Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Black History Month at the Birmingham Public Library

The Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting over 80 programs in celebrating Black History Month in February, including musicals, soul food cooking demos, African American dance, genealogy, and movies.

On February 24, Pratt City Branch Library’s Crown & Tea program is combining the cherished African American custom of wearing church hats with a formal tea. Learn the art of African dance from BPL’s Candice Hardy at the Five Points West and Pratt City Libraries.

At Wylam, Pratt City and Titusville Libraries, come learn how to make tasty healthy soul dishes more nutritious. Celebrate African American music at Central, Powderly, West End, and East Lake Libraries. You can view the full list of Black History Month and other programs and services at BPL’s 19 libraries by visiting the BPL's calendar of events. (Downloadable calendar)

Here is a sample of select 2018 Black History Month programs being held in February:

Crown & Tea, Saturday, February 24, 2:00-3:30 p.m., Pratt City Branch LibraryDuring and after slavery, black women took off their maid and servant outfits and wore decorated hats to church. Join this cherished African American custom. Adorn your favorite church hat and join us for tea as we see who has the best “hattitude.”

Cooking Demos
Chef Anna Soul Food Presentation, Wednesday, February 7, 11:00 a.m., Wylam Branch LibraryA dietitian will discuss ways to make soul food more nutritious. Samples of dishes will be provided.

Soul Feast with James Washington, Friday, February 9, 11:00 a.m., Pratt City Branch Library Chef James Washington will demonstrate some tasty soul food dishes that will leave your mouth watering. Bring your appetite and take notes on how to add a little flair to your traditional soul food recipes.

A Taste of Black History with Chef E, Saturday, February 24, 11:00 a.m., Titusville Branch Library
Join Chef E for a healthy cooking demonstration. This program is free and limited to 25 adults. Call 205-322-1140 to register.

African Dance
Heritage Corner with Ms. Candice, Saturday, February 24, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Join us for an afternoon of cultural enrichment as we explore the art and history of African dance and the history of “stepping.”

Heritage Corner with Ms. Candice, Tuesday, February 20, 11:00 a.m., Pratt City Branch Library
Ms. Candice Hardy will present an African dance performance.

Musical Performances
Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA) Music Department Salutes African American History Month, Tuesday, February 20, 4:00-5:00 p.m., Central Library
Concert by the Music Department of ASFA, under the leadership of Kim Strickland, Department Chair.

Our Musical Journey Through Faith, Thursday, February 22, 3:00 p.m., West End Branch Library
Broadway singer extraordinaire Royce Brown presents a medley of historical African American songs of faith and the struggles of the civil rights movement.

East Ensley Presents Katrina Pigler, Thursday, February 22, 5:00-6:00 p.m., East Ensley Branch Library
Join us for an inspirational concert featuring Katrina Pigler singing a variety of jazz and gospel songs.

Annual Black History Musical and Program, Tuesday, February 27, 5:30 p.m., Powderly Branch Library
Call the branch for more details.

Writing Contests and Spoken Word
Share Your Dream, February 1-28, East Lake Branch Library
Children and adults are invited to share their dream in writing at the East Lake Library. Entries will be added to the library’s Martin Luther King display.

“African Americans in Times of War Spoken War,” Friday February 23, 3:30 p.m., Inglenook Branch Library
Recite a poem acknowledging the National Black History Month theme “African Americans in Times of War Spoken War” or recite a poem on African American heroes and events. Register in advance at 205-849-8739.

African American Poetry Blast! For Adults, Teens and Tweens, Monday, February 5 at 4:00 p.m., North Birmingham Regional Library
Come read original or published African American pieces. No registration required.

The Race Card (all ages), February 1-28, Pratt City Branch Library
Discussions about race can often be difficult and enlightening. Express your thoughts on race into one sentence using only six words. Your six-word sentence will be on display on the Race Card Wall.

Birmingham African-American Genealogy Group Black Heritage Fair. Theme: "African Americans in Times of War," Saturday, February 3, 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Central Library
Enjoy fun, art, dance, fellowship, family history, speakers, door prizes, educational displays, and refreshments. For more information, visit

Finding Your Roots Documentary Series, February 12-14, 4:00 p.m., Five Points West Regional Branch LibraryEducator Henry Louis Gates Jr. has hosted several PBS series that examine U.S. history. In Finding Your Roots, the Harvard professor continues his quest to "get into the DNA of American culture." In each episode, celebrities view ancestral histories, sometimes learn of connections to famous/infamous people, discover secrets, and share the emotional experience with viewers.

Black History Month Research – Using BPL Databases to Connect to Our Past, Tuesday, February 20, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library
Attendees will learn how to combine historical and genealogical research using BPL’s databases, African American History Online and Ancestry Library Edition.

The Beyond Kin Project: Making the Slave Connection, Sunday, February 25, 2:30 p.m., Central Library
Project co-founders Donna Cox Baker and Frazine K. Taylor will teach a software method and research techniques for handling the unique complexities of helping African Americans research their slave connections using common genealogy tools.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Stroke Mythbusters Class at Five Points West Library on February 14

Dr. Michael Lyerly, associate professor of neurology at UAB and director of the Birmingham VAMC Stroker Center, will be at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library on Wednesday, February 14, 10:30 a.m., to discuss myths vs. facts about strokes.

This program is part of the Five Points West Library's Active Living for Seniors series in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham's NeuroScience Cafe series where UAB experts in the neurosciences present topics, create discussion, and answer questions for the community.

Bards & Brews Poetry Event to Be Held at Cahaba Brewing Co. February 2

What: Bards & Brews Open Mic Poetry Performance
When: Friday, February 2, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Where: Cahaba Brewing Co.

Bards & Brews, the Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry/craft beer event, is headed to one of Avondale’s most popular craft beer pubs. Cahaba Brewing Co. will host Bards & Brews on February 2. Musical entertainment will be provided by the bluesy folk-driven melodies of The Matchcoats at 6:30 p.m. and poetry begins to flow at 7:00 p.m.

For more information on Bards & Brews, visit To make donations to BPL for Bards & Brews or our many other programs visit

Monday, January 29, 2018

Southern History Book of the Month: S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco
By the editors of Garden & Gun

Can all of What It Means to Be Southern be summed up in a single book? Probably not, but S is for Southern takes a valiant swing at it. With entries ranging from how to tell the difference between a common roach and a palmetto bug (both of which need to be exterminated on sight—“A flip-flop is as effective a weapon as any”) to the origins of the legendary Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, from James Dickey to Eudora Welty, from armadillos to Weeki Wachee mermaids, the editors of Garden & Gun magazine have compiled this entertaining and instructive guide to the many institutions of Southern culture. You can get an idea of the flavor of the book from this entry on Cheese Straws:
Open a drawer in any well-stocked Southern kitchen and you will find a cookie press, an industrial-looking steel extrusion tube with a lever and fitted dies. One could make fancy sugar cookies with these precision-engineered tools, but really the only action the gadgets generally see is for the production of cheese straws. These long, ridged wafers that look like bread sticks and taste infinitely richer are—axiomatically—the most beloved party snack of all time. No one says no to a cheese straw. With scant variation to the recipe, the dough consists of copious amounts of grated sharp cheddar cheese mixed with soft butter. The cook works in just enough flour to set the short dough and adds an all-important pinch of cayenne pepper, which races through the straw like Tinker Bell through the forest, leaving a sparkle of bright spice. The Southern cheese straw is the very glory of what is dismissed a bridge party food.
Cheese straws were a fixture at my great-aunt’s annual Christmas Night Open House, and I’ve never read a better description of how they should (and did) taste. This is the average-length description in the book, though many run longer and some much shorter. My hat is off to Jon Meacham for his concise entry on the Civil War; he devotes roughly one and a quarter pages to it and still covers the essentials. Iced Tea, on the other hand, is a couple of sentences and immediately re-directs you to Sweet Tea, which merits a solid half-page of analysis.

Did you know there is a specific paint color that is meant to protect your home from troubled spirits? There is such a color and it’s known as “Haint Blue” in the Gullah traditions of the Carolinas. And speaking of colors, if you’ve never had Redeye Gravy then turn directly to that portion of the book, follow the excellent and simple directions, and serve with Biscuits or over Grits. This is an excellent book for browsing at random, but once you start looking through it, you’ll find that one thing leads to another and it’s hard to stop. So treat yourself to S is for Southern. Even if you grew up here, you’ll still learn something about your home that you never really knew.

For further information:
Jon Meacham
Palmetto Bug
Pappy Van Winkle
Pretty & Practical: The History of "Haint Blue" Porch Ceilings
Cheese Straws

We Love Crafts! (And Libraries!)

by Ellen Griffin Shade, Avondale Regional Branch Library

At Avondale Regional Branch Library, crafts aren’t just for kids! We have arts and crafts programs for grown-ups every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., and we’re celebrating our love of crafts with a month of valentine projects. All adults are welcome! Programs are free but space is limited, so call 226-4000 or register online through the Birmingham Public Library events calendar.

Upcoming Craft Programs at Avondale Library
January 31 @ 2:00 p.m., Color Club – Join us for some relaxing adult coloring and create a unique valentine for a child at Children’s Hospital.

February 7 @ 2:00 p.m., Club Create – Come together to create something new! We'll tackle a new craft project each month, with instruction and materials provided. This month we’re crafting handstitched valentines for kids at Children’s Hospital.

February 14 @ 2:00 p.m., Art Party – A different art project is offered each month with materials and instruction provided, and each participant can create a unique work of art. This month we’re using an ink-resist technique on ceramic tile to create rainbow valentine tiles that can be displayed as wall art or used as a trivet. Come make a valentine for your home!

February 21 @ 2:00 p.m., Books & Beads – Join us for our monthly jewelry-making adventure. Materials, tools, and instructions are provided, and each participant will complete a jewelry project to take home. Adults of all skill levels are welcome. This month we’re making book-lover’s charm bracelets.

February 28 @ 2:00 p.m., Fiber Arts on Fifth Avenue – Knitters, crocheters, and other "fiber artists" of all skill levels can bring their supplies to this informal group to share tips and ideas! The library will have a limited supply of needles and yarn available on a first come, first served basis.

Book Review: The Secret of Nightingale Wood

by Mollie McFarland, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Secret of Nightingale WoodLucy Strange

This is the story of a tween girl named Henry (short for Henrietta.) Her family is moving to a new home following the death of her older brother around the end of the first World War. No one in the family knows how to cope with their loss and they all have different ways of dealing with it. Henry’s father throws himself into his work and leaves his family to fend for themselves. Henry’s mother is so lost in grief that doctors are called in to intervene. They aggressively treat grief like it’s a disease, something that can be solved with chemicals and isolation. Henry is left alone with her nanny and baby sister, Piglet. The doctor who’s treating her mother becomes an invasive presence. He locks her mother away and drugs her so she sleeps for days at a time and keeps her separated from her children. How is that supposed to help anyone? With no idea where to turn, Henry finds help when she gets lost in Nightingale Wood. A woman named Moth haunts the woods, living in a camper with her scraggly cat. She fits the description of a witch or a ghost or worse, but Henry knows better. It’s up to Henry to reunite her fractured family, with the assistance of Moth and some clever thinking.

The writing in this book is exquisite. It has the feel of an old classic. It evokes the charm and whimsy of a different era. This middle grade reader has a surprisingly weighty premise, which could make it a hard sell for youngsters, but it definitely pays off. It’s similar to titles like The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, A Little Princess, and The Wind in the Willows. It’s a story with a lot of heart about grief, madness, family, and trust. It’s somber and uplifting, ominous and bright. It’s like a brand new fairy tale, it feels like a classic tale that finally made it to the present. I would recommend this title for middle grade readers to adults of any age. It would be a great read-aloud for families stuck indoors on a snowy day. It’s poignant and heavy, but the subject matter stays with you. You feel like you learned something important about life and love when you finish. That’s my favorite kind of book.

Winter Weather Safety

by Maya Jones, West End Branch Library

I was born in Wisconsin. When I was six years old I moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina where I lived for the next 20 years. Winter weather has always been a part of my life. The winter weather with its ice and snow last week reminded me of a tragic incident in my family. In 2000 my first cousin died in Nebraska and the culprits were black ice and not wearing a seat belt.

My cousin had decided to visit a friend in Las Vegas to celebrate the new millennium. In order to save money, he bought a one-way ticket and decided to ride back to Wisconsin with friends. My cousin was driving, without wearing his seat belt, when he hit a patch of black ice, lost control of the car, and died at age 27. The other passenger in the front seat was not wearing a seat belt and he also died.

We are still in the month of January and winter doesn’t end until Tuesday, March 20, 2018. We could still see more winter weather and I urge everyone to drive carefully. To this end, I’ve put together a few website resources on winter weather driving. Stay safe, everyone.

AAA has a website for winter driving tips and a whole section dedicated to safety. will explain all of the safety features in your car, so that you can be safe on the road. Watch the video “Traction Control” that explains this safety feature in car that can help you stay safe during winter driving.

NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Administration) has a website dedicated to Winter Driving Tips.

NSC (National Safety Council) is a nonprofit that focuses on safety issues. Check out their website and specifically look at “Be Prepared for Winter Driving”.

OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) has a page with winter driving tips that talks about the 3 P’s: prepare, protect and prevent.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Freegal Music Now Available For Streaming!

Download & Stream 13 Million+ Songs - Freegal

You already may know about Birmingham Public Library's Freegal Music database, which allows you to download 3 free songs a week. Well, now Freegal has an additional feature to offer: streaming music. With streaming, you can listen to whole albums, create playlists, and preview entire songs before downloading. Music streaming is unlimited. The Freegal Music downloaded files are DRM-FREE, Mp3 files that can be played on any device. Even better, the downloaded music file is yours to keep with no due date and no expiration date.

In order to access this database, you must meet the following criteria: a current JCLC library card and residency in the city of Birmingham.

To activate streaming music, first log into your Freegal account. Then you find the artist or album you want to hear, move your cursor over the artist or album image, and click on the stream link.

Enjoy commercial-free music 24/7 now!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Basic Self-Defense Moves You Can Do and Should Know!

by Alisha Johnson, Ensley Branch Library

In light of all the violence happening in the world now, it is important to ask yourself would you be able to defend yourself or your loved ones if someone were to physically attack you? If you cannot answer yes to this question, then I would like to share with you some techniques to use and consider. First, prevention is the best self-defense, second you should learn which body parts are the most effective to hit, and lastly how to maximize damage to the individual or attacker regardless of a their gender or size.

Here are some common techniques to remember:
  1. Go for the eyes and nose.
  2. Kick or grab the groin of a male attacker.
  3. Stomp with your heel.
  4. Go for the kneecaps. 
  5. If you fall, try to fall on top of your attacker.
  6. If an attacker attacks with a weapon, know where the weapon is effective. If your attacker has a knife, try to stay out of arm's length. If there is a gun, consider running and dodging from left to right.
Check out these helpful resources from your local library to gain a greater understanding of what it means to stay safe:

Self-Defense for Seniors: A Special Self-Defense System for Seniors by Ken Boire
Self-Defense Techniques & Tactics by Joseph Walker
Self-Defense: How to Punch: Unarmed Combat Skills That Work by Martin J. Dougherty
Self-Defense: Steps to Success by Joan M. Nelson

Friday, January 19, 2018

Free Tax Prep Assistance and Forms at Birmingham Public Library

stock image of tax form

Please check back for updates. 

As a service to the community, the Birmingham Public Library provides some copies of current federal and Alabama tax forms, instructions, and publications. The following forms/booklets are available in the Government Documents Department at the Central Library: federal – 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms/booklets; state – instruction booklets that contain two copies of the forms. Please call the department or Birmingham Public Library branch to make sure that the form(s) you need is available. All other forms and instructions can be found online at

Federal Forms
IRS forms and publications

State Forms
Alabama Department of Revenue

General Resources
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - This governmental site has United States federal income tax forms, information, and tips. Includes warnings about tax frauds and scams, information about filling online, and the ability to track the status of your refund.

Free File Home: Your Link to Free Online Filing - This IRS site is about Free File, an "online tax preparation and electronic filing through a partnership agreement between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, LLC. In other words, you can e-file... free." This site explains eligibility requirements for this free service, steps to get started, and a list of related FAQs.

Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers - Information about the Internal Revenue Service Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program, which offer free tax help if you qualify. In addition to free tax return preparation assistance, many sites also offer free electronic filing (e-filing).

Free Tax Prep Assistance at the Birmingham Public Library
Impact America provides free tax preparation services for households earning up to $54,000 with one or more children in the home, or $20,000 without children in the home. You must call 1-888-99-TAX-AL (1-888-998-2925) for an appointment; no walk-ins will be assisted. For information on scheduling an appointment and what documents you need to bring with you, visit Services are provided by IRS-certified Volunteer Tax Preparers from local colleges in the cities where our tax sites are located. Impact Alabama is sponsored by SaveFirst.

Avondale Regional Branch Library
February 5-April 13, 2018
Wednesdays and Fridays (No assistance available on March 2, March 23, or April 6)
Please note: times are TBD; check back for updates.

Smithfield Branch Library
January 20-April 16, 2018
January and February
Mondays and Tuesdays, 12:00-8:00 p.m.
Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
March and April
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 14, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Springville Road Regional Branch Library 
January 18-March 3, 2018
Tuesdays, 11:45 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. (No assistance available on February 17)

West End Branch Library
January 19-March 3, 2018
Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. and 2:00-5:00 p.m.

Woodlawn Branch Library
January 24-⁠March 3, 2018
Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, 12:00-6:00 p.m.
Saturdays, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Road to Super Bowl LII

NFL Playoffs

The NFL Playoffs are underway and we are one weekend of football away from determining the matchup for Super Bowl LII. The interesting thing about this year’s playoffs is not only who competed, but also who didn’t make the playoffs.  In the NFC, three out of four teams from the NFC South Division (Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, & New Orleans Saints) advanced to the playoffs, but none were able to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  This season’s playoffs did not include the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals or Green Bay Packers, although the Packers competed in last season’s NFC Championship Game.  The Saints and Panthers faced each other in the Wild Card Round with New Orleans emerging as the victor.  The Falcons won their Wild Card matchup with the Los Angeles Rams.  Despite having chances to win late in the fourth quarter, neither the Falcons (vs. Eagles) nor the Saints (vs. Vikings) were able to secure a victory to advance to the NFC Championship Game.  Instead, the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings will compete to go to Super Bowl LII.

The AFC featured the usual suspects (New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs), so I guess the biggest surprise was the absence of the Houston Texans who made it to the Divisional Round last season.  In the Wild Card Round, the Tennessee Titans defeated the Kansas City Chiefs only to get throttled by the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round.  The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Buffalo Bills in a low-scoring game (10-3) that only had one touchdown.  In the Divisional Round, however, the Jaguars put 45 points on the board (45-42) to prevent the Pittsburgh Steelers from returning to the AFC Championship Game.  They will face last year’s Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.  Although the Jaguars produced a thrilling victory against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, they will face a monumental challenge seeking a win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.   

Since 2002, only one team, the New York Giants, has prevented the New England Patriots from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy once they reach the Super Bowl.  Peyton Manning's teams (Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos) had a lot of success keeping the Patriots out of the Super Bowl, but will the Jaguars have what it takes to beat Tom Brady's Patriots at home?  I'm excited to see who emerges from the NFC Championship Game because I have a feeling they will be facing the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.  Enjoy the games.

CANCELLED: Money Matters Workshop – Empower Yourself Financially Scheduled for January 17 at Central Library

The January 17 "Empower Yourself Financially" workshop has been cancelled. The next workshop is scheduled for February 21—"Maximize Your Personal Wealth."

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

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

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

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

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

1/17/2018 – Empower Yourself Financially
2/21/2018 – Maximize Your Personal Wealth
3/21/2018 – Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
4/18/2018 – Understanding Taxes
5/16/2018 – Your Credit Report

Book Review: The Last Black Unicorn

by Tracy Simpson, Pratt City Branch Library

The Last Black Unicorn
Tiffany Haddish

Tune in to any talk show today and you will more than likely see the face of breakout comedian Tiffany Haddish discussing her new book, The Last Black Unicorn. While Haddish has been in the comedic world for several years, she became widely recognized after her recent role in the blockbuster movie Girls Trip. As a fan of Haddish I was anxious to read her memoir in order to learn more about her road to success and with hopes that she would inject some of her signature, side-splitting humor; Haddish definitely did not disappoint!

From foster care to homelessness, Haddish manages to turn some of the harshest experiences she endured into comical stories. Haddish learned early on that comedy and her ability to get others to laugh was not only a gift which allowed her to make money, but also a tool she could use to be "accepted" by others, and to help her deal with some difficult situations. With raw honesty Haddish writes about her life experiences, many of which are hard to believe. Haddish prepares readers early on with a warning that one part of the book will be difficult to read, which is the chapter where she discusses the details of her abusive marriage. Haddish also openly discusses the physical and emotional abuse she suffered from her mother as a child (and as an adult), which in part was a result of a traumatic brain injury her mother experienced after a car accident.

One of the most compelling stories Haddish shares is how she managed to get all the way to the ninth grade without being able to read. However, with the help of one dedicated teacher and a caring grandmother, Haddish overcame that obstacle along with many others. In the memoir Haddish reflects back on periods when she was the highly sought after "hype man" for local Bar Mitzvah celebrations in her early years, up to meeting and working with celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith. Haddish also shares experiences about the unfair treatment she received as a female comedienne compared to her male counterparts. As difficult as some of the stories about the abuse she suffered were to read, Haddish manages always to see the bright side of everything and turn tragedies into triumphs with a laugh and a smile.

The Last Black Unicorn is a quick read which will have you crying with tears from sadness one minute, and with tears of laughter the next. Haddish’s ability to talk about difficult subjects such as domestic violence, disabilities, mental illness, and misogyny with such candor makes this memoir a must read! Also, check out her movie, Girls Trip for more side-splitting entertainment.

Inglenook Library to Host Appreciation for Women Event Focusing on Healthy Marriages on January 19

Authors Eddie and Alethea Fells

On Friday, January 19, at 6:30 p.m., the Inglenook Branch Library’s bi-monthly program, An Expression of Appreciation for the Women of Inglenook Community, will focus on building healthy marriages.

This month's theme is “Relationship Goals” and will feature a talk from Alethea and Eddie Fells III, award-winning authors of Till Death Do Us Part: Chronicles of a Christian Marriage. The authors will lead a discussion on how couples can build a positive, healthy relationship.

An Expression of Appreciation for the Women of the Inglenook Community is a bi-monthly program at Inglenook Library that arose from a need to provide women who either work or live in the Inglenook community with an environment of empowerment and relaxation while addressing issues that affect them daily. The first program was held in May 2017 and has since averaged almost 20 women per program, said Karnecia Williams, branch manager of Inglenook Library. “Women who attend are excited about the programs and have even established a bond amongst themselves,” she said.

Birmingham Public Library grants coordinator Melvia Walton explains
how to write and apply for grants 
Last year, the program won Inglenook Library an Innovative & Cool Award, a Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees award which funds innovative programs at BPL’s 19 locations that provide valuable services for patrons. The November 2017 program centered on Thanksgiving, and the September theme was "Minding My Own Business," which focused on how women can open their own business and write grants to support their business.

In July the theme was "All About Me," featuring a hair stylist and representative from Mary K Cosmetics sharing tips on how women can take care of their outward appearance. In May the Inglenook Library hosted a program focused on inspiring women from within.

For more information, call Williams at 205-849-8739 or visit the Inglenook Library. In addition to the women of Inglenook appreciation program, the library offers several other free activities to benefit the community including:

Branch manager Karnecia Williams leads a discussion at the Readers
Are Leaders Book Club for teens and tweens
Girls of Promise with Purpose – This afterschool program for youth meets the first Monday of every month. Led by volunteer Elvira Davis, this program teaches young ladies how to build self-esteem, proper etiquette and how to properly carry themselves.

BPL @ YOUR SCHOOL – Inglenook Library delivers books each month to Inglenook K-8 School.

Readers Are Leaders Book Club – A monthly book club for preteens and teens.

Coding classes – Free coding classes after school that teaches youth coding and other technology skills.

Monday, January 15, 2018

New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp Workshop January 22 at Central Library

What: New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp Workshop
When: Monday, January 22, 2018
Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp. Free and open to the public; no registration necessary.

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

Each of these workshops will cover different parts of the job searching process, but participants are encouraged to attend both because the second workshop builds on the content presented in the first. Here are the descriptions of the workshops:

Monday January 22, 2018 – New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp
  • New Age Online Application Process offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Bootcamp teaches techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.
The workshops presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

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

Friday, January 12, 2018

Genealogy Workshops in January at the Central Library

With 2018 underway, the Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department is making a few changes to dates of its popular genealogy workshops, but also added a few new classes.

The Introduction to Genealogy classes will be moving to Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. The Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshops will now be held on Sunday afternoons.

Below is a listing of upcoming workshops the Southern History Department will be hosting. Workshops are free of charge but registration is requested (with the exception of the Introduction to Genealogy classes). Register online through the BPL events calendar or call 205-226-3665.

January 13, 10:00-11:00 a.m., Central Library/Southern History Department
Introduction to Genealogy – Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. No registration required.

January 22, 2:15-3:15 p.m., Central Library/Computer Lab
Your Tax Dollars at Work: Using Government Websites for Genealogy Research – Many government agencies offer resources for genealogical research. Learn how to look beyond census records and find genealogical information in some truly surprising places. You can search for service records and land grants, view web tutorials, and much more using free websites from the state and federal government. To register, please call 205-226-3680.

January 24, 3:00-4:00 p.m., Central Library/Southern History Department
Introduction to Genealogy – Want to learn how to do genealogical research? Come to this introductory class that will help get you started on your genealogical journey. No registration required.

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop schedule for 2018

February 25, 2:30 p.m., Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
The Beyond Kin Project: Making the Slave Connection – Project cofounders Donna Cox Baker and Frazine K. Taylor will teach a software method and research techniques for handling the unique complexities of plantation genealogy. Descendants of both slaveholders and enslaved persons will learn how to find and account for the under-documented and often nameless plantation members using common genealogy tools.

March 25, 2:30 p.m., Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
Nosing Around in Newspapers
Newspapers can be a genealogist’s best friend with the wealth of information found within its pages, but also a frustrating source. Learn how to locate the newspapers you need and how to efficiently search them to discover everything from an obituary to a scandalous news story involving your ancestor.

April 15, 2:30 p.m., Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
Understanding DNA Ethnicity Test Results
Discover how DNA testing companies determine ethnicity percentages and what these estimates mean in terms of your genealogy.

May 20, 2:30 p.m., Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
“Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier”: Military Records in Family History Research
Did one of your ancestors go to war? Explore the major repositories and databases for military records and discover how they can contribute vital information for your family history research.

For more information about BPL’s Southern History Department, go to or like its Facebook page at

Book Review: The Couple Next Door

by Tracy Simpson, Pratt City Branch Library

The Couple Next Door
Shari Lapena

It started out with what was to be a night of celebration but soon became a kidnapping/murder investigation! Anne and Marco Conti are what appear to be the perfect loving couple, with Anne a stay-at-home mom taking care of their beautiful six-month-old baby girl Cora, and loving and dedicated husband Marco, working hard to support his perfect family. Or is it too perfect?

Anne and Marco are invited to a dinner party/birthday celebration with their next door neighbors, Cynthia and her husband Graham. With Cynthia not being fond of babies and making this a “no babies” gathering, Marco and Anne must decide what to do once their babysitter cancels at the last minute. With some persuasion Anne agrees with Marco that they will take the baby monitor with them leaving Cora asleep in her crib, and they will take turns checking on her every half hour. As the birthday celebration winds down around 1:00 a.m. and Anne becomes more uncomfortable with Cynthia’s flirtatious behavior towards Marco, the decision is made to return home. Walking up the steps they find the front door partly open, but Anne swears she remembers locking it on her last check on the baby. Anne runs to the nursery to find that baby Cora is gone!

The police are called and the emotional rollercoaster begins as Anne and Marco must reveal some painful truths about their not-so perfect family. Should the police focus on Anne, who is suffering from severe post-partum depression—could she have killed her baby girl? Could it be Marco who might have plotted a ransom scheme in order to get money from his wealthy in-laws to save his failing business? What do the neighbors, Cynthia and Graham, have to hide from the police? How well does Marco really know his in-laws and what are they capable of doing to get him out of Anne’s life?

This psychological thriller takes the reader through several twists and turns until the very end and makes you wonder what might be going on with the couple next door to you!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New to Kanopy in January

Begin the new year with new critically-acclaimed films including the Sundance Film Festival Winner, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, an enchanting and haunting tale that bends reality and imagination.

This January Kanopy is celebrating women film with their Directed by Women Collection, and tackling health notions and New Year's resolutions with the Health and Wellness Collection.

In February Kanopy will spotlight their Black History Month Collection, highlighting films on African American history and culture.

Visit the Kanopy website to see a complete list of new releases for January.

Read It before You See It

by Mark Skinner, East Ensley Branch Library

There is a wide array of book-turned-movie adaptions set to be released in 2018. Instead of frantically searching the internet for movie spoilers, you should stop by the library to get a head start on other movie goers. Here are five great books that will be in theaters in March, giving you plenty of time to finish the book before the movie is released.

Annihilation – In theaters February 23
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. After eleven unsuccessful expeditions to survey the area most of which ended in the death of every team member, the twelfth expedition is ready to go. The group is made up of an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, collect specimens, record all their observations, and, above all, avoid being contaminated. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers. They discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms beyond understanding, but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything. Annihilation is the first of the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.

Red Sparrow – In theaters March 2
Drafted against her will to serve the regime of Vladimir Putin as an intelligence seductress, Dominika Egorova engages in a charged effort of deception and tradecraft with first-tour CIA officer Nathaniel Nash before a forbidden attraction threatens their careers. Red Sparrow is the first of a trilogy by Jason Matthews.

A Wrinkle in Time – In theaters March 9
Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a "tesseract," which, if you didn't know, is a wrinkle in time. Meg's father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father? A Wrinkle in Time is a well-loved classic and 1963 Newbery Medal winner by Madeleine L'Engles.

Love, Simon – In theaters March 16
Love, Simon is based on Becky Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met. It is an incredibly funny, poignant, twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story—wrapped in a geek romance.

Ready Player One – In theaters March 30
In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. Ready Player One was the debut novel of Ernest Cline.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library

The Little Paris Bookshop Nina George

The bouquinistes of Paris are antiquarian booksellers who operate in stalls along the quays of the Seine River. They sell pre-used books, posters, post cards, buttons and other “petits riens” (little, antique doodads).

In Nina George’s novel The Little Paris Bookshop, Monsieur Perdu (translates: Mister Lost) is known as the apothecary of books. He has a gift for seeing the spiritual or practical afflictions that his customers suffer and hands them healing books. He sells his books and works his wonders from his barge anchored in the river Seine, and has an apartment in Paris. With all that Mr. Perdu is nevertheless sad. He is still heartsick for the woman who left him long ago.

Reading the opening chapters one settles in for the hard slog of a sensitive, depressive character, who can’t manage feelings, or reach out for help. But, no, Monsieur Perdu rescues himself, and the reader as well, by literally casting off. He disembarks and steers his book-laden barge down the river, and, ultimately, into the wondrous canal system of France. He makes friends with people who live on the canals, or alongside them, trades books for food and gas, and, of course, for wine. Along the way he picks up companions for his journey without a destination and they philosophize under the stars. But that’s not the end. The Little Paris Bookshop is, after all, a love story. You must read it to continue the mystical and compelling journey (jusqu’ au bout) to the end.

If a vacation floating down the canals of France is a candidate for your bucket list, this is your book. Or,if you simply enjoy spontaneous aimless wandering in unfamiliar places, The Little Paris Bookshop will whet your appetite for your next adventure.

Bon voyage!

January is Poverty Awareness Month

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

How did you begin the New Year? There are some who went out to celebrate with drinking champagne and eating a variety of delicious foods with family and friends. Others watched the ball drop in New York from their television in the comfort of home. Unfortunately, there were those who did not have such options. They awaited word as to if there would be a chance for them to get out of the cold and into a shelter for the night.

January is Poverty Awareness Month. It is a month-long initiative to increase awareness and call attention to the steady growth of poverty in the United States. So many people are victims of circumstances that have brought them to a world with little to no income and that triggers limited access to resources. Most have formed preconceived notions of the poor as being lazy, mentally ill, disheveled, drug addicted; however, a day in the shoes of someone living in the clutches of poverty would provide a better understanding of their world. There are millions of working poor who may not be homeless but fall at or below the poverty line and are a crisis away from being without a home and basic necessities.

All of us want a better quality of life but sometimes life simply gets in the way. Family break ups, loss of jobs, natural disasters, illnesses, and addiction are just a few of the circumstances that will render anyone to hopelessly spiraling into poverty. So, this month take some time out to get a better understanding of the plight of those who are confronted with poverty each day. Listed below are a few titles that you can check out at the Birmingham Public Library.

Poverty and Hunger by Louise Spilsbury
Poverty in America: Cause or Effect? by Joan Axelrod-Contrada
The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives by Sasha Abramsky
Homeless: Poverty and Place in Urban America by Ella Howard.
Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.: How the Working Poor Became Big Business by Gary Rivlin

Monday, January 08, 2018

Book Review: Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Ready, Steady, Go!: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London
By Shawn Levy

For Americans (and Brits, for that matter) who may know Swinging London mostly from the Austin Powers movies, this book will come as both a corrective and a thrill. Author Shawn Levy fairly persuasively argues that not just the sixties (so what’s new?) but London in the sixties (well, maybe so) was the main impetus for all subsequent Western popular culture. Not NYC, not L.A., not Paris. Whether or not he’s right, there has long needed to be a book on this topic, and it’s amazing there wasn’t until this one, in 2002. And it’s by a Yank, no less. It’s generally pretty fab.

Generally accurate, but not always. Levy uses the description “nonthreatening young manhood-squeaky clean…smiley and skin deep” to describe not only the Dave Clark Five and Gerry and the Pacemakers (where he’s on firm ground) but the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Animals (where he makes a fool of himself). Even a moderately well-versed historian of sixties British rock could get that right. Making fine distinctions should be part and parcel of any pop history. It frequently isn’t, of course. But if you raise high the import of pop culture, you better know what you’re talking about. Levy usually does, but sloppiness like this does wound the account and make you suspect the whole book. I’m glad to say that howlers like that are few and far between.

Levy is generally good at showing how the London scene was the beginning of the global village. What happened there often quickly impacted other Western countries. So it’s a mystery as to why he slags the London anti-war movement, saying that since Britain wasn’t at war, they looked silly protesting it. But his own argument that London youth knew that the local could, and often did, impact the Western world was the idea behind those peace rallies. But this is his only misstep in the global village field.

Levy makes a mass of material hang together by focusing on a few talented key individuals, each in a different field, who ended up becoming very influential. Thus David Bailey, Mick Jagger, Brian Epstein, Vidal Sassoon, Mary Quant, Robert Fraser, and a couple others demonstrate how you could be the kind of person (Northern, working class, upper class, gay, Jewish, female, not well-educated ) the establishment had previously tended to keep out of certain careers (music, music management, fashion, fashion photography, film acting). In the sixties the youth of Britain were fed up with the old ways, they swelled to great size, they had enormous spending power and they wedged themselves in so that a lot of customs fell away. If you had a lot of talent, and made a lot of money, you could shove that wedge a lot more and faster and harder. Levy has done a lot of research. For instance, I’ve read dozens of books on the Beatles, but he still told me a good amount about their manager Brian Epstein I didn’t know. Same with Mick Jagger. I was surprised how much Levy had dug up on what you’d think was exhausted soil. It’s fun to read about how a culture loosens, up, goes from black and white to color, from preordained to spontaneous, from stuffy to kicky. Fill Your Slot and Shut Up turned into No, I’m Gonna Do Things My Way. All in a really short amount of time. Instead of being organized by their culture, youth started organizing it. Even the classes started to mix socially, and in Britain that really was shocking.

One thing connected to all this was what one Briton called the deregulation of morality. But many youth saw that the upper classes had been getting away with it all for centuries, and they wanted some of that freedom. So it may be more accurate to call it the democratization of freedom. It was fun and scary for several years, heady stuff, very heady indeed. But, of course, it couldn’t go on too very long. People took too many drugs, got burned out, lost their sense of boundless hope. A cultural revolution didn’t stop, but it did slow down a lot and morphed into something less threatening.

In America today, youth are similarly fed up with the old ways and have the numbers and money to potentially change things. So this book may be more relevant now than it was in the early aughts. But I’m not young and I certainly found it relevant and enjoyable and I liked traveling back and seeing Oh What a Time They Had. It’s a cautionary tale, but it’s also a celebration. Maybe they’ll get it more right this time. Maybe not. Until then, read and see just how exciting social explosion is.

From Page to Stage: Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott – A Readers' 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: Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott – A Readers’ Theater Workshop for Children.

In anticipation of the upcoming BCT performance of Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 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 Rosa Parks & the Montgomery Bus Boycott production in January and February 2018.

Sixty years after the Montgomery bus boycott, Rosa Parks is remembered as the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.” With deep intensity and uplifting songs of the struggle, this play tells her uniquely moving American story. Everyone makes a difference.

Workshop space is limited, so registration is required. Register online through the BPL events calendar or contact your participating library location to register a child for the workshop. Libraries and dates are as follows:

Avondale Regional Branch Library: Sunday, January 28, 2:30 p.m.
East Lake Library: Saturday, January 27, 2:30 p.m.
Five Points West Regional Branch Library: Sunday, January 28, 2:30 p.m.
Pratt City Library: Saturday, January 27, 2:30 p.m.
Southside Library: Saturday, February 3, 2:30 p.m.
Springville Road Regional Branch Library: Sunday, February 5, 2:30 p.m.
West End Library: Saturday, February 3, 2018, 2:30 p.m.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Vocational Readiness Workshops in January

What: Vocational Readiness workshops
When: Monday, January 8, 2018, and Monday, January 22, 2018
Time: 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Details: The will be two workshops: (1) Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop/Resume Builder and (2) New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp. Free and open to the public; no registration necessary.

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

Two Vocational Readiness workshops will be held at the Central Library in January 2018. Each of the workshops will cover different parts of the job searching process, but participants are encouraged to attend both because the second workshop builds on the content presented in the first. Here are the descriptions of the workshops:

Monday January 8, 2018 – Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop/Resume Builder
  • Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop provides an individual assessment of personal and professional goals, aspirations, and skills to help determine your best job fit. 
  • Resume Builder is designed to assist individuals with creating an effective resume that will function as a powerful tool in achieving gainful employment.
Monday January 22, 2018 – New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp
  • New Age Online Application Process offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Bootcamp teaches techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.
The workshops presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

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

Free Computer Classes in January at Central Library

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

Bards & Brews Spotlight on a Poet: Lee J. Green

Lee J. Green is a regular performer at Bards & Brews and has been an incredible volunteer for the library in planning and advocating for this program.

How long have you been performing spoken-word poetry or appearing in front of live 

I have been writing poems ever since I was five years old and performing theatre/acting since high school. I love expressing myself in creative ways and getting positive reactions from people.

Can you tell us about the first time you performed your poetry in front of a crowd?

I believe it was six years ago January at Bards and Brews. Ironic-Lee a friend of mine in Free the Hops told me about it. He said it was free craft beer and poetry reading. So I gathered some poems I had recently written and got up on the mic. The audience gave me a receptive reaction, but when I saw some of the polished performers get on the mic, I got it. The next time I started writing poems, parody songs and spoken word then harkening on my performance skills to do something that combines the written word and theatre versus reading old poems previously written.

Who are some of the poets or writers that have had the most impact on you?

I know this may sound odd, but I get parody song lyrics in my head all the time and Weird Al Yankovic is a big inspiration (I got to meet him when he came to Birmingham last year). I am a fan of great comedy writers in any format as well as non-fiction authors who have a compelling story to tell.

What art or artists are you most interested right now?

Of course my favorite visual artist is my wife Delaine Derry Green (at Naked Art). I am inspired every time I come to Bards and Brews. Michael Harriott, Voice Porter, Christina Schmidt, Mojo Mama, Be Shaun, Kay Leavell, Jahman Hill, Glenn Griggs, Ethan Tibbs, Will Gillette – I am proud to call all of them not just inspirations and great spoken word artists, but friends. Bards and Brews makes lifelong connections that I will always cherish.

Which of you poems has had an unexpected reaction by an audience?
I would not say unexpected, but perhaps even better response than I had hoped for some. Bards and Brews audiences are always receptive, especially considering every time the audience is always filled with other spoken word artists who appreciate that I/we are opening ourselves up and sharing with others. Of course, being a punster and comedy parody song guy, when they laugh and sing along, it's gold. For puns, boos are cheers to me! 😊

Do you have an ask of the readers of this interview? 

I think everyone has talent within them. I challenge people to be strong in your beliefs and your expression. I have encouraged several friends to perform at Bards and Brews for the first time. When you perform your work, you enrich your soul and our souls.

Do you have anything you would like to promote?

I don't have personal projects to support except for what I do at Bards and Brews. But please support Delaine Derry Green at Naked Art. I am also the (volunteer) marketing director at Theatre Downtown (above 5th Ave Antiques in Southside) and we have some great shows there that no one else is doing in Birmingham.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Shot in Alabama Gallery Tour and Lecture at the Central Library, January 7

Photographer Hanson Alston outside the Darkroom, Birmingham, late 1920s
A.C. Kelly Jr.

If you like looking at historic photographs, make plans to make your way to the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Central branch to view the Shot in Alabama: Historical Birmingham Photographs exhibit. The exhibit is open to the public through February 4, 2018, in the First Floor Gallery.

The photo display features nearly 30 pictures from the book Shot in Alabama: A History of Photography, 1839-1941, and a List of Photographers by author Frances Osborn Robb, released by the University of Alabama Press in 2016. Shot in Alabama is Robb's visual and textual narrative of Alabama's photographic history from 1839 to 1941.

On Sunday, January 7, Robb will give a gallery tour of the exhibit at 2:30 p.m., followed by a lecture at 3:00 p.m. in the Fiction Department.

About the exhibit:
Tango Dancers Charlotte and Frank Jones
Russell Brothers, Anniston
Shot in Alabama highlights the Birmingham photographs in Robb's book, many of which come from BPL’s Archives Department. Students from the Altamont School in Birmingham designed the exhibit and wrote the content for the 30 photograph labels.

Presented chronologically, Robb depicts Civil War photography, portraits of the end of the 19th century, the Great Depression, pre-World War II illustrated photography, and more. Robb also chronicles the work of hundreds of photographers—black and white, amateur and professional, women and men. The Shot in Alabama book also has an appendix listing 1,400 photographers by name, working dates, and location.

A Birmingham native, Robb has spent 25 years researching Alabama photography while serving as a consultant on the state's cultural history and historic photography for museums, archives, and libraries.

Shot in Alabama is available for $60 in the BPL Friends Bookstore, located on the first floor of the Central Library. Proceeds from sales benefit BPL.

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