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Book Review: Occult America: The Secret History Of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 3:53pm
Occult America: The Secret History Of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation
Mitch Horowitz

First, let me get something out of the way. The words “occult” and “mysticism” aren’t synonymous with each other. Secondly, neither of these words describes even a large part of what this book covers. What words would be better? Religion? New Age? Psychology? Therapy? Metaphysics? Yes to all of those, and yes to occult and mysticism, too. That said, this is an unfailingly interesting, stimulating, hilarious and curious book, which covers in less than 300 pages most of the significant beliefs of this kind in American history and the vivid individuals and movements that are tied up with them. Horowitz has taken on a lot, but the book shows little sign of strain.

What is covered? The Burned-over district, the beginnings of Mormonism, Spiritualism, utopian communities, Freemasonry, Theosophy, Hoodoo, urban African-American alternative religions, Psychiana, UFO cults—even Norman Vincent Peale. (Peale? Well, the strain may show here). And that’s only a sampling.

Also, there’s Edgar Cayce. Do you need your conventional notions of history challenged? Horowitz relishes doing this: “If the New Age could be said to possess a starting point, it might be traced to the early autumn of 1923 in Selma, Alabama.” Yes, that’s what the book says. The author makes a convincing case for it. Could much of 20th Century Black American religious alternatives, such as the Nation of Islam and the Moorish Science Temple, have their roots in an 18th Century English instructional guide to manners and morals? Was Frederick Douglass influenced, if only temporarily, by hoodoo? Again, the cases are well-made.

It’s well-stocked with little-known, obscure and virtually unknown (at least to me, and I’m well-versed on this stuff, though not a scholar) historical bits. Franz Mesmer (of Mesmerism fame) tried to recruit George Washington to the cause. Washington politely praised Mesmer but did nothing. Mary Todd Lincoln dove headfirst into Spiritualism after the death of her son. That much is well-known. What isn’t is her husband’s attitude toward spooks. Abe was more circumspect. After listening to the spirit’s advice, he said the “celestials” didn’t seem to know how to run a military any better than mortals did. This should be filed under “Lincoln – Wit” rather than “Lincoln – Seeker.”

The Lincoln anecdote is one of many instances of comic relief, which is welcome in a book where more than a couple of personages take themselves too seriously In the Golden Dawn occult group in the Twenties, two members had an affair. The group advocated celibacy, but Lillian Geise and Paul Case defied the restraints. Things ended with Case fessing up to a less-than-chaste relationship with Geise: “The Hierophant and I were observed to exchange significant glances over the altar during the Mystic Repast.” You don’t come across camp like that very often.

A word of caution. Horowitz mentions, in passing, that the Beatles’ White Album and Let it Be contain raga-influenced melodies and lyrics. A howler like this, even though it only pertains to a subject the book doesn’t focus on, makes me somewhat more skeptical about the main course, however well-footnoted it is.

Still, you aren’t going to find a history of alternative religious beliefs in America this entertaining anywhere else. There’s plenty for the novice and there’s plenty that surprised and challenged me. I’m reminded of the saying: “There’s nowt sae queer as folk.” Dive in, the water’s strange.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department
Central Library

Artist Shares Technique in Free Watercolor Workshop

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 8:48am
Free watercolor workshop led by Starr WeemsSunday, March 30, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m., Storycastle, Second Floor, Central LibraryRegistration required; call 226-3670.
Starry NightGaze at the paintings of Alabama artist Starr Weems and be transported to a dream-like world bathed in color and light. “I enjoy making art that represents the collision of reality and the fanciful world of dreams… Vibrant colors mingle and overlap, creating a magical feeling that reflects my thoughts on spirituality and the enjoyment of life,” says Weems.  She uses an unusual process which consists of layering drawing gum and transparent watercolor to build high-contrast images.
On Sunday, March 30, Weems will share her technique for creating her unique paintings at a free workshop at the Central Library of the Birmingham Public Library. The event will be held from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the storycastle on the second floor. Registration is required; call 226-3670.
An exhibit of her artwork, titled “Illuminations in Poured Color: Paintings by Starr Weems” will be on display until April 11, 2014 in the Fourth Floor Gallery of the Central Library
Weems has had shows at various locations including the Kentuck Museum in Northport, Alabama, Lowe Mill in Huntsville, Alabama and Huntsville Public Library's Atrium gallery. Her work has been featured in numerous publications and exhibits throughout the Southeast. She makes use of her M.Ed. from Auburn by teaching art and Spanish to the students of Ardmore High School. 
Visit her at www.StarrWeems.com or connect with her on Facebook at Starr Weems Fine Art.

