Category: News

Smith/Thompson Poetry Reading April 3, 2012

In honor of National Poetry Month, the Alabama Center for the Book along with University of Alabama Libraries and the Alabama Writers’ Forum hosted a poetry reading April 3 in Gorgas Library. Returning to their creative roots, two Master of Fine Arts graduates from the University of Alabama, Jeanie Thompson and Abraham Smith read their poetry to a large audience of close to 100 students, faculty, staff, and friends of the poets.

Thompson and Smith, who graduated in 1977 and 2004, respectively, were both recently selected as the 2012 Alabama State Council on the Arts literature fellows.

Thompson, executive director of the Alabama Writers’ Forum, read selections, for the first time, from her developing new book, “The Myth of W-a-t-e-r”, which delves into the life of Alabama native Helen Keller.

Smith, an English professor at UA and assistant editor of Slash Pine Press, performed a variety of his poems.

Both Thompson and Smith will perform another reading in Montgomery on April 21 in the poetry tent at the Alabama Book Festival.


2012 Letters About Literature State Winners and Semi-Finalists

EACHERS/LIBRARIANS: Please note that funding for the 2012-2013 program has not yet been approved. Once this happens, LAL will be uploading the new contest guidelines on their website.

We anticipate some significant changes in who may be eligible to enter, so do please review the new guidelines once they become available.

This national reading and writing program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and presented in partnership with participating affiliate state centers for the book.

State winners in the Letters About Literature, a national reading and writing program, were recognized with a reception and awards ceremony Saturday, April 7, in Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library on the campus of The University of Alabama.

The event was sponsored by the Alabama Center for the Book.

The program asks young people in grades 4 through 12 to write to an author (living or dead) about how his or her book affected their lives.
Children’s author, Kerry Madden, was the guest speaker. Madden applauded and encouraged the students by sharing her life story and explained how everyone has something to write about.

Six hundred students from across the state of Alabama participated in this year’s contest and wrote to authors as diverse as Jeff Kinney author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever”; S. E. Hinton author of “The Outsiders”; and Gustave Flaubert author of “Madame Bovary.”
Sixty-four students were selected as state semi-finalists and were invited along with their families and teachers to the awards ceremony. Each semi-finalist received a certificate.

The top letters in each competition level were announced: Level 1 (grades 4-6), Level 2 (grades 7-8) and Level 3 (grades 9-12). First place winners received a $50 Target GiftCard, $100 from the Alabama Center for the Book and a journal. Second, third and honorable mention winners received cash awards from the Center and journals.

The three first place winners will now advance to the national competition sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented in partnership with Target. Winners will be announced later this month.

Two national winners in each competition level will receive a $500 Target GiftCard and will designate a favorite library that he or she wishes to receive a $10,000 grant from Target.

The four national honors recipients from each competition level designate a library to receive a $1,000 Target grant; those students each receive a $50 Target GiftCard.

Madden is the author of the Smoky Mountain Trilogy: Gentle’s Holler, Louisiana Song and Jessie’s Mountain. Gentle’s Holler received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and was a New York and Chicago Public Library Pick. Her picture book about Charlie Lucas and Kathryn Tucker Windham, Nothing Fancy About Charlie & Kathryn, will be published next year with her daughter, Lucy, illustrating the text.

The Alabama Center for the Book ( works with many organizations, individuals and agencies to promote reading, literacy, publishing, and other book-related activities. The Alabama Center for the Book is the Alabama Affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book and is housed in the University Libraries at the University of Alabama. The Center is located at 711 Capstone Drive, Tuscaloosa, AL, in the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, room 201.

