Monday, April 30, 2018

Celebrate Children's Book Week at BPL with Fun Programs and Voting


The Birmingham Public Library is proud to be hosting a variety of programs in celebration of Children’s Book Week. Programs include storytimes, drop-in arts & crafts programs, and family night events. Check out the BPL events calendar at http://www.bplonline.org/calendar/ for a complete listing of activities.


And children and teens: Voice your choice! Voting for the Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards is open through May 11, 12:00 a.m. EST, at everychildareader.net/vote. Winners will be announced live on May 30 in New York City at BookExpo 2018.

Photo Exhibit – Common Bonds: Birmingham Snapshots, 1900-1950

Four Couples

What: Common Bonds: Birmingham Snapshots, 1900-1950 photography exhibit
When: May 23-August 31, 2018, during library hours
Where: Central Library, Fourth Floor Gallery
Cost: Free and open to the public
Contact: Jim Baggett at jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3631

Boys on Bicycle
One of the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) Archives’ most popular exhibits, Common Bonds: Birmingham Snapshots, 1900-1950, will again be on display in the Central Library’s Fourth Floor Gallery.

Including almost 300 images from the Archives’ collections and private collections, the exhibit highlights the simple snapshot photos that preserve a moment, tell a story, and record life’s milestones. Snapshots illustrate the common bonds of people creating their own visual biographies—mothers chronicling their children’s growth, young men and women proudly leaning against automobiles, families playing in snow, friends being goofy. And for Birmingham, a place often remembered for its divisions, snapshots show the common interests, affections, and aspirations of people—black and white, wealthy and not—who shared far more than even they realized.

Originally displayed at BPL in 2002, Common Bonds traveled to Samford University in 2003, the Reykjavik (Iceland) Museum of Photography in 2003-2004, and Vulcan Park and Museum in 2006.

Common Bonds was funded by a generous grant from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Jefferson County Library Cooperative to Celebrate 40 Years with Birthday Bash, The Great Give


In 1978 the Jefferson County Library Cooperative was established to link all locally-funded city libraries in the county. Today, 22 member libraries—with 40 locations—offer countywide sharing of countless services and resources with the "One County, One Card" system.

A 40th Birthday Bash kickoff event will be held on Friday, May 4, 6:00-8:00 p.m., at the Homewood Public Library. Bring the entire family for fun on the bounce house, food trucks, face painting, and more!

The Great Give is an online fundraising campaign that will kick off Tuesday, May 8, and run through May 9, benefiting the Public Libraries In Jefferson County as the library cooperative celebrates its 40th anniversary.

All funds raised through The Great Give will help to further the significant work of the 40 municipal libraries in the Jefferson County area.

To promote the campaign on social media sites, the 40 Public Libraries in Jefferson County will be utilizing the hashtag #TheGreatGive.

“We encourage Jefferson County residents to give $40 this year as we celebrate 40 years of cooperation with what is now the 40 libraries in our cooperative,” said Pat Ryan, executive director, Jefferson County Library Cooperative. “The Library Cooperative works behind the scenes to coordinate the services that link 40 libraries with one card for everyone in the county.

The core services made available to all county residents through the library cooperative are as follows:

  • Delivery service—the items residents want where they want to pick them up
  • Nearly 2 million items in 40 libraries countywide
  • In person or online holds on items at any library in the county, text messaging reminders
  • 24/7 catalog, downloadable audio & ebooks
  • Information databases
  • Internet access plus free WiFi available in 40 libraries
  • Books-By-Mail for the homebound
  • IT support for member libraries

The Great Give fundraising campaign will assist the library cooperative as it works to continue linking the 40 libraries with Jefferson County residents. All donations will be tax-deductible as the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.

To donate, visit https://www.mightycause.com/story/Great-Give-2018 or mail your donation to Jefferson County Library Cooperative, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL 35203, or drop off a donation at any local library.

About Jefferson County Library Cooperative
The mission of the Jefferson County Library Cooperative is to connect all citizens by providing resources and community-building opportunities that inspire life-long learning. The Public Libraries In Jefferson County have been cooperating since 1978 with 22 member libraries (40 locations). To learn more, visit www.PublicLibrariesInJC.org.
40 Libraries. 1 County. 1 Card.

All-New Freegal Music Service Launched in April Includes New Apps and Weekly Playlists


Earlier in April an all-new Freegal Music Service was launched, the by-product of 18 months of work which has also included the feedback of patrons. Patrons will be able to use their existing credentials, and all their playlists and stored music will be preserved. Patrons will receive their customary notification from the stores that an update is ready, and those that allow automatic updates will have a seamless experience. New FAQs and a video tutorial will guide the end users through the site.

