Friday, October 21, 2016

Registration Open For November 2016 Computer Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the November 2016 Class Schedule. During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills, career guidance, and genealogy. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes. You may also call to confirm your registration.

To register for any class, please email us at or call 205-226-3681. You may also download and print a pdf copy of the November 2016 Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the November 2016 Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Expanded Mango Languages Learning System Offers More Languages, ESL Courses, Foreign Film Tutorials, and More

by Carrie Campbell, Arts, Literature and Sports Department, Central Library

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) now offers a greatly expanded package of the Mango Languages online language-learning system to patrons.

Mango is free to all BPL patrons and can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. Each lesson combines real life situations and audio from native speakers with simple, clear instructions. The courses are presented with an appreciation for cultural nuance and real-world application by focusing on the four key elements of language learning: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture.

Mango now offers access to:
  • 60 foreign language courses
  • 17 English courses taught completely in the user’s native language
  •  the opportunity to learn through foreign film with Mango Premiere™
  • a variety of specialty mini courses, like Pirate, Medical Spanish, romance courses, and many more

Mango can be accessed at the library, remotely, or even on-the-go with apps for iPhone®, Android™, Kindle®, and Nook®. Stay tuned for more information on how to accomplish this!

Quick Tip: How do I sign up for Mango on my computer?

There are two ways to access Mango:

From home (remotely)
1. Go to
2. Click on the Mango icon under Spotlight.
3. Click on Mango Languages.
4. Enter BPL card number and PIN for authentication.
5. You will now be directed to the Mango login page, where you can log in or create a profile with your e-mail address and password.

Inside the library
1. Follow “from home” directions above.
2. You will not be asked for your BPL card number.
3. You will now be directed to the Mango login page, where you can log in or create a profile with your e-mail address and password.

BPL card holders can access Mango through the library website at For more information, contact Carrie Campbell at 205-226-3679.

Coalesce: Collaborative Work by Joseph and Misty Bennett Exhibit Scheduled at Central Library November 3-December 30, 2016

What: Coalesce: Collaborative Work by Joseph and Misty Bennett exhibit
When: November 3-December 30, 2016, during library hours
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery

"These collaborative works started out as an experimental conversation between two artists.”

These are the reflective words of artists Joseph and Misty Bennett. From November 1 through December 30, 2016, the Birmingham Public Library will showcase the work of both artists in the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. A process was developed wherein one artist would begin a drawing, then hand it over to the other, and they would continue to pass it back and forth until both felt there was nothing more to add. It was a reactionary and spontaneous way of working, which led to a sense of discovery and a deeper understanding of self for each artist.

Come meet the artists at the opening reception from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, at the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. Both artists are faculty in the University of Montevallo Art Department.

Le Mont Saint-Michel Revisited

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France

The Archangel Michael told Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, to build a great abbey on a tall rock island out in the tidal flat. Aubert hesitated and Michael appeared to him again. But the stone needed to build the abbey was in quarries miles away, the island was out in the bay, and the bay had 12-foot tides. When the Archangel came a third time, he pushed his finger into Aubert’s skull, and Aubert built the abbey on top of the rock island—literally on top. He did not have the pinnacle knocked off to create a flat space to build upon. No, he built up the island and created a great flat space for a large church, a banqueting hall, and a cloister, all up at the level of the island’s pinnacle stone wrestled into place with oxen and vast human labor, as things were done one thousand years ago.

Mont Saint-Michel took generations to complete. It became one of the great Christian strongholds of the Middle Ages. Many stories and important people are wound into its history. Fortunately, we have the great American historian Henry Adams to collect and tell those stories in his timeless Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, recently blogged here.

Since then, a friend and I visited the island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and have these photographs to share.

