Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: United States of Jihad

by Shea Robinson, Fiction Department, Central Library

United States of Jihad (2016)
Peter Bergen

United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists examines the cases of American citizens that have been charged or convicted with crimes of terrorism. Since September 11, 2001, approximately 330 American citizens have been prosecuted for some form of jihadist terrorist crime. While some of these crimes have occurred within the borders of the US, others have been terrorist conspiracies that took place in other countries. These crimes are categorized as a form of treason since the intent of this radical ideology is to kill Americans. This book examines the circumstances, training, and motivations that led these particular individuals to commit these crimes.

The author, Peter Bergen, is a professor within the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University. He is also a CNN national security analyst and has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee. He has also performed extensive counter-terrorism reporting concerning Al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Iraq for numerous sources such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Newsweek. This is his 7th published book regarding the subject of terrorism, with three among them becoming New York Times bestsellers.

American jihadists form a small percentage of the American Muslim population. They come from a multitude of various backgrounds, spanning races, socioeconomic status, and age. There are no generalizations to be found within this group of individuals. Their average age is 29 and more than one-third are married and have children. Less than 15% have been incarcerated and only approximately 10% experienced mental health disorders. On average, their educational and emotional level is on par with the typical American citizen.

This spawns the question of how these typical Americans became terrorists. Based on the studies of law enforcement officials, terrorism experts, and psychologists that have examined these cases in-depth, the pool of knowledge has increased regarding the motivations of those who turn to terrorism.
Several recruits have been prompted by a need for recognition or a desire to belong to an organization with a higher purpose. Jihad granted them that opportunity. Many of these recruits felt they were taking part in a holy war against the enemies of Islam. They were able to act out a heroic fantasy with the belief that Allah was backing their mission.

The majority of the militant terrorists outlined within this book subscribe to the branch of Islam known as Salafism. This branch has extremely fundamentalist beliefs and promotes intolerance of Islamic deviancy from the Koran. Though there are millions of peaceful Salafists throughout the world, most of the terrorists within this group developed a politicized view of the religious branch. Their belief in the sanctity of the Islam land inspired them to perform what they viewed as acts of revenge against Americans, their supposed enemy.

I found this book did a commendable job examining the cases of homegrown jihadist terrorism within the US. The work itself was extremely well-documented, which was to be expected given Peter Bergen's extensive credentials. He utilized the research and statistics composed by the New York Police Department and FBI, but did not allow that to bias his observations. For example, in some cases, he implies that the FBI committed acts of entrapment during their sting operations. Additionally, he documents the NYPD surveillance and intelligence gathering methods concerning the targeting of mosques as possible racial profiling and/or an invasion of civil rights. He allows the reader to decide if law enforcement agencies crossed the line with their investigations.

The only aspect of this book that I found inadequate was the lack of inclusion of American women that have attempted to join ISIS or commit domestic terrorist crimes. There has been extensive media coverage regarding women that are joining ISIS in large numbers. I would have enjoyed examining some research chronicling their motivations and experiences.



Thinking Outside the Box—Inglenook Library's Children's Book Club, Black History Programs Drawing in Young People

Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams believes libraries must think outside the box to show young people that libraries offer more than just books.

Last fall, the library won an Innovative and Cool Award from the Birmingham Public Library Board of Trustees after library assistant Michael Fagin devised an afterschool program in which young people come play retro video games on a new Nintendo video game console. This month, the Inglenook Branch Library is offering several unique activities that have drawn large crowds.

During the month of February, the Inglenook Library is hosting seven different programs exposing teens and pre-teens to various parts of black culture. On February 7, the library hosted Young Leadership Tuesday: Celebrating Black Music. On February 9, it hosted a program about a black entrepreneur, A Taste of History: George Crum and the Potato Chip.

The Mannequin Challenge.at Inglenook Library

On February 13, Williams invited youth to participate in a filming of the Mannequin Challenge that has drawn over 1,000 views on the Birmingham Public Library Facebook page. On Wednesday, February 15, the Inglenook Library launched a new book club for children as part of the library’s Black History Month programs. The Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club will meet on the third Wednesday of each month. The February Book of the Month was The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton.

On February 14, the Inglenook Library hosted Lego Build: Honoring Black Architects, in which youth used Legos to erect structures inspired by buildings designed by black architects. On February 15, the library introduced its Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club.