The highlights of the new service include:

  • A completely new set of mobile apps that take advantage of new technology to allow the same robust website experience in the palm of the patron’s hand. This is what the future of our service looks like—everything on the phone. Great discovery, great functionality, and an intuitive and clean interface.
  • An emphasis on curated music. We know that of our almost 3 million users, 50% of them come to the site looking to discover music rather than finding something specific. To that end, we now have over 100 playlists to meet every mood or whim. New lists will be published weekly, and they are pleasingly displayed on the site and the apps.
  • A new functionality that will allow libraries to show off their music curation abilities and help create a community of music lovers in their service area. Patrons will be able to create playlists and share them with the library. Libraries can edit and publish them on their own Freegal Music site and also create their own playlists from scratch.
  • A simple, clean, and modern new interface to help the patrons quickly explore the breadth and depth of our content base, which is now 15 million tracks and includes music videos and audiobooks.

The all new Freegal will still include:

New content every day. Our worldwide catalog contains 15 million songs from more than 30,000 music labels that originate in over 100 countries.

Book Review: The Tender Bar: A Memoir

by Richard Grooms, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

The Tender Bar: A Memoir
J. R. Moehringer

I have no interest in bars. I don’t drink and I can’t stand cigarette smoke. I was not the ideal reader for The Tender Bar. Not in theory anyway. In reality, I’m a fan of memoirs and, after reading the review blurbs in the front of the book, I gave it a try. I was captivated early on and I somehow knew I’d have a very good reading experience ahead of me. Turned out I was right. Dickens is the name of the bar at the center of Manhasset, Long Island, and J.R. Moehringer’s early life. It was where the “Little League, softball league, bowling league and Junior League” all met. It gives you the best overview, nine yards and cross section you could get of Manhasset, and therefore sort of sums up America, or at least small town life.

Moehringer’s dysfunctional (this is a memoir) family meant an absent father, a grandfather so patriarchal he made sure all the women in the household never went to college, and a general sense of failure. He didn’t have good male role models at home, but the bar, where Uncle Charlie worked, did provide men who helped steer J.R. through rites of passage. They functioned as tribal elders, or at least would-be tribal elders. There’s the obscenely-named employee who lived in a car in back of the bar, did his laundry in the bar’s dishwasher and hung the clothes out to dry in the trees out back. And there’s Colt, who talked like Yogi Bear. Both men mumbled everything and J.R. was one of the few who could make some sense out of them. His phonetic transcriptions of their language are reliably hilarious. These guys and others functioned not too well, but they weren’t too very dysfunctional either. Still, despite all, says Moehringer, “They taught me the importance of confidence…that was enough. That, I later realized, was everything.”

Back at Dysfunctional Ranch. J.R.’s mom eventually gets fed up with going nowhere and moves herself and son to Arizona. Something extraordinary happens there. While place making (but not working) at a mall bookstore, J.R. is given permission by the two eccentric owners to read all he likes. There’s plenty of time as there are no customers to speak of. Bill and Bud, the managers so to speak, hide in the back and read all day. They see potential in J.R. and complete his high school training, giving him a literary education. They set high standards for J.R. and, miracle of miracles, he gets into Yale, barely. He struggles through college and gets a job at the New York Times as a reporter. J.R. is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and he does have many setbacks along the way, including getting fired from the Times. His move up the class ladder is meticulously told in accounts that are sensitive, painful to read at times, and sometimes heartbreaking.

Wherever he ends up, J.R. always comes back to Manhasset, family, and Dickens. The section on Dickens closing made me really sad. This is a bar I wish I could have visited. Moehringer has come up with a small American classic, one to savor and learn from.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Get Caught Up on the Marvel Universe before Seeing Avengers: Infinity War


Planning on seeing Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War this weekend? Before watching the war to end all wars, borrow the must-read graphic novels on hoopla and get caught up on everything in the Marvel Universe that’s led to this moment!

Southern History Book of the Month: History of Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Established in 1818

by Mary Anne Ellis, Southern History Department, Central Library

History of Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Established in 1818

Celebrations of the Alabama Bicentennial are now well under way, but this month’s selection is about a church that began when the area was still The Alabama Territory and statehood was yet to come. Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Hueytown, Alabama, is a pre-statehood church, established in 1818 in what was then called Rutledge Springs. It’s part of my earliest memories since it was my mother’s home church and many generations of her side of the family had worshipped and preached and married and been buried there. With a busy interstate highway running by it, Bethlehem as it was in its founding year seems far away and hard to imagine, but the History gives us some vivid pictures of those times, as in this passage about Bethlehem’s cemetery:
And alas, babies. Back then, many of them lived only one or two days, joining older children from around here who never reached their teens. They number over 300! All lie among the 130 aging grave stones of young Bethlehem offspring, the wood markers of the other children long gone. Before antibiotics, an awful child mortality rate meant countless young deaths, striking nearly every family. The Browns and the Snows were our families that suffered worst, burying here 13 children each.
Bethlehem Cemetery
Genealogical researchers should definitely take a look at the History since one of its entries is about the descendants of Bethlehem’s early founders and members, followed by a long list of the families with graves in the cemetery. “Know anyone with these names? Tell them! Bethlehem may be where long-lost ancestors of the South deserve a visit.”

