True or False: Violence and the Qur’an

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dreamstime_xs_34715679Perceptions of Islam in the modern western imagination categorize it as a faith that advocates violence. Whether this is a true statement will be explored at the Main Library on Monday, October 24 from 6:30 to 8 pm. Akbar Keshodkar, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Department of History and Sociology; Director of the Africana Studies program at Moravian College, will present a program on the Fallacy of Violence in the Qur’an.  Explore verses in the Qur’an and evaluate how violence is discussed. Also, there will be a conversation about which groups of Muslims advocate violence in the name of Islam today. Register now!

Interview with author Katherine Ramsland (meet her at BAPL on 10/25!)

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The Bethlehem Area Public Library is thrilled to host author Katherine Ramsland on October 25 (6:30pm, Main Library). Dr. Ramsland has published 58 books (with more in the works) as well as countless articles on topics such as serial killers, criminal psychology, and the paranormal. At BAPL she will be signing and discussing a new non-fiction book about Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer (Confessions of a Serial Killer) as well as her new novel The Ripper Letter: Book One of The Hearts of Darkness Series. Library Director Josh Berk interviewed Dr. Ramsland about these new books and her fascinating career. Read their interview below and make plans to see Dr. Ramland’s event at the library, “Who’s Out There: The Menace of Ghosts, Rippers, and Serial Creepers” on 10/25.

JB: Thank you for joining me! You have written many works of non-fiction but your newest book is a novel. Is The Hearts of Darkness Series your first foray into fictionTheRipperLetter300? What accounted for your desire to write a novel?

KR: Actually, I wrote two vampire novels some time ago (The Heat Seekers and The Blood Hunters), so it’s not my first, but I had an idea based on a significant missing letter from the crime scene items associated with Jack the Ripper, so I created a supernatural world and a series of crime investigations for explaining its disappearance. It involved a lot of medieval codes. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to make it a series. For The Ripper Letter, I went to London, and for Book 2, Track the Ripper, I’ll go to Paris. My agent had urged me to write a romance, but it turned into a crime thriller instead — with some romance. And some great settings and Ripper lore.

JB: Why do you think that Jack the Ripper continues to be so fascinating over 125 years after those murders?

KR: It presents a puzzle, it’s about a “fiend” who got away, and it evokes an era of foggy bleakness that gives us delicious chills. The Ripper murders are like a good horror movie that has more than one interpretation. The murders were brutal and mostly quick, and the killer seemed to melt away on the streets of a bad part of London as if by supernatural means. So, it’s a challenging set of crimes. If it ever really gets solved, the solution will probably be disappointing compared with the current intrigue.

JB: Thinking back to the beginning of your career, what do you think originally sparked your interest to write about crime and other “dark” subjects?

KR: I’m fairly sure that my mother had a hand in it, since she gave me my first ghost stories to read and introduced me to Dracula, etc. But the crime aspect probably derives from a serial killer at work in my town when I was growing up. Dark subjects call to me and I particularly like the psychological aspects. But I don’t try to solve my own mystery, because that’s an energy leak. I prefer to just keep exploring and writing.

Ramsland_ConfessionSerialKillerJB: What was the research like in working on Confession of a Serial Killer? Did you spend much time with Dennis Rader? 

KR: I spent 5 years working with the “BTK” serial killer, Dennis Rader, who wanted to tell the story of his “dark journey” while also trying to understand it. So, it is a guided autobiography, with me using what I know from forensic psychology to help guide him in thinking about the influences in his trajectory toward violence. I had 10 years’ worth of letters from him, many drawings, and well over a year of regular phone calls with him, working out the whole thing through codes. That was challenging but also interesting, and now we have a rare book that is 80% his words, but structured in a way to provide benefits to criminology, psychology, and law enforcement.  Also, the victims’ families will receive most of the proceeds. For me, it was a professional accomplishment.

JB: So what scares you? 

KR: As mentioned, I don’t solve my own mysteries. But I do hate clowns and mimes.

JB: Same.

Register now for “Who’s Out There: The Menace of Ghosts, Rippers, and Serial Creepers” on 10/25 at BAPL




Delayed opening this Saturday

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Because of the Runners World 5K and 10K races, the Main Library will open at noon on Saturday, October 15. (Book drops will be open, but the streets surrounding the library will be blocked off).

The story of Jazz, Rhythm & Blues

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music scoreHear the music of The Count Basie Orchestra, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five, the electrifying blues of Muddy Waters, “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” – two versions, and Motown selections at the Main Library on Tuesday, October 18.  East Stroudsburg Professor Emeritus Patrick Dorian’s presentation will trace the music performed by and listened to by African-Americans from the 1930s through the 1960s. It will focus on how the musical styles evolved and expanded from a primarily race-based audience into a mass audience. Any jazz lover will enjoy this program! Register today! More here

Block Party today!

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girlblocks2Block Party at the Main Library this morning. Playing is learning!  Ages 2 and older with an adult. No registration. Free and open to the public.

More here

Modified Bookmobile Schedule on Saturday, 10/15

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The bookmobile’s schedule on 10/15 will see the following changes due to road closures resulting from the Runner’s World 5-K event in the downtown/South Side Bethlehem vicinity:

The 10 am stop at Stanley Avenue in Fountain Hill will be CANCELLED.

The stop at Hanover Elementary School will see a late start, running 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm.

From there the schedule will run as normal for the remainder of the day.

Toddlers rule!

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bookkidsThe Library’s Learn and Grow program for toddlers, ages 1 to 3, offers educational toys and activities, as well as helpful connections to community early childhood development professionals. Parents have a chance to meet individually with childhood experts to ask questions and raise concerns about their child’s emotional, physical and mental health.

Register for Learn and Grow series at the South Side Branch or the Main Library and give your toddler a healthy start for a lifetime of learning.

Modified Bookmobile Schedule Today, 10/1

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bookmobile13Just a friendly reminder that the bookmobile will not be running its normal schedule today in order to feature at the Touch-A-Truck library fundraiser at Tuskes Community Park in Upper Nazareth, from 10 am – 2 pm.

The bookmobile will also be at the Bethlehem Township Community Center from 3-5 pm if you’d like to visit a little later on.