“At Inglenook Library, we believe that libraries should be fun, informative and educational at the same time,” Williams said. “We invite all students, their parents and adults both young and old to come in and join us. For more information about our programs, give me a call at 205-849-8739.”

Here are the remaining Black History Month programs planned at Inglenook Library:
Celebrating and Honoring Black Heroes: Open Mic (open to everyone)
Wednesday, February 22, 3:30 p.m.

Natural Hair Talk Featuring Nyesha Marshall
Monday, February 27, 3:30 p.m.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Registration Open For March 2017 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the March 2017 classes. During this month, we include classes on a variety of topics including computer skills, career guidance, and genealogy. All classes are held in the Regional Library Computer Center (RLCC) of the Central (downtown) Library. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CLASSES.

Please note that registration does not necessarily guarantee you a spot in the class. You will receive an email confirming your registration for classes. You may also call to confirm your registration.

To register for any class, please email us at cenrtc@bham.lib.al.us or call 205-226-3681. You may also download and print a March 2017 class schedule flyer to bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the March 2017 class schedule can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Readers are Leaders Children’s Book Club at Inglenook Library Tenth in BPL System

Inglenook Library Branch Manager Karnecia Williams talks to members of the
Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club about the February book of the
month, The People Could Fly

As a parent and branch manager of Inglenook Branch Library, Karnecia Williams knows the importance of reading.

Seeing a need, Williams is launching a new book club for children as part of the library’s Black History Month programs. The Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club hosted its first meeting at 3:30 p.m. on February 15 at the Inglenook Branch Library. Meetings will be held the third Wednesday of each month.

Williams said youth who attend afterschool programs at the Inglenook Library are looking forward to joining the book club.

“I am excited that through the Readers are Leaders Children’s Book Club, we here at Inglenook Library will be able to share with young people the joy of reading,” Williams said. “I welcome parents and young people interested in this club to give me a call at 205-849-8739.”

If you are an avid reader and want to meet fellow book lovers, there are ten book clubs open to the public at library locations across the City of Birmingham. Here is a listing of clubs, meeting times, and contact persons at various Birmingham Public Library locations:

The Avondale Library Book Group meets on the third Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m., The book club began in October 2016. For more information, contact Rachel Lopez at 205-226-4000 or rjlopez@bham.lib.al.us.

The Ensley Library Reading Gems Book Club, founded in August 2016, meets every second Thursday of each month at 10:00 a.m. The group discusses both fiction and nonfiction titles. For more information, contact Mary Merchant at 205-785-2625 or mmerchant@bham.lib.al.us.

The Inglenook Library Readers Are Leaders Children's Book Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month. For information, call Inglenook Branch Manager Karnecia Williams at 205-849-8739.

The North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters Book Club meets the last Wednesday each month at 10:30 a.m. am (except in November & December). The group discusses both fiction and nonfiction titles. For more information, contact Saundra Ross at 205-592-2082 or sross@bham.lib.al.us.

The North Avondale Children's Picture Book Club meets the second Wednesday each month at 3:30 p.m. It is comprised of school-age children. The first meeting was held in November 2015 and centered on The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. For more information, contact Saundra Ross at 205-592-2082 or sross@bham.lib.al.us.

The Powderly Library Maturing Minds Book Club meets the third Friday each month at 10:00 a.m. The group enjoys reading both fiction and nonfiction titles. For information, contact Loretta Bitten at 205-925-6178 or lbitten@bham.lib.al.us.

The Smithfield Library Adult Book Club meets on the first Wednesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. The group discusses both fiction and nonfiction titles. For more information, contact Reba Williams at 205-324-8428 or rwilliams@bham.lib.al.us.

The Springville Road Regional Branch Library Afterthoughts meets the third Tuesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. for a discussion of selected nonfiction work. For titles, contact Kelly at kslaney@bham.lib.al.us or 205-226-4083.

The Springville Road Library Reading Roadies meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Monday of each month. The club reads and discusses fiction titles chosen by the group and welcomes all adults, both young and old. For more information, contact Kelly Laney at 205-226-4083 or kslaney@bham.lib.al.us.

The Wylam Book Group meets the third Wednesday of each month at 11:00 a.m. Popular fiction and nonfiction books are read and discussed. For more information, contact Connie Tolbert at ctolbert@bham.lib.al.us or 205-785-0349.