The founder of Bethlehem Church was a young veteran of the War of 1812 named Ebenezer Hearn. As a minister in the Tennessee Methodist Conference, he was entrusted in April of 1818—at age 22—with the task of establishing new churches. In fact, his orders were simply to “organize and build as many churches as you can in the area that lies south of Tennessee”:
This young dynamo set out that rainy month, and he ended up creating dozens of churches. Two centuries later, some hardy survivors are alive still. These faithful monuments to Christ live on in Ashville, Blountsville, Gandy’s Cove, Montevallo, Tuscaloosa, and here at Rutledge Springs.
That April, young Brother Hearn preached his first Alabama sermon at an outpost called Bear-Meat’s Cabin (after an Indian named Bear-Meat, that abandoned cabin had once been his log home). It was located near the primitive frontier village of Blountsville. Then, the preacher headed further south, eventually arriving at our Rutledge Springs Methodist camp meeting grounds. Here in the last half of 1818, he founded our church.
Within a short time after Hearn’s arrival, the actual church building was constructed. Visitors can view some of the 19th century architecture that is part of the present structure, such as the exposed beams visible in the Fellowship Hall downstairs. One of the building’s claims to fame is that it is “still located at its original site, never burned down or moved.”
Exposed beam inside the church
Bethlehem will celebrate its 200th year in just a few weeks at the Homecoming service on Sunday, May 20. The gathering will begin at 10:00 a.m. and service will be followed by that wonderful Southern tradition of “dinner on the grounds.” If you’ve ever driven by and wondered, What does that pretty little white church look like inside?, then this is your chance to find out—and to be present at a very special event in Alabama history. Stop by and help celebrate the Bethlehem Bicentennial!

For further information:
Bethlehem at Bhamwiki
Bethlehem history and photos at Hueytown Historical Society
Bethlehem Cemetery on Find A Grave
“Historical marker to be dedicated at cemetery”
Bethlehem entry at North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church
Transcript of the autobiography of Ebenezer Hearn

Progressive Taste & Trivia Finale at Sidebar


Last stop at the Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia will be at Sidebar with the winning team receiving a $250 Lakeview Prize Pack! Make sure you visit all participating establishments for trivia clues! More information is available at http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.comhttp://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

On the Menu for Lakeview Taste and Trivia, April 26

Show off your knowledge, impress your friends, get free food and drinks, and try to win the $250 Lakeview Prize Pack. The Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia event on April 26 begins at Tin Roof at 6:00 p.m. and ends at an after-party at Sidebar, where the winners will be announced. To purchase tickets and read more about it, visit http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com.


Shout out to Bird's Bar and Pizza for their offering of Chicken Bacon Ranch pizza as their
"Taste of Lakeview" free sampling for participants. They will also be featuring Tito's specialty cocktails.


At Moe's Original Bar B Que—six wings and a Tito's Lemonade or Bushwhacker!


Sky Castle is offering up Cajun Barbecue Wings.


Thirsty? Quench it at Innisfree Irish Pub with their special draft offering.


It's always pizza time at Slice. Lakeview Taste and Trivia participants can choose
either a Cheese or Pepperoni Slice if they are doing a round of trivia at this destination.

Resources about HIV/AIDS and Other STDs

by Samuel Rumore, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

On Thursday, April 26, AIDS Alabama is having their 9th annual Dining Out For Life event. This annual event gives the general public the opportunity to contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS in the local Birmingham community by going to locally participating restaurants with at least 25% of each bill going to AIDS Alabama.

A few of the restaurants participating in this event are also participating in Birmingham Public Library’s Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia event. So by participating in one event, you could be contributing to two great organizations.