Recovering the Classics Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the Birmingham Public Library’s Recovering the Classics contest are:

1st: Metamorphosis by Julie Borden
2nd: The Time Machine by Eric Poland
3rd: Cyrano de Bergerac by Veronique Vanblaere

1st: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Alexandra Foreman
2nd: A Tale of Two Cities by Zoe Jacks
3rd: The Secret Garden by Emma Thornsberry

Adult Honorable Mentions
Frankenstein by Hillary Floyd
The Secret Garden by Amber Orr

Youth Honorable Mentions
Around the World in Eighty Days by Elle Squires
Moby Dick by Hunter Criddle
The Three Musketeers by Cecilia Kong
Arabian Nights by Rachael George

To view more winning covers in BPL's Recovering the Classics contest, visit

About the contest: The Birmingham Public Library partnered with Books-A-Million to host a contest for Alabama artists of all ages and abilities to design a cover for a classic book. Over 50 people submitted their cover designs to be judged in the adult and youth divisions. Prizes included the artist's cover design on a classic book created by Books-A-Million's Espresso Book Machine, Books-A-Million gift cards, and Recovering the Classics posters. The three judges were David Blake, librarian and head of the Fiction Department at BPL; Gary Chapman, professor of painting and art at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Meredith Knight, studio programs coordinator at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

"Alabama has amazing artists, and the judges had a very difficult decision narrowing down the winners," said Laura Gentry, chair of the Recovering the Classics Committee. "We are excited to share their re-imagined book covers for classic books."

Recovering the Classics is a crowdsourced collection of original covers for classic books in the public domain created by illustrators, typographers, and designers of all stripes. Its partners include the Creative Action Network, Harvard Book Store, Plympton's DailyLit, the White House, the New York Public Library, and the Digital Public Library of America.

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop to Be Held at Central Library on October 25

What: D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home
When: Tuesday October 25, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Home ownership is a tremendous responsibility and sometimes the pressure of making monthly mortgage payments can be quite a heavy burden to bear. If you have become concerned about your mortgage payments and are fearful that foreclosure is a real possibility, then plan on attending D&E’s Foreclosure Prevention Workshop: Preserve Your Home at the Central Library.

The workshop will provide information about home retention, foreclosure options, and special programs offered to Alabama homeowners. In recent years, the Obama administration has implemented a number of initiatives to assist homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure and otherwise struggling with their monthly mortgage payments. The majority of these programs are administered through the U.S. Treasury Department and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD). So, empower yourself and your community by learning more about your options regarding foreclosure!

Established in 2000 and headquartered in Forest Park, Georgia, D&E, A Financial Education and Training Institute, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501 (c)(3) HUD approved counseling organization that is dedicated to developing and empowering communities by working with individuals and families to provide access to financial education, resources, and programs. D&E’s team of banking and financial industry professionals believe that by giving people the knowledge and tools to make better financial decisions, they can positively impact the foreclosure crisis.

For further information about the workshop, as well as other personal financial management resources available at the Birmingham Public Library, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at or 205-226-3691.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Central Library Hosting How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business Seminar on October 27

What: How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business seminar
When: Thursday, October 27, 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Details: The seminar is free but advance registration is required. To register, go to the Birmingham SCORE website at and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host several small business seminars through November 2016 that will take place at the Central Library. The small business seminars are being offered by BPL in partnership with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the Birmingham chapter of SCORE, a national nonprofit comprised of volunteers willing to share their business knowledge and experience with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of business owners start or grow their business.

How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business is presented by Josh Andrews, a Birmingham lawyer specializing in legal issues of concern to small business owners.

For more information about seminars and other resources about small business development available at BPL, contact Jim Murray of Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by email at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Learn How People Interact With Your Business Online at Central Library’s Google Insights and Analytics Workshop on November 9

What: Google Insights and Analytics workshop
When: Wednesday November 9, 2016, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library/2nd Floor/Youth Department/Story Castle

Are you getting the most out of your website? Do you understand how people are finding your business online and how they are interacting with you once they get there?

For answers to these questions, please join the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development and Zeekee, a local digital marketing firm, on November 9 at the Central Library for a workshop that will introduce you to the free tools Google offers that allow you and your business to get a better handle on customer behavior.

Google's Insights and Analytics tools are powerful and free. Google Insights is part of the Google My Business program and shows you how people interact with your Google listing. Google Analytics is by far the most used analytics tool on the planet and gives you data on how people interact with your website.

Zeekee presenters will teach you how to utilize these free Google resources to help you make the most of your online customer interactions. It's highly recommended that you have your website and your Google My Business listing set up prior to the event.

