Friday, November 17, 2017

Free Computer Classes in December at Central Library

The December computer class schedule is available. All classes are free but registration is required. For class descriptions and to register online, visit the Birmingham Public Library events calendar or call the Computer Commons Department at 205-226-3681.

Exploring the Library. . .Without Leaving Your Home

by Pat Rumore

These days you can explore the library without leaving your home. Over the last couple of years I have downloaded several apps to my iPad and my Android phone to take advantage of downloadables from the library.

This way I can use library services day and night, even from my bed. One I've been exploring lately is Kanopy, which is a video streaming service for libraries with a collection that is described as being five times larger than Netflix—over 30,000 films.

When you enter Kanopy, you quickly get an idea of what's available. It is a little more highbrow than Netflix because it includes a wide variety of independent films, world cinema, short films, classic films that are not necessarily what you see on Netflix or TCM, art house films, true crime, horror, as well as The Great Courses.

There are lots of documentaries—food for thought on such subjects as human rights of all kinds, pop culture, guns in America, women leading social causes across the world, and more. There is a whole list of Ken Burns films as well as New York Times critics picks. You can pick from movies, documentaries, the arts, business, education, global studies and languages, health, media and communications, science, social sciences, and instructional films and lessons. And it's all free.

Right now I am mostly into entertainment, so my "watch list" includes several independent and foreign films that I haven't come across at local theaters or on television. Last night I watched Ken Burns' two-part insightful portrait of the life of Thomas Jefferson.

So far I've enjoyed everything I've watched. Of course you can opt out at any time if you start something you find you don't like or can't finish.

Add Kanopy, hoopla, Freegal, Flipster, MangoOverdrive and Libby (Overdrive app) you have a whole world at your fingertips. Your favorite librarian can help you access this world if you have any problems.

P.S. Support BPL on #Giving Tuesday so we can keep downloading in the middle of the night. 

#Giving Tuesday is a global giving movement that inspires people to take collective action in their communities to give back to the causes they believe in, and help create a better world. #Giving Tuesday demonstrates how every act of generosity counts, and that they mean more when we give together. Show your support for Birmingham Public Library and our community on Tuesday November 28.

A Teen Read Week Celebration

by Saundra Ross, North Avondale Branch Library

Creative young writers and winners at North Avondale Library

Teen Read Week was celebrated in a big way at the North Avondale Library. Although it was Teen Read Week, we had younger kids eager to participate. All participants were encouraged to create their own story in handmade books.

There were stories created about bubble gum floors in a pink castle, "The Girl without a Cell Phone," "My First School Fight," and a variety of others. Elaborate book covers were designed to bind these delightful and creative stories. The covers were decorated with handmade drawings, construction paper cutouts, yarn, glue, and markers.

For added fun the kids were given an opportunity to present their stories and their names were entered into a drawing for prizes. The library staff was thanked by the kids and expressions of enjoyment were given.

“The greatest football game ever played in Birmingham. . .”

First Alabama-Auburn football game, February 22, 1893
Photo: Auburn University Digital Library

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

When Alabama and Auburn face off November 25 in the 2017 Iron Bowl, they will be continuing a tradition considered one of the most important football rivalries in the annals of American sports. That tradition began nearly 125 years ago in a field not far from the Avondale Library.

The very first Alabama-Auburn football game was played February 22, 1893, in what was then Lakeview Park. The game was played before an estimated crowd of 5,000 and was won 32-22 by Auburn (then named the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama). The victory cup presented that day by a Birmingham Belle is on display at Auburn University.

Historic marker located at Clairmont Ave. and 32nd St. South

On Thursdays I like to share tidbits of local history like this on Avondale Library’s Facebook page. If you’d like to find out more, check out Avondale Library’s Throwback Thursday posts and BPL’s Digital Collections.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Southern History Book of the Month: Magic City Cravings: The Most Requested Recipes from Birmingham Restaurants Then & Now

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

Magic City Cravings: The Most Requested Recipes from Birmingham Restaurants Then & Now
Martie Duncan with Chanda Temple
Foreword by Taylor Hicks

For people who enjoy good eating, this time of year is worthy of celebration in song: “Food, glorious food!” Perhaps you like a home-cooked holiday dinner, or maybe your family prefers going out to a restaurant to celebrate. Magic City Cravings will appeal to both preferences as it serves up a smorgasbord of recipes from Birmingham restaurants—the best of yesterday and today.