Target sponsors Letters About Literature as part of its commitment to supporting education and early childhood reading. Target recognizes the integral role that reading plays in shaping a child’s future, because reading is the foundation for lifelong learning and success.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress ( has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The Center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

List of Alabama Winners 2012

Level 1 (grades 4-6)

First Place
Caleb Clarke
Spanish Fort Middle School
Second Place
Hannah Soloff
The Montgomery Academy
Third Place
Francie Hill
The Montgomery Academy
Honorable Mention
Julia Coccaro
Spanish Fort Middle School

Level 2 (grades 7-8)

First Place
Chenna Christoffer
Tuscaloosa Academy
Second Place
Rupa Palanki
Phillips Preparatory School (individual entry)
Third Place
Mario Madrigal
Oxford Middle School

Level 3 (grades 9-12)

First Place
Claudia Mitchell
Randolph School
Second Place
Sara Jane Kachelman
Florence High School
Third Place
Claire Oldfather
Providence Classical School

The 2012 Alabama semi-finalists included

Level 1

Shelby Lloyd Advent Episcopal School
Sophia Higgs, Advent Episcopal School
Anthony Minopoli, Berry Middle School
Adnan Reddy, Berry Middle School
Andrew Gedgoudas, Berry Middle School
Kristen Smith, Berry Middle School
Tuba Khan, Berry Middle School
Megan Seidel, Highlands School
Anna Lisa Goodman, Highlands School
Ada Cohen, Highlands School
Bisola Adediji, The Montgomery Academy
Sujin Lee, The Montgomery Academy
Tara Katz, The Montgomery Academy
Catherine Updegraff, The Montgomery Academy
Mary Jane McConnell, The Montgomery Academy
Madelyn Clark, Providence Classical School
Hannah James, Spanish Fort Middle School
Lana Stringer, Spanish Fort Middle School
Hunter Langham, Spanish Fort Middle School
Madison Fabber, Spanish Fort Middle School

Level 2

Raleigh Bruce, Advent Episcopal
Ellie Gorman, Advent Episcopal
Tomeka Frieson, Advent Episcopal
Olivia Minor, Advent Episcopal
Harper Johnson, Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet Middle School
Brittney Hudson, Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet Middle School
Kara Moncrief, Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet Middle School
Zachary Fitzgerald, Baldwin Arts and Academics Magnet Middle School
Mary Frances Lembke, Highlands School
Lauren Curry, Oxford Middle School
Aidan Lambrecht, Providence Classical School
Mary Katherine Givhan, Providence Classical School
Drew Lindley, Providence Classical School
Addison Harrison, Tuscaloosa Academy
Chelsea Alan, Tuscaloosa Academy
William Henson, Tuscaloosa Academy

Level 3

Isabella Janice, Roland individual entry
Gabrielle D’Arcy, Florence High School
Caroline Lentz, Florence High School
Hannah Wright, Florence High School
Teena Patel, Florence High School
Kaitlin Moon, Pelham High School
Paige Knight, Pelham High School
Stormy Womack, Pelham High School
Ashley Brown, Pelham High School
Belle Griffin, Pelham High School
Emily Rames, Pelham High School
Alexis Lang, Pelham High School
Joshua Daniles, Providence Classical
Matthew McDavid, Providence Classical
Olivia Miller, Providence Classical
Savannah Silver, Providence Classical
Faith Buckley, Providence Classical
Elizabeth Cummings, Providence Classical

Miniature Book Exhibit


Gorgas Library, University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

February 15 – April 15

For centuries individuals have been collecting miniature books. To promote knowledge of these tiny treasures, the Miniature Book Society has created a national traveling exhibit showcasing modern masterpieces as well as historic examples. Gorgas Library on the campus of the University of Alabama will be the site of the exhibit February 15 – April 15, 2012. The exhibit is sponsored by University Libraries and the Alabama Center for the Book.

The traveling exhibit also includes books from the Miniature Book Society’s annual competition. Two University of Alabama students from the School of Library and Information Studies Book Arts Program entered the 2011 competition. Their books will be featured in the collection.

Mary Elizabeth Watson’s book, CAT TALK, measures 3” x 2 5/8” and features images hand drawn and printed from photographic plates.

Timothy Winkler’s book, JUMBLE, 3” x 3” in size, is a letterpress book printed with polymer plates and linocuts. The design is meant to represent a chaotic “mess” of ideas. Winkler is both author and illustrator.

