Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Roblox: Is It Safe?

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library


Over the last year Roblox, which is an online game for kids where they can create and build their own games and play other games in a multiplayer environment, has created quite a stir and has given rise to the question of whether or not the game is safe for our children. Roblox does not require a minimum age to create an account and begin playing, but it does offers in-app currency that allows the user to purchase clothes, games, weapons, avatars, and other objects.

Some would say that the game is safe but that parents should definitely be alert of its hidden dangers. There are opportunities for predators and those with less-than-good intentions to communicate with our children and exchange inappropriate messages through chat. There are a number of ways to safeguard our children while allowing them to take part in the online gaming world and they include: enabling privacy settings, reporting bad behaviors, and blocking those users who present a threat to online safety.

Ultimately, the best way for us to combat these problems is to communicate with our children, understand what types of games they are playing, and who they are playing with. There are a number of resources available for parents to learn all about the game and possibly be a part of the gaming culture.

Check out these resources at your local library!

The Ultimate Roblox Book: An Unofficial Guide: Learn How to Build You Own Worlds, Customize Your Games, and So Much More! by David Jagneaux
The Ultimate Unofficial Guide to Robloxing: Everything You Need to Know to Build Awesome Games! by Christina Majaski
Master Builder Roblox: The Essential Guide
Roblox Game Guide, Tips, Hacks, Cheats Mods Apk, Download by Josh Abbott

Monday, September 17, 2018

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns

by Jenn Seiler-Patrick, Five Points West Regional Branch Library

Three Dark Crowns
Kendare Blake

This young-adult fantasy book begins with the cryptic poem:

Three dark queens
are born in a glen,
sweet little triplets
will never be friends.

Three dark sisters
all fair to be seen,
two to devour
and one to be Queen.

And from there, I knew this book is meant for me—as someone who is a fan of true crime and has often been accused of having a dark sense of “humor”—I was all in. Throw in magical powers, and I’m in heaven. The three dark queens of our story each wield a remarkable power. Or at least they should. From birth, Katherine should be able to eat poison and not sicken. Arsinoe should be able to make plants grow and control animals. But the only sister who is able to use her magic is Mirabella, the strongest queen in many years, an elemental who can control lightening and shake the earth. So it seems that we know who the last queen standing will be…or do we?

This was one of my favorite fantasy books that I have read in a while. I went through love/hate relationships which each of the queens, and I almost threw the book in the air with surprise at the twist ending. Finally, the best news is that rest of the trilogy is already released to indulge your binging desires!

Steps to Starting a Franchise Business Seminars Offered at Noon, Evening on September 24 at Central Library


What: Steps to Starting a Franchise Business seminar
Dates and Times: Monday, September 24, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m. or 6:00-7:00 p.m.)
Monday, October 22, 2018 (12:00-1:00 p.m.)
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor
Cost: Free but registration is required

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and Birmingham SCORE will be offering Steps to Starting a Franchise Business, a monthly how-to seminar on franchising at the Central Library. The seminar will explore how franchising can take the risk out of starting your own business and becoming self-employed. Greg Foss, a career transition coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source® and SCORE mentor, will facilitate the seminar.

Topics to be covered in the seminar include: common myths and truths about franchising, the importance of knowing your personal goals before taking the plunge, non-standard ownership options, how to finance your business, how to research and select the right franchise, and resources that are available to help you with your research.

The seminar will be offered again on October 22 and will be offered once at 12:00 p.m. The seminar is free, but registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call Greg Foss at 336-501-5695.

For more information about the seminar 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 email at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by calling 205-226-3690.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Teens Engineer BHM Is Coming to a Birmingham Public Library Near You This Fall


A School of Engineering mentor and teens at the Ensley Branch Library

What: Teens Engineer BHM
Details: Teens Engineer BHM is a partnership between Birmingham Public Library (BPL) and The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering that teaches teens interested in math and science careers engineering skills, robotics, and computer coding.

For information about Teens Engineer BHM, call Bessie Miller of BPL’s Central Library at 205-226-3655. Click on this link to find out more: http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2017/05/bpl-wins-95000-community-foundation-of.html.

Middle and high school students with a passion for engineering will learn how to program robots, how to solder and gain computer coding skills this fall at Birmingham Public Library locations across the city. Teens Engineer BHM kicked off its fall after-school schedule this week.

Between September and late November, the popular program will be held at 12 of BPL’s 19 locations: Central Library, Avondale Regional Branch Library, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, Five Points West Regional Branch Library, and eight branch libraries: Ensley, East Ensley, North Avondale, East Lake, Southside, West End, Smithfield, Inglenook, and Powderly.