Visit the BPL event calendar for more information and to view upcoming meetings.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Free Concerts Scheduled in February as Part of Black History Month Celebration at BPL


Two singing performances the weekend of February 18-19 are among four free concerts taking place over five days as part of the Birmingham Public Library’s observance of Black History Month.

The concerts are among dozens of programs taking place at many of BPL’s 19 libraries as part of its celebration of Black History Month in February. Read more at the link below: http://bplolinenews.blogspot.com/2017/02/2017-black-history-month-programs.html.

Schedule of concerts:
10th Annual Black History Month Concert featuring J.D. Jackson
Five Points West Regional Branch Library
Saturday, February. 18, 2017, 2:00 p.m.

Music of African American Diaspora, a Joint Recital Featuring Jillian Rogers, soprano, and Jeremy McMillian, piano, both doctoral students in musical arts at University of Alabama
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Sunday, February 19, 2017, 3:00 p.m.

Wenonah High School Choir Presents Celebrating African American History Through Music
Tuesday, February 21, 5:00 p.m. 

African American Musical by the Alabama School of Fine Arts Music Department
Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 12:00 p.m.

For more BPL programs, go to www.bplonline.org/calendar/.

Playaway Launchpad Learning Tablets Now Available for Checkout


The Public Libraries In Jefferson County announced today that Playaway Launchpad tablets are now available at most locations for patron checkout. The Library Cooperative (made up of 40 locations) received a $25,000 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Alabama Public Library Service, Montgomery, Alabama.

Playaway Launchpads are designed especially for youth and are pre-loaded with high-quality, ad-free apps that are both fun and educational. Apps are grouped onto Launchpad tablets by subject area, theme, grade level, and age, making it easy for parents and kids to choose a tablet with the content most appealing to them. Every Launchpad is 100% secure, providing hours of interactive learning and play without the risk of exposure to unintended content. The Launchpad content collection spans subject areas from math and science to critical thinking and creativity, and features themed learning packs including animals, princesses, fantasy, nature, and more. A custom designed user interface gives children the opportunity to make every Launchpad experience their own by creating a personal avatar, plus an informational console gives parents and educators feedback about time spent on the tablet. Launchpad is powered by an Android operating system and features a 7” high-definition touch screen, external speaker, universal audio jack, and a durable, protective bumper.

Launchpads are also available at some libraries for teens and adults. Various subjects are available. As with all Playaway pre-loaded products, patrons can simply check out a Playaway Launchpad tablet and begin learning, while having fun, the same day. No connectivity or downloading is required for use.

To search the catalog for a list of Launchpads in the Jefferson County public library system:

1) Access the Encore catalog
2) Search: launchpad
3) Refine by Format: computer files
4) Refine further by Collection, Location, or Language

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Review: The Master of the Prado

by David Blake, Fiction Department, Central Library


The Master of the Prado
Javier Sierra

When Da Vinci, Raphael, and Titian created their revered masterpieces, they were in the first generations of artists to paint in oils. Oil paintings were rare and held to be revelations from God. Painters prayed and meditated for days before engaging their canvases. Raphael was called divine. The Spanish kings ruled a global empire. They collected and commissioned works from these geniuses and their brilliant, extensive collections are in the Prado in Madrid.

Today, we admire these paintings for their beauty and the technical skill they display. We understand they carry messages, some we understand, others perhaps not, but we assume they adhere to the strictures of the Catholic Inquisition. In The Master of the Prado, the fictional narrator recalls days years ago when he was a student in Madrid and Luis Favel appeared to him in the lonely galleries of the Prado. The older man showed him ways to find hidden messages in the paintings, and he helped the young man understand the supernatural power they were held to possess. Young Javier wonders if Favel is himself supernatural.

The Master of the Prado is a page-turner. We are drawn into the mystery of Luis Favel, the Master, even as we are drawn deeper into the mysteries of the masterpieces they explore. The book has excellent reproductions of these paintings and they are well organized into the text. While the development of the narrative is enjoyable, the lasting impression on readers will be of new ways to see great art. We will look for hidden meaning. Most of the action and the paintings are within the walls of the Prado and Phillip II’s Renaissance palace the Escorial. Readers will want to see these places, or see them again.

Check it out!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Birmingham African American Genealogy Group Hosting Black Heritage Fair at Central Library on February 11


What: 18th Annual Black Heritage and Genealogy Fair
When: Saturday, February 11, 11:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Arrington Auditorium
Details: Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. Free and open to the public. Door prizes will be given away.

