conditioning for several weeks. The coils will soon be installed and adjustments made to get the AC in working condition.

“This has been a long time coming,’’ said Angela Fisher Hall, the library’s associate director. “We are looking forward to getting back to full operation. We do appreciate the patience of the public as well as our staff, as we work through these issues.''

In May, the downtown library’s East Building adjusted its hours to cope with the warm temperatures. It opens one hour early at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 12:00 p.m. The Linn-Henley Research Library, which is across the street, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The temporary hours will remain until further notice.

There are eight coils in the East Building’s air handler. When a cold snap hit Birmingham in February, four coils ruptured on the building’s North side. Four other coils, which are on the other side of the building, were not affected. Loss of the four coils left the building without air this spring and new coils had to be specially made.

Southeastern Temperature Controls Inc. of Pelham has been at the library for about two weeks, breaking apart the old coils, building new drain pans and doing prep work. The new parts arrived late last week. Today, a crane was used to lift each coil, weighing 600 pounds, to an opening on the library's fourth floor. A crew pulled each coil through the opening. Once the coils were pulled through the opening, a team of five men carried each coil about 25 feet to the air handler. The coils will then be stacked on top of each other.

Steve Harmon, operations manager with Southeastern Temperature Controls, said that using a crane was the only way to get the coils into the building because the coils are too heavy to carry up a flight of stairs and they are too big to fit onto an elevator or carry up the stairs. Work started shortly after 7 a.m. and crews were finished by 9:30 a.m. today.

“RPM Cranes of Birmingham was a big part of this,’’ Harmon said. “We hope to have some cooling going on’’ soon.

Several businesses from the mid-West to the East coast, Harmon said, experienced the same thing that the library experienced when the cold snap hit. Businesses lost coils and ordered new ones. Coil manufacturers were inundated with requests and businesses and organizations were left waiting for their orders to be filled because of the demand.

The Importance of Summer Reading

Thu, 06/12/2014 - 9:18am

Students in Alabama have worked even harder this past school year due to the entrance of the Common Core Standards. They were tested and taught like they’ve never been before. Additionally, the knowledge that they obtain from the previous grade has always been necessary for the next grade, but it is especially important now since their success in the upcoming grade depends heavily on it and since the Common Core Standards are benchmarked. So where does summer reading fit into the equation?

Well, according to several studies, if children are not engaged in some type of reading activity, their reading skills will surely fall behind. In fact, it is estimated that school summer breaks will cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students being disproportionately affected (Cooper et al. 1996). Libraries offering summer reading programs to motivate children to read and prevent what educators call the “summer slide” can assist students greatly by keeping them on track and preparing them for the upcoming grade. For more research that indicates different aspects of the importance of summer reading, visit the Academic Search Premier Database on the Birmingham Public Library’s website at http://www.bplonline.org/virtual/databases/.

Reference
Cooper, H., Nye B., Linsey J., et al. (1996). "The Effects of Summer Vacation on Achievement Test Scores: A Narrative and Meta‐Analytic Review." Review of Educational Research, no. 66, 227‐268.

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Library

Jerricho Cotchery Is Coming to Town: Birmingham Public Library to Host “Score Big” with NFL Wide Receiver and Birmingham Native Jerricho Cotchery

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 1:42pm

Update:  The deadline for the Cotchery Skills and Drills Football Clinic has been extended to Friday, June 13, 11:00 a.m. Tune in to JOX Friday, June 13, 7:00 a.m., to hear Jerricho Cotchery talking with Jay Barker on the Opening Drive.

The Birmingham Public Library is excited to host “Score Big”with the Cotchery Foundation. Jerricho Cotchery, one of Birmingham’s native sons, has teamed up with the Library to host yet another amazing series of events for the 2014 Teen Summer Reading Program, “Spark a Reaction.”

Born in 1982, Cotchery grew up to be an incredible athlete. He excelled at Phillips High School in Birmingham and attended North Carolina State University. The New York Jets drafted him in 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers added him to their roster in 2010, and this year he will join the Carolina Panthers. For his career, he has compiled 437 receptions for 5,558 yards. In layman’s terms, he’s “the man” and the library is lucky to partner with him.

Named for the famous Biblical city, Jerricho is deeply committed to his faith and to community outreach. He was moved to start the Cotchery Foundation in January 2007 as a result of his own personal memories and experiences growing up. He and his foundation have set out to “show that anyone can do extraordinary things if they have the desire and passion.” Cotchery has made it his mission to show that any individual can make a significant difference in the lives of others.

