Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bards & Brews Goes on the Road to Avondale Library on June 3, Vestavia Hills Library in July


The Birmingham Public Library's popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series is going on the road from its usual home downtown this summer. On Friday, June 3, Bards & Brews will hold an open mic performance at the Avondale Regional Branch Library. On Friday, July 8, spoken word artists will be able to participate in an open mic night at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest.

The Avondale Library event on June 3 will feature free craft beer sampling courtesy of Avondale Brewing Co. The J. Clyde will handle the pouring. The festivities start at 6:30 p.m. with live music from Bob Marston (performing in place of Josh Wheeler), beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host.

The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to sample beer—ID is required. For more information, call 205-226-3670, e-mail hm@bham.lib.al.us, visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page, or http://www.bplonline.org/programs/BardsBrews.aspx.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Central Library Hosting Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar on June 6


The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) will host several small business seminars over the next several months beginning Monday, April 4, 2016. The seminars 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.  The final Steps to Starting Your Business seminar will be held from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 6, in the Central Library’s Arrington Auditorium, located on the fourth floor of the Linn-Henley Research Building.

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.

The seminars are free but registration in advance is required. To register, contact Valencia S. Fisher of the City of Birmingham’s Economic Development Office by email at valencia.fisher@birminghamal.gov or by phone at 205-254-2799.

The other small business seminars are as follows:

How to Use Legal Strategies to Protect Your Business, presented by Josh Andrews, a Birmingham lawyer specializing in legal issues of concern to small business owners. The seminar will be offered in the Arrington Auditorium from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on July 28 and October 27. The seminar is free but advance registration is required. To register, go to the Birmingham SCORE website at www.birmingham.score.org and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

7 Ways to Secure Your Business Data, presented by Sawyer Solutions, a Pelham-based information technology company. The seminar will be offered in the Arrington Auditorium from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on August 8 and November 14. The seminar is free but advance registration is required. To register, go to the Birmingham SCORE website at www.birmingham.score.org and click on the seminar title in the Upcoming Events section.

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 jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by calling 205-226-3691.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Summer Beach Reads

I know it's not unusual for Alabama, but it feels like we went from winter directly into summer.  Our 70-degree days have been replaced by 80s and 90s.  We may as well head down to the beach, lie around in swimsuits, and listen to the waves.  Grab a cool glass of your favorite beverage, put on some sunscreen, relax, and enjoy these new summer titles.  Descriptions are from the publisher.

Forever Beach  by Shelley Noble
Sarah Hargreave is anxious to finalize the adoption of her foster daughter, Leila. Once a foster child herself, Sarah longs to become Leila’s “forever” family and give her all the love and stability she was denied in her own childhood. When Leila’s biological mother suddenly reappears and petitions the court for the return of her daughter, Sarah is terrified she’ll lose the little girl she loves to the drug-addicted mother who abandoned her. Mistrustful of each other, the two women form a tenuous alliance to ensure Leila’s future, but when Leila’s very survival is on the line, they’ll have to come to terms with their own feelings of hurt and rejection to save the child they both have come to love.


The Island House  by Nancy Thayer
Courtney Hendricks will never forget the magical summers she spent on Nantucket with her college roommate, Robin Vickerey, and Robin’s charismatic, turbulent, larger-than-life family, in their gorgeous island house. Now a college English professor in Kansas City, Courtney is determined to experience one more summer in this sun-swept paradise. Her reason for going is personal: Courtney needs to know whether Robin’s brother James shares the feelings she’s secretly had for him.  As the summer unfolds, a crisis escalates, surprising truths are revealed, and Courtney will at last find out where her heart and her future lie.


A Lowcountry Wedding  by Mary Alice Monroe
Half-sisters Dora, Harper, and Carson may have had wildly different upbringings and lead vastly different lives, but they've always felt at home together at Sea Breeze, a sprawling plantation on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast. Sea Breeze has hosted its fair share of Muir family parties, and now that Harper and Carson's weddings are only two months away, the sisters are thrilled to be spending more time together there in preparation for their big days. But big events tend to bring out big problems in families, and the stress of guest lists and table decorations is nothing compared to the shock Dora, Harper, and Carson are about to face. (Booklist review)


The Weekenders  by Mary Kay Andrews
Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found. So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens...in a murderous way.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Book Review: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome 
Mary Beard

I’ve always looked askance at "revisionist history." I mean, if a history is good enough for Livy, Suetonius, and Gibbon, it should be good enough for the rest of us, right? To be more honest, I don’t want to be confronted with the possibility that what I learned in school was actually closer to myth, or worse, propaganda. So I stick with the traditional interpretations, but if anyone could change my taste in history, it’s Mary Beard.

Mary Beard is a professor of classics at Cambridge. You may know her for her popular blog, A Don's Life, which is available through the Times Literary Supplement webpage. SPQR is a revisionist history, but a revisionist history without any particularly slant or bias. She covers the era of 63 BCE to 212 CE. (And yes that’s a lot of years to cover in a mere 536 pages, but her entertaining tales make the pages fly by.)

Beard begins her work not with the mythical beginnings of Romulus, Remus, and the mama wolf, but in 63 BCE with the legendary Catiline Conspiracy. On one side of the conspiracy was its architect, Catiline. He was a bankrupt aristocrat turned demagogue who promised the Roman poor that the only possible way to erase their unpayable debts was revolution. On the other side was Cicero, a young, ambitious senator. Catiline’s method of debt forgiveness was definitive—he planned to murder all Roman senators and burn the city itself to the ground. In the process, of course, his debts would also go up in smoke.

Cicero saved the republic by uncovering the secret plot, foiling an assassination attempt, revealing incriminating letters, and turning the girlfriend of one plotter into a double agent. He even discovered a house “stuffed with weapons” for Catiline’s revolutionaries to use on innocent senators. The justifiable highlight of this heroic tale is Cicero standing on the floor of the Senate denouncing Catiline in a series of historic speeches. After the final speech, Catiline made a futile attempt to prove his innocence. The Senate was not swayed by his words. Under cover of darkness, he ran to the outskirts of Rome to take refuge with his ragtag army of dissolute aristocrats and rebellious paupers. In a few weeks the Legions arrived on the scene, Catiline was killed in battle, the mob was dispersed, and peace restored.

Cicero basked in the glory of having saved the Roman Republic. His fame lives on today. For centuries the educated have considered Cicero’s works to be a model teaching tool, and his denunciations of Catiline to be the gold standard for persuasive public speaking. One of his speeches, the first Catilina speech, begins with the words “Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?” (How long Catiline, will you go on abusing our patience?) This Roman question has become a question for all ages and all nations. Beard includes a photograph of a Hungarian crowd protesting a politician’s attempt to rewrite their constitution. A man in the crowd is defiantly holding a sign proclaiming "Quo usque tandem." The photograph was taken in 2012. And there’s one of Beard’s many lessons. While our senators may not literally stab each other, politicians really haven’t changed that much. Can’t you hear today’s Democrats and Republicans asking each other “How long (fill in the blank), will you go on abusing our patience?”