If you’re nostalgic for some of those Birmingham dishes you thought you’d never taste again, head straight for the chapter “Gone But Not Forgotten Favorites,” in which you’ll find treats like the Ensley Grill Cinnamon Rolls, Joy Young’s Egg Foo Young (remember when Joy Young was the only Chinese restaurant in town?), Marsh Bakery’s Coconut Cake, and the She-Crab Soup from Cobb Lane—supposedly lauded by Julia Child as the best she’d ever eaten. Quite a recommendation.

In addition to the recipes, there’s a culinary history of Birmingham that includes “Greek Restaurant Roots”—if you’ve lived in the Birmingham area for very long, you’ve probably eaten at a restaurant owned by one of the Greek families that have left their mark on Birmingham cuisine, ranging from Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, originally run by Gus Koutroulakis, to George Sarris’ Fish Market. Other ethnic influences on the Birmingham food scene include numerous Italian, Chinese, Jewish, Indian, and African American families. And Birmingham’s love affair with food continues to this day, as evidenced by the excitement over the recent opening of the Food Hall in the former Pizitz Building downtown.

People who are new to the Birmingham area would probably find the “Where to Eat What” chapter very useful with its suggestions on how to locate a good meal, whether it’s breakfast or brunch or happy hour, or even “Late Night Bites.” What type of food do you crave? Check the listings for “Meat-And-Three”: A Birmingham tradition: meat and 3 vegetables for the uninitiated—and by vegetable, we mean mac ‘n cheese.

Maybe you’re hunting for “A Great Burger” or “Decadent Desserts.” And great food doesn’t have to have one fixed location; be on the lookout for fantastic offerings via Food Truck from Big Spoon Creamery or Snapper Grabber’s Coastal Kitchen. There’s also a handy map of Birmingham area neighborhoods to help you locate your choices more easily.

So whether you prefer fine dining out or home cooking for your holiday meals, reserve some time to take a look at Magic City Cravings; if it doesn’t make you lick your lips and go “mmmm,” you should have your doctor check to make sure your taste buds haven’t shriveled up and died. Enjoy a delicious holiday season!

For further information:
Martie Duncan on Food Network
Chanda Temple
Pizitz Food Hall
“50 Essential Birmingham Restaurants”
“20 Alabama Restaurants We Wish We Had Back”

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Birmingham Public Library Book Feast Reading Challenge

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for fun activities such as eating, shopping, watching football, and spending quality moments with friends and family. For the second straight year, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting the Book Feast Reading Challenge, a program designed to make sure Birmingham area school children don’t leave out another important, fun activity: reading.

BPL is encouraging students in grades K-12 to participate in its online Book Feast Reading Challenge between now and November 30, 2017, by registering at this link:

The more books you read by November 30, the more virtual badges and awards you can win. All student participants who register online will be entered into a drawing for a special prize gift pack to be presented at each of the 19 BPL locations to those who read the most books.

A 2016 reading challenge winner at the Ensley
Branch Library
Janine Langston, coordinator for BPL youth programs, said, “If you are a teacher, this is a great way for your students to earn extra credit during the Thanksgiving holiday. If you are a parent, it is a great way to slow down for some one-on-one time with your child. Enjoy reading a book together. Pass along the love of reading with friends and family.”

Besides the Book Feast Reading Challenge, here are some other ways to celebrate Thanksgiving at BPL:

Smithfield Library Thanksgiving Basket GiveawayCheck out five books at Smithfield Library to enter into the drawing. The winner will be drawn at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 16.

Tot Time with Mrs. Eve: It's Turkey Time, Avondale Regional Branch Library, November 20, 11:00 a.m. – Gobble gobble! Mrs. Eve is thankful for great libraries, library families, and the opportunity to share these wonderful holiday stories with you! Tot Time is designed for 2 to 4 year olds, with a parent or caregiver; no groups, please. Registration required.