Archives Department to Share Love Letters of Alabama Couple Separated by Second World War

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 11:02am
Nicholas BonillaOpal KeithAs a result of the success the Archives had with last year’s social media outreach and sharing Loula Upton’s diary, we decided to do another similar project. We will be beginning the newest Social Media Exhibit on our Facebook Page. This time, a love story:

Nicholas Bonilla, a native of New York, met and married Opal Keith, a resident of Irondale, Alabama, while stationed in Alabama in the early months of World War II. Nicholas Bonilla served in Europe as part of the 101st Airborn Division. The collection we will be showcasing are the letters between Nicholas Bonilla and Opal Keith Bonilla written while Nicholas was undergoing military training and while he was serving in Europe. The letters span several years and chronicle the couple’s relationship while dating and married, everyday life during wartime, Nicholas’ training and military experiences.

Stay tuned for letters and love.

Catherine Oseas
Archives Department
Central Library

Holocaust Survivor Robert May Discusses Childhood Experiences Of Kristallnacht and Kindertransport, March 12

Mon, 03/10/2014 - 9:00am
 
The Birmingham Public Library is marking its ten-year partnership with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center in presenting Remembering the Holocaust, presentations by Birmingham residents  sharing their experiences and perspectives. The programs are held every Wednesday in March at noon in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library and are free and open to the public.


Remembering the Holocaust - A Conversation with a Holocaust Survivor
March 12
Dr. Robert May, who with his daughter, Ann Mollengarden, Education Vice President of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, discuss his passage from the age of ten, experiencing Kristallnacht in Frankfurt, Germany, joining the Kindertransport to England, and finally to the United States where he became a practicing Birmingham physician and a member of the United States Army.

Remembering the Holocaust - Holocaust Survivor Speaks
March 19
Max Herzel, a member of the BHEC and an Alabama Holocaust Commissioner, will speak of his experience, and show a film on the Power Point created by Ann Mollengarden, giving new facts and interesting aspects of his life from his escape from Germany at the age of ten, until his liberation five years later.

Remembering the Holocaust - The Path to Nazi Genocide, a USHMM Film
March 26
This 38-minute film examines the Nazis' rise and consolidation of power in Germany. Using rare footage, the film explores their ideology, propaganda, and persecution of Jews and other victims. It also outlines the path by which the Nazis and their collaborators led a state to war and to the murder of millions of people. By providing a concise overview of the Holocaust and those involved, this resource is intended to provide reflection and discussion about the role of ordinary people, institutions, and nations between 1918 and 1945.

Children's Book Review: Fortunately the Milk (Ages 8-12)

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 4:39pm


Fortunately the Milk
Neil Gaiman

Mom is out of town on a business trip so Dad and his two kids are going to have to fend for themselves. She leaves a LONG list of instructions but most importantly she says, “DON’T FORGET TO GET THE MILK!” Everything goes smoothly until the morning when they realize they neglected Mom’s most important instruction—there’s no milk. No milk for cereal, no milk for tea. It’s unacceptable! So Dad decides that it’s up to him to save the day. After a lengthy absence, he returns from the shop with more than a jug of milk. He’s got an outrageous story to tell. What begins as a mundane grocery run becomes the adventure of a lifetime. He encounters a stegosaurus in a hot air balloon, flying saucers, volcanoes, wumpires (not vampires!), and so much more. The kids manage to suspend their disbelief while he tells his wild tale. Can you?

