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May is National Inventor's Month

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 10:14am

“To invent, you have to have a good imagination and a pile of junk.” - Thomas EdisonThe first patent was issued July 31, 1790, by the newly-created Patent Board of the United States.  The Board referred to itself as the “Commissioners for the Promotion of Useful Arts.”  Its members were Henry Knox (Secretary of War), Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State), and Edmund Randolph (Attorney General).*
 The number of patents issued currently by the United States Patent and Trademark Office has exceeded 8,700,000. 
 Some inventors of fairly recent electronic devices probably had a software program for assistance rather than a pile of parts on a table, but inventing is still inventing.
To look at the patents for some familiar electronic devices, use the links below, and click on "Images."
*From The Patent Office Pony:  A History of the Early Patent Office, 3rd Printing, Kenneth W. Dobyns, p. 23

Michelle Andrews and Liz Winn
Government Documents/Microforms

Smart Art Festival, May 17

Thu, 05/08/2014 - 10:14am
BPL will participate in the city's Smart Art Youth Arts Festival at Boutwell Auditorium on Saturday, May 17, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The free event was created to highlight the types of cultural arts events nonprofit organizations offer during the summer. BPL will promote summer reading, which will launch on May 12. Officials expect 300 to 500 children to attend Smart Art, which will feature a food truck food court, games, entertainment, and about 30 vendors, including BPL.

Stroke Awareness Month

Wed, 05/07/2014 - 9:41am

The month of May is National Stroke Awareness Month. According to the National Stroke Association ( ,“A stroke or 'brain attack' occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.”

Strokes can happen to anyone, regardless of their age, race, or sex. Risk factors that increase the chances of a person having a stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and tobacco use.

The best way to recognize the symptoms of a stroke are by using the FAST technique endorsed by the National Stroke Association. FAST is broken down as follows:

Ask the person to smile.
Does one side of the face droop?

Ask the person to raise both arms.
Does one arm drift downward?

Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
Is their speech slurred or strange?

If you observe any of these signs,
call 9-1-1 immediately.

High blood pressure is one of the leading indicators of a person’s risk of having a stroke. In honor of Stroke Awareness month, the Woodlawn Library is partnering with the Jefferson County Department of Health to provide free blood pressure checks on Friday, May 9, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Qualified medical personnel will be available to talk to you about your blood pressure and to answer any stroke related questions that you may have.

Pamela Jessie
Woodlawn Library

A New Member of the Family

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 8:48pm
Last week at my cousin’s 70th birthday, I met a new family member, Chloe. She is a 10-week-old Corgi puppy. We were all enthralled by her vivacious personality and her good looks. She already knows how to “sit” and is being taught to obey other commands. This started me thinking about resources available at Birmingham Public Library on dog training and care.

ASPCA Complete Dog Care Manual 
Choosing a Dog: How to Choose and Care for a Dog
Complete Dog Care 
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training 
The Dog Encyclopedia Consultant 
The Everything Dog Training and Tricks Book: All You Need to Turn Even the Most Mischievous Pooch into a Well-Behaved Pet 
Dog Training for Dummies 
Learning to Care for a Dog
Oh My Dog: How to Choose, train, Feed, Nurture, and Care for Your New Best Friend
Puppies for Dummies
Your Child's Dog: How to Help Your Kids Care for Their Pets

Everything You Should Know Series
Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan - The Complete Third Season
Dogs for Dummies
Training You to Train Your Dog
Your Pup, Trained Solid: The Ultimate Step-By-Step Dog Training System

ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
The “Pet Care/Dog Care” page on ASPCA’s website is full of valuable information for dog owners. They cover everything from “disaster preparedness” to “what to do if you are allergic to your dog”. They also offer a six week online dog care course for $49.

Humane Society
This website has good tips and news reports about “dogs” and other pets and farm animals. They even have recipes for homemade dog treats.

Lucky Dog
I watch this show most Saturday mornings on CBS. If you’re looking for tips on how to train your dog or puppy, this show may help. It doesn’t hurt that all dogs on the show are shelter or rescue dogs. You can peruse the show archives and watch.

National Pet Week (May 4-10, 2014)
This website celebrates National Pet Week which is a part of National Pet Month (May 2014). These are some very good resources for pet owners and people who are considering pet ownership.

I hope these resources help you take care of and train your puppy or dog. I had no idea when I started this article that both National Pet Week and National Pet Month were in May. It’s a good time to remember our “…other family members” or consider getting “…another family member”.

