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Updated: 1 hour 43 min ago

Using Templates in Excel 2010

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 3:17pm

Like most Microsoft Office 2010 programs, Microsoft Excel 2010 provides templates, ready assist users in creating and customizing their documents. Users can modify these predesigned samples to suit their needs and purposes. To use one of the installed templates: 
  1. Click the File tab, then click New
  2. You will see available samples in the “Backstage View.” 
  3. Choose your desired template, and download or click Create
  4. Modify the worksheet as desired. 
CLASS REGISTRATION Registration is now open for staff and the public for the May 2014 Regional Library Computer Center classes. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES. 

Other classes offered are: 
  • Basic PC (Beginner) 
  • Keyboarding (Beginner) 
  • Basic Internet (Beginner) 
  • Internet Searching (Beginner) 
To register for classes, you may: 
  • Visit the Computer Commons department at the Central Library and obtain a copy of the class schedule. 
  • Fill it out and return to a Computer Commons staff. Register online through the RLCC website. Please allow 2 to 4 business days for registration confirmation. 
Space is limited for each class, and registration does not guarantee you a space. If you register for a class, please make all efforts to attend. Repeated “no shows” could affect your registration eligibility for future classes. 
If you register for a class and cannot attend, call Public Computer Services at (205) 226-3680 or 226-3681 as soon as possible. Please pay close attention to the class times. No one will be admitted after 5 minutes past the time class is scheduled to start. Classes are provided by the Birmingham Public Library.

Birmingham Public Library Closed April 18 & 20

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 9:00am
All Birmingham Public Library locations will be closed for Good Friday on April 18 and for Easter on April 20. The Library will be open for regular operating hours on Saturday, April 19.

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

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 10:30am
See What a Seal Can Do
Chris Butterworth

What can seals do? There are eighteen types of these sea mammals. Each type of seal has differences in their flippers and ears. They spend most of their time in the water, yet choose to live partly on land where they sleep, digest their food and have their pups. They have sensitive ears and can hear on land or underwater.

These are funny, little critters that flop and jump to get around on dry land, even snoring while they are asleep. Seals look lazy and slow when they snooze on sunny rocks, but in water their powerful flippers allow them to move a hundred feet in just a few seconds. When they reach three hundred feet down, their hearts only beat four times per a minute.

Some seal species have almost become extinct in the past so it is important that we take care of all the special types of sea mammals.

Watch this video to see what this seal can do!



Barbara Hutto
Youth Department
Central Library

Happy National Library Week!

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 2:28pm

National Library Week is April 13-19, 2014. To celebrate, we are providing a coupon good for $5 to pay your overdue charges at any Jefferson County Public Library. If you have ever researched a paper, checked out a bestseller, or attended a special program, you know what a great resource your library is.

If you visit the library during National Library Week, please take a moment and sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries, or sign it online at http://www.ilovelibraries.org/declaration/sign.

Birmingham Public Library Attends Teen Career Fair

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 10:30am


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

Approximately 200 teens visited the BPL table, obtaining information about services and career opportunities. VRS is a division of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services.

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

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 9:13am

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public.

Money Talks ... on Tax Day! Stories of Cold, Hard Cash with Dolores Hydock
Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Springville Road Library
If Tax Day has got you down, then come to the Springville Road Library for a story telling pick-me- up with Dolores Hydock! Money talks in a language anyone can understand in these tales of money lost, money found, and figuring out just how much happiness money really can buy.

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: First Baptist Church of Roosevelt City
6012 Malcolm Avenue, Birmingham, 35228
(205) 426-1691
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify the warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Reality Check for Teens
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Reality Check is game that serves as a fun way to learn more about personal finance. Teenage participants pretend to be adults with numerous financial responsibilities. Through a series of simulations, participants are required to make spending decisions related to housing, transportation, food, and other expenses. The goal is to discover the relationship between income and expenses, and, hopefully, apply what is learned to real life!