For the past seven years, The Cotchery Foundation has hosted a FREE Skills and Drills Football Clinic with Jerricho Cotchery. In 2009, The Foundation asked the Birmingham Public Library to join them to enrich the experience. In order to register for the 2014 Skills and Drills Football Clinic, youth from 11-17 must be an active participant in the “Score Big” component of the “Spark a Reaction” summer reading program. Seven points are necessary to qualify. Youth may score points by registering for the program (1 point), reading an entire magazine (3 points), and reading an entire book (6 points). “Score Big” registration forms are available at all Birmingham Public Library locations. The completed registration forms are due by June 11, 2014. At least two hundred participants will be selected to attend the 2014 Skills and Drills Football Clinic on June 28, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at Legion Field. Those selected will be notified by June 20, 2014.

In addition to being eligible for the Skills and Drills Football Clinic, all those who “Score Big” are invited to a FREE Teen Tailgate Party at Birmingham Public Library on June 27, 2014. The celebration will take place on the first floor of the Central Library, located at 2100 Park Place, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. There will be music, dancing, photo-ops with Jerricho, food, and lots of fun. Tickets are required and are available at all BPL locations.

Registration for “Score Big” with the Cotchery Foundation is now open. Visit any Birmingham Public Library location for registration materials and additional information.

Generation Gap is Topic of Springville Road Library's Upcoming Salon Session, June 13

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 10:43am
Springville Road Salon will meet Friday, June 13, at 10:00 a.m. Our topic for discussion is: Since ancient times, each generation reaching adulthood has asked the same question: "What's WRONG with these kids today?!?"

Friday's Salon discussion will be about the different challenges faced by the Greatest Generation, the Baby Boomers, Generations X & Y, and the Millennials. We hope this discussion will include how today's kids are uniquely qualified to meet the challenges of the 21st century. All adults are welcome; refreshments will be served, and the program is free.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

Fiction Authors Live On

Thu, 06/05/2014 - 10:43am

I’m sure you know that Maya Angelou died recently.  What came to mind is not only the impact that Maya Angelou had on literature, but also the fact that we will not be graced with any new poetry by the author.  That is, unless a posthumous collection is discovered.  The great thing about fiction, however, is that often an author’s characters continue to live on after the author’s death.  Here are some current releases featuring characters and locations made famous by deceased authors.  Descriptions are from the publisher.


Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Out of the Ashes (1947-2013)
A renegade Saudi Prince with ambitions of controlling the world's oil supply has an ingenious plot to manipulate America into attacking Syria and launching a war against Iran. Next, they would ignite a sleeper cell to attack the American homeland, resulting in a bloodbath unlike any other. Only the men and women of Op-Center, using sophisticated technology, realize what is about to be unleashed. Only they have the courage to issue a warning no one wants to hear. But will anyone believe them?

Thomas Kinkade's Angel Island : Harbor of the Heart (1958-2012)
Liza Martin and Daniel Merritt are closer than ever. She alone knows that he gave up his medical practice because he blamed himself for endangering a patient. But she is completely shocked to hear that Daniel is now considering returning to a medical career...which may mean leaving Angel Island--and Liza.
Daniel struggles to make this decision, but they are both put to the test when a sailor wrecks his boat in a vicious storm. Liza witnesses Daniel's medical skills firsthand and finally understands why she must let him pursue his career. If only that didn't mean sacrificing the love of her life...


Robert Ludlum's (TM) the Bourne Ascendancy  (1927-2001)
Kidnapped and transported to an underground bunker, Bourne finds himself face-to-face with an infamous terrorist named El Ghadan ("Tomorrow"). El Ghadan holds as his captive Soraya Moore, former co-director of Treadstone, and a close friend to Bourne, along with her two year old daughter.  Meanwhile, the President of the United States is in the midst of brokering a historic peace treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians-an event that El Ghadan is desperate to prevent. He demands that Bourne carry out a special mission: kill the President. If Bourne refuses, Soraya and her daughter will die.


 Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot  (1932-2010)
When off-field violence repeatedly lands the NE Patriots' Kinjo Heywood bad press, his slick agent hires Spenser to find the men who he says have been harassing his client. When Heywood's son is kidnapped, Spenser puts together his own all-star team of toughs. It will take both Hawk and Spenser's protege, Zebulon Sixkill, to watch Spenser's back and find the child.