Newbery Award-winning Neil Gaiman has created a children’s book that’s delightfully surreal and fun for all ages. The illustrations by Skottie Young add about as much detail and humor as Gaiman’s text. Fans of the author will also notice that Young drew the dad in his likeness. This is a middle grade chapter book, which I read in a little under an hour. It would make a great choice for a bedtime story.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Library

Free Money Management Classes for March Feature Couponing and Financial Advice for Senior Women

Fri, 03/07/2014 - 11:00am


Both classes are free and open to the public, no registration required.

Program: Couponing Basics with Heather Lebischak
Date: Monday, March 10, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Place: Springville Road 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.

Program: Financial Concerns of Senior Women with Dr. Stephanie Yates
Date: Wednesday, March 12, 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 are most often the challenges faced by 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.

These programs are part of the MakingCents: Resources to Help Your Money Grow and Smart investing@your library® series, a partnership between the American Library Association and the FINRA Investor Education Foundation.

LEGO My Library

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:56pm
What’s the connection between LEGOS, libraries, and books? A recent study by Dorothy Singer, senior research scientist at Yale University’s Department of Psychology and Child Study Center, believes that play contributes to early literacy development by increasing a child’s attention span, memory, creativity, language, and vocabulary skills. Playing also lays the foundation for logical mathematical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving- skills needed throughout one’s life. Tactile and kinesthetic learning activities, such as playing with LEGOS, helps increase understanding. In other words, play paves the way for learning.

Recently the Birmingham Public Library invested in our children’s education and learning process by adding LEGOS to our programming. Some of these Library LEGO Learning Sessions have produced such creations as dinosaurs, self-portraits, castles, ships, and more. It’s hard to say who learns the most—the children or adults. So parents, when you see the Birmingham Public Library hosting a LEGO program, don’t think twice, drop everything and rush to the library immediately for LEGO play time (I mean learning time).

For more LEGO fun, check out these books and other LEGO items at your local library.

The LEGO Adventure Book by Megan Rothrock
The LEGO Book by Daniel Lipkowitz
Heroes in Action by Shari Last
The Race for Chi by Amos Ruth
Calling All Master Builders by David Fentiman

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Free Workshops on the Affordable Healthcare Act to be Held at Birmingham Public Libraries in March

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 2:32pm

Free workshops that explain the Affordable Healthcare Act will be held at various Birmingham Public Library locations in March. Trained officials with Birmingham HealthCare, a nonprofit health organization, will lead the sessions and be available to assist with enrollment. Those eligible to enroll may do so, for free, during the sessions. Coverage providers in Alabama are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Humana Insurance.

Open enrollment will end March 31. Those without health insurance may incur a tax penalty when filing taxes in 2015, which is why officials encourage the public to attend the sessions to learn more about the law.

The sessions will be held on:

Monday, March 10 at 10:00 a.m., Five Points West Library

Monday, March 10, 10:00  a.m. at Smithfield Library

Monday, March 10, 1:00 p.m., Avondale Library

Tuesday, March 11, 10:00 a.m., Smithfield Library

Tuesday, March 11, 4:00 p.m., North Avondale Library

Wednesday, March 12, 3:00 p.m., Springville Road Library

Monday, March 17, 10:00 a.m., North Birmingham Library

Wednesday, March 19, 9:00 a.m., Pratt City Library

For more information about the new law, please visit www.healthcare.gov. To contact a Birmingham Healthcare outreach specialist, call 205-439-7217.

Book Review: Just Kids

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 1:00pm
Just Kids
Patti Smith

In the mid-sixties musical artist, poet and punk icon Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, still in their teens, are strolling through Washington Square on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Seeing them, a tourist lady turns to her husband saying, “Look, they’re artists!” Her husband replies, “Aw, they’re just kids.” Thus comes the title of this National Book Award-winning memoir of Smith and Mapplethorpe’s friendship, love, and their fierce artistic alliance. Immensely entertaining and chock full of anecdotes from the fabled young avant-garde of New York of that era, Just Kids, is nonetheless a deeply intimate portrayal of a struggle to survive, to eat, to sleep inside, and to advance their art.