Space is limited, so contact Valencia S. Fisher with the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development at as early as possible to reserve a spot.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Holiday Reads

Christmas time is here.  What?  Hold the phone.  It is NOT Christmas time.  Oh, but yes.  If you haven’t seen Christmas decorations in your local store yet, give it a week.  Two at the most.  The Halloween masks and candy will be replaced with bows and wrapping paper.  To get you into the holiday spirit (Bah! Humbug!), publishers are releasing their Christmas-themed titles just in time for gift giving season.  Descriptions are from the publisher.

The holidays have arrived, and Hannah and her good pal Lisa have agreed to provide all the goodies for the town’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. But before anyone can say “Bah, humbug!” a Santa-sized sackful of trouble ensues. Like the fact that Lisa’s husband will be playing Mr. Claus to his ex-girlfriend Phyllis Bates’ Mrs. Claus. Or that before the curtains even go up Phyllis is found dead in the snow—wearing a costume that the real Mrs. Claus would put on the naughty list. Soon after the suspects pile up faster than snowdrifts in a blizzard, while a merry murderer remains on the loose. With clues even harder to find, it might take a visit from ghosts of Christmas past to wrap up this mystery in time for the holidays . . .

Two years have passed since the terrible car accident that took the life of John Baxter's daughter, Erin, her husband and three of their four daughters. Prompted by grief, and missing his daughter, John has invited a stranger for Christmas Eve dinnerKendra Bryant, the transplant recipient who now has Erin s heart. Meanwhile, Kendra Bryant has been struggling these past few years to find purpose in the tragedy that gave her a second chance. She believes the invitation to see the Baxters and witness their unwavering faith in God can instill peace and happiness back into her life.

Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.

A Shoe Addict's ChristmasA Shoe Addict's Christmas  by Beth Harbison (Oct. 25)
Noelle is not a fan of the holidays and to make matters worse, she is at a crossroads in her life when it seems that love and adventure are no longer possible.  When she stays late at her job in a department store on a snowy Christmas Eve she accidentally gets locked in after closing.  She isn't too concerned about the prospect of spending the night in the store...until a woman appears out of nowhere and tells Noelle that she's her guardian angel.  Soon Noelle finds herself camped out in the shoe department facing several "ghosts" of Christmases past, present, and future...Will visiting the holidays of yesterday and tomorrow help Noelle see the true spirit of Christmas?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Halloween Events at Birmingham Public Library Include Super Heroes Costume Party, Movies, Storytimes, and Giveaways

Even adults are getting into the Halloween mood at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL). On Friday, October 21, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., the Birmingham Public Library Young Professionals (BPLYP) are hosting a Super Heroes Save the Library costume party at the Central Library.

Attendees who come dressed as their favorite super hero will enjoy a night of music, drinks, and dancing while helping raise awareness of the important resources provided by BPL’s 19 library locations and providing money for public programs. Buy tickets at $10 in advance online at

The BPLYP's costume party is among several activities celebrating the spooky holiday taking place at many BPL locations across Birmingham during the month of October. From a fall festival at the Smithfield Library to storytime with Ms. Eve at the Avondale Regional Branch Library, from a Hallo-Read Fall Celebration at the North Avondale Branch Library to scary movies at various libraries, there are plenty of fun events to enjoy.

In addition, all 19 BPL locations across Birmingham will be giving away free treats to library patrons on Halloween, Monday, October 31, 2016.

To see more Halloween programs at BPL in October, visit the BPL calendar of events and search for "seasonal" under Event Category.

Happy Halloween from the staff at the Birmingham Public Library!

Central Library to Host Google Workshop for Small Business Owners on October 25

What: Google Workshop for Small Business Owners
When: Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 12:00-1:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

Did you know that 97% of consumers look for local goods and services online?

And only 37% of businesses have claimed a local business listing on a search engine.

If you are a current business owner and you want to gain control of the information Google displays about your business in Google Search and Google Maps, then this workshop is for you. A Google Trusted Photographer and Trusted Verifier will be present to help your business get online and allow you to choose what people see when they “google” you.

The Birmingham Public Library and the City’s Office of Economic Development are partnering with Google and Zeekee, a local internet marketing firm, to offer a workshop aimed at helping put every business in Birmingham on the map—including yours—for free.