Active Living – Harvest Crafts, Five Points West Regional Branch Library, November 22, 10:30 a.m. – Participants will have a fun time making holiday crafts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Staying Healthy During the Winter Season

by Karnecia Williams, Inglenook Branch Library

As beautiful and romantic as this time of the year is, it carries with it a few challenges that we must all be aware of and be equipped to face. It is tempting to place most, if not all, the blame on the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays, but there are other and more important challenges that we face, which is staying healthy. Alabama’s weather is volatile and strays off script during any season, but more people tend to get physically sick during the fall. Some people even experience seasonal depression termed Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD during this time of the year as well.

Fortunately, there are several resources available at the Birmingham Public Library that will help us all take a more proactive approach in combating both physical and emotional challenges that accompany winter seasons. Check them out below!

Mindful Beauty: How to Look and Feel Great in Every Season by Estelle Lefebure
The Immune System: Your Body's Disease-Fighting Army by Mark P. Friedlander, Jr. & Terry M. Phillips
Stay Healthy at Every Age: What Your Doctor Wants You to Know by Shantanu Nundy
Winter Blues: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder by Norman E. Rosenthal
Prescription for Natural Cures: A Self-Care Guide for Treating Health Problems with Natural Remedies Including Diet, Nutrition, Supplements, and Other Holistic Methods by James F. Balch
Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Our Body's Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
Understanding Depression by Rudy Nydegger

North Birmingham Zoobrary Reporting: November’s Pet of the Month is Spike Pricklepants

by June Lacanski, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

Spike laughs at his own jokes

Interviewer: Today we are visiting with Spike Pricklepants, North Birmingham Library’s resident Hedgehog. Mr. Pricklepants, wake up please. I need to ask you some questions. Spike!
Spike: Why must you interview me during the day? You know I sleep during the day. Come back when it is darktime.

Interviewer: You seem to be awake now. So let’s get started. I have to ask you first how you got your cute and very appropriate name?
Spike: The children at North Birmingham Library named me that. Ask me why?

Interviewer: Umm, why? Because you have a prickly personality?
Spike: I do not!

Interviewer: Yes you do. But what other reason then?
Spike: Hell-o! Because I am spikey. But I’m not covered with quills. Nor am I related to a porcupine. I have hard sharp hollow hairs covering my top and sides. When I sleep or feel threatened, I roll into a ball to protect my soft belly. The End. (yawn) Now back to my nap…

Interviewer: How long have you lived at the North Birmingham Library?
Spike: (yawn) 2 years, 2 months, and 4 days as of this Thanksgiving, 2017.

Interviewer: I’ve heard of the “Terrible Two’s” when a toddler begins to be a bit more troublesome. I’m not calling you terrible, but why do you insist on relieving yourself next to your litter box the day your cage is cleaned?
Spike: I don’t do that!

Interviewer: Yes you do!
Spike: One time I didn’t!

Interviewer: Good grief, you are so argumentative! Let’s see… I am supposed to ask you something. At the end of last month’s Interview with Charlotte, I promised readers that I would ask this question: “When did you realize that your dad ate your brother?”
Spike: That is a dumb question! Hedgehogs are not cannibals! Ask Sabastian; his kind does eat their young!

Interviewer: Oh. Never mind. Ok, so what is the coolest thing that has ever happened to you at the library?
Spike: Well, once when I was young and foolish, I found my way out of my big new cage! The Silly Folks put my cage onto the floor in the Zoobrary; wasn’t that thoughtful? During the day I slept on the bookshelf where the 900 number books live. But at night, I went into my cage to eat, drink, play and relieve myself. I am the smartest animal in the library; I knew that pooping anywhere else would give me away. Besides, I am very tidy!

Interviewer: I happen to know that you are anything but tidy! Anyway, how did you end up back on a shelf in the Zoobrary?
Spike: It’s all very simple. One Monday night I went into the cage before the library closed at 8:00. The Silly Folk walked over and closed my door! Just like that, I became a caged animal again. But I really did it on purpose. I’m too smart to get caught if I didn’t want to be.

Interviewer: Yeah, right. How long were you out?
Spike: I was out for 10 days, 3 hours, 42 minutes and 16 seconds. But, you know, freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I don’t think the Silly Folks knew there was a mouse running around loose too. He was kind of nasty and scary. I avoided him like the plague! Huh, get it? The plague.

Interviewer: Did the mouse mess with you or your cage?
Spike: No way, Jose! I flared up my spikes one time, and he vacated the whole children's area!

