Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yay for Art!

Birmingham Museum of Art's artist-in-residence,
Toby Richardson

I always get excited when kids are offered an opportunity to express themselves artistically. Kids benefit from art in so many ways.

On Tuesday, May 5, at 4:00 p.m., Toby Richards from the Birmingham Museum of Art will visit North Avondale Library to talk about different types of art. Kids will spend time learning and will get the chance to create an art project directed by Toby.

Hey kids, join us and let’s have some fun at the library!

Saundra Ross
North Avondale Library

Monday, April 27, 2015

Beach Reads

With all these April showers, it's probably hard to think about going to the beach.  Before you know it, though, you'll wake up, and it will be Memorial Day.  Publishers know this, so they are releasing new titles for you to enjoy as you lounge on the beach.  Many authors who are known for their summer-themed novels have new books coming out in May.  Get the sunscreen, the cooler, and the bathing suits ready so you can relax with these beach reads.  Title descriptions are from the publisher.


Beach Town by Mary Kay AndrewsBeach Town  by Mary Kay Andrews  (5/19)
Greer Hennessy is a struggling movie location scout. Her last location shoot ended in disaster when a film crew destroyed property on an avocado grove. Now Greer has been given one more chance. She zeroes in on a sleepy Florida panhandle town. Greer slips into town and is ecstatic to find the last unspoilt patch of the Florida gulf coast. However, she finds a formidable obstacle in the town mayor, Eben Thinadeaux. Eben is a born-again environmentalist who's seen huge damage done to the town by a huge paper company ... and Eben has no intention of letting anybody screw with his town again. The only problem is that he finds Greer way too attractive for his own good, and knows that her motivation is in direct conflict with his.


The Summer's End by Mary Alice Monroe
The Summer's End  by Mary Alice Monroe  (5/19)
It is summer’s end and Sea Breeze, the family’s beloved estate on Sullivan’s Island, must be sold. It is an emotional time of transition as Mamaw and the three sisters each must face loss and find a new place in the world.  Harper, the youngest sister, arrived at Sea Breeze intending to stay only a weekend, but a rift with her wealthy, influential mother left her without direction or a home. During this remarkable summer, free from her mother’s tyranny and with the help of her half sisters, Harper discovered her talents and independent spirit.  But summer is ending, and the fate of Sea Breeze hinges on Harper’s courage to decide the course of her own life. To do so she must release her insecurities and recognize her newfound strengths.


The Rocks by Peter Nichols
The Rocks  by Peter Nichols  (5/26)
Set against dramatic Mediterranean Sea views and lush olive groves, The Rocks opens with a confrontation and a secret: What was the mysterious, catastrophic event that drove two honeymooners apart so suddenly and absolutely in 1948 that they never spoke again despite living on the same island for sixty more years? And how did their history shape the Romeo and Juliet–like romance of their (unrelated) children decades later? Centered around a popular seaside resort club and its community, The Rocks is a double love story that begins with a mystery, then moves backward in time, era by era, to unravel what really happened decades earlier.


The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer
The Guest Cottage  by Nancy Thayer  (5/12)
Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. When her husband announces that he’s leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what’s next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket, Sophie rounds up her kids and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one.  Also minus one is Trevor Black, who has recently lost his wife.  Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with his son, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island.  When Sophie and Trevor realize they’ve mistakenly rented the same house, the two agree to share the house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.

What Should I Read Next?

I am a Youth Librarian for the Birmingham Public Library and I love my job! While my work holds lots of exciting challenges, one of the special perks is reading the new books that are added to the collection. We are five months into 2015 and it is already promising to be a notable year in the world of children’s book publishing. Here are just a few of my personal favorites, so far:

This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne – When her dog disappears into the gutter of the book, Bella calls for help. But when the helpers disappear too, Bella realizes it will take more than a tug on the leash to put things right.




Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman – When her parents find a baby wolf on their doorstep and decide to raise him as their own, Dot is certain he will eat them all up until a surprising encounter with a bear brings them closer together.




Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton – Four friends creep through the woods, and what do they spot? An exquisite bird high in a tree! “Hello birdie,” waves one. “Shh! We have a plan,” hush the others. They stealthily make their advance, nets in the air. Ready one, ready two, ready three, and go! But as one comically foiled plan follows another, it soon becomes clear that their quiet, observant companion, hand outstretched, has a far better idea.

I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty – A frog who yearns to be any animal that’s cute and warm discovers that being wet, slimy, and full of bugs has its advantages.





Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale – The houses of all Three (not so) Little Pigs were broken into and ransacked, and the Pigs are squealing for justice. So Prince Tyrone, ruler of Fairylandia, drags in the obvious suspect: Wolfgang. The lone wolf has big teeth, sharp claws, no alibi – and a single day to find the real culprit and clear his big bad name. When Wolf (reluctantly) teams up with the fourth Little Pig to crack the case, the Big Bad Detective Agency – and an adventure way funnier than your average fairy tale- is born!

Still looking for more good reads? Drop by the Avondale Library Youth Department for additional installments of “What Should I Read Next.”

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Helping a Patron With an Auto Repair Question

This question concerned an Oldsmobile 307 engine which was in a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne. My patron needed to know which way the horseshoe-shaped piston was supposed to be inserted—with the bottom of the horseshoe pointing up or pointing down. Of course, I immediately went to the ChiltonLibrary in the databases, but the diagram that came up showed a round piston. We went to Google Images and found a picture that showed him exactly what he needed to know.

I've found that when a schematic or diagram for any kind of engine (especially small engines that aren't covered in Chilton) is wanted, Google Images can be a great tool for finding it. Had this failed, I would have tried to do a search through one or more of the Oldsmobile online forums to see if this question had been addressed by someone previously.

Kelly Laney
Springville Road Library

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“Everything Going On in This Library”: Thoughts after National Library Week

At the East Ensley branch, we recently had the pleasure of issuing a library card to a young woman who has only been in Birmingham for about a month. She moved here from Minnesota and has a job with the Birmingham Zoo. As we chatted while she filled out her application, she admitted that Alabama was different from what she had been expecting—think Deliverance—and that she was really enjoying herself here. But what struck me was that she thought getting a library card was one of the most important things to do after relocating and that she found time to do it so soon after her arrival. Anyone who has made a major relocation knows how a thousand errands clamor for your attention, yet she took the time to get her library card.

One gentleman came in to deal with some fines on his card, telling us, “I need my library card. I value my library card!”

But what made me smile the most was the teen who came in and saw our table with the lemonade and cookies last Wednesday. When she asked what it was for, I told her that it was National Library Week and the treats were to show our patrons that we appreciate their business. She gave me a big grin and said, “You’ve got EVERYTHING going on in this library!”

Visit your library. See some of the “everything” we have going on!

Mary Anne Ellis
East Ensley Library

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: Solo: My Adventures in the Air

Solo: My Adventures in the Air
Clyde Edgerton

While going through a box of books donated to the library recently, this title caught my eye. I had read one of Clyde Edgerton’s other books, the novel Where Trouble Sleeps, and enjoyed it immensely. Edgerton is a North Carolina native who has a knack for presenting small towns in the South and the natives thereof in all their quirky majesty.

In Solo, Edgerton presents his lifelong love affair with flight, starting from his fascination with airplanes as a small boy, continuing through his days as a teenage cadet with the Civil Air Patrol, and progressing through his career as a Vietnam-era pilot to his recent “retiree” years. Although at first glance this might appear to be a war story, it is not that at all. Edgerton discusses his fears and foibles, faced by almost all young novice pilots and how he learned from experiences that could have proven fatal. He describes the difference between the single engine “tail-dragger” Cessna’s and Pipers and the increasingly faster and more powerful trainers and jets he learns to fly as his Air Force career progresses.

But then, after he has seemingly reached the apex of flying supersonic fighter aircraft, he has an almost spiritual experience and is channeled into once again flying a “low and slow” machine as a forward air control or FAC pilot. These men performed the extremely dangerous and crucial role of helping protect the troops on the ground by communicating with them to coordinate aerial bombing when needed. Sometimes this was the only thing that prevented numbers of soldiers from being overrun and killed or captured. As he flies mission after mission, and some of his comrades are killed or wounded or transfer to other roles such as flying for the CIA, Edgerton begins to simply hope to survive his tour and get back home. He explains that he did not take satisfaction or glory in the deaths of those he marked for rocket or bomb attacks and wishes he had not been a part of it. But it was a time when most young men answered their country’s call, for right or wrong.

After the end of the war, Edgerton gives up flying for a while as he concentrates on building a career in the civilian world. But as the years go by, he finds that he misses flying as both a hobby and a possible business venture and details his return to flying for pleasure and the simple joys of knowing how to land on a plowed field and take off again if necessary. His stories of various misadventures will be a guidebook for anyone who wishes to become a pilot, if not for business, then just for the sheer pleasure of soaring through the sky. If you enjoy reading about flying or airplanes, you will enjoy this book. And don’t throw away those gently used, recent books you have no further use for— consider donating them to your local library. This book is already in our collection but will be passed on to someone else to inspire them.