The program is made possible by a generous donation from the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham




Teens Engineer BHM fall schedule:

Central Library
Monday through Thursdays, 4:00–5:00 p.m. from now through November 28, 2018 – classes include Robotics I, Robotics II, Soldering, and Arduino

East Ensley Library
Tuesday, September 18, 3:45 p.m. – Robotics 1
Thursday, September 27, 3:45 p.m. – Robotics 2
Thursday, October 25, 3:45 p.m. – Soldering
Thursday, November 1, 3:45 p.m. – Soldering

East Lake Library
Thursday, September 13, 3:45 p.m. – Arduino
Monday, November 5, 3:45 p.m. – Arduino

Ensley Library
Monday, September 17, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2
Monday, October 19, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering
Tuesday, November 13, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering

Five Points West Library
Thursday, October 4, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 1 
Wednesday, October 24, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 2
Thursday, November 15, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino 
Wednesday, November 28, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino

Inglenook Library
Monday, September 24, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino
Monday, October 15, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 1
Monday, October 22, 3:30 p.m. – Robotics 2
Monday, November 26, 3:30 p.m. – Arduino

North Avondale Library
Wednesday, September 19, 3:45 p.m. – Robotics 2

North Birmingham Library
Wednesday, October 17, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Wednesday, November 14, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino
Thursday, November 29, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics II

Powderly Library
Tuesday, October 30, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Friday, November 2, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2

Smithfield Library
Thursday, September 20, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering
Tuesday, October 9, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Thursday, October 11, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2
Thursday, November 8, 4:00 p.m. – Soldering

Southside Library
Tuesday, September 25, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino
Tuesday, October 16, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Tuesday, October 23, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2
Tuesday, November 6, 4:00 p.m. – Arduino

West End Library
Wednesday, September 26, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 1
Wednesday, October 3, 4:00 p.m. – Robotics 2

Gaming Days Returns to Woodlawn Branch Library

Now that school is back in session, the Woodlawn Branch Library has brought back one of its more popular after-school activities—Gaming Days at Woodlawn Library.

On Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., youth of all ages are invited to participate in friendly competition—both in video games such as X-Box One, Retro NES, Wii, and classic board games such as chess and checkers.


On September 12 two teens who had just finished playing checkers engaged in a spirited card game. "Uno!" one yelled, slapping his cards down on the table. Across the room, two other teenagers were competing in a game of Wii tennis.

Woodlawn Library branch manager Pamela Jessie said that the library began Gaming Days in the early spring and it was an instant hit. They took a break to focus on 2018 Summer Learning activities, and decided to resume Gaming Days after students from nearby Woodlawn High School returned to school.

“It gives the kids something fun to do after school,” Jessie said. “Gaming Days has been well received.”


For information about Gaming Days and other free activities and services for patrons, call Woodlawn Library at 205-595-2001 or stop by. You can find a listing of programs taking place at BPL’s 19 libraries across the city by clicking on the events calendar.

Powderly Library Hosting Diabetes Prevention Workshop Series


What: Everyone with Diabetes Counts workshops
Where: Powderly Branch Library
When: Remaining classes are September 27, October 4, 11, and 25, all at 10:00 a.m.
Who: Medicare recipients with diabetes or pre-diabetes, their family members or caregivers; any remaining slots are open to the public.
Details: Pre-registration requested. Register online through the BPL events calendar or call the library at 205-925-6178.

A diabetes educator is conducting a series of workshops at Powderly Library designed to help community residents prevent diabetes and prevent health problems due to uncontrolled blood sugars.

Maxine Starks, a performance improvement adviser at Birmingham’s Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation (AQAF), began conducting the free workshop series Everyone with Diabetes Counts on September 6 at Powderly Library. The remaining dates are September 27 and October 4, 11, and 25.

The classes will focus on these topics:

  • Diabetes and its health risks
  • Healthy eating and exercise
  • Talking with your health care team
  • Managing medications
  • Monitoring blood sugar levels

Starks said the diabetes prevention workshops are designed for persons with diabetes, those with pre-diabetes, their family members and caregivers. Non-Medicare persons with diabetes are welcome to attend.

Starks, a registered nurse, said AQAF has a contract with Medicare to help educate undeserved Alabamians and others at risk about how to prevent and manage diabetes. Alabama has the third highest prevalence of diabetes in the nation, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the nation.

Starks has previously conducted similar diabetes prevention seminars at other BPL locations including West End Library and Wylam Library. She hopes the classes at Powderly Library help save lives.

“The response to the first class was very good,” Starks said. “Our goal is to help make a difference.” 
More than 12 percent of Alabama's adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, but many with the condition are undiagnosed. African Americans and lower-income residents are most likely to have and die of diabetes.

Type I and Type II diabetes are both hereditary. Risk factors for Type II diabetes include lifestyle factors such as poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise. In addition to death, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, and poor circulation that causes a need for amputations.

Read more about diabetes at http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/PDFs/Advocacy/burden-of-diabetes/alabama.pdf or check out materials from the library.

Book Review: Summer Hours in the Robbers Library

by Jonathan Newman, Avondale Regional Branch Library

Summer Hours in the Robbers Library
Sue Halpern

Kit (formerly Katherine) has changed her name and moved far away after being caught up in a wrongful death case involving her former husband. She works as the head librarian in the fading industrial town of Seldom Falls, PA. As the narrative unfolds, it changes from the viewpoint of Kit to those of a newly unemployed Wall Street whiz kid named Rusty to a 15-year-old girl, a member of a “Rainbow Family,” named Sunny. Sunny is sentenced to community service for stealing a dictionary from the mall bookstore and will serve it through the summer in the Riverton Public Library.