Interviewer: I happen to know that you are a very popular part of North Birmingham Library’s grubdown program every Tuesday afternoon at 4:00. Do you enjoy grubdown?
Spike: Heck yeah! grubdown stands for grub worms! I love grub worms!

Interviewer: Grubdown does not stand for grub worms. The program is called grubdown because as well as petting, holding, and brushing the pets, patrons get to feed them.
Spike: Well, whatever. Did you notice that I root around the ground like a pig does, sniffing for grub worms or other bugs? My nose is actually a lot like a small version of a hog. Thus, the “hog” part of my description. Then, the “hedge” part is obvious, too. Aren’t I an interesting fellow?

Interviewer: Why yes you are! Of course I have to ask your favorite book.
Spike: What do you want to ask my favorite book?

Interviewer: No, no. What is the name of your favorite book?
Spike: Well, I kind of like books about Sonic the Hedgehog.

Interviewer: Those are fiction books. Do you ever read nonfiction books?
Spike: Yes, I love nonfiction! When I was loose, I read a lot of books in the 900 area. I am pretty smart, you know. I know where I came from!

Interviewer: Really? Where did you come from? Asia?
Spike: No.

Interviewer: Well since you’re an African Pygmy Hedgehog, I’d say you came from Africa.
Spike: Nope!

Interviewer: OK, I give up. Where did you come from then?
Spike: Ha! I came from Ed’s Pets.

Interviewer: Alrighty then. You like books that teach you things.
Spike: I read all the books in the Zoobrary about my fellow pets. They are all weird!

Interviewer: They are not weird; each one is just different.
Spike: You know what’s not fair? Jabberwocki never gets waked up!

Interviewer: We don’t have to. Jabberwocki likes daylight and sleeps at night. He is diurnal.
Spike: No wonder I am grouchy! You Silly Folks wake me up all the time…you argue with me…and never put a book in my cage for me to read…before I…go…to…sleep.

Interviewer: Well I suppose that’s all the answers I’m going to get, since you have rolled up into a ball. Would you like a grub worm?
Spike: At least 7 pleassssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Interviewer: Well, thank you Spike Pricklepants. I hope the readers learned something about you today.

Please join us next month when our interviewer asks, “Do you think there is a heaven for dead rodents?”

Monday, November 13, 2017

Vocational Readiness Workshop Scheduled November 20 at Central Library

What: Vocational Readiness workshop
When: Monday, November 20, 2017
Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: Free and open to the public

Choosing a career is not any easy undertaking. Likewise, once you’ve chosen a career, finding a job can be a pretty difficult task as well. When you consider that throughout your lifetime you spend more hours at your job than you do anywhere else, you really need to put the time and effort into making good decisions in regards to career selection and job searching. This is not only true for young people who are entering the job market for the first time, but also for adults who are either reentering the job market after an absence, looking for a new job, or are contemplating a career change. If you fall into any of these categories, then you should plan to attend the Birmingham Public Library’s Vocational Readiness workshop.

Monday, November 20, 2017, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp 
  • New Age Online Application Process offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Bootcamp teaches techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.
The workshop presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

For more information about the workshops, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Card-Making Holiday Program For Adults

Card-Making Holiday Program For Adults
Central Youth Department Storycastle
Monday, December 4, 2017
10:00-11:30 a.m.
Would you love to make a homemade greeting card for that special someone this holiday season? Are you looking for a way to explore design and express your creativity? Well, look no further. Join us for a festive, fun and creative class as we make seasonal homemade greeting cards.

What better way to get into the holiday spirit? We’ll have fun combining various papers, colors and designs to make unique creations. Supplies and refreshments will be provided. Just bring your creativity!

Registration required. Limit 12 participants. Register online through the events calendar or call Leslie
 Deason at 205-226-3677.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

ACT Prep Classes, Tutoring Workshops Available at Smithfield Library in November

Daily, the Birmingham Public Library's 19 locations across the city provide free programs and services, showcasing value far beyond being a place to check out books and DVDs. The Smithfield Branch Library’s free ACT prep classes and tutoring services for teens—offered weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays—is a prime example. The Smithfield Library will use BPL’s free database, Learning Express Library, which offers practice sessions for the ACT.

Prep for Success! scheduled sessions
Tuesday, November 14, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Thursday, November 16, 3:30–5:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 18, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 2:00-6:00 p.m.