Here are some facts and statistics to keep in mind about HIV/AIDS and other STDs in our area:

  1.  “In 2014, there were an estimated 37,600 new HIV infections – down from 45,700 in 2008. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men bear the greatest burden by risk group, representing an estimated 26,200 of these new HIV infections.” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)
  2. “By transmission category, gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the most at risk category. In 2014, Male-to-Male Sexual Contact made up 70% of all new HIV infections with Heterosexual Contact making up 23%, Injection Drug Use 5%, and Male-to-Male Sexual Contact & Injection Drug Use 3%. In 2016, gay and bisexual men accounted for 67% of HIV diagnoses, whereas, in the same year, individuals infected through heterosexual sex made up 24%.” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)
  3.  “If we look at HIV diagnoses by race and ethnicity, we see that African Americans are most affected by HIV. In 2016, African Americans made up only 12% of the US population but had 44% of all new HIV diagnoses. Additionally, Hispanic/Latinos are also strongly affected. They made up 18% of the US population but had 25% of all new HIV diagnoses.” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)
  4. ”HIV is largely an urban disease, with most cases occurring in metropolitan areas with 500,000 or more people. The South has the highest NUMBER of people living with HIV, but if population size is taken into account, the Northeast has the highest rate of people living with HIV. (Rates are the number of cases of disease per 100,000 people. Rates allow comparisons between groups of different sizes.)” (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html)

With that being said, it made me think about resources that are available about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

National/General Resources
  1. A great site to start is the US Government’s official website on HIV. 
  2. Medline Plus – This site provides health information from the National Library of Medicine.
  3. Centers for DC – This site also provides an interactive component to gauge your risk. It also provides statistics and testing sites.
  4. World Health Organization – A great resource to get information and statistics from around the world.
  5. AIDSVu – An interactive online map from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University that illustrates the prevalence of HIV in the United States. It puts CDC statistical information in context in map form.
State/Local Information
  1. Alabama Public Health
  2. AIDSAlabama
  3. Birmingham AIDS Outreach – BAO provides free and confidential tests for the following: HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis (TRICH), hepatitis C, and syphilis. 
  4. Jefferson County Department of Health
PrEP
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PrEP) is a new strategy to prevent HIV. This is where people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. If taken as directed, daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injected drug users by more than 70%. (CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html)

If you are at high risk of getting HIV, please see your doctor or visit the local organizations above, and ask about getting on PrEP.

A great book that I found that talks about PrEP is The PrEP Diaries: a safe(r) sex memoir by Evan J Peterson.

The most important information that I gained from looking into this topic is:
KNOW YOUR STATUS.
GET TESTED.
PRACTICE SAFER SEX.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Springville Road Library's Body Changers Helps Participants with Healthy Lifestyle

by Kelly Laney, Springville Road Regional Branch Library


Body Changers is a group of folks who meet every Monday at 1:00 p.m. in the meeting room at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.

It was formed by a volunteer, working with a staff member, who wanted to promote healthy dietary choices and offer encouragement to people who are trying to manage their weight. Using the library resources, participants weigh in privately, then enjoy a short presentation on some topic related to cooking, exercise, food plans, shopping, and making healthy choices. Members of the group share success stories and even, occasionally, pitfalls and setbacks. Group members can take turns presenting a program, but it is not necessary to share; everyone is invited to come and listen. Sometimes outside speakers are brought in to focus on specific aspects of weight management. Members set their own goals and choose their own food plans, are encouraged to consult with their doctors before starting any weight management program, and celebrate each other’s successes.

Body Changers follows the Coffee, Conversation and Crafts program which meets at Springville Road Library at 11:00 a.m. every Monday, and many of the people in the first group stay for the second. Recent topics have been growing and using herbs to add flavor to recipes, interpreting food labels, the Ketogenic Diet, and portion control. No food plan or diet is recommended over another, but books on specific food plans are available for check out. Incentives are available for successful attainment of specific goals.

For more information, please call Kelly Laney at the Springville Road Library Adult Department, 205-226-4083. Visit the BPL events calendar to see dates for upcoming programs.

Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia


So many fun places to go at Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia on 4/26! Some delicious stops include Moe's Bar B Que and Sky Castle. Tickets available at http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Monday, April 23, 2018

Stop at Hattie B's during BPL's Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia on April 26


Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia on April 26—so many places to visit—so much free stuff! Get a free Taste of Lakeview at three stops along the way. Hattie B's will be serving up bacon cheese grits and medium heat chicken. Stay tuned for more sampling updates! #lakeviewtasteandtrivia
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lakeview-progressive-taste-trivia-tickets-43357206572

April 26 Personal Finance Program at Central Library Celebrates Money Smart Week


What: Leaving Room for Margin in Your Finances
When: Thursday April 26, 2018
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor
Cost: Free and open to the public
Contact: For more information about this presentation, as well as other resources related to personal finance 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.