Thanks to research at the Birmingham Public Library and membership in the Birmingham African American Genealogy group, Philip Owens of Talladega has been able to gain knowledge of his family ancestry.

The Black Heritage Fair will feature African dance and music, African art, exhibits on youth in genealogy, booths displaying how to research black history back to slavery days, vendors, and more. This year’s theme is “Crisis in Black Education,” featuring guest speaker Jackie Smith, a member of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

The Black Heritage Fair is among several events the Birmingham Public Library (BPL) is hosting in celebration of Black History Month across the city in February. For a listing of library events, go to www.bplonline.org/calendar.

John Lanier Jr., a longtime member of the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group, said the organization helped him gain knowledge of his ancestors back to the late 1800s. Philip Owens of Talladega said he too has benefited from attending its monthly meetings at the Central Library. Owens said BPL’s Southern History Department has been a big help in guiding him through the difficulties of uncovering information on black ancestors dating back to slavery.

“I find the Birmingham Public Library to be one of the better genealogy research centers in the country,” Owens said. “Another plus about the Southern History Department is that they have genealogy classes to assist you in your genealogy research.”

The Black Heritage and Genealogy Fair schedule is as follows: African Exhibits & History Video, 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by the Black Heritage Fair Program from 1:00-3:30 p.m. The program includes “Crisis in Black Education” keynote address by Jackie Smith, African dance, African Music, Youth in Genealogy African art, vendors, and more.

For more information about the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group, contact John Lanier Jr. at 205-533-3502, or e-mail john.l.lanier@gmail.com or info@baagginc.org. Follow the organization on Facebook at Birmingham African American Genealogy Group or online at www.baagginc.org. You can also follow BAAGG’s blog at www.baagginc.blogspot.com.

The Birmingham African American Genealogy Group meets monthly, with most sessions except for special events taking place on Sundays from 3:00-5:30 p.m. at the Central Library.

The Birmingham African American Genealogy Group’s remaining 2017 class schedule:
March 12 – Essentials of Genealogy, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
April 9 – Alabama’s B-Centennial Celebration and BAAGG’s 20th Year Anniversary in 2019
May 21 – Introduction to Case Studies 1 & 2, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
June 11 - Virtual trip to Alabama Department of Archives and History, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library
July 9 – Youth in Genealogy, 3:00-5:30 p.m.. Central Library.
August 13 – Introduction to Railroad Retirement Records, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
September 10 – BAAGG visit to LDS Center in Vestavia Hills at the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church
October 8 – Convict Leasing and Parke Papers, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library.
November 12 – Introduction to the digital library and digital scanning services at Birmingham Public Library’s Southern History Department, 3:00-5:30 p.m., Central Library
December 10 – BAAGG Holiday Social and Awards (time and place to be determined)

The Popular Teens Engineer BHM Gets Students Excited about Math and Science

by Pam Jessie, Woodlawn Branch Library

In January three Birmingham Public Library locations (Central, Southside, and Woodlawn) resumed their highly successful teen program, Teens Engineer BHM.

Teens Engineer BHM is an ongoing program that focuses on middle and high school students with an interest in math and science. The program was formed as the result of BPL teen librarian Lance Simpson’s partnership with the UAB School of Engineering. BPL applied for and was awarded the UAB Benevolent Fund grant, which has helped to purchase computers and other supplies necessary for the success of the program.

Teen Librarian Lance Simpson
The students at Woodlawn Library thoroughly enjoyed this program in the fall of the school year and are ready to get started this spring. All middle and high schoolers are welcome and don’t worry if you miss a week—the projects are designed so that you won’t “fall behind” on what’s being done. Students are welcome to come when time allows.

Teen Engineer BHM is offered at the following locations and times:

Southside Branch Library
Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Central Library
Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

Woodlawn Branch Library
Thursdays from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.

For information on how to register for these programs or to learn more about them, visit the BPL event calendar.