Marsh Mud Madness with Roger Day at Avondale Library, June 3

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 3:15pm

It's time to kick-off the summer with an explosive night of musical fun at the Avondale Regional Library. Grab your boots! Get your hat! And join us Tuesday, June 3, 6:30 p.m., as Roger Day, a two-time Parent's Choice Gold Award Winner, stomps in the mud...the marsh mud!


Roger Day: "I Love to Study Mud" from Chalkhill Productions on Vimeo.
Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 11:15am
The Count of Monte Cristo
Alexandre Dumas

A literary classic and, happily, a wildly popular entertainment, The Count of Monte Cristo is an epic adventure like the author’s, Alexandre Dumas’, The Three Musketeers novels, but set in the contemporary France and Italy of the eighteen-thirties and forties just before the onset of the industrial revolution. This was an era when one traveled by sail and swift horses and depended on letters of introduction, when men fought duels with swords or pistols for the honor of their names and that of their families. The Count of Monte Cristo is the story of a man who comes to believe he is an instrument of divine justice and retribution.

Originally published in serial form and full of cliff-hangers, The Count of Monte Cristo is a page turner. The plot is as convoluted as an Indiana Jones movie and as pointless to summarize. However, Dumas demonstrates that a great author needs no computer animation to create vivid special effects. Strong emotions—horror, despair, heartbreak, terror, exaltation, love—in exotic locales are the hallmark of the romantic era, but as the Count’s revenge unfolds the story becomes a psychological thriller set in the mannered drawing rooms of the Parisian elite. One after another characters are drug down by their own flaws, their greed and ambition.

Like Victor Hugo, his exact contemporary, Dumas’s father was a Napoleonic general, the famous Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, to this day the highest ranking officer of color for a continental army. Readers of that time had the great English romantic poets—Keats, Tennyson, and Byron—on their shelves. Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame had been published ten years previously. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death and many of his other great stories were nearly contemporaneous, as was A Christmas Carol. Dickens was at the height of his powers. Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and the epic Moby Dick (Melville) would appear soon. Hugo, clearly influenced by The Count of Monte Cristo, was beginning work on Les Miserables. Jean Valjean, like the Count, wrestled with his conscience and God.

Readers of contemporary historical romances will find much to love in The Count of Monte Cristo. It is the great, great grandparent of the romance genre. Ladies swoon and broad-chested men declaim with melodramatic bravery. Dumas could weave a great yarn, but he endures because he was a great writer. No doubt Oscar Wilde cut his teeth on Dumas’s witty epigrams. This is a view into a lost world where men still called one another “Your Excellency” without irony, but, we care about The Count of Monte Cristo because we care about the mysterious Count.

Check it out.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Birmingham Public Library To Receive Prestigious Public Relations Award For Worldwide Celebration of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail’’

Mon, 06/02/2014 - 9:14am
    Archivists Jim Baggett and Catherine Oseas display the Birmingham
    jail and court dockets that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. signed.The Birmingham Public Library will receive a national library public relations award for its 2013 worldwide celebration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

The library received the John Cotton Dana Award, which honors outstanding and effective strategic communication campaigns that produce results. The Library Leadership and Management Association presents the award each year. This is the fourth time that BPL has won the award, which will be presented on June 29 during the American Library Association’s annual conference in Las Vegas. BPL was one of eight libraries from across the nation to win this year. Each library will receive $10,000 from the H.W. Wilson Foundation. The awards will be giving during a reception sponsored by Birmingham-based EBSCO.

Judges received 83 contest submissions. To see a list of all winners, please visit: https://johncottondana.nonprofitcms.org/awards/Page/winners2014.

BPL Director Renee Blalock said that while BPL employees Jim Baggett and Melinda Shelton lead this project, the whole library staff pitched in to not only make the program a reality but to also help promote it. “This award is a testimony to the power of commitment of all BPL staff in this effort,’’ she said, adding that this award is a tremendous honor for BPL and for Birmingham.

On April 16, 2013, 50 years to the day that King wrote the letter, 10,000 people from around the world read King’s letter aloud in public places. Several public readings were held in Birmingham locations, including the downtown library. Mayor William A. Bell Sr. kicked off the Birmingham public readings at BPL that morning. Because of the library’s strategic focus, strong research to identify key audiences and effective use of social media, readings took place in 33 states and in 20 countries, from South Africa to Iceland. U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell read an excerpt from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s students participated in their own public reading at Tulane University in New Orleans.