Sunny (full name: Solstice Arkinsky) lives with her parents Willow and Steve and relates various stages of their nomadic life traveling cross country to sell handmade crafts at various fairs and malls. Sunny is 15 and opinionated and questioning—not what Kit really needs. Several years into her self-imposed exile, Kit has no close friends, lives in a run-down old house that she is spending a lot of money on to update, and keeps a series of notebooks that she unobtrusively journals something in ever day at the library. Rusty is seeking escape from financial ruin by trying to track down a bank account that his mother deposited over 50 years earlier. All he knows is that it was in “a” Riverton National Bank. The bank is gone be he hopes to recover it from the state. He spends days researching the area, visiting the library every day, and getting to know the staff and four old friends who meet there every morning.

Sunny begins to become attached to Kit, who also begins to see Sunny as a reflection of herself. Rusty is staying in a motel and begins talking to the Four, who begin to school him on life and and a few other mysteries.

As the novel progresses, each of the three main character are revealed to be seeking a new life, a purpose, and perhaps a new family in their own way. The mystery of Kit/Katherine is slowly unveiled and Sunnys parent’s nomadic ways are explained. In the end, all is not well, but there is a renewed hope for most of the characters.

Hispanic Heritage Month

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library


The contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans are celebrated each year from September 15 to October 15. This time is officially designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month. The celebration first began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 at the request of Congress and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The week-long celebration was extended to a month on August 17, 1988, by President Ronald Reagan.

The influence of Hispanic cultures is deeply felt throughout the southeastern United States. Mobile, Florida, and Louisiana have all been under Spanish rule at various points in time. The effects of Spain’s early explorations to North America can still be observed in place names, architecture, religion, and many other ways. The oldest European settlement in the United States is St. Augustine, FL, settled by the Spanish in 1565 (that’s 42 years before Jamestown and 55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth).

More recently, cultural influences from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean have become integral to everyday life in the United States. With Hispanic and Latin Americans making up 18% of the U.S. population, their impact on film, art, music, sports, food, etc. is enormous.

For anyone wanting to learn more about their Hispanic heritage, the library’s Southern History Department has many books to help you. Some good ones to start with are Finding Your Hispanic Roots by George Ryskamp and the Hispanic American Genealogical Sourcebook by Paula K. Byers. We also have titles such as My Heart Is in the Earth: True Stories of Alabama and Mexico and Coraz√≥n de Dixie: Mexicanos in the U.S. South since 1910.

Check out our newest subject guide on Hispanic Heritage for more titles, websites, and information about National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Q&A with Eve Parker, AKA Popular Avondale Library Storyteller Ms. Eve

Storyteller Ms. Eve at the Southside Branch Library

Eve Parker was in a zone, leading about two dozen kids in a dance to the Pharrell Williams hit song “Happy,” then stopping the music and coaxing the children to hug their neighbor.

It was a fitting scene as a few minutes earlier Parker had been reading a book called Hug, and used the story to teach the children how to spell the word "hug."  The storytime program held September 7 at Southside Branch Library is among many led throughout the year by Parker aka Ms. Eve, Avondale Regional Branch Library’s popular storyteller.

Though Parker has only been a full-time storyteller for BPL for four years, she has been involved at Avondale Library since she was first hired as a part-time storyteller 20 years ago. Ironically, she first became acquainted with Avondale Library while bringing her kids to storytime. “I brought my children to storytime at the Avondale Library on a regular basis for 11 years—from the time they were born until my youngest started kindergarten,” Ms. Eve said.

In a Q&A interview, Parker talked about the joy of bringing smiles to the faces of BPL patrons as storyteller Ms. Eve.

Ukulele 101 at Avondale Library
BPL: What do you love most about being a storyteller?
Ms. Eve: Everything! I love introducing children to stories and music and math and science. I love seeing their "ah-ha" faces as they make connections. I love introducing them to the many resources we offer—books, movies, music, and even ukuleles! I love making props that will help bring the stories to life, and creating crafts that will extend the story for our Tot Time children. I love writing songs to accompany stories. I love getting to know our families and seeing friendships develop between the families that regularly attend Tot Time.

I love helping parents help their children learn to love reading by bringing books to life through the art of storytelling. I love exposing children to big ideas in stories such as: was what happened fair?; did the character make good choices?; how did the character's choice affect the outcome?; etc. I love that I get to fuse music and story and art—all things that I love—when creating and executing programs.

I especially love to think that by encouraging our young patrons to realize their creative potential, they will become better innovators, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. I do love everything about storytelling!

Give an estimate of how many times you have read stories to kids at BPL over the years and how many storytelling events at BPL do you attend per year?
The idea that storytellers read stories is a common misconception. Storytelling is performance art and as such I do not read stories—I tell stories. While the stories I share with the younger children are primarily prop driven, the stories I share with older children are much more complex. It might take days or weeks to arrange and learn a story for oral retelling.

Over the years I have planned and executed many thousands of programs for toddlers, preschoolers, elementary school aged groups, family groups, and even senior citizens.

What does it take to be good at reading stories to kids—aka what is the secret to keeping them engaged and participating? 
It is important to know your audience and to select age appropriate material. I often have much more material than necessary so that I can adjust the program to the needs of my audience. For my youngest audiences, storytime includes lots of music and movement. Beyond that, my storytime programs are interactive, literacy based, and adrenaline fueled!