Read more about it on the BPL blog:
"BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham Program Wins $50,000 UAB Benevolent Fund Grant"

"Central Library Will Use $10,000 Grant from Best Buy Foundation to Expand Services in Its STEM-Focused Afterschool Program for Teens"

"Teens Engineer Birmingham Program Expands at Birmingham Public Library This Fall"

"Giving Back at the Birmingham Public Library: UAB Engineering Student Allaire Doussan Teaches Birmingham Teens about Robotics"

Book Review: Cat Sense

by Richard Grooms, Fiction Department, Central Library

Cat Sense
John Bradshaw

Scientists didn’t use to study domestic cats. They considered it beneath them. That changed a generation ago. Cat Sense brings this research up to 2013 when the book came out. John Bradshaw is an anthrozoologist, that is to say he specializes in animal-human relations. More particularly, he specializes in the domestic cat. About 14 years ago Stephen Budiansky provided this same type of account for general readers in The Character of Cats. It was a revelation for me, discovering that scientists had started studying these felines and that what they’d found out was as interesting as I’d hoped it would be.

Bradshaw’s book would bring me more or less up to date, I thought. I was right. Though Bradshaw isn’t as adept at Budiansky at making everything engaging, he runs a close second. And there’s no one else to turn to anyway. A cat owner himself as well as someone who does field research, he has a well-rounded perspective that blends the professional with the personal.

So what’s going on with the most popular pet in world? Bradshaw makes many key points about cats by contrasting them with dogs, the number two pet. Such as this statement: “The dog’s mind has been radically altered from that of its ancestor…cats, on the other hand, still think like wild hunters. Unlike dogs, only a small minority of cats has ever been intentionally bred by people.” One of the most interesting accounts in the book is a text/box showing the ur-cat Pseudaelurus, the ancestor of all cats today, big or small. It came about approximately 11 million years ago. Interestingly enough, critical development of the cat took place in this hemisphere before the cat went elsewhere. About 10,000 years ago cats threw in their lot with us. Just 2,000 years ago, the cat was physically different from our cat: it was somewhat larger. Bradshaw gives a fine account of the Egyptians, the first people who clearly made pets of the cat. We all know they worshipped cats, but what is much less known, and what shocked me, is that they sacrificed them to their cat gods. In great numbers. I won’t look at the Egyptians the same way again. Amazing and germane facts like this fill the book. Ypres, a Belgian city, only made cat worship illegal in 962 CE, "while a cult based around the [cat-associated] goddess Diana lingered in parts of Italy until the sixteenth century." Eventually Bradshaw brings us up to 40 years ago, when commercially-available, well-balanced cat food became widely available. This has made it unnecessary for non-feral domestic cats to hunt, a major shift in cat behavior, to say the very least. This is one of many instances he shows where humans have shaped cat evolution. It is one of the strengths of the book that, in reading about how we’ve done this shaping, it makes you feel personally closer to cats.

A chapter on the cat’s view of the world clued me in on the fact that biologists have long since rejected the belief that one species is “superior” to another. The author admits that cat owners may think their charges feel differently. The chapter is biology-heavy, but it’s accessible. We learn that a cat can’t focus on objects very close to its nose but compensates by using its whiskers, which “provide a 3-D tactile ‘picture’ of objects that are right in front” of them. What are whiskers anyway? Modified hairs.

The “Thoughts and Feelings” chapter states something I’ve seen science moving towards but didn’t know they’d embraced, namely, that “all mammals, and therefore cats, have the ability to produce many of the same emotions we feel.” There. Embraced. No anthropomorphizing needed. In other words, “it’s now scientifically acceptable to explain [cats] behavior in terms of what they ‘think’ and ‘feel.’ ” Doesn’t mean they’re human, of course (though they’re much more like us than you might think—the book provides numerous examples of this).

The switch from solitary creature to social animal has required of the cat a gigantic leap in social techniques, and Bradshaw clearly shows this. Occasionally, the author summarizes scientific studies and goes too much into how Control Groups A, B, C, D, and E varied slightly. These should’ve been translated into user-friendly English from the technical journals (yes, they have those journals for cat study).

As recently as Budiansky’s book, scholars had been very divided about exactly how cats purr. But that’s been settled now—you’ll learn how they do it in the book.

One of the marvelous scientific agreements in the book is the consensus that cats aren’t always driven by the need for food and shelter. They are capable of pure affection, word scientists understandably prefer instead of love. For years I’ve experienced this. A neighborhood cat has on hundreds of occasions greeted me when I returned home, looking for a petting. I’ve never fed this cat. I’ve known that this cat is looking for affection from me and is willing to return it, but of course this is anecdotal proof. Well, now it’s official: that cat has been showing affection.

In later chapters, Bradshaw shows how cat science can help us live better with our cats. In fact, the subtitle of the book is How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet. Actually, only these chapters really do this in any direct way, but marketers are marketers. Still, there’s something in every section of the book that’ll help you get along better with your cat, but you’ll get this by inference and example rather than by explicit direction.