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Monday, April 21, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify its warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Financial Concerns of Senior Women
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Place: Five Points West Library
Because, statistically, women are living longer than men, economic challenges which face older Americans have a greater effect on women. This seminar is designed specifically for senior women who are recently widowed or divorced and handling family finances for the first time. Emphasis will be placed on identifying and describing the variety of savings and retirement vehicles that are available for older women.

Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss various stores coupon policies, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings.

The classes are part of a national grant program known as MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library®, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

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

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 4:13pm
Vulcan Park and Museum mascot "V" signs the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. 
To celebrate National Library Week, which is April 13–19, 2014, the Birmingham Public Library is asking the public to sign a declaration of support for libraries. The effort is part of a national campaign known as Declaration for the Right to Libraries, launched by the American Library Association. The campaign is simply a good-faith effort to show how important libraries are in empowering and building communities, strengthening families, and changing lives.

Libraries around the country are collecting signatures this month. Organizers will send the signatures to Congress in early May to demonstrate how committed citizens are to libraries. Already, the Birmingham Public Library system has collected hundreds of signatures, including those of Mayor William A. Bell, Sr., several city leaders, and more. Patrons have expressed strong support of the campaign, saying they love their libraries.

Citizens may visit any library in Jefferson County and ask to sign the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. Or they may go online and sign by visiting www.ilovelibraries.org/declaration/sign.

For more information, visit http://www.bplonline.org/programs/Declaration.aspx.

MakingCents Financial Programs Scheduled at Selected BPL Branches in April

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 11:33am

Make a commitment this spring to improve you financial literacy! To help in your endeavor, the Birmingham Public Library is offering several classes in April as part of its MakingCents program. All classes are free and open to the public.

ABCs of Personal Finance with Ruth Brock
Date: Monday, April 7, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library

Ruth Brock of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System will present an overview of the basic building blocks of personal finance. Topics covered will include budgeting, money management, savings, and financial goal setting.

Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Place: Five Points West Library
If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss the coupon policies at various stores, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings.

Money Talks ... on Tax Day! Stories of Cold, Hard Cash with Dolores Hydock
Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Springville Road Library
If Tax Day has got you down, then come to the Springville Road Library for a story telling pick me up with Dolores Hydock! Money talks in a language anyone can understand in these tales of money lost, money found, and figuring out just how much happiness money really can buy.

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: First Baptist Church of Roosevelt City
6012 Malcolm Avenue, Birmingham, 35228
(205) 426-1691
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify the warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Reality Check for Teens
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Reality Check is game that serves as a fun way to learn more about personal finance. Teenage participants pretend to be adults with numerous financial responsibilities. Through a series of simulations, participants are required to make spending decisions related to housing, transportation, food, and other expenses. The goal is to discover the relationship between income and expenses, and, hopefully, apply what is learned to real life!

Identity Theft with Ruth Brock
Date: Monday, April 21, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
Identity theft is not a new crime, but the growth of the internet and other modes of information technology have increased its prevalence greatly. In this session, Ruth Brock, Regional Agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, will discuss the issues surrounding identity theft including how it occurs, ways to identify its warning signs, means of reducing your risk of being a victim, and steps to take if you fall prey to identity thieves.

Financial Concerns of Senior Women
Date: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Place: Five Points West Library
Because, statistically, women are living longer than men, economic challenges which face older Americans have a greater effect on women. This seminar is designed specifically for senior women who are recently widowed or divorced and handling family finances for the first time. Emphasis will be placed on identifying and describing the variety of savings and retirement vehicles that are available for older women.

Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Monday, April 28, 2014
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Place: North Birmingham Library
If you're interested in couponing but aren't sure how to get started, this program is for you! Super couponer, Heather Lebischak, will go over the basic couponing rules and then show the participants how to put those rules into practice, without having to invest significant amounts of time in it. Heather will discuss various stores coupon policies, how to organize your coupons, and how to guarantee you are using your coupons to ensure the greatest savings.