But Beard doesn’t simply carry the story to the present. She digs deeper into the past to reveal different shades and colors to the story. These colors in turn create different pictures of the incident. She allows the reader to determine for themselves which picture is vivid and which is shadowy.
Cicero and Catiline were, in fact, fierce political rivals. Cicero won a seat in the Senate the same year Catiline lost his seat. Cicero was by no means impoverished, but he came from the country. He made his money by using his golden tongue in the Law Courts, and as a slum lord. (Beard explains that he once joked “more out of superiority than embarrassment that even the rats had packed up and left one of his crumbling rental blocks.”)

Catiline, on the other hand, came from nobility. He could trace his family line back to the great war against Rome’s arch enemy Hannibal. Indeed, his forbear “was the first man known to have entered combat with a prosthetic hand—probably just a metal hook that replaced his right hand, lost in an earlier battle.” Catiline had been the personification of Roman nobility.

In the parlance of the day, Cicero was definitely a “new man.” Was Cicero playing the part of a revolutionary by reaching above his station in Roman society? Was Catiline simply trying to maintain the status quo and save his vision of Roman society? If so, did Cicero respond by denouncing the former senator in order to secure his newly won seat?

Then, like today, politics was an expensive business. Moreover, if a candidate for the Senate lost his bid for a seat, he was not reimbursed. Family fortunes were lost and made in the senate races. Catiline himself had fallen on hard times. Perhaps, Beard asked, his revolution was simply an attempt to win back his family fortune.

Most disturbingly, she asked if Catiline was ever truly guilty of any crime. Was denouncing a former senator as a revolutionary simply a way for Cicero to secure political capital as the savior of the Republic? Sallust, a later Roman historian said, the orator had “turned the troubles of the state to his own glory.” Can armed mobs, attempted assassinations, and weapons caches really be described as mere "troubles"? Is Sallust hinting at fabrication on Cicero’s part?

Perhaps Catiline was not trying to violently erase his own debt, but instead attempting to introduce radical economic reform to ease the burden of the average Roman. “There was the enormous disparity of wealth between rich and poor…and probably for much of the time, even if not starvation, then persistent hunger.” Did Catiline see himself as the savior of Rome?

I found SPQR mesmerizing. The book spans the time of the Roman kings to Emperor Caracalla, and presents a clear synopsis of the rise and fall of the Republic. Throughout Mary Beard turns her gimlet eye to every major event of Roman history to reveal not just vivid facts, but a gallery of hazy possibilities hiding behind those facts. SPQR doesn’t read like revisionism, it reads like thought-provoking history.

David Ryan
Social Sciences/Business, Science & Technology Department
Central Library

Award-Winning Children's Entertainer Anna Moo to Hold Free Concert at Central Library on June 8


Award-winning children's singer/songwriter Anna Moo will perform at the Central Library on Wednesday, June 8, 10:00 a.m.

Anna Moo grew up on a sheep ranch outside of Sacramento, California. In the early '70s, she moved with her family to Chile and later Venezuela. In Chile Moo learned to play the guitar at the age of 11.

Upon returning to the United States, Anna began singing and performing professionally while in high school. She sang original songs in coffee houses and clubs in Florida, California, and New York City. After almost a half a decade living in New York City, she returned to the quiet countryside near Gainesville, Florida. She married entertainer Terry Moo, and they currently live on four acres of farmland in Newberry, Florida.

Anna Moo was inspired to write music for children after having two children of her own. Moo's first release; Making Moosic, was picked up by Warner Brothers Records and Music for Little People.

After the success of Making Moosic—a Parents Choice Gold Award, Best Recording of the Year by Parents magazine, and an American Library Association Award—Moo went on to create her own record label and produced and distributed her future recordings as Good Moos Productions.

Moo is dedicated to using music as a FUNdamental teaching tool in preschools and elementary schools. Her presentations are dynamic, multiculturally oriented, and always top notch educational entertainment.

Source: Official website for Anna Moo

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Free Tailgate Party with NFL Football Player Jerricho Cotchery


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 BPL to host yet another amazing series of events for the 2016 teen summer reading program.

Qualified Get In The Game, READ participants will have the opportunity to attend a free teen tailgate party at the Central Library on June 24, 2016, 6:30 p.m. Visit any BPL location for more details and to register.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Southern History Book of the Month: Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division

Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division
Nimrod T. Frazer

One hundred years ago, America was on the brink of its entry into World War I. Though our country’s involvement was not official until the declaration of war against the German Empire in 1917, there was already a feeling that our participation could not be delayed much longer. In Send the Alabamians, Nimrod Frazer traces the role of the 167th Infantry Alabama Regiment in the 42nd “Rainbow” Division and their exploits during WWI, starting with the Mobilization of the Alabama National Guard in 1916 in case troops were needed for fighting in Mexico. As Frazer points out, many young men saw enlistment as a valuable opportunity:
The Guard . . . suddenly offered young men to walk away from the simple lives that many had never been able to escape. Now they might travel to unknown places, eat healthy food, wear good clothes, and earn income for doing work that upright citizens respected and valued. Many young men without money, education, or training relished this new kind of work. It promised a better was to make a living than jobs that usually required long hours, often combined with sweaty, dirty, sometimes dangerous labor for little pay. Few Alabama men could rise above that kind of work, but some were intelligent enough and adventurous enough to take advantage of the opportunity to do so.
And take advantage of it they did, though it would lead to work more dirty and dangerous than any labor they had previously faced. Frazer follows the development of the regiment from its early days as the 4th Alabama until the War Department’s order in 1917 that changed it into the 167th United States Infantry:
On the day after the name-changing order, the Montgomery Advertiser announced that the 167th United States Infantry Regiment would become part of a new full-strength US Army Division, the 42nd, to be called the Rainbow Division . . . Major Douglas McArthur, who worked as the War Department’s press censor . . . described the unnumbered division as stretching like a rainbow across the United States. Building on this comment, a reporter called it the Rainbow Division, and the name stuck.
By early 1918, the Rainbow Division was in the trenches in France. Conditions were beyond hideous—as one recruit noted, “There is no mud like that of Lorraine”—but mud was the least of the horrors when compared to bad rations, lice, disease, and poison gas attacks. With little prior exposure to such adverse conditions, the Alabamians of the Division still performed with courage:
Most of the men in the 167th had been together for a long time, and they had been tested—and unified—by the epic march a month after their arrival in France. A bond of mutual confidence and understanding existed between officers and the men and from the men to each other. The 167th also exhibited a substantial amount of satisfaction in its identity as a volunteer unit belonging to the first National Guard division to see combat in the war.
Of course, all was not always peace and harmony—at one point, frustrated by the belligerent energy and brawling of some of the new recruits, General Edward H. Plummer was said to have exclaimed, “In time of war, send me all the Alabamians you can get, but in time of peace, for Lord’s sake, send them to somebody else!”

After this beginning that might tactfully be termed “inauspicious,” the Alabamians in World War I left behind a record of distinguished wartime service. The upcoming Memorial Day weekend would be a good time to read Frazer’s excellent history of the Alabamians of the Rainbow Division and pause a moment to pay our respects to those who gave their lives in war.

