Friday, February 16, 2018

Begin the Day: The Fifteenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"

What: Begin the Day: The Fifteenth Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture – "The First White Flight: Industrial Pollution and Racial Segregation in Birmingham"
When: Sunday, February 25, 3:00 p.m.
Where: Avondale Regional Branch Library
Details: Free and open to the public. Refreshments provided.

As part of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year, the Birmingham Public Library’s Department of Archives and Manuscripts sponsors Begin the Day: The Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture. Now in its fifteenth year, the King lecture has featured civil rights activists, scholars, children’s book authors, and community leaders discussing civil rights history and contemporary human rights issues including immigrant rights, voting rights, human trafficking, and Islamophobia.

For the 2018 King Lecture, Dr. Erin Mauldin of Samford University will explore environmental racism.

Dr. Erin Mauldin 
Discrimination over generations in urban planning, industrial development, and access to natural resources means that African Americans and other peoples of color disproportionately shoulder the burden of environmental risk in the U.S. Nowhere is this pattern of environmental injustice more starkly displayed than Birmingham, Alabama. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Birmingham's economy depended on heavy industry and loose environmental regulations. And as early as the 1890s, whites cut roads "over the mountain" to escape the city's industrial core, leaving African American families behind to live among higher levels of pollution, filth, disease, and industrial contamination. The white public came to associate African Americans with the dirt and pollution of many black neighborhoods, and this stigma encouraged continued disenfranchisement, racially segmented economies, and further environmental degradation. Historical environmental racism and the resulting "separate but unequal" access to clean air and water still affect Birmingham's citizens today.

Dr. Erin Mauldin is assistant professor in the Department of History at Samford University. A graduate of Samford, she holds a Ph.D. in U. S. Environmental History from Georgetown University. Her forthcoming book, Unredeemed Land: An Environmental History of the Civil War and Emancipation in the Cotton South, will be published in May 2018 by Oxford University Press.

For more information contact Jim Baggett at 205-226-3631 or

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Free Computer Classes in March at Central Library

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

Opening Reception for Textures of Jazz Exhibit Scheduled for February 15 at Central Library

An  opening reception featuring live music will be held Thursday, February 15, from noon to 2:00 p.m., in the Central Library's Fourth Floor Gallery for Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change, the new art exhibit on display in the gallery through March 31, 2018.

The exhibit features 19 famous jazz artists including Birmingham's Erskine Hawkins done in needlepoint by artist Leanna Leithauser-Lesley, a graduate of Auburn University. Leithauser-Lesley gave a free workshop at the Central Library on Wednesday, and will give free needlepoint lessons again today from 11:00 a.m. until noon and 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the Central Library Atrium. Come meet this incredible artist at the reception and see her amazing artwork in person.

Soundtrack for a Revolution to Be Shown at Titusville Library During Black History Month

by Amanda Jenkins, Titusville Branch Library

Now is an excellent time to take advantage of the many Black History Month programs that are being offered at the Birmingham Public Library. On Monday, February 19, at 11:00 a.m., the Titusville Branch Library will hold a viewing of the documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution. This film studies the civil rights movement through the lens of the music that influenced it. Throughout the film, key civil rights leaders discuss their experiences and several musicians perform poignant musical pieces. Stop by and join us for an interesting and moving take on the correlation between popular culture and political movements.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Money Matters Workshop – Maximize Your Personal Wealth Scheduled for February 21 at Central Library

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Birmingham's Ill-Fated Mardi Gras

Did you know Birmingham celebrated Mardi Gras in the 19th century with parades and grand masquerade balls? Check out photos from BPL's Archives Department and the article below.

The mention of Mardi Gras brings to mind ancient rituals and masked revelers in old cities like Mobile and New Orleans. In those places the pre-Lenten carnival has been celebrated in various forms since the early 1700s. But for a few years as the nineteenth century came to a close, the still young city of Birmingham staged its own carnival.

The Magic City’s first Mardi Gras was held March 8, 1886. Sponsored by the local German Society, the "festivities of the day included a mammoth and colorful parade and a grand masquerade ball." The parade of thirty floats snaked through downtown with the carnival king accompanied by the Birmingham police and fire departments and a brass band. The first float, sponsored by a Birmingham brewery, "represented the king of beer seated on a throne of velvet, drinking to the health of the crowd."