In Taiwan, elementary students studied King’s letter and shared their impressions. One child wrote: “You have a wonderful dream and tough mind.’’ Another child wrote: “You are so cool.’’

Birmingham Public Library head archivist Jim Baggett said that to his knowledge, he’s never known of people, on a single day around the world, to hold public readings of such a historical document, which King wrote to highlight the importance of nonviolent resistance in a segregated Birmingham.

“We wanted to share this experience with people around the globe because many people have never read the full text of King’s letter and many are unfamiliar with the history of how the letter came to be written and how the letter has served as an inspirational document to freedom fighters throughout the world,’’ Baggett said.

Established in 1946, the John Cotton Dana Award is the top national award for innovative library public relations and the most prestigious award presented by the American Library Association.

A list of participating locations for the public reading: http://www.bplonline.org/programs/1963/Letter.aspx

BPL’s Pinterest site has several photos from the public readings: http://www.pinterest.com/bplonline/letter-from-birmingham-jail-a-worldwide-celebratio/

Link to BPL readings: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bpl/8675305621/

Movie Review: The Shooting Party

Fri, 05/30/2014 - 8:00am
The Shooting Party
Directed by Alan Bridges



I recently re-watched The Shooting Party after about a 20-year gap. I’ve now seen it about four times altogether. I’m glad to say this is not one of those cases where the last time I’ve seen something was when I was young and the movie just doesn’t hold up anymore. If anything, I may like it more. I see new things in it as a middle-aged person, a sure sign of a film built to last.

Now with Downton Abbey the apparent standard for how the film/tv universe approaches how the English upper class deals with their servants and vice versa, you may want to know how The Shooting Party stacks up. To me, five minutes of The Shooting Party tells me more about these two classes in the early twentieth century than ten hours of Downton, and I like Downton a lot, never miss it. This is because Julian Fellowes isn’t nearly in the same league as Isabel Colegate, the author of the novel The Shooting Party is based on. (To be fair, Fellowes would probably be the first to agree with the last sentence.)

Fall 1913. An aristocratic party assembles at the estate of English aristocrat Sir Randolph Nettleby (James Mason). They talk, gossip, argue, play, dine and conduct affairs. And the men shoot birds every day. This is the old order about to crumble. Most of these people are emotionally repressed, cold, frustrated. Some are arrogant, racist, oblivious to any but their social sphere. Some are likeable. All are believably human.

A young boy spends much of the story looking for his missing pet duck, terrified that someone will shoot it for sport. We can see that he’s already being prepped for an adult life where he’ll shoot birds for sport and not give a thought to their pain. He’ll probably grow into such a man. Or will he? Like him, the women in the gathering express anger at the shooting, but almost all of the men dismiss their concerns. The pointlessness of bird-shooting subtly presages the pointlessness of shooting men which will happen in France the next year. But we know the men, almost without exception, will not question the carnage now or the infinitely greater carnage later.

John Gielgud plays Cornelius Cardew, a local pacifist who wanders around the country village trying and failing to win people over to his views, which of course are pro-bird. He blithely walks right in front of a row of shooting men. Sir Randolph confronts him but treats him with respect. The two quickly become familiar, and Cardew recommends his tract publisher to Sir Randolph, who has been wanting to publish a leaflet on the responsibilities of the landed gentry. Cardew says a sympathetic local man “of anarchistic views” gives him “good rates.” Surely this will be an appropriate publisher. Gielgud’s performance, as usual, is priceless-touching, sympathetic, finely nuanced, side-splitting.

Edward Fox’s Lord Hartlip is an uber-aristo, extremely arrogant, icy, mean. But there’s a scene where he beautifully plays a piece on a piano when he hopes no one is listening. This is one of many cases where, just as you’re deciding that a character is this type of person, the script (expertly adapted by Julian Bond) starts throwing you curves and you see that this figure is contradictory, well-rounded, surprising.

In all scenes the color is a bit bleached but not overmuch. This is one period piece that comes pre-aged. The music also well conveys the fragility and loss of the proceedings.