Reading Just Kids, we hang out with Patti and Robert at Max’s Kansas City, perform before Andy Warhol at the early CBGB and live at the Chelsea Hotel. Allen Ginsburg makes a play for Smith at the automat, thinking she’s a young man. She has an affair with Sam Shepard and doesn’t even know his name. Robert spends hours at the mirror developing his look for an evening out. She makes some money reselling books. He hustles.

Another meaning, a secondary meaning, can be taken from the book title. “Just” can mean “merely,” but it can also mean “morally right and true,” an odd association with the scandalous Mapplethorpe, but apt in their dedication to their own, and each other’s art. Even with all their adventures Patti and Robert are continuously drawing, writing, photographing, performing, and making—weighing every nickel spent on needed art supplies.

Just Kids is a personal story of two destitute young heroes in a legendary time and place who prevail with and through one another.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Free Workshops on the Affordable Healthcare Act to be Held a Birmingham Public Libraries in March

Wed, 03/05/2014 - 12:45pm

Free workshops that explain the Affordable Healthcare Act will be held at various Birmingham Public Library locations in March. Trained officials with Birmingham HealthCare, a nonprofit health organization, will lead the sessions and be available to assist with enrollment. Those eligible to enroll may do so, for free, during the sessions. Coverage providers in Alabama are Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Humana Insurance.

Open enrollment will end March 31. Those without health insurance may incur a tax penalty when filing taxes in 2015, which is why officials encourage the public to attend the sessions to learn more about the law.

The sessions will be held on:

Monday, March 10 at 10:00 a.m., Five Points West Library

Monday, March 10, 10:00  a.m. at Smithfield Library

Monday, March 10, 1:00 p.m., Avondale Library

Tuesday, March 11, 10:00 a.m., Smithfield Library

Tuesday, March 11, 4:00 p.m., North Avondale Library

Wednesday, March 12, 3:00 p.m., Springville Road Library

Monday, March 17, 10:00 a.m., North Birmingham Library

Wednesday, March 19, 9:00 a.m., Pratt City Library

For more information about the new law, please visit www.healthcare.gov. To contact a Birmingham Healthcare outreach specialist, call 205-439-7217.

Birmingham Cherry Blossom Festival

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 11:36pm
The Japanese tradition of hanami (literally "flower viewing") dates back to the 8th century and celebrates the transient nature of flowers, specifically cherry blossoms (sakura), which bloom in early spring. While originally the tradition was limited to elite classes who would drink sake and read poetic tributes to the flowers, today the tradition has a wider reach.

In Japan, people gather in parks and have feasts under blossoming trees until late into the night. Since the beginning of the last century, hanami has spread throughout Asia and across the world.

Birmingham has had its own Sakura Festival for a number of years, sponsored by the Japan America Society of Alabama - a one day event held at the Japanese Garden in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. This year there will be a month-long festival of events and activities, culminating with the large festival at the Botanical Gardens.

  • February 23 to March 15: Haiku Contest For more information and to register: visit http://www.bplonline.org/programs/haiku/
  • Sunday, March 2, 3:00 to 5:00 pm, Doll Festival
    Central Library, Storycastle, 2nd Floor. Featuring Japanese hina dolls, a tea ceremony, origami workshops, and Miss Iwate, the Japanese friendship doll who has called BPL home since 1928. Bring your favorite doll!
  • Friday, March 7, 6:30 to 9:00 pm Bards, Brews, & Haiku
    Central Library, First Floor. Special edition of B&B featuring haiku and sake tasting, as well as performance poetry and beer. Crafts will be sold as a fundraiser for restoring Miss Iwate.
  • Saturday, March 8, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon. Haiku Workshop Central Library, Storycastle. Led by Terri French, coordinator of the Southeast Chapter of the Haiku Society of America. Registration required, call 205-226-3670.
  • Saturday, March 15, 10:00 am. Sushi-Making Class Birmingham Botanical Gardens Education classrooms.
  • Saturday, March 22nd, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Japanese Garden.
    This will be the main event of the Sakura Festival and will feature a variety of activities.
  • Saturday, March 22, 3:15 pm Japanese anime movie showing in the Administration Building, Birmingham Botanical Gardens.Saturday, March 22, 3:15 pm Japanese anime movie showing in the Administration Building, Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Linn-Henley Library Receives Significant Building Award