The classes are part of a national grant program known as MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library®, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

WORD UP! 2014 Showcases Teen Poets

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 5:10pm


The excitement was palpable in the packed Arrington Auditorium as emcee Jim Reed genially welcomed the crowd. This was the seventh year for the competition which allows Jefferson County teenagers to showcase their poetry writing and performance skills. Students in grades 9 through 12 write and perform an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee.  This year’s theme was “community.” Earlier this year, participating high schools held preliminary contests at their schools, and the first and second place winners competed at WORD UP!.
The performances were over, and the winners were proclaimed: first place and $300 went to Eboni Wallace of Tarrant; this was the third year in a row that Eboni had received this honor. Second place  and $200 went to Miaya Webster of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Miaya had won third place at last year’s competition. And there was a tie for third place; Jeralyn Lankford of Clay-Chalkville and Brianna Whittsett of McAdory shared that spot, and each was awarded $150. 
In all, twelve high schools were represented at the event.  The schools included: Birmingham’s Wenonah and Woodlawn; Jefferson County’s Clay-Chalkville, McAdory, Minor, and Shades Valley/Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School; Alabama School of Fine Arts; Hewitt-Trussville; Holy Family Cristo Rey; Leeds, Tarrant, and Vestavia.

Word UP! 2014 was made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Book Review: Lookaway, Lookaway

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 4:13pm
Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel
Wilton Barnhardt

Before he was an acclaimed fiction writer (Lookaway, Lookaway made several prestigious year’s best lists) Wilton Barnhardt was a sports writer. It shows in his appreciation of the details that help make yarns real and entertaining. And, no, Lookaway, Lookaway, is not another book about southern football. It’s about a far more desperate, violent, and intricate spectacle, the modern day dissolution of a Great Old Southern Family. Set in Charlotte, North Carolina, the “prefab” metropolis, with a “monster truck show” religious scene, Lookaway, Lookaway is a satire. While funnier in tone than Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and more outrageous than Pat Conroy, it rings at least as true as either.

This is the epic saga of the Jarvis-Johnston clan. Duke, the patriarch is under the spell of his storied Civil War ancestor, General Joseph E. Johnston. Jerene, his wife, is the steel magnolia matriarch and the de facto patriarch (“Who cares what Duke does?”). The intricately plotted story unfolds in chapters narrated from the point of view of every family member in turn, each revealing their own and each other’s secrets. Good little debutante Jerelyn goes off to Chapel Hill to join a sorority whose sisters go by the nickname “the Skanks” (real sorority, real nickname, by the way). Brother Josh spends his nights seeking interracial romance on CDL, Charlotte Down Low, a gay hook-up website. Dorie, Josh’s black lesbian BFF seduces fine southern ladies. Calamities ensue and are revealed: rape, murder, grand larceny, society gala fundraisers, illegitimate children, abortions, domestic violence, Christmas dinner, interracial lust, feuding Presbyterian congregations, dueling, beastiality, blackmail, betrayal, Civil War battle re-enactments. The regional variations of Carolina barbeque, hush puppies, and cole slaw are explicated.

Lookaway, Lookaway is an exploration of the myth of the Great Old Southern Family. Although that myth does not enjoy the dominance in southern culture it once did, it still has millions of devotees. Its shrines, southern show-mansions stuffed with antiques, are maintained by private families and municipalities at great expense throughout the south. Barnhardt’s acid satire should, at the very least, inspire the reader to wonder at the hypocrisy, fragility and ruinous cost of Great Old Southern Family pretensions. As grandmother Jeannette tells her stone-hard daughter, Jerene, “It is naïve to think that anybody that has got money got it without doing something really bad, because it is much easier to be poor—that, my girl, is the natural state of things. Money runs out. Money gets spent. To have so much of it that it doesn't run out, doesn't get spent, means that something…. unpleasant had to happen along the way.”