Space for the workshop is limited, so please register with Valencia S. Fisher in the City of Birmingham’s Office of Economic Development at as early as possible to reserve a spot.

For more information about the workshop and other resources for small business development available at BPL, please contact Jim Murray of the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department by e-mail at or by calling 205-226-3691.

Let’s Put Birmingham on the Map!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Findmypast: Our Newest Genealogy Database


Findmypast is a family history and genealogy database that offers access to a collection of over 2 billion historical records covering the United States, England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and other parts of the globe. Our subscription marks the return of electronic access to PERiodical Source Index (PERSI), one of the most helpful tools in genealogy research. PERSI indexes by surname and location genealogy and family history periodicals from around the world, and Findmypast is the only genealogy database that provides digital images to select periodicals indexed in PERSI. Digital images of articles in the PERiodical Source Index will be increasingly accessible (18,000 images added this summer), which means you can find the citation in PERSI and link to a digital image of the article.

Our genealogy community might not be as familiar with Findmypast as it is a British owned genealogy company whose website has recently been made available to libraries in the United States. However, this company has been leading the way in family history for years as it was the first company in the world to publish the complete birth, marriage, and death indexes for England and Wales online. Findmypast contains over 1,000 exclusive records collections with its strength being European records. It is the only online place to gain access to the 1939 Register, which is the only surviving overview of the civil population of England and Wales spanning the period 1921-1951 as the 1931 census was destroyed during an air raid on London and the 1941 census was never taken.

Highlights of Findmypast’s Collections
  • U.S. Census Complete 
  • UK census collection, 1841-1911 
  • 1939 Registers 
  • Ireland census collection 
  • PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) 
  • Births, deaths & marriages 
  • Parish records, including 40 million baptisms, marriages and burials from across England and Wales dating back to 1538 
  • Military collections, including U.S. Military and British Army Records, 1760-1915 
  • Local English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish records dating back to 1700, including school admissions, workhouse registers and apprenticeships records. 
  • Immigration and naturalization records 
  • Local and social histories 
  • Passenger lists Griffith’s valuation 1847-1864 for Ireland 
  • Irish petty session and prison registers 

We are excited about this newest addition to our genealogy databases, and the Southern History Department will debut its Findmypast class on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 from 9:15-10:15 am in the Computer Lab, 4th floor of of the Linn-Henley building.  To register, please call 205-226-3680 as space is limited.

Patrons can use Findmypast on any networked computer at the Central Library, and there are shortcut icons located on the computers in the Southern History Department. Although this database is in-library use only, patrons can register for a free account enabling them to build their family tree and save their personal records to use at home, working in tandem with the library's subscription to provide maximum access.

Laura M. Gentry
Southern History Department
Central Library

Happy Birthday Miss Fancy: Avondale Remembers the Queen

Postcard from the Birmingham Public Archives, file # 1081.3.99

Today would be Miss Fancy's 145th birthday.

Miss Fancy, the legendary Queen of Avondale, may be Avondale’s most famous local celebrity. She’s the cover girl for the Avondale Brewing Company, where she has a special ale named after her. A restaurant on Fifth Avenue is named Fancy’s on 5th in her honor. A current fundraising campaign is raising money to put a life-size statue of her in Avondale Park.

She is the subject of a subplot in Fannie Flagg’s novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ©, a short documentary Mr. Todd’s Fancy, and Miss Fancy, a play featured in Theatre Downtown’s 2016 season.

If you don’t live in Avondale or were born after 1930, you may not have heard of her, but for those old enough to remember her, Miss Fancy was beloved. Whenever my father meets people around his age from Avondale, he immediately asks if they remember Miss Fancy. They all do.

Miss Fancy (1871-1954) was a gentle Indian elephant who served as the star attraction at the Birmingham Zoo (when it was located in its original site at Avondale Park) from 1913 to 1934. She was known to routinely stroll through the streets of Avondale, Forest Park, and Woodlawn. Children loved to ride Miss Fancy; she would carry 5 to 7 on her back at a time. She sometimes visited the Avondale Elementary School, where the children would run outside to feed her their lunches. She would sometimes wander through the neighborhood eating out of her neighbors’ gardens. One little girl fondly recalled waking up to find Miss Fancy peering in her bedroom window.