In the near-final scene, Lord Hartlip, in an action all but him will condemn as unsportsmanlike, desperately aims his rifle low so that he can up his score. By doing this, he accidentally shoots the gamekeeper Harker (Gordon Jackson, of Downton template Upstairs, Downstairs fame). Hartlip doesn’t even apologize-or talk to-the man, but Sir Randolph, his employer, holds him in his arms and prays with him. Everyone knows the man only has minutes to live. When Mason & Co. did the scene, a cast member recounted, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Audiences get misty too. Just before he expires, Harker croaks, “God save the British Empire.” You believe he believes it, and you almost believe it yourself, so convincingly is it played. Tom Harker, an avowed socialist and harsh critic of the upper classes, nevertheless affirms the basic faith of the land. Randolph’s decentness and even love speaks well of him; he is, after all, the only character who bemoans the uncaring decadence of his class. His action here shows how he lives out his responsibility in the great chain of class. In contrast to this, after Harker’s death, another toff who can’t understand why anyone’s worked up, says, “He was only a peasant.” Which makes his intended love appalled and say politely but firmly that she won’t meet him again as agreed.

The film ends with the shooting party walking over a field, heading back to the estate. Superimposed are the obits of most of the male characters, who will die (have died) in WWI in the following years. A narrator says that perhaps the ridiculous Cardew will have the last laugh.

This is not a depressing film, but it is partly a sad one, poignant and finely detailed far more than most. You feel the pleasure of a sadness that recognizes the loss of decaying ideals, charm, foolishness, ugliness, obliviousness. You care about these people, whether you like them or not, or whether you’re not sure what you think about them. That’s rare magic, and there’s some justice in the fact that the movie has become one of the most-praised British films ever, highly English and completely universal.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department/North Avondale Library

Homewood Public Library Will Host Teen Poetry Workshop Until AC is Repaired at Central Library

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 9:46am
The free teen poetry workshop that is usually held at the Central Library will be held at the Homewood Public Library until Central's air conditioning unit can be fixed. The East Building of the Birmingham location reduced its hours to close at 12:00 noon. The move was necessary because of rising temperatures and a broken unit. As a result, the teen poetry workshop had to be moved. Homewood graciously agreed to host the event until repairs can be made.

The teen workshop will be held every Saturday from 2:00-4:00 p.m. It is free and open to all middle school and high school age teens. Real Life Poets, a non-profit creative writing organization, partners with the Birmingham Public Library to offer the workshop. Occasionally the workshop may be cancelled due to conflicts with other events. Contact John Paul Taylor of RLP to confirm the workshop is being held; the e-mail is johnpaul@reallifepoets.org and telephone is 205-585-8271. Please share with those who may have an interest.

The teen poetry workshop will return to the Birmingham location after repairs are made. Parts have been ordered for the air conditioner, and repairs will be scheduled once parts arrive.

This workshop is funded by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


June Programs for Adults at Springville Road Library

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 8:24am
 Novella Jackie May and Madeline Walters at a Quilting for Beginners class.It’s 10:00 a.m.…do you know where your parents are?

Maybe at the Springville Road Library for free Friday morning programs for adults.

Resume Workshop
Friday, June 6, 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road meeting room
When you submit an application or resume online a computer usually screens them to determine which applicants will be contacted for an interview. The trick is to know the keywords to use in your information to get you through that screening process. Crystal Jarvis of Creative Color Solutions will present a workshop geared specifically to choosing the right words to get your resume and applications out of the pack and noticed.

Springville Road Salon
Friday, June 13, 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Adult Department
Our lively adult discussion group. Every generation from the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers and on through Gen X and Y has had plenty to say about the kids in the next group. "What's WRONG with these kids today?" has been a plaintive cry through the ages. Our discussion this month will talk about the differences (and similarities) of different generations.

Quilting for Beginners
Friday, June 20, 10:00 a.m. 
Springville Road meeting room 
Join Liz McCormick and other local quilters to learn and practice basic quilting techniques. Materials and supplies are provided, but you are welcome to bring some if you prefer your own things.

Springville Road Literary Society
Friday, June 27
A book group for people who don't want to read and discuss the same book. We'll talk about books and authors we've enjoyed and share our favorites with other interested readers. This is a great place to pick up answers to "What am I going to read next?"

All programs are free and open to all adults. Refreshments provided. Meet old and new friends and explore old and new interests. While you're in the library, sign up for Summer Reading to learn about more programs and for the chance to win prizes all summer long!