Maya Jones
West End Library

Heather Lebischak Teaches Couponing Basics at Last MakingCents Program for April

Tue, 05/06/2014 - 8:38am

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.

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.

Build Your Own PC

Mon, 05/05/2014 - 9:59am

Is it time to upgrade your PC?  "As of April 8, 2014, support and updates for Windows XP are no longer available."  Does it take forever for programs to load on your machine?  Is it hard for you to find a PC that has the specific components you want?  How about building your own?

I know you may think it’s too complicated to build your own PC, but every PC has a few basic components:
  • Motherboard
  • Processor
  • Power Supply
  • Memory (RAM)
  • Hard Drive
  • Optical Drive (CD, DVD drive)
  • Operating System (e.g. Windows 8)
  • Video card (may be optional)
  • Case (Duh, unless you want dust on everything)
Online retailers such as and actually sell PC combos that come with everything you need to build a desktop PC, except the operating system. even features a video series which shows you step-by-step how to build a computer.  It is very straightforward and extremely helpful.  Keep in mind, though, building a computer is not like putting together a television stand with written instructions.  You will have to figure some things out on your own or seek help from another source like these videos.  

Once you build your own PC, you will spend all your free time thinking of ways to enhance and upgrade it.  You will become addicted to websites that sell computer components and eagerly await the sales flyers and newsletters you receive through e-mail.  Every time you see something faster, cooler, and more powerful, you will have to talk yourself out of buying it to upgrade your PC.  It may just be me, but I know there’s at least one other person out there.
Keep in mind, while you’re building your PC, that if it gets a good dose of static electricity from your body, it will fry your motherboard like bacon.  The simplest solution is to make a little hat out of aluminum foil.  Wait, that's to keep the aliens from hearing my thoughts.  Anyway, just be careful.  I was very reluctant to build my own PC, but once I did, I couldn’t believe I had waited so long.  I'd like to thank my mentor who received a lot of phone calls during my project.

Free Comic Book Day at Central Library

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 4:00pm

Central Library's Youth Department will distribute free children's comic books on Saturday, May 3, 1:00-5:00 p.m., as part of Free Comic Book Day. The American Library Association is providing the comic books, courtesy of Diamond Comic Distributors. One comic book per child. Supplies available while they last. For more information call 226-3655.

"This event is another way to make reading fun, especially for children having trouble with words. Through comic books, children can get information from the pictures. The pictures can help them understand the words. This is just one more way we can encourage reading," says Barbara Hutto, a librarian in the Youth Department.

Homewood Library Will Host Gifts of a Wordsmith, Starting May 6

Thu, 05/01/2014 - 1:01pm

Starting Tuesday, May 6, the free monthly adult poetry workshop that is usually held at the downtown Birmingham Public Library will be held at the Homewood Public Library until the Birmingham location's air conditioning unit can be fixed. This week, the Birmingham location reduced its hours to close at 5 p.m. The move was necessary because of rising spring temperatures and a broken unit. As a result, the evening poetry workshop known as Gifts of a Wordsmith had to be moved. Homewood agreed to host the event until repairs can made.

Gifts of a Wordsmith will be held on the first Tuesday of the month from 6 to 8 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The Homewood Public Library is located at 1721 Oxmoor Road in Homewood. Real Life Poets partners with the Birmingham Public Library to offer the workshop.

Gifts of a Wordsmith will return to the Birmingham location after repairs are made. The downtown location could have reduced hours for up to seven weeks. Parts have been ordered for the air conditioner. Repairs will be scheduled once parts arrive.

Film Noir

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 5:28pm
Night of the Hunter Film noir is a subgenre of American cinema that emerged during the Second World War and peaked during the late forties and early fifties.  French critics bestowed this label upon this subgenre when hundreds of American films flooded European theaters after the war.   The French were unable to see American films during their occupation by Germany and were clearly taken aback by the transformation they saw in Hollywood.

Hollywood’s happy-go-lucky westerns and musicals were seemingly replaced overnight by a steady supply of dark films in which down-on-their-luck men and women struggled for their lives, loves, and the pursuit of happiness.   Perhaps the most striking difference between pre- and post-war American cinema was that these struggles often ended in failure.

Film noir can be translated as ‘dark cinema’ though it literally means ‘black cinema.’  These films are distinguished visually by a strong reliance upon chiaroscuro lighting as well as unbalanced frame compositions and dramatically by characters with consistently poor decision making skills.  Most noir films were low budget productions, though there were several major Hollywood features with that are exemplary for the classic period of film noir.  (Almost all films made after 1960 are considered neo-noir, another subgenre that would require a separate blog entry to discuss.)