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 5:26pm

The Alabama Architectural Foundation recently honored the Linn-Henley Research Library with their 2014 Significant Building Award. We are proud of this designation and are thrilled that such a distinguished group recognizes our beloved “Old Library.” I spoke with the current president of the Alabama Architectural Foundation, Mr. Jamie Aycock, and learned that the award is given annually to a public building that has been in service for at least 25 years and has had a significant impact on the community. Nominations are submitted by the 5 Alabama chapters of the American Institute of Architects and are then voted on by that group’s board of directors. I was thrilled to learn that this year’s vote was unanimous in favor of the Linn-Henley Library.

 Significant Building Award
Click to enlargeWe are in good company. Previous recipients include the Rosenbaum House in Florence (Alabama’s only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright), the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Alabama Theatre. According to Mr. Aycock, who grew up in Jefferson County and who has many fond memories of the Library, the Linn-Henley building is, “one of those environments that can’t be replicated. There is nothing about any building that says 'library' any stronger than this one.” The award itself offers this eloquent description, “A living reminder of the past, the Linn-Henley Library continues its mission of service to our citizens, while occupying a sacred place in the community.” We extend our thanks to the Alabama Architectural Foundation for recognizing our lovely building.

M.B. Newbill
Southern History Department
Central Library

After Downton Abbey

Tue, 03/04/2014 - 11:30am


Enjoying Downton Abbey? When the season is over, you may enjoy some other PBS Masterpiece productions. Did you know that BPL has several PBS and BBC programs in our DVD collection? I thought that I would spotlight programs that you may not have heard of and the books that made some of these television programs possible.

DVDs
Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple
Call the MidwifeSeasons 1 and 2
Downton Abbey, Seasons 1, 2 and 3
Endeavour, Season 1 (Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse Series)
Garrow’s Law, Seasons 1 and 2 (Inspired by real life British barrister William Garrow, 1760-1840.)
I, Claudius (A wonderful miniseries that tells the history of Rome through the eyes of the elderly Caesar Tiberius Claudius, played by Derek Jacoby.)
Last Tango in Halifax
LutherSeasons 1, 2, and 3
Page Eight
SherlockSeasons 1 and 2
SilkSeason 1
VeraSeasons 1 and 2
Wallander, Seasons 1, 2 and 3
Zen (Italian detective Aurelio Zen solves cases as he navigates corrupt law enforcement officials and politicians.)

Books
Aurelio Zen Mysteries by Michael Dibdin
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Call the Midwife : A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
The Calling by Neill Cross (Luther TV series prequel)
Hercule Poirot Mysteries by Agatha Christie
Kurt Wallander Mysteries by Henning Mankell
I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, born 10 B.C., Murdered and Deified A.D. 54 by Robert Graves
Inspector Morse Mysteries by Colin Dexter
Miss Marple Mysteries by Agatha Christie
Silent Voices : A Vera Stanhope Mystery by Ann Cleeves
To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl (Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes, was reading this book when he was asked to write the TV miniseries that became Downton Abbey.)

Maya Jones
West End Library

Dr. Seuss' 110th Birthday To Be Celebrated at Selected BPL Branches

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 1:52pm

Three Birmingham Public Libraries will be celebrating Dr. Seuss' 110 birthday with treats, crafts, and readings.