Though successful in its first outing, the Mardi Gras tradition was not revived for a decade. In 1896, Emil Lasser, owner of Birmingham's Cosmopolitan Hotel, and a group of associates founded the Birmingham Carnival Society to organize a new Mardi Gras that would attract tourists and their dollars. The king of Birmingham's new Mardi Gras would be called Rex Vulcan I. But while February may be conducive to outdoor revelry in New Orleans or Mobile, February in Birmingham is sometimes not. One participant in the 1896 Mardi Gras parade recalled that the "boughs of the trees were weighted down with snow and ice" and the Mardi Gras king "had to wear his overcoat over his handsome costume and the queen in low neck and short sleeve had to wear her furs to keep warm."

The cold weather did not keep the crowds away, and Birmingham's newspapers estimated that "30,000 to 40,000 people thronged the streets of the city on Mardi Gras Day." The parade featured elaborate floats (some built by a Mobile company well experienced with that’s city's Mardi Gras) depicting scenes from children's stories, mythology and history. The Birmingham Carnival Society's floats included children's characters Jack and Jill, Cinderella, and Humpty Dumpty. The Birmingham Athletic Club float depicted “Samson Destroying the Temple,” and the Schillinger Brewing Company offered “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” which one newspaper described as "realistic and worthy of all the commendation given." A ball was held that evening.

The carnival continued through the next two years, but bad weather again in 1899 signaled trouble for Mardi Gras in Birmingham. Three days before the parade, a blizzard left one foot of snow on the city. On Fat Tuesday, thermometers registered nine degrees below zero and the carnival was cancelled. One last parade, a nighttime event, was held in 1900, and the ball continued until 1901. But then it was over. One Birmingham resident of the time observed, "Every February when the Mardi Gras was held, the weather seemed to behave its very worst, and it was really for that reason the carnival committee called it off." Mardi Gras balls, the indoor events, continue to thrive in Birmingham, but the grand outdoor parades have been left to older cities in warmer climates.

By James L. Baggett

Police Mystery Set in London a 2017 Lambda Literary Award, Over the Rainbow Booklist Finalist

by Samuel Rumore, Springville Road Regional Branch Library

Bitter Legacy
Dal Maclean
One Block Empire, 2016
2017 Lambda Literary Award/ALA Over the Rainbow Booklist Finalist for Gay Mystery

I thoroughly enjoyed Dal Maclean’s debut novel, Bitter Legacy, an engaging police procedural set in London’s Metropolitan Police. It involves Detective Sergeant James Henderson, an up-and-coming detective on the fast track to become an inspector, in his first murder investigation of barrister Maria Curzon-Whyte. During the course of the investigation, James comes across a group of men who intrigue and tempt him to join their circle. One man, in particular, photographer Ben Morgan dares him to embrace a carefree, promiscuous lifestyle. In spite of his best efforts, the investigation balloons into a spate of cruelty and wickedness. As the body count rises and disturbing secrets are revealed, James finds his personal and professional lives threatened by a bitter legacy from the past.

Lambda Literary is the nation’s oldest and largest literary arts organization advancing LGBTQ literature. The 29th Annual Lambda ("Lammys") Literary Awards finalists were chosen from nearly 900 submissions and over 300 publishers.

The Over the Rainbow Book List is an expansion of the highly successful Rainbow Book List. Over the Rainbow Book List is created by a committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.

Soul Food Revamped

by Selina Johnson, Wylam Branch Library

Chef Ama

Wylam Branch Library’s first program kickoff for African American History Month was a presentation by Chef Ama Shambulia on ways to make soul food dishes more nutritious. Chef Ama is a trained natural foods chef, organic gardener, and certified health coach. She is an educator and advocate for wellness as the healthy living programs director of the West End Community Gardens and the West End Community Café at Urban Ministries, Inc., a community-based non-profit in Birmingham, Alabama.

Chef Ama provided patrons with samples of delicious vegan soul food dishes that had everyone coming back for a second taste. Her black-eyed peas were seasoned sans animal fat or meat and my favorite dish was what she calls Mama Ama's Marinated Collard Green Salad. I never thought that I would enjoy eating raw collard greens but I was pleasantly surprised.