Money and finances are of constant concern to most of us. In fact, money, or lack thereof, is always at, or near, the top of the list in the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey. Although it is pretty much impossible to eliminate all the stress caused by financial concerns, it is certainly possible to manage the stress better. A good place to start with managing your stress is to develop a better understanding of the concept of margin in your personal finances. Simply put, margin is the gap between your income and your expenses, and, generally speaking, the larger the gap is, the more options you have in your financial life. The trick, however, is learning how to create, and maintain, a margin that is suitable for your lifestyle.

To learn more about increasing your personal financial options, please join us on April 26, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. at the Central Library for a special Money Smart Week presentation, Leaving Room for Margin in Your Finances. The presentation will be facilitated by Bobby Lake, a certified financial advisor and leadership coach with Stewardship Investment Planning.

Money Smart Week is an annual nationwide campaign aimed at increasing financial literacy and promoting better decision making on issues related to personal money management. This year, Money Smart Week will be held from April 21 to April 28.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Trivia Winners to be Announced at Sidebar April 26


Lakeview Progressive Taste & Trivia winners will be announced at the after-party at Sidebar on April 26! Earn bragging rights and a $250 Lakeview Prize Pack. Remember: you have to play to be eligible to win! http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

Make Friends and Win Prizes


Looking for a fun team building experience? Sign up for the Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia event on April 26 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Preservation Week 2018

by Mary Beth Newbill, Southern History Department, Central Library


The American Library Association (ALA) has designated April 22-28, 2018, as Preservation Week. This is the ideal time to focus on the importance of taking care of precious family photos, letters, and scrapbooks. Simple steps like storing your important documents away from direct sunlight or moisture, removing staples or metal paper clips, using archival safe folders, and handling them as little as possible can go a long way towards keeping them safe for generations to come. Of course, documents and photographs aren’t the only items that need special care and handling. The ALA website has webinars and tips for taking care of textiles, toys, and even money.

In celebration of Preservation Week, join us in the Regional Library Computer Center at the Central Library for a live webinar on Tuesday, April 24, at 1:00 p.m. We will be streaming Preserving Family Recipes. This workshop focuses on how to take care of handwritten recipes (on sheets or cards), photos, and vintage kitchen tools. Led by archivist Valerie J. Frey, the session also encourages participants to “read between the lines” and learn what family recipes can tell us about our heritage. If you can’t make it on Tuesday, you can view this webinar and other preservation webinars from the American Library Association online at the ALA site.

The Preservation Section of the Society of American Archivists will be hosting a Twitter Conference dedicated to preservation on April 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern). Follow along using hashtag #PresTC.

Check out the links below for more preservation tips and techniques:
ALA Preservation Resources
Advice from preservation expert Donia Conn
The Society of American Archivists
Preserving letters and paper heirlooms (from the Minnesota Historical Society)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Vocabby’s World is Introduced at Several Neighborhood Libraries

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Vocabby's World participants learning about insects
Those of us who have been around children or have children of our own can more than likely concur that from birth to around age six, children are like sponges that soak in information from their surroundings. Therefore, these ages are a crucial time for exposing children to vocabulary and language development. Nourishing children’s language and literacy experiences early in life will assist in preventing later difficulties with reading and writing. To this end, a program that will help support the vocabulary building of preschoolers and younger is being introduced at three of Birmingham Public Library (BPL) branches.

UAB's Alys Stephens Center and McWane Science Center have partnered to create Vocabby’s World, an educational vocabulary program. The McWane Center has invited BPL to offer this program at the Ensley, Powderly and Wylam Library branches. The ultimate goal is to develop vocabulary, reading-readiness, and problem-solving skills through fun and exciting science and art activities. The program is free and open to children up to the age of five and their families.

At the aforementioned library branches, you will see Vocabby’s World integrated into storytime. Thus far, the children have been introduced to vocabulary, stories, and hands-on activities related to weather and insects. Advanced words such as nimbus, transparent, and opaque have been shared with the children. The words in addition to the engaging activities have been a great way to build a solid base of knowledge around the targeted concepts. While learning about insects one group was simulating bees pollinating flowers, a second group had a blast throwing cotton balls into a “spider web” made of masking tape to see if it would catch them (just like a real one would catch insects), and a third was putting together a jigsaw puzzle of the body parts of an insect.

Five Points West Library storyteller Fontaine Alison teaches children weather words

Vocabby’s World is providing resources and support for early childhood learning in several communities. Their initiatives will go a long way in helping children to reach their highest potential. Come and see Vocabby’s World in action during storytime at the Ensley, Powderly and Wylam Library Branches.