Kiss Me DeadlyMost critics and film enthusiasts associate noir with crime films -- and it is true that many noir pictures take place in crime filled environs.  However, noir has never strictly been limited to crime films.  These films have always featured elements of melodrama, mystery, and even horror.  Noir films spliced elements of these various genres together in order to explore the emotional instabilities and violent natures of their characters.

For my money, many of the best noir films are the ones that have placed an emphasis on dark and twisted tales of romance.  Here are a few of my favorites noirs with an emphasis on tangled affairs of the heart:

Gilda (directed by Charles Vidor; starring Rita Hayworth, George Macready, and Glenn Ford)

Gilda tells the story of down-on-his-luck gambler Johnny Farrell (Ford) who begins working for German casino owner Ballin Mundson (Macready) in Buenos Aires during the height of the Second World War. The story becomes complicated once Mundson returns from a business trip with his new bride, Gilda (Hayworth), and it is immediately obvious that Farrell and Gilda have a shared past as well as a vicious hatred for each other.  At this point, the film turns into something of a sado-masochistic love triangle -- a highly unusual concept for a major Hollywood production.  This will always be the film for which Rita Hayworth is best remembered due to several iconic moments including her famous “striptease” performance of ‘Put the Blame on Mame.’  It is one of my favorite films and one of the best introductions to film noir.

Naked Kiss (directed by Samuel Fuller; starring Constance Towers)

Legendary filmmaker Samuel Fuller had a penchant for peeling back the outer layers of the American dream to reveal the hidden wounds that mar the American landscape.  Fuller was most famous for films such as Pickup on South Street and Forty Guns as well as his use of a starter pistol to declare “Action!” when behind the camera.  In Naked Kiss, Constance Towers plays a call girl that starts her life anew in a small town.  She finds work as a nurse for children with disabilities in a hospital and soon falls in love with the town’s most eligible bachelor.  Of course things are not quite as they seem in this town and Kelly finds that the love of her life has a dark and twisted history of his own.

Gun Crazy (directed Joseph H. Lewis; starring John Dall and Peggy Cummins)

A gun-obsessed Army sniper named Barton Tare (Dall) returns home from the war and falls in love with a carnival worker named Annie Starr (Cummins) who performs in an Annie Oakley-styled sharpshooting show.  Their mutual love for guns leads to a violent encounter with Annie's former flame and soon spirals into an out of control crime spree.  The film features one of the greatest single-take bank robbery sequences of all time (see clip below) as well as some unusually suggestive gunplay.  Worth viewing.

Out of the Past (directed by Jacque Tourneur; starring Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer)

This was one of Robert Mitchum's best performances and features the actor as a private detective named Jeff who is hired to track down Kathie (Greer) the mistress of a high level gangster (Douglas).  Kathie has run off to Mexico with $40,000 that belongs her former lover and has a habit of leaving a trail of dead men in her wake.  This is a film that has everything you could ask for in a film noir - double and triple crosses, a true noir femme fatale, a snide crime boss with charming henchman, and a hero that has found himself caught in a mire of greed and lust.

All of the above films are available through the library catalog; however, if film noir piques an interest in you there are many more great films available through the library, Netflix, and Hulu. Some great film noir titles to take a look at include: Pickup on South Street, Phenix City Story, Night of the Hunter, The Big Heat, Kiss Me Deadly, The Third Man, Kiss of Death, Rififi, and The Devil Thumbs A Ride.

Book Review: The Graduate

Wed, 04/30/2014 - 11:59am
The Graduate
Charles Webb

More favorite movies. More novels they were based on. An ongoing pastime. It dawned on me: I’ve never read The Graduate, the book the movie of the same name sprang from. Copyright 1963. If we knew then what we know now, we could’ve read it and seen the Fifties dying and the Sixties coming into view. But we couldn’t have, and that’s why it’s interesting. This is a novel, and novels don’t signal change the way, say, manifestos do. But The Graduate did get good critical notices and it sold extremely well, so people were paying attention to it, just not the way they would have in, maybe, 1966. Most readers probably liked it chiefly because it reads very easy.