Preparing Mama Ama's Marinated Collard Green Salad

Chef Ama provided insight on some of the staple ingredients that she uses in her preparation of foods. She demonstrated how to properly cut greens and discussed how to select tender greens for cooking. She was very thorough in explaining from start to finish how she prepared the dishes that were served. We are so pleased that she facilitated the food session and shared her vegan creations. An all vegan diet may or may not be for you. However, we all can reap healthy benefits from exposing our bodies to healthier choices of foods.

Hands-on learning about how to select the the best greens

I spoke with Chef Ama before the food session. Read on to learn more about her.

When did you know that you wanted to be a chef?
My grandmother was an awesome cook and so I was inspired by her to learn to cook. I came to a crossroad in my life at 40 years old and decided to formalize my skills with training to become a chef.

Where were you trained and how difficult was your training?
I was trained in my grandmother’s kitchen and formally trained at The Culinary Institute of Virginia College. The training was not difficult because I loved the experience and the cooking environment.

Tell us a little about and West End Café and West End Garden?
I am the director of WE Café and WE Garden. This is our 10th growing season having young community horticulturists. We train them and pay them. We provide a service to the community by providing fresh produce that is sold at Princeton Hospital and Pepper Place Farmers Market. Some of the produce goes back to the Community Café to use to prepare our dishes.

What is your favorite kitchen equipment or gadget?
My favorite gadget is the chef knife because it is a foundation tool that will allow you to perform multiple tasks in cooking preparation. A skilled chef can be very creative with a chef knife.

What do you like to eat when you’re at home?
I know this may seem odd but I don’t cook much at home. I am cooking for others so often that I often don’t take the time to cook for myself. Sundays are the days that I will take the time and prepare a family meal. Lately, these meals have had a “green theme”: green juices, smoothies, salads…we even have salads for breakfast. Sundays are the healthiest days of the week for our meals.

What are your favorite cookbooks?
My favorite cookbook is Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry. He has several others that are very good.

Visit the Birmingham Public Library website to check out Bryant Terry’s cookbooks and to find out about more of the Birmingham Public Library’s empowering programs and Black History Month events.

Cookbooks by Bryant Terry
Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean and Southern Flavors
The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus
Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African American Cuisine

Sunday, February 11, 2018

PyeongChang 2018

PyeongChang 2018

After four long years, athletes from around the world have gathered to compete on the biggest stage in winter sports. The world's best skiers, snowboarders, hockey players, bobsledders, lugers, figure skaters, speed skaters, and other winter athletes have converged on South Korea to put all their years of training to the test in hopes of winning a gold medal. Although the Summer Olympics are my favorite, I really enjoy watching the Winter Olympics because of the speed and skill involved in so many of the events. Watching someone race downhill at 75 MPH while absorbing all the bumps and icy patches of a mountain slope is really exciting and impressive. I can't help but be drawn to the talent of these outstanding athletes.

If you love the Winter Olympics, the library has a number of materials that you may like to check out to enjoy while watching the competition in South Korea. In addition, there is a subject guide on the Olympic Games which includes a list of books, websites, and DVDs that you may also find interesting. Here is a selection of titles that we have available at the library. The descriptions are from the publishers. Go TEAM USA!!!

Strong is the New Beautiful / Lindsey Vonn
Olympic Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn wants women to stop thinking about "losing weight fast," and instead focus on loving their bodies for what they are and what they can do. Lindsey is a small-town Minnesota girl at heart turned world-champion skier, but that didn't come without hard work. In Strong Is the New Beautiful, Lindsey lays out the never-before-seen training routines and her overall philosophy that have helped her become the best female skier in the world--tailored for women of all shapes and sizes. Lindsey backs up her fitness program with advice on what to eat and how to work out, and kicks readers into high-gear, helping bolster their self-confidence and build a better body image, with the tips and tricks she's learned as a pro.