Do cats have their own personalities? Yes, say the cat scientists. The word “personality” is now scientifically kosher. Does Bradshaw address the anti-cat brigade? Yes, and he does it dispassionately, dismantling their arguments very well. I scarcely knew there was such a movement. Bradshaw shows how humans create the social and technological landscape and the ground rules, cats make do with these as best they can and then humans blame them for making do. We blame cats for problems we create. Bradshaw diplomatically makes these points and gives me a book I can recommend to the brigade to should I have the need.

“Cats of the Future” is the name of the last chapter. I don’t know why, but this is an unintentionally hilarious phrase. I pictured felines whirring around in Jetsons getup. But seriously, Bradshaw shows how we can all lay the groundwork, and ground rules, for a positive cat future. Hazards such as over-neutering and breeding are addressed here. It’s clear that we’ll continue to shape the cat’s evolution, but it’s up to us to choose positive ways to do this.

Cat Sense isn’t always easy reading. But it is substantial and I felt a real sense of accomplishment finishing it. I think other readers will feel the same. It’s sort of like taking an upper high school or college 101 course. Your cat will thank you.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Birmingham Public Library is Kicking Off New Sessions of 1-2-3 Play with Me at Five Library Locations


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

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

Central Library – February 14-March 14, 2017 – every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
Avondale Library – February 15-March 15, 2017 – every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.
Springville Road Library – February 16-March 16, 2017 – every Thursday at 10:00 a.m.
Five Points West Library – March 28-April 25, 2017 – every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
North Birmingham Library – March 29-April 26, 2017 – every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Poets Urge Public to Support Bards & Brews, BPL's Popular Spoken Word Event

Bards & Brews 2017

What: Bards & Brews Performance Poetry/Beer Tasting Fundraising Campaign
For More Information: Call Brandon C. Smith at 205-591-4944
How to Donate: Donations are being accepted online at www.bplonline.org/about/contributions/ or by mail at Birmingham Public Library, Development Department, 2100 Park Place, Birmingham, AL, 35203

One by one, 10 poets participating in an all-star spoken poetry event talked of the positive impact Bards & Brews has had on their lives.

Tomika Glenn, a multiple poetry slam winner known on stage as Blaque Diamond, said the Birmingham Public Library’s popular spoken word poetry/beer tasting event helped build her confidence. Lee Green said Bards & Brews, founded six years ago, provided the first opportunity in Birmingham for local poets to share their craft before a large audience.

They were among an all-star list of past winners who participated in Bards & Brews All Star Show held February 3 at the Central Library. Longtime host/poet Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins urged the crowd of 156 people to support local artists and donate to keep Bards & Brews alive. A grant that has funded Bards & Brews has run out, and BPL is in need of the public’s help to keep the monthly program going, Hawkins said.

Green, Glenn, and Hawkins are among a dedicated group of community supporters working with BPL staff to save Bards & Brews. A Bards & Brews fundraising event will be held at an off-site location later in 2017, Hawkins said, adding more details will be announced later.

Poets who performed at the February 3 event were: Blaque Diamond, BStucc, Jahman Hill, Jerri Hardesty, Lee Green, Michael Harriot, Mojo Mama, Shaun Judah, Shaunteka, and Voice Porter.

Follow Bards & Brews on Facebook and look for more news on fundraising efforts on the BPL website at www.bplonline.org.

New Video Streaming Service Is Netflix for Nerds


If you're interested in independent, foreign language, classic, or documentary films, you're in luck. Get out your library card and sign up for Kanopy, Birmingham Public Library's newest online service.

Kanopy is an on-demand streaming video service available only to educational institutions and public libraries. You can stream titles from the Criterion Collection, Music Box Films, Kino Lorber, First Run Features, and hundreds of other film distribution partners along with thousands of carefully selected independently distributed films that are unavailable elsewhere. Some examples of categories are race and class studies, LGBT, psychology, mental health, career development, business skills, environmental sciences, history, and astronomy.

Classic fictional films are also available. Categories include silent films, cult classics, and Japanese, German, French, Russian, and American collections. Some examples of films include The Lord of the Flies, Watership Down, The Great Dictator, A Hard Days Night, The Blob, Eraserhead, Metropolis, The Red Balloon, and Les Miserables.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now and get your nerd on.