Jerene, the matriarch, is the great character. She first commands the reader’s attention when she lays down the law for her daughter, who is experiencing a teachable moment, “Darling, in the future, you may not invite to a bed any young man about whom you do not know his father’s profession, his eventual means, his status in this world. That is a one-way ticket to the mobile home park. These are most important details.” Thus, from mother to daughter, hard earned wisdom is imparted and the Great Old Southern Family is maintained.
We know Jerene, and the awful Jeannette. We know Josh, brother Beau, sister Annie, Aunt Dillard (Jerene to her sister Dillard, “You may not become a cat lady. You may not become eccentric beyond a certain point.”) daddy Duke, wife Kate and Uncle Gaston. And we know bits and pieces of all of these stories that wrap around the Jarvis-Johnstons in their decline.

Readers who enjoy the works of Jill McCorkle, Allan Gurganus, and Clyde Edgerton will not want to miss Lookaway, Lookaway.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

"I Want to Learn..."

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 9:22am

I’ve been thinking about learning lately. I don’t really want to take a formal course or go back to school but I want to study something. This caused me to think about the free resources that Birmingham Public Library and other entities provide for lifelong learning.

Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Classes, Programs & Workshops
Check out the BPL Calendar of Events for upcoming classes, programs and workshops. At the top of the page, choose your library.

The April 2014 computer class schedule for the BPL Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) is already posted. Follow the instructions on the class schedule to register for classes. The RLCC is located at the Central Library. If you are interested in computer classes at other branches, use the BPL Calendar of Events and do a keyword search for computer.

If you are looking for classes, programs, and workshops in any of the Jefferson County public libraries, check out their Calendar of Events and Reader.

Books
I know the title of the series …For Dummies may sound off-putting but these are some of the best introductory books around and they cover a variety of topics. Likewise, I never liked the word “idiot” but the Complete Idiot’s Guide series makes me feel like I’m less of one. When you have the time, pick a subject that’s interesting and check out a book in one of these series.

Birmingham Public Library Databases & Free Online Resources
BBC Languages is available to the public; you don’t need a library card. I really liked this website. You can learn British Isle languages: Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Cornish, Manx, and Guernsey French as well as phrases in more than 40 languages.

Ben's (Benjamin Franklin) Guide to U.S. Government for Kids is a wonderful website administered by the U.S. Government Printing Office and the courses are specifically tailored by grade levels.

CIA Factbook has information on the people, history, geography, economy, etc. of other countries.

Encyclopedia of Alabama this free encyclopedia is recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about Alabama’s people, history, government and culture.

Learn 2 Type is a free keyboarding tutorial. Click on Typing Tutor Account to create an account and start learning to type.

Mango Languages is available to Birmingham Public Library cardholders and is a great resource if you want to learn Mandarin (Chinese), Japanese, French, German or Spanish.

TED Talks are short talks, usually 18 minutes or less, and they cover various topics. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. You can look at the videos or tune into TED RadioHour on NPR (National Public Radio).

Free Online Courses and Classes
Coursera provides free and fee online courses from universities across the country and around the world.

Khan Academy is a K-12 video resource that covers math, science and some of the humanities. The great thing is each video is only 10 minutes long.

Harvard Open Courses: Open Learning Initiative offers free recorded lectures taught by Harvard faculty.

MITOpenCourseware is similar to Harvard and Yale’s open courses but they have a larger selection of courses. I just finished watching the “Dress for Success” segment of the 2010 Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT) Leadership Conference. I enjoyed the conference and plan to watch the keynote speech.

OpenLearn is the website for free courses through the Open University. They offer over 650 courses with different skill levels: introductory, beginner, intermediate, advanced and master’s levels. College credit is not available.

Open Yale Courses are free recorded lectures taught by teachers and scholars at Yale University. College credit is not available.

I hope you will use these free resources and learn about things that interest and challenge you. While working on this blog article, I signed up for a computer programming course in Coursera titled, “Programming for Everybody.” If you want to know how the computer class is going and my experience with Coursera, please feel free to e-mail me at mjones@bham.lib.al.us.