To accompany the exhibit, four additional display cases will be filled with 22 miniature books from W.S. Hoole Special Collections Library’s Book Arts Collection and information about the art of collecting miniature books.

In the United States, a miniature book is usually considered to be one which is no more than three inches in height, width, or thickness. These petite jewels can be very valuable. Earlier this year, a miniature book from 1749, ‘T Oranje Geslagt, was priced at $20,000 on a bookseller’s website.

The exhibit is open to the public and can be viewed during regular library hours: Monday-Thursday: 7:30 am – 2:00 am, Friday: 7:30 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sunday: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am. For holiday closings and exceptions call (205) 348-1416.

If you are visiting campus during the week between 7:00 am and 6 pm, there are three parking decks you may park in as a visitor: Ferguson Center, Campus Drive, and North ten Hoor. After 6 pm and on weekends a parking permit is not required and visitors may park behind Gorgas Library on Campus Drive. For additional parking information call (205) 348-5471.

2011 National Book Festival

An unprecedented 112 authors, poets and illustrators spoke and met with their readers at the 2011 National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress. The event held Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25 on the National Mall offered more authors and activities for young readers than ever before.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the first lady, were the honorary chairs of the event. The distinguished benefactor of the event, David M. Rubenstein, co-chaired the National Book Festival Board with Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress.

The Alabama Center for the Book was represented at the Pavilion of the States tent. Posters, bookmarks and brochures providing information about our state’s writers and the Alabama Center for the Book were given to thousands of young people and their parents. Each state along with the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories was represented.

In addition, a poplar pavilion feature was “Discover Great Places Through Reading”. A free map of the United States was presented at each table for an appropriate state sticker or stamp. A reading list of 52 books for young people with recommendations from each state was located on the back of the map. Alabama’s selection this year was To Kill a Mockingbird. Youngsters and adults alike were thrilled to receive a bright shinny silver sticker with a picture of a mockingbird.

A Photographic Display of American Cistercian Abbeys

“My Travels to All 17 Trappist Monasteries in the United States,” a collection of photographs by Kay Barnett of Eufaula, is on display through Oct. 9 in the Pearce Foyer on the second floor of Gorgas Library on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

“My only personal goal during my visits was just to capture the people, sights, settings and experiences of my travels,” Barnett says. “For me, this was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk with a very dedicated group of people.”

The exhibit features 41 photographs Barnett took of monks and their dwellings while she visited American Cistercian abbeys from 1996 to 1998. The exhibit also includes books written by monks, including the scholar and theologian Thomas Merton.

In 2001, HarperCollins Publishers, The National Review and Christianity Today all named Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain on their list of the 100 most spiritually significant books of the 20th century. Three other of his books are sometimes included along with his best seller: New Seeds of Contemplation, The Sign of Jonas and No Man is an Island.

Library hours are: Monday -Thursday 7:30 am – 2:00 am, Friday 7:30 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (exceptions for home ballgames) and Sunday Noon – 2:00 am. 

For additional information contact: Donna Adcock, or 205-348-1416.

Celebrate the Joys of Reading Aloud

Visit the 11th annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are honorary chairs for the event. The festival is free and open to the public.

Saturday, Sept. 24: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 25: 1 to 5:30 p.m.

For additional information including a schedule of events please visit:

Gone With The Wind Exhibit and Lecture

Do you remember the first time you saw the movie,Gone With the Wind?  David Williams of Tuscaloosa does.  In fact, after seeing the movie in 1969, he bought the soundtrack complete with a 28-page booklet about the author, Margaret Mitchell, the book and the film.  Thus began his collection ofGone With the Wind memorabilia.

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the book, selections of Williams’ collection are currently on display in the Pearce Foyer, Gorgas Library, until August 5. A replica of the famous Green Curtain Dress, foreign copies of the book, a flyer advertising the showing of the movie at Tuscaloosa’s Dale Drive-In and the Atlanta Constitution  newspaper dated August 12, 1949, announcing Margaret Mitchell tragic accident are just a few items on display.