Do you have an Alabama ancestor in World War I?

For more information:
Nimrod Frazer: author interview
History and Bibliography of the “Rainbow”
The Rainbow in World War I
“The Legendary Fourth Alabama”
167th Alabama Infantry Regiment
Researching your Military Ancestor

Mary Anne Ellis
Southern History Department
Central Library

Library Board Awards First “Innovative” Award to Pratt City Library

(l-r) Antonio Sullivan, Jordan Washington, Deborah Drake Blackmon,
and Khaleb McDonald (Omari Stephens is absent from photo)

A new program at the Pratt City Branch Library that provides career survival tips for teenagers is the first recipient of the Birmingham Public Library Board of Directors’ new "Innovative” grant.

The Pratt City Branch Library Career Survival Kit program was the first recipient, and presented four teenagers from the surrounding community a gift pack during an event held on May 18.

During the program, speakers shared tips on such topics as:

  • Proper preparation for the job search
  • Proper introductions and tips on “The Importance of the Handshake”
  • Tips on first impressions and how attitude and body language can impact a job interview (both good and bad)
  • Appropriate conversations to have on the job
  • Appropriate dress in the workplace
  • The importance of showing integrity at all times and going the extra mile
  • How to lead by being a team player
  • How to give a good interview

The four participants who attended the initial program were all South Hampton School eighth-graders: Khaleb McDonald, Omari Stephens, Antonio Sullivan, and Jordan Washington. The teen boys said they very impressed with the program, adding that it provided knowledge that will pay off as they begin seeking summer jobs.

Each of the boys received a Career Survival Kit that included the following: a bow tie, wallet, belt, personal e-mail address, a resume, business card, a 4 by 6 inch card with questions they can ask interviewers, and a see-through folder.

Deborah Drake Blackmon, branch manager at the Pratt City Library, said she was honored to be the first recipient of the Innovative grant. She said Pratt City Library also plans to present a Career Survival Kit program for teen girls from the community.

At its March 2016 board meeting, the group adopted a recommendation from the Advocacy, Fundraising, and Development Committee to establish an award program for staff designed to encourage them to develop “innovative and cool” public programs to better serve the communities that surround its 19 locations. The award will provide up to two $50 stipends to the 18 branches and the Central Library. The board anticipates the award will help staff improve an existing program or develop a new program for library visitors.

In order to qualify, staff should must submit a brief paragraph or two explaining to the board how they will use the funds. The funds should assist staff in bringing new ideas to the library or provide extra support to existing programs. Submissions are due by the 15th of each month.

The idea for the award was brought to the Advocacy Committee by committee member Gwendolyn Amamoo. A committee reviews the selections and forward their recommendations to the full board for approval. The board anticipates awarding up to $1,900 in new programs between now and December 31, 2016.

Book Review: The Sound of All Things

The Sound of All Things
Myron Uhlberg; illustrated by Ted Papoulas

A young teen is frustrated because his father is always asking him what things sound like. He doesn’t have the words and when he tries it isn’t good enough. His dad is deaf and so is his mom. He sometimes wishes he had normal parents. Myron Uhlberg and Ted Papoulas’s The Sound of All Things takes place in the vibrant Brooklyn of the nineteen-thirties, mostly on Coney Island on a sunny day when the beach and the amusement park are swarming with people. The illustrations are like a colorized movie from that era, lush and full of detail. Every corner of the illustrations has its own sound. We know the sounds, but, just like the deaf father, we can’t hear the sounds. The illustrations are as silent for us as Brooklyn is for the deaf parents. How to describe the sounds?

The underlying story of The Sound of All Things is the boy’s everyday struggle for empathy with his parents. He gains a whole new way to communicate with his parents when he goes to the library and the librarian introduces him to poetry. Poetic words describe how things sound and so much more.

This picture book is good for all ages. Check it out. Ponder the themes and enjoy.

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Inglenook Library’s Summer Reading Kickoff Party

Fun and games at Inglenook Library's 2015 summer reading finale




















On Tuesday, May 31, at 3:30 p.m., the Inglenook Branch Library will have its summer reading kickoff party! There will be light refreshments, games, summer reading registration, an opportunity for folks to sign up for library cards, and a live performance by the Springville Road’s Children’s Department. Carolyn Cauthen, president of the Inglenook Neighborhood Association, will also assist us in getting the community excited about reading and participating in the summer reading program.

If you need some motivation and would like to know what the Inglenook Library has in store this summer, come out on May 31 and party with us!

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

Registration for 2016 Birmingham Public Library Summer Reading Programs Under Way





















The 2016 summer reading schedule has over 500 programs and activities for youth, teens and adults at 19 library locations across Birmingham.

Last summer, 18,418 BPL patrons attended 558 programs at 19 library locations and read more than 52,000 books.

Registration is under way now, with forms available in any of the 19 BPL locations. If you don’t have time to visit a BPL location, click on the link below to register online, log your books, and view the event calendar:
http://www.bplonline.org/summerreading.aspx#Kids_Summer_Reading

Have a teenager who loves to play video games? Ever wondered what goes into designing them? Then register your teen for Get in the Game with Virtual Reality, a workshop in which UAB’s ETLab (Enabling Technologies Laboratory) will provide an awesome interactive presentation and discussion for teens regarding virtual reality complete with giant screens

Want to have fun exploring chemical reactions, such as mixing diet Coke with Mentos candy? Then your teen would love Get in the Chemistry Game, a workshop where they explore activities that show  how chemistry can be cool.

Does your child like animals? They would love Scales, Tails, and More!, a workshop in which Alabama 4-H will introduce them to kid-friendly critters. Other activities will allow library patrons to see sports artifacts from Birmingham’s new Negro Southern League Baseball museum, and to attend exercise classes.

Even adults can get into the fun with a summer full of activities including Coloring for Adults, poetry workshops, knitting lessons, learning the basics of Japanese paper folding, and tips from an artist on how to paint your own masterpiece.

Read the full listing of Summer Reading programs and activities broken down by children, teens and adults at the blog links below:

BPL Children Summer Reading programs 

BPL Teen Summer Reading programs 

BPL Adult Summer reading programs 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Miss Iwate, BPL's Japanese Friendship Doll, Gets Visit from the Japan External Trade Organization

(l-r): Motoi Hotta, director of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO);
Angela Fisher Hall, director of the Birmingham Public Library;
Mary Beth Newbill, head of the Southern History Department/Central Library;
and Norikazu Mori, chief executive director of JETRO

Miss Iwate, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)'s Japanese Friendship Doll, received a visit on May 19, 2016, from representatives of her home country. Motoi Hotta, director of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), and Norikazu Mori, chief executive director of JETRO, got an up close and personal view of Miss Iwate inside the Linn-Henley Building at the Central Library.