Maya Jones
West End Library

Final Four 2014

Sat, 04/05/2014 - 2:28pm



The road to the Final Four is a difficult journey.  Just ask (#6) Ohio State who lost to (#11) Dayton or (#3) Duke who lost to (#14) Mercer.  Who knew that Ohio State and (#5) Cincinnati would be sitting at home watching Dayton represent the state of Ohio in the Elite Eight?  Mind you, these were very close games, but the only score that matters is the one on the scoreboard when the clock hits zero.  Brackets were breaking all over the place.
Four really good teams made it into the Final Four so it should be an outstanding finish to the season.  Overall (#1) seed Florida is scheduled to take on (#7) UConn.  The Florida Gators won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007.  The UConn Huskies are making their first appearance under head coach Kevin Ollie but won their last NCAA Championship in 2011 under longtime head coach Jim Calhoun.  
The other matchup features (#2) Wisconsin versus (#8) Kentucky.  Kentucky features five freshmen starters, including twin brothers, who want to add their names to the long list of champions.  The Wildcats won their last championship just two years ago in 2012.  Wisconsin has waited the longest to compete for a national championship.  Their last win in 1941 makes this Final Four appearance so much sweeter for the Badgers.
Two SEC teams in the Final Four!  I'm just saying.  The first game (Florida v. UConn) tips off at 5:09 p.m. tonight.  The championship game tips off Monday, April 7 at approximately 8:10 p.m.  Enjoy the games, I know I will.

Book Review: Secrets of the Southern Belle

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 4:16pm
Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment
By Phaedra Parks

One of the most popular stars of the BRAVO reality show The Housewives of Atlanta, Phaedra Parks is an accomplished woman who is always on the move. But while Mrs. Parks has always been a successful business woman, she prides herself throughout the show as being a “Southern Belle.”

 Mrs. Parks has finally heard her followers and decided to answer all of their questions in her self- help book, Secrets of the Southern Belle: How to Be Nice, Work Hard, Look Pretty, Have Fun, and Never Have an Off Moment. She shares things that could be really beneficial to anyone, not just Southern Belles. What I admired the most about Phaedra Parks and her writing is that she is completely honest! She admits that while she knows what it takes to be a proper, respectable woman, she sometimes fails at being a Southern Belle herself. The fact that she has everything sectioned off—it’s organized by section, and she even provides bulleted lists when necessary—makes the information in the book easier to access and absorb.

Parks speaks to every part of life from the social aspects, the work field, and even about personal relationships. The advice she gives within this book is valuable, relatable, and often humorous. If you’re looking for a quick weekend read or are interested in how to become a Southern Belle yourself, this book is for you.

Pam Jessie
Woodlawn Library

Book Review: The Last Picture Show

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 1:27pm
The Last Picture Show
Larry McMurtry

For many years now, in a real irregular way, I’ve been reading the books that my repeat-viewing movies are based on. As book-centered as I am, I’ve felt this is backwards, but what the hey, better late than never.

At its best, this reverse approach lets me “see the movie” in a more fleshed-out, deeper, richer way. You go from a skeleton to a body. It doesn’t always work like that but it did with The Last Picture Show, partly because McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay. Reading the novel made the movie expand. Watching the movie again, after I finished reading, made the novel contract.

The movie owes more to Italian Neorealism and British kitchen sink dramas than it does to American movie conventions. That fits the spirit of the book. In the book, the landscape is plain, even bleak. The story is anti-sentimental, anti-Romantic. It couldn’t be farther from moonlight-and-magnolias if it tried. It shows virtually no sign of trying anything. These are some of the reasons why it’s such an accomplished novel.

The scene is fifties Thalia, Texas, on the plains near the Oklahoma border. It’s a stand-in for Archer City, Texas, where McMurtry grew up. The main characters are Sonny, Duane, and Jacy, three teenagers near the end of high school, and several adults they’re connected to by family, romance, friendship or school. Duane dates Jacy, then Sonny does. Between these two, Sonny has an affair with Ruth Popper, who is forty and married to his gym coach. There’s a whole lot of sex going on in this town, but people seldom talk about it in public (this is much like the real Archer City in the early seventies, according to a film crew member). Tangled webs are woven and re-woven. The movie shocked some with its frank depiction of fluid sexual relations, although little actual sex was shown. But whereas the movie was R, the book is X. Some of the events in it concern livestock. This is Texas without varnish, after all.