Ms. Eve and former Tot Timers!
Anything else to add?
Storytime, especially Tot Time, is often an introduction of families to their local library. Many of the parents have not visited a library since they themselves were young, and they don’t know what we offer. They are looking for a connection to their community and for literacy-based experiences to share with their young children. These families learn about our many resources—books, music, CDs, DVDs, computers, and programming.

They also connect with other families to form neighborhood networks and playgroups. Their children have an opportunity to meet other children and share early literary experiences, thus creating life-long learners and library users. As parents and educators, both in and out of storytime, we all have an amazing opportunity to model and encourage good habits in our children.

Empathy, kindness, honesty, curiosity, and critical thinking are just a few of the habits, formed in youth, that we can encourage and model on a daily basis. Children’s literature provides us the perfect springboard, and youth librarians all over are eager to recommend the perfect books for our children.

At Avondale Library we have a Reader’s Advisory display in our Youth Department called “Let’s Talk About It.” The display contains books with big ideas for little people, and bookmarks with suggestions for starter questions for philosophical discussion. Even if you can’t make it to a storytime program, we hope you will come by to check out some of our sensational books!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

"The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale and the Bottom Line"

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

"The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale and the Bottom Line" by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson from Everyday Emotional Intelligence: Big Idea 

Did you know that being nice to folks doesn’t just make work more pleasant, it actually promotes your business or organization? Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, writing in an essay for the book Everyday Emotional Intelligence: Big Ideas and Practical Advice on How to Be Human at Work, state that incivility at work hurts morale and the bottom line. Customers who view an employee treating another employee with disrespect can form a negative image of the business and avoid returning. A disrespectful working environment affects employees’ creativity, performance, and commitment.

Incivility can take many forms, and are sometimes the result of thoughtlessness instead of malice. Gross incivility would include publicly correcting, criticizing, belittling, or bullying someone. More subtle forms include texting or emailing during a meeting, taking credit for good results while calling out other people when something goes wrong, and gossiping about another employee’s personal business, performance, or appearance. Mean girls (and boys) are not just in middle school, and they have a deleterious effect on an organization.

According to Porath and Pearson, their poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries reveal the personal and business cost of being on the receiving end of incivility:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident.
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
  • 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  • 12% said that they left their job because of the uncivil treatment.
  • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.

It is impossible to foster teamwork when rudeness and disrespect cause negative and hostile feelings in a work group. People don’t have to be close personal friends, but animosity, cut-throat competition, and throwing others under the bus are not activities that promote working together.

The good news is that leaders can mentor and direct the team members by modeling good behavior, asking for feedback, rewarding improvement, and penalizing bad behavior. They can make civility a priority in hiring, and teach it to all employees. They can establish protocols with specific ideas for improving a hostile or toxic working environment. One such rule is called the “10/5 way.” If you’re within 10 feet of someone, make eye contact and smile. If you’re within 5 feet, say hello. With longstanding “bad blood” between employees, it may take a little time, but if goals are established, utilized fairly for all employees, and there are consequences for infractions, the situation should improve.

Steps to Starting Your Business Seminar Scheduled for September 18 at Central Library


What: Steps to Starting Your Business
When: Tuesday, September 18 (3rd Tuesday of each month, July-October 2018)
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Arrington Auditorium, 4th floor

The Birmingham Public Library, in conjunction with Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the City of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, will be hosting the monthly seminar Steps to Starting Your Business from July to October 2018. The seminar is scheduled to be held on the following Tuesdays from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. in the Arrington Auditorium, which is located on the 4th floor of the Linn-Henley Research Library: September 18, October 16.

Each seminar will cover the same topics, but those who are interested are welcome to attend more than one day. Topics covered will include crafting a vision statement, identifying sources of funding, determining the legal structure of your business, devising a business plan, and investigating sources of business and economic information. Please register for the seminars by contacting Valencia Fisher in the Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity at Valencia.Fisher@birminghamal.gov or 205-254-2799.

Seminar presenters will be veteran mentors from the local chapter of SCORE. SCORE is a national nonprofit association consisting of volunteers with business skills and experience who want to share their knowledge with prospective entrepreneurs and small business owners. For over 50 years, SCORE mentors have helped millions of Americans start and grow their own businesses.

For further information about the seminars or about resources available at the Birmingham Public Library relating to small business development, please contact Jim Murray in the Central Library’s Business, Science and Technology Department at jmurray@bham.lib.al.us or by phoning 205-226-3691.

Public Can Obtain Passports at Five Birmingham Public Library Locations


Do you need to get a US passport? It is now easier than ever in Birmingham. You can now obtain US passports or have questions answered at five Birmingham Public Library locations across the city.

The Central Library downtown and four regional libraries—Avondale, Five Points WestNorth Birmingham, and Springville Road—will serve as official Passport Acceptance Facilities. The service will be available during the following times by appointment only: Saturdays, 9:00 a.m–12:00 p.m.; Mondays and Tuesdays, 5:00–7:00 p.m. You must supply your own photo.

BPL employees at all five facilities have undergone months of Passport Acceptance Agent Training from the New Orleans Passport Center of the US. Department of State.

For more information on what’s needed to obtain your passport and charges involved, please see the following website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/apply-in-person.html.

