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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Summer Reading

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

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

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

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

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

Fiction Authors Live On

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

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

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

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

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

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

Check it out.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Review: The Shooting Party

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department/North Avondale Library