Friday, September 23, 2016

Central Library Closed Saturday and Sunday for AC Repair

Both Central Library buildings will be closed Saturday, September 24 through Sunday, September 25 so that the air conditioner's chiller can be replaced. Please visit one of our other locations.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Finding Answers in DNA for African Americans and Native American Genealogical Research

Anyone researching their family tree knows that DNA is the hottest trend in genealogy. Genetic genealogy can often break down brick walls or confirm suspicions that you found in your research. One of the most difficult things to do is African American and Native American genealogical research. DNA does provide clues, but there is no magic in genetic genealogy and no special tests for African American and Native American research. However, you can make choices that will make DNA testing an invaluable tool in your research.

Beyond the Basics of Genealogy

Our final Beyond the Basics of Genealogy workshop is Genetic Genealogy Strategies for African American and Native American Research. It will be held in the Arrington Auditorium from 10 -11:30 am. Workshops are free of charge, but registration is requested. To register, contact the Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library at 205-226-3665 or

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Storyteller Reverend Robert B. Jones, Sr. Will Perform at Several BPL Locations

Reverend Robert B. Jones, Sr. will be bringing his 20+ years of music, humor, and storytelling to selected Birmingham Public Library (BPL) locations.

Jones was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1956, but grew up in a Southern-influenced household: his father was from West Pointe, Mississippi, and his mother from Conecuh County, Alabama. His grandmother's record collection exposed him to all types of music when he was growing up, especially the blues.

Jones's act combines storytelling, vocals, instrumental music, and artwork to explore the earliest known aspects of African American culture to showcase the music and stories that came before the blues.

For more information on Robert B. Jones, visit his website at

Schedule of Appearances
Monday, September 19
Central Library, 10:00 a.m.
North Avondale Branch Library, 1:00 p.m.
Springville Road Regional Branch Library, 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 20
Wylam Branch Library, 10:00 a.m.
Powderly Branch Library, 1:30 p.m.
Avondale Regional Branch Library, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, September 21
Five Points West Regional Branch Library, 10:30 a.m.
Titusville Branch Library, 2:15 p.m.
Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 22
Smithfield Branch Library, 10:00 a.m.
Pratt City Branch Library, 12:00 p.m.
North Birmingham Regional Branch Library, 4:00 p.m.

Visit for information on BPL locations.

Registration Open For October 2016 Classes

Registration is now open for staff and the public for the October 2016 class schedule. During this month, we include a variety of classes including Basic PC, Excel 2010 Basic, and Hiring Process for Jefferson County. 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 or call 205-226-3681. You may also download and print a pdf copy of the October 2016 class scheduleto bring to a Computer Commons staff member on your next library visit. Please note that the October 2016 class schedule pdf can be sent to us as an email attachment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Teens Engineer Birmingham Program Expands at Birmingham Public Library This Fall

(l-r) Josia Hudson and Michael Joseph at Southside Library's STEM program

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the UAB Benevolent Fund, the Birmingham Public Library (BPL)’s Teens Engineer Birmingham (TEB) afterschool program has expanded from the Central Library to two additional branch libraries this fall.

In mid-September, the Woodlawn Branch Library began offering TEB for students from nearby Woodlawn High School on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. On Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m., the Southside Branch Library is now hosting TEB for students from nearby Ramsay High School. The Central Library has added more activities for participants of its TEB afterschool program, held on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. and comprised mostly of students from nearby Phillips Academy.

BPL purchased 3D printers and other engineering equipment to expand the program after being chosen as recipient in February of $50,000 from the UAB Benevolent Fund, a grant program funded by UAB employees. Lance Simpson, system teen librarian for BPL, and Carrie Campbell, now working in the Arts, Literature and Sports Department and formerly grants and special projects librarian, submitted the grant application on behalf of BPL.

“Our teens are very excited, and so are the UAB students with whom we've been working,” Simpson said. “This program will encourage students to push themselves academically and prepare them for great success in future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers.”