Presiding over all the characters is Sam the Lion, a sort of father figure to Sonny and Duane, and owner of the town’s restaurant, pool hall and movie house. His death halfway through parallels the slow death of Thalia itself. You realize that the old-time string band who play at the annual Christmas party is an echo of the frontier past. What everybody really listens to is what’s on the radio. Also fading out is Victorian morality and the cattle industry. People are moving to bigger towns. Maybe the frenetic sex in this Boccaccio-on-the-Plains tale is part frustration with all this change. Nearly everyone here is testy and breaking the bonds of convention that defined small town Southern life. This is a good time to say it’s very funny, too.

In one scene, Sonny, Duane, and some boys get drunk and try to set up the town mental case with the town prostitute. It backfires and they dump the boy in front of Sam’s pool hall. Sam berates them: “Scaring an unfortunate creature like Billy when there ain’t no reason to scare him is just plain trashy behavior. I’ve seen a lifetime of it and I’m tired of putting up with it. You can just stay out of this pool hall and out of my picture show and café too.“ Sam is hardly a prude, but the boys have crossed a line. Sam is as contradictory as everybody else here. All the characters are wrestling with desire, lust, propriety, honor, and boredom, trying and usually failing to put them all into some workable order. Like his literary forebear Henry Miller, McMurtry sees sex as simply part of life. And like his spiritual descendent, British novelist/screenwriter Hanif Kureishi, McMurtry wisely leaves in all the dirty laundry, all the contradictions and schizo behavior. The result: these are people you know. It’s the struggle that counts, and drives the story, not any kind of resolution. There’s almost none of that.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department
Central Library

Brilliant Blooms

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 12:49pm
Fresh flowers can brighten your day in your own home or by visiting any location where these spectacular beauties are on display. It's those breathtaking hues of color, varieties, and the choice to display one or one hundred and one that makes flowers as special as they are.

Just think for a moment, how flowers are shared in so many of our life events. Olympians receive them along with their medals when they stand proud and are recognized by their country. Brides include flowers in their weddings because they exude elegance and beauty. On September 17, 1983, the world witnessed Vanessa Williams receive the title as the first black Miss America along with flowers as a part of the celebration. And the great jazz singer, Billie Holiday, was known worldwide for wearing her signature "Gardenia" so beautifully in her hair.

It doesn’t seem to matter, whether flowers are given for a reason or no reason at all, they always bring the same joy. This spring, take the time to stroll through a park, attend a garden show, or even plan a trip and just lose yourself in these natural beauties.

To check out books on flowers, visit your local library or the JCLC catalog.

To get more information on gardens, events and shows, visit the websites below and others like these.


Biltmore Gardens and Grounds
www.biltmore.com/visit

Birmingham Botanical Gardens
http://www.bbgardens.org/index2.php

Callaway Gardens
www.callawaygardens.com/

Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum
www.jasminehill.org/

Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade
http://www.tournamentofroses.com/

The Philadelphia Flower Show
www.theflowershow.com/


Saundra Ross
North Avondale Library

Bards & Brews Poetry SLAM Hosted by Vestavia Hills Library in the Forrest, April 4

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 10:09am
A performer at March's Bards & Brews Haiku
https://www.facebook.com/BardsandBrews
Vestavia Hills Library in the Forrest will host the next Bards & Brews SLAM on Friday, April 4, 2014. Prizes are $200 for first place, $100 for second place. Music and signup from 6:30-7:00 p.m.; performances start at 7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Must be 18 and up to attend and 21 to participate. Music and vocals by Patrick Summey. Beer tasting provided by Bell's Brewery. ID required. Refreshments will be served.

For more info, call 205-226-3670 or email hm@bham.lib.al.us.

Fictional Heroes Battle Terrorism

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 11:13am
If you’re a fan of 24, the television show, you already know that Jack and Chloe will be coming back to Fox in May 2014.  I was thrilled when I learned the show was returning to television for a special season.  I enjoy “one man versus the enemy” thrillers and I enjoy reading books like that as well.  There are several series featuring heroes who are keeping America safe from terrorism.  If you enjoy 24, you may enjoy reading these as well.  Each title is the first in the series with a publisher description.