Ben Braddock comes home to L.A. after a stellar college tour back east. He’s achieved as much as anyone his age probably can, but it means nothing to him. His parents try to persuade him he’s at the top and that he should go to grad school, but Ben sees that as more of the same rut. Mrs. Robinson, Ben’s dad’s law partner’s wife and close family friend, invites Ben to have an affair with her. He takes her up on it, but this provides no meaning for him, either. But he does fall in love with Mrs. Robinson’s daughter Elaine, and this turns up the drama exponentially. Ben’s reckless and self-destructive, but he has his eye on something more. He wants to extract himself from the artificial gravity world he and everyone he knows seems to live in, a life of blankness well-illustrated by the flat dialogue, questions that usually end in periods and thoughtless statements that often come across to the reader as a strange species of gallows humor. Ben wants to be an awake human being, a very tall order, maybe impossible, worth risking all for. This is at heart a story of an existential crisis, but it’s a very wrenching and funny one. These days, Ben’s highest yearnings wouldn't seem nearly so odd. They’re something…common?

Sometimes I’m impossibly sanguine.

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department
Central Library

Birmingham Public Library Closing at 3:00 P.M. on Tuesday, April 29

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:13am
Due to the threat of severe weather expected for later this evening, all locations of the Birmingham Public Library will close today at 3:00 p.m., with the exception of the Southside Library, which is scheduled to close at 1:00 p.m. due to AC problems.

Children's Book Review: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 10:26am
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures 
Kate DiCamillo

Flora, a born cynic and comic book aficionado, takes part in some truly amazing events. The first of which is rescuing a squirrel from the maw her neighbor’s rogue Ulysses Super-Suction, Multi-Terrain 2000X vacuum cleaner. She resuscitates the squirrel and names him Ulysses. From the moment she brings him back to life, she is certain that the bizarre circumstances of his accident will imbue Ulysses with superpowers and she is not disappointed. Ulysses proves to be super-powerful indeed as he writes poetry, wields heavy objects, and flies! She can’t believe her luck, to foster a budding superhero! But, as Flora well knows, every hero must have a villain in their story and Ulysses is no exception. But real trouble brews when they find that his arch-nemesis is Flora’s own mother. That’s a big problem. Flora teams up with an unlikely crew of friends to keep Ulysses safe until he can realize his full potential and learn to fight for good.

This title is the winner of the 2014 Newbery Award, and I can certainly see why. The story is compelling with a mixture of quirky characters, super-squirrel action sequences, and a surprisingly sentimental ending. There is a great mix of comic panels interspersed with the text of the story to draw in reluctant readers as well as highlight the comic/superhero theme of the book. This book can work nicely for all ages. The younger kids are sure to be drawn in by the illustrations and premise while the upper elementary school readers will get a lot more of the humor. Flora’s affinity for SAT level vocabulary words can even teach parents a thing or two.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Library

World Book Night 2014 at Railroad Park

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 1:17pm

On Wednesday, April 23, 2014, I had the privilege of participating for the second time as a Book Giver for World Book Night. After having done this last year and having had so much fun spreading the love of reading, I knew I would apply to do it again this year . . . and got my wish.

As the Department Head of the Fiction Department of the Birmingham Public Library, I was delighted when a fellow staff member in the department cheerfully volunteered to assist. Bruce Seals and I set out mid-day (After all, on any given day it is nighttime somewhere in the world!) on Wednesday, April 23, to a relatively new park in downtown Birmingham—Railroad Park. We had the best time giving out 20 copies of Bobcat and Other Stories by Rebecca Lee. The crowd there was diverse and seemed quite happy to be enjoying a beautiful day with the city center skyline on the nearby horizon. Their joy doubled when they found themselves to be part of an amazing world-wide event, and a free book only added to their pleasure. We encouraged them to visit the Birmingham Public Library at any of its 19 locations and to be sure to take advantage of the upcoming Summer Reading programs that are geared for everyone—children, teens and adults (Yes, Summer Reading at the library is no longer just for kids.).

When all the books were gone and we were through, we looked at each other and asked, “Is this work?” Thankfully library service is always fun whether within the building, or in outreach and especially when involved with a special event like World Book Night.

Come to the library and join in the fun!

To learn more about World Book Night visit

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Birmingham Public Library Closing at 3:00 PM on April 28

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:22pm
Due to the threat of severe weather expected for later this evening, all locations of the Birmingham Public Library will close today at 3:00 p.m., with the exception of the Southside Library, which is scheduled to close at 1:00 p.m. due to AC problems..