In Memory of September 11, 2001

by Leigh Wilson, North Birmingham Regional Branch Library

Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 & the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back
Jere Longman

Among the Heroes: United Flight 93 & the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back is the moving account of the extraordinary passengers and crew aboard United Flight 93, which was the fourth plane hijacked on September 11, 2001. New York Times reporter Jere Longman details the remarkable lives of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93, set against the backdrop of the terrible events that unfolded during the airplane’s hijacking. Many of the passengers phoned their families after the hijacking occurred and learned of the other hijackings, which had used commercial airplanes as suicide missions to attack the World Trade Center. This is the story of the heroic efforts of these passengers and crew to fight back against the terrorists, ultimately saving perhaps hundreds or thousands of lives. You will weep but also cheer with the heroes of United Flight 93 who inspired a nation with their courage.

Monday, September 10, 2018

From Page to Stage: And in This Corner: Cassius Clay – A Reader’s Theater Workshop for Children


The Birmingham Public Library (BPL), in partnership with the Birmingham Children’s Theatre (BCT) and Junior League of Birmingham (JLB), would like to invite you to attend From Page to Stage: And in This Corner: Cassius Clay – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of School House Rock Live!, BPL will be hosting free workshops at several of its area libraries. Children, aged 7 to 12, will learn how stories come alive through the magic of theater. JLB members will coach the children and introduce them to similar literature located in their local library. Each child will receive two free tickets (one child and one adult ticket) to the BCT And in This Corner: Cassius Clay production on October 6 or 7, 2018.

Ding! Ding! Ding! A young Cassius Clay Jr. takes his first steps into the ring and on the path to becoming boxing legend Muhammad Ali. This historical drama takes our audiences back to Jim Crow Louisville where, despite a culture of segregation and racism, a young man finds inspiration in his community and the power of his own potential.

Workshop space is limited, so register online through the BPL events calendar or call your participating library location.

Libraries and dates are as follows:

East Lake Library – Saturday, September 22, 2:30 p.m.
Avondale Regional Branch Library – Sunday, September 23, 2:30 p.m.
West End Branch Library – Saturday, September 29, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library – Sunday, September 30, 2:30 p.m.

1-2-3 Play with Me Program for Parents and Young Kids Kicks Off Fall Season September 6

The Birmingham Public Library is kicking off new sessions of 1-2-3 Play with Me at four library locations.

Playing with your baby is not only important for bonding, but is also an educational experience for your child. We are providing a special time and place for you to come to the public library and spend one-on-one time playing with your child. This five-week program involves children birth through age 3 and their parents or caregivers. The library will have age appropriate toys, books, and art activities just for you and your child. Also, we have invited special guests from the community to join us each week to answer your questions about parenting.

1-2-3 Play with Me emphasizes the role of parents as the first teachers of their children, facilitates early intervention and teaches strategies for healthy child development and early literacy. 1-2-3 Play with Me is the signature event for Family Place Libraries and is a community project grant recipient of the Junior League of Birmingham.

The 2018 schedule is as follows. Visit the BPL events calendar for exact dates.

Springville Road Regional Branch Library
September 6–October 4
Every Thursday at 10:00 a.m.

Five Points West Regional Branch Library
September 11–October 9
Every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.

Avondale Regional Branch Library
September 19–October 17
Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Southside Branch Library
October 11–November 8
Every Thursday at 11:00 a.m.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Wylam Library, Faith Chapel Christian Center Partner on Summer Push, Vittles for Vitality Programs

L-R: Debra Blaylock, community liaison with Faith Chapel, and Connie Tolbert and Selina
Johnson of the Wylam Library
               
For nearly a decade Faith Chapel Christian Center has been a strong community partner with the nearby Wylam Branch Library.

Leadership at Faith Chapel, which began in Wylam in April 1981 in the home of founder Pastor Michael D. Moore, feel it is a part of their “responsibility as a church to be an active partner and supporter of community initiatives at Wylam Library,” said Debra Blaylock, community liaison with Faith Chapel.

“We feel that helping to build our community and families is something that requires collaboration and support from everyone in the community,” Blaylock said. “When everyone does their part, then success is much easier to accomplish and it’s not a burden on any one agency, church, or business.”

Wylam K-8 student participants of 2018 Summer Push program at Wylam Library with
Wylam K-8 teacher Constance Blaylock

Since 2009 Faith Chapel has provided monthly financial support to Wylam Library. Wylam Library branch manager Selina Johnson said Faith Chapel’s assistance plays a vital role in helping the library provide valuable services for their patrons, from after-school snacks to a summer program that helps kids retain their education by reading during the summer.  

Funding is not always what we would like it to be, so partnerships are essential to continuing a quality program,” Johnson said. “Partnerships provide libraries with resources and expertise that help expand Wylam Library’s impact by engaging and empowering the community.  This has been a great experience and we look forward to the continued success of current and future collaborations with Faith Chapel.”


Constance Blaylock and her 2018 Summer Push students

One program Faith Chapel helped bring to life is Summer Push, a reading initiative held the past two summers that focuses on helping students on break from Wylam K-8 School avoid the so-called “summer slide,” a phenomenon in which students forget much of the knowledge gained during the previous school year. During Summer Push, founded by Wylam K-8 teacher Constance Blaylock, students get free tutoring from her and reading assignments of books in the Wylam Library that help them retain knowledge while on summer break. Constance Blaylock holds the classes weekly at Wylam Library.