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

LBJ Launched the Great Society 50 Years Ago

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 9:55am
President Lyndon Johnson at the University of Michigan, where he delivered a commencement speech
six months after assuming office following President Kennedy's assassination.
As we focus our attention this Spring of 2014 on the challenges facing those graduating seniors who are taking part in college commencement exercises around the country, let us pause and consider a commencement that took place fifty years ago. This one occurred on May 22, 1964, at Michigan Stadium, one of the largest athletic venues in the world, on the campus of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The speaker that day was a man whose political stature and ambition matched the physical surroundings, President Lyndon Johnson. I would assume that many present that day were harboring some feelings of sadness and regret because the person who had originally been invited to speak at the commencement was the late President John F. Kennedy. But, the events in Dallas exactly six months earlier, had, unfortunately, caused a change in plans. Although he was not known for his oratorical skills, the new President rose to the occasion and made the day memorable. In an address that lasted a little over eighteen minutes, Johnson, employing striking rhetoric and heroic allusions, seized the opportunity to lay out a domestic policy agenda he thought the United States should undertake during the 1960s. He called his agenda “The Great Society.”

Theodore Roosevelt, a Republican, was the first U.S. President to use a catchphrase—“the Square Deal”—to describe his domestic program. Subsequently, however, such catchphrases became the purview of Democratic chief executives beginning with Woodrow Wilson’s “New Freedom,” followed by Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” Harry Truman’s “Fair Deal,” and the “New Frontier” of John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson’s beloved mentor was FDR, and Johnson saw the “Great Society” as a fulfillment and advancement of Roosevelt’s progressive policies of the 1930s that sought to alleviate the harsh effects of a capricious, depressed economy. The words expressed by Johnson in the Ann Arbor speech, although inspiring, offered only a mere outline of the ideas he, and his aides, were developing to carry on Roosevelt’s legacy and assuage the problems they saw confronting America in the 60s. Speaking in broad terms, Johnson identified five such problems that day—poverty, race relations, urban decay, environmental degradation, and education opportunity.

No one who witnessed the speech could have foreseen the enormous energy that Johnson summoned within the next year to turn those broad ideas into practical policy measures. Throughout the rest of 1964 and into 1965 and 1966, the Johnson administration inundated Congress with a plethora of legislation aimed at bringing the federal government’s weight to bear on the social ills that were mentioned that day in Ann Arbor. What is so impressive about Johnson’s efforts in those years was that not only was he able to introduce such a significant amount of legislation, he was also successful in getting Congress to pass it. Among the major laws enacted by Congress during Johnson’s presidency were the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the Food Stamp Act of 1964, the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Social Security Act of 1965, the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965, the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965, and the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1965.

Looking back on that time, one of the most striking aspects one sees of the “Great Society” was that, in contrast to other progressive policy agendas that came before it, LBJ’s efforts were aimed not just at creating greater opportunities for the nation’s underclass but also at protecting and improving the lives of the middle class as well. So, in addition to the many “War on Poverty” measures that were enacted, the era also witnessed the creation of programs and institutions whose purpose was to help promote the arts, culture, the natural and built environments, public safety, and the rights of the consumer. The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Public Radio, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are a few of the examples of the Great Society’s lasting legacy.

President Johnson’s speech can be read, viewed, and listened to at the websites of both the LBJ Presidential Library and the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. The text of that speech, and all other public statements made by President Johnson, can also be read in hard copy by consulting the multi-volume Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson, which is housed in the Government Documents Department at the Birmingham Public Library.

For those wanting to read more about Lyndon Johnson and his presidency, there are numerous books available at the Birmingham Public Library and elsewhere in the JCLC system. Certainly the most comprehensive, but still unfinished, is Robert A. Caro’s multivolume, The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Historian Robert Dallek’s studies of Johnson’s life have also received critical acclaim, including Lone Star Rising: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1908-1960, Flawed Giant : Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973, and Lyndon B. Johnson : Portrait of a President. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream is considered to be a classic portrait written by Doris Kearns Goodwin, who spent many hours interviewing the former president during the last years of his life. Irwin Unger’s The Best of Intentions: The Triumph and Failure of the Great Society Under Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon provides an interesting examination of the politics and policy concerns that shaped LBJ’s agenda.

Jim Murray
Business, Science & Technology Department
Central Library

Bards & Brews Open Mic Event To Be Held at Bessemer Library, June 6

Wed, 05/28/2014 - 9:41am
May's Bards & Brews event was held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The Birmingham Public Library’s monthly Bards & Brews poetry performance and beer tasting will be held Friday, June 6, 2014, at the Bessemer Public Library. The open mic event will feature music at 6:30 p.m., with poetry starting at 7:00 pm. The beer tasting will be provided by the Druid City Brewing Company of Tuscaloosa, AL.

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.

The July 11 Bards and Brews will be a Slam at the North Birmingham Regional Library of the Birmingham Public Library.