Birmingham Botanical Gardens to Host Shakespeare-Inspired Bards & Brews Open Mic Event, May 2

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 9:00am
A performance gets judged at April's SLAM! at Vestavia Hills Library.
The Birmingham Public Library’s monthly Bards & Brews poetry performance and beer tasting will be held on Friday, May 2, 2014, at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, 2612 Lane Park Road. The open mic night will feature music by Michael “Loose” Cannon at 6:30 p.m., with poetry starting at 7:00 pm. Cahaba Brewing Company will provide the beer tasting.

The event will celebrate William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday. Guests are encouraged to share their favorite Shakespearean sonnet or lines from his plays, or their own verses inspired by Shakespeare.

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.

Also, Birmingham-area student participants in the library's Teen Poetry Initiative will be performing at halftime to raise money and awareness to send a team to the Brave New Voices, International Youth Poetry Slam in Philadelphia in July.

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, send emails to,  or visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page.

Temporary Hours Set for Birmingham Public Library’s Central Location

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 8:20am

Due to rising spring temperatures and a broken air conditioning unit at the Birmingham Public Library’s Central location, the library will have reduced hours for at least the next six to eight weeks. The needed repairs are the result of a January cold snap that ruptured the air conditioner coil in the library’s main air handler. Parts have been ordered. Repairs will be scheduled once the parts arrive.

Starting Monday, April 28, the downtown location at 2100 Park Place will open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It will be closed on Sundays. The new hours will not affect the system’s 18 other locations.

“Our patrons and staff have been very understanding as we work through this difficult time,’’ said Angela Fisher Hall, the library system’s associate director. “Our goal is to remain open as long as we can, while keeping our patrons and staff as comfortable as possible. Other city departments are working very closely with us to get the needed repairs completed in a timely manner.’’

To help keep down heat within the building, the access hours to public computers will also be reduced. The public computers will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The free computer classes that are normally offered Monday through Wednesday at the Linn-Henley Research Library have been suspended until further notice. Patrons are encouraged to visit the Five Points West or Springville Road libraries to check out their computer classes. For more information, visit

Pratt City Remembers: Special Tornado Anniversary to Be Held Saturday, April 26, 2014

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:24am

The Pratt City Library will join the Mayor's Office and the City of Birmingham on Saturday, April 26, to commemorate the third anniversary of a 2011 tornado that destroyed homes and buildings in Pratt City.

Rebirth and rebuilding continue in Pratt City as Birmingham prepares to mark the anniversary with music and more at Hibernian Street and Dugan Avenue on April 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Grammy-nominated singer Alvin Garrett will make a special appearance. The event is free.

The Pratt City Library, which was destroyed in the April 27, 2011 tornado but later rebuilt, will have a children's crafts table. The library will also provide free copies of the anthology Voices From the Storm, a collection of literary works inspired by the tornadoes of April 2011 and January 2012. It was written by people of all ages from across Alabama.

Free workshops will also be offered on Saturday.

A continental breakfast will be available at the library at 8:30 a.m.

At 9:00 a.m., Councilor Marcus Lundy, Jr. and HandsOn River Region of Montgomery will host an emergency preparedness workshop. Disaster kits will be given to the first 100. The workshop will address several topics, including what to do when a tornado is spotted in your area, what's the difference between a watch and a warning and how to protect yourself during inclement weather. "We think knowledge is power,'' says Lundy. "As people gain information on disaster preparedness, they should feel empowered.''

At 11:00 a.m., the City of Birmingham, in partnership with Legal Services of Alabama, will present "Preserving the Wealth of Our Communities: Educating the Public on Estate Planning." The importance of wills and trusts will be addressed.

From 12:00 to 1:15 p.m., Legal Services of Alabama will provide free, one-on-one appointments on estate planning. Participants must be a Birmingham resident to qualify for an appointment.

The library, which reopened in February 2014 with a newly added storm shelter, is located at 509 Dugan Ave. The library's phone number is 205-791-4997.

Note: The tornado happened on April 27, 2011. However, the commemoration will be held on April 26, 2014.

The Bard Turns 450!

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:11am
The venerable bard, William Shakespeare, was baptized on April 25, 1564, traditionally assumed to have been two days after his birth, in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Many of us were introduced to Shakespeare with high school readings of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, or Hamlet. We may have later wandered into A Midsummer Night's Dream, or Othello, or found ourselves enjoying modern retellings of Shakespeare's classic stories through Ten Things I Hate About You or Kiss me Kate (The Taming of the Shrew), My Own Private Idaho (The Henry cycles), She's the Man (Twelfth Night), Forbidden Planet (The Tempest), or West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet). No matter how we were introduced to the Bard, his plays and poetry have become an integral part of literature, culture, and even vocabularies.