Miss Iwate, who originally came to BPL in July 1928 as part of a Japan-United States goodwill doll exchange, returned to Japan in September 2015 for a “makeover” carried out by the Yoshitoku Doll Company. When her restoration was completed, Miss Iwate was on display from December 24, 2015, to March 6, 2016, at the Iwate Prefectural Museum in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. She returned to Birmingham in mid-March 2016 ready to continue her role as ambassador of peace and friendship with renewed enthusiasm. A “welcome home” celebration was held for her at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival sponsored by the Japan American Society of Alabama at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

The Birmingham Public Library is very proud of its role as the caretaker of Miss Iwate, said Angela Fisher Hall, director of the 19-branch system.

“We often share the story of Miss Iwate with visitors to the library who have an interest in our special collections, and many visitors ask for her by name,” Hall said. “Before our city had its wonderful Birmingham Museum of Art, our library was the hub for culture and learning. It’s good to have Miss Iwate here at the library to serve as a goodwill ambassador.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Poetry In You Contest, Summer Poetry Seminars to Be Held at Birmingham Public Library



Roderick Woods has been hosting free Poetry In You workshops at various Birmingham Public Library (BPL) locations and city schools for 14 years.

This summer, the Birmingham native is taking his passion for teaching young people the benefits of honing their poetry and spoken word skills to the next level in partnership with BPL and the Bessemer Public Library. In addition to several free poetry workshops being offered at three area libraries, on July 23, Woods will be hosting the first Poetry In You Contest at the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library. The winners will receive $1,000 in cash, gifts, and prizes.

The poetry contest in two divisions—ages 7 to 12 and 13 to 16—will be open to the first 80 entries, Woods said. The theme “Global Warming, My Future” is designed to get young people to learn research skills about an important topic that affects everyone, Woods said. Participants can sign up on the Poetry In You Facebook page or contact Woods for details at 205-260-0326.

“Our goal is to unearth the love of poetry in our young people, help them learn to articulate through the spoken word, and build self-esteem,” Woods said. “The contest is open to the general public, but if you want to learn tips on writing, you need to sign up for one of our workshops.”

The Poetry In You Summer Poetry Seminars will be as follows in June and July and are free to 20 participants per session:

North Birmingham Library – Starting June 1, Monday-Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Snacks provided and two field trips.

Smithfield Branch Library – Starting June 3, Fridays and Saturdays, 12:00-2:00 p.m.

Bessemer Public Library – Starting June 3, Fridays and Saturdays, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

The Poetry In You Contest and Summer Poetry Seminars are being sponsored by the following: Superspandious Poetry Inc., Col. Paul Cajun Seasonings, DNT, Tri Fab Steel, Birmingham Coca Cola Bottling Co. United, Wingout Express, Highway 11 Recycling, Pride Line (STS), North Birmingham Regional Library, Bessemer Public Library, Smithfield Library, and Sweet Tea Restaurant. If you would like to help sponsor this program, call Woods at 205-260-0326 or e-mail him at rod-woods@hotmail.com.

Book Review: Chess for Dummies

Chess for Dummies
James Eade

Who doesn’t enjoy a good game of chess? With elements of art, science, arithmetic, and sport, chess is not merely a game to me, but rather an intellectual matching of the minds between two individuals trying to reach the inevitable goal of checkmate! I’ve been playing chess for years, and the more I play, the more I am fascinated by this intriguing game. Whether you’re a beginner trying to learn the ropes, or an experienced player trying to improve your game, Chess for Dummies is a wonderful book.

Chess for Dummies covers a brief history of chess, the basic rules of the game, and how to best play the game. With clear and easy-to-follow instructions and illustrations, anyone can pick up this book and be ready to play a legitimate game of chess within a couple of hours. For anyone interested in learning how to play or improve on his/her chess game without all of the in-depth theory, dogma, and rhetoric that other chess books offer, this book is for you.

“Check” it out at any one of the Public Libraries in Jefferson County locations where it's available and you’ll be saying “checkmate” to all your unlucky opponents.

Note: The West End Branch Library offers classes on chess for children throughout the year. There are classes scheduled for every Thursday in June.

Andrei Jones
Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Summer Reading 2016 Programs for Adults


The Birmingham Public Library has a summer of fun planned with activities, programs, and prizes for children, teens, and adults. Register for Summer Reading 2016 at your favorite branch, or visit BPL's summer reading page to register online, log your books, view the event calendar, and more.

Below is a list of system-wide summer reading programs for adults, but check the event calendar for a complete list of programs happening at all BPL locations this summer.

Coloring for Adults – Summer is the perfect time to discover something new, have fun, and relax. Join us to explore your creative side and discover the benefits of coloring. We supply the coloring sheets, color pencils, and crayons. Come by for a fun and creative experience. We hope you will join us.

North Birmingham – June 20, 10:00 a.m.
Woodlawn – July 18, 2:00 p.m.

Device Training – Downloadables – Summer is the ideal time to explore an interesting subject or learn something new. Would you like to learn how to download and read e-books or listen to audiobooks for free on your device? Library staff can teach you how. Bring your own device or you can use the various devices we will bring. We hope you will join us to see what the library has to offer. Note: we will only be using devices that have Internet capabilities and do not need to be hooked up to a computer.

Powderly – June 21, 2:00 p.m.
East Lake – June 24, 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham – June 27, 11:00 a.m.
West End – June 28, 12:00 p.m.
Central – July 12, 2:15 p.m.

Every House Has a History: Researching Birmingham Area Houses, Buildings and Churches – Jefferson County enjoys a rich architectural heritage. This talk will introduce you to sources available at the Birmingham Public Library Archives to help you locate vintage photos of your house, building, or church, determine the age of the structure, and learn who has lived or worked there.

North Birmingham – June 8, 11:00 a.m.
Titusville – July 7, 2:00 p.m.
Central – July, 18, 10:30 a.m.

Explore the Past with the Birmingham Public Library’s African-American History Online –
Our database, African-American History Online, covers a multitude of topics associated with the African American experience. This fascinating resource uses primary documents, slideshows and videos, maps, and biographies to paint a complete picture of African Americans yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Topics covered include the African diaspora, slavery and emancipation, civil rights, sports, politics, science, commerce, religion, and much more.

West End – June 14, 2:00 p.m.
Central – June 22, 2016 2:00 p.m.
Woodlawn – July 19, 2:00 p.m.

Get in the Game...Paint – Local artist Cherie Hunt will provide step-by-step instructions for participants to complete their very own canvas masterpiece. Limited space; registration required. Youth Department/Story Castle.

Central – June 21, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Gifts of a Wordsmith Location – Free adult poetry workshop. East Building/First Floor Conference Room.

Central – June 7, 6:00-7:45 p.m.
Central – July 5, 6:00-7:45 p.m.

Handle with Care: Preserving Your Family Papers and Photographs  – There are many basic and inexpensive things you can do to ensure that your family letters, scrapbooks, and photographs are preserved for the future. This talk introduces the fundamentals of home archiving.

Springville Road – June 7, 6:30 p.m.
Titusville – June 9, 2:00 p.m.
Central – June 14, 10:30 a.m.
Southside – July 6, 10:00 a.m.
Powderly – July 12, 1:30 p.m.