Jonathan Newman
Avondale Library

Monday, April 20, 2015

Free Skills and Drills Football Clinic For Birmingham's Youth

The Birmingham Public Library is excited to host "UNMASK!" with the Cotchery Foundation. Jerricho Cotchery, one of Birmingham’s native sons, has teamed up with the library to host yet another amazing series of events for the 2015 Teen Summer Reading Program, "UNMASK!"

Born in 1982, Cotchery grew up to be an incredible athlete. He excelled at Phillips High School in Birmingham and attended North Carolina State University. The New York Jets drafted him in 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers added him to their roster in 2010, and in 2014 he joined the Carolina Panthers.

Named for the famous Biblical city, Jerricho is deeply committed to his faith and to community outreach. He was moved to start the Cotchery Foundation in January 2007 as a result of his own personal memories and experiences growing up. He and his foundation have set out to "show that anyone can do extraordinary things if they have the desire and passion." Cotchery has made it his mission to show that any individual can make a significant difference in the lives of others.

For the past eight years, The Cotchery Foundation has hosted a FREE Skills and Drills Football Clinic with Jerricho Cotchery. In 2009, The Foundation asked the Birmingham Public Library to join them to enrich the experience. In order to register for the 2015 Skills and Drills Football Clinic, youth from 11-17 must be an active participant in the "Score Big with UNMASK!" component of the "UNMASK!" summer reading program. Seven points are necessary to qualify. Youth may score points by registering for the program (1 point), reading an entire magazine (3 points), and reading an entire book (6 points). "UNMASK!" registration and Skills and Drills Clinic forms are available at all Birmingham Public Library locations. The completed registration forms must be returned to the library by June 5. At least two hundred participants will be selected to attend the 2015 Skills and Drills Football Clinic on June 20, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at Legion Field. Those selected will be notified by June 12.

In addition to being eligible for the Skills and Drills Football Clinic, all those who "UNMASK!" are invited to a FREE Teen Tailgate Party at Birmingham Public Library on June 19, 2015. The celebration will take place on the first floor of the Central Library, located at 2100 Park Place, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. There will be music, dancing, photo-ops with Jerricho, food, and lots of fun. Tickets are required and are available at all BPL locations.

Registration for UNMASK! with the Cotchery Foundation opens May 1. Visit any Birmingham Public Library location for registration materials and additional information.

Extraordinary Performances by Teen Poets Amaze Audience

2015 WORD UP! winners are (from left to right) Trinity Packer, Third Place
Winner; Whitney McWilliams, Second Place Winner; and Miaya Webster,
First Place Winner

Sixteen young poets, representing high schools from throughout Jefferson County, gave heartfelt performances during the 2015 WORD UP! poetry competition. Over 100 people were in attendance. They clapped and gave “shout outs” to show their appreciation for the extraordinary performances.

WORD UP! is a poetry slam for high school students enrolled in schools—or home schooled—in Jefferson County. Sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) System and Real Life Poets (RLP), the event was held on Saturday, April 11, at 3:00 p.m. in the Richard Arrington, Jr. Auditorium of BPL’s Central Library. Students in grades 9 through 12 wrote and performed an original work of poetry inspired by a theme selected by the WORD UP! planning committee. The theme for this year’s WORD UP! was “Survive.” Each participating high school held a preliminary contest, and the winners from each school competed in the final WORD UP! competition. The contestants competed for cash prizes and were rated on content and performance by a panel of three judges.

Miaya Webster, a senior at the Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA), took the first place trophy and a $300 cash prize; second place winner Whitney McWilliams, also of ASFA, received $200; and third place winner, Trinity Packer of Shades Valley High School, received $150. Miaya was the second place winner at last year’s WORD UP! and took third place in 2013. Jim Reed served as the emcee of WORD UP!. The judges were Will Gillette (first place winner of 2010 WORD UP!); Tomika Glenn (performance poet who has been the top winner at the BPL’s Bards and Brews slams); and Sharrif Simmons (local performance artist, songwriter, and activist who has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and has toured extensively in Europe).

In all, ten high schools were represented at this year’s slam. The schools included Birmingham’s Wenonah; Jefferson County’s Center Point, Clay-Chalkville, and Shades Valley; Alabama School of Fine Arts (ASFA); Bessemer; Hewitt-Trussville; Holy Family Cristo Rey; Homewood and Mountain Brook. For those students determined to go even further, BPL and RLP will help sponsor a spoken-word team to compete in this year’s Brave New Voices (BNV) International Youth Poetry Competition in Atlanta, Georgia. BNV is the worldwide standard in spoken word poetry competitions for teens since 1998. In 2013, BNV was held in Chicago and for the first time in the history of the festival, a small but dedicated group of Birmingham-area teens who called themselves Team #KnowDisclaimer competed. They did well enough to go on to the semi-finals—a feat almost unheard of by first time teams. The teens’ perseverance and talents, along with the help and encouragement of BPL and RLP, made this successful bid possible.