While we don't know much about his personal life - that he was married to a woman named Anne Hathaway (no, not that Anne Hathaway) worked as an actor and writer, and had three children - Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith, and died in April of 1616.

Much more of what we know can be gathered from his 40 plays and hundreds of poems most of which were written from 1589-1613.

Shakespeare's plays are typically divided into three categories: Tragedies (such as King Lear and Coriolanus), Histories (Richard II and King John) and Comedies (Twelfth Night and Comedy of Errors). Although his tragedies are very commonly read in schools, the comedies make up the bulk of his plays by number. Two of his longest poems, The Rape of Lucretia and Venus and Adonis, were written from 1592 through 1594 when theaters were closed due to the plague.

Modern English (as opposed to Old or Middle English) had just taken root during Shakespeare's time. This gave the remarkable opportunity for new words enter the language.
Among words coined by Shakespeare:
Addiction: Othello Act 1 Scene 2
Dwindle: Henry IV Part 1 Act 3 Scene 2
Manager: A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 5 Scene 1
Uncomfortable: Romeo and Juliet Act 4 Scene 1
Find more words we owe to William Shakespeare at

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare can also be found online!

Come to the next Bards and Brews at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and share your favorite sonnet or soliloquy!

Learn more about William Shakespeare, his world, and his works at BPL.

The England of William Shakespeare / Michael Justin Davis ; photographs by Simon McBride.
Shakespeare's Heroines on the Stage / by Charles E.L. Wingate.
Will in the World : How Shakespeare became Shakespeare / Stephen Greenblatt.
 How Shakespeare Changed Everything / Stephen Marche.
The Friendly Shakespeare : a Thoroughly Painless Guide / Norrie Epstein.
Shakespeare's Kings : the Great Plays and the History of England / John Julius Norwich.
Reinventing Shakespeare : a Cultural History/ Gary Taylor.
Soul of the Age : a biography of the mind of William Shakespeare / Jonathan Bate.
The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry / edited by Patrick Cheney
Contested Will : Who Wrote Shakespeare? / James Shapiro
Shakespeare after All / Marjorie Garber
Shakespeare : the Invention of the Human / Harold Bloom

Allie Graham
Arts, Literature, Sports
Central Library

What’s the Scene, Jelly Bean?

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 9:00am

April 22 is National Jelly Bean Day, a day to enjoy gobs and gobs of the sweet gummy treat.
While historians can’t exactly say how, when or why Jelly Bean Day began, it is safe to say that individuals have been enjoying jelly beans for over 100 years.

The Turkish Delight, a Middle Eastern sweet made of soft jelly, covered in confectioner’s powder, was an early precursor to today’s jelly bean and its gummy interior. It is believed that the jelly bean first surfaced in 1861 when Boston confectioner William Schrafft urged people to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the American Civil War as a morale booster.

One of the most famous jelly bean connoisseurs was United States President Ronald Reagan. A blueberry flavor jelly bean was specially created for his 1981 Presidential Inauguration. Believe it or not, more than 3 tons of jelly beans were eaten during this event! President Reagan was responsible for launching the very first jelly beans into space when he sent a jar to the 1983 Challenger crew as a surprise for the astronauts. President Reagan always kept a jar of jelly beans on his desk in the Oval Office; “We can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing around the jar of jelly beans.”

Today, jelly beans are more popular than ever. Each year in the United States there are 16 billion jelly beans manufactured just for Easter. This is enough to circle the Earth more than 3 times if they were laid end to end. According to Jelly Belly, the top manufacturer of jelly beans, Very Cherry remained the most popular flavor of Jelly Beans for two decades until 1998, when Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans world- wide, and that is where it remains.

Suggested reads for our youngest bean-loving patrons:

Arthur's Jelly Beans by Marc Tolon Brown
How Many Jelly Beans? by Andrea Menotti
Jelly Beans for Sale by Bruce McMillan
Jelly Beans from Start to Finish by Claire Kreger
The Giant Jelly Bean Jar by Marcie Aboff
The Jelly Bean Fun Book by Karen Capucilli

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

RLCC Classes and Proctor Services Deferred

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 1:38pm
Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) classes and Public Computer Services Department proctoring services have been temporarily deferred until further notice due to building maintenance and repairs in the Central Library branch. We apologize for any inconvenience. 

Please visit the Birmingham Public Library website or Birmingham Public Library blog for the latest news and updates on the progress status of the maintenance and repairs. Please check the RLCC website for updates on when classes and proctor services will resume.