March 3
Central Library/Youth Department/Story Castle
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Central Library's Youth Department will celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with crafts, activities, Dr. Seuss Bingo, and Dr. Seuss cupcakes.

Smithfield Library
4:00-5:00 p.m.
Members of the Links Inc. Birmingham Chapter will read to children as part of Read Across America and Dr.Seuss' birthday. Refreshments will be served.

March 6
North Birmingham Library
4:00-5:00 p.m.
The North Birmingham Library will celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with cake, crafts, and a movie.

History Teacher Amy McDonald Shares Commitment of Teaching the Holocaust, March 5

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:56am
 
The Birmingham Public Library is marking its ten-year partnership with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center in presenting Remembering the Holocaust, presentations by Birmingham residents  sharing their experiences and perspectives. The programs are held every Wednesday in March at noon in the Arrington Auditorium of the Central Library and are free and open to the public.

Remembering the Holocaust - A High School Holocaust Studies Teacher Perspective
March 5
Amy McDonald, history teacher and chair of the Social Studies Department at Shades Valley High School, recently received the Robert I. Goldman Award for Excellence in Holocaust Education from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous at their Annual Dinner in N.Y. She will share her deep commitment and reasons for teaching the Holocaust that brought her to the attention of this prestigious organization.

Remembering the Holocaust - A Conversation with a Holocaust Survivor
March 12
Dr. Robert May, who with his daughter, Ann Mollengarden, Education Vice President of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, discuss his passage from the age of ten, experiencing Kristallnacht in Frankfurt, Germany, joining the Kindertransport to England, and finally to the United States where he became a practicing Birmingham physician and a member of the United States Army.

Remembering the Holocaust - Holocaust Survivor Speaks
March 19
Max Herzel, a member of the BHEC and an Alabama Holocaust Commissioner, will speak of his experience, and show a film on the Power Point created by Ann Mollengarden, giving new facts and interesting aspects of his life from his escape from Germany at the age of ten, until his liberation five years later.

Remembering the Holocaust - The Path to Nazi Genocide, a USHMM Film
March 26
This 38-minute film examines the Nazis' rise and consolidation of power in Germany. Using rare footage, the film explores their ideology, propaganda, and persecution of Jews and other victims. It also outlines the path by which the Nazis and their collaborators led a state to war and to the murder of millions of people. By providing a concise overview of the Holocaust and those involved, this resource is intended to provide reflection and discussion about the role of ordinary people, institutions, and nations between 1918 and 1945.

Bards, Brews & Haiku at Central Library, March 7

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:30am
The Central Library's Fiction Department hosts the next Bards & Brews Open Mic event on Friday, March 7, 2014. The event will include haiku, sake tasting, and a Japanese craft sale along with the standard offering. The craft sale will raise funds to restore Miss Iwate, the Japanese Friendship Doll residing at BPL since 1928. Music by Andy Harris is from 6:30-7:00 p.m.; performances start at 7:00. The event is free to attend and is open to the public. Must be 18 and up to attend and 21 to participate. ID required. Refreshments will be served.

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

March 3 Marks Start of Spring/Summer Hours for Six Birmingham Libraries

Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:09am
Six libraries within the Birmingham Public Library system will return to spring/summer hours beginning Monday, March 3.

The neighborhood libraries are: East Ensley, Ensley, North Avondale, Powderly, Woodlawn, and Wylam. The new hours will be Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Wednesday hours will be 1:00-6:00 p.m. They are closed on the weekends.

Renovations continue at the Inglenook Library, a neighborhood library that has temporarily moved its location to the Inglenook Recreation Center. That library rec location is open 1:00-6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. They are closed on weekends.

Hours for all other libraries within the Birmingham system will not change. For a complete list of hours for all locations, please visit http://www.bplonline.org/locations/.