Word UP! 2015 is made possible in part by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. For additional information, visit the WORD UP! webpage at http://www.jclc.org/wordup.aspx.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Programs on Investment Research Scheduled for April 20 and 21 at Central Library


Money Smart Week 2015 offers free events throughout Alabama focused on financial education for all ages and walks of life. The Birmingham Public Library will host two events: How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research and How to Get Started with Investing.

How to Use Mergent and Morningstar Databases for Business and Investing Research is scheduled for April 20, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. This program will provide novice and experience investors information on how to select and monitor their investments using Mergent and Morningstar. It will also cover how to research a company before purchasing their stock.

How to Get Started with Investing is scheduled for April 21, 2015, at 1:00 p.m. in the Regional Library Computer Center/Central Library/Linn-Henley building/4th floor. Dr. Stephanie Yates, Director of UAB’s Institute of Financial Literacy, will describe the fundamental principle of investment and how a better understanding of these principles can lead to investment success.

In preparation for Money Smart Week, the Business, Science, and Technology Department has also put together a Subject Resource Page on personal finance for your convenience. The information provided is a sampling of books, databases, and websites covering a variety of money management topics including budgeting, credit repair, home buying and selling, insurance, investment, retirement, etc. This subject guide can be accessed from your home, on your mobile phone, or tablet at http://www.bplonline.org/virtual/subjects/Default.aspx?s_page=58.

When considering your personal financial goals, the Birmingham Public Library is a good place to go for free and authoritative resources on all aspects of personal finance. Stop by to check out some of the amazing resources we have to offer!

Are Libraries Still Relevant? A Case Study of the Southern History Department

Some people think libraries are no longer relevant and just a place to store old books that no one reads. We don't think so.  Other people agree and have cited the Southern History Department's Beyond the Basics of Genealogy program as an example of how libraries are a community asset.   We want to prove that libraries are relevant by giving you a “behind the scenes” glimpse of what happens in the Southern History Department. This department houses a non-circulating collection that covers each facet of Southern culture, genealogy, and local history. In this department alone, our patrons use over 1,500 books, make over 2,500 copies, and ask over 700 reference questions each month. Yet, most people do not know about the other things the Southern History Department does to serve the community.

Birmingham Cultural Alliance Partnership (BCAP): This award-winning, collaborative after-school program that has served more than 1,650 low-income middle school students and their families. With eight cultural partners, BCAP provides high-quality, hands-on cultural enrichment activities that enhance academic achievement by reinforcing classroom instruction and facilitating parental involvement and family learning. BCAP partners have included the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Birmingham City School system, as well as the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham Public Library, McWane Science Center, Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, Southern Museum of Flight, and Vulcan Park & Museum. BPL has been a partner since the beginning in 2001 with the Southern History Department leading the library’s efforts for four weeks of after-school programming at two middle schools. We do a variety of programs focusing on family history, local history, African American history, poetry, and debate. Additionally, we bring in a few alumni of the Birmingham City Schools to speak about their experiences in school and life.
Mr. Jess Lanier at BCAP

Alabama Library Association (ALLA) - Mary Beth Newbill was part of a panel entitled "Your Tax Dollars at Work: Interesting, Helpful, and Essential Websites from the Federal Government" at the annual convention in Point Clear, Alabama. She presented on useful genealogy websites, such as the National Park Service's Civil War Soldiers and Sailors database. By presenting to other librarians on resources they can use at their home library, this indirectly helps library patrons all across the state.
Alabama Library Association 2015


Digitorium: Mary Beth Newbill and Laura Gentry presented at The University of Alabama's Digitorium, This conference is for digital humanities, and they were part of a panel on "Strategies for Creating Digital Exhibits and Analyzing Archival Materials". Their presentation was entitled, "Digital Exhibits: Finding a Platform that Fits for the Birmingham Public Library".
Digitorium 2015

Digitorium 2015

Other things we have done this month and some of our ongoing activities:
  • Applied for a grant for new microfilm equipment and an overhead book scanner 
  • Taught our Introduction to Genealogy class 
  • Created a digital exhibit on Easter in 1915 
  • Mended books 
  • Conservation and mending of maps 
  • Ordered new books 
  • Answered reference questions in-person, by phone, and by e-mail 
  • Indexed books, newspapers, and periodicals 
  • Created blog posts and social media 
  • Booked upcoming speaking engagements and workshops
What’s ahead on our calendar for the rest of April

Southern History Department
Central Branch
Birmingham Public Library