It's So Easy to Exercise! – Join us for a sample of a low impact/chair exercise program designed for cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility techniques. Certified fitness instructor Russell Lee will also include a brief talk on general exercise safety. Participants will need to furnish their own exercise mat and a towel. Proper and suitable attire and athletic shoes for exercise is recommended. Come join the fun! Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium.

Central – June 11, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Knitting Basics for Adults – Learn the basics of knitting. From a simple cast-on to knitting and purling. Knitting needles and yarn will be provided (note: supplies must be returned at the end of class). Attendees may bring their own supplies if desired.

Southside – June 15, 10:00 a.m.
East Lake – June 22, 10:00  a.m.
Central – June 28, 2:00 p.m.
Powderly – June 29, 2:00 p.m.

Let's Talk About It: Oral History (Beyond the Basics of Genealogy) – Relatives and family friends are important sources of information. Whom do you want to talk with (everyone) and what do you want to ask (everything). Join us in this introduction to oral history. Learn how to gather information from those who have difficulty remembering or are troubled by the past and reluctant to share it. Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, contact the Southern History Department at 205-226-3665 or askgenlocal@bham.lib.al.us. Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium.

Central – July 16, 10:00-11:30 a.m.

Life in 1916  –  What was life like in Birmingham 100 years ago in 1916? Get a glimpse into the past as the Southern History Department takes you on a journey through the news, stories, and advertisements gleaned from Birmingham newspapers for the year 1916.

Springville Road – June 6, 2:00 p.m.
West End – June 20, 2:00 p.m.
Southside – July 11, 2:15 p.m.
Central – July 13, 2:00 p.m.
North Avondale – July 18, 2:00 p.m.

Origami 101 Class – Learn the basics of the Japanese art of paper folding. All supplies will be provided. Class size is limited to 10 people.

Central – June 18, 2:00 p.m.
North Avondale – July 7, 10:00 a.m.

Urban Fiction – Urban fiction has become one of the most popular genres for our library patrons. Birmingham Public Library staff will provide an overview of the genre, discuss urban fiction publishers, authors, and series, and reveal ways to discover new authors you may like.

North Avondale – June 9, 11:00 a.m.
Springville Road – June 10, 1:00 p.m.
North Birmingham – July 7, 11:00 a.m.

Summer Reading 2016 Programs for Children


The Birmingham Public Library has a summer of fun planned with activities, programs, and prizes for children, teens, and adults. Register for Summer Reading 2016 at your favorite branch, or visit BPL's summer reading page to register online, log your books, view the event calendar, and more.

Below is a list of system-wide summer reading programs for children, but check the event calendar for a complete list of programs happening at all BPL locations this summer.

On Your Mark, Get Set…Dance!  – Come down to the library to learn the latest dance moves with M.A.D Skillz Dance Company. Dance is a great way to exercise and lots of fun at the same time. Learn to move and groove and have lots of fun.

North Birmingham – June 9, 10:30 a.m.
Central – June 14, 10:00 a.m.
Woodlawn – June 16, 10:00 a.m.
Powderly – June 20, 10:00 a.m.
East Ensley – June 21, 10:00 a.m.
Pratt City – June 22, 10:00 a.m.
Avondale – June 22, 2:00 p.m.
East Lake – June 23, 10:00 a.m.
Wylam – June 28, 10:00 a.m.
Smithfield – June 29, 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West – June 30, 10:00 a.m.
Ensley – July 19, 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road – July 20, 10:00 a.m.
Inglenook – July 22, 3:30 p.m.

Play Ball! – The Negro Southern League Museum (NSLM) and the Birmingham Public Library are excited to share the newest museum to be added to the Birmingham community. Toby Richards, curator for the NSLM, will be sharing artifacts from the rare and priceless collection of Dr. Layton Revel beyond the walls of the museum and into the community for a hands-on experience for youth, teens, and, adults to enjoy. Join us for a look into Birmingham's past with America's game: baseball!

Five Points West – June 7, 10:00 a.m.
Wylam – June 14, 10:00 a.m.
Powderly – June 27, 10:00 a.m.
Central – June 28, 10:00 a.m.
Inglenook – July 11, 3:30 p.m.

Ready, Set...Science! – The science of sports is all about motion and Newton knew sports. This engaging, fun, and educational show from Dynamic Education Adventures will explain Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion and how it applies to sports. An object at rest remains at rest unless The Science Lady is in the house.

Powderly – June 6, 10:00 a.m.
Wylam – June 7, 10:00 a.m.
East Lake – June 9, 10:00 a.m.
Southside – June 10, 9:30 a.m.
Woodlawn – June 13, 10:00 a.m.
Titusville – June 14, 10:30 a.m.
North Avondale – June 14, 1:00 p.m.
North Birmingham – June 15, 10:30 a.m.
Avondale – June 15, 2:00 p.m.
Eastwood – June 16, 10:45 a.m.
Inglenook – June 17, 10:00 a.m.
Central – June 27, 10:00 a.m.
East Ensley – June 27, 10:00 a.m.
West End – June 30, 11:00 a.m.
Pratt City – July 5, 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road – July 6, 10:00 a.m.
Ensley – July 12, 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West – July 21, 10:00 a.m.

Scales, Tails, and More! – Did you know that animals are natural born athletes that come outfitted with their own sports equipment and protection gear? Join Alabama 4-H and their cast of kid-friendly critters as they present some super jocks from the world of scales, tails, and more.

East Ensley – June 7, 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road – June 8, 10:00 a.m.
West End – June 9, 11:00 a.m.
Inglenook – June 10, 9:30 a.m.
Powderly – June 13, 10:00 a.m.
Pratt City – June 14, 10:00 a.m.
Avondale – June 14, 6:30 p.m.
Smithfield – June 15, 10:00 a.m.
East Lake – June 16, 10:00 a.m.
Central – June 20, 10:00 a.m.
Woodlawn – June 21, 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham – June 23, 10:30 a.m.
Ensley – June 28, 10:00 a.m.
Eastwood – June 30, 10:45 a.m.
Five Points West – July 5, 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale – July 7, 1:00 p.m.
Southside – July 8, 9:30 a.m.
Titusville – July 12, 10:30 a.m.
Wylam – July 19, 10:00 a.m.

Summer Reading 2016 Programs for Teens


The Birmingham Public Library has a summer of fun planned with activities, programs, and prizes for children, teens, and adults. Register for Summer Reading 2016 at your favorite branch, or visit BPL's summer reading page to register online, log your books, view the event calendar, and more.

Below is a list of system-wide summer reading programs for teens, but check the event calendar for a complete list of programs happening at all BPL locations this summer.

Get in the Chemistry Game – Have some fun with chemical reactions and see that chemistry is cool. We'll be exploring states of matter by making elephant toothpaste, mixing Diet Coke with Mentos, and much more. Don't miss this explosively good time.

Pratt City – June 1, at 2:00 p.m.
Ensley – June 2, at 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham – June 7, at 2:00 p.m.
Wylam – June 16, at 1:00 p.m.
Powderly – June 30, at 1:00 p.m.
Five Points West – July 6, at 2:00 p.m.
East Ensley – July 7, at 2:00 p.m.
Smithfield – July 19, at 10:00 a.m.