Debra Blaylock said Faith Chapel is excited at how successful the program has been over the past two summers in helping children avoid the summer learning slide.


Selecting more books to read!

“We have had great attendance and the parents have been very supportive,” Blaylock said. “The kids seem excited about reading and coming weekly to the library to talk about their books. This summer, we had kids coming throughout the week to get new books before their weekly meeting with Miss Blaylock. In fact, this summer we had a larger number of students reading more books over the summer.”

Each Tuesday during the months of June and July, the instructor, Constance Blaylock, required students to check out library books, read at least one book a week, and complete a weekly book report. Summer Push helped students gain and retain reading skills over the summer, Johnson said.

Parents and students alike were committed to the program,” Johnson said. The parents brought the students on time or early and the students were always prepared when turning in their assignments. They also were eager to claim their prizes for reaching reading goals.”

Debra Blaylock said everyone can agree that reading is critical to the success of kids in mastering other subjects. “Anything that Faith Chapel can do to assist them in improving their level of reading proficiency is a must,” she said.

Faith Chapel also filled a need in 2010 by providing funds to create Wylam Library’s Vittles for Vitality Program, Johnson said. Many students at nearby Wylam K-8 School are provided lunch quite early and come in hungry while visiting the library after school until closing time.


After-school learning activities
Faith Chapel provides this program a monthly stipend to purchase snacks for these students during the school year and a pizza party to celebrate reading accomplishments at the culmination of the library summer reading program,” Johnson said.

Faith Chapel is truly an example of the positive impact of spiritual outreach in the community and we commend them for their unwavering commitment to faith and community.  This has been a great experience and we look forward to the continued success of current and future collaborations with Faith Chapel.”

My Favorite Banned Book – 1984 by George Orwell


Banned Books Week, an annual national event celebrating the freedom to read, will be observed September 23-29, 2018.

This event was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to popular books in schools, bookstores, and libraries. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community—librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, and readers.

The 2018 theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship. You can read more about Banned Books Week at this link.

The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country. The Top Ten Challenged Books of 2017 included at No. 7 To Kill a Mockingbird by late Alabama author Harper Lee. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, considered an American classic, was challenged and banned because of violence and its use of the N-word.
Read more about challenged books on the ALA list at this link.

This year BPL is inviting staffers to write a book review of their favorite banned book. Kicking it off is a review of 1984, the classic 1949 novel by George Orwell.

 My Favorite Banned Book – 1984 by George Orwell

As a teenager my identical twin, Troy Williams, and I were given a reading assignment in class that captivated us like never before. In 1978 at the age of 14, we read 1984, the classic George Orwell depiction of a world in which government propaganda and intrusion permeated society.

Books and articles were rewritten to twist facts into what the government wanted citizens to believe. “Big Brother” was everywhere, dictating even how you thought. The book’s hero, Winston Smith, is a low-ranking member of the Party who became frustrated at how “Big Brother” controlled every aspect of society. Along with his girlfriend, Julia, Winston Smith led a fight for freedom and justice.

1984 sends a powerful message about the dangers of too much government manipulation of the way society thinks and intrusion in private lives. It is even more timely in today’s political era of “fake news” and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

No wonder the New York Times last year posted the article "Why 1984 is a 2017 Must Read Book"

West End and Powderly Branch Libraries Offering Free Adult Line Dance Classes

Move Over and Let Me Dance at West End Library

What: Adult line dance classes
When and Where: 12:00–1:00 p.m. Tuesdays through November 2018 at West End Branch Library12:00–1:00 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays every week at Powderly Branch Library

George Mauldin first gained a skill for dancing while growing up as a teenager in his hometown of Selma, Alabama. Now 72, Mauldin is sharing his talents with adults in Birmingham who desire to join the line dance craze.

On September 4 Mauldin kicked off a 12-week series of free adult line dance lessons at the West End Library. On Tuesdays through the end of October, Mauldin is teaching dance steps for popular line dances such as The Wobble, the Electric Slide, and the Cupid Shuffle.

George Mauldin’s class is open to patrons of all ages, including novices who have never participated in line dances but desire to learn. Mauldin is owner of Birmingham’s GEM DJ Services and plays music for weekly line dance classes at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Birmingham.

“Line dancing is a great way to stay in shape and make new friends,” Mauldin said.

For more information about Mauldin’s dance class, call 205-226-4089.

Senior Line Dance Class at Powderly Library

In addition to the class at the West End Library, BPL has offered a popular line dance class for seniors the past two years at the Powderly Branch Library. For details, call Powderly Library at 205-925-6178. You can find more information about these classes and other BPL programs by clicking on the events calendar at www.bplonline.org.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Author Chandra Sparks Splond to Host Teen Writing Workshop at West End Library October 10

Chandra Sparks Splond
What: Whose Phone Is This? – Teen Writing Workshop with Author Chandra Sparks Splond
When: Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 3:30–4:30 p.m.
Where: West End Branch Library
Details: Author Chandra Sparks Splond mixes technology with reading in this fun writing workshop where students will create cell phones for their favorite book characters. Free to the public.