Power Down  by Ben Coes (Dewey Andreas)
A major North American hydroelectric dam is blown up and the largest off-shore oil field in this hemisphere is destroyed in a brutal, coordinated terrorist attack. When terrorists strike the Capitana platform off the coast of Colombia, crew chief Dewey Andreas, former Army Ranger and Delta, survives the attack, rescuing as many of his men as possible. While the intelligence and law enforcement agencies scramble to untangle these events and find the people responsible, an agent embedded into the highest levels of American society and business sets into play the second stage of these long-planned attacks. Meanwhile, Dewey Andreas is using all his long-dormant skills to fight his way off the platform, then out of Colombia and back to the U.S., following the trail of terrorists and operatives sent to stop him.

One Rough Man  by Brad Taylor (Pike Logan)
Commissioned at the highest level of the U.S. government, the fighting team known as Taskforce operates outside the law. Pike Logan was the most successful operator on the Taskforce until tragedy permanently altered his outlook on the world. Pike knows what the rest of the country might not want to admit: The real threat isn't from any nation, any government, any terrorist group. The real threat is one or two men, controlled by ideology, operating independently, in possession of a powerful weapon. Buried in a stack of intercepted chatter is evidence of two such men. The transcripts are scheduled for analysis in three months. The attack is mere days away. It is their bad luck that they're about to cross paths with Pike Logan. And Pike Logan has nothing left to lose.

Alpha  by Greg Rucka (Jad Bell)
For the visitors to Wilsonville, the largest theme park in the world, the day began with a smile. By the end, they wonder-will they be able to escape with their lives? Retired Delta Force operator, Master Sergeant Jonathan "Jad" Bell, is Wilsonville's lead undercover security officer. The threat begins with the announcement of a hidden dirty bomb, but quickly becomes something far, far worse. Trained since the age of seventeen to save innocent victims from impossible hostage situations, Jad scrambles to assess the threat and protect the visitors. He will come face to face with a villain whose training matches his in every way-and presents a threat Jad may not be able to stop.

American Assassin  by Vince Flynn (Mitch Rapp)
Two decades after the Cold War, Islamic terrorism is on the rise, and CIA Operations Director Thomas Stansfield forms a new group of clandestine operatives--men who do not exist--to meet this burgeoning threat abroad, before it reaches America's shores. Stansfield's protege, Irene Kennedy, finds the ideal candidate in the wake of the Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack. Among the thousands grieving the victims is Mitch Rapp, a gifted college athlete, who wants only one thing: retribution. Six months of intense training prepare him to devastate the enemy with brutal efficiency, leaving a trail of bodies from Istanbul and across Europe, to Beirut. But there, the American assassin will need every ounce of skill and cunning to survive the war-ravaged city and its deadly terrorist factions.

Librarians—We're Not Just For Shushing Anymore

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 7:44am
Not a BPL employee.I assisted a patron this week who was seeking information on writing a business plan. He has an MBA and a business he's owned for years, but wants to expand. He was thrilled with the Business Plans Handbook I showed him through the Database link on BPL's homepage. He also needed to find general industry and competitor information, so I showed him the Mergent Online database. One thing led to another and soon I was pointing out Alabama Legal Forms, LearningExpress Library, and the Chilton Automotive links. He was so pleased that I couldn't help saying, "And you thought all we did was read books all day long." He laughed a little, but said, "No, I thought you put up the books." Sigh. Unfortunately, both misconceptions are common. So what DOES your modern librarian do all day?