Get in the Game…Paint! – Local artist, Cherie Hunt will provide step-by-step instructions for participants to complete their very own canvas masterpiece. Limited space. Registration required.

East Ensley – June 13, at 2:00 p.m.
North Birmingham – June 14, at 2:00 p.m.
East Lake – June 15, at 3:30 p.m.
North Avondale – June 16, at 10:30 a.m.
Avondale – June 16, at 2:00 p.m.
Smithfield – June 21, at 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West – June 22, at 2:00 p.m.
Ensley – June 23, at 10:00 a.m.
Wylam – June 23, at 2:00 p.m.
Southside – July 7, at 10:30 a.m.
Pratt City – July 7, at 2:00 p.m.
Woodlawn – July 12, at 4:00 p.m.
West End – July 13, at 2:00 p.m.
Inglenook – July 15, at 3:00 p.m.
Powderly – July 21, at 1:30 p.m.

Get in the Game with Virtual Reality – Love to play video games? Ever thought about designing them? UAB’s ET (Enabling Technologies Laboratory) will provide an awesome interactive presentation and discussion for teens regarding virtual reality complete with giant screens, Oculus Rift headsets to test out, and more! We’ll talk about virtual reality in technology, why it’s important, and what role it will play in the future.

Ensley – June 16, at 2:00 p.m.
Central – June 21, at 4:00 p.m.
East Ensley – June 23, at 2:00 p.m.
Five Points West – June 29, at 2:00 p.m.
Southside – July 11, at 10:30 a.m.

Hit a Home Run with the Negro Southern League Museum – The Negro Southern League Museum (NSLM) and the Birmingham Public Library are excited to share the newest museum to be added to the Birmingham community. Toby Richards, curator for the NSLM, will be sharing artifacts from the rare and priceless collection of Dr. Layton Revel beyond the walls of the museum and into the community for a hands-on experience for youth, teens, and, adults to enjoy. Join us for a look into Birmingham's past with America's game: baseball!

Southside – June 21, at 10:30 a.m.
Smithfield – July 5, at 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road – July 6, at 10:00 a.m.

It’s So Easy to Exercise! – Join us for a sample of a low impact/chair exercise program designed for cardiovascular activity, strength training, and flexibility techniques. Certified fitness instructor Russell Lee will also include a brief talk on general exercise safety. Please bring your own exercise mat and towel. Wear suitable attire and tennis shoes.

Southside – June 14, at 10:30 a.m.
Smithfield – June 28, at 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road – June 29, at 10:00 a.m.
Wylam – June 30, at 2:00 p.m.
East Lake – July 6, at 10:00 a.m.
West End – July 6, at 2:00 p.m.
Five Points West – July 13, at 2:00 p.m.
Powderly – July 14, at 1:30 p.m.

On Your Mark, Get Set…Dance! – Come down to the library to learn the latest dance moves with M.A.D Skillz Dance Company. Dance is a great way to exercise and lots of fun at the same time. Learn to move and groove and have lots of fun.

Smithfield – June 7, at 10:00 a.m.
East Lake – June 8, at 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West – June 8, at 2:00 p.m.
East Ensley – June 9, at 2:00 p.m.
Central – June 14, at 4:00 p.m.
Springville Road – June 15, at 10:00 a.m.
West End – June 15, at 2:00 p.m.
Powderly – June 16, at 1:30 p.m.
North Birmingham – June 21, at 2:00 p.m.
Titusville – June 23, at 2:30 p.m.
Pratt City – June 29, at 2:00 p.m.
Ensley – July 7, at 10:00 a.m.
Avondale – July 7, at 2:00 p.m.
Wylam – July 14, at 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Registration Open For June 2016 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the June 2016 Computer Class Schedule.  During this month, we include our popular computer classes, such as Basic PC and Keyboarding, as well as job search classes.  All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) LibraryPRE-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 cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us or call 205-226-3681.   You may also download and print a pdf copy of June 2016 Computer Class Schedule to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the June 2016 Computer Class Schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.


LGBT Rights: A Historical Perspective

With the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots coming up in the next few years, I felt a need to write down a few resources I found helpful to put these issues into perspective. With this in mind, the 38th annual Central Alabama Pridefest will be taking place June 4-12. On Saturday, June 11, the Pride Parade will be taking place. Its route will be on the Southside around Five Points South. Jordin Sparks will be the headliner on Sunday, June 12, at Sloss Furnances. For more information about Central Alabama Pride, see their website at http://www.centralalabamapride.org/.

Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum
An easy read. The book is 120 pages long, so a fast read as well. Full of illustrations and clear, action-oriented prose. Written in a way that a teenager would understand it. A great introduction to the subject.



American Experience: Stonewall Uprising (DVD)
At 90 minutes long, a great documentary telling about the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969. The film has interviews from participants of the riots from the police and the rioters. It gives a great introduction to the years leading up to the riots and the overall aftermath of the event. Especially moving for me were the experiences of the participants of the first Pride marches: their anxiety and fear, their pride and exhilaration, their joy and tears. Quite emotional and personal.


After Stonewall (DVD)
Narrated by Melissa Etheridge and filled with famous gay and lesbian activists and celebrities from pre-2000s, this film chronicles the gay rights movement post Stonewall. The moments that touched me the most were the AIDS years and the extreme loss of life.






The Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives (DVD)
Over 2 hours long, this documentary, released to the theaters and shown on PBS in 1978, shows interviews with 26 people who share their experiences of being gay men and lesbians. The participants stretch the gamut of age, race, and socio-economic status. Highlights: Ex-military lesbian talking about her experiences in the military (humorous), the older gay couple talking about their relationship and how they met (sentimental), the lesbian and gay man talking about their interaction with the mental health community, especially the electro-shock therapy (emotional and harrowing). I was especially interested in one of the special features where they talked to some of the participants 30 years afterwards. It touched me to see how many of the individuals had died and how their involvement in the film had changed their lives.

Samuel Charles Rumore
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Career Survival Kit Program to Take Place May 17 at Pratt City Library

The Birmingham Public Library system’s board of directors and the Pratt City Branch Library will present Career Survival Kit for young adults on Tuesday, May 17, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., at the Pratt City Library.

The program is open to the public and is part of a continuing effort by the library to provide services to uplift the community, said Deborah Drake Blackmon, branch manager of the Pratt City Library.

Refreshments will be served. For more details, call 205-791-4997.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Summer Reading Signup Begins May 16!


Register online or in person at your favorite Birmingham Public Library location for Summer Reading 2016. BPL has a summer of fun planned with activities, programs, and prizes for children, teens, and adults. Check with your library for more information about Summer Reading, and visit our online calendar for a list of BPL summer reading events. (Check back throughout May as the list is updated with additional programs.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
Maria Semple

I rarely use the word "delightful" in a book review, but that's what comes to mind after listening to this book about depression and some possible mental illness that somehow manages to be somber and hilarious at the same time. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple is told through e-mails, letters, receipts, and official documents, a writing style I normally avoid like the plague because of how it chops up the flow of the story for me. But there is a reason that the story is told mostly through correspondence, and we see it come full circle as the mystery is revealed at the end.