Gone With The Wind Flyer

Sponsored by University Libraries and the Alabama Center for the Book, Williams will give a lecture about his collection on Thursday, June 23 at 3:00 p.m. in Gorgas Library, room 205.  The public is invited to attend.

Williams remembers seeing the film at the Capri Theater in downtown Tuscaloosa.  He was 14 years old and went with a church group.  His ticket cost $2.00.  He had heard of the movie but didn’t know much about it.  In fact, at intermission he thought the film was over and remembered thinking he enjoyed the movie but wanted the story to continue.  He shared his experience with his parents when he returned home and together they remembered their first time of viewing the film.  He was hooked.

When asked how many times he has seen the movie, Williams replied, “More than I should have; enough to memorize the dialogue!”  He tells a story of watching the film at the Ferguson Center once and the sound suddenly stopped.  The movie continued but there was no spoken word.  So until the problem was rectified, about a minute later, he was able to deliver the lines for those seated around him.

An original unused ticket to the world premier in Atlanta on December 15, 1939, is his favorite item in the collection and is on display.  Williams has only seen one complete ticket for sale and feels fortunate to get it.

Family members, friends and even members of audiences of groups he speaks to help him find items to add to his collection. The invention of e-bay has made items more assessable.  However, you must have a good knowledge of the material Williams reports.

“Many times I have seen books for sale that were autographed by Margaret Mitchell in 1938 or later.  Margaret Mitchell may have signed the book but not the Margaret Mitchell. She stopped signing books after January 1937,” Williams said.

The vast majority of items in his collection are originals with a few copies.

Williams and his family just returned from a family vacation in southern California where they toured Culver Studios.  In 1939, this was Selznick International Pictures where Gone With the Wind was filmed. Although studio tours are not given, Williams was able to look at the office of  GWTW producer, Davis O. Selznick, and the main administration building shown in the opening credits of all SIP films, including Gone With the Wind.  He was also able to stand on the front walk where a scene from the movie was filmed.  A big thrill for any GWTW collector.

Williams, a native of Moundville, has lived in Tuscaloosa since 1978.  He is a loan officer with Alabama Credit Union and music director at Moundville Baptist Church.  His wife, Libby is assistant director of Graduate Admissions for International Admissions and Recruitment at UA.  Their son, Spencer, recently graduated from Paul W. Bryant High School and will be attending Shelton State this fall with plans to transfer to the University.

Letters About Literature Contest 2010-2011

Congratulation State Winners 2010-2011

Letters About Literature Contest

Level 1 (grades 4-6)

First Place*
Ellie Guyader
Advent Episcopal School
Birmingham, AL
Second Place
Phillip McKenzie
The Montgomery Academy
Montgomery, AL
Third Place
Alexis Rueve
Highlands School
Birmingham, AL

Level 2 (grades 7-8)

First Place*
Gabrielle Aboki
Baldwin Arts & Academics
Montgomery, AL
Second Place
Ben Dasher
Advent Episcopal School
Birmingham, AL
Third Place
Afsaneh Faki
Advent Episcopal School
Birmingham, AL 

Honorable Mention
Michelle Bui
Oxford Middle School
Oxford, AL

Level 3 (grades 9-10)

First Place*
Mary Locker
Florence High School
Florence, AL
Second Place
Gabrielle Lindley
Florence High School
Florence, AL
Third Place
Shejuti Paul
Florence High School
Florence, AL
Honorable Mention
Cassidy Clevenger
Pelham High School
Pelham, AL

*Will advance to the National Level Judging

Congratulations to Gabrielle Aboki! Gabrielle’s letter was selected as one of the top 11 letters for Level 2’s National Competition.

69,200 letters were submitted in this year’s competition. 7,000 letters advanced to round 3 – state judging.

Thank you to all teachers and students for participating in the 2010-2011 competition. Please visit the Alabama Center for the Book website, , next fall for information about the 2011-2012 contest.