Speed Kings: The 1932 Winter Olympics and the Fastest Men in the World / Andy Bull
In the 1930s, as the world hurtled toward war, speed was all the rage. Bobsledding, the fastest and most thrilling way to travel on land, had become a sensation. Exotic, exciting, and brutally dangerous, it was the must-see event of the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, the first Winter Games on American soil. Bobsledding required exceptional skill and extraordinary courage qualities the American team had in abundance.  There was Jay O Brien, the high-society playboy; Tippy Grey, a scandal-prone Hollywood has-been; Eddie Eagan, world champion heavyweight boxer and Rhodes Scholar; and the charismatic Billy Fiske, the true heart of the team, despite being barely out of his teens. In the thick of the Great Depression, the nation was gripped by the story of these four men, their battle against jealous locals, treacherous U.S. officials, and the very same German athletes they would be fighting against in the war only a few short years later.

The Fall Line: America's Rise to Ski Racing's Summit / Nathaniel Vinton
Harnessing nature's most powerful forces, elite downhillers descend icy, rugged slopes at speeds cresting 90 miles per hour. For decades, American skiers struggled to match their European counterparts, and until this century the US Ski Team could not claim a lasting foothold on the roof of the Alps, where the sport's legends are born.  Then came a fledgling class of American racers that disrupted the Alpine racing world order. Led by Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety, this band of iconoclasts made a place for their country on some of the world's most prestigious race courses. Even as new technology amplified the sport's inherent danger, the US Ski Team learned how to win, and they changed downhill racing forever.  Drawing on more than a decade of research and candid interviews with some of the sport's most elusive figures, award-winning journalist Nathaniel Vinton reveals the untold story of how skiers like Vonn and Miller, and their peers and rivals, fought for supremacy at the Olympic Winter Games.

The Crash Reel (DVD)
The epic rivalry between half-pipe legends Kevin Pearce and Shaun White is documented in this exhilarating ride into the world of extreme snowboarding. With both practicing more and more breathtaking and dangerous tricks leading up to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, everything suddenly changes for Kevin when a horrific crash leaves him fighting for his life. When he recovers, all he wants to do is get on his snowboard again, even though medics and family fear it could kill him.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Improve Your Job Search Skills at the Birmingham Public Library with Vocational Readiness Workshops

What: Vocational Readiness workshops
When: Monday, February 12 and 26, 2018
Time: 12:00-2:30 p.m.
Where: Central Library, Linn-Henley Research Library, Training Center, 4th floor
Details: The will be two workshops: (1) Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop/Resume Builder and (2) New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp. Free and open to the public; no registration necessary.

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

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

Monday February 12, 2018 – Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop/Resume Builder
  • Vocational Introduction Readiness Workshop provides an individual assessment of personal and professional goals, aspirations, and skills to help determine your best job fit.
  • Resume Builder is designed to assist individuals with creating an effective resume that will function as a powerful tool in achieving gainful employment.

Monday February 26, 2018 – New Age Online Application Process/Interview Bootcamp
  • New Age Online Application Process offers tips and suggestions to guide all job seekers in successfully completing online employment applications.
  • Interview Bootcamp teaches techniques to help you emphasize your skills, overcome objections, and build rapport with your job interviewer.

The workshops presenter is Tina Thornton. Tina is a professional counselor and founder of Gem Kreations, a nonprofit organization committed to assisting those who have experienced adverse circumstances realize their full personal and professional potential.

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

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change Exhibit at Central Library, February 6-March 31, 2018

What: Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change art exhibit
When: February 6-March 31, 2018, during library hours
Where: Central Library
Details: The exhibit will feature two workshops by the artist on February 14 and 15 between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., with live music in Central Library’s Atrium. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, February 15, noon to 2:00 p.m., in the Fourth Floor Gallery. There will be music and light refreshments.

A new art exhibit, Textures of Jazz: Threads of Change, by Leanna Leithauser-Lesley, will debut at the Central Library on Tuesday, February 6, and run through March 31, 2018.

Textures of Jazz, Threads of Change is a 21-piece jazz portrait exhibit by Birmingham artist Leanna Leithauser-Lesley in honor of Black History Month. Her collection of jazz needlepoint portraits are accompanied by bios explaining the role each musician played in jazz history, American history, and civil rights history.

Leithauser-Lesley received a BA in art education from Auburn University. Though she has done art in many mediums throughout her career, her passion as an avid needle pointer and music lover led her to put together the Textures of Jazz exhibit. Her exhibit has appeared across the Southeast, including Atlanta and at the Hoover Public Library in 2017. Read more about her at the links below:

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