Misanthropic, agoraphobic Bernadette Fox moved from California to gloomy Seattle when her husband, Elgie Branch, a Steve Jobs-type tech guru and "fourth-most-watched TED talk ever" superstar, got a job working at Microsoft on Samantha 2, a secret project that entails slapping a transmitter strip on one's forehead and typing an e-mail from a recliner across the room. Their 14-year-old daughter, nicknamed Bee because her name is too difficult to pronounce, spent a lot of her childhood in the hospital because of a heart condition. But she's intelligent, creative, and precocious, and more adept at handling her mom's quirky—and, let's be honest here, vengeful—personality than her father or anyone else can.

Bernadette at first appears to be a stay-at-home mom with simply too much time on her hands and a big chip on her shoulder about the yuppie mothers at Bee's private school. She calls the mothers "gnats," and her disdain for these women causes all kinds of trouble at the school and in the community. Some of the funniest moments happen when Bernadette goes up against the gnats (at one point while listening to this on my commute, I was laughing so hard I couldn't see to drive), but then a series of events that includes a ruined school fundraiser and the stress of an upcoming trip to Antarctica puts Bernadette on a collision course with everyone in her small, dull life and scatters the wreckage far and wide.

There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, but just as many tender moments that will have you in tears. This story about how people aren't as terrible—or as great—as you imagined once you get to really know them for the first time, is a wonderful celebration of the eccentrics and misfits that make the world so much fun.

And, if you get the chance to, please listen to this on audio. Movie actor Kathleen Wilhoite made this story with her exuberant Bee voice, her cynical Bernadette voice, and her excellent take on every other voice in between from the calm personal assistant Manjula Kapoor to the eager-beaver room mother volunteer Audrey Griffin.



Tressa Fancher
Web Services

Monday, May 09, 2016

Body Changers Program at Springville Road Library to Offer Weight Loss Support

These days, many people are concerned with reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, but don’t know where to get started. At Springville Road Regional Branch Library, we're introducing a new, informal community-based health program: Body Changers.

Beginning May 15, 2016, we'll meet every Sunday afternoon from 4:00-5:30 p.m. in the meeting room to weigh in, swap successful tips and recipes, pick up information on diets and exercise plans, and encourage each other. There is no diet or exercise plan preferred over any other and no registration or fee. This program welcomes all members of the community. This group is not affiliated with any commercial program, and does not promote any specific plan or product.

Information on diets and exercise will be available for those who need it. We hope to change our lives for the better, enhance our body images, offer support and encouragement to each other, and make new friends.

As part of this program, we will be offering information through library resources, including: books on diet, nutrition, exercise, cooking, strength building, physical and emotional health, and self-help.

Online Resources available through the library databases:
Alt health Watch
Health and Wellness Resource Center and Alternative Health Module
Health Source Consumer Edition
Lexi-PALS Drug Guide
Medline Plus
My Diabetes Connect
Pub Med

Programs to support healthy living habits. Check our Springville Road Library Facebook page for the upcoming schedule, and while you’re there, LIKE us.

For more information on all resources, please see a staff member in the Adult Department, or call 205-226-4083.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Gifts of a Wordsmith Will Host Poetry Readaround at Central Library, May 10


The Birmingham Public Library invites the public to join an evening of poetry hosted by Gifts of a Wordsmith, the poetry group for adults which meets at the Central Library on the first Tuesdays of each month. On Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 6:00-7:45 p.m., Gifts of A Wordsmith will host a special poetry readaround.

Participants have been honing their lyrical skills with the help of instructors Tina Mozelle Braziel and Alicia Clavell, and this event will allow them to share their accomplishments. Fellow poetry lovers are also invited to share their work in a relaxed, accepting setting. Light refreshments will be served.

“The creative atmosphere and spirit of community that the Birmingham Public Library provides is the perfect place for workshop participants from all levels to work on their writing in a safe, friendly environment,” Clavell said.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Haruyo Miyagawa, head of the Arts, Literature and Sports Department at the Central Library, at 205-226-3670 or via e-mail at hm@bham.lib.al.us.

Central Library Hosting New Art Gallery Exhibit Featuring Birmingham Artist Merrilee Challiss


“Everything going forward must be either an elegy (for what we have lost) or a celebration (of what we have left). Or both.”

Those are the reflective words of Birmingham artist Merrilee Challiss. From May 7, 2016, through June 24, 2016, the Birmingham Public Library will showcase the artwork of Merrilee Challiss at the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery. Enjoy energetic paintings and mixed media works of a pensive, psychedelic nature. Together these works make up Challiss’ New Ideal: New Works exhibit.

ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Merrilee Challiss is an artist based in Birmingham. She received her Bachelor’s in Art from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Master’s in Fine Arts from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 2015, she did residencies at Signal Fire, Portland, Oregon, and Starry Night Retreat, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. You can check out her work at www.merrileechalliss.com or http://www.merrileechalliss.com/creatures-of-contact.

“The paintings are failures of my attempts to represent energy and consciousness in its various stages, respective to the subject,” she said. “What is left of our world, despite our best efforts to destroy it, is still rife with wonder and beauty, fecundity and meaning. I see all natural systems, man, animal, and spirit as connected and constantly overlapping and co-existing on conscious and unconscious levels. I locate myself and my role as artist, in a meditative state, in the liminal realm between elegy and celebration, where the spirit and the unconscious trump our waking reality.”

Merrilee Challiss

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Cahaba Lilies Are In Bloom


Every year around Mother's Day, the world's largest remaining stands of the Cahaba lily (Hymenocallis coronaria) burst forth into a stunning display of blooms. Each bloom lasts for one day before wilting and falling into water.

These lilies require a habitat that includes swift moving water, lots of direct sunlight, as well as the presence of the plebeian sphinx moth which pollinates the flowers and once allowed them to flourish in shoals in many of the rivers and streams of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. The lily is currently listed as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The plant is known as the Shoal Spider lily or Shoals lily in other states and - historically - the largest stands could be found in the Black Warrior River before locks and dams were built to raise the water level for river traffic in the early 20th Century. I have heard that the stands of Cahaba lilies on the Black Warrior contained hundreds of thousands of blooms before the shoals of the river were flooded.

The sight of thousands of these blooms and sunlight sparkling on the river is one of the great displays of Alabama's natural beauty this time of year. The stands pictured below can be seen within the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge between West Blocton and Piper and are easy to access from a gravel road off of Bibb County Road 24 (so you should expect a lot of company while visiting on a weekend).

One of the best opportunities to learn all about the Cahaba lilies comes each year at the Cahaba Lily Festival on the third Saturday of May in West Blocton. There will be presentations, viewing trips, canoe trips with the Cahaba River Society, and vendors selling all manner of Cahaba lily merchandise.

However, if you want to have the river and the lilies to yourself, then take a trip down to the refuge early on a weekday morning. It is a forty five minute drive from downtown and is definitely worth seeing.