What Compelled Me to Write Murder on Shades Mountain

by Melanie S. Morrison

Author Melanie S. Morrison
On August 4, 1931, two sisters and a friend, all from prominent white Birmingham families, went for a ride on Shades Mountain. What began as a pleasant ride on a summer’s afternoon ended in the tragic deaths of Augusta Williams, 22, and Jennie Wood, 26. The sole survivor, Nell Williams, 18, later testified that a black man wielding a gun had jumped on the sideboard of the car and demanded they drive to a secluded wooded area. In the struggle that ensued, Augusta Williams was mortally wounded and Jennie Wood died later in a Birmingham hospital.

Later that night, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Birmingham police deputized 250 white men for what became the largest manhunt in Jefferson County. Dozens of black men were arrested and detained as far away as Chicago. Weeks later, Nell Williams identified Willie Peterson as the assailant. With the exception of being black, Peterson bore little resemblance to the description Nell had given the police. Peterson was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in the electric chair.

I first heard this Shades Mountain story from my father who was a teenager living in the prosperous suburb of Mountain Brook when the murders occurred. These events proved to be a momentous turning point in my father’s young life, awakening him to the gross injustice that black people suffered in Jim Crow Birmingham. For many years, I retold the Shades Mountain story just as it was handed down to me. It was one way of accounting for the legacy of antiracist activism I inherited from my father. I have always known that my work as an antiracist educator was seeded by the stories my father told and the life he modeled for me. He became a pastor, but the work of dismantling racism was his deepest calling.

Two years after my father’s death in 2006, I read An Enduring Ministry, a biography of my father’s pastor and mentor, Henry Morris Edmonds, written by Marvin Whiting, former head archivist at the Birmingham Public Library. When I came upon six pages of single-spaced narrative in a footnote, all of it pertaining to the Willie Peterson case, I felt a rush of adrenaline akin to what archaeologists must feel when they unearth the precious remnants of an ancient city. Here in print were details of the incident that rocked Birmingham and proved to be so formative in my father’s young life. Whiting stated that he initially intended to include a detailed account of “this largely ignored event in Birmingham history” in the main text, but space and balance had prevented it.

Curious as to why a case of this magnitude had been largely ignored, I launched an online search for other books and articles about the Willie Peterson case. I was surprised at how little I found, in contrast to the preponderance of literature about the Scottsboro trials. More significant still, these sources revealed aspects of the Shades Mountain story that my father had not told us. He never mentioned that white vigilantes bombed black-owned businesses and fired shots at a group of black people who stood peacefully talking on a Birmingham street corner. My father did not tell us that the national NAACP and the Communist Party launched campaigns in defense of Willie Peterson. Nor did he mention that Willie Peterson’s neighbors stepped forward to testify on his behalf despite threats that their homes would be burned to the ground.

I doubt that my father forgot those parts of the story or chose to keep them from us. I suspect he never knew those things as a teenager living in his insular white enclave of Mountain Brook. Discovering these gaping holes in my father’s story, I became intensely curious about what else I might unearth were I to undertake a serious and sustained study of this case. In November 2010, I made my first field trip to Birmingham, compelled to learn more about the Williams/Wood murders and the organizations that sought to free Willie Peterson. I was driven as much by what my father did not tell me as by what he did.

During that first visit to Birmingham, spending time in the Birmingham Public Library Archives and seeking out people who might know about the murders, two things dawned on me with great force. First, I felt even more compelled to research and write about this extraordinary case. Second, I wished that I had begun this journey twenty years earlier. Almost eighty years had passed since the attack on Shades Mountain, and it was no longer possible to find and interview people who were old enough in 1931 to remember that event or its significance.

On numerous trips to Birmingham and other cities that housed archival materials, I sought to recover every newspaper article, editorial, letter, trial transcript, city directory, sermon, photograph, census record, map, and manuscript collection of the organizations related to this case. From the start, I resolved to write a historical narrative that would be true to primary sources and accessible to a wide range of readers. I vowed to resist the temptation to cross the line into fiction when writing about the thoughts and feelings of people in this book. Every quote in my book, unless otherwise indicated, can be traced back to a historical document such as a trial transcript or newspaper article.

Eight years ago, I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about the murders on Shades Mountain, the fate of Willie Peterson, and the struggle for racial justice in Jim Crow Birmingham. The more sources I discovered, the more convinced I became that this story has much to teach us about the social forces at play in Depression-era Birmingham and the courageous predecessors of present-day movements that demand an end to racial profiling, police brutality, and the criminalization of black men.

Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham was published in March 2018 by Duke University Press.

Melanie S. Morrison is founder and executive director of Allies for Change. She has a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a PhD from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She is the author of The Grace of Coming Home: Spirituality, Sexuality, and the Struggle for Justice and her writing has appeared in numerous periodicals.