Award-winning Birmingham author Chandra Sparks Splond is hosting a free teen writing workshop, Whose Phone Is This, in early October at the West End Branch Library. Splond will mix technology with reading in this fun writing workshop where students will create cell phones for their favorite book characters. The teen event is free and open to the public; no registration required. Call the West End Library at 205-226-4089 for more information.

In a Q&A interview, Splond talked about the workshop and what inspired it:




BPL: Tell me about the teen writing workshop, Whose Phone is This? It is a fascinating concept.
Splond: I'm always looking for fun, different ways to get people excited about reading. Whose Phone is This? is one of those ways. Most kids I know are always on their phones, and adults are often fussing at them to get off it. I thought this workshop would be a way to meet them where they're at, so to speak. They get to play on a phone and talk about some great books. Plus, I don't know about you, but I'm always curious about what people have on their phones. This workshop will also allow participants to get a peek.

You have a teenage daughter. Is raising her one of the things that inspired this workshop? If not where did you get the idea?
My daughter always inspires me. I did run this idea by her when I first decided to do it just to make sure it was teen approved.

What do you hope teens attending this writing workshop get out of it?
I hope the writing workshop will ignite (or reignite) a love of reading for participants. I'm on a mission to get people excited about reading. I sincerely believe that many people don't like to read because they haven't connected with the right book. Prayerfully, this workshop will put participants on the path to finding it if they haven't already.

A lot of your books appeal to teenage readers. Where do you come up with topics to write about?
A lot of the topics I write about come from my own time in high school, as well as my observations of today's teens. The saying is true that there's really nothing new under the sun. When I was in school, when were dealing with topics like love, friendships ,and pursuing your dreams, all of which I address in my books. I try to make my stories real and relevant to the issues with which youth are dealing today.

Any advice for young writers? And any tips for adult potential authors as well?
My advice to writers, regardless of age is to read and write.

I encounter so many people who say they want to write a book, but they don't take the time to actually sit down and do it. There's nothing anyone can do with an idea that's in your head. You have to put something down on paper. As one of my author friends once said, your writing doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be written. Many people I encounter say they don't have the time. You don't need huge blocks of time. Challenge yourself to do fifteen minutes a day. That might mean sitting in your car writing while your child is at soccer practice, or while you're waiting in the school pickup line or getting up a few minutes early. Look at your schedule and figure out how to make it happen. You'll be surprised how that time adds up. Most of my books are written in fifteen-minute blocks.

I also encourage people who want to write a book to read. I meet so many people who admit to not reading. All good writers I know are also readers. Read books in all genres. You don't have to like everything you read, but you can learn from everything you read. Don't just read books, but study them so you learn what to do and not to do in your own writing. If you're wondering how to fit reading into your schedule in addition to writing, again, I encourage you to find fifteen minutes every day to make it happen. One way I get my reading done is through audiobooks. I have the Libby and Hoopla apps offered by the Birmingham Public Library on my phone, and they have boosted the amount of reading I get done dramatically.

You have written how many books? Any new ones coming out soon?
I've written too many books to count at this point. Some of them will never see the light of day because they were teaching me how to write. I recently published my tenth book, Shine, about a girl who is dealing with the fallout from making the biggest mistake of her life. I plan to release a few more books before the end of the year. Readers can sign up for my newsletter and my blog at www.chandrasparkssplond.com to find out more about me, my books, and my upcoming releases. There are also excerpts from all of my books available on my site. I also love visiting with schools, churches, libraries, book clubs, and other organizations. If anyone has read any of my books and is interested in setting up a visit, email me at visit@chandrasparkssplond.com.

Anything else to add?
Thanks to you, Roy, Denise Ford, Maya Jones, and the West End Branch of the Birmingham Public Library for this opportunity. I'm a huge fan of BPL. I spent so many days in the West End and Five Points West Libraries as a kid dreaming about when I would one day see my books on the shelves. To now have the opportunity to go back to the West End Branch to inspire our next generation is a full-circle moment and so humbling for me. It's my prayer that I will continue to do you all proud.

BPL Hosting Free Intro to Yoga Classes September 10 & 17


What: Intro to Yoga
When: Monday, September 10 and 17, both days from 6:00–6:45 p.m.
Where: Central Library/Linn-Henley Research Library/Arrington Auditorium/4th Floor
Details: Free yoga class designed to introduce patrons to this stress-relieving exercise. Yoga mat and yoga blocks are optional but encouraged. Wear comfortable clothing for bending and stretching.

Curious about yoga but not sure how to start? Then join us at the Linn-Henley Research Library downtown as the Birmingham Public Library hosts a quick intro to yoga class in a low stress and non-judgmental environment.

In this free class, you will learn basic yoga terms and poses that will give you confidence to start your own practice at home. Beginners and yogis of all body types are welcome. No registration required.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Event to Be Held at The Grill at Iron City September 7


What: Bards & Brews Open Mic poetry event
When: Friday, September 7, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: The Grill at Iron City
Details: Free and open to the public but you must be 21 or older to buy alcohol. Food and beer will be available for purchase from Iron City.

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library's popular spoken word poetry program, is going on the road for the second straight month, this time to The Grill at Iron City.