Wednesday, May 04, 2016

YA Book Review: Carry On


Remember how much Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy hate each other in the Harry Potter series? Imagine if they were forced to be roommates. Imagine if they were forced to work together! Now, imagine that, despite their intense mutual dislike, they’re both secretly crushing on each other! Now: put them into a situation that forces them to both work together, and confront their undeniable attraction. Now change their names from Harry and Draco to Simon and Baz, and you have Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. That’s essentially what it is: a Harry Potter slash fiction rip-off. But oh, what a magnificent rip-off it is! Here’s the plot in a nutshell:

Simon Snow, an eighth-year student at Britain’s Watford School of Magicks, is the most powerful magician of his generation, and the one prophesied to defeat the Insidious Humdrum. His latest year at school isn’t going so well. His headmaster and mentor, the Mage, normally lets him in on his battle-plans against the Humdrum, but now he’s being all cryptic and leaving him out of the loop—despite the fact that Simon’s been fighting evil since he was eleven! To top that off, he’s losing touch with Agatha, his long-time girlfriend, and his evil roommate, Baz (who constantly plots against him) has mysteriously disappeared. That should be a good thing, right?

Well, maybe. Even with the Mage acting all mysterious, and his love life on the skids, Simon still can’t get Baz out of his head. What is that tosser up to? Is he off plotting with his aristocratic family to unseat the Mage? Preparing for the inevitable final battle for Watford? Or is it possible that Baz himself is in life-threatening peril?

Obviously, Carry On touches on a lot of what you’d find in Harry Potter, though it’s not as fast-paced as its source material. Rowell chooses the slow and steady approach, and manages to bring new meaning to old genre tropes. It’s also got fantastic characters, including Simon, who wrestles with the existential crisis of being “chosen” as much as he does the Insidious Humdrum; Penelope, his fiercely smart best friend; and Baz, an angsty anti-hero with enough snideness and dry wit to make him this year’s teen heartthrob. Carry On may be a rip-off, but it’s also more than that. It’s a funny, moving tribute to the British fantasy saga that made reading cool again. In the words of any fan-girl: it’s positively squee-worthy. Recommended for Ages 16-Up for some language and some suggestive material.

Liz Winn
Microforms Department
Central Library

Public Libraries Abundant Source of Professional Development Resources

Branch Manager Karnecia Williams at Inglenook Library's 2014 grand re-opening.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Public Library Association (PLA) conference in Denver, Colorado. The experience was enriching and reaffirmed the passion that I have as a librarian and the impact that I would like to make in the community that I serve. I attended several sessions and interacted with librarians from all over the country and from unique libraries. I was able to exchange ideas and share my experiences on many levels—from the overarching passion to some of the frustrations—and listen to those of other librarians. That part of the experience was especially liberating and therapeutic and that, along with the sessions that I attended, made me realize the importance of professional development.

Professional development in any field is a necessity in order to stay relevant and knowledgeable of different trends and changes and to even evaluate job performance objectively. Additionally, studies on professional development prove that when employees are well trained and receive continuous training, they become more productive and empowered thus increasing the morale of the organization; it can also prevent apathy. So, take advantage of the opportunities provided to you to become adept in your job. You will not only become more productive and valuable, but also confident in your own abilities.

For more information on the training needed to become your best at your job, stop by the Birmingham Public Library for self-help and instructional books, audiobooks, DVDs, and databases in a variety of topics. The library also offers classes and workshops to help you learn or sharpen your financial, business, and technological skills. Check out the calendar of events to see what's currently available.

Karnecia Williams
Inglenook Branch Library

Library Board Challenges Staff to Develop Innovative Programs

Library board members review first submissions for innovative programming
Left to right: Eunice Johnson Rogers, Advocacy Committee Chair Dora Sims, and Gwendolyn B. Guster Welch.

In an effort to help staff provide cool and innovative public programs, the Birmingham Public Library Board is paying it forward.

At its March 2016 board meeting, the group adopted a recommendation from the Advocacy, Fundraising, and Development Committee to establish an award program for staff. The award will provide up to two $50 stipends to each Birmingham Public Library location to sponsor an innovative program. The funds should assist staff in bringing new ideas to the library or provide extra support to existing programs. In order to qualify, staff should submit a brief paragraph or two explaining to the board how they will use the funds. Submissions are due by the 15th of each month.

The idea for the award was brought to the Advocacy Committee by committee member Gwendolyn Amamoo. The Advocacy Committee presented the idea to the board for approval. Upon the board’s approval, the committee will review the selections and forward their recommendations to the full board for approval. The board anticipates awarding up to $1900 between now and December 31, 2016. All awards will be paid from the board fund.

Submitted by
Dora Sims
Birmingham Public Library Board Trustee

Computer Skills Development Class at Inglenook Library, May 11


The Inglenook Branch Library will host a basic computer skills development class on Wednesday, May 11, from 10:30-11:30a.m. A series of lessons ranging from keyboarding basics to troubleshooting tips and shutdown procedures will be taught followed by an assignment to test students’ progress and knowledge learned. Contact the Inglenook Library at 205-849-8739 to register. Limited availability.

Bards & Brews Poetry Slam at Central Library, Friday, May 6



WHO: Birmingham Public Library
WHAT: Bards & Brews Performance Poetry/Beer Tasting
WHEN: Friday, May 6, 2016
WHERE: Central Library
TIME: Music starts at 6:30 p.m. and poetry performances begin at 7 p.m.

Birmingham Public Library's (BPL) popular Bards & Brews poetry performance/beer tasting series returns with a poetry slam on Friday, May 6, at the Central Library. Usually held the first Friday of each month, the event will feature free craft beer sampling provided by Yellowhammer Brewing. The J. Clyde will handle the pouring.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with live music by Susan Lawrence, beer tasting, and light refreshments. The poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m. with Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins serving as host. The event is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Admission is free and open to the public; however, attendees must be at least 18 to enter and 21 to participate—ID is required.

“Bards & Brews brings in the most diverse crowd of any BPL-sponsored programs, and the poetry you hear reflects that diversity,” said Haruyo Miyagawa, department head of Central Library’s Arts, Literature and Sports Department. “You’ll hear hip-hop infused rhythms, romantic ballads, and everything in-between.”

Miyagawa said Bards & Brews has built a loyal following since it started five years ago.

“We've made ardent fans of folks who were skeptical about poetry as entertainment,” she said. “This is not your grandfather’s staid poetry event with the poet reading stiffly before a hushed audience. Guests are encouraged to express their appreciation for a riveting performance or their disapproval for a judge’s low score. At Bards & Brews, poetry becomes a communal experience, harking back to its roots in the oral tradition."

Poets wanting to participate in the slam can sign up on site for $5 each beginning at 6:30 p.m. The following month, Bards & Brews will take place at the Avondale Regional Branch Library on Friday, June 3, with an open mic poetry night. For more information, call 205-226-3670, e-mail hm@bham.lib.al.us, visit the Bards & Brews Facebook page, or go online to www.bplonline.org/bardsbrews.