Bards & Brews, which is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, is usually held on the first Friday of the month at various locations around Birmingham. For more information call 205-226-3670, email hm@bham.lib.al.us or visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page.

Book Review: e. e. cummings: a life by Susan Cheever

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 1:14pm
e.e. cummings: a life
Susan Cheever

Susan Cheever begins this most recent exploration into Edward Estlin Cumming's life with a first-hand account of meeting the poet as a young student, successfully introducing and shaping the biography with her heart-felt and intimate view. The author is inspired by E.E., he gives her advice, and ultimately this interaction helps shape a small part of her life. That slightly-biased view of the verbally-acrobatic poet is a running thread throughout Cheever's new title. She handles Cummings' life and its relationships with deft, surgical sweetness, allowing the reader to delve quickly and easily into the read without being bogged down with scholastic prose.

The idyllic childhood which begat E.E. Cummings is fairly well-known. He was the eldest son of affluent and supportive parents in Cambridge, Massachusetts, growing up surrounded by books and in contact with the intellectuals in his neighborhood. The family split their time outside of the Boston professorial circle by staying on a farm in New Hampshire called Joy Farm, where the children were free to roam through nature with their family and beloved pets.

Harvard taught Cummings all the rules of prose and verse, which is an important point for a man who spent so much time breaking traditional poetic norm. He found his inspiration for bucking the system there at Harvard, a bastion of conservatism which fueled his aggression for large, rule-making bodies. This rebellion, and some would say anger, was as much a part of him as was his playful, childish side, both of which appear in his work. The early days of restriction, within the ivy-league system and from his tee-totaling minister father, gave the young Cummings something to rally against, and like a jazz improvisational musician, he learned the rules to gladly break them, creating his own brand of Modernist verse.

This fascinating literary figure finds himself in the heart of Greenwich Village dealing with his difficult life: his doomed two marriages, his ex-wife's abduction of his dear and only child Nancy Thayer, and his short but avant-garde stint in the military during WWI. E.E. Cummings's personal life would fall to pieces while he was critically acclaimed by the public. He turned his riotous life into verse and prose, and did so while creating what he hoped would be considered "New Art."

E.E. Cummings became notorious for lack of punctuation, verbs as nouns, sexual innuendos, and even anti-semitic commentary, and all of this history is examined in Cheever's newest biographical endeavor. e.e. cummings: a life is neither weighty nor outlandishly scholarly, but it is a wonderful, confidential take on a man misjudged for his childish and crazily-punctuated poetry.

Rachel Joiner
Arts/Literature/Sports
Central Library

Movie

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 8:18am
The Shooting Party
Directed by Alan Bridges