Well, we review and select materials for inclusion in the collection based on collection development policies, current trends, and community interest. We also plan programs to support the library's mission of lifelong learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment for children, teens, and adults. We contact speakers, arrange for supplies, facilities, and refreshments, and provide information to advertise and promote the programs. Sometimes we teach classes about using computers, e-readers, how to download library materials, searching the databases and diving the Deep Web, and some of us open the world of books to children through storytime. We moderate book clubs and other in-house programs, we attend training sessions to learn about new reference sources, and we assist patrons, whether it's by finding something new to read for pleasure or by finding the perfect source for a reference paper. We attend meetings of the local neighborhood associations to find out what our community concerns are and to let them know how the library is helping to address some of those concerns. We work desks where books are checked out and returned, and we get the books where they are needed, whether that's to a holdshelf or another library.

When a patron wants an item that's not at our library, we show them how to request it—and if it's not in our system, we assist with Interlibrary Loan Requests. Some of us are active in reaching out to the schools in the area to help support learning goals, and some of us do outreach with other professionals in Birmingham to find out what we can help do to make our city a better place to live and work. Some of us are in charge of staying on top of the latest technology to make sure the information our patrons want is always available and that we are well-represented in social media outlets to let the public know all that we offer. We attend in-house, county-wide, and city training on how to offer the best services, and go to in-state and national conferences and webcasts to share the best ideas with other library professionals. On any given day, the librarians and library assistants of our city can be found doing so many different tasks that there's not room to list them all.

Librarians are experts at reader's advisory.
 Have you read Oranges and Peaches by Darwin?One of the most important things we do is make sure that accurate information is available to everyone who needs it, regardless of race, nationality, residence, economic status, political preference, employment status, gender, or age. Everyone is welcome at the library and the librarians and library assistants are there to assist you find the information you want and need, whether it's in print or online. Did I mention the information and the help finding it is free?

And sometimes we even put up the books!

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

Haiku Contest Winners

Mon, 03/24/2014 - 5:25pm
The first Birmingham Public Library Haiku contest was a great success, with over fifty participants, spanning a wide range of ages and demographics.  The winning poems from both the adult and youth categories are posted below. First, second, and third prizes were awarded at the Sakura Festival at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on March 22.  All winners received an anthology of haiku as well as cash prizes. The first place winner in each category was also given a year-membership in the Haiku Society of America.

A special "Thank you" to all the participants as well as to Terri French, coordinator of the Southeast Chapter of the Haiku Society of America.

Winners are listed in order from first to third place in each category.

Adult Winners:
Irene
pine thicket laced
with dogwood blossoms--
painter's poison

Virginia G
In a far field cranes
under a drape of rain bend
white wings, folding moon

Jeanette
From his sharp chisel
Marble metamorphoses
Softly, wings unfurl.


Youth Winners:
Jacob
Paleness becomes green
Life opens its crusty eyes
Waking Up to spring

Renesha
Longing for springtime
Small birds flying and chirping
Life is beautiful

Katana S.
I can’t halt time, so
I dig my heels in the earth
And let it flow past

Book Review: F This Test: Even More of the Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers

Mon, 03/24/2014 - 10:04am
F This Test: Even More of the Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers
Richard Benson

Five Points West received a new book titled F This Test: Even More of the Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers by Richard Benson today. It's hilarious. It consists of totally wrong answers to college tests which actual students have given. Some were sincere, but some seemed to take it all in stride and decided to have a little fun with their answers. Here are some examples:

Which part of the Earth is directly below the crust?
The Filling.

Name a key theme in Madame Bovary.
Cows.

Give brief summary of the plot of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Jekyll & Hyde find a briefcase, and it's very strange.

What factors led to Nancy's death in Oliver Twist?
Charles Dickens killed her.

What contributed to the collapse of the Bronze Age?
Rust!

Describe a neutrino.
The opposite of an Oldtrino.

Define a supersaturated solution.
Water with extra water in it.

Give an example of a primary source. Explain why it is a primary source.
Tomato source because nearly everyone loves it.

What did an Ancient Egyptian embalmer do?
Embalmed ancient Egyptians.

And finally:
In politics, what does the term "impeachment" mean?
It's like imprisonment but with fruit.

If these examples have given you a chuckle, you might want to check out, F This Test, from the Five Points West Library.

Lorraine Walker
Five Points West Library