My dad was 4 years old when he met Miss Fancy, shortly before the financial pressures of the Great Depression forced the city to close the zoo and sell the animals. Afterwards, he used to dream about riding an elephant all over Shades Valley. When I told him that, after a brief return to the circus, she had lived out the remainder of her life in a zoo in Buffalo, he said, “I wish I had known that when she was still alive. I would have gone to visit her. I loved that elephant so much I would have hopped on a bus to go see her.”

Mr. Todd’s Fancy is a short documentary about Miss Fancy and her trainer, John Todd.
Some of the interviews were filmed at the Avondale Library.

Read about Miss Fancy's life in Avondale through newspapers of the day at Birmingham Public Library's Digital Collections. More information about the campaign to raise money for a statue of Miss Fancy in Avondale Park is available at

Ellen Griffin Shade
Avondale Regional Branch Library

Former BPL Director George R. Stewart Inducted into UA College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame

George Stewart working on a map in BPL's collection

For 37 years in his career at the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and with the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, George R. Stewart touched thousands of lives of librarians across metro Birmingham.

He played a role in getting a Library of Information Science program established at the University of Alabama, integrating the workforce at BPL, and helped convince the Jefferson County Commission to allow the creation of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative that tied nearly 40 libraries in the county together under one umbrella.

On Thursday, October 6, 2016, Stewart received one of the highest honors in the library profession in Alabama as he was inducted into the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame. The award recognizes his leadership and significant contribution to the field of Library and Information Science education.

Stewart was featured in an article on the University of Alabama website. See link below:

Stewart's career spanned 33 years with the BPL System and an additional four years as director of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative. BPL Interim Director Sandi Lee said Stewart was a mentor to many at BPL and remains active at BPL as a map consultant in the Southern History Department in the Linn-Henley Research Building.

“The Birmingham Public Library is extremely proud of Mr. Stewart,” Lee said. “We are glad to see him be recognized in the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame for his many accomplishments.”

Pat Ryan, executive director of the Jefferson County Library Association, said she is among many lives Stewart has touched in libraries across metro Birmingham. She said Stewart mentored a myriad of librarians in Jefferson County and Alabama as director of the BPL System and while serving in professional organizations.

“I worked at BPL for several years early in my career and every time I would see Mr. Stewart (the director) at that time, he inquired as to how I was and when I was going to begin work to complete my MLS,” Ryan said. “Once I started the MLS program, he always asked about my progress.

Ryan said even today she has not forgotten his friendliness and encouragement, adding that she tries to model those traits in her own encouragement to younger librarians.

“I am not sure without his encouragement I would have had the courage and confidence to follow the MLS path which set me on the road to a library career I would never have dreamed I would attain,” she said. “Basically, he changed my life by caring. And I know there are many others that could speak to a similar experience."

As an administrator for BPL, Stewart recognized the need for a Library and Information Science program in the state and served on the committee to secure initial accreditation for the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at the University of Alabama.

Upon retirement, he and his wife Nancy began working with a non-profit library consulting organization and he still works with BPL two days or more a week. Stewart has continued his efforts to champion education and promote SLIS with the creation of the George R. Stewart Endowed Scholarship, awarded annually for a student in SLIS based on scholastic potential and financial need.

Stewart's efforts to improve the lives of others through library and information services continue to benefit SLIS, countless students, and millions of visitors to the Birmingham area.

Stewart grew up walking distance from the Central Park Library in Birmingham, Alabama, in a working-class section of town, where his father was a carpenter and craftsman. He loved to read and was taken by his mother to their local branch in the first grade to get his library card.

By high school, Stewart was familiar with the library, and in 1960 was offered a job at the Central Park Library as a page, shelving books and working the reference desk. He was soon given additional responsibilities and promoted to library assistant.

A 1966 Samford University graduate, Stewart worked in the Southern History Department of the Central Library during college and during the completion of his master's degree in history in 1967. He loved the work, and with a little good fortune and guidance from library director and mentor Mr. Thornley, Stewart was quickly promoted again to department head and was encouraged to pursue his MLS.