I recently re-watched The Shooting Party after about a 20-year gap. I’ve now seen it about four times altogether. I’m glad to say this is not one of those cases where the last time I’ve seen something was when I was young and the movie just doesn’t hold up anymore. If anything, I may like it more. I see new things in it as a middle-aged person, a sure sign of a film built to last.
Now with Downton Abbey the apparent standard for how the film/tv universe approaches how the English upper class deals with their servants and vice versa, you may want to know how The Shooting Party stacks up. To me, five minutes of The Shooting Party tells me more about these two classes in the early twentieth century than ten hours of Downton, and I like Downton a lot, never miss it. This is because Julian Fellowes isn’t nearly in the same league as Isabel Colegate, the author of the novel The Shooting Party is based on. (To be fair, Fellowes would probably be the first to agree with the last sentence.)
Fall 1913. An aristocratic party assembles at the estate of English aristocrat Sir Randolph Nettleby (James Mason). They talk, gossip, argue, play, dine and conduct affairs. And the men shoot birds every day. This is the old order about to crumble. Most of these people are emotionally repressed, cold, frustrated. Some are arrogant, racist, oblivious to any but their social sphere. Some are likeable. All are believable human.
A young boy spends much of the story looking for his missing pet duck, terrified that someone will shoot it for sport. We can see that he’s already being prepped for an adult life where he’ll shoot birds for sport and not give a thought to their pain. He’ll probably grow into such a man. Or will he? Like him, the women in the gathering express anger at the shooting, but almost all of the men dismiss their concerns. The pointlessness of bird-shooting subtly presages the pointlessness of shooting men which will happen in France the next year. But we know the men, almost without exception, will not question the carnage now or the infinitely greater carnage later.
John Gielgud plays Cornelius Cardew, a local pacifist who wanders around the country village trying and failing to win people over to his views, which of course are pro-bird. He blithely walks right in front of a row of shooting men. Sir Randolph confronts him but treats him with respect. The two quickly become familiar, and Cardew recommends his tract publisher to Sir Randolph, who has been wanting to publish a leaflet on the responsibilities of the landed gentry. Cardew says a sympathetic local man “of anarchistic views” gives him “good rates.” Surely this will be an appropriate publisher. Gielgud’s performance, as usual, is priceless-touching, sympathetic, finely nuanced, side-splitting.
Edward Fox’s Lord Hartlip is an uber-aristo, extremely arrogant, icy, mean. But there’s a scene where he beautifully plays a piece on a piano when he hopes no one is listening. This is one of many cases where, just as you’re deciding that a character is this type of person, the script (expertly adapted by Julian Bond) starts throwing you curves and you see that this figure is contradictory, well-rounded, surprising.
In all scenes the color is a bit bleached but not overmuch. This is one period piece that comes pre-aged. The music also well conveys the fragility and loss of the proceedings.
In the near-final scene, Lord Hartlip, in an action all but him will condemn as unsportsmanlike, desperately aims his rifle low so that he can up his score. By doing this, he accidentally shoots the gamekeeper Harker (Gordon Jackson, of Downton template Upstairs, Downstairs fame). Hartlip doesn’t even apologize-or talk to-the man, but Sir Randolph, his employer, holds him in his arms and prays with him. Everyone knows the man only has minutes to live. When Mason & Co. did the scene, a cast member recounted, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Audiences get misty too. Just before he expires, Harker croaks, “God save the British Empire.” You believe he believes it, and you almost believe it yourself, so convincingly is it played. Tom Harker, an avowed socialist and harsh critic of the upper classes, nevertheless affirms the basic faith of the land. Randolph’s decentness and even love speaks well of him; he is, after all, the only character who bemoans the uncaring decadence of his class. His action here shows how he lives out his responsibility in the great chain of class. In contrast to this, after Harker’s death, another toff who can’t understand why anyone’s worked up, says, “He was only a peasant.” Which makes his intended love appalled and say politely but firmly that she won’t meet him again as agreed.
The film ends with the shooting party walking over a field, heading back to the estate. Superimposed are the obits of most of the male characters, who will die (have died) in WW1 in the following years. A narrator says that perhaps the ridiculous Cardew will have the last laugh.
This is not a depressing film, but it is partly a sad one, poignant and finely detailed far more than most. You feel the pleasure of a sadness that recognizes the loss of decaying ideals, charm, foolishness, ugliness, obliviousness. You care about these people, whether you like them or not, or whether you’re not sure what you think about them. That’s rare magic, and there’s some justice in the fact that the movie has become one of the most-praised British films ever, highly English and completely universal.


Richard Grooms
Fiction Department/North Avondale

Children's Book Review: Howl's Moving Castle

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 8:17am
Howl's Moving Castle
Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie is the oldest of three sisters. Introverted and retiring, she is certain that in every story the eldest child is destined for abject averageness. When her father dies, her stepmother puts her to work in her father’s hat shop while her sisters (as expected) are sent off to find their fortunes in the world. Sophie embraces her role admirably until she unwittingly insults the wrong customer, The Witch of the Waste. The furious witch turns Sophie into a crone and Sophie is forced out of her bland existence to break the witch’s curse. Sophie becomes reckless in her old age and sneaks into the flying abode of a wizard reputed for stealing the souls of young girls. She makes a deal with Howl’s captive fire demon and installs herself as a maid in the floating castle. As an old woman, Sophie finds courage, stubbornness, and pluck that she never had as a young girl. She also finds that the supposedly vile Howl is not everything that the stories make him out to be.

If you’re looking for a perfect bedtime story or read-aloud, look no further. Howl’s Moving Castle is a fairytale like no other. It reads like a classic, even while it pokes fun at tropes in traditional fairy tales. It full of mystery, magic, and it contains a cast of wonderfully developed characters. The plot is engaging and yields one fantastical surprise after another.

This is technically a children’s fantasy title, but it is a great book for any lovers of fairy-tales or whimsy. It would even make a good bedtime story for kids who can’t read chapter books on their own yet. Hayao Miyazaki created a lovely animated film based on this title and while I would highly recommend it, read the book first. You won’t be disappointed.



Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Library

Memorial Day

Sun, 05/25/2014 - 7:47pm
 All locations of the Birmingham Public Library will be closed Monday, May 26, in observance of Memorial Day.