The UAB School of Engineering has partnered with BPL’s Central Library since 2015, coordinating the engineering program offered for school children in Birmingham, including Phillips Academy. Dr. Abi Yildirim, director of outreach for UAB’s School of Engineering, and UAB student mentors work with the teens participating in all three BPL engineering programs.

Lisa Higginbotham, UAB Benevolent Fund program manager, said in a statement last December that UAB is honored to support the BPL Teens Engineer Birmingham program.

“We appreciate the work BPL does in our community and we look forward to a strong continued working relationship with BPL,” Higginbotham said. “The Community Impact Grant is a unique and engaging opportunity for UAB employees to make their voices heard and make a deep, lasting impact in our community.”

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Great College Football Season Already

Winningest College Football Teams in Each State

I cannot be happier that college football is back. We are in Week 3 and rankings have been moving around like pieces on a chess board. The first week of the season is always very exciting because I can’t wait to see if teams live up to the preseason hype and hang on to their rankings. Good recruiting classes and healthy returning starters are important, but you never know what’s going to happen until the teams take the field.

Several games during Week 1 changed the football landscape. It was no surprise that top-ranked Alabama defeated #20 USC down in Texas, but the score was quite a surprise (52-6). I expected a top-25 team to put up better numbers and so did the Associated Press. USC dropped out of the top 25. Tennessee entered the season at #9 but needed overtime to beat Appalachian State (20-13). They dropped to #17 but their Week 2 win over Virginia Tech (45-24) elevated them to #15. Houston entered the season at #15, but the show they put on at home defeating #3 Oklahoma (33-23) elevated them all the way to #6. Oklahoma dropped down to #14.

One of the best opening week games, in my opinion, was #10 Notre Dame vs. Texas. Texas has a history of great quarterbacks (e.g. Vince Young, Colt McCoy) and their true-freshman gunslinger, Shane Buechele, is no exception. He had two touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown in his first college game. The teams battled through double overtime with Texas pulling out the win (50-47). As a result, Texas went from unranked to #11. Notre Dame dropped to #18.

I was excited to see LSU ranked at #5 to begin the season because college football is more fun to me when several SEC teams are expected to have a strong season. Unfortunately, they lost to an unranked Wisconsin team (16-14) which dropped them down to #21.  They moved up one spot to #20 after their Week 2 victory over Jacksonville State (34-13). Wisconsin landed at #10 after the victory and gained an additional spot (#9) after their Week 2 victory over Akron (54-10).  It's a long season, though, and you can never sleep on LSU.

I hope you are enjoying the first few weeks of college football season.  I expect a lot of great games and plenty of shuffling in the AP Top 25.  If we can get some cooler weather to go along with all this football, that would be perfect.  Enjoy the season!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Celebrate the Grand Opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture at Avondale Library with the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group

A Place for All People Exhibit Flyer

Join the Birmingham African American Genealogy Group, Inc., Saturday, September 24, 9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m., at the Avondale Regional Branch Library to celebrate the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian Institution’s newest museum. Watch a live stream of President Barack Obama and other dignitaries dedicating the museum as part of a special ceremony taking place in Washington D.C beginning at 10:15 a.m.

In addition to the stream viewing celebration, a self-guided tour of the 20-piece poster exhibit A Place for All People that was produced jointly by the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the National Museum of African American History and Culture will be on display. A Place for All People will evoke the power of oration and freedom stories, the brilliance of artistic achievement, and the soaring heights of cultural expression, philosophy, sports, and politics. In addition to profiling the long struggle to create the museum, the building’s architectural design and its prominent location on the National Mall, the poster exhibit is a survey of the African American community’s powerful, deep, and lasting contributions to the American story. This program is presented in celebration of the 2016 grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. For more information, please e-mail Wanda Looney of Birmingham African African Genealogy Group at

Know Your Rights Workshop Taking Place on September 29 at Springville Road Library

Do you know what your rights are if you were pulled over by the police? Are you aware that certain moves by drivers can make police officers fearful, thus putting your life and others in the car in danger?

The Birmingham Public Library is hosting a free workshop featuring legal experts who will answer questions on how to react and interact with law enforcement. The Know Your Rights workshop will take place on Thursday, September 29, 10:00 a.m., at the Springville Road Regional Branch Library. Jefferson County District Judge Shera Grant and Birmingham lawyer Tommy Spina will be the guest speakers. The workshop is free and open to the public.