Melanie Morrison will be at the Avondale Regional Branch Library on Tuesday, April 24, 6:00 p.m., for a talk and book signing for Murder on Shades Mountain. The event is free and open to the public, and copies of the book will be available for purchase at the event for $26.95. For questions contact Jim Baggett at jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3631.

Progressive Taste and Trivia


Make your way through Lakeview for helpful hints to our Progressive Taste and Trivia event. Taking place on April 26 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. with Brown's Bar, Lou's Pub, and Slice as just a few of the many participating establishments! http://lakeviewtasteandtrivia.eventbrite.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Recent Winners of the I Am BPL and Innovative and Cool Awards

Norman Griffin, BPL board member Dora Sims (accepting for Mevlia Walton), and Kary'n Davis-
West 

I Am BPL Award
Congratulations to Central Library staff Norman Griffin, Kary'n Davis-West, and Melvia Walton (not pictured) for receiving I Am BPL Awards. Griffin and Davis-West were honored for being first responders to Mayor Randall Woodfin's call for volunteers to man the temporary shelters for the homeless at the BJCC and Boutwell Auditorium during extremely cold temperatures last winter. Melvia Walton received an I Am BPL Award for her work in bringing the UniverSoul Circus to the Central Library.

I Am BPL Award is a quarterly stipend awarded to Birmingham Public Library employees who promote the mission of BPL through their work and commitment.

Patricia Douglas, Christian Zink, coordinator Janine Langston (accepting for June Lancanski), 
and Dora Sims

Innovative and Cool Award
East Lake Branch Library employees Patricia Douglas and Christina Zink were nominated by their branch manager, William Darby, for their proposal to form a fiber arts crafting group to elementary- and middle school-aged children. The group will meet bi-weekly with the goal of teaching participants to crochet and weave. The prize money will be used to buy supplies for the projects.

Children's librarian June Lacanski (not pictured) from the North Birmingham Regional Branch Library also won an Innovative and Cool Award for her Game-a-palooza idea. This idea entails supplying the library with games that can be signed out by patrons of all ages to play inside the library. Within a span of six months, the games were signed out 360 times. The prize money will be used to buy more educational games for loan.

The BPL Board’s Innovative Cool Award program was established to encourage staffers to develop engaging new programs to generate enthusiasm and value for their library patrons.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Birmingham Bound: Author Talk and Book Signing with Melanie S. Morrison on April 24 at Avondale Library


What: Author talk and book signing for Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Justice in Jim Crow Birmingham by Melanie S. Morrison
When: Tuesday, April 24, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library
Cost: Free and open to the public. Copies of the book will available for purchase at the event for $26.95.
Contact: Jim Baggett at jbaggett@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-3631

On Tuesday, April 24, Birmingham's Melanie S. Morrison will hold a lecture about her book, Murder on Shades Mountain: The Legal Lynching of Willie Peterson and the Struggle for Justice in Jim Crow Birminghamat the Avondale Regional Branch Library. Her talk is a part of Birmingham Bound, a series of author talks and book signings by writers who researched their books using the Birmingham Public Library Archives and Manuscripts Department.

In Murder on Shades Mountain, Morrison tells the gripping and tragic true story of an alleged interracial attack and its aftermath—events that shook 1930s Birmingham to its core. A black man, Willie Peterson, was falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to death by an all-white jury.

One August night in 1931, on a secluded mountain ridge overlooking Birmingham, Alabama, three young white women were brutally attacked. The sole survivor, Nell Williams, age 18, claimed a black man had held the women captive for four hours before shooting them and disappearing into the woods. That same night a reign of terror was unleashed on Birmingham's black community—black businesses were set ablaze, posses of armed white men roamed the streets, and dozens of black men were arrested in the largest manhunt in Jefferson County history.

Weeks later, Nell identified Willie Peterson as the attacker who killed her sister Augusta and their friend Jennie Wood. With the exception of being black, Peterson bore little resemblance to the description Nell gave the police. An all-white jury convicted Peterson of murder and sentenced him to death.

Morrison’s book tells the tragic story of the attack and its aftermath. She first heard of the story from her father, who dated Nell's youngest sister when he was a teenager. Morrison scoured the historical archives of the Birmingham Public Library and documented the black-led campaigns that sought to overturn Peterson's unjust conviction, spearheaded by the NAACP and the Communist Party. The travesty of justice suffered by Peterson reveals how the judicial system could function as a lynch mob in the Jim Crow South.