These sessions are meant to help with the four required sections of the ACT: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Advance registration is required. Register online through the Birmingham Public Library events calendar, or call the Smithfield Library at 205-324-8428.

Can Reading Be Embraced Again?

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Parents learning the importance of family reading time at 1-2-3 Play with Me
at the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

A new school year is well underway for students. So, the fight to get them focused on all that is school has begun. Summer allowed students the freedom to more than likely use their tech gadgets until their heart’s content. Now, parents and teachers will have to be the “bad guy” and put forth steps that will temper the desire for students to use these devices so frequently. Most students do not have an inkling of what it was like before smartphones, video games, social media, texting, and the many other tech formats that engross their lives now. As a student, I was just on the cusp of technology integration. This was when items such as cell phones were simply used to talk. Now, it is amazing that you can video chat, discover the exact location of places, and have an app for almost anything you can imagine to assist with the tasks of your daily life.

Smartphones, games, computers, apps, etc. have really spoiled all of us. They are created to make users feel that they cannot live without them. The impact that technology has on students is real. Students now desire instant gratification and that is exactly how many of the games and apps that they use are designed. One of the residual effects of all of the technology is that students have low attention spans. This leads me to think about the steady decline in students reading for pleasure. Technology is entertaining and satisfies immediately but reading is a commitment. Reading a book is a commitment that may take hours to days to complete. Many students simply would rather spend their time doing something other than reading for the pleasure of it.

Children acting out Jack and the Beanstalk at the Avondale Regional
Library's Wondertellers program
Visualization is when the words and the ideas on the page trigger mental images that relate to what is being read in some way. These images are like movies in their heads, and this increases their understanding of what is being read. Students of the tech generation may have a harder time with creating mental images on their own because current technology has numbed that skill for many of them. Images are being created for them through graphics, sound, design, etc. They are receiving instant stimulation through YouTube, Facebook, texting, and so many other formats. Reading for pleasure is simply not a high priority for most students because it takes more effort in comparison to what technology has to offer.

Visualization is a very important reading skill that is needed in order for deep reading to occur. How can this skill be strengthened? There is not a quick fix for this; however, introducing students to a variety of books that assist in strengthening their ability to create mental images as they read is a start. Embracing reading and taking time for deep reading is a goal that parents and teachers should set with students. It is not unreasonable for students, depending on their age, to become acclimated to the habit of reading for 30 minutes to an hour a day sans technology. Below you will find a list of books which use a mixture of sensory elements that encourage readers to visualize as they read.

Picture Books
We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too. — Anonymous
Caught reading at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan
Puddles by Jonathan London
I’m in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor
Precious and the Boo Hag by Patricia McKissack
Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
See the Ocean by Estelle Condra
Bedhead by Margie Palatini
A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon

Chapter Books (listed from easy to difficult)
Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
Cam Jansen series by David Adler
Amelia Bedelia series by Herman Parrish
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Search the JCLC catalog for these books and more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Money Matters Workshop – Saving for Retirement Scheduled for November 15 at Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library is partnering again this year with UAB’s Regions Institute for Financial Education to offer a series of Money Matters workshops to be held each month at our Central location. Each of the workshops covers a different topic, but all are designed to help you gain a better understanding of your personal finances and begin making a plan for the future.

All workshops will be held in the Youth Department’s Story Castle, which is located on 2nd floor of the Central Library. Representatives from the Regions Institute for Financial Education in UAB’s Collat School of Business will serve as instructors for each of the workshops.

What: Money Matters workshop series
When: Third Wednesday of the Month, October 2017 thru May 2018
Time: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.
Where: Birmingham Public Library – Central Library, Youth Department, 2nd floor, Story Castle

To learn more about the workshop series as well as other personal finance resources available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Below is a listing of the Money Matters workshop series by month through May 2018. The workshops are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, with the exception of the one scheduled for December 2017, which will be held on the 2nd Wednesday.

11/15/2017 – Saving for Retirement
12/13/2017 – Holiday Shopping on a Budget (held on 2nd Wednesday in December)
1/17/2018 – Empower Yourself Financially
2/21/2018 – Maximize Your Personal Wealth
3/21/2018 – Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
4/18/2018 – Understanding Taxes
5/16/2018 – Your Credit Report

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