The workshop is designed to spark a community conversation designed to provide answers on how to react and interact with law enforcement, said Lutheria Jackson, a library assistant who is coordinating the program.

Jackson said she came up with the idea for Know Your Rights in the wake of hearing of many incidents across the country in which people have been fatally shot after encountering police. A Birmingham school is bringing several teenagers to the program in an effort to educate young people, Jackson said.

Organizers are hoping the conversation will help build better relationships between public citizens and law enforcement. For more details on this workshop, call Jackson at the Springville Road Library at 2052-226-4082.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review: Moriarty

Anthony Horowitz

Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty have seemingly fallen to their deaths at the Reichenbach Falls. In the aftermath, two avid followers of Dr. Watson’s accounts, American Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase and Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, have come to Switzerland to confirm events and view Moriarty’s corpse. Chase is hoping to find a clue to the identity of secretive criminal mastermind Clarence Devereaux, an American who may have been collaborating with Moriarty to bring vicious New York crime to England. Soon enough Inspector Jones reveals a keen analytical mind, reminding Chase of Holmes himself and the two of them are on their way to London in pursuit of the elusive Devereaux. Chase feels like Watson to Jones’ Holmes.

Moriarty is clearly a book for Holmes aficionados. The places and the characterization evoke the sensibility of Doyle himself. The narrative unfolds with the same inevitability, but something feels wrong. Is Holmes really dead? Moriarty? Is this all a fantasy blooming in the mind of an inspector obsessed with the Holmes legend? As we read to uncover the secret hiding beneath the surface, we are led into the very belly of voracious London, and the narrative approaches the edge of horror.

Nonetheless Pinkerton agent Chase and Inspector Jones remain interesting and sympathetic characters. We very much hope they survive their case. The twist, when it unexpectedly arrives, like that of any great detective story, causes us to rethink everything we thought we had carefully read.

Moriarty is Anthony Horowitz’s second Sherlock Holmes novel. It follows The House of Silk, published in 2011. A popular mystery writer, he was chosen by the Ian Fleming estate to write a Bond novel, Trigger Mortis. He also wrote the Gatekeepers series for young adults.

Check it out!

David Blake
Fiction Department
Central Library

Library Board Picks Innovative Cool Award Winners for September 2016

BPL Board with three award winners
 (l-r) Kim Richardson, Mark Skinner, Eve Parker, Fontaine Alison, Dora Sims

Storytellers at the Five Points West Regional Branch Library will soon have a huge machine producing lots of bubbles to keep kids entertained while listening to stories. At the Avondale Regional Branch Library in October, four new art programs will expose children to various artistic styles. And at the East Ensley Branch Library, wooden planks called KEVA (Knowledge, Exploration, Visual, Arts) will be used to allow kids to use creative exploration to erect structures such as buildings and bridges.

The three awards, presented during the September 13, 2016, BPL Board Of Trustees meeting, are the latest recipients of the Birmingham Public Library's (BPL) Innovative and Cool Award, a program set up earlier this year to encourage library staff to come up with unique ideas to serve their communities.
The BPL Innovative and Cool grant recipients for September 2016 are as follows:

  • Five Points West Library, Bubbles at Storytime – storytime with a twist: bubbles to keep kids entertained as books are being read to them.
  • Avondale Library, Art Attack – four art programs during October designed to expose children to different artistic styles including modern color block painting, American folk art, and Aboriginal dot painting. Participants will get canvas artwork to take home.
  • East Ensley Library, KEVA (Knowledge, Exploration, Visual, Arts) Planks – KEVA planks are thin rectangular blocks that can be used to erect structures such as buildings, bridges, and formations. This program will allow patrons an interactive experience for creative exploration and cooperative learning.

“The board is proud of employees’ participation in the Innovative and Cool Award initiative. We look forward to the display to showcase all programs that engage patrons of all ages," said Dora Sims, chair of the BPL Advocacy Committee.