At the time, the closest MLS program was located at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, so Stewart commuted to classes and continued working for the library. Stewart was appointed to the associate director position in 1969, pending forthcoming completion of his MLS at Emory. In January 1976, Stewart was named director of the Central Library, a position in which he served for an additional 16 years.

When Stewart began working at BPL in the 1960s, libraries in Alabama were segregated, a status he didn’t approve of and in his career actively worked to alter. Even as library services began to integrate, library staffs were still segregated across the state.

When Stewart became director at the Central Library, he helped create a more equitable and rewarding work environment, including a unified pay scale—"equal pay for equal work"— without consideration of race or gender. He also insisted that new staffing policies included full integration of the library staff, allowing all people the opportunity to work at BPL.

As director, Stewart began attending the Jefferson County Commission meetings, building positive working relationships with elected officials, and began to introduce the idea of countywide cooperative library services. When Jefferson County Commissioners asked Stewart to investigate ways to improve library service for the entire county, Stewart took the opportunity to prepare a long-range plan for a countywide system.

Under Stewart in 1978 was born the "One County, One Library Card" Jefferson County Library Cooperative (JCLC) that is still enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of local residents today. While serving as director of BPL, Stewart was integral in the planning and gathering the funds to build many new libraries in Jefferson County. He also developed the first systemwide Internet access and first digitally accessed databases in the state. Stewart also partnered with the Cartographic Lab at UA to digitize and catalog tremendous map collections amassed by the BPL.

In a true tale of "romance in the library," Stewart met his wife of 52 years, Nancy, one day after scolding Nancy and her girlfriends for being too loud in the library.

"I was the page at the library desk, and I will never forget when she came in with an umbrella, an armload of books, and enough personality for several people. She and her friends were making too much noise, so I told her she could be quiet or she could leave... so she left. But she came back! Soon, I asked her to join me on my afternoon breaks across the street at the drugstore soda fountain, and like became love."

Stewart and Nancy have two sons and four grandchildren and continue to enjoy their life together as partners in good times and in bad. After an accident in 2010 left him unable to walk, Stewart credits Nancy with having the strength needed to bring him to a place of acceptance as they adjusted their home and their life to this new normal. Their story is featured in a book aptly named, The Romance of Libraries (Lefebvre, 2006, The Scarecrow Press).

"Our lives have been blessed. It is hard to imagine what my life might have been like if that noisy little gal had not come into the Central Park Branch so long ago," Stewart said.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Online Genealogy Help Now Available at All Libraries

Popular Internet resource lets you discover your roots in the library

All locations of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) have a new resource that uses technology to make tracing family trees easier. Ancestry® Library Edition, a Web-based reference tool distributed by ProQuest, will allow you to start exploring your roots by searching a surname. Anyone can come into the library to dig into Ancestry Library Edition's millions of records—as far back as the 1400s.

The library is responding to a growing interest in family history that’s captured not only Birmingham but America as a whole. A new nationwide survey* shows 73% of Americans want to learn more about their roots, up from 60% in 2000. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed became interested after searching for a family surname online, pointing to the increasing popularity of Internet-based genealogy.

Ancestry Library Edition is available at every BPL location. To get the most out of the experience, come prepared with a list of ancestors to research. Once connected to Ancestry Library Edition, you'll find a friendly opening screen that asks for the name of the person to be searched. Key in the name, click on "Search" and Ancestry Library Edition scans its vast selection of U.S. federal and state census data, birth, marriage, and death records, military records, Social Security death records, and immigration lists. It also includes an extensive collection of information from the U.K., including images, census records, and civil registrations. Additionally, probate records dating back to the 1500s are included from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. The information you find are pieces of a puzzle that you'll assemble. These records have "clues" to the past—places where ancestors lived, names of relatives, birth or death dates, etc.—that lead to more information. Names can be added to form the "tree" or searched to find more clues.

Genealogy is a wonderful hobby for anyone who wants to know more about where they came from, and BPL is delighted to provide resources that are simple enough for beginners, yet provide deep and broad content sets that will help veteran genealogists advance their research.

Ancestry® Library Edition is brought to you by the Alabama Public Library Service with federal funds issued by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

* Survey by Market Strategies, Inc.