Children's Book Review: Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me (Ages 3-6)

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 2:47pm
Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me 
Daniel Beaty
Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me was awarded the Coretta Scott King illustrator award. The story is taken from a child’s point of view. Every morning he plays a game with his father. The young boy looks forward to their daily ritual. Then one morning the knock doesn’t come. He waits for his father to help him get ready for school and cook his favorite dish of scrambled eggs. As the young boy grows into adolescence he thinks, “Maybe he comes when I’m not home.” So, he writes his father a letter, letting him know how much he misses him. He wants his father to come home because there were so many things he needed to learn. He always thought his father would be there to teach him how to shave, drive a car, and dribble a basketball.

This book deals with the loss children feel due to the absence of a parent. Read Knock Knock to see how the young boy develops without his father.

Here is Daniel Beaty's spoken word performance of Knock Knock:



Felita Y. Hawkins
East Lake Library

The Passion of Delacroix

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 11:13am
Ever wondered who inspired the masters? Birmingham Museum of Art sheds a little light by welcoming Delacroix and the Matter of Finish, 25 paintings and 18 works on paper by French painter Eugene Delacroix, considered by many “the Father of Impressionism.”

Perhaps not a household name today, Eugene Delacroix was a major figure to the likes of van Gogh, Monet, and Degas. He is weighed as one of the most influential of the French Romantics and called the “Master Colorist,” due to his use of color and broad, expressive brush strokes.

Delacroix’s passionate nature is evident in his work; he chose heavy, politically-charged topics or emotional moments in other mediums of art to express the plight of the individual and was entranced with the fate of civilizations as a whole. He was a well-traveled man who took inspiration from the cultures he encountered, and relied heavily on literary, philosophical, and aural arts to inspire his works.

On the cusp of the old world of classical painting and the new, revolutionary world of impressionism, he held allure for many of the artists to follow, and they spoke of his personality and work as a mystery. Delacroix was a bridge between the strict rules and themes of classical painting and the ephemeral nature of the impressionists. He displayed suffering and violence delicately, never truly giving his stance on the situation itself but leaving the grim showing for the audience to decide.

To see this influential master, check out the Birmingham Museum of Art exhibit, Delacroix and the Matter of Finish which runs from February 22nd - May 18th 2014 and costs $15 a person. If you want to read more about Eugene Delacroix, feel free to peruse the following titles, available from the Birmingham Public Library:



Rachel JoinerArts, Literature, Sports Central Library

Birmingham Public Library’s March 2 Doll Festival Will Highlight Japanese Culture

Wed, 02/26/2014 - 4:14pm
Birmingham Public Library employee Haruyo Miyagawa with her hina dolls when she was a year old. Hina dolls are part of the Japanese culture and are displayed during the annual Doll Festival. Miyagawa will have some of these dolls on display at the library on Sunday.
The Birmingham Public Library will host a Doll Festival on Sunday, March 2, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Central Library. Children may bring their favorite doll or action figure, watch a Japanese tea ceremony, enjoy refreshments, and more. The event is free and for all ages.

During Sunday's library event, Japanese dolls will be on display, including the library's Miss Iwate. Miss Iwate is one of the Japanese "Friendship Dolls" Japan sent to American institutions in the mid-1920s as a thank you after American children sent blue-eyed dolls to the children of Japan. The Birmingham Public Library is the only place in Alabama that still has the doll that was given to Alabama. Miss Iwate is now in need of repair. Sunday's event is designed to bring attention to Miss Iwate and to highlight Japanese culture.

Yari Crawford, 4, is ready for Sunday's Doll Festival.Children will be able to make Samurai hats for themselves and their dolls, sample Japanese-themed foods and participate in an origami workshop. All events will take place in the library's second-floor Story Castle.

In Japan, the annual Doll Festival or Girls' Day Festival is known as Hinamatsuri, which is held on March 3. Their festival focuses on wishing for the health and future happiness of young girls. Sunday’s event will carry a similar message for all children.

For more information and images on Miss Iwate, visit http://www.bplonline.org/programs/iwate.aspx.

For more information about the library’s Doll Festival, call 205-226-3670.