Entertainment will kick off at 6:30 p.m. followed by open mic poetry performances from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. with Voice Porter serving as host and emcee. Food and beer will be available for purchase.

Join us for an unforgettable night featuring many of metro Birmingham's best spoken word poets sharing their talent.

For more information visit Bards & Brews on Facebook.

Food for Fines and Library Card Sign-Up Month Happening at Jefferson County Public Libraries throughout September


Through the month of September, all public libraries in Jefferson County will be participating in a food drive that helps support local charities by replenishing food pantries in anticipation of the coming holidays.

How does it work?
One dollar in fines will be waived for each canned or boxed food item donated in September for up to $10.00 per library card holder. The donations will be applied to fines only, not lost/damaged materials. The drive is open to all who wish to participate. Expiration dates must be visible and legible on all items; expired food will not be accepted.

When and where can donations be made?
Donations will be accepted at all 40 Jefferson County public libraries during September 2018. Visit the Public Libraries in Jefferson County's website for more information and for a list of suggested food items to donate.




Food for Fines is held in conjunction with the annual National Library Card Sign-Up Month. In September cardholders can trade in their old card for a keychain card, receive a replacement for a worn out card, or replace a lost card without paying the $3.00 replacement fee.

What is Library Card Sign-Up Month?
Since 1987, Library Card Sign-Up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. Libraries work to remind parents and youth that signing up for a library card is the first step towards academic achievement and lifelong learning.

Throughout the school year, public librarians and library staff will assist parents and caregivers with saving hundreds of dollars on educational resources and services for students. From free access to STEAM programs/activities, educational apps, in-person and virtual homework help, technology workshops to the expertise of librarians, a library card is one of the most cost effective back-to-school supplies available!

Monday, September 03, 2018

The National Register of Historic Places Database: A Treasure Trove of Local History

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library

Smithfield Historic District

Part of the National Park Service, the National Register of Historic Places, was created in 1966 out of the National Historic Preservation Act. The National Register serves as the “official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation.” When most people think of historic places, they probably think of old homes or important government buildings. While there are certainly plenty of those listed on the National Register, there are also churches, neighborhoods, and historic districts as well.

The National Park Service is in the process of scanning applications for the listed properties. The applications that have already been scanned (including those for places in Alabama) can be viewed online using the National Register Database. Each application contains several photos along with the application form. The forms can be as short as two pages (Ridgely Apartments) or as long as 76 (Smithfield Historic District). Many of the applications go into great detail about the place’s history, architecture, and significance. The extreme amount of detail provided makes this database a fantastic source for local history. For instance, the application for the 16th Street Baptist Church includes not only biographical information on the architect Wallace Rayfield, but gives an almost day by day history of the church’s role in the civil rights movement in Birmingham, complete with footnotes.

Many times over the years, I have been asked for information about the Rosedale neighborhood in Homewood. Historic information on Rosedale is scarce and spread across numerous sources. While browsing the National Register listings for Jefferson County, I came across the applications for the Rosedale Historic District and the Rosedale Park Historic District. I was blown away. Never have I seen so much information on Rosedale in one place. Like other applications this one contains references to the historical and contemporary sources that were used to complete the application.

Searching the database is very easy. I recommend that instead of searching for an individual place or district, you do a broader search by state and county or town. Not only will this eliminate the chance of not finding a property because of the way it’s listed, it will allow you to see all of the properties and maybe find that nugget of information you’ve been searching for. Warning: entire afternoons will disappear once you discover this database!

If you want to enjoy some fast facts and stunning photography, check out the National Register’s pages on Instagram and Flickr.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Tina Samuel of Titusville Library to Represent BPL at National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color in New Mexico

Titusville Library Branch Manager Amanda Jenkins, Tina Samuel, Floyd Council

Kudos to Tina Samuel of the Titusville Branch Library. She has been selected to represent the Birmingham Public Library at the 3rd National Joint Conference of Librarians of Color, to be held September 26-30, 2018, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Samuel, a 30-year BPL employee, won an essay contest established by BPL Executive Director Floyd Council in which BPL staff of color were asked to write about library diversity and how attending the conference would help them fulfill their dreams in the library profession.

In an interview Samuel said she is excited and looking forward to attending the conference. Samuel will talk about her experience at the BPL Annual Staff Day on October 18, 2018. “It’s going to be awesome and I look forward to bringing back some knowledge I can share with my fellow employees,” she said.

The conference is organized by the Joint Council of Librarians of Color, Inc. (JCLC Inc.) which brings together the American Indian Library Association (AILA), the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), the Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and REFORMA: The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking. For more information, click here: http://www.jclcinc.org/jclc-2018/

Birmingham Public Library Hosts Livestream of 2018 National Student Poets Pinning Ceremony of ASFA Student


Creative Writing students from the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) in Birmingham, attended a livestreaming at the Central Library of the 2018 National Student Poets Pinning Ceremony in which ASFA senior Daniel Blokh was one of five student poets honored.

The ceremony took place in the Linn-Henley Research Library's Arrington Auditorium on August 30, 2018, 3:00-4:00 p.m. (CST). Attendees were able to watch on a screen the pinning ceremony taking place live at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., moderated by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.


Blokh, a senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, was among five teens chosen from among thousands of applicants as 2018 National Student Poets, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.

 Read more about the program at this link

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