Murder on Shades Mountain also sheds new light on the struggle for justice in Depression-era Birmingham. This riveting narrative is a testament to the courageous predecessors of present-day movements that demand an end to racial profiling, police brutality, and the criminalization of black men.

Melanie S. Morrison
Melanie S. Morrison is founder and executive director of Allies for Change, a social justice educator, author, and activist for three decades. In 1994 Morrison founded Doing Our Own Work, an anti-racism intensive for white people that has attracted hundreds of participants across the country. She has a master of divinity from Yale Divinity School and a PhD from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, Morrison pastored congregations in Michigan and the Netherlands. As adjunct faculty, she has taught anti-racism seminars at Chicago Theological Seminary and the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She lives in Okemos, Michigan.

Related link:
Duke Press webpage for Murder on Shades Mountain

The Birmingham Bound author series recognizes authors who researched their books utilizing the resources available at the Birmingham Public Library. Historians, journalists, and other writers from around the world have produced hundreds of books using the library’s collections, and these books include five recipients of the Pulitzer Prize.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia


Fun Fact: Tito's Handmade Vodka partners with more than 6,000 nonprofits, including the Friends Foundation of the Birmingham Public Library. Check out their swag and drink specials at the 4/26 Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia event! Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lakeview-progressive-taste-trivia-tickets-43357206572 to purchase tickets and see the list of participating Lakeview establishments.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

2018 NBA Playoffs


NBA Playoffs

The NBA Playoffs tip off this weekend.  For the past three years, the NBA Playoffs simply served as a preamble to an NBA Finals matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.  For each of those seasons, Golden State led the Western Conference in wins, landing a #1 seed in the conference playoffs.  This year, the Golden State Warriors finished the season in second place behind the Houston Rockets. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference in two of those seasons but battled their way to the NBA Finals.  This year, they are a #4 seed, ending the season behind Toronto (#1), Boston (#2) and Philadelphia (#3).  They finished the season only two wins behind Philadelphia.  In terms of seeding, the path for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make it to a fourth consecutive NBA Finals appears more difficult.  

The Cavaliers have made a series of trades this season to make them more competitive in the postseason. They traded six players including Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose in return for four new players, notably George Hill and Rodney Hood.  Whether this Cavaliers roster has what it takes to win several rounds in the NBA Playoffs remains to be seen.  For their part, the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors have not made any major changes to their lineup.  However, Steph Curry, two-time NBA MVP and a top scorer on the team, is suffering from a sprained MCL and has not yet returned from his injury.  Without his scoring, another NBA Finals appearance is less certain especially against the high scoring-offense of the Houston Rockets, behind stars James Harden and Chris Paul.

I think most basketball fans wanted to see the rubber match last year between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. With one NBA Finals win for each team, fans wanted to see which team could win the best two out of three. LeBron James taunted Golden State quite a bit after Cleveland’s comeback victory in 2016 and Kevin Durant joined the Golden State Warriors in hopes of winning a title.  His quest for that title resulted in an NBA Finals MVP trophy.  These two teams may not be on a collision course this season, but the NBA Playoffs will feature exciting matchups and some great basketball.  Sixteen teams will take the floor over the next few weeks, but only one can become the 2018 NBA Champion.  Enjoy the games.
  

Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia


Play trivia. Get free stuff. Join us for Lakeview Progressive Taste and Trivia on April 26. Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lakeview-progressive-taste-trivia-tickets-43357206572 for more info!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Celebrate Money Smart Week at the Birmingham Public Library by Learning More About Personal Finance


What: Leaving Room for Margin in Your Finances
When: Thursday April 26, 2018
Time: 2:00-3:00 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Regional Library Computer Center, 4th floor

Money and finances are of constant concern to most of us. In fact, money, or lack thereof, is always at, or near, the top of the list in the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey. Although it is pretty much impossible to eliminate all the stress caused by financial concerns, it is certainly possible to manage the stress better. A good place to start with managing your stress is to develop a better understanding of the concept of margin in your personal finances. Simply put, margin is the gap between your income and your expenses, and, generally speaking, the larger the gap is, the more options you have in your financial life. The trick, however, is learning how to create, and maintain, a margin that is suitable for your lifestyle.

To learn more about increasing your personal financial options, please join us on April 26, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. at the Central Library for a special Money Smart Week presentation, Leaving Room for Margin in Your Finances. The presentation will be facilitated by Bobby Lake, a certified financial advisor and leadership coach with Stewardship Investment Planning.

Money Smart Week is an annual nationwide campaign aimed at increasing financial literacy and promoting better decision making on issues related to personal money management. This year, Money Smart Week will be held from April 21 to April 28.

For more information about this presentation, as well as